IGNOU Solved Assignment EHI 02 India: Earliest Times to 8th Century A.D.

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Section 1: Solved Assignment EHI 02

Section 1: Solved Assignment EHI 02
Section 1: Solved Assignment EHI 02

Answer each question in about 500 words.  

1. Discuss the Mesolithic cultures of India?   Or

Discuss the town planning, drainage and architectural features of Harappan Civilization.  

In 1872, Fergusson brought out his excellent work entitled “Rude Stone Monuments in all Countries: their age and uses. This first attracted the attention of scholars. Although Babington (1823) had published his book, “Descriptions of the Pandoo Coolies in Malawar” and Meadows Tylor (1873) was writing about his observations pertaining to the “Distribution of Cairns, Cromlechs, Kistveans and other Celtic, Druidical or Scythian monuments in the Dekhan”. Fergusson’s work on Megaliths may still be regarded as a landmark because of its wide scope and integrated approach.

As with the descriptive accounts, the first excavation of Megalithic monuments also took place more than a century ago. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Dr. Jagor first excavated in the classic site of Adicanallur in the Tirunevelly district, Tamil Nadu. The extensive site of Junapani, near Nagpur in Maharastra was also excavated on a small scale by Rivett-Carnac (1879).  Solved Assignment EHI 02

Simultaneously, extensive exploration in the Madras region continued, resulting in the publication of the list of antiquarian remains in the Presidency of Madras by Sewell in 1882. At the turn of the century, Foote (1901) brought out an excellent Solved Assignment EHI 02

Catalogue of antiquities, including megaliths. In the later years of the 19th century, Alexander Rea (1902-03) excavated a number of megalithic sites in South India. The classic site of Adichanallur was also reexcavated in 1903-04 by Louis Lapicque. The remarkable variety and distinctive natures of the Indian Megalithic cultures were then placed before the world by Rea in 1915, when he published the Catalogue of the Prehistoric antiquities from Adichanallur and Perumbair.

A decade later, Hunt (1924) published the result of the excavation of Megalithic graves in Andhra Pradesh. By the end of the first quarter of the 20th century, a number of Megalithic sites had been excavated. However, the first attempt to place the South Indian Megaliths in a chronological framework was by Sir Mortimer Wheeler (1948), who excavated the sites of Brahmagiri and Chandravalli in Karnataka in 1944.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

In 1962, it appeared that the megaliths, that is, huge stone monuments, were a special feature of South India. Preliminary classification had shown regional types. Wheeler’s excavation at Brahmagiri showed that these were not as old as once believed. This was confirmed by subsequent excavations at Sanur, Maski and other places. While studying the Karnataka megalithic monuments. Solved Assignment EHI 02

A Sundara (1975) concluded that “the varied tomb types in different geological zones are essentially due to the traditional affiliations rather than environmental influence.” The megalithic builders at Hallur and further south at Paiyampalli, were not only adept at quarrying all kinds of stones, but they made a judicious use of these rocks. They employed a particular stone for a particular part of the tomb.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

Again, these people were excellent architects-engineers. The best example is the constructional plan of the passage chamber. Though we still do not know about the houses and habitations of these megalithic builders, the recovery of sickles and plough coulters of iron, rice and ragi grains from the excavations at Kunnattur and Hallur respectively, shows that these people were probably dependent largely upon agriculture and partly upon hunting, as proved by the hunting scenes in the rock-paintings at Hire-Benkal.

Animals such as cow/ox, goat/sheep, dogs and horses were domesticated. So far no evidence of literacy in the form of writing of any kind has been found from the megaliths in Karnataka.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

Finally, on the question of the identity of the megalithic builders, Sundara (1975) has shown how there was mutual borrowing between the Neolithic-Chalcolithic inhabitants of Karnataka and the megalithicbuilders who arrived about 800-700 BC. As Kennedy has said, it is difficult to say anything about the racial types from the study of the extant skeletal remains. Hence, the only thing left to a culture-historian is cultural relics. Amongst these, the only significant thing was the post-holed cist. Solved Assignment EHI 02

In this regard Sundara again is of the opinion that all the megalith-chamber types of tombs of North Karnataka or South India, are the passage chamber type that has fundamental resemblances with those of the Mediterranean and Western European megaliths. He further thinks that the South Indian megaliths were derived from the Mediterranean region via the coastal route. Some idea of the megalithic in Coorg can be had from the work of K. K. Subbayya. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Excavation of four sites at Heggadehalli revealed some new types of burials, which seem to be unique. Instead of the stone sides containing a simple pit or underground cist of stone slabs, at this place, the sides contained a pit and at the base of the pit were laid a granitic slab over which the funerary offerings were deposited. The pit was then filled with soft earth.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

On this lay the large capstone. Another megalith contained only a pit without a stone slab at the base, whereas in the third one was a cairn side, under which was a stone chamber of large granitic slabs, inordinately large in dimension. It also contained an underground passage to the east outside the cist.

Except pottery, nothing else was found from the chambers. This is of the usual kind, black-and-red ware and included bowls, tall three-legged vases and conical vessels. Up till now, any kind of weapons have not been found at these sites.  

However, the differences in the method of making these three megaliths might indicate a kind of economic and social status their builders enjoyed in their society. An extension of the South Indian Megaliths to Vidarbha has come to light by the excavation at Junapani and subsequent full-fledged excavtions at Khapa and Muhurjhari. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The excavations at Khapa and Mahurjhari and another site at Naikund have supported that the megaliths belonged to a particular section of the community or people in each region. The evidence from Vidarbha and Tamil nadu, particularly horse bits and several types of iron weapons suggest that these sepulchral monuments might only belong to a warrior class. Solved Assignment EHI 02

2. What are the main features of the Society, economy and polity of the early Vedic period?  Or  

Examine the nature of administrative structure, society and polity of the Guptas.

The Early Vedic society was pastoral, cattle rearing being the dominant occupational activity. A pastoral society relies more on its animal wealth than agricultural produce. Pastoralism is a subsistence strategy adopted by people who live in areas where large scale agriculture is not feasible due to some environmental and to a certain extent, cultural constraints.

Hymns of the Rigveda yield extensive evidence of the importance of cattle in the Early Vedic society. Many linguistic expressions in the Rigveda are associated with the cow (gau).  Solved Assignment EHI 02

Cattle was the chief measure of wealth and a wealthy man who owned many cattle was called ‘gomat’. The terms used for conflicts and battles in this period were gavishti, gavesana, gavyat, etc. The former literally means ‘to search for cows’. The terms themselves suggest that possession of cattle was the bone of contention between goups and led to occasional inter-tribal fights and conflicts. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The Panis, who. were the enemies of the Vedic people, are stated in the Rigveda to have hidden their wealth, mostly cows, in the mountains and forests. The Vedic god Indra was invoked to release these cattle. This reference suggests that cattle raids were common. The raja or the chief is called the ‘gopati’ or one who protects cows. In the Rigveda, Godhuli is used as a term for a measure of time. Distance is called gavyuti. A daughter is called duhitr or one who milks the cows. Kinship units are labelled as gotra.

The Early Vedic Society was a tribal society, in which social relations based on khd$p ties were predominant. The society was not divided according to caste lines, and even the rajas (kings), the purohitas (priests), the artisans etc. were parts of the * clan networks. The tribe was referred to as the jana send many references to the different tribes are found in the Rigveda. Inter-tribal conflicts were frequent, an example being the battle of the Ten . Solved Assignment EHI 02

Kings mentioned in the Rigveda. Some of the tribes, which fought in this battle were the Bharatas, the Purus, the Yadus, the Druhyus, the Anus and the Turvasus. Tribal conflicts, as mentioned earlier, were related to cattle raids, cattle thefts etc. The chief of the tribe was the raja or the gopati. He was the leader in battle and the protector of the tribe. His office, was not based on heredity, but he was selected from amongst the clansmen. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The warrior category was the “rajanya”. Many clans (vis) formed a tribe. The clans settled in villages or grama. The basic social unit was the Kula, or the family, and the Kulapa i.e. ‘one who protects the family’ denoted the eldest male member or the head of the family. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The tribal polity was not completely egalita~ian. A division is found in the Rigveda itself, which is seen in references of two groups-the Rajanyas, or those who fought the wars, and are credited to be the senior linegage, and the rest of the clansmen or the vis, who formed the junior lineage. Though noqe of the groups occupied a distinct social hierarchy, constant conflicts aud inter-tribal wars helped to create a division in the society. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The needs for more pasture lands, cattle for the protection of people and their settlement all probably contributed to an increase in inter and intra-tribal conflicts and warfare. The clans held large yajnas or sadices to help the warrior groups in the wars. In these yajnas the officiating priest or the pwohita acted as the mediator between his clansmen and the gods.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

He also invoked the gods’ blesssings for the tribal chief, for his success in the wars. Initially, the whole clan participated in these yajnas on an equal footing. Large scale disvibution of wealth, food, etc. was made during these sacrifices and members got an equal share. But with the growing incidence of conflicts and fights, yajnas or sacrifices also became important and the purohita assumed a special status in the society.

In the later part of our period, they received a major share of the gifts from the rajas, and assumed a superior position vis-a-vis the other clan members.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

The office of the raja also assumed importance on account of wars, etc. and the division between the senior and the junior lineages became sharper. At what point of time these political distinctions became apparent ii difficult to state, but we must remember that the 10th book of the Rigveda contains the “Purusha-Sukta” hymn, and in the Later Vedic texts we find evidence of the superior rajnaya groups, assuming the status of the Kshatriya-a separate varna by itself.

These developments took place after 1000 B.C. This does not mean that the society was stagnant during our period of study. In fact it was changing slowly but surely leading to the development, in the Later Vedic phase, of a complex socio-political structure. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Section 2: Solved Assignment EHI 02

Section 2: Solved Assignment EHI 02
Section 2: Solved Assignment EHI 02

Answer each question in about 250 words.  

3. Write an essay on sixteen Mahajanpadas  Or  

Discuss the Megalithic culture of India.  

The society in Vedic period was rural, where smallest political unit was a Vis. However, some later Vedic texts detail about the Janpadas such as Kuru, Panchala, Matysa, Kunti, Kikata, Jayminia, Kashi, Magadha, Anga, Kamboja etc. The rise of Janpadas is mainly attributed to the establishment of settled agriculture communities. The development of an agriculture based economy led to increase in crops and cattle wealth coupled with use of iron in technology. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The society was now totally divided into 4 Varna. Based upon occupation, new labour class and landed classes emerged. The landed class was known as Gahapatis. The trade flourished and the towns, which were either located on trade routes such as Mathura or located, near the banks of rivers such as Magadha developed. This transition also saw an emergence of taxing, standing army, territorial powers etc. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The sixteen Mahajanapadas are as follows: 


Its Capital was Banaras. Kasi was located on the confluence of Ganga and Gomti rivers and somewhere around today’s Varanasi. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Shravasti. It was located in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh. It covers today’s districts Faizabad, Gonda, Bhahraich etc. and was bordered by River Gomti Solved Assignment EHI 02 on the west, River Sadaniva in the east, Nepal hills in the north and River Syandika in the South.


Its capital was Champa. It covered the modern districts of Munger and Bhagalpur in Bihar It was later annexed to Magadha by Bimbisar. Magadh was on its west and Raja Mahal hills on the west. Solved Assignment EHI 02


The initial capital of Magadha was Girivraja or Rajgriha. It covered the modern districts of Patna, Gaya, Shahabad of Bihar. It was bordered by River Son non North and Ganga on South. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Vajji or Vriji 

Its capital was Vaishali. It was located on the north of River Ganga in Bihar. The seat of 8 smaller clans / kingdoms called “Athakula” out of which Lichhavais, Janatriks, Videhas were very important. It was separated from Kosala from river Gandak. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Kushinagar, Pawa. It covered the modern districts of Deoria, Basti, Gorakhpur in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Chedi or Cheti 

It was located in the Bundelkhand division of Madhya Pradesh regions to the south of river Yamuna and along river Betwa or Vetravati. Its capital was Suktimati or Sotthivati located somewhere near Banda in Uttar Pradesh. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Kausambi. It covered the modern districts of Allahabad and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Indraprastha / Hastinapur / Isukara. It covered the modern Haryana & Delhi-Meerut-Ghaziabad region. Its eastern border was River Yamuna. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capitals were Ahichhtra (Western Panchal) and Kampilya (eastern Panchala). It covered modern day Rohilkhand division & Upper Gangetic Plains of today’s Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand.


Its capital was Viratnagar. It was located in the Alwar, Bharatpur, Jaipur districts of Rajasthan. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Mathura. It was located on the junction of Uttarpatha and Dakshinpatha around Mathura of Today. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Potali, Potana or Podana. Located on the banks of the Godavari River. Its capital was Potali, Potana or Podana, which now lies in the Nandura Tehsil, Buldana district in the Indian state of Maharashtra and it was the only Mahajanapada situated to the south of the Vindhya Range, and was in Dakshinapatha Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Ujjain & Mahismati. Located on present day Malwa region. It was divided into two parts by the Vindhyas, the northern part had its capital at Ujjayini and the southern part had its centre at Mahishmati. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital was Taxila. Covered the regions between Kabul and Rawalipindi in North Western Provinces, Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River. Solved Assignment EHI 02


Its capital Rajpur. It was located around Hndukush mountains of Kashmir. Solved Assignment EHI 02

4. What were the main features of the administrative organization of the Mauryas?  


What were the factors which led to the rise of Magadha?  

The factors that contributed to the rise of Magadha were the strategic locations of its two capitals Rajagriha and Pataliputra, very rich alluvial soil contributing to agricultural surplus production, and the availability of minerals, which resulted in the introduction of iron tools especially for warfare. During this period at Magadha we find three dynasties who contributed to the emergence of Magadha as a superpower: Haryanka, Saisunaga, and the Nanda dynasties. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Magadha can be identified with the modern districts of Patna, Gaya, Nalanda and parts of Shahabad in the present-day state of Bihar. Geographically, Magadha’s location was such that it had in its vicinity large tracts of alluvial soil. The soil could be easily cleared off the heavy overgrowth with the use of iron implements and proved extremely fertile. Various varieties of paddy were grown as mentioned in the early Buddhist texts. Solved Assignment EHI 02

This enabled the farmers to produce considerable surplus which augmented the taxes. Magadha also had access to an easy supply of elephants. In fact, Magadha was one of the few which used elephants on a large scale in the wars and thus had an edge over others.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

The elephants could be procured from the east. Nandas, according to the Greek sources, maintained 6000 elephants. Elephants had an advantage over horses and chariots, because they could be used to march across marshy lands and areas which had no roads or other means of transport. R. S. Sharma feels that the unorthodox character of the societal set up in Magadha allowed it to become more receptive to expansionist policies of its rulers.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

Magadha had a happy admixture of Vedic and non-Vedic people who were different in their outlook than those of orthodox Vedic societies. Interestingly, the earliest capital of Magadha, Rajagriha (Girivraja) was situated to the south of the river and not near it. Rajagriha was surrounded by five hills and proved to be impregnable. It not only enjoyed a strategic location, but also lay in the vicinity of iron-encrusted outcrops. Solved Assignment EHI 02

It has also been suggested that its accessibility to copper as well as to the forests of the present-day southern Bihar region can effectively explain why early Magadhan kings did not choose to have their capital in the most fertile plains of the Ganges valley but in a comparatively isolated region. The capital of Magadha did, however, shift to Pataliputra (originally Pataligramma) situated on the confluence of several rivers like the Ganga, Gandak, Son and Poon Pun. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The rivers could be used as communication routes by the army moving in the direction of north, west, south and east. Besides, being surrounded by rivers made its position impregnable, functioning as a veritable water fort (jaladurga). Pataliputra became the capital of Magadha under the Mauryas. Solved Assignment EHI 02

This enabled Magadha to effectively command the Uttarapatha (northern route) which lay to the north of the river Ganges, along the foothills of the Himalayas. The river also came to be used as one of the main arteries connecting Magadha with different regions and making heavy transport along the river possible.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

Thus, Magadha had certain natural advantages over other contemporaneous kingdoms, though some of which like Avanti to its south-west, Kosala to its northwest and the Vajji Confederacy to its north were equally powerful at the turn of the sixth century BCE. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Magadha was located in a region which had abundance of timber. Megasthenes has remarked about the wooden walls and houses of Magadha. Remains of wooden palisades of the 6th century BCE have been discovered to the south of Patna. Timber could be easily used to manufacture boats through which the Magadhan army could advance towards the east and the west.Solved Assignment EHI 02

5. Write a detailed note on Sungas and Kushanas.  Or  

Discuss the main features of the trade and urbanization in the period between 200 BCE – 200 CE.  

The Sungas were brahmanas and there are several references to Sunga teachers in Vedic texts. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mentions a teacher named Sungiputra. From Panini we learn that the Sungas were of Bharadvaja gotra. Kalidasa’s Malavikagnimitra describes Agnimitra, son of Pushyamitra, as belonging to the Baimbika kula and the Baudhayana Srauta Sutra represents the Baimbikayah as Kashyapas. Solved Assignment EHI 02

In view of the conflicting statements, it is difficult to say whether Pushyamitra was a Sunga of Bharadvaja gotra or Baimbika of Kashyapa lineage. However, all these sources indicate that the Sungas were brahmanas. Moreover a later text like Harshacharita also refers to Pushyamitra as a brahmana who was an ignoble person. Sunga rule in India according to the Puranas lasted for 112 years. Magadha was the nucleus of the kingdom. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The usurpation of the Mauryan throne by Pushyamitra is referred to in the Puranas and Banabhatta’s Harshacharita. According to the Puranas, Pushyamitra ruled for 36 years and died in 151 BCE. His son and successor was Agnimitra and he was succeeded by his son Vasumitra. The Puranas refer to ten Sunga rulers. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Except for Pushyamitra, Agnimitra, Vasumitra and Dhanadeva, the historicity of other rulers is not supplemented by sources. Pushyamitra Sunga is also known for his encounter with the Yavanas (Bactrian Greeks.) According to Patanjali’s Mahabhasya , there were Greek incursions during the rule of the Sungas. Solved Assignment EHI 02

This information is also corroborated by Yugapurana. The Greeks besieged Saketa (near Ayodhya in the Faizabad District of Uttar Pradesh) and Madhyamika (Nagari near Chittor in Rajasthan). This is clear from the phrase ‘Arunòad Yavano Saketam, Arunòad Yavano Madhyamikam’. Patanjali also indicates that the yavanas lived outside Madhyadesha which was situated to the east of Adarsa. The date of Mahabhasya is taken to be c.150 BCE. Malavikagnimitram, a play by Kalidasa, preserves the memory of the defeat of the yavanas at the hands of Vasumitra, the grandson of Pushyamitra Sunga.

A major ruling group of the post-Mauryan period was the Kushanas. The Kushanas were a branch of the Yueh-chi, a nomadic group of people who inhabited territories near Dunhuang until conflicts with the Xiongnu led to their migration across the Tarim Basin to Bactria between c. 165-128 BCE. They were one of the five clans into which the Yueh-chi tribe was divided. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The significance of the Kushana realm in the political history of the subcontinent and its north-western borderlands is enormous. With the advent of the Kushanas, small territorial kingdoms in the IndoIranian borderlands gave way to an Empire which was achieved through political integration of the region. Solved Assignment EHI 02

It transformed the Kushana principality in Bactria into a massive empire which included portions of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, parts of Chinese Central Asia, north-west borderlands of the subcontinent, Mathura and at times beyond Mathura through the Ganga plains till Bhagalpur in Bihar. Because of this, the Kushana Empire is sometimes called the Central Asian Empire. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The glowing testimony of Kushana control till the Ganga valley comes from the Rabatak inscription discovered from the Puli Khumri area of Afghanistan of Kanishka I written in Bactrian language. Although the name of Vima Taktu as the direct successor of Kujula Kadphises (the head of the Kushana clan) is not entirely clear, the Rabatak inscription confirms that Kujula Kadphises was followed by another ruler before Vima Kadphises (Kanishka’s father).

Vima Taktu can be linked with ‘Soter Megas’ (‘Great Savior’), the Kushana ruler who issued a series of coins that follow the coin-types of Kujula Kadphises and precede those of Vima Kadphises. Solved Assignment EHI 02

6. Discuss the early state formation in Deccan.  Or  

Discuss the growth of Tamil Language and literature.

There is evidence of prehistoric human habitation; low rainfall must have made farming difficult until the introduction of irrigation. The plateau’s mineral wealth led many lowland rulers, including those of the Mauryan (4th–2nd century bce) and Gupta (4th–6th centuryce) dynasties, to fight over it. From the 6th to the 13th century, the Chalukya, Rastrakuta, Later Chalukya,Hoysala, and Yadava families successively established regional kingdoms in the Deccan, but they were continually in conflict with neighbouring states and recalcitrant feudatories.  

The later kingdoms also were subject to looting raids by the Muslim Delhi sultanate, which eventually gained control of the area.In 1347 the Muslim Bahmanī dynasty established an independent kingdom in the Deccan. The five Muslim states that succeeded the Bahmanī and divided its territory joined forces in 1565 at the Battle of Talikota to defeat Vijayanagar, the Hindu empire to the south. Solved Assignment EHI 02

For most of their reigns, however, the five successor states formed shifting patterns of alliances in an effort to keep any one state from dominating the area and, from 1656, to fend off incursions by the Mughal Empire to the north. During the Mughal decline in the 18th century, the Marathas, the nizam of Hyderabad, and the Arcot nawab vied for control of the Deccan. Their rivalries, as well as conflicts over succession, led to the gradual absorption of the Deccan by the British. When India became independent in 1947, the princely state of Hyderabad resisted initially but joined the Indian union in 1948.

Satavahanas was a prominent dynasty that ruled the regions of the Deccan such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana during the time period of second century to third century. In this period of time, they could also temporarily conquer and rule certain parts of Madhya Pradesh [such as Sanchi] and Karnataka.

As their origin and the setting up of the kingdom is a mixture of facts and fiction, there is no certainty in the stories that revolve around the Satvahanas rule. All basic facts that are listed out by archaeologists are based on material evidence such as ancient scriptures, archaeological evidences etc. It is believed that they are natives to Andhra Pradesh as many texts call their dynasty as the Andhra Dynasty. Solved Assignment EHI 02


The first ruler of this dynasty is Simuka as per ancient records. He is believed to have over thrown the previous Kanva dynasty and established rule there. The most powerful ruler in this dynasty was Gautamiputra Satkarni who enlarged the army size and expanded the empire to other regions such as Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Pulumavi IV was the last ruler who reigned the dynasty as it is before it was dissected into five smaller parts. Solved Assignment EHI 02


⇒ The Satvahanas are known for establishing a close trade relationship with the Roman Empire through the Indian coast in the east.

⇒ They were the first rulers to establish a well-maintained Empire in the Deccan.

⇒ Unlike the rule of Mauryan empire, there were no extreme taxations.

⇒ They are the first rulers to inscribe the the pictures of rulers in their coins.

⇒ They have contributed towards the spread of Buddhism.

⇒ Under their rule, the Buddhist area of Sanchi prospered with many monuments and other structures dedicated to the religion. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Section 3: Solved Assignment EHI 02

Section 3: Solved Assignment EHI 02
Section 3: Solved Assignment EHI 02

Answer in about 100 words each.  

7. Write short notes on any two of the following: 6 + 6  

Ashoka’s Dhamma.  

The word dhamma is the Prakrit form of the Sanskrit word dharma. There have been attempts to define and find equivalent English words for it, such as “piety”, “moral life” and “righteousness” or “duty” but scholars could not translate it into English because it was coined and used in a specific context. The word Dharma has multiple meanings in the literature and thought of ancient India. The best way to understand what Ashoka the great means by Dharma is to read his edicts, which were written to explain the principles of Dharma to the people of that time throughout the empire.

Dharma was not a particular religious faith or practice, or an arbitrary formulated royal policy.[8] Dharma related to generalized norms of social behavior and activities; Ashoka the great tried to synthesize various social norms which were current in his time. It cannot be understood by assuming it is one of the various religions that existed at that time. To understand why and how Ashoka the great formulated Dharma and its meaning, one must understand the characteristics of the time in which he lived and to refer to Buddhist, Brahmanical and other texts where norms of social behavior are explained.

Some historians link Ashoka’s policy of Dhamma with Buddhism. According to V.A. Smith, Ashoka the great actually became a Buddhist monk for a short span of his life. V.A Smith believes that he was both a monk and a monarch at the same time. D.R. Bhandarkar claims that Ashoka the great was a Buddhist and his policy of dhamma was actually original Buddhism as preached by the Buddha. Radha Kumud Mookerji also formulates that as far as the personal religion of Ashoka is concerned, it may be taken as Buddhism. In recent decades, scholars such as Nayanjot Lahiri and Romila Thapar has argued that Ashoka’s Dhamma stands apart from Buddhist ideas, even while being informed by them.

b) Mauryan Art  

Mauryan art is the art produced during the period of the Mauryan Empire, which was the first empire to rule over most of the Indian subcontinent, between 322 and 185 BCE. It represented an important transition in Indian art from use of wood to stone. It was a royal art patronized by Mauryan kings especially Ashoka. Pillars, Stupas, caves are the most prominent survivals. Solved Assignment EHI 02

The most significant remains of monumental Mauryan art include the remains of the royal palace and the city of Pataliputra, a monolithic rail at Sarnath, the Bodhimandala or the altar resting on four pillars at Bodhgaya, the rock-cut chaityahalls in the Barabar Caves near Gaya including the Sudama cave bearing the inscription dated the 12th regnal year of Ashoka, the non-edict bearing and edict bearing pillars, the animal sculptures crowning the pillars with animal and vegetal reliefs decorating the abaci of the capitals and the front half of the representation of an elephant carved out in the round from a live rock at Dhauli.

Ananda Coomaraswamy, writing in 1923, argued that the Mauryan art has three main phases. The first phase is found in some instances of the representation of the Vedic deities (the most significant examples are the reliefs of Surya and Indra at the Bhaja Caves). However the art of the Bhaja Caves is now generally dated later than the Mauryan period, to the 2nd-1st centuries BCE.  Solved Assignment EHI 02

The second phase was the court art of Ashoka, typically found in the monolithic columns on which his edicts are inscribed and the third phase was the beginning of brick and stone architecture, as in the case of the original stupa at Sanchi, the small monolithic rail at Sanchi and the Lomas Rishi Cave in the Barabar Caves, with its ornamented facade, reproducing the forms of wooden structure. Solved Assignment EHI 02

Most scholars agree that Mauryan art was influenced by Greek and Persian art, especially in imperial sculpture and architecture. Political and cultural contacts between the Greek and Persian cultures and India were intensive and ran for a long period of time, encouraging the propagation of their advances in the area of sculpture. Solved Assignment EHI 02

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