NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 4: Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings

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Chapter4. Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings Cultural Developments
TextbookThemes in Indian History-I
CategoryNCERT Solutions for Class 12

It is important to use NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History as they can give students a clear understanding of the syllabus. Class 12 History has fifteen chapters, and our NCERT Solutions are a detailed guide that covers each of them. It provides step-by-step solutions to all the questions in the textbook. On this page, we have provided you with complete Solution of Chapter 4 – Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings Cultural Developments.

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 4

Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings Cultural Developments Solutions

Q1) Were the ideas of the Upanishadic thinkers different from those of the fatalists and materialists ? Give reasons for your answers.

Answer) Many Upanishadic ideas attest that people wanted to understand the meaning of life, possibility of afterlife and rebirth. Thinkers wanted to understand and express nature of ultimate reality. Those outside Vedic tradition questioned the idea of a single ultimate reality. Ordinary people questioned meaning of sacrifices. Chhandogya Upanishad analyses the nature of the self and describes the wind as the true sacrifice.

Makkhali Gosala, a teacher of Ajivikas (who were fatalists) told king Ajatasattu, ruler of Magadha that one cannot gain benefits or get rid oneself from karma; one cannot get rid of pleasure or pain. Each individual would take one’s course to end sorrow. Fatalists believe that everything is predetermined.

Ajita Kesakambalin (the Lokayata philosopher of materialist tradition) preached that neither alms nor sacrifice, neither this world nor afterlife, existed. Humans comprised four elements. When one died, all his body components returned to the natural elements; no individual overcame death.

Q2) Summarise the central teachings of Jainism.

Answer) The central teachings of Jainism are as follows:

  • The entire world is animated – even stones, rocks and water have life.
  • They believe in non-injury to living beings, especially to humans, animals, plants and insects.
  • The cycle of birth and rebirth is shaped through karma.
  • Asceticism and penance are required to free oneself from the cycle of karma.
  • For Jainism monastic existence is a necessary condition of salvation.
  • Jaina monks and nuns take five vows : to abstain from killing, stealing and lying; to observe celibacy, and to abstain from possessing property.

Q3) Discuss the role of the begums of Bhopal in preserving the stupa at Sanchi.

Answer) Begums of Bhopal made a great contribution to the preservation of the Stupa of Sanchi. Following are the major contribution made by them:

  • The French sought Shahjehan Begum’s permission to take away the eastern gateway for a museum in France. Englishmen too wanted to do the same. They were not allowed to do so. The French and the English were allowed to prepare plaster-cast copies only.
  • Shahjehan Begum and her successor Sultan Jehan Begum, provided money for the preservation of the ancient site.
  • Sultan Jehan funded the building of museum as well as guesthouse where persons like John Marshall lived and wrote his important volumes.
  • She funded the publication of the volumes.

Q4) Read this short inscription and answer:

In the year 33 of the maharaja Huvishka, (a Kushana ruler), in the first month of the hot season on the eighth day, a Bodhisatta was set up at Madhuvanaka by the bhikkhuni Dhanavati, the sister’s daughter of the bhikkhuni Buddhamita, who knows the Tipitaka, the female pupil of the bhikkhu Bala, who knows the Tipitaka, together with her father and mother.

(a) How did Dhanavati date her inscription?
(b) Why do you think she installed an image of the Bodhisatta?
(c) Who were the relatives she mentioned?
(d) What Buddhist text did she know?
(e) From whom dicTshe learn this text?

Answer a) Dhanavati dated her inscription as in the year 33 of the maharaja Huvishka (a Kushan ruler), in the first month of the hot season on the eighth day.

Answer b) I think that she, the Bhikkhuni Dhanvati, installed an image of the Bodhisatta to show that Mahayana sect of Budhhism was becoming popular day by day and Boddhisattas were considered great personalities in Buddhism during the reign of the Kushana rulers.

Answer c) The relatives, she mentioned, were her father, mother, sister of her mother bhikkhuni Buddhamita.

Answer d) She knew the Tipitaka.

Answer e) She learnt the text from the Bhikkhuni Buddhamita who was the female pupil of the Bala.

Q5) Why do you think women and men joined the sangha?

Answer) Women and men joined the sangha because within the sangha, all – workers, slaves, wealthy men, gahapatis and kings – were regarded as equal. It was an organisation of monks who could become teachers of dhamma. They shed their earlier social identities on becoming bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. Not only this, the internal functioning of the sangha was based on the traditions of ganas and sanghas where consensus was arrived at through discussions. If that failed, decisions were taken by a vote on the subject.

Q6) To what extent does knowledge of Buddhist literature help in understanding the sculpture at Sanchi?

Answer) Buddhist literature help us upto some extent in understanding the sculpture at Sanchi. It is important that the sculptures at Sanchi depict the teachings of Buddha only. The teachings of Buddha are captured in the literature. Buddhist literature helps understanding the sculpture at Sanchi in the following ways:

  • A scene at the northern gateway at its first sight seems to depict a rural scene, with thatched huts and trees. However, the historians after studying the sculpture carefully, identify it as a scene from the Vessantara Jataka. It is a story about a generous prince who gave away everything to a Brahmana, and went to live in the forest with his wife and children.
  • The art historians acquire familiarity with biographies of the Buddha in order to understand Buddhist sculpture. According to Buddha’s biographies, Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under a tree. Many early sculptures showed Buddha’s presence through symbols such as empty seat, stupa and the wheel. Such symbols can be understood only with the traditions of those who produced these works of art.
  • It may be mentioned that one of the earliest modem art historians, James Ferguson, considered Sanchi to be a centre of tree and serpent worship because he was not familiar with Buddhist literature – most of which had not yet been translated. He, therefore, arrived at his conclusion by studying only the images on their own.

Q7) Figs A and B are two scenes from Sanchi. Describe what you see in each of them, focusing on the architecture, plants and animals, and the activities. Identify which one shows a rural scene and which an urban scene, giving reasons for your answer.

Answer) In the figure A, depiction of animals, dead and alive, hunters with bow and arrow, trees have been made. These are one of the finest depictions. Several animal stories have been depicted at Sanchi, the above scene may be one of them. In the second figure B, the images are being worshipped.

The scene in the figure A is a rural scene because it contains animals, hunters with bow and arrow and dead animals too. The second scene is an urban scene because it depicts worshipping of images.

Q8) Discuss the development in sculpture and architecture associated with the rise of Vaishnavism and Shaivism.

Answer) Vaishnavism and Shaivism are the two branches of Hinduism. In case of Vaishnavism, Lord Vishnu was regarded as the chief deity. In case of Shaivism Lord Shiva was regarded as the chief deity. Both traditions were part of the Bhakti movement. Bhakti movement emphasised on the love and devotion of the devotee to the God.

This tradition of Vaishnavism and Shaivism also impacted the tradition of architecture and sculpture. The temples developed the house deities. The initial temples were small and simple. It was a small room called Garbhagriha. Later it expanded, a tall structure was built on the garbhagriha. It was called Shikhara. The walls of the temple were decorated with suitors. Soon temples were built that had huge entrance and big halls for the comfort of visitors.

Many of these temples were carved out of rocks. These artificial caves were turned into temples. The tradition of article caves is old who had renounced the world. The most important were the Ajivikas, that developed as a sect during the reign of Asoka. Later a good example of the rock-cut temple is the Kailash Nath temple of the 8th Century. It was carved out of a single piece rock. There is a copper plate inscription at the temple of Ellora wherein the sculptor exclaims, “How did I make it!” Sculpture was yet another way of expression. Deities were given many shapes and forms in the sculpture. Shiva has been shown in the form of Linga. Many deities have shown in different forms, sometimes grotesque. There were also combination of man and animal forms.

Q9) Discuss how and why stupas were built.

Answer) About 200 years after the time of Buddha King Asoka erected a pillar at Lumbini. This was to announce the visit of Buddha to this place.Stupas were the mounds put on the bodily remains of the body of Lord Buddha or of any object that was used by him. At the place of stupas such objects were buried. These were places of great respect under the tradition of Buddhism, as they had the relics of Buddha. As per the description of Asokavadana winch a famous Buddhist book, Emperor Asoka gave Buddha’s relic to all major cities. Later on such places stupas were put. The most important stupas are at Sanchi, Bharhut and Saranath.

The structure of a stupa was like a dome and hemisphere. On the top of it, there would be a balcony called harmik. This balcony represented the abode of God. The harmik was covered with an umbrella. There used to be railings around the balcony.

The construction of the stupas was made possible by the contribution of many. On the forefront were the monarchs. The Satvahan Kings offered huge amount for the construction of the stupqs. Apart from the monarchs, merchants, artisans and common men and women also contributed to the construction of the stupas.

That’s it. These were the solutions of NCERT Class 12 History Chapter 4 – Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings Cultural Developments. Our team hopes that you have found these solutions helpful for you. If you have any doubt related to this chapter then feel free to comment your doubts below. Our team will try their best to help you with your doubts.

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