Plus Two History Chapter Wise Questions and Answers Chapter 4 Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings

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Kerala Plus Two History Chapter Wise Questions and Answers Chapter 4 Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings (Cultural Developments)

Question 1.
From which language does the word Stupa come?
Answer:
Sanskrit

Question 2.
Who got the Sanchi Stupa built?
Answer:
Asoka

Question 3.
Who used to organize the Ashwamedha Yagas?
Answer:
Kings

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Question 4.
In which language was the Vedas written?
Answer:
Sanskrit

Question 5.
Where was Buddha born?
Answer:
Lumbini

Question 6.
Where was Mahavira born?
Answer:
Kundagramam

Question 7.
Which was the first venue where Buddha began to teach?
Answer:
Saranath

Question 8.
With which religion are the 4 Arya Satyas connected?
Answer:
Buddhism

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Question 9.
Which is the book that contains the laws of Buddha Sangha?
Answer:
Sutta Pitaka

Question 10.
Who was the first woman who was admitted to Buddhism?
Answer:
Mahaprajapati Gomati

Question 11.
The caves that were carved out in rocks for Buddha Bikshustolive?
Answer:
Viharas

Question 12.
In which year was Buddha born?
Answer:
563BC

Question 13.
Match the items in Column A with the items in Column B.

A B
Iran Socrates
China Buddha
Greece Confucius
India Zarathurashtra

Answer:

A B
Iran Zarathurashtra
China Confucius
Greece Socrates
India Buddha

Question 14.

A         B
The birth place of Buddha Saranath
The place of Buddha’s Enlightenment Lumbini
The place where Buddha preached first Kushinagaram
The place where Buddha achieved Nirvana Buddhagaya

Answer:

A B
The birth place of Buddha Lumbini
The place of Buddha’s enlightenment Buddhagaya
The place where Buddha preached first Saranath
The place where Buddha achieved Nirvana Kushinagaram

Question 15.
Where is Sanchi Stupa located? What are its special features?
Answer:
The Sanchi Stupa is located on a hill in a small village called Sanchi Kanakera. This place is 20 miles north-east of Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Sanchi Stupa has different constructions and on the whole, it looks like a crown. Here we can see a temple built in the 5th century BC and many other historical monuments and also a huge mound. The Sanchi Stupa was built by Asoka in the 3rd century BC. During the time of the Sungas (183-72 BC), this was further developed.

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Question 16.
Who are the ones who tried to take away the eastern gate of Sanchi? Why?
Answer:
The Sanchi Stupa was discovered in 1818. Europeans of the 19th century were greatly interested in this – Stupa. The French wanted to exhibit the eastern gate of Sanchi in a museum in France. They tried to get permission from Shajahan Begum, the ruler of Bhopal. But they failed in their attempts. Some English people. also tried such methods. In the end, both the French and the English had to satisfy themselves with the plaster cast of the Stupa.

Question 17.
Who protected the Sanchi Stupa? Write the names of two Patrons.
Answer:
Shajahan Begum and her successor Sultan Jahan Begum protected the Stupa. They spent a lot of money in the maintenance of this ancient monument. Sultan (This is just a name and not a position) Jahan Begum (1901-1926) took great interest in the matters related to Sanchi.

She donated money to build a museum and a guest house there. It was by staying in this guest house, John Marshal wrote volumes about Sanchi. To publish the writings of John Marshal also, Jahan Begum sanctioned money. John marshal dedicated his books to Sultan Jahan Begum.

  1. The protection and maintenance of the Sanchi monuments were possible because of the discretion and foresight of the rulers of Bhopal.
  2. It was a great fortune that they were made safe from the greedy eyes of railway contractors, builders and the Europeans who wanted to take them away to Europe.
  3. Sanchi is one of the most important Buddhist centres in India. The discovery of this completely upset our earlier concepts and understanding of Buddhism, This place is now under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Question 18.
Make a list of the famous thinkers that lived in the 6th century BC.
Answer:
The 6th century BC was a turning point in world history. In many parts of the world there were different philosophers that were contributing to human thought and understanding. In Iran Zaratushtra, In China Confucius, in Greece Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in India Mahavira and Gautama Buddha -all these people lived in this period.

Question 19.
Kings conducted big Yagas. Explain them.
Answer:
In the beginning, yagas were conducted in large groups for the entire people. But from 1000 to 500 BC, yagas were conducted privately by householders for the prosperity of their family or.clan. But great yagas like Rajasuyam and Ashwamedhom were conducted only by kings and chiefs.

  1. The yagas and rituals lost their earlier simplicity and purity. They became more noisy, showy, expensive and even violent. Such yagas were unaffordable by, ordinary people.
  2. With the increase in the yagas and rituals, the importance and prestige of Brahmins began to increase. Things like yagas became the monopoly of Brahmins. They misused their position to exploit people.

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Question 20.
The travel of Siddhartha outside the palace utterly changed his life. Explain.
Answer:
The real name of Buddha was Siddhartha. He was the son of Suddhodana, the head of the Sakya Tribe. Siddhartha was born in Lumbini near Kapilavastu, in 563 BC. He showed much interest in religious matters even when he was very young.

He married his relative Yasodhara early and they had a son named Rahulan. One day the chariot driver took Siddhartha to the world outside the palace. This changed his life. He saw 4 big ‘sights’ – an old man, a sick person, a dead body and a sanyasi (ascetic).

These sights upset Siddhartha. He became aware of the mortality of man. He realized that the body becomes weaker and weaker and then it dies. The ascetic he met was sick and old but the joy and peace in him surprised Siddhartha. He then decided to follow the path of the ascetic. Soon he left the palace seeking the Ultimate Truth. This incident in the life of Buddha is known as the ‘Great Renunciation’.

To seek the Ultimate Truth, Buddha tried different things. He even tried to torture his body till he«was about to die. Then he abandoned such extreme measures, and sat under a Bodhi tree, immersed in meditation. He then received Enlightenment. From then he was known as Buddha (One who is endowed with Wisdom or Enlightenment) orTathagathan (One who has gained the Truth).

  1. Buddha made his first preaching (Dharmopadesam) in Saranath. Here he spoke to five ascetics whom he knew before. This preaching is known as ‘Dharma Chakra Pravarthanam’. These five ascetics became his first disciples.
  2. The rest of his life Buddha taught about Dharma or the true way of life. He died in his 80th year, in 486 BC at Kushinagari. His mortal remains were buried in 8 different places and it is believed that in all those places Stupas were built.

Question 21.
What are the basic principles of Buddhism?
Answer:
The basis of Buddhism is Four Arya (Noble) Truths with Ashtangamarga. The 4 Noble Truths Buddha taught are:

  1. The world is a sorrowful place.
  2. Desires are the cause of sorrow.
  3. If we deny our desires, we can avoid sorrow.
  4. By following the Ashtanga Marga, you can overcome sorrow.

The ashtanga margas are: right word, right deed, right life, right efforts, right memory, right view, right decision and right meditation.

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Question 22.
Explain the structural working of Buddhism. Do you think that the Buddhist Sangha worked in a democratic manner? Justify.
Answer:
The disciples of Buddha belonged to different social classes. There were kings, rich people, and householders among his disciples. There were also labourers, artisans and even slaves in the group. Inside the Sangha all were equal. Once a person becomes a Bikhshu or Bikshuni, his/her previous position did not matter.

The bhikhus and bikhshunis were required to follow the Sangha rules. All these rules are explained in ‘Viriaya Pitaka’. The rules were made in such a way that they would help people to come away from their luxurious lifestyles and live in a simple way. The Sangha followed’ a democratic way.

The internal, working of the Sangha was based on the traditions of the Ganas and Sanghas in the Mahajanapadas. Problems were solved through discussions. If there were differing views, things were settled by vote.

Question 23.
What are Chaitanyas?
Answer:
From the very early times, people used to consider some places as very holy. These places had some special features. There were some rare trees or rocks there. The places were also extremely beautiful. In them there were small kovils or shrines. These places were called Chaitanya’s. Chaitanya came from the word ‘chitha’. In fact, Chaitanya is a prayer hall.

Question 24.
Explain hagiography. What is its role in recreating history?
Answer:
Hagiography is the life history of a religious leader or a saint. To understand the Buddha statues, art historians must be familiar with Buddha’s hagiography. Usually, in a hagiography, the achievements of the saint or leader are praised. They may not be fully true. But they are important, as they give us valuable information regarding the traditions followed by disciples of certain faiths.

Biographical records show that Buddha got his Enlightenment as he was meditating under the Bodhi Tree. In many statues, Buddha is not shown at all. Sometimes he is represented as an empty seat, Stupa, wheel and such symbols.

  1. The empty seat is symbolic of Buddha’s meditation.
  2. The Stupas symbolize his final days, or death (Mahaparinirvana).
  3. The wheel is symbolic of Buddha’s first preaching at Saranath.

Question 25.
In the background of the Sanchi Stupa, describe the making style and structure of the stupas. How do stupas help in the recreation of history?
Answer:
Stupas are found in Chaitanya’s. These are mounds where part of the mortal remains of Buddha or some things he used is buried. They have been made with bricks or stones. They have a lot of story value.

  1. Even before the coming of Buddhism, the practice of making stupas was in existence. Later it became attached to Buddhism.
  2. Since they are built over the remains of Buddha or the things he used, they are worshipped as a sign of Buddha and Buddhism.

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Followers of Buddha built many stupas in different. parts of India. The Buddhist Book “Asokavadana Sishta” says that Emperor Asoka sent the mortal remains of Buddha to all the important towns of his empire and ordered stupas to be built over them. By the 2nd century BC, many stupas were built. The most famous stupas are in Bharhut, Sanchi, and Saranath. Stupa is a Sanskrit word meaning a heap or mound. In the early times, stupas were in semi-circles.

Later they were known as ‘anda’. Gradually, the structure of the stupas became complex. They now acquired circular and rectangular shapes. Over the andas, they built some kind of balcony. It was called harmika which means ‘sreekovil’. It represents the abode of god. From harmika rose a flag-post, called ‘yashti’. Around this, there were chhatris (umbrellas). Around the mound, a stone wall was constructed separating it from the material world around.

The early stupas in Sanchi and Bharhut were simple. The gates and the fences were looking as if they were made of bamboos or wood. There were four entrance arches to the stupas. These arches were decorated with sculptures. The worshippers entered the stupa from the eastern archway and went round the mound, Later these stupas were adorned with various sculptures and inscriptions. Such decorated stupas can be seen in Amaravati and Shahji-ki-dheri in Peshawar in Pakistan.

Question 26.
Explain the principles of Jainism.
Answer:

  • All things in the world have life. Even stones, rocks, and water have life and soul.
  • Non-violence is the central principle of Jainism. It taught not to trouble humans, animals, insects and plants.
  • The ultimate aim of human life is nirvana or getting moksha.
  • Nirvana is the release from birth and rebirth.
  • Karma causes birth and rebirth. If one wants to get moksha, his karma should be right. Only through the Triratnas – good knowledge, good action, and good faith-one can acquire moksha.
  • To come out of the karma circle, asceticism and meditation are essential. For that worldly life should be given up. The Jain ascetics, both men and women, should take five pledges.
    1. Don’t kill
    2. Don’t steal
    3. Don’t lie
    4. Don’t own property
    5. Practise chastity

Question 27.
Bring out the basic differences between Mahayana and Hinayana.
Answer:
Buddhism was divided into two Mahayarta and Hinayana.

1. Hinayana means lesser vehicle or lesser wheel. Hinayana followed the basic tenets of Buddhism. They followed the old tradition. They continued using Pali to propagate their faith.

2. Mahayana means Great vehicle. They followed new principles and code of conduct. Worshipping the idols of Buddha and the Bodhisatwas became an important part of this group.

3. Mahayana followers looked at Buddha as a savior and worshipped him as a god. They prayed to him for moksha and guidance. Thus piety became the main feature of Mahayana Buddhism.

4. Mahayana followers believed in the concept of Bodhisatwa. Each follower here should try to become a Bodhisatwan. By serving others and performing Doble deeds anybody can become a Bodhisatwan.

5. Mahayana followers worshipped even some famous Bodhisatwans.To propagate Buddhism, Mahayana followers used Sanskrit.

Question 28.
The Stupa in Amaravati was neglected but the one in Sanchi was protected. Why?
Answer:
Amaravati Stupa was discovered before the discovery at Sanchi. But the scholars were not then aware of the importance of preserving the historical monuments. Sanchi was discovered in 1818. Of the 4 doors, three were still intact. The 4th was lying down. The mound did not have any damage. The Europeans tried take away the doors to London or Paris, but because of the timely interference of the rulers in Bhopal, they were protected. But the ‘Mahachaitanya’ of Amaravati still remains as a small mound. It has lost all its past glory.

Question 29.
Were women allowed into the Buddhist Sangha? Clarify.
Answer:
In the beginning, only men could be members. But later women were also included. It was because of the persuasion by Ananda, who was one of the dearest disciples of Buddha, that Buddha allowed women into the Sangha. They were known as ‘bikhshunis’. The first bikhshuni was the foster mother of Buddha. Her name was Mahaprajapati Gomathy. All bikhshunis were propagators of the religion. They tried hard to become ‘theri’ – respectable women who were entitled to moksha.

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Question 30.
Why were the stupas built? What is their importance?
Answer:
Stupas are holy places. These are mounds where part of the mortal remains of Buddha or some things he used is buried. They have been made with bricks or stones. They have a lot of story value.

  1. Even before the coming of Buddhism, the practice of making stupas was in existence. Later it became attached to Buddhism.
  2. Since they are built over the remains of Buddha or the things he used, they are worshipped as a sign of Buddha and Buddhism.

Followers of Buddha built many stupas in different parts of India. The Buddhist Book “Asokavadana Sishta” says that Emperor Asoka sent the mortal remains of Buddha in all the important towns of his empire and ordered stupas to be built over them. By the 2nd century BC, many stupas were built. The most famous stupas are in Bharhut, Sanchi and Saranath.

Question 31.
Do you think the stupas were built from the donations received from people? Justify.
Answer:
On the pillars and bars of the stupas, there are many inscriptions. These inscriptions record that the stupas were built with the donations from people. From a different sections of the society, funds came.

  1. Some donations came from kings like Satavahanan.
  2. Guilds also gave donations. It was the artisans who made sculptures with ivory that gave the money to make a door in Sanchi.
  3. Ordinary men and women also gave donations, their names, profession, birthplace, and names of their relatives are inscribed on the stones.
  4. Bhikshus and Bikshunis also gave their contributions to building the stupas.

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Question 32.
Describe the structure and style of making of the stupas.
Answer:
Stupa is a Sanskrit word meaning a heap or mound. In the early times, stupas were in semi-circles. Later they were known as ‘anda’. Gradually, the structure of the stupas became complex. They now acquired circular and rectangular shapes. Over the andas, they built some kind of balcony.

It was called harmika which means ‘sreekovil’. It represents the abode of god. From harmika rose a flag-post, called ‘yashti’. Around this, there were chhatris (umbrellas). Around the mound, a stone wall was constructed separating it from the material world around.

The early stupas in Sanchi and Bharhut were simple. The gates and the fences were looking as if they were made of bamboos or wood. There were four entrance arches to the stupas. These arches. were decorated with sculptures. The worshippers entered the stupa from the eastern archway arid went round the mound, Later these stupas were adorned with various sculptures and inscriptions. Such decorated stupas can be seen in Amaravati and Shahji-ki-dheri in Peshawar in Pakistan.

Question 33.
Why did Buddhism become popular? To which all countries did it spread?
Answer:
Even during Buddha’s lifetime and also after his death Buddhism began to grow popular. It spread into China, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Mangolia and Tibet. The quickly changing social environment and the dissatisfaction of people with the existing religious practices attracted them to Buddhism. The following were the additional reasons:

  1. Buddhism gave preference to values and conduct more than to birth. It rejected the caste system.
  2. It stressed compassion, especially to the children and the destitute.
  3. Its principles were easily understandable.
  4. Buddha used Pali, the language of the common people, to propagate his religion. It increased its popularity.
  5. It got the support of kings like Asoka, Kanishka, and Harsha.
  6. The working of the Buddhist Sanghas also helped in increasing its popularity.

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Question 34.
In ancient Hindu Religion there are two Traditions. What are they? What are their salient features?
Answer:
The two traditions are Vaishnava religion and Saiva religion.

1. Vaishnavas worshipped Vishnu as the main god. Saivas worshipped Siva. In their worship piety was the main factor. Piety is the love and dedication the worshipper shows his god.

2.  In Vaishnava religion, the followers accepted the ten avatars of Vishnu. The Vaishnavites believed that whenever the world was threatened by immoral powers with violence and destruction, Vishnu appeared as a new avatar to save the believers.

3. Different avatars became popular in different parts of the country. Local deities were also viewed as Vishnu’s avatar. It was a way to make a unified religious tradition. In different sculptures, Vishnu appeared in different forms.

Question 35.
Find out the relation between the items in A and complete the blank in B accordingly.

1.a) Mahayanam – Big wheel
b) Hinayanam – …………

2.a) Jainism-Triratnas
b) Buddhism – ………..

3.a) Mahavira – Kuntagramam
b) Buddha – ……….
Answer:
1. small wheel
2. Ashtangamangas
3. Lumbini

Question 36.
The 6th century BC was a period of social revolutions in India. On the basis of this statement, explain the origin of Buddhism and Jainism.
Answer:
Areas to be considered:

  1. Yaga tradition
  2. Brahmin authority
  3. New Economic system
  4. Fresh questions
  5. Discussions and Talks
  6. Sacrifices and Debates

The 6th century BC was a turning point in world history. Many philosophers were found in different parts of the world. In Iran Zaratushtra, In China Confucius, in Greece Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in India Mahavira and Gautama Buddha -all these people lived in this period.

  1. They tried to find out the mysteries of existence.
  2. They tried to find the relations between man and the universe.
  3. They tried to analyze the social and economic happenings of the time.

In India, the 6th century BC was a period of social revolution. In the Ganges valley, new Empires and cities came up. Social and economic life of the people was changing in various ways. These changes caused many religions to come up. The most important of them were Jainism and Buddhism. Let’s see the causes for their rise.

Sacrificial Tradition: Even before the coming of Jainism and Buddhism, different philosophical concepts and religious traditions were in existence. One of them was the Veda tradition. We know things about that period from Rigveda, which was collected between 1500 and 1000 BC.

Rigveda is a collection of hymns praising gods like Fire, Indra, and Soman. These hymns were recited during the sacrifices (Yagas) which were performed by the people to have health, children, cattle wealth and long life.

In the beginning, yagas were conducted in large groups for the entire people. But from 1000 to 500 BC, yagas were conducted privately by householders for the prosperity of their family or clan. But great yagas like Rajasuyam and Ashwamedhom were conducted only by kings and chiefs.

The yagas and rituals lost their earlier simplicity and purity. They became more noisy, showy, expensive and even violent. Such yagas were unaffordable by ordinary people. With the increase in the yagas and rituals, the importance and prestige of Brahmins began to increase. Things like yagas became the monopoly of Brahmins. They misused their position to exploit people.

The Problems of Jati and Language: In the post-Veda period the society was divided into 4 Varnas. It caused a lot of conflicts in the society. Brahmins claimed the highest status. They had special rights. They were exempted from taxes and punishment. The Kshatriyas objected to this. Since Mahavira and Buddha were Kshatriyas, they too were against this Brahmin domination.

Vaisyas and Sudras opposed the authority of the higher Varnas. Although the Vaisyas had money and power, their position was lower than the Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Naturally they welcomed the new religions.

All the Vedic books were written in Sanskrit. So, most of the people did not understand anything. The incantations for yagas and rituals were recited in Sanskrit. People repeated them without knowing what they said. Mahavira and Buddha propagated their religions in Pali and Prakrit. So people accepted them easily.

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The New Economic System: The growth of the agricultural economy helped the new religions to develop. The use of iron made it possible to clear forests and make bigger farms. Agricultural technologies also became better. The development of agriculture increased the demand for cattle, as bullocks were used for ploughing the farms.

Brahmins killed a lot of cattle for various sacrifices and therefore there was a reduction in the cattle wealth. Priestly sacrifices of animals became an obstacle for agriculture. Naturally, people welcomed the new religions which advocated non-violence.

New Questions: The philosophical questions in the Upanishads also made people unhappy. The Upanishads say that people were interested in knowing the essence of life, the possibility of life after death, rebirth, etc. Issues like the relation of karma with rebirth caused a lot of heated debates. People were interested in finding out the Ultimate Truth.

Many people even doubted if there is anything called the Ultimate Truth. They also doubted the importance of Veda tradition. Debates and Discussions: We get some idea about the debates and discussions of those times from the Buddhist books. There were some 64 different kinds of ideological streams.

Religious teachers travelled across the country and discussed matters with the common people. They tried to impress upon the people with the importance of their thinking. People also discussed and debated these matters. These discussions were conducted in some special tents with tapering tops called ‘kudagarasala’ or in groves where the bikshus stayed during their journeys. If one philosopher defeated another one in a debate, the followers of the defeated one would follow the winning philosopher. Therefore the support for a particular stream would increase or decrease fast.

People like Mahavira and Buddha questioned the authenticity of the Vedas. They gave importance to personal actions. They asked the people, men and women, to make efforts to be free from the worries and anxieties of this world. Their attitude was quite different from the attitude of the Brahmins who gave importance to one’s birth and not his way of life.

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Question 37.
Write an essay defining the principles of Buddhism, Buddha Sangha and the Spread of Buddhism.
Answer:
It is from stories that we learn about the principles of Buddhism, especially from “Suttapitaka”. Some of the stories here describe the miraculous powers of Buddha, There are also stories which speak highly of his wisdom, logic and sense of reality. These stories point out that without showing any miracles, he tried to teach people things logically.

For example there is this story. A mother whose son had died came to Buddha asking him to bring her dead son back to life. He did not perform any miracle of raising the boy from death. But he convinced the mother about the inevitability of death.

All these stories are written in Pali, the language of the common people. So, people could understand them easily. In his first preaching at Saranath we can see the important principles of Buddhism.

The world continuously changes. There is nothing permanent or immortal in it. There is no soul in it. In short the world is without eternity and without soul. The basis of Buddhism is Four Noble Truths (Arya Satyas) with Ashtangamarga. The Noble Truths are:

  1. The world is a sorrowful place.
  2. Desires are the cause of sorrow.
  3. If we deny our desires, we can avoid sorrow.
  4. By following the Ashtanga Maiga, you can overcome sorrow.

The ashtanga margas are: right word, right deed, right life, right efforts, right memory, right view, right decision and right meditation.

Followers of Buddha: For his ascetics Buddha made an organization called ‘Sangha’. Their main duty was preaching or dharmopadesa. They lived a simple life keeping only the basic necessities. They had a small bowl for taking alms. Since they lived with the alms they received they were known as ‘bikshus’. Initially there were only men. But because of the influence of Ananda, a favourite disciple of Buddha, women also were enrolled. They were called bikshunis. The first bikshuni was Buddha’s foster mother, Mahaprajapati Gomathy. All bikshunis wanted to be ‘theri’, respectable women who have got moksha.

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The disciples of Buddha belonged to different social classes. There were kings, rich people, and householders among his disciples. There were also labourers, artisans and even slaves in the group. Inside the Sangha all were equal. Once a person becomes a Bikhshu or Bikshuni, his/her previous position did not matter.

The bikhshus and bikhshunis were required to follow the Sangha rules. All these rules are explained in ‘Vinaya Pitaka’. The rules were made in such a way that they would help people to come away from their luxurious lifestyles and live in a simple way. The Sangha followed a democratic way. The internal working of the Sangha was based on the traditions of the Ganas and Sanghas in the Mahajanapadas. Problems were solved through discussions. If there were differing views, things were settled by vote.

The Spread of Buddhism: Even during Buddha’s lifetime and also after his death Buddhism began to grow popular. It spread into China, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Mangolia and Tibet. The quickly changing social environment and the dissatisfaction of people with the existing religious practices attracted them to Buddhism. The following were the additional reasons:

  1. Buddhism gave preference to values and conduct more than to birth. It rejected the caste system.
  2. It stressed compassion, especially to the children and the destitute.
  3. Its principles were easily understandable.
  4. Buddha used Pali, the language of the common people, to propagate his religion. It increased its popularity.
  5. It got the support of kings like Asoka, Kanishka, and Harsha.
  6. The working of the Buddhist Sanghas also helped in increasing its popularity.

Question 38.
What are Stupas? Prepare a note on them.
Answer:
Stupas are holy places. These are mounds where part of the mortal remains of Buddha or some things he used is buried. They have been made with bricks or stones. They have a lot of story value.

  1. Even before the coming of Buddhism, the practice of making stupas was in existence. Later it became attached to Buddhism.
  2. Since they are built over the remains of Buddha or the things he used, they are worshipped as a sign of Buddha and Buddhism.

Followers of Buddha built many stupas in different parts of India. The Buddhist Book “Asokavadana Sishta” says that Emperor Asoka sent the mortal remains of Buddha in all the important towns of his empire and ordered stupas to be built over them. By the 2nd century BC, many stupas were built. The most famous stupas are in Bharhut, Sanchi and Saranath.

Stupa is a Sanskrit word meaning a heap or mound. In the early times, stupas were in semi-circles. Later they were known as ‘anda’. Gradually, the structure of the stupas became complex. They now acquired circular and rectangular shapes. Over the andas, they built some kind of balcony. It was called harmika which means ‘sreekovil’. It represents the abode of god. From harmika rose a flag-post, called ‘yashti’. Around this there were chhatris (umbrellas). Around the mound, a stone wall was constructed separating it from the material world around. The early stupas in Sanchi and Bharhut were simple.

The gates and the fences were looking as if they were made of bamboos or wood. There were four entrance arches to the stupas. These arches were decorated with sculptures. The worshippers entered the stupa from the eastern archway and went round the mound, Later these stupas were adorned with various sculptures and inscriptions. Such decorated stupas can be seen in Amaravati and Shahji-ki-dheri in Peshawar in Pakistan.

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