Nitin Singhania Test: Indian Literature - 2

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The Puranas laid down that

1. it was not possible for devotees to receive the grace of God unless they were born in certain castes

2. one should not be devout of god idols and instead meditate on the formless reality

Which of the above is/are correct?

  • One could attain the grace of god irrespective of one's caste status.

  • When the Puranas first began to be composed, the belief in particular deities had become established as one of the principal marks of the Hindu faith. To some degree, the Puranas can be described as a form of sectarian literature.

  • Some Puranas exhibit devotion to Shiva; in others, the devotion to Vishnu predominates.


The Mahapuranas have five subjects. Which of the following is NOT included?

  • The main Puranas are 18 encyclopaedic collections of legend and myth. Though the archaic form of the genre might have existed as early as the fourth and fifth century BCE, the famous names of the 18 Mahapuranas were not discovered earlier than the third century AD.

  • The phenomenal popularity of these Mahapuranas gave rise to yet another subgenre known as the Upapuranas or minor Puranas. They are also 19 in number.

  • The Mahapuranas have five subjects. These are: (1) Sarga, the original creation of the universe, (2) Pratisarga, the periodical process of destruction and re-creation, (3) Manvantara, the different eras or cosmic cycles, (4) Surya Vamsha and Chandra Vamsha, the histories of the Solar and Lunar dynasties of gods and sages, (5) Vamshanucharita, the genealogies of kings.


Consider the following statements:

1. Among ancient religious texts, the term 'Sati' has been used most frequently in Vedas.

2. The Vishnu Parana and Padma Purana cite instances of 'Sati'.

3. Early writers on Smriti such as Vasistha and Yajnavalkya have given extensive commentary on the grave issue of Sati.

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

  • Sati is not featured directly in the earliest religious texts and is referred to infrequently in the later literature leading up to the Christian era. The first instance of Sati can be traced back only to the fourth century BCE.

  • The Vishnu Parana, the Padma Purana, the Bhagavata and the Brahma Purana also cite instances of Sati, thus indicating that the institution was slowly emerging in our society between AD 400 and 600.

  • Other early writers on Smriti, i.e., texts on codes of conduct, such as Vasistha or Yajnavalkya, have not spoken on the issue of Sati let alone endorse or recommend the custom.

  • Vasistha allows the remarriage of women in certain unusual circumstances, such as a husband who is insane.

  • However, rather than allowing remarriage, Yajnavalkya prescribes the duties of a widow.


Regarding ancient texts, consider the following statements:

1. The Brahmanas are the law texts under Manusmriti that helped establish the predominance of Brahmana community.

2. Upanishads are treatises relating to prayer and sacrificial ceremony.

3. Aranyakas are called forest books, and they deal with mysticism.

4. Yajurveda deals with music, chanting and medicine.

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

  • Apart from Vedas, there are other sacred works like the Upanishads, Brahmana, the Aranyakas and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

  • The Brahmanas are the work relating to prayer and sacrificial ceremony.

  • The Upanishads are philosophical texts, which deal with the soul, the absolute, the origin of the world and the mysteries of nature.

  • The Aranyakas are the forest books that deal with rites, mysticism, rituals and sacrifices.

  • Yajurveda is a compilation of ritual offering formulas said by a priest while an individual performed ritual actions such as those before the yajna fire.


Which of the following treatises represents the transitional phase between the ritualistic symbolism of the Brahmanas and the philosophical doctrines of the Upanishads?

  • Vedic rituals are preserved in literary works called the Brahmanas. It has twofold division- the ritualistic injunction and discussions on the meaning of Vedic ritual and all related to it.

  • The Aranyakas are the forest books that present secret explanations of the ritual. They have their origin in the philosophical discussions of the Brahmanas and find their culmination in the Upanishads. They represent the transitional phase between the ritualistic symbolism of the Brahmanas and the philosophical doctrines of the Upanishads.

  • The Upanishads, written both in poetry and prose, are expressions of philosophical concepts.


Which of the following statements regarding Kautilya's Arthashastra is INCORRECT?

  • Despite considerable theorising concerning rituals in later Vedic collections and the Brahmanas, one can't find any state definition either in this literature or in the early law-books, the Dharmasutras. This was because this institution was not established on a firm footing so far.

  • It is only after the rise of Kosala and Magadha's well-organised states in the age of the Buddha that the state is defined for the first time in the Arthashastra of Kautilya as consisting of seven elements, a definition which becomes an axiom in the later sources.

  • The Arthashastra explores such issues advising the king that in times and areas devastated by famine, epidemic and such acts of nature, or by war, he should initiate public projects such as building irrigation projects, building forts around major strategic holdings and towns and exempt taxes on those affected.

  • The Arthashastra does recognise the concept of land ownership rights and other private property and requires the king to protect that right from seizure or abuse. This makes it unlike the Soviet Union and China model of citizen's private property rights.


Consider the following regarding Varahamihira:

1. He contributed to trigonometry by improving sine tables of Aryabhatta.

2. His Pancha Siddhantika is a treatise on five precepts of a pious life.

3. According to Varahmihira's works, he was educated in Kapitthaka.

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

  • Varahamihira made some important mathematical discoveries. Among these are certain trigonometric formulae:

(a) Sine tables were his other important contribution to trigonometry, where he improved those of Aryabhatta I by giving more accurate values.

(b) The accuracy was very important for the Indian mathematicians, since they were computing sine tables for astrology and astronomy applications.

  • The Pancha Siddhantika (The Five Astronomical Canons) dated 575 AD was the most famous work by Varahamihira.

(a) This work gives us information about older Indian texts, which are now lost.

(b) It is a treatise on mathematical astronomy and it summarises five earlier astronomical treatises, namely, the Surya, Romaka, Paulisa, Vasistha and Paitamaha Siddhantas.

  • Varahamihira was educated in Kapitthaka. He worked at Ujjain, which was an important centre for mathematics since around 400 AD. The school of mathematics at Ujjain gained prominence due to Varahamihira working there and it continued to be one of the two leading mathematical centres in India, and Brahmagupta as its next major figure.


Consider the following statements:

1. The Vinaya Pitaka describes the existence of painted figures in many royal buildings.

2. The Vishnudharmottara Purana has a section on a painting called Chitrasutra.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  • It is a Buddhist text that dates to nearly the fourth and third century and a mention of paintings are only logical because local rulers patronised many sanghas and viharas.

  • This is a seventh-century AD text.

  • Chitrasutra describes the six organs of painting like a variety of form, proportion, lustre, a portrayal of colour, etc.


Which of the following Ancient Indian texts contains references to hydrological concepts and principles?

1. Vedas

2. Puranas

3. Meghmala

4. Nirmala Sanhita

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

  • Reading ancient Indian literature suggests that those people knew the basic concepts of measurements and hydrological processes. The concepts of modern hydrology are scattered in various Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata, Meghmala, Mayur Chitraka, Brihat Samhita and other ancient Indian works. For example, the important concepts, on which the modem science of hydrology is founded, are scattered in Vedas in various verses, which are in the form of prayers and hymns addressed to various deities.


Said to be the oldest medical book in India; it contains many tenets of Ayurveda, it is

  • It is an ancient text on Ayurvedic medicines written by Atreya.

  • It is the basis of the works of Harita and Charaka. It describes about the eight branches of Ayurveda, such as Kayachikitsa (internal medicine), Shalakya Tantra (surgery and treatment of head and neck—ophthalmology and otolaryngology), Shalya Tantra (surgery), Agada Tantra (toxicology), Bhuta Vidya (psychiatry), Kaumarabhritya (pediatrics), Rasayana (science of rejuvenation or antiaging), and Vajikarana (the science of fertility).


Phaldeepika and Brihat Jataka of ancient India are major works on

  • Brihat Jataka is considered the standard textbook on Vedic astrology and sometimes described as "India's foremost astrological text".

  • It is one of the five principal texts written by Varahamihira, the other four being Panchasiddhantika, Brihat Samhita, Laghu Jataka and Yogayatra.

  • It is also one of the five major treatises on Hindu predictive astrology. The other four are Saravali of Kalyan Varma, Sarvartha Chintamani of Venkatesh, Jataka Parijata of Vaidyanatha and Phaladeepika of Mantreswara.

  • The study of this classic text makes one grasp the fundamentals of astrology.


Consider the following statements:

1. Most of the Ashokan inscriptions were in the Greek language, while those in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent were in Aramaic and Prakrit.

2. Ashokan inscriptions were written in both Prakrit and Brahmi scripts.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  • Many of them were in Prakrit, but in the northwest direction, one could find Aramaic and Greek languages.

  • The Aramaic and Greek scripts were used for inscriptions in Afghanistan.

  • James Prinsep, an officer in the East India Company's mint, deciphered Brahmi and Kharosthi, two scripts used in the earliest inscriptions and coins.

  • This gave a new direction to investigations into early Indian political history.


Ashtadhyayi is the

  • It is a Sanskrit treatise on grammar written in the sixth to fifth century BCE by Panini. This work set the linguistic standards for classical Sanskrit. Beyond defining the morphology and syntax of Sanskrit language, Ashtadhyayi distinguishes between usage in the spoken language and usage proper to the language of the sacred texts.

  • It is the earliest known work on linguistic description. Together with his immediate predecessors (the Niruktas, Nighantus, and Pratishakyas) stands at the beginning of the history of linguistics itself. His theory of morphological analysis was more advanced than any equivalent Western theory before the mid-20lh century.


The Surya Siddhanta composed in the early fifth and sixth century AD was an influential work dealing with

  • Some of the early and very significant developments of trigonometry were in India. Influential works from the fourth and fifth century, known as the Siddhanta's (of which there were five, the most important of which is the Surya Siddhanta), first defined the sine as the modem relationship between half an angle and half a chord, while also defining the cosine, versine, and inverse sine.

  • Soon afterwards, another Indian mathematician and astronomer, Aiyabhatta (476-550 AD), collected and expanded upon the developments of the Siddhantas in an important work called the Aryabhatiya.


Consider the following classical Sanskrit literature and their subject matters:

1. Mricchakatika: social drama

2. Meghaduta: war between nations

3. Panchatantra: politics and practical wisdom

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

  • The Mricchakatika (the clay- cart) by Sudraka (248 AD) presents a remarkable social drama with grim reality touches.

  • The characters are drawn from all strata of society, which include thieves and gamblers, rogues and idlers, courtesans, etc.

  • In Kalidasa's narrative lyric poem, Meghaduta (the cloud messenger), the poet makes a cloud a messenger to tell the story of two lovers who are separated.

  • This is also quite in keeping with the sublime conception of love, which looks dark in separation, like a black cloud with a silver lining.

  • The didactic fable Panchatantra (five chapters), dealing with politics and practical wisdom, which was written by Vishnu Sharma, and the Hitopadesha, the bird, animal-human and non-human stories of advice for the benefit of the listeners, which was written by Narayan Pandit, are literary masterpieces which crossed the borders of the sub-continent and became popular in foreign lands.


Histories of the Gupta rulers have been reconstructed from literature, coins and inscriptions. Consider the following statements about the Gupta rule in India:

1. Banabhatta composed the Prayaga Prashasti (also known as the Allahabad pillar inscription).

2. Banabhatta was the court poet of Samudragupta.

3. The Prayaga Prashasti was composed in praise of Samudragupta in Prakrit language.

Which of the above is/are incorrect?

  • Harisena composed the Prayaga Prashasti (also known as the Allahabad pillar inscription). Harisena was the court poet of Samudragupta, while Banabhatta was the court poet of Harshavardhana.

  • The Prayaga Prashasti was composed in praise of Samudragupta in Sanskrit.


About Indian literature, consider the following:

1. Stories in prose were new to India.

2. Panchatantra is prose.

3. Prose overlooks aesthetic appeal.

4. Dastan contains tales of adventure and heroism in Persian and Urdu and disregarded as prose.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • Stories in prose were not new to India. Banabhatta's Kadambari, written in Sanskrit in the seventh century, is an early example.

  • The Panchatantra is another. There was also a long tradition of prose tales of adventure and heroism in Persian and Urdu, known as dastan. However, these works were not novels as we know today.

  • The prose is a form of language which applies ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure (as in traditional poetry).

  • Prose benefits the more informal metrical structure of verse that is almost always found in traditional poetry.

  • Poems usually involve a meter and/or rhyme scheme. Instead, Prose comprises full, grammatical sentences, which then constitute paragraphs and overlook an esthetic appeal.


Bhartrhari, fifth century CE, was a Sanskrit writer to whom two influential Sanskrit texts are accredited, Vakyapadiya. It deals with

  • Vakyapadiya, on Sanskrit grammar and linguistic philosophy, is a foundational text in the Indian grammatical tradition, explaining numerous theories on the word and on the sentence, including theories which came to be known under the name of Sphota.

  • Another work is Satakatraya. It is Sanskrit's work, comprising three collections of about 100 stanzas each; it may or may not be by the same author who composed the two mentioned grammatical works.


The Baudhayana Sutras are a group of Vedic Sanskrit texts, which cover

1. statecraft

2. dharma

3. daily ritual

4. mathematics

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

  • These sutras belong to the Taittiriya branch of the Krishna Yajurveda school and are among the earliest texts of the sutra genre, perhaps compiled in the eighth to seventh centuries BCE.

  • It contains dharma, daily ritual, mathematics, etc.

  • The Baudhayana sutras consist of six texts. For example, Sulbasutra is noted for containing several early mathematical results, including an approximation of the square root of 2 and the statement of a version of the Pythagorean Theorem.


In Sanskrit sources, the usage of the words 'Yona', 'Yauna', 'Yonaka', 'Yavana' or 'Javana' repeatedly appears, and particularly concerning the

  • These terms repeatedly appear, particularly concerning the Greek kingdoms, which neighboured or sometimes occupied the Punjab region over several centuries from the fourth century BCE to the first century CE.

  • Examples are the Seleucid Empire, the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and the Indo- Greek Kingdom.

  • The Yavanas are mentioned in Sangam literature epics such as Pattinappalai, describing their brisk trade with the early Cholas in the Sangam period.


What is the central feature of all the Upanishads?

1. All of them deny non-dualism or Advaita and assert dvaita or dualism.

2. They take the stand that the universe is without consciousness and a mere play of the Brahman.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  • The example of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad can invalidate both these statements.

  • The metaphysics of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is non-dualism (Advaita).

  • From infinite or fullness, we can get only fullness of infinite'. The above verse describes the nature of the Absolute or Brahman, which is infinite or full, i.e., it contains everything.

  • Upanishadic metaphysics is further elucidated in the Madhu-vidya (honey doctrine), where every object's essence is described to be the same to the essence of every other object.

  • The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad looks at reality as being indescribable and its nature to be infinite and consciousness-bliss.


Which of the following is wrong about Upanishads?

Solution: These were part of the later Vedic texts.


Rigveda repeatedly refers to Sapta Sindhu, the land of seven rivers. Which of the following is/are not one of them?

1. Ganga

2. the Yamuna

3. Saraswathi

4. Chenab

Select the right code

  • The Aryans were mostly confined to the Indus region during the Rig Vedic period. The Rig Veda refers to Sapta Sindhu or the land of seven rivers.

  • This includes the five rivers of Punjab, namely, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, and the Indus and Saraswathi.


Consider the following statements about Rigveda:

1. The oldest Veda is the Rigveda, composed about 3500 years ago.

2. The Rigveda includes more than a thousand hymns, called sukta or 'well- said'. These hymns are in praise of various gods and goddesses.

Which of the above statement is/are correct?

Solution: Both the statements are correct.


Consider the following statements and choose the appropriate option:

1. Purusha Sukta describes the sacrifice of Purusha, the primaeval man. It says that all the elements of the universe were supposed to have emanated from his body.

2. Purusha Sukta is a part of Rigveda.

3. The rule that Kshatriyas were supposed to engage in warfare, protect people and administer justice, study the Vedas, get sacrifices, and make gifts is given in the Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras.

Which of the above is/are correct?

Solution: Purusha Sukta is a hymn in the Rig Veda.


Consider the following statements:

1. Prakrit is in the genesis of modern Indian languages.

2. Kabir criticised use of Sanskrit.

Which of the above is/are true

  • Around 1000 AD, local differences in Prakrit grew more and more pronounced, which later became known as Apabhramsa. This led to the modern Indian languages taking shape and being born.

  • These languages, conditioned by the regional, linguistic and ethnic environment, assumed different linguistic characteristics.

  • The conception of bhakti did away with the elite tradition of Sanskrit and accepted the more acceptable language of the common man.

  • Kabir (Hindi) says that Sanskrit is like stagnant water, while Bhasha is like flowing water. A seventh-century Shaiva Tamil writer Manikkarvachakar has something similar to say about in his book of poetry Thiruvachakam.


Which of the following literature was written during the time of the Mauryan empire?

1. Mudrarakshasa

2. Arthsashtra

3. Indica

Select the right code

  • Mudrarakshasa written by Vishakhadatta, is a Sanskrit drama. Although written during the Gupta period, it reports how Chandragupta with the assistance of Kautilya overthrew the Nandas.

  • Arthsashtra was written in Sanskrit by Kautilya, a contemporary of Chandragupta Maurya.

  • Megasthenes was the Greek ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya. His book Indica has remained only in fragments. His account gives information about the Mauryan administration, particularly the administration of the capital city of Pataliputra and the military organisation.


Consider the following statements:

1. Mudrarakshasa was a play written in Sanskrit by Vishakhadatta.

2. It was written during the Mauryan Period.

3. It describes the overthrow of Nandas by Chandragupta Maurya.

Which of the above statement/s is/are correct?

  • The Mudrarakshasa written by Vishakhadatta is a Sanskrit drama.

  • Although written during the Gupta period, it reports how Chandragupta with the assistance of Kautilya overthrew the Nandas.

  • It also gives details on the socio-economic condition under the Mauryas.


Who is the author of the Sanskrit work 'Mattavilasa Prahasana'?

  • Mahendravarman I followed Jainism in the early part of his career. Later he converted to Shaivism by the influence of a Shaiva saint, Thirunavukkarasar alias Appar. He built a Shiva temple at Tiruvadi.

  • He assumed some titles like Satyasandha, Gunabhara, Chettakari (builder of temples) Chitrakarapuli, Mattavilasa and Viehitiaehitta.

  • He was a great builder of cave temples, and the Mandagappattu inscription hails him as Vichitrachitta who constructed a temple for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva without the use of timber, bricks, metal and mortar.

  • His rock-cut temples are found in a number of places like Mahendravadi, Vallam, Dalavanur, Mandagappattu, Pallavaram, and Tiruchirappalli.

  • He authored the Sanskrit work Mattavilasa Prahasana. His title Chitrakarapuli reveals his talent in painting.

  • He is also an expert in music. The music inscription at Kudumianmalai is ascribed to him. Hence, option (a) is correct.


The Manusmriti is one of the best known legal texts of early India, written in Sanskrit and compiled between second century BCE and second century CE. Consider the following about Manusmrti.

1. It gives equal rights to women on the paternal property and resources.

2. It strongly opposes the Vama system.

Which of the above is/are incorrect?

  • According to the Manusmriti, the paternal estate was to be divided equally amongst sons after the parents' death, with a special share for the eldest. Women could not claim a share of these resources.

  • The Manusmriti laid down the 'duties' of the chandalas. They had to live outside the village, use discarded utensils and wear clothes of the dead and ornaments of iron.

They could not walk about in cities and villages at night. They had to dispose of the bodies of those who had no relatives and serve as executioners.

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