Ques 1: State any two limitations of inscriptional evidences.
Ans: Inscriptional evidences have been used extensively to know about past through digged out text-books, pillars, structures etc. But there are some limitations to what epigraphy can reveal.
1. Technical limitations such as letters are very faintly engraved, and thus reconstructions are uncertain. Also, inscriptions may be damaged or letters missing.
2. It is always not easy to be sure about the exact meaning of the words used in inscriptions, some of which may be specific to a particular place or time.
Ques 2: Who was the preceptor of Mirabai? Mention any one principle of her philosophy.
Ans: Guru Raidas, a low caste leather worker was the preceptor of Mirabai.
One main principle of her philosophy was that one should abandon the comforts of life and devote fully to her God for attainment of peace and salvation.
Ques 3: Examine the problems faced by archaeologists in the interpretation of religious practices of Harappa.
Ans: The problems of archaeological interpretation of religious practices are as follows:
1. Early archaeologists thought that certain objects which seemed unusual or unfamiliar may have had a religious significance. These included terracotta figurines of women, heavily jewelled, some with elaborate head - dresses. These were regarded as mother goddesses. Also structures have been assigned ritual significance such as the Great Bath and fire altars found at Kalibangan and Lothal.
2. Archaeologists have examined seals, some of which seem to depict ritual scenes.
3. Seals with plant motifs, are thought to indicate nature worship.
4. In some seals, a figure shown seated cross-legged in a yogic posture, sometimes surrounded by animals, has been regarded as a depiction of proto-Shiva.
5. Conical stone objects have been classified as lingas.
6. Since archaeologists often move from the known to the unknown. While this is plausible in the case of stone querns and pots, it becomes more speculative when we extend it to religious symbols.
For e.g: The proto-Shiva seals, there are conflicting interpretations in Rigveda about Shiva and Rudra.
Ques 4: Who were categorised as untouchables? Describe the duties prescribed for them in Manusmriti and Shastras.
Ans: Shastras define four-varna system i.e., Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. There was a fifth category who were considered lowly and outside the Varna system. These were treated as untouchables by all other four varnas. The duties are as follows:
1. Manusmriti was written between 200 BCE to 200 CE. It was the oldest among Smritis. It has laid certain duties for each section of society which was supposed to be followed by them. These rules were very harsh on chandals.
2. These were supposed to live outside the town. Normally their entry was restricted to the town.
3. They were regarded as untouchables. Their appearance in public lift was considered inauspicious.
4. They were forced to live a life of seclusion. They had to live outside the village and used discarded utensils. They had to wear clothes of the dead and ornaments of iron.
Ques 5: Explain the importance of the sacred centres of Vijayanagara with special emphasis on Gopurams and Mandapas.
Ans: The temples and other structural forms such as canals were sacred places in Vijayanagar empire. The temples such as Virupaksha and Vithala temples had large gopurams and mandaps. Mandaps were used for various social and religious purposes.
Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, the gaurdian diety of the Kingdom, also recognised as a form of Shiva. The hall in front of the main shrine was built by Krishnadeva Raya to mark his accession. This was decorated with delicately carved pillars. He is also credited with the construction of the eastern gopuram. The additions meant that the central shrine came to occupy a relatively small part of the complex.
The Mandaps in the temple were used for a variety of purposes. In some places the images of gods were placed to witness special programmes of music, dance, drama, etc. Others were used to celebrate the marriages of deities, and some other were meant for the deities to swing in Special images, distinct from those kept in the small central shrine, were used on these occassions.
Vithala temple too has several halls and a unique shrine disigned as chariot. A characteristic feature of the temple complexes is the chariot streets that extended from the temple gopuram in a straight line. These streets were paved with stone slabs and lined with pillared pavilions in which merchants set up their shops.
Ques 6: 'The relationship of the Indian sepoys with their superior white officers underwent a significant change in 1840s and 1850s.' Explain.
Ans: 1. Certainly, the relationship of the sepoys with their superior white officers underwent a significant change in the years preceding the uprising of 1857.
2. In the 1820s, white officers made it a point to keep cordial relations with the sepoys. They would participate in their leisure activities - they wrestled with them, fenced with them and went out hawking with them.
3. Several white officers could speak and understand Hindustani language fluently They were also familiar with the local customs and culture.
4. In the 1840s, this fabric of friendly relationship began to change very fast. The white officers developed a sense of superiority and began treating the sepoys as their racial inferiors, riding roughshod over their sensibilities.
5. Abuse and physical violence became common. In this way, the distance between sepoys and officers became wider. Trust was replaced by doubt. The event of the greased cartridges was a classic example of this increasing suspicion.