Culture: February 2021 Current Affairs Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly

Current Affairs : Culture: February 2021 Current Affairs Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 
                                                                                                                                                        
8. CULTURE 
8.1. ANCIENT BUDDHIST MONASTERY 
Why in news? 
900 years old Ancient 
Buddhist monastery 
was recently unearthed 
by Archaeological 
Survey of India (ASI) in 
Sitagarhi Hills, 
Hazaribagh district of 
Jharkhand. 
More about Findings  
• It is a 10th century 
structure 
resembling a small 
‘Buddha Vihar’ 
(Buddhist shrine-
cum-monastery). 
• Discoveries around 
the site  
o Four statues of 
deity Tara in 
‘Varad Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
dispensing of 
boons)  
o Six statues of 
the Buddha in 
‘Bhumisparsa 
Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
five fingers of 
right hand 
towards the 
earth 
symbolising the 
Buddha’s 
enlightenment). 
o Discovery of the statue of deity Taara shows that the region was an important centre of Vajrayana sect 
of Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism). 
? Nagri script (a previous version of Devnagri script) on a Tara statue was found. 
o Sculpture similar to Shaivite deity Maheswari (with a coiled crown and chakra) indicates cultural 
assimilation in the area. 
• Monastery is on the old route to Varanasi, from Sarnath (where the Buddha gave his first sermon).  
• Some findings at excavation site represents about Pala period, but need to be confirmed with scientific dating 
of structures. 
About Buddhist Monasteries 
• Monasteries were permanent shelters built for supporters, monks and nuns of Buddhism.  
Page 2


 
                                                                                                                                                        
8. CULTURE 
8.1. ANCIENT BUDDHIST MONASTERY 
Why in news? 
900 years old Ancient 
Buddhist monastery 
was recently unearthed 
by Archaeological 
Survey of India (ASI) in 
Sitagarhi Hills, 
Hazaribagh district of 
Jharkhand. 
More about Findings  
• It is a 10th century 
structure 
resembling a small 
‘Buddha Vihar’ 
(Buddhist shrine-
cum-monastery). 
• Discoveries around 
the site  
o Four statues of 
deity Tara in 
‘Varad Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
dispensing of 
boons)  
o Six statues of 
the Buddha in 
‘Bhumisparsa 
Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
five fingers of 
right hand 
towards the 
earth 
symbolising the 
Buddha’s 
enlightenment). 
o Discovery of the statue of deity Taara shows that the region was an important centre of Vajrayana sect 
of Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism). 
? Nagri script (a previous version of Devnagri script) on a Tara statue was found. 
o Sculpture similar to Shaivite deity Maheswari (with a coiled crown and chakra) indicates cultural 
assimilation in the area. 
• Monastery is on the old route to Varanasi, from Sarnath (where the Buddha gave his first sermon).  
• Some findings at excavation site represents about Pala period, but need to be confirmed with scientific dating 
of structures. 
About Buddhist Monasteries 
• Monasteries were permanent shelters built for supporters, monks and nuns of Buddhism.  
 
                                                                                                                                                        
o Monks and nuns lived and meditated in these shelters. 
o In northern India, most of the monasteries were of bricks, while in central India they were caves. E.g. 
Nalanda in Bihar and Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. 
• Later, monasteries evolved in complex structure consisting Vihara, Chaitya and Stupa. 
o Viharas were permanent shelters for monks. Very often, the land on which the vihara was built was 
donated by a rich merchant or a landowner, or the king.  
o Chaitya is an assembly hall that contained a stupa. 
? Stupa is a burial mound for the Buddha and 
original stupas contained the Buddha's ashes.  
? Later, stupas were emptied of these relics and 
simply became symbols of the Buddha and the 
Buddhist ideology. 
? The stupa consists of a cylindrical drum and a 
circular anda with a harmika and chhatra on 
the top, also includes the circumambulatory 
path and gateways. 
? On the railings and torans of the stupa events 
from the life of the Buddha, the Jataka stories 
were depicted. 
? Inscriptions on railings and pillars of stupas 
record donations made for building and 
decorating them by kings, guilds etc. 
o Among large monasteries, Nalanda was the first 
and the most extensive monastery in ancient India 
built by Kumargupta I. 
o These stupa-monastery complexes were located 
close to urban centres and along major trade and 
pilgrimage routes 
• Generally, these monasteries were erected at places 
which were neither very near nor very far from any 
village or town, away from noise and easily accessible 
to nearby towns 
• In India, the period c. 200 BCE–300 CE saw an 
expansion in the number and scale of Buddhist 
monastic complexes (known variously as sangharama, 
vihara, or lena).  
o Central India Monasteries: Bharhut, Sanchi, Satdhara, Sonari, Bhojpur  etc all situated in Madhya Pradesh. 
o North West monasteries: Takht-i-Bahi in Pakistan and Guldara in Afghanistan are two important sites.  
o Eastern Deccan monasteries: Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Jaggayyapeta, and Nagarjunakonda. 
? Amaravati was located next to Dhanyakataka, capital of the later Satavahanas. The discovery of what 
may be an Ashokan inscription at this place suggests that the beginning of the monastic establishment 
may be dated to the Maurya period. 
• Certain Buddhist monasteries achieved fame as educational centres. Nalanda, Bihar was one of the most 
renowned and celebrated of these. The literary references to Nalanda date to the 6th/5th century BCE and 
suggest the possibility that Ashoka may have established a vihara at this place.  
About Pala dynasty and Buddhism 
• Pala dynasty ruled Bihar and Bengal from the 8th to the 12th century.  
o Its founder was Gopala a local chieftain and other important rulers were Dharmapala, Devapala, Mahendrapala 
and Mahipala I. 
• The Pala rulers were great supporters and admirers of Buddhism. 
o Under the Palas the Vajrayana form of Buddhism became a major intellectual and religious force. 
o They made monasteries (viharas) and temples in eastern India to promote Buddhism. 
o Dharmapala, the second Pala ruler, founded the Vikramshila University in Bihar and revived Nalanda University. 
? Devapala granted five villages for the maintenance of Nalanda monastery. 
o Other important Buddhist centers of learning were Odantapura, Vikramashila, and Somapura Mahavihara. 
Page 3


 
                                                                                                                                                        
8. CULTURE 
8.1. ANCIENT BUDDHIST MONASTERY 
Why in news? 
900 years old Ancient 
Buddhist monastery 
was recently unearthed 
by Archaeological 
Survey of India (ASI) in 
Sitagarhi Hills, 
Hazaribagh district of 
Jharkhand. 
More about Findings  
• It is a 10th century 
structure 
resembling a small 
‘Buddha Vihar’ 
(Buddhist shrine-
cum-monastery). 
• Discoveries around 
the site  
o Four statues of 
deity Tara in 
‘Varad Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
dispensing of 
boons)  
o Six statues of 
the Buddha in 
‘Bhumisparsa 
Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
five fingers of 
right hand 
towards the 
earth 
symbolising the 
Buddha’s 
enlightenment). 
o Discovery of the statue of deity Taara shows that the region was an important centre of Vajrayana sect 
of Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism). 
? Nagri script (a previous version of Devnagri script) on a Tara statue was found. 
o Sculpture similar to Shaivite deity Maheswari (with a coiled crown and chakra) indicates cultural 
assimilation in the area. 
• Monastery is on the old route to Varanasi, from Sarnath (where the Buddha gave his first sermon).  
• Some findings at excavation site represents about Pala period, but need to be confirmed with scientific dating 
of structures. 
About Buddhist Monasteries 
• Monasteries were permanent shelters built for supporters, monks and nuns of Buddhism.  
 
                                                                                                                                                        
o Monks and nuns lived and meditated in these shelters. 
o In northern India, most of the monasteries were of bricks, while in central India they were caves. E.g. 
Nalanda in Bihar and Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. 
• Later, monasteries evolved in complex structure consisting Vihara, Chaitya and Stupa. 
o Viharas were permanent shelters for monks. Very often, the land on which the vihara was built was 
donated by a rich merchant or a landowner, or the king.  
o Chaitya is an assembly hall that contained a stupa. 
? Stupa is a burial mound for the Buddha and 
original stupas contained the Buddha's ashes.  
? Later, stupas were emptied of these relics and 
simply became symbols of the Buddha and the 
Buddhist ideology. 
? The stupa consists of a cylindrical drum and a 
circular anda with a harmika and chhatra on 
the top, also includes the circumambulatory 
path and gateways. 
? On the railings and torans of the stupa events 
from the life of the Buddha, the Jataka stories 
were depicted. 
? Inscriptions on railings and pillars of stupas 
record donations made for building and 
decorating them by kings, guilds etc. 
o Among large monasteries, Nalanda was the first 
and the most extensive monastery in ancient India 
built by Kumargupta I. 
o These stupa-monastery complexes were located 
close to urban centres and along major trade and 
pilgrimage routes 
• Generally, these monasteries were erected at places 
which were neither very near nor very far from any 
village or town, away from noise and easily accessible 
to nearby towns 
• In India, the period c. 200 BCE–300 CE saw an 
expansion in the number and scale of Buddhist 
monastic complexes (known variously as sangharama, 
vihara, or lena).  
o Central India Monasteries: Bharhut, Sanchi, Satdhara, Sonari, Bhojpur  etc all situated in Madhya Pradesh. 
o North West monasteries: Takht-i-Bahi in Pakistan and Guldara in Afghanistan are two important sites.  
o Eastern Deccan monasteries: Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Jaggayyapeta, and Nagarjunakonda. 
? Amaravati was located next to Dhanyakataka, capital of the later Satavahanas. The discovery of what 
may be an Ashokan inscription at this place suggests that the beginning of the monastic establishment 
may be dated to the Maurya period. 
• Certain Buddhist monasteries achieved fame as educational centres. Nalanda, Bihar was one of the most 
renowned and celebrated of these. The literary references to Nalanda date to the 6th/5th century BCE and 
suggest the possibility that Ashoka may have established a vihara at this place.  
About Pala dynasty and Buddhism 
• Pala dynasty ruled Bihar and Bengal from the 8th to the 12th century.  
o Its founder was Gopala a local chieftain and other important rulers were Dharmapala, Devapala, Mahendrapala 
and Mahipala I. 
• The Pala rulers were great supporters and admirers of Buddhism. 
o Under the Palas the Vajrayana form of Buddhism became a major intellectual and religious force. 
o They made monasteries (viharas) and temples in eastern India to promote Buddhism. 
o Dharmapala, the second Pala ruler, founded the Vikramshila University in Bihar and revived Nalanda University. 
? Devapala granted five villages for the maintenance of Nalanda monastery. 
o Other important Buddhist centers of learning were Odantapura, Vikramashila, and Somapura Mahavihara. 
 
                                                                                                                                                        
? Students and pilgrims throughout South East Asia came to these monasteries for education and religious 
purposes and returned with specimens of Pala Buddhist art. 
o Pala’s sent missionaries and Buddhism was established in Tibet.  
o At Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya, many of the sculptures in the temple are dated to the 8th century Pala 
Period. 
o A miniature terracotta image of a fasting Buddha, a six-foot-tall votive stupa and a black stone statue of Buddha 
in abhay mudra (fearless mode) from the Pala period reflect the ubiquity of Buddhism then. 
• It is said that last great phase of Buddhist art in India is attributed to the Pala period, with the collapse of the Pala 
dynasty in the 12th century, Indian Buddhism suffered setback and the Buddhist presence in India became negligible. 
Vajrayana Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism) 
• Vajrayana school developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Shaivism and said to be 
influenced by Hinduism. 
• The main deity is Tara (a lady) and based on Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. 
• Also, said that it borrows tenets from both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism while adding an innovation of its own. 
• It involved combining Brahmanical (Veda based) rituals with Buddhist philosophies. 
• This school believes in Tantra’s, Mantras and Yantras superiority to achieve Buddhahood without the difficulties. 
8.2. AHOM KINGDOM 
Why in news? 
Prime Minister made visit to Sivasagar’s Jerenga Pothar in Assam, which has historical significance related to 
Ahom Kingdom.  
More on news 
• Sivasagar (formerly known as Rangpur) was the seat of the powerful Ahom dynasty, who ruled Assam for six 
centuries (1228-1826). 
• Jerenga Pothar in Sivasagar town is popularly connected to the valour of 17
th
 century Ahom princess Joymoti 
(wife of the Ahom prince Gadapani). 
About Ahom Kingdom 
• Ahoms migrated to the Brahmaputra valley from present-day Myanmar. 
• Ahom kingdom was founded by first Ahom king Chao Lung Sui-Kha-Pah in 13th-century. 
o Before his arrival the region was thickly forested and inhabited by local kings Sootias, Boharis, Kacharis 
and Bhuiyan’s (landlord). 
o Sui-Kha-Pah was successful in assimilation of different communities and tribes.  
o He is widely referred to as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam”. 
• During the 16
th
 century, they annexed the kingdoms of the Chhutiyas (1523) and of Koch-Hajo (1581) and 
subjugated many other tribes. 
• Ahom Dynasty governed the region for six centuries from 1228 CE till it was annexed by the British in 1826 
CE, and coexisted with Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526 CE) and Mughals (1526-1857 CE). 
• Kingdom laid the foundation for present day Assamese culture, tradition, art and architecture.  
• Ahoms religion 
o The founders of the Ahom kingdom had their own language and followed their own religion.  
? Later during Rudra Simha’s reign that the Ahoms officially adopted the Assamese religion and 
language, also with blend of traditional folk and Mughal influence. 
? Later Ahom rulers embraced Hinduism due to influence of Brahminism and became devout patrons 
of the Neo-Vaishnavite movement led by Shankardeva. However, did not completely give up 
traditional beliefs. 
• Ahom’s Society 
o Ahom society was divided into clans or khels who controlled several villages. 
o Ahom state depended upon forced labour and those who forced to work for the state were called paik. 
o Ahom kingdom had very few castes of artisans, so artisans in the Ahom areas came from the adjoining 
kingdoms. Ahom society used to give land grants to poets and scholars. 
o The peasant was given land by his village community and even the king could not take it away without the 
community’s consent. 
o Almost all adult males served in the army during war, while at other times, they were engaged in building 
dams, irrigation systems and other public works.  
Page 4


 
                                                                                                                                                        
8. CULTURE 
8.1. ANCIENT BUDDHIST MONASTERY 
Why in news? 
900 years old Ancient 
Buddhist monastery 
was recently unearthed 
by Archaeological 
Survey of India (ASI) in 
Sitagarhi Hills, 
Hazaribagh district of 
Jharkhand. 
More about Findings  
• It is a 10th century 
structure 
resembling a small 
‘Buddha Vihar’ 
(Buddhist shrine-
cum-monastery). 
• Discoveries around 
the site  
o Four statues of 
deity Tara in 
‘Varad Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
dispensing of 
boons)  
o Six statues of 
the Buddha in 
‘Bhumisparsa 
Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
five fingers of 
right hand 
towards the 
earth 
symbolising the 
Buddha’s 
enlightenment). 
o Discovery of the statue of deity Taara shows that the region was an important centre of Vajrayana sect 
of Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism). 
? Nagri script (a previous version of Devnagri script) on a Tara statue was found. 
o Sculpture similar to Shaivite deity Maheswari (with a coiled crown and chakra) indicates cultural 
assimilation in the area. 
• Monastery is on the old route to Varanasi, from Sarnath (where the Buddha gave his first sermon).  
• Some findings at excavation site represents about Pala period, but need to be confirmed with scientific dating 
of structures. 
About Buddhist Monasteries 
• Monasteries were permanent shelters built for supporters, monks and nuns of Buddhism.  
 
                                                                                                                                                        
o Monks and nuns lived and meditated in these shelters. 
o In northern India, most of the monasteries were of bricks, while in central India they were caves. E.g. 
Nalanda in Bihar and Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. 
• Later, monasteries evolved in complex structure consisting Vihara, Chaitya and Stupa. 
o Viharas were permanent shelters for monks. Very often, the land on which the vihara was built was 
donated by a rich merchant or a landowner, or the king.  
o Chaitya is an assembly hall that contained a stupa. 
? Stupa is a burial mound for the Buddha and 
original stupas contained the Buddha's ashes.  
? Later, stupas were emptied of these relics and 
simply became symbols of the Buddha and the 
Buddhist ideology. 
? The stupa consists of a cylindrical drum and a 
circular anda with a harmika and chhatra on 
the top, also includes the circumambulatory 
path and gateways. 
? On the railings and torans of the stupa events 
from the life of the Buddha, the Jataka stories 
were depicted. 
? Inscriptions on railings and pillars of stupas 
record donations made for building and 
decorating them by kings, guilds etc. 
o Among large monasteries, Nalanda was the first 
and the most extensive monastery in ancient India 
built by Kumargupta I. 
o These stupa-monastery complexes were located 
close to urban centres and along major trade and 
pilgrimage routes 
• Generally, these monasteries were erected at places 
which were neither very near nor very far from any 
village or town, away from noise and easily accessible 
to nearby towns 
• In India, the period c. 200 BCE–300 CE saw an 
expansion in the number and scale of Buddhist 
monastic complexes (known variously as sangharama, 
vihara, or lena).  
o Central India Monasteries: Bharhut, Sanchi, Satdhara, Sonari, Bhojpur  etc all situated in Madhya Pradesh. 
o North West monasteries: Takht-i-Bahi in Pakistan and Guldara in Afghanistan are two important sites.  
o Eastern Deccan monasteries: Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Jaggayyapeta, and Nagarjunakonda. 
? Amaravati was located next to Dhanyakataka, capital of the later Satavahanas. The discovery of what 
may be an Ashokan inscription at this place suggests that the beginning of the monastic establishment 
may be dated to the Maurya period. 
• Certain Buddhist monasteries achieved fame as educational centres. Nalanda, Bihar was one of the most 
renowned and celebrated of these. The literary references to Nalanda date to the 6th/5th century BCE and 
suggest the possibility that Ashoka may have established a vihara at this place.  
About Pala dynasty and Buddhism 
• Pala dynasty ruled Bihar and Bengal from the 8th to the 12th century.  
o Its founder was Gopala a local chieftain and other important rulers were Dharmapala, Devapala, Mahendrapala 
and Mahipala I. 
• The Pala rulers were great supporters and admirers of Buddhism. 
o Under the Palas the Vajrayana form of Buddhism became a major intellectual and religious force. 
o They made monasteries (viharas) and temples in eastern India to promote Buddhism. 
o Dharmapala, the second Pala ruler, founded the Vikramshila University in Bihar and revived Nalanda University. 
? Devapala granted five villages for the maintenance of Nalanda monastery. 
o Other important Buddhist centers of learning were Odantapura, Vikramashila, and Somapura Mahavihara. 
 
                                                                                                                                                        
? Students and pilgrims throughout South East Asia came to these monasteries for education and religious 
purposes and returned with specimens of Pala Buddhist art. 
o Pala’s sent missionaries and Buddhism was established in Tibet.  
o At Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya, many of the sculptures in the temple are dated to the 8th century Pala 
Period. 
o A miniature terracotta image of a fasting Buddha, a six-foot-tall votive stupa and a black stone statue of Buddha 
in abhay mudra (fearless mode) from the Pala period reflect the ubiquity of Buddhism then. 
• It is said that last great phase of Buddhist art in India is attributed to the Pala period, with the collapse of the Pala 
dynasty in the 12th century, Indian Buddhism suffered setback and the Buddhist presence in India became negligible. 
Vajrayana Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism) 
• Vajrayana school developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Shaivism and said to be 
influenced by Hinduism. 
• The main deity is Tara (a lady) and based on Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. 
• Also, said that it borrows tenets from both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism while adding an innovation of its own. 
• It involved combining Brahmanical (Veda based) rituals with Buddhist philosophies. 
• This school believes in Tantra’s, Mantras and Yantras superiority to achieve Buddhahood without the difficulties. 
8.2. AHOM KINGDOM 
Why in news? 
Prime Minister made visit to Sivasagar’s Jerenga Pothar in Assam, which has historical significance related to 
Ahom Kingdom.  
More on news 
• Sivasagar (formerly known as Rangpur) was the seat of the powerful Ahom dynasty, who ruled Assam for six 
centuries (1228-1826). 
• Jerenga Pothar in Sivasagar town is popularly connected to the valour of 17
th
 century Ahom princess Joymoti 
(wife of the Ahom prince Gadapani). 
About Ahom Kingdom 
• Ahoms migrated to the Brahmaputra valley from present-day Myanmar. 
• Ahom kingdom was founded by first Ahom king Chao Lung Sui-Kha-Pah in 13th-century. 
o Before his arrival the region was thickly forested and inhabited by local kings Sootias, Boharis, Kacharis 
and Bhuiyan’s (landlord). 
o Sui-Kha-Pah was successful in assimilation of different communities and tribes.  
o He is widely referred to as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam”. 
• During the 16
th
 century, they annexed the kingdoms of the Chhutiyas (1523) and of Koch-Hajo (1581) and 
subjugated many other tribes. 
• Ahom Dynasty governed the region for six centuries from 1228 CE till it was annexed by the British in 1826 
CE, and coexisted with Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526 CE) and Mughals (1526-1857 CE). 
• Kingdom laid the foundation for present day Assamese culture, tradition, art and architecture.  
• Ahoms religion 
o The founders of the Ahom kingdom had their own language and followed their own religion.  
? Later during Rudra Simha’s reign that the Ahoms officially adopted the Assamese religion and 
language, also with blend of traditional folk and Mughal influence. 
? Later Ahom rulers embraced Hinduism due to influence of Brahminism and became devout patrons 
of the Neo-Vaishnavite movement led by Shankardeva. However, did not completely give up 
traditional beliefs. 
• Ahom’s Society 
o Ahom society was divided into clans or khels who controlled several villages. 
o Ahom state depended upon forced labour and those who forced to work for the state were called paik. 
o Ahom kingdom had very few castes of artisans, so artisans in the Ahom areas came from the adjoining 
kingdoms. Ahom society used to give land grants to poets and scholars. 
o The peasant was given land by his village community and even the king could not take it away without the 
community’s consent. 
o Almost all adult males served in the army during war, while at other times, they were engaged in building 
dams, irrigation systems and other public works.  
 
                                                                                                                                                        
o Ancestor worship was and still remains a very important part of the Ahom culture, which is reflected in the 
elaborate maidams (burial tombs) that the Ahoms built in the sacred city of Charaideo. 
• Ahom’s Art and architecture 
o Ahom style of architecture presents 
a unique blend of distinct 
architectural styles ranging from 
domes and arches inspired by 
Mughal architecture to great 
shikhara and mandapas of Hindu 
architecture.  
? During the early years, Ahom 
architects primarily used wood 
and bamboo to construct their 
palaces and other important 
structures.  
? Later started to use of bricks and 
an organic cement made out of 
eggs, fish, molasses, pulses and 
lime. Gargaon Palace was the 
first structure to be constructed 
using these materials 
? Rudra Simha, Ahom king invited many skilled architects, painters, dancers and musicians from Bengal 
and other parts of India to his new capital of Rangpur, commissioning them to build a majestic city. 
? Magnificent temples like Shivdhol, Devidol and Vishnudol on the banks of the Sibsagar tank, Rang Ghar 
sports complex are unique to the Ahoms. 
? Another defining feature of Ahom architecture is the excavation of large tanks, most notably Joysagar, 
which is the largest tank to be excavated under the patronage of Rudra Simha in 1698.  
o Ahom encouraged theatre and important works of Sanskrit were translated into the local language.  
? Historical works, known as buranjis, were also written first in the Ahom language and then in Assame. 
8.3. GURUDWARA REFORM MOVEMENT 
Why in news? 
Recently, the centenary of the Sri Nankana Sahib massacre (popularly known as Saka Nankana Sahib) was 
marked. This agitation was a big leap in the Gurdwara Reform movement.  
About Gurdwara Reform movement 
• Gurdwara Reform movement/ Akali Movement was Sikhs’ long-drawn campaign between 1920 to 1925 for 
the liberation of their gurdwaras or holy shrines from the preists (Mahants) who had asserted property rights 
over Gurdwaras. 
o It was an offshoot of the Singh Sabha Movement (1873). 
• The properties of places of worship of Sikhs were transferred and given over to the Udasi Mahants by 
Britishers. 
o Mahants considered the Gurdwara as their fiefdom and encouraged practices such as idol worship, 
discrimination with Dalits, drinking etc. in violation of the tenets of Sikhism.  
o Sikhs claimed that Gurdwaras were public property, hence, the public could remove mahanats in case of 
their inability to conform to the wishes of people.  
• People who agitated against such persons, were suppressed by the Government and the result was Gurdwara 
Reform movement/ Akali Movement in which Sikhs had to face imprisonment, suffer atrocity and death. 
• Events related to Gurdwara Reform Movement: 
o Formation of Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC):  
? SGPC came to existence in November 1920, a month after Sikhs removed partial restrictions on Dalit 
rights inside Golden Temple in Amritsar. 
? It started gurdwara reform movement which was aimed at taking possession of historical Sikh 
Gurdwaras 
Page 5


 
                                                                                                                                                        
8. CULTURE 
8.1. ANCIENT BUDDHIST MONASTERY 
Why in news? 
900 years old Ancient 
Buddhist monastery 
was recently unearthed 
by Archaeological 
Survey of India (ASI) in 
Sitagarhi Hills, 
Hazaribagh district of 
Jharkhand. 
More about Findings  
• It is a 10th century 
structure 
resembling a small 
‘Buddha Vihar’ 
(Buddhist shrine-
cum-monastery). 
• Discoveries around 
the site  
o Four statues of 
deity Tara in 
‘Varad Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
dispensing of 
boons)  
o Six statues of 
the Buddha in 
‘Bhumisparsa 
Mudra’ 
(gesture of 
hand showing 
five fingers of 
right hand 
towards the 
earth 
symbolising the 
Buddha’s 
enlightenment). 
o Discovery of the statue of deity Taara shows that the region was an important centre of Vajrayana sect 
of Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism). 
? Nagri script (a previous version of Devnagri script) on a Tara statue was found. 
o Sculpture similar to Shaivite deity Maheswari (with a coiled crown and chakra) indicates cultural 
assimilation in the area. 
• Monastery is on the old route to Varanasi, from Sarnath (where the Buddha gave his first sermon).  
• Some findings at excavation site represents about Pala period, but need to be confirmed with scientific dating 
of structures. 
About Buddhist Monasteries 
• Monasteries were permanent shelters built for supporters, monks and nuns of Buddhism.  
 
                                                                                                                                                        
o Monks and nuns lived and meditated in these shelters. 
o In northern India, most of the monasteries were of bricks, while in central India they were caves. E.g. 
Nalanda in Bihar and Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. 
• Later, monasteries evolved in complex structure consisting Vihara, Chaitya and Stupa. 
o Viharas were permanent shelters for monks. Very often, the land on which the vihara was built was 
donated by a rich merchant or a landowner, or the king.  
o Chaitya is an assembly hall that contained a stupa. 
? Stupa is a burial mound for the Buddha and 
original stupas contained the Buddha's ashes.  
? Later, stupas were emptied of these relics and 
simply became symbols of the Buddha and the 
Buddhist ideology. 
? The stupa consists of a cylindrical drum and a 
circular anda with a harmika and chhatra on 
the top, also includes the circumambulatory 
path and gateways. 
? On the railings and torans of the stupa events 
from the life of the Buddha, the Jataka stories 
were depicted. 
? Inscriptions on railings and pillars of stupas 
record donations made for building and 
decorating them by kings, guilds etc. 
o Among large monasteries, Nalanda was the first 
and the most extensive monastery in ancient India 
built by Kumargupta I. 
o These stupa-monastery complexes were located 
close to urban centres and along major trade and 
pilgrimage routes 
• Generally, these monasteries were erected at places 
which were neither very near nor very far from any 
village or town, away from noise and easily accessible 
to nearby towns 
• In India, the period c. 200 BCE–300 CE saw an 
expansion in the number and scale of Buddhist 
monastic complexes (known variously as sangharama, 
vihara, or lena).  
o Central India Monasteries: Bharhut, Sanchi, Satdhara, Sonari, Bhojpur  etc all situated in Madhya Pradesh. 
o North West monasteries: Takht-i-Bahi in Pakistan and Guldara in Afghanistan are two important sites.  
o Eastern Deccan monasteries: Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Jaggayyapeta, and Nagarjunakonda. 
? Amaravati was located next to Dhanyakataka, capital of the later Satavahanas. The discovery of what 
may be an Ashokan inscription at this place suggests that the beginning of the monastic establishment 
may be dated to the Maurya period. 
• Certain Buddhist monasteries achieved fame as educational centres. Nalanda, Bihar was one of the most 
renowned and celebrated of these. The literary references to Nalanda date to the 6th/5th century BCE and 
suggest the possibility that Ashoka may have established a vihara at this place.  
About Pala dynasty and Buddhism 
• Pala dynasty ruled Bihar and Bengal from the 8th to the 12th century.  
o Its founder was Gopala a local chieftain and other important rulers were Dharmapala, Devapala, Mahendrapala 
and Mahipala I. 
• The Pala rulers were great supporters and admirers of Buddhism. 
o Under the Palas the Vajrayana form of Buddhism became a major intellectual and religious force. 
o They made monasteries (viharas) and temples in eastern India to promote Buddhism. 
o Dharmapala, the second Pala ruler, founded the Vikramshila University in Bihar and revived Nalanda University. 
? Devapala granted five villages for the maintenance of Nalanda monastery. 
o Other important Buddhist centers of learning were Odantapura, Vikramashila, and Somapura Mahavihara. 
 
                                                                                                                                                        
? Students and pilgrims throughout South East Asia came to these monasteries for education and religious 
purposes and returned with specimens of Pala Buddhist art. 
o Pala’s sent missionaries and Buddhism was established in Tibet.  
o At Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya, many of the sculptures in the temple are dated to the 8th century Pala 
Period. 
o A miniature terracotta image of a fasting Buddha, a six-foot-tall votive stupa and a black stone statue of Buddha 
in abhay mudra (fearless mode) from the Pala period reflect the ubiquity of Buddhism then. 
• It is said that last great phase of Buddhist art in India is attributed to the Pala period, with the collapse of the Pala 
dynasty in the 12th century, Indian Buddhism suffered setback and the Buddhist presence in India became negligible. 
Vajrayana Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism) 
• Vajrayana school developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Shaivism and said to be 
influenced by Hinduism. 
• The main deity is Tara (a lady) and based on Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. 
• Also, said that it borrows tenets from both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism while adding an innovation of its own. 
• It involved combining Brahmanical (Veda based) rituals with Buddhist philosophies. 
• This school believes in Tantra’s, Mantras and Yantras superiority to achieve Buddhahood without the difficulties. 
8.2. AHOM KINGDOM 
Why in news? 
Prime Minister made visit to Sivasagar’s Jerenga Pothar in Assam, which has historical significance related to 
Ahom Kingdom.  
More on news 
• Sivasagar (formerly known as Rangpur) was the seat of the powerful Ahom dynasty, who ruled Assam for six 
centuries (1228-1826). 
• Jerenga Pothar in Sivasagar town is popularly connected to the valour of 17
th
 century Ahom princess Joymoti 
(wife of the Ahom prince Gadapani). 
About Ahom Kingdom 
• Ahoms migrated to the Brahmaputra valley from present-day Myanmar. 
• Ahom kingdom was founded by first Ahom king Chao Lung Sui-Kha-Pah in 13th-century. 
o Before his arrival the region was thickly forested and inhabited by local kings Sootias, Boharis, Kacharis 
and Bhuiyan’s (landlord). 
o Sui-Kha-Pah was successful in assimilation of different communities and tribes.  
o He is widely referred to as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam”. 
• During the 16
th
 century, they annexed the kingdoms of the Chhutiyas (1523) and of Koch-Hajo (1581) and 
subjugated many other tribes. 
• Ahom Dynasty governed the region for six centuries from 1228 CE till it was annexed by the British in 1826 
CE, and coexisted with Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526 CE) and Mughals (1526-1857 CE). 
• Kingdom laid the foundation for present day Assamese culture, tradition, art and architecture.  
• Ahoms religion 
o The founders of the Ahom kingdom had their own language and followed their own religion.  
? Later during Rudra Simha’s reign that the Ahoms officially adopted the Assamese religion and 
language, also with blend of traditional folk and Mughal influence. 
? Later Ahom rulers embraced Hinduism due to influence of Brahminism and became devout patrons 
of the Neo-Vaishnavite movement led by Shankardeva. However, did not completely give up 
traditional beliefs. 
• Ahom’s Society 
o Ahom society was divided into clans or khels who controlled several villages. 
o Ahom state depended upon forced labour and those who forced to work for the state were called paik. 
o Ahom kingdom had very few castes of artisans, so artisans in the Ahom areas came from the adjoining 
kingdoms. Ahom society used to give land grants to poets and scholars. 
o The peasant was given land by his village community and even the king could not take it away without the 
community’s consent. 
o Almost all adult males served in the army during war, while at other times, they were engaged in building 
dams, irrigation systems and other public works.  
 
                                                                                                                                                        
o Ancestor worship was and still remains a very important part of the Ahom culture, which is reflected in the 
elaborate maidams (burial tombs) that the Ahoms built in the sacred city of Charaideo. 
• Ahom’s Art and architecture 
o Ahom style of architecture presents 
a unique blend of distinct 
architectural styles ranging from 
domes and arches inspired by 
Mughal architecture to great 
shikhara and mandapas of Hindu 
architecture.  
? During the early years, Ahom 
architects primarily used wood 
and bamboo to construct their 
palaces and other important 
structures.  
? Later started to use of bricks and 
an organic cement made out of 
eggs, fish, molasses, pulses and 
lime. Gargaon Palace was the 
first structure to be constructed 
using these materials 
? Rudra Simha, Ahom king invited many skilled architects, painters, dancers and musicians from Bengal 
and other parts of India to his new capital of Rangpur, commissioning them to build a majestic city. 
? Magnificent temples like Shivdhol, Devidol and Vishnudol on the banks of the Sibsagar tank, Rang Ghar 
sports complex are unique to the Ahoms. 
? Another defining feature of Ahom architecture is the excavation of large tanks, most notably Joysagar, 
which is the largest tank to be excavated under the patronage of Rudra Simha in 1698.  
o Ahom encouraged theatre and important works of Sanskrit were translated into the local language.  
? Historical works, known as buranjis, were also written first in the Ahom language and then in Assame. 
8.3. GURUDWARA REFORM MOVEMENT 
Why in news? 
Recently, the centenary of the Sri Nankana Sahib massacre (popularly known as Saka Nankana Sahib) was 
marked. This agitation was a big leap in the Gurdwara Reform movement.  
About Gurdwara Reform movement 
• Gurdwara Reform movement/ Akali Movement was Sikhs’ long-drawn campaign between 1920 to 1925 for 
the liberation of their gurdwaras or holy shrines from the preists (Mahants) who had asserted property rights 
over Gurdwaras. 
o It was an offshoot of the Singh Sabha Movement (1873). 
• The properties of places of worship of Sikhs were transferred and given over to the Udasi Mahants by 
Britishers. 
o Mahants considered the Gurdwara as their fiefdom and encouraged practices such as idol worship, 
discrimination with Dalits, drinking etc. in violation of the tenets of Sikhism.  
o Sikhs claimed that Gurdwaras were public property, hence, the public could remove mahanats in case of 
their inability to conform to the wishes of people.  
• People who agitated against such persons, were suppressed by the Government and the result was Gurdwara 
Reform movement/ Akali Movement in which Sikhs had to face imprisonment, suffer atrocity and death. 
• Events related to Gurdwara Reform Movement: 
o Formation of Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC):  
? SGPC came to existence in November 1920, a month after Sikhs removed partial restrictions on Dalit 
rights inside Golden Temple in Amritsar. 
? It started gurdwara reform movement which was aimed at taking possession of historical Sikh 
Gurdwaras 
 
                                                                                                                                                        
? Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was also founded in December, 1920. 
o Nankana Sahib Massacre:  
? In February 1921, a band of more than 100 
Sikhs were brutally killed by Narayan Das the 
mahant of Nankana Sahib (the birthplace of 
Guru Nanak) and his army.  
? The news of this Holocaust shocked the 
country. To hail the non-violent resistance by 
Sikhs the Indian National Congress passed a 
resolution in Gaya session (December 1921). 
? SGPC formed its own probe team and asked 
Mahatma Gandhi to be part of it. SGPC 
passed a resolution and decided to support the non-cooperation movement being run by Mahatma 
Gandhi. 
o Other campaigns like Guru Ka Bagh Morcha (1922), Jaito Morcha (1923) etc were also held which 
ultimately led to enactment of Gurdwara Act, 1925. 
o Gurdwara Act, 1925: The British government finally passed the Gurdwaras Act in 1925, making SGPC a 
democratic body for better administration of Certain Sikh Gurdwaras. 
? This act enables SGPC to control all the Historical Gurdwaras as well as Gurdwaras under Section 87 of 
this act. 
 
 
 
 
Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) 
• It is an organization which manage the historical 
Sikh Gurdwaras of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal 
Pradesh and Chandigarh. 
• Present composition: 140 elected members, 5 
head ministers and 15 co-opted members. 20 seats 
are reserved for scheduled caste Sikhs.  
• Tenure of the committee is 5 years.  
• The three Sikh takhts in Punjab are directly 
controlled by SGPC. 
Read More
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