NCERT Textbook - Thinkers, Beliefs and buildings Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

History(Prelims) by UPSC Toppers

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Thinkers, Beliefs and buildings Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY 82
In this chapter we shall go on a long journey across a
thousand years to read about philosophers and their
attempts to understand the world they inhabited. We will
also see how their ideas were compiled as oral and written
texts as well as expressed in architecture and sculpture.
These are indicative of the enduring influence these
thinkers had on people. While we will be focusing on
Buddhism, it is important to remember that this tradition
did not develop in isolation – there were several other
traditions, each engaged in debates and dialogues with
the others.
The sources that historians use to reconstruct this
exciting world of ideas and beliefs include Buddhist, Jaina
and Brahmanical texts, as well as a large and impressive
body of material remains including monuments and
inscriptions. Among the best preserved monuments of
the time is the stupa at Sanchi which is a major focus in
this chapter.
1. A Glimpse of Sanchi
Sanchi in the nineteenth century
The most wonderful ancient buildings in the state of Bhopal
are at Sanchi Kanakhera, a small village under the brow
of a hill some 20 miles north-east of Bhopal which we
visited yesterday. We inspected the stone sculptures and
statues of the Buddha and an ancient gateway … The ruins
appear to be the object of great interest to European
gentlemen. Major Alexander Cunningham … stayed several
weeks in this neighbourhood and examined these ruins
most carefully. He took drawings of the place, deciphered
the inscription, and bored shafts down these domes. The
results of his investigations were described by him in an
English work …
FROM SHAHJEHAN BEGUM, NAWAB OF BHOPAL (ruled 1868-1901),
Taj- ul Iqbal Tarikh Bhopal (A History of Bhopal), translated by
H.D. Barstow, 1876.
THEME TWO
Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings
Cultur Cultur Cultur Cultur Cultural De al De al De al De al Dev v v v velopments elopments elopments elopments elopments
( ( ( ( (c c c c c. 600 . 600 . 600 . 600 . 600 BC BC BC BC BCE E E E E- 600 600 600 600 600 CE CE CE CE CE) ) ) ) )
THEME
FOUR
Fig. 4.1
A sculpture from Sanchi
Fig. 4.2
Shahjehan Begum
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY 82
In this chapter we shall go on a long journey across a
thousand years to read about philosophers and their
attempts to understand the world they inhabited. We will
also see how their ideas were compiled as oral and written
texts as well as expressed in architecture and sculpture.
These are indicative of the enduring influence these
thinkers had on people. While we will be focusing on
Buddhism, it is important to remember that this tradition
did not develop in isolation – there were several other
traditions, each engaged in debates and dialogues with
the others.
The sources that historians use to reconstruct this
exciting world of ideas and beliefs include Buddhist, Jaina
and Brahmanical texts, as well as a large and impressive
body of material remains including monuments and
inscriptions. Among the best preserved monuments of
the time is the stupa at Sanchi which is a major focus in
this chapter.
1. A Glimpse of Sanchi
Sanchi in the nineteenth century
The most wonderful ancient buildings in the state of Bhopal
are at Sanchi Kanakhera, a small village under the brow
of a hill some 20 miles north-east of Bhopal which we
visited yesterday. We inspected the stone sculptures and
statues of the Buddha and an ancient gateway … The ruins
appear to be the object of great interest to European
gentlemen. Major Alexander Cunningham … stayed several
weeks in this neighbourhood and examined these ruins
most carefully. He took drawings of the place, deciphered
the inscription, and bored shafts down these domes. The
results of his investigations were described by him in an
English work …
FROM SHAHJEHAN BEGUM, NAWAB OF BHOPAL (ruled 1868-1901),
Taj- ul Iqbal Tarikh Bhopal (A History of Bhopal), translated by
H.D. Barstow, 1876.
THEME TWO
Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings
Cultur Cultur Cultur Cultur Cultural De al De al De al De al Dev v v v velopments elopments elopments elopments elopments
( ( ( ( (c c c c c. 600 . 600 . 600 . 600 . 600 BC BC BC BC BCE E E E E- 600 600 600 600 600 CE CE CE CE CE) ) ) ) )
THEME
FOUR
Fig. 4.1
A sculpture from Sanchi
Fig. 4.2
Shahjehan Begum
© NCERT
not to be republished
83
Nineteenth-century Europeans were very interested
in the stupa at Sanchi.  In fact, the French sought
Shahjehan Begum’s permission to take away the
eastern gateway, which was the best preserved, to
be displayed in a museum in France. For a while
some Englishmen also wanted to do the same, but
fortunately both the French and the English were
satisfied with carefully prepared plaster-cast copies
and the original remained at the site, part of the
Bhopal state.
The rulers of Bhopal, Shahjehan Begum and her
successor Sultan Jehan Begum, provided money for
the preservation of the ancient site. No wonder then
that John Marshall dedicated his important volumes
on Sanchi to Sultan Jehan.  She funded the museum
that was built there as well as the guesthouse where
he lived and wrote the volumes. She also funded
the publication of the volumes. So if the stupa
complex has survived, it is in no small measure
due to wise decisions, and to good luck in escaping
the eyes of railway contractors, builders, and those
looking for finds to carry away to the museums of
Europe. One of the most important Buddhist
centres, the discovery of Sanchi has vastly
transformed our understanding of early Buddhism.
Today it stands testimony to the successful
restoration and preservation of a key  archaeological
site by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Fig. 4.3
The Great Stupa at Sanchi
If you travel from Delhi to Bhopal
by train, you will see the majestic
stupa complex on top of a hill,
crowning it as it were. If you
request the guard he will stop the
train at the little station of Sanchi
for two minutes – enough time for
you to get down. As you climb up
the hill you can see the complex of
structures: a large mound and
other monuments including a
temple built in the fifth century.
THINKERS, BELIEFS AND BUILDINGS
© NCERT
not to be republished
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