Previous Year Questions (PYQs): Ancient History UPSC Notes | EduRev

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UPSC Prelims 2020: History

Previous Year Questions (PYQs): Ancient History UPSC Notes | EduRev

Q.1. With reference to the cultural history of India, which one of the following is the correct description of the term ‘paramitas’?
(a) The earliest dharmashastra texts written in aphoristic (Sutra) style
(b) Philosophical schools that did not accept the authority of Vedas.
(c) Perfections whose attainment led to the Bodhisattva path
(d) Powerful merchant guilds of early medieval south India.
Ans.
(c)
Solution: These are 10 perfections, including generosity, compassion etc. on the completion of which one gets nearer the path of a Bodhisattva.

Q.2. With reference to the Scholars/literatures of ancient India, consider the following statements:
1. Panini is associated with Pushyamitra
2. Amarsimha is associated with Harshavardhana
3. Kalidasa is associated with chandragupta-II
Which of the above given statements is/are correct-
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans.
(c)
Solution: S1: Pushyamitra Shunga ruled c. 185 – c. 149 BCE, but Panini is dated to about 4th BCE. So, 1 is wrong. Also, as you would see below, since 2 is correct,
S2: Amarasimha (IAST: Amara-siṃha, c. CE 375) was a Sanskrit grammarian and poet from ancient India, of whose personal history hardly anything is known. He is said to have been “one of the nine gems that adorned the throne of Vikramaditya, not Harshavardhana.
S3: The noted Sanskrit poet Kalidasa is said to be the court poet of Chandragupta II.

Q.3. With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements:
1. Sthaviravadins belong to mahayana Buddhism
2. Lokottaravadin sect was an offshoot of Mahasanghika sect of Buddhism
3. The deification of Buddha by Mahasanghikas fostered the mahayana Buddhism
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3 only
Ans.
(b)
Solution: S1: They were Theravadins.
S2: The Mahāsāṃghikas school was first located in the area of Vaiśālī and spread also to southern India, with centres at Amarāvatī and Nāgārjunakoṇḍa. Its texts were written in Prākrit. It further divided into several subsects, of which the best known was the Lokottaravāda (so called because of its views on lokottara). The Lokottaravāda was one of the early Buddhist schools according to Mahayana doxological sources compiled by Bhāviveka, Vinitadeva and others
S3: The Mahāsaṅghikas believed in a plurality of buddhas who are supramundane (lokottara) and held that what passed for Gautama Buddha in his earthly existence was only an apparition.

Q.4. Consider the following events in the history of India:
1. Rise of Pratiharas under king Bhoja
2. Establishment of pallava power under Mahendravarman-I
3. Establishment of Chola power under Parantaka-I
4. Pala dynasty founded by Gopala
What is the correct chronological order of the above events, Starting from the earliest time?
(a) 2-1-4-3
(b) 3-1-4-2
(c) 2-4-1-3
(d) 3-4-1-2
Ans.
(c)
Solution: S1: This was about mid 8-9th CE.
S2: Mahendravarman I reigned in early 7th CE as a Pallava king over the present day Andhra region and Northern regions of what forms present-day Tamil Nadu.
S3: Parantaka I reigned 907– c. 953.
S4: Gopala ruled c. 750s–770s CE.

Q.5. With reference to the history of India, the terms Kulyavapa and dronavapa denote
(a) Measurement of land
(b) Coins of different monetary value
(c) Classification of urban land
(d) Religious rituals
Ans.
(a)
Solution: According to epigraphic evidence, we have references of measurement units such as – “Kulyavapa”, “dronavapa”, “adhavapa” and “Pataka” from Bengal, nivratana” and “bhumi” from Central India and “nivartana and “padavarta” from Western India.

Q.6. Who among the following rulers advised his subjects through this inscription? “Whosoever praises his religious sect or blames other sects out of excessive devotion to his own sect, with the view of glorifying his own sect, he rather injures his own sect very severely ”
(a) Ashoka
(b) Samudragupta
(c) Harshavardhana
(d) Krishnadevaraya
Ans.
(a)
Solution: Factual, but not hard to eliminate given Ashoka’s closeness with the spreading of dhamma and religious tolerance.

Q.7. With references to the history of India, consider the following pairs:
Previous Year Questions (PYQs): Ancient History UPSC Notes | EduRev 
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 1 and 4 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 2 and 4 only
Ans.
(a)
Solution: S1: For e.g. Bhilsa topes about Bhilsa is a famous work on this site in MP.
S2: Dwarasamudra was in Karnataka, as a regal capital of the Hoysalas.
S3: This is straightforward.
S4: This is in Haryana. As of now, it is known to host a monastic cluster. Sthanesvara Mahadev Temple is also at Thanesar. It was here that the Pandavas prayed to Lord Shiva.

Q.8. With reference to the period of Gupta dynasty in ancient India, the towns Ghantasala, kadura and Chaul were well known as 
(a) ports handling foreign trade.
(b) capitals of powerful kingdoms.
(c) places of exquisite stone art and architecture.
(d) important Buddhist pilgrimage centres.
Ans. (a)


UPSC Prelims 2019: History

Q.1. Which one of the following is not a Harappan site?
(a) Chanhudaro
(b) Kot Diji
(c) Sohgaura
(d) Desalpur
Ans. 
(c)

Solution: The Sohgaura copper plate inscription is an Indian copper plate inscription written in Prakrit in the Brahmi script. It was discovered in Sohgaura, a village on the banks of the Rapti River, about 20km south-east of Gorakhpur, in the Gorakhpur District, Uttar Pradesh.


Q.2. Consider the following:
1. Deification of the Buddha
2. Treading the path of Bodhisattvas
3. Image worship and rituals
Which of the above is/are the feature/ features of Mahayana Buddhism?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans. 
(d)

Solution: Straightforward question. All three are major features. Buddhas and bodhisattvas are central elements of Mahāyāna. Mahāyāna’s vastly expanded cosmology, with various Buddhas and bodhisattvas residing in different worlds and buddha-fields. This is shown through the depiction of buddhas and bodhisattvas through image worship and rituals in monasteries and viharas.


Q.3. With reference to forced labour (Vishti) in India during the Gupta period, which one of the following statements is correct? 

(a) It was considered a source of income for the State, a sort of tax paid by the people.

(b) It was totally absent in the Madhya Pradesh and Kathiawar regions of the Gupta Empire.

(c) The forced labourer was entitled to weekly wages.

(d) The eldest son of the labourer was sent as the forced labourer.

Ans. (a)


Q.4. Building ‘Kalyaana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of
(a) Chalukya
(b) Chandela
(c) Rashtrakuta
(d) Vijayanagara
Ans. 
(d)

Solution: Kalyaana Mandapas were halls used for marriage or other ceremonies in Vijayanagara empire.


Q.5. Consider the following statements:
1. Saint Nimbarka was a contemporary of Akbar.
2. Saint Kabir was greatly influenced by Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Ans.
(d)

Solution: Nimbarka, was a Hindu philosopher and commentator, known for propagating the Vaishnava doctrine of bhedabheda dvaitadvaita, duality in unity. According to the Vedic scriptures, he was born in 3096 B.C.E., but modern historical research places him in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. So, 1 is clearly wrong.


Q.6. With reference to Mian Tansen, which one of the following statements is not correct?
(a) Tansen was the title given to him by Emperor Akbar.
(b) Tansen composed Dhrupads on Hindu gods and goddesses.
(c) Tansen composed songs on his patrons.
(d) Tansen invented many Ragas.
Ans. 
(a)

Solution: The title of ‘Tansen ‘ was given by Raja Vikramjit Singh of Gwalior. Akbar gave the title of ‘Mian’.


UPSC Prelims 2018: History

Q.1. With reference to the religious practices in India, the “Sthanakvasi” sect belongs to
(a) Buddhism
(b) Jainism
(c) Vaishnavism
(d) Shaivism
Ans.
(b)

Solution: Sthānakavāsī is a sect of Śvētāmbara Jainism founded by a merchant named Lavaji in 1653 AD. It believes that idol worship is not essential in the path of soul purification and attainment of Nirvana/Moksha. The sect is essentially a reformation of the one founded on teachings of Lonka, a fifteenth-century Jain reformer. Sthānakavāsins accept thirty-two of the Jain Agamas, the Śvētāmbara canon. Śvētāmbarins who are not Sthānakavāsins are mostly part the Murtipujaka sect.


Q.2. With reference to Indian history, who among the following is a future Buddha, yet to come to save the world?
(a) Avalokiteshvara
(b) Lokesvara
(c) Maitreya
(d) Padmapani
Ans.
(c)

Solution: Maitreya is regarded as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he is referred to as Ajita. According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor to the present Buddha, Gautama Buddha (also known as Śākyamuni Buddha). The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya refers to a time in the future when the dharma will have been forgotten by most on the terrestrial world Maitreya has also been adopted for his millenarian role by many non-Buddhist religions in the past, such as the White Lotus, as well as by modern new religious movements, such as Yiguandao.


UPSC Prelims 2017: History

Q.1. With reference to the difference between the culture of Rigvedic Aryans and Indus Valley people, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. Rigvedic Aryans used the coat of mail and helmet in warfare whereas the people of Indus Valley Civilization did not leave any evidence of using them.
2. Rigvedic Aryans knew gold, silver and copper whereas Indus Valley people knew only copper and iron.
3. Rigvedic Aryans had domesticated the horse whereas there is no evidence of Indus Valley people having been aware of this animal.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans.
(a)
Solution: Statement 2: The Indus valley people knew the use of copper, bronze, silver, gold but not iron. So, 2 is wrong.
Statement 1: The Ramayana mentions chariots covered with leather. The Rig Vedic charioteers used varma (coats of mail) and sipra/sironastra (helmets). Equipped with asi (swords), hanas (arrows) and ilhianus (bows), the Kshatriyas on the chariots went to combat. Since statement 2 is wrong, given the options 1 must be correct.
Statement 3: The Rig Veda mentions horse-drawn chariots with spoked wheels. But there is very little archaeological evidence of horses during the Harappan era and none at all earlier. The existence of the Harappan horse is a hotly disputed topic among archaeologists. To say that “there is no evidence of Indus Valley people having been aware of this animal” is WRONG because there is no conclusive evidence that tells us whether they knew about horses, or whether they were aware of horses. We have insufficient evidence to claim anything about the connection between horses and Indus valley. Statement 3 is thus incorrect.

Q.2. Which one of the following was a very important seaport in the Kakatiya kingdom?
(a) Kakinada
(b) Motupalli
(c) Machilipatnam (Masulipatnam)
(d) Nelluru
Ans.
(b)
Solution: There is dispute whether the answer should be B, C or D. Option B: Some texts suggest that Motupalli, now in the Krishna district, was an important sea-port in the kingdom of Ganpati (an important Kakatiya ruler), frequented by foreign merchants.
Option C: Marco Polo, who visited India probably some time around 1289–1293, made note of Rudrama Devi’s (a Kakatiya ruler) rule and nature in flattering terms. Marco Polo referred to the kingdom as Mutfili, which was the name for the area around a major port of the dynasty, now known as Masulipatnam. But, Marco Polo’s reference may actually be to Motupalli (Mutfilli). So, C is incorrect.
Option D: Nellore (a port town) was part of kakatiya kingdom in the 13th century. It changed hands between them and Pandyas few times until Prataprudra II defeated Pandyas. However, this does not seem as important as Motupalli. Answer will be B.

Q.3. With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements:
1. Sautrantika and Sammitiya were the sects of Jainism.
2. Sarvastivadin held that the constituents of phenomena were not wholly momentary, but existed forever in a latent form.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Ans.
(b)
Solution: Statement 1:  These are sects of Buddhism.
Statement 2:  While, like all Buddhists, the Sarvastivadins consider everything empirical to be impermanent, they maintain that the dharma factors are eternally existing realities. The dharmas are thought to function momentarily, producing the empirical phenomena of the world, which is illusory, but to exist outside the empirical world.


UPSC Prelims 2016: History

Q.1. With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements :
1. The concept of Bodhisattva is central to Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
2. Bodhisattva is a compassionate one on his way to enlightenment.
3. Bodhisattva delays achieving his own salvation to help all sentient beings on their path to it.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 2 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans. 
(b)
Solution: Statement 1: It is central to the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. In non-Mahayana Buddhism, it usually refers either to Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, or to the historical Buddha Gautama prior to his enlightenment. Statement 2 and 3: A bodhisattva is literally a living being (sattva) who aspires to enlightenment (bodhi) and carries out altruistic practices. The bodhisattva ideal is central to the Mahayana Buddhist tradition as the individual who seeks enlightenment both for him- or herself and for others. Clearly 2 is correct.
1. Compassion, an empathetic sharing of the sufferings of others, is the bodhisattva’s greatest characteristic.
2. It is held that the bodhisattva makes four vows expressing a determination to work for the happiness of others: “However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to save them; however inexhaustible the passions are, I vow to master them; however limitless the teachings are, I vow to study them; however infinite the Buddha-truth is, I vow to attain it.”
3. Clearly 3 is correct.

Q.4. In the context of the history of India, consider the following pairs:
Term : Description
(1) Eripatti : Land, revenue from which was set apart for the  maintenance of the village tank
(2) Taniyurs : Villages donated to a single Brahmin or a group of  Brahmins
(3) Ghatikas : Colleges generally attached to the temples
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
(a) 1 and 2
(b) 3 only
(c) 2 and 3
(d) 1 and 3
Ans.
(d)
Solution: Statement 1: A special category of land Eripatti or tank land, was known only in south India, This was land donated by individuals, the revenue from which was set apart for the maintenance of’ the village tank, which indicates the dependence of the village on the tank for irrigation.
Statement 2: Taniyurs were distinct revenue units under Cholas.
Statement 3: In South India centres of higher learning were known as Ghatikas. There was a famous Ghatika at Kanchi, drawing students from far and near. These Ghatikas were run in temples.

Q.5. With reference to the cultural history of India, the memorizing of chronicles, dynastic histories and Epictales was the profession of who of the following?
(a) Shramana
(b) Parivraajaka
(c) Agrahaarika
(d) Maagadha
Ans.
(d)
Solution: Excerpts from Romila Thapar, Ancient India, “The memorizing of chronicles, dynastic histories, or epic tales was the work of a group of people, the sutas and magadhas.”

Q.6. Regarding the taxation system of Krishna Deva, the ruler of Vijayanagar, consider the following statements:
1. The tax rate on land was fixed depending on the quality of the land.
2. Private owners of workshops paid an industries tax.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Ans.
(c)
Solution: Statement 1: Land revenue was the chief source of income. Land was divided into four categories for purposes of assessment, wet land, dry land, orchards and woods. Usually the share was one sixth of the produce. Land revenue could be paid in cash or kind. The rates varied according to the type of the crops, soil, method of irrigation, etc. So, 1 is clearly correct.
Statement 2: Besides land tax, many professional taxes were also imposed. There were on shopkeepers, farm servants, workmen, posters, shoemakers, musicians etc. There was also a tax on property. Grazing and house taxes were also imposed. Commercial taxes consisted of levies, duties and customs on manufactured articles of trade were also levied. Private owners of workshops paid an industries tax, which means 2 is correct.

Q.7. Which one of the following books of ancient India has the love story of the son of the founder of Sunga dynasty?
(a) Swapnavasavadatta
(b) Malavikagnimitra
(c) Meghadoota
(d) Ratnavali
Ans.
(b)
Solution: It is a Sanskrit play by Kalidasa. It is based on some events of the reign of Pushyamitra Shunga. The play tells the story of the love of Agnimitra, the Shunga Emperor at Vidisha, for the beautiful hand-maiden of his chief queen.


UPSC Prelims 2015: History

Q.1. With reference to Indian history, which of the following is/are the essential elementary elements of the feudal system?
1. A very strong centralized political authority and a very weak provincial or local political authority
2. Emergence of administrative structure based on control and possession of land
3. Creation of lord-vassal relationship between the feudal lord and his overlord Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans.
(b)
Solution: The terms feudalism and feudal system were generally applied to the early and central Middle Ages—the period from the 5th century, when central political authority in the Western empire disappeared, to the 12th century, when kingdoms began to emerge as effective centralized units of government Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour (lord-vassal relationship). Use of the term feudalism to describe India applies a concept of medieval European origin, according to which the landed nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord’s land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection. The term Indian feudalism is an attempt to classify Indian history according to a European model. Feudalism, in its various forms, usually emerged as a result of the decentralization of an empire: especially in the Carolingian empires which both lacked the bureaucratic infrastructure necessary to support cavalry without the ability to allocate land to these mounted troops.

Q.2. Which of the following kingdoms were associated with the life of Buddha?
1. Avanti
2. Gandhara
3. Kosala
4. Magadha
Select the correct answer using the code given below
(a) 1,2 and 3
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1,3 and 4
(d) 3 and 4 only
Ans.
(d)
Solution: Magadha, Kosala, Vaishali, Vajji etc were the kingdoms and regions that the wandering Buddha covered relentlessly. Jetavana (Jeta garden) was perhaps the best known amongst the beautiful gardens provided to Buddha’s entourage and it was close to Sravasthi, capital of the Kosala kingdom.

Q.3. Who of the following founded a new city on the south bank of a tributary to river Krishna and undertook to rule his new kingdom as the agent of a deity to whom all the land south of the river Krishna was supposed to belong?
(a) Amoghavarsha I
(b) Ballala II
(c) Harihara I
(d) Prataparudra II
Ans.
(c)
Solution: He was the founder of Vijayanagar Empire. His initial military exploits established his control over the valley of Tungabhadra River (a tributary of Krishna), and gradually he expanded his control to certain regions of Konkan and Malabar Coast. By that time Hoysalas had lost its last ruler Veera Ballala III who died fighting the Sultan of Madurai, and the vacuum so created facilitated Harihara I to emerge as a sovereign power. The entire Hoysala territories came under his rule directly.

Q.4. Who of the following had first deciphered the edicts of Emperor Ashoka? 
(a) Georg Bilhler
(b) James Prinsep
(c) Max Muller
(d) William Jones
Ans. (b)


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