The journey to becoming a civil servant in India, particularly through the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examinations, is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. For those who opt for the prestigious IAS (Indian Administrative Service) or IFS (Indian Foreign Service), choosing the right optional subject can make a significant difference in their chances of success. Among the myriad choices, “History” has always been a popular choice among UPSC aspirants due to its rich and diverse content. In this blog series, we delve into the specific subtopics of History, focusing on the optional subject-wise previous year questions in UPSC Mains. Our journey through the annals of time takes us back to the eras of the Guptas, Vakatakas, and Vardhanas, spanning from 2013 to 2023. We’ll explore the key questions and trends in this subject, offering insights to help aspirants prepare effectively and excel in the examination.
The Guptas, Vakatakas, and Vardhanas were dynasties that played pivotal roles in shaping the history of ancient and medieval India. Understanding their socio-political, economic, and cultural contributions is essential for a comprehensive grasp of India’s historical heritage. By analyzing the previous year questions for this period, we aim to provide a roadmap for UPSC History optional aspirants. This journey will not only equip you with knowledge but also enhance your ability to critically evaluate historical events, a crucial skill for UPSC mains. So, whether you are a history enthusiast or an aspiring civil servant, join us as we embark on this historical expedition, uncovering the significant events and intricacies of the Guptas, Vakatakas, and Vardhanas over a decade of UPSC examinations.
Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas History – Previous Year Questions (UPSC CSE Mains History Optional)
Polity and administration. Economic conditions. Coinage of the Guptas, Land grants, Decline of urban centres, Indian feudalism. Caste system. Position of women. Education and educational institutions; Nalanda, Vlkramshlla and Vallabhl, Literature, scientific literature, art and architecture.
1. ‘The Gupta period stands at the centre of Indian history. Discuss the development of arts and literature in that Gupta period in the light of this statement. (1985)
2. Write short essay of not more than 200 words: The significance of the policy of matrimonial alliances for the expansion and consolidation of the Gupta empire. (1986)
3. Harsha is described as ‘the lord of the whole of north India*. Determine the extent of his empire and discuss his political relations with Sasanka, Bhaskaravarman and Pulakesin II. (1986)
4. ‘Harsha owes his greatness largely not to any real achievements but to formulate descriptions by two famous men.’ Discuss. (1987)
5. Write short essay of not more than 200 words: The Maukharis paving the way for the glory of Harshavardhana. (1988)
6. Discuss critically the role Harsha played in the history of his times. (1989)
7. Write short essay of not more than 200 words: The economic prosperity in the Gupta period. (1990)
8. Write brief essay on Origins and meaning of the samanta system. (1991)
9. Analyse the characteristic features of the Gupta art and compare them with those of the Mauryan art. (1992)
10. In what ways does religion as reflected in the Vedic texts differ from the religion of the Gupta period? (1991)
11. Write brief essay: Factors that led to the Rise and Fall of the Gupta Empire. (1996)
12. “Of all the events that had a singular being on the history of India, Harsha’s death in 647 A.D. is significant.” Why? Explain. (1996)
13. Write brief essay on Skandagupta’s war with the Hunas. (1997)
14. Write brief essay on Nalanda Mahavihara. (1997)
15. How did Indian culture spread in the South-east Asiatic countries during the Gupta Age? (1997)
16. Highlight the achievements of the Gupta period in the field of literature, science and technology. (1998)
17. ‘Harshvardhan was himself great, but he has been made greater by Ban and Yuan Chiang.’ Critically examine the statement. (1999)
18. Who were the Maukharis? Discuss their political relations with the Later Guptas of Magadha. (2000)
19. Examine the information of Fahien about the political, religious, social and economic conditions of India. Make a comparative study of his account with that of Yuan Chwang. (2003)
20. Assess the status of women in India from 4th century BC to AD 6th century. (2005)
21. What are the salient features of the administrative system of the Guptas? (2005)
22. Describe the expansion of the Gupta empire under Samudragupta. (2006)
23. Throw light on the condition of common man in the Gupta period. (2007)
24. Give an account of the use of gold coins by commoners in the Gupta period. (2009)
25. Trace the development of urbanization from the third millennium B.C.E. to 6th century B.C.E. (2011)
26. Assess Ellora as a unique art centre of the different cultural streams. (2011)
27. Assess the educational system in early India and identify important educational institutions of the period. (2012)
28. Discuss the provincial and district administrative units of the Gupta Empire with the designations and functions of the officers. (2014)
29. What were the privileges granted to the donees in land-grant charters of early India? How far were these charters responsible for integration or disintegration of socio-political milieu? (2014)
30. Critically evaluate the theory and practice of land revenue system in ancient India. (2016)
31. The second urbanization gave rise to the organized corporate activities that reached their zenith during the Gupta period. Discuss. (2017)
32. Discuss the experimentations with art and architecture during the Gupta-Vakataka period. (2018)
33. “Do you agree that the system of land grants from the Gupta- Vakataka period was connected with the decentralization of state in any way?” (2019)
34. ‘Sanskrit literature of classical Gupta Age set standards for the early medieval India’. Evaluate the statement with representative examples. (2020)
FAQs on Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas
Q: Who were the Guptas, and what is their significance in Indian history?
A: The Guptas were an ancient Indian dynasty that ruled from around the 4th to the 6th century CE. They are renowned for their contributions to art, culture, and governance, often referred to as the “Golden Age of India.” Their reign witnessed a flourishing of art and science, and they played a crucial role in the consolidation of Indian civilization.
Q: Tell me about the Vardhanas. How do they fit into the historical landscape?
A: The Vardhanas, or the Vardhana dynasty, were another prominent Indian dynasty that ruled during a similar timeframe to the Guptas. They were known for their rule in the northern part of India and had a significant impact on the political landscape. The most famous ruler of the Vardhana dynasty was Harsha, who is celebrated for his contributions to literature and the spread of Buddhism.
Q: What was the relationship between the Guptas and the Vakatakas?
A: The Guptas and the Vakatakas were two distinct dynasties in ancient India. The Guptas ruled predominantly in Northern India, while the Vakatakas held sway in the Deccan region. Though there were interactions and conflicts between the two dynasties, they were separate entities and did not form a single unified empire. Their respective reigns influenced the political and cultural history of different regions of India.
Q: Were there any notable conflicts or alliances between the Guptas and Vakatakas?
A: Yes, there were instances of conflicts and alliances between the Guptas and the Vakatakas. Historical records suggest that the Guptas engaged in military campaigns against the Vakatakas to expand their territories. These interactions influenced the dynamics of power in ancient India and played a role in shaping the history of the subcontinent.
Q: What are the legacies of the Guptas and Vardhanas in modern India?
A: The legacies of the Guptas and Vardhanas are still felt in modern India. The Gupta period is celebrated for its advancements in art, science, and literature, while the Vardhanas contributed to the spread of Buddhism and Indian culture. Their historical significance continues to be a subject of study and admiration for those interested in India’s rich and diverse history.
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