In the challenging journey towards cracking the UPSC Civil Services Examination, choosing the right optional subject is a pivotal decision. Among the plethora of options available, philosophy stands out as a subject that not only fosters intellectual development but also offers a unique perspective on understanding life, ethics, and the human condition. Aspiring civil servants who opt for philosophy often find themselves delving into profound philosophical debates, and one of the intriguing segments of this optional subject is the study of various schools of Buddhism. To succeed in this field, aspirants must be well-acquainted with past years’ questions. In this blog series, we’ll embark on an insightful exploration of the previous year’s UPSC Mains questions related to the schools of Buddhism, spanning the years from 2013 to 2023. Join us on this intellectual journey as we uncover the key concepts, debates, and philosophical wisdom that have been tested by one of the world’s toughest civil service exams.
Delving into the past years’ UPSC Mains questions on the schools of Buddhism is not just an academic exercise; it’s a window into the evolving perspectives of the UPSC examination board, reflecting the relevance of this timeless subject in contemporary governance and policymaking. We’ll dissect the questions, provide comprehensive insights into the nuances of various Buddhist schools, and equip you with the knowledge needed to tackle these questions with finesse. Whether you’re a philosophy enthusiast or a UPSC aspirant considering this subject as your optional paper, this blog series is your ultimate resource for mastering the intricate realm of Buddhist philosophy as examined by the UPSC. So, let’s embark on this intellectual journey together, exploring the rich tapestry of Buddhist thought and its relevance in the context of one of India’s most prestigious civil service examinations.
Schools of Buddhism Philosophy – Previous Year Questions (UPSC CSE Mains History Optional)
1. Elucidate the role of catuskoti in explaining the nature of reality according to Madhyamika school of thought? (2017/10)
2. What are the arguments of the Buddhists to establish Ksanikvada ?Do they necessarily lead to krtanasa and akrtabhyupagam ?(2017/15)
3. How do Madhyamika, yogacaravadins and sarvastivadins differamong themselves in concerning the nature of reality ? How dosarvastivadins differ among themselves with regard to knowledge of reality ?(2017/20)
4. How does Ksanikavada strengthen the arguments for’Nairatmyavada’? Explain.(2016/10)
5. Alayavijnana (2015/10)
6. What is the role of Pratityasamutpada in explainingdukkha?Elucidate means to overcome it.(2015/15)
7. How does Nagarjuna explain the concept of sunyata ? ( 2014/15)
8. Bring out the epistemological difference between Sautrantika andVaibhasika school of Buddhism. (2104/10)
9. Explain the Buddhist notion of ‘Impermanence’ and show how the idea of Impermanence leads to theory of momentariness of reality.(2013/10)
10. Comment : ‘ Accepting Shunyavada makes one indifferent to the pursuit of dharma’. Examine in this context , Nagarjuna’s argumentsfor Shunyavada.(2013/12 ½)
11. Do you agree with the view that in early Buddhism more importance was given to Four Noble Truthsthan to systematic metaphysics ?Give reasons for your agreement or disagreement ? (2012/15)
12. Examine critically the statement that the doctrine of‘ paticcasamuppada was given only to explain the problem of sorrow and not to solve the problems of metaphysics .’ (2012/15)
13. Explain the theory of illusion accepted by Buddhist . Is it consistent with their philosophy ? Give reasons for your answer . (2012/15)
14. Write a note on Nagarjuna’s contribution Madhyamica School of Buddhism. (2012/15)
15. Is the concept of Nirvana a logical necessity for the Buddhists? Give reasons for your answer. (2011/30)
16. What is the importance of the Buddhist concept of ‘Nama-Rupa’ in the exposition of the Doctrine of Dependent Origination? (2011/20)
17. Is Sunyavada a philosophical doctrine? Evaluate. (2011/15)
18. How does the Buddhist accept the possibility of rebirth in the absence of an eternal soul? Discuss. (2010/20)
19. Bring out the metaphysical implication of the second noble truth of the Buddhism. (2010/30)
20. An examination of Buddhist Nairatmyavada. Short notes. (2008/20)
21. “The Madhyamika philosophy tries to adopt the mean between extreme affirmation and extreme negation.” Comment. (2008/60)
22. Four Arya Satya (Noble Truths) according to Buddhism. Short Notes.(2007/20)
23. Discuss Pratityasamutpada in Buddhism. Short Notes. (2006/20)
24. State and discuss the Buddhist notion of Sunyata. (2005/60)
25. Nature and kinds of Nirvana. Short Notes. (2004/20)
26. State and discuss the Buddhist notion of momentariness. (2004/60)
27. Ksanikavada of Buddhism. Short Notes. (2003/20)
28. Buddhistic doctrine of Pratitya-samutpada. Short Notes. (2002/20)
29. Nagarjuna’s defense of Sunya-vada. Notes. (2001)
FAQs on Schools of Buddhism
Q1: What are the key schools of Buddhism in philosophy?
A1: The major schools of Buddhist philosophy include Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. These schools differ in their interpretations of Buddhist teachings, practices, and doctrines. Theravada, for instance, emphasizes individual liberation and adheres closely to the Pali Canon. Mahayana places a stronger emphasis on compassion and the Bodhisattva ideal, while Vajrayana incorporates esoteric rituals and teachings.
Q2: What is the difference between Hinayana and Theravada Buddhism?
A2: Hinayana is an older, now rarely used term that was historically used pejoratively to refer to the Theravada school. The term Theravada is preferred today and represents one of the major branches of Buddhism. It is characterized by its adherence to the Pali Canon and the pursuit of individual enlightenment, emphasizing the path of an Arhat.
Q3: What is the Bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana Buddhism?
A3: The Bodhisattva ideal is a fundamental concept in Mahayana Buddhism. It refers to individuals who vow to attain enlightenment not only for themselves but also for the benefit of all sentient beings. Bodhisattvas postpone their own liberation until all others can be liberated, emphasizing compassion, altruism, and the aspiration to alleviate suffering in the world.
Q4: How does Vajrayana Buddhism differ from other Buddhist schools?
A4: Vajrayana, often associated with Tibetan Buddhism, distinguishes itself by its esoteric practices and teachings. It places great importance on the guidance of a guru, uses rituals, and employs tantra as a means to attain enlightenment swiftly. Vajrayana practitioners believe that through these practices, they can achieve Buddhahood in a single lifetime.
Q5: Can one follow principles from different Buddhist schools simultaneously?
A5: While it’s possible to study and appreciate principles from various Buddhist schools, most practitioners tend to align themselves with a specific school based on their personal beliefs and inclinations. It’s essential to understand the nuances and differences between schools before deciding which one resonates most with your own philosophical and spiritual journey.
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