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NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 4

NCERT Solution for Class 12th Chapter 4 Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings Cultural Developments

1. Were the ideas of the Upanishadic thinkers different from those of the fatalists and materialists? Give reasons for your answers.

The ideas of Upanishadic thinkers are often considered to be similar to those of fatalists and materialists due to the following reasons: 


Firstly, the principle of Ahimsa or non-violence, which is the most important principle of Jainism, is also a fundamental aspect of Hinduism. This indicates a similarity between the two religious streams.

  • Secondly, the Upanishads teach Karma theory, which emphasizes the importance of action over the results of those actions. Similarly, fatalists also believe in the idea of working without worrying about the consequences, indicating a similarity between the two.
  • Thirdly, both fatalists and materialists believe that human beings are made up of four elements, namely earth, water, sky, air, and fire, which is in line with the Upanishadic idea of the five basic elements of nature.

Therefore, it can be said that there are similarities between the ideas of Upanishadic thinkers and those of fatalists and materialists.

2. Summaries the central teachings of Jainism.

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that emphasizes non-violence, self-control, and the interconnectedness of all beings. Its central teachings can be summarized as follows:

  • Non-violence (ahimsa) – Jainism places a strong emphasis on non-violence towards all living beings, including animals, plants, and even microscopic organisms.
  • Karma – Jainism teaches that all actions have consequences, and individuals are responsible for their own actions and the consequences that follow. According to Jain teachings, the cycle of birth and rebirth is shaped through karma.
  • Asceticism – Jainism encourages its followers to practice asceticism, or the renunciation of worldly pleasures, as a means of spiritual purification.
  • Jiva – Jainism teaches that every living being has a soul or jiva and that all living beings are interconnected.
  • Three Jewels – Jainism has three central teachings, known as the Three Jewels: right belief, right knowledge, and right conduct. These are essential for achieving liberation and enlightenment.
  • Multiple paths to liberation – This can be achieved only by renouncing the world; therefore, monastic existence is a necessary condition of salvation.

3. Discuss the role of the begums of Bhopal in preserving the stupa at Sanchi.

Begums of Bhopal made a great contribution to the preservation of the Stupa of Sanchi. Following are the major contribution made by them.

  • Shah Jahan Begum and her successor, Sultan Jahan Begum, who ruled the princely state of Bhopal, demonstrated their commitment to preserving the Stupa of Sanchi by providing generous grants for its conservation.
  • Begum Sultan Jahan Begum played a significant role in the construction of a museum near the Stupa of Sanchi, providing the majority of the financial support for the project.
  • The preservation of the stupa at Sanchi received support from Europeans as well.
  • Both the French and British contributed to the preservation of the stupa at Sanchi by providing financial support and taking plaster-cast copies of the stupas’ pillars to display in museums in France and Britain.

4. Why do you think women and men joined the sangha?

The reasons why women and men joined the sangha, or monastic community of Buddhism, varied depending on the individual’s personal circumstances and motivations. Some possible reasons why women and men joined the sangha are:

  • Many of them men wanted spiritual knowledge and mental peace that’s why men were joined.
  • Many people entered sanghas to become priests and teachers of Buddhism.
  • Women also wanted to join Sangha. The Buddha’s foster mother, Mahapajapati Gotami was the first woman to be ordained as a bhikkhuni.
  • The Sangha followers came from many social groups. They included kings, wealthy men and chapatis, and also humbler folk: workers, slaves and craftspeople.
  • The internal functioning of the sangha was based on the traditions of ganas and sanghas, where consensus was arrived at through discussions.

6. To what extent does knowledge of Buddhist literature help in understanding the sculpture at Sanchi?

Buddhist literature helps us understand the sculpture at Sanchi in the following ways :

  1. At first glance, the scene depicted in the northern gateway at Sanchi appears to be a rural setting with simple thatched huts and trees. However, upon closer examination by historians and scholars, it is revealed to be a depiction of the Vessantara Jataka. This story tells of a generous prince who gives away all his possessions to a Brahmana and retreats to the forest with his wife and children. The detailed study of the sculpture has enabled experts to identify this significant story and understand its significance within the broader context of Buddhist art and literature.
  2. To understand Buddhist sculpture, art historians must be familiar with the biographies of the Buddha. According to these biographies, the Buddha achieved enlightenment while meditating under a tree. Early sculptures often depicted the Buddha’s presence through symbolic representations such as empty seats, stupas, and wheels. These symbols can only be fully understood by considering the traditions and cultural contexts of the communities that produced these works of art. Therefore, a deep understanding of both the Buddha’s biographies and the traditions of the cultures that created these sculptures is essential for fully appreciating the symbolic and artistic significance of Buddhist art.
  3. James Ferguson, one of the first modern art historians, mistakenly believed that Sanchi was a centre for tree and serpent worship. This was because he was not well-versed in Buddhist literature, which was largely untranslated at the time. Instead, he based his conclusion solely on the images he observed at the site. However, we now know that the artwork at Sanchi is primarily focused on Buddhist themes and iconography. This highlights the importance of understanding the historical, cultural, and religious contexts of artwork when interpreting its meaning and significance.

7. Discuss the development in sculpture and architecture associated with the rise of Vaishnavism and Shaivism.

The rise of Vaishnavism and Shaivism in India during the early centuries CE had a significant impact on the development of sculpture and architecture. Vaishnavism and Shaivism are two major sects of Hinduism that worship Vishnu and Shiva, respectively.

In sculpture, the depiction of deities associated with these sects became more prominent. For example, the image of Vishnu with his ten avatars, or incarnations, became a popular subject in sculpture. Shaivism emphasized the worship of Shiva as the ultimate reality and destroyer of evil. The depiction of Shiva in various forms, such as the dancing Nataraja or the ascetic meditating on Mount Kailash, became popular in sculpture.

Architecturally, the construction of temples and other religious buildings became more elaborate and ornate. This was particularly evident during the Chalukya and Pallava dynasties, which were known for their impressive temple architecture. For example, the Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora, built by the Rashtrakutas, is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and features many depictions of Shiva. Similarly, the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, built by the Pallavas, is a fine example of early Indian temple architecture and features many sculptures of Vishnu.

The rise of Vaishnavism and Shaivism also led to the development of various architectural features such as mandapas (pillared halls), gopurams (ornate entrance gateways), and shikhara (towering spires). These features not only served a functional purpose but also had symbolic significance within the religious traditions.

Overall, the rise of Vaishnavism and Shaivism had a significant impact on the development of sculpture and architecture in India. The depictions of Vishnu and Shiva in sculpture and the construction of elaborate temples reflect the importance of these deities in the religious and cultural landscape of India.

9. Discuss how and why stupas were built.

Stupas are a type of Buddhist monument that was built in ancient India and spread throughout much of Asia. They were primarily built to enshrine Buddhist relics or to commemorate important events in the life of the Buddha or other prominent figures in Buddhism.

The design and construction of stupas evolved over time, but they typically consist of a hemispherical dome-shaped structure, usually made of brick or stone, with a central shaft or spire on top. The dome often contains a small chamber or reliquary that houses sacred relics, such as a piece of bone or hair from the Buddha or a revered Buddhist teacher.

The construction of stupas was considered a highly meritorious act in Buddhism, as it provided a physical representation of the teachings and helped to preserve the memory of important Buddhist figures. Many stupas were also believed to have supernatural powers, such as the ability to grant blessings or protect the surrounding area from harm.

Stupas were often built by kings, wealthy patrons, or entire communities, and the construction process was typically accompanied by elaborate ceremonies and rituals. The materials used to construct stupas varied depending on the location and resources available, but many were adorned with intricate carvings, statues, or paintings that depicted scenes from the life of the Buddha or other important figures in Buddhist history.

In summary, stupas were built primarily to enshrine Buddhist relics or commemorate important events in the life of the Buddha or other prominent figures in Buddhism. They were considered highly meritorious acts and were often accompanied by elaborate ceremonies and rituals. Stupas provided a physical representation of the teachings of Buddhism and were believed to have supernatural powers.