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Mains Answer Writing

27-November-2023

1.  Discuss about the Gupta and Chola eras’ significant contributions to Indian history and culture.

ANSWER

  • Gupta Period, also called “The Golden Period in Indian history”, was attributed to the Gupta dynasty established by Chandragupta I in the 3rd Century AD in North India. The Chola empire, a Tamil thalassocratic empire, was established in South India by Vijayalaya in the 9th century. Both Gupta and Chola periods have contributed to Indian heritage and culture in various ways.

CONTRIBUTION OF THE GUPTA PERIOD (300-600 AD)

  1. The Nagara style of temple architecture: It emerged during the Gupta dynasty, distinguished by a curved spire and a mandapa (hall). The temple at Deogarh near Jhansi and the sculptures in the temple near Allahabad remain important specimens of Gupta art.
  2. Sculptures: Sculptures of stone and metal, rose to new heights throughout this period. During this period a new school of sculpture emerged in and around Sarnath which was characterized by the use of metal and cream colour sandstone. Ex: Sarnath Buddha, a sculpture of the Buddha teaching the Dharma, was made during this time.
  3. Mural Paintings: Art, particularly murals, thrived throughout this period as well. Eg: Ajanta Caves feature murals representing the Buddha’s life and jataka stories.
  4. Coinage: The Gupta coinage was also noteworthy. Samudragupta issued eight different kinds of gold coins.
  5. Metallurgy: It advanced dramatically during the Gupta era. The Delhi Iron Pillar from the Gupta period is still rust-free.
  6. Literature: The Mahabharata and the Ramayana, two of the greatest epics in Indian literature, were written during the Gupta period. The Sanskrit language rose to prominence. Many works in classical Sanskrit were written in the form of epics, lyrics, drama, and prose. The Gupta period produced the best Sanskrit literature. Eg: Kalidasa’s Abhijnana Shakuntalam.
  7. Scientific progress: During the Gupta period, scientific treatises in subjects like mathematics, astronomy, and medicine were also developed. During this period, the Sushruta Samhita, a book on medicine and surgery, was composed and the establishment of the decimal system and the idea of zero was also propounded.

CONTRIBUTION OF CHOLA PERIOD (900-1300 AD)

  1. Temple architecture: The Chola period was known for its magnificent temple architecture of Dravidian style which was distinguished by the use of granite and the gopuram (tower). Eg: The Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur.
  2. Bronze sculptures: Sculpture development in bronze made from lost wax techniques were initiated. Eg: Bronze Nataraja of the Chola period, which indicates the sound of creation, destruction, benediction, and path of salvation.
  3. Paintings: A great example is the artwork found in the temples of the Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram.
  4. Tamil literature: The Chola period saw the development of Tamil literature, with the composition of Tamil literature, a collection of poems and hymns. Kalladanar, Kambar, and Pugalandhi were some of the prominent Tamil poets of that time.
  5. Art: The Cholas were also patrons of the arts and supported the development of classical music and dance. Nathamuni and Nambiandar made contributions to the growth of music.
  6. Trade relations: The Cholas developed a strong navy and increased trade with the Middle East and Southeast Asian nations. The Cholas built the Tondi port and conducted business with nations like China, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
  7. System of local governance: The Chola period also had an elaborate system of local government- the Kudavolai system.

Both dynasties’ significant contributions have shaped India’s culture and heritage into a rich and prosperous one, with Gupta’s cave still in good condition after 1500 years and Chola’s Nataraja sculpture being worshipped at various temples throughout modern India.

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