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Mains Answer Writing

One of the key components of these exams is the written test, which consists of a number of essay and comprehension questions. Candidates are expected to write clear and well-structured answers that demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the topics being tested.

8-July-2023

Q. Do you think that Gupta Age is rightly considered the Golden Age of India? (250 words)

Answer : Many Historians have in the past have Called the Gupta Age as the Golden age of India. However this is a highly debatable issue.

Reasons for Which Gupta Age is considered as India’s Golden Age:

  • Golden Age of Literature:
    • The literary culture grew immensely during the Gupta times, with the composition of Dharmashastras (law books) and Smritis (Book of Tradition). 
    • Itihasas (the epics), namely Ramayana and Mahabharata, developed into their final form in this period, as evident from linguistic studies. The Valmiki Ramayana, which was initially 6000 verses long, developed into a 24000 verses long text, and Mahabharata, which was initially 8800 verses long, evolved to 100,000 verses long.
    • Purana – Purana contains some details on the Gupta empire. For example – The Vishnu Purana states that the Guptas and the people of Magadha will enjoy “the territory along the Ganges (up to) Prayaga”.
    • Kalidasa – the father of Sanskrit Drama, was a court poet of Chandragupta-II wrote glorious plays.
  • Golden Age of Science and Mathematics:
    • Chemistry: Nagarjuna is mentioned as a great chemist. The use of mercury and iron in medicine shows that chemistry must have been practised. The famous Iron Pillar in the Qutub-Minar complex is a prime example of metallurgy during the Gupta Empire.
    • Medicine:
      • Navanitakarn worked on Ayurveda during this era.
      • Charak and Sushruta’s works Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita, respectively, were summarised in Ashtanga Sangraha by Vagbhatta I. 
      • Dhanvantari was a prominent doctor during this era. He wrote Dhanvantarisamhita, a book of medicines.
    • Astronomy: Varahmihira wrote four books, Pancha Siddhantika and Brihata Samhita on Astronomy and Laghu Jataka and Brihaja Jataka on Astrology.
    • Mathematics:
      • Aryabhattiyam (499AD) by Aryabhatta uses the decimal system and zero. Arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry and algebra, Computation of π and Solid geometry.
      • Brahmagupta’s (7th century CE) Brahmasphuta Siddhanta and Khanda Khadyaka. It computes Cyclic Quadrilaterals and Square roots.
      • Suryasiddhanta (late 4th century): can be said the Origin of Trigonometry. We find the earliest uses of Tangent and Inverse sine ratios here.
  • Golden Age of Art:
    • Sculpture: A Sarnath school of sculpture developed during the Gupta period. It used cream-coloured sandstone and metals
    • Cave Paintings and sculptures: The Bagh caves are in the Dhar district of MP portrays Buddha and Jataka stories. Ajanta cave paintings in Aurangabad district have 29 caves with beautiful paintings.
  • Earliest Temples: The Nagara Style of temple building started in the Gupta period. Dashavatara Vishnu temple is the earliest example of a Panchayatana-style temple, with the main shrine and four subsidiary shrines.

The Gupta Age wasn’t India’s Golden Age in Social perspective:

  • Caste System Became rigid: During the Gupta empire, Brahmanical reaction against Buddhism and Jainism became stronger, due to which the Caste system became rigid. The Dharmashastras of this age claimed that the Varna was based on birth. It had no numerical restrictions, and the number of jatis was ever-increasing.
  • The Plight of Slaves: The Dharmasastra Narada mentioned slaves, mainly domestic servants employed in cleaning and sweeping. In addition, the prisoners of war, debt bondsmen, and those born of slave women were considered slaves. 
  • Forced labour (visthi) was also widespread.
  • Position of Women: The women of the higher caste couldn’t participate in the economy. Whereas women from the lower caste were relatively freer. Often Women were clubbed with the Shudras in the Dharmashastras.

The Gupta Age was a Golden age of Economy, Literature, Science, Mathematics, Astronomy and Art, even though it was in no sense a Golden age for the untouchables, slaves and women.

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