1. Indian languages and literature got boost due to the compositions by bhakti-sufi poets. Which of the following pairs are correctly matched?
1. Vakh : Kashmiri
2. Abhang : Marathi
3. Ulatbansi : Hindi
4. Padavali : Bengali
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 1, 3 and 4 only
(c) 2, 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Answer: (d) Explanation: Pair 1 is correct – Lalleshwari (1320-1392), lovingly called Lal Ded (mother lalla) is, along with Sheikh Nur-u-Din Wali, a beacon of creative and spiritual energy. She is considered a saint in Kashmir. Her poems, called as Vakh, are heavily metaphysical and philosophical; they provide spiritual solace in adversity and difficulty. Pair 2 is correct – Abhang is a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of Vitthala. The word "abhang" comes from a for "non-" and bhang for "ending" or "interrupting", in other words, a flawless, continuous process, in this case referring to a poem. By contrast, the devotional songs known as Bhajans focus on the inward journey. Abhangs are more exuberant expressions of the communitarian experience. Tukaram was a seventeenth century poet who lived in the town of Dehu, which is located near Pune. He was a popular poet and a leading figure in the Varkari Movement of the time, which sought to put the emphasis back on devotion and love towards God through his abhangs. Pair 3 is correct – Ulat Bansi literally means 'upside-down' language. It has similarities in structure with 'nonsense verse' and the absurd. They have been written in a form in which everyday meanings have been inverted. The main objective of these ulatbansis is to hint at the difficulties of capturing the nature of the Ultimate. Knowing the inadequacy of words, the Indian mystic Kabir moulds them into ulatbansis, paradoxical statements. Pair 4 is correct – The padavali poetry reflects an earthy view of divine love which had its roots in the Agam poetry of Tamil Sangam literature (600 BC–300 AD) and spread into early medieval Telugu (Nannaya, Annamayya) and Kannada literatures (Dasa sahitya). The accompanying literary movements were marked by a shift from the classical language of Sanskrit, to the local languages (apabhramsha) or derivatives, e.g. the literary language of brajabuli adopted by Vidyapati (14th century). Vaishnavism in Bengal was given a tremendous boost by Sri Chaitanya (1486–1533), whose intense spiritualism infected many and started a movement across many regions of India. Vaishnava Padavalis were the chief instrument. It was such poetry that established Bengali as a significant literary language. The earliest work in what may be considered a distinctively Bengali style is the Shrikṛṣṇa-kirtana, a long padqvali poem by Chandidas, which is dated to the early 15th century.
2. Buddhist literature is a window to contemporary life in ancient India. Various kings, monks, traders and common people find their mention in it. Who among the following was not the contemporary of Buddha? (a) Bimbisara
Answer: (d) Explanation: Option(a) is correct – Bimbisara (543-491 BCE) was one of the early kings of the kingdom of Magadha. His expansion of the kingdom, especially his annexation of the kingdom of Anga to the east, is considered to have laid the foundations for the later expansion of the Mauryan Empire. He is also known for his cultural achievements and was a great friend and protector of the Buddha. King Bimbisara gave a park with a quiet bamboo grove for the use of the Buddha and his disciples. This park was named the Bamboo Grove. The Buddha spent three successive rainy seasons there and three other rainy seasons later. Bimbisara built the city of Rajagriha, famous in Buddhist writings. According to Buddhist scriptures, King Bimbisara met the Buddha for the first time prior to the Buddha's enlightenment, and later became an important disciple that featured prominently in certain Buddhist suttas. He is recorded to have attained sotapannahood, a degree of enlightenment in Buddhist teachings. Option (b) is correct – Jivaka was the most celebrated doctor in India during the Buddha's time. He was called upon to treat kings and princes, including King Bimbisara himself. But of all the distinguished people Jivaka attended to, his greatest pleasure was to attend to the Buddha. Option (c) is correct – Anandapindaka was millionaire of Shravasti city and contemporary of Buddha. He built a monastery in which the Buddha was to spend many rainy seasons and which came to be known as the Jetavana Monastery. The Buddha spent the major part of his life in these quiet surroundings and most of his discourses were delivered there. Option (d) is incorrect – Bindusara (r. c. 297 – c. 273 BCE) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the son of the dynasty's founder Chandragupta, and the father of its most famous ruler Ashoka. Bindusara consolidated the empire created by his father.
3. In last couple of decades, Vipassana has become a favoured form of meditation across India. It is a Buddhist form of meditation. To which of the following Buddhist sects it originally belonged?
(c) Tibetan Buddhism
(d) Sahajayana Buddhism
Answer: (a) Explanation: Vipassana (insight) in the Buddhist tradition is insight into the correct nature of reality. Meditation practice in the Theravada tradition ended in the 10th century, but was re- introduced in Myanmar (Burma) in the 18th century, based on contemporary readings of the Satipatthana-sutta, the Visuddhimagga, and other texts. It became of central importance in the 20th century Vipassana movement. In the Theravada tradition alone, there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness. The most influential presentation though, is that of the 5th Century Visuddhimagga ('Path of Purification') of Buddhaghoṣa, which describes forty meditation subjects. Mahayana Buddhism includes numerous schools of practice, which each draw upon various Buddhist sutras, philosophical treatises, and commentaries. Accordingly, each school has its own meditation methods for the purpose of developing samadhi and prajna, with the goal of ultimately attaining enlightenment. The word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the word Dhyana – meditative state. Central to Zen is the practice of meditation. In China, the word dhyana became Chan. the practice of meditation entered into Chinese through the translations of An Shigao (c. 148–180 CE), mainly the Dhyana sutras, which were influential early meditation texts. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are thousands of visualization meditations. Particularly influential from the twentieth century onward has been the "New Burmese Method" or "Vipassana School". In the 19th and 20th century the Theravada traditions in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka were rejuvenated in response to western colonialism. They were rallying points in the struggle against western hegemonism, giving voice to traditional values and culture. Most influential in this renewed interest was the "new Burmese method". It emphasizes the use of vipassana to gain insight into the three marks of existence as the main means to attain wisdom and eventually awakening. The primary source of the movement's practice is the commentarial writings of Buddhaghosa, particularly the Visuddhimagga. Vipassana movement traditions have offered meditation programs in some prisons. One notable example was in 1993 when Kiran Bedi, a reformist Inspector General of India's prisons tried it in India's largest prison Tihar Jail. This program was said to have dramatically changed the behaviour of inmates and jailers alike. Inmates who completed the ten-day course were less violent and had a lower recidivism rate than other inmates.
4. The Jataka tales are a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of Gautama Buddha in both human and animal form. These are found in which Pali text?
(a) Samyukta Nikaya
(b) Anguttara Nikaya
(c) Majjhima Nikaya
(d) Khuddaka Nikaya
Answer: (d) Explanation:
Tripitaka consists of 32 books, in three parts or baskets of teachings:
(1) the basket of expected discipline from monks (Vinaya Piṭaka),
(2) basket of discourse (Sutra Piṭaka, Nikayas), and
(3) basket of special doctrine (Abhidharma Piṭaka). Sutta Pitaka – The Buddha delivered all his sermons in local language of northern India. These sermons were collected during 1st assembly just after the Parinibbana of the Buddha. This also deals with the first Buddhist council which was held shortly after Buddha’s death, dated by the majority of recent scholars around 400 BC, under the patronage of King Ajatasatru with the monk Mahakasyapa presiding, at Rajgir. Later these teachings were translated into Sanskrit. There are over 10 thousand suttas or sutras related to Buddha and his close companions. There are five nikayas (collections) of suttas – Digha, Samyukta, Anguttara, Khuddaka, Majhimma a) Digha Nikaya: Comprises the “long” discourses. They consists – Sigalavada Sutta,
Ambattha Sutta, Sammabaphala Sutta, Maha-Parinibbana Sutta etc. b) Majjhima Nikaya : Comprises the “middle-length” discourses c) Samyutta Nikaya : Comprises the “connected” discourses d) Anguttara Nikaya: Comprises the “numerical” discourses. This nikaya consists of
several thousand discourses ascribed to the Buddha and his chief disciples. e) Khuddaka Nikaya: Comprises the “minor collection”. Some important parts are –
Dhammapada, Jataka Katha, Therigatha, Theragatha Jatakas are the extremely popular stories of former lives of the Buddha, and are moralistic in nature, which are preserved in all branches of Buddhism. Each tale begins by noting the occasion that prompted its telling and ends with the Buddha identifying the lives of the people in the introductory story with those of people from the past. There is humour in these stories and considerable variety. The future Buddha may appear in them as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, he exhibits some virtue that the tale thereby inculcates. Often, Jataka tales include an extensive cast of characters who interact and get into various kinds of trouble - whereupon the Buddha character intervenes to resolve all the problems and bring about a happy ending. Many Jatakas have parallels in the Mahabharata, the Pancha-tantra, the Puranas, and elsewhere in non-Buddhist Indian literature. Some turn up again in such places as Aesop’s fables. The Jataka stories have also been illustrated frequently in sculpture and painting throughout the Buddhist world.
5. Consider the following pairs about the Buddhist Councils:
Council Place : Presided By Patronage
1. Second : Rajgriha Mahakashyapa King Kalasoka
2. Third : Vaishali Sabakami Ajatshatru
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Explanation: Time Place Presided by Patronage First Around 400 BC Sattapani cave at Rajgriha Mahakasyapa King Ajatshatru
Importance of First Council – It was held soon after the Mahaparinirvan of the Buddha. The idea was to preserve Buddha’s teachings (Sutta) and rules for disciples (Vinaya). Ananda, one of the great disciples of Buddha recited Suttas and Upali, another disciple recited Vinaya.
Second 383 BC Vaishali Sabakami King Kalasoka
Importance of Second Council – The idea of this council was to settle a dispute on Vinaya Pitaka, the code of discipline. The dispute was on 10 Points such as storing salt in horn, eating after midday, eating once and going to villages for alms, eating sour milk after one’s meal etc. It was not settled and Buddhism sects appeared for the first time. The Second Council thus resulted in the first schism in the Sangha. The subgroups were Sthaviravada, Mahasanghika and Sarvastivada. Sthaviravada followed the teachings of the elders and Mahasanghika became extinct later. Sthaviravada later continued till 3rd Buddhist council.
Third 250 BC Pataliputra Moggliputta Tissa King Asoka
Importance of Third Council – The teachings of Buddha which were under two baskets were now classified in 3 baskets as Abhidhamma Pitaka was established in this council, and they were known as “Tripitaka”. It also tried to settle all the disputes of Vinaya Pitaka. According to the Theravada commentaries and chronicles, the Third Buddhist Council was convened by the Mauryan king Ashoka at Pataliputra, under the leadership of the monk Moggaliputta Tissa. Its objective was to purify the Buddhist movement, particularly from opportunistic factions which had been attracted by the royal patronage. Accordingly, this council was convened primarily for the purpose of establishing an official orthodoxy. At the council, small groups raised questions about the specifics of the vinaya and the interpretation of doctrine. The chairman of the council, Moggaliputta Tissa, compiled a book, the Kathavatthu, which was meant to refute these arguments. The council sided with Moggaliputta and his version of Buddhism as orthodox; it was then adopted by Emperor Aśoka as his empire's official religion. Also, emissaries were sent to various countries in order to spread Buddhism, as far as the Greek kingdoms in the West. several of these missionaries were responsible for founding schools in various parts of India:
1. Mahinda, who travelled to Sri Lanka where he founded the school Theravada
2. Majjhantika was the father of the Kasmiri Sarvastivadins
3. Yonaka Dhammarakkhita may have been the founder of the Dharmaguptaka school
4. Mahadeva, sent to the Mahisa country may have been the founder of the Mahisasakas
5. Several teachers travelled to the Himalayas where they founded the Haimavata
Fourth 72 AD Kundalvana, Kashmir
Vasumitra Asvaghosa was deputy Kushan King Kanishka
Importance of Fourth Council – By the time of the Fourth Buddhist councils, Buddhism had long since splintered into different schools. It is said that Kanishka gathered five hundred Bhikkhus in Kashmir, headed by Vasumitra, to systematize the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma texts, which were translated from earlier Prakrit vernacular languages (such as Gandhari in Kharosthi script) into the classical language of Sanskrit. It is said that during the council three hundred thousand verses and over nine million statements were compiled, a process which took twelve years to complete. Although the Sarvastivada are no longer extant as an independent school, its traditions were inherited by the Mahayana tradition. Another Fourth Buddhist Council was held at Tambapanni (one name of Sri Lanka) at Aloka Lena under the patronage of Vattagamani-Abaya. However, most scholars agree that this was not eligible to be called a Council as it was not under a king but a local chieftain.