1. Mahayana Buddhism is known for its intricately rich mythological universe filled with various Bodhisattvas. Which among the following Bodhisattvas are correctly matched?
1. Amitabha : heavenly radiating body of Buddha
2. Maitreya : a future Buddha
3. Manjushri : personifies supreme wisdom
4. Vajrapani : protector of snakes and a guardian of amrit (elixir)
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:
1. The heavenly Buddha named Amitabha (infinite radiance).
a. Amitabha possesses infinite merits resulting from good deeds over countless past lives as a bodhisattva. His two main disciples are the bodhisattvas Vajrapani and Avalokiteshvara, the former to his left and the latter to his right. Amitabha is often depicted, when shown seated, displaying the meditation mudra while the earth-touching mudra is reserved for a seated Gautama Buddha alone. Devotion to Amitabha came to the fore in China about 650 CE and from there spread to Japan, where it led in the 12th and 13th centuries to the formation of the Pure Land school. Amitabha as a saviour figure was never as popular in Tibet and Nepal as he was in East Asia, but he is highly regarded in those countries. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Panchen Lamas and Shamarpas are considered to be emanations of Amitabha.
2. The heavenly bodhisattvas included Maitreya (the kind one).
a. He is regarded as a future Buddha. According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya refers to a time in the future when the dharma will have been forgotten by most on the terrestrial world. Maitreya is the earliest bodhisattva around whom a cult developed and is mentioned in scriptures from the 3rd century CE. He was accepted by all schools of Buddhism and is still the only bodhisattva generally honoured by the Theravada tradition. His worship was especially popular from the 4th to the 7th century, and his images are found throughout the Buddhist world; many of them beautifully convey his characteristic air of expectancy and promise. He is represented in painting and sculpture both as a bodhisattva and as a buddha. 3. Amitabha – heavenly radiating Manjushri (sweet glory) – personifying supreme
wisdom. a. He was supposed to be an assistant of the heavenly Buddha Shakyamuni and was associated closely with wisdom. He is most commonly shown wearing princely ornaments, his right hand holding aloft the sword of wisdom to cut through the clouds of ignorance and his left holding a palm-leaf manuscript of the Prajnaparamita. 4. Vajrapani was a bodhisattva whose symbol was the vajra (thunderbolt);
a. He was considered a protector of snakes and a guardian of the elixir of life. He is one of the earliest three protective deities or bodhisattvas surrounding the Buddha. Because of his association with the rain-controlling nagas and with the Hindu god of rain, Indra, he is invoked in times of drought. Like Indra he holds the thunderbolt and is coloured dark blue or white. In Tibet he assumes ferocious forms to combat demons and to guard the mystical teaching of Buddhism, and in Japan he guards the temple doorways. Vajrapani is the patron-saint of the Shaolin Monastery in Japan which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. The Dalai Lama, is a title given to spiritual leaders of the Tibetan people. Which Tibetan Buddhist sect is headed by the Dalai Lama?
Answer: (d) Explanation: Tibetan Buddhism is a branch of Vajrayana Buddhism that evolved from the 7th century CE in Tibet. It is based mainly on the rigorous intellectual disciplines of Madhyamika and Yogachara philosophy and utilizes the Tantric ritual practices that developed in Central Asia and particularly in Tibet. Special features of Tibetan Buddhism
1) the status of the teacher or "Lama"
2) preoccupation with the relationship between life and death
3) important role of rituals and initiations
4) rich visual symbolism
5) elements of earlier Tibetan faiths
6) mantras and meditation practice Sects/Groups within Tibetan Buddhism – 1. Nyingmapa: Founded by Padmasambhava, this is oldest sect 2. Kagyupa: Founded by Tilopa, the Kagyupa tradition is headed by the Karmapa Lama.
Important Kagyupa teachers include Naropa, Marpa, and Milarepa. 3. Sakyapa: Created by Gonchok Gyelpo 4. Gelugpa: Founded by Je Tsongkhapa (also known as Je Rinpoche), this tradition is headed by the Dalai Lama.
3. Acharanga Sutra, the famous religious book, belongs to which of the following religion?
Answer: (a) Explanation: It is the first of the 12 texts accepted Angas as canonical by Shvetambara Jains. The Digambara Jains believe that the original version of this sutra was lost. The Acharanga Sutra is the oldest agam, from a linguistic point of view, written in Ardhamagadhi Prakrit. The Sutra contains two books. The first one describes the conduct and behaviour of ascetic life: the mode of asking for food, bowl, clothes, conduct while walking and speaking and regulation of possessions by ascetics. It also describes the penance of Mahavira, the Great Hero. The second parts lay down rules for conduct of ascetics.
4. Sixty three shalakapurush (illustrious persons) are religio-mythical characters that include Ram, Narayan, Prati-Narayan and even Chakravarti kings. Which among the following religions they belong to? (a) Jainism
Answer: (a) Explanation: According to the Jain cosmology, the shalakapuruṣa (illustrious or worthy persons) are 63 illustrious beings who appear during each half-time cycle. The Jain universal or legendary history is a compilation of the deeds of these illustrious persons. Their life stories are said to be most inspiring. They comprise of – 1. 24 Tirthankaras (Teaching Gods) – The 24 Tīrthankaras or the supreme ford makers appear in succession to activate the correct religion and establish the community of ascetics and laymen. 2. 12 Chakravartin – The Chakravartis are the universal monarchs who rule over the six continents. 3. 9 Balabhadras (gentle heroes) – who lead an ideal Jain life e.g. Lord Rama 4. 9 Narayanas or Vasudeva (warrior heroes) 5. 9 Prati-narayanas (anti-heroes) – They are anti-heroes who are ultimately killed by the Narayana Out of the above five classes of illustrious persons, Tirthankaras are placed at the top. They establish the religion and attain liberation. The Chakravarti attain liberation if they renounce their kingdom, or else go to hell if they indulge in sensual pleasures. Next in rank are Baladevas who are gentle heroes and devout laymen, who attain liberation corresponding to Tirthankaras. Vasudevas are also devout Jain laymen and ultimately attain liberation, but are first reborn in hell because of their violent actions. Unlike in the Hindu Puranas, the names Balabhadra and Narayana are not restricted to Balarama and Krishna in Jain puranas. Instead they serve as names of two distinct classes of mighty half-brothers. They appear nine times in each half of the time cycles of the Jain cosmology and jointly rule half the earth as half-chakravarti. Ultimately Prati- naryana is killed by Narayana for his unrighteousness and immorality. Jain Ramayana is based on the stories of Rama, Lakshmana and Ravana who are the eighth Baladeva, Narayana, Pratinarayana and respectively. Similarly Harivamsa Purana is based on the stories of Balarama, Krishna and Jarasandha, who are the ninth and the last set of Balabhadra, Narayana, and Pratinarayana. However, the main battle is not the Mahabharata, but the fight between Krishna and Jarasandha who is killed by Krishna. The epic poem Trīṣaṣṭi-śalākā-puruṣa-charitra is written by Hemachandra (1088-1173). He was a Jain scholar, poet, and polymath who wrote on grammar, philosophy, prosody, and contemporary history. Noted as a prodigy by his contemporaries, he gained the title kali-kāla-sarvajña, "the all-knowing of the Kali Yuga".
5. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani’s Khanqah in Srinagar city remains a popular tourist attraction. Consider the following statements w.r.t him:
(1) He belonged to the Kubrawiya order of Sufism.
(2) He brought various crafts to the Kashmir valley which helped to boost the local economic activity
(3) Ladakh’s economy and society was influenced by him, besides holding influence over Kashmir valley.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Answer: (d) Explanation: Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani (1314-1384) was a Persian Sufi of the Kubrawiya order, a poet and a prominent Shafi'i Muslim scholar. He was born in Hamdan, and was buried in Khatlan, Tajikistan. It is said he traversed the known world from East to West three times. In 1370s-80s Hamdani lived in Kashmir. Hamdani is regarded as having brought various crafts and industries from Iran into Kashmir; it is said that he brought with him 700 followers, including some weavers of carpets and shawls, who taught the craft of pashmina textile and carpet-making to the local population. The growth of the textile industry in Kashmir increased its demand for fine wool, which in turn meant that Kashmiri Muslim groups settled in Ladakh, bringing with them crafts such as writing.