Post Harshavardhan era

  • Harshavardhan observed the same system of administration as the guptas and so when he conquered new kings he would allow them to rule over their kingdoms after they accepted his suzerainty. This led the empire to become decentralised and depend on the allies. The law and order slackened during this period as noted by foreign traveller Huen Tsang. Officials were not paid salaries in cash and were given land grants instead. However no death penalty was allowed during his reign. After Harshas death his empire split into smaller kingdoms.

  • After the collapse of the harshavardhan empire, there were region specific stable empires in different parts of the country. Kashmir was under the functioning of a local state. In Bengal, the Pala dynasty started and endured for many centuries. Dharmapal the greatest king had a long reign and was able to cement the position of bengal as the leading state in North India. The city of kanauj which was a important city of north India was captured by Dharmapal and a nominee was set on the throne. The Pala kingdom also captured the Gangetic doab. However during the Tripartite struggle with the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas they were expelled from both kanuaj and the doab. Successors of Dharmapala were weak and had short reigns.

  • However, even though wetern India couldnt be captured by them. They reigned over east India. The Palas were ardent buddhists and their patronage was given to Nalanda university which became an important center of learning. It even attracted foreign students. Vikramshila was another university established by them. This became the origin of a new form of buddhism known as Vajrayana. The Palas sent emissaries of vajrayana buddhism to tibet and south east Asia and it was due to them that Vajrayana buddhism emerged in Tibet.

  • Rajput clans like the gurjars, Pratiharas, Chahamanas and Guhilas emerged and ruled over Western India. It was during their reign that Pratiharas became important and controlled a kingdom. They also successfully managed to defeat the Arab invaders that had occupied Sind. Pratiharas established the capital at Kanauj and ruled over it for two centuries. However, the constant wars in all directions strained their resources and the last Pratihara king was defeated by Rashtrakutas.

  • In the period between 750 - 100<, Rashtrakutas emerged as a powerful dynasty. They were engaged in a tripartitie struggle with the Pratiharas and Palas over kanauj. They also wanted to dominate North India, however even though they successfully occupied kanauj in turns the wars had weakened them and they were captured by lesser kingdoms. Rashtrakutas were replaced by the Later Chalukyas, Pratiharas broke into smaller kingdoms and the Palas were defeated by the Sena dynasty./p>

  • It was at this time that the Rajputs emerged the scene. However their constant battles and wars led to their weakening and they couldnt defeat the enemies that had come to conquer India from the Northwest. First among these enemies was Mahmud Ghazni.

Origin of the Rajputs

  • This is a historically disputed fact, but some historians beloved that the rajputs were central asian tribes that settled in India after the Huns invaded it. There were many clans of rajputs and it was assumed that they are all kshatriyas. The clans were either descendants of the sun (Suryawanshi) orthe moon (Chandrawanshi). However four clans claimed that they were descendants of fire (Agniwanshi). These four clans were the most important in history.

  • These were the pariharas, solankis, pawars and the chauhans. These clans established power over central India, Western India and Rajasthan.

  • An important kingdom to the northeast of the chauhans was Tomars. They built Delhi in 736 AD. Their kingdom was annexed by the Chauhans.

  • However, these kingdoms were not united even against a foreign enemy. The arabs led by MahmudGhazni invaded India through the Northeast. The kings were defeated and Ghazni captured a lot of wealth belonging to temples like the Somnath temple. The next arab invader was Mahmud Ghuri , he also invaded and annexed sind. The Rajputs led by Prithviraj Chauhan defeated Ghuri at first battle of Terrain but he lost the second battle and fell to Ghuri. The Chauhan kingdom of Delhi was annexed. turks also succeeded in capturing the Ganga Yamuna doab and territories upto Bengal and Bihar.

The death of Harsha saw a period of political turmoil for about five centuries. The smaller kingdoms in north India kept fighting each other. Finally the Muslim rulers under Muhammad of Ghuri invaded and the Delhi sultanate began. 

Rajput's Dynasty:  

Rajputs were dominant from 7th century to the 12th century till Muslim rule came to India. Then also the Rajput's survived in smaller kingdoms. They were the main defenders of Hindu religion under Muslim aggression.

Gurjar Pratihara's were dominant Rajput's. The presence of Pratihara's stopped the Muslim invaders under caliph in 8th century from coming into India.

However the Pratihara's were involved in a triangular conflict with Pala's of Bengal and Rashtrakuta's of Deccan. This weakened them.

Palas were rulers of Bengal. Dharma pal was the founder of the Vikramshila University.

The Tomar's were also valiant Rajput's who captured Delhi. But the Rajput's didn’t have political foresight and failed to unite against the Muslim invaders. Due to this they were defeated. India had to bear the shame of being under foreign rule.  

kingdoms of medieval India

Arab invasions: 

The Islam religion was started by Prophet Muhammad in 622 AD. After his death his followers started the caliphate in Mecca. The caliph had a commander Muhammad bin Qasim who invaded and captured Sind. The subjects of Sind became protected subjects. The commander was withdrawn by the caliph. The capture of Sind led to diffusion of Indian culture abroad, Indian medicine, astronomy and numerals went off to Arab and Europe through them. Sind became a part of the Arab Empire.

The caliphate weakened and the Turkish governors became independent. One such governor Mahmud of Ghazni became a conqueror of North India. He defeated many Hindu kings and sacked and plundered many temples. His military conquests were due to his ability and leadership and also restless activity. His kingdom included Punjab and Afghanistan. The raids of Ghazni drained India of its manpower and wealth. It also opened the gates for future invasions from turkey and Afghanistan. The Hindushahi kingdom which guarded the Indian subcontinent was destroyed. Inclusion of Punjab and Afghanistan into Ghazni Empire made next Arab invasions possible.

The next Arab invader was Mahmud Ghuri. He captured Sind and Punjab. This brought him in direct confrontation with Prithviraj Chauhan. In the first battle of terrain he was defeated by Chauhan but Ghuri defeated him in the second battle and killed Prithviraj Chauhan. The defeat of Chauhan dented their prestige. It also led to the establishment of Turkish rule in India.

The general of Ghuri was Qutubuddin Aibak, he captured Delhi. Another general Muhammad Bin Bhaktiyar Khilji destroyed Nalanda and Vikramshila University. 

Failure of the Hindu kingdoms: 

1.      The Hindu kings were disunited. They exhausted their resources in mutual rivalries.

2.      The Arabs were motivated by religious zeal and vast wealth of India.

3.      The Hindu kings would be on the defensive. Also the caste ridden society meant that battles were the duty of kshatriyas only.

4.      The Arabs possessed fast moving cavalry and their techniques of warfare were superior compared to the Hindu kings.

Q.Banjaras during the medieval period of Indian history were generally (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • agriculturists

  • warriors

  • weavers

  • traders

Ans . D

  1. The Banjaras were the most important trader- nomads. Their caravan was called tanda.

Q.Who of the following had first deciphered the edicts of Emperor Ashoka? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • Georg Bilhler

  • James Prinsep

  • Max Muller

  • William Jones

Ans . B

  1. It was only after decades of painstaking investigations by several epigraphists that James Prinsep was able to decipher Asokan Brahmi in 1838. He found that most of these mentioned a king referred to as Piyadassi – meaning “pleasant to behold”; there were a few inscriptions which also referred to the king as Asoka, one of the most famous rulers known from Buddhist texts.

Q.With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements :
1. The concept of Bodhisattva is central to Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
2. Bodhisattva is a compassionate one on his way to enlightenment.
3. Bodhisattva delays achieving his own salvation to help all sentient beings on their path to it.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • 1 only

  • 2 and 3 only

  • 2 only

  • 1, 2 and 3

Ans . B

  1. The concept of the Bodhisatta also developed. Bodhisattas were perceived as deeply compassionate beings who accumulated merit through their efforts but used this not to attain nibbana and thereby abandon the world, but to help others.

  2. The worship of images of the Buddha and Bodhisattas became an important part of this tradition. This new way of thinking was called Mahayana – literally, the “great vehicle”.

Q.What is/are common to the two historical places known as Ajanta and Mahabalipuram?
1. Both were built in the same period.
2. Both belong to the same religious denomination.
3. Both have rock-cut monuments.
Select the correct answer using the code given below. (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • 1 and 2 only

  • 3 only

  • 1 and 3 only

  • None of the statements given above is correct

Ans . B

Q.With reference to the economic history of medieval India, the term Araghatta’ refers to (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • bonded labour

  • land grants made to military officers

  • waterwheel used in the irrigation of land

  • wastel and converted to cultivated land

Ans . C

Q.With reference to the cultural history of India, the memorizing of chronicles, dynastic histories and Epictales was the profession of who of the following? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • Shramana

  • Parivraaj

  • Agrahaarika

  • Maagadha

Ans . D

Q.Consider the following pairs: of Famous place to Region
1. Bodhgaya - Baghelkhand
2. Khajuraho - Bundelkhand
3. Shirdi - Vidarbha
4. Nasik (Nashik) - Malwa
5. Tirupati - Rayalaseema
Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • 1, 2 and 4

  • 2, 3, 4 and 5

  • 2 and 5 only

  • 1, 3, 4 and 5

Ans . C

Q.With reference to the cultural history of medieval India, consider the following statements :
1. Siddhas (Sittars) of Tamil region were monotheistic and condemned idolatry.
2. Lingayats of Kannada region questioned the theory of rebirth and rejected the caste hierarchy.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • 1 only

  • 2 only

  • Both 1 and 2

  • Neither 1 nor 2

Ans . C

  1. The Lingayats challenged the idea of caste and the “pollution” attributed to certain groups by Brahmanas. They also questioned the theory of rebirth

Q.Regarding the taxation system of Krishna Deva, the ruler of Vijayanagar, consider the following statements :
1. The tax rate on land was fixed depending on the quality of the land.
2. Private owners of workshops paid an industries tax.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • 1 only

  • 2 only

  • Both 1 and 2

  • Neither 1 nor 2

Ans . C

  1. Land revenue varied according to nature of cultivated land.

  2. There were taxes on various professions.

Q.Which one of the following books of ancient India has the love story of the son of the founder of Sunga dynasty? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • Swapnavasavadatta

  • Malavikagnirnitra

  • Meghadoota

  • Ratnavali

Ans . B

  1. Sunga Dynasty was established by Pushyamitra Sunga…..He was succeeded by his son Agnimitra-the hero of Kalidasa’s drama “Malvikagnimitra”

Q.In the context of the history of India, consider the following pairs: Term to Description
(1) Eripatti Land revenue from which was set apart for the maintenance of the village tank
(2) Taniyurs Villages donated to a single Brahmin or a group of Brahmins
(3) Ghatikas Colleges generally attached to the temples
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  • 1 and 2

  • 3 only

  • 2 and 3

  • 1 and 3

Ans . D

  1. In the seventh and eighth centuries, ‘ghatikas’, or colleges attached to the temples emerged as new centres of learning. The ‘ghatikas’, provided Brahmanical education in Sanskrit medium.