Thinkers beliefs and buildings notes, Class 12 history chapter 4 notes

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12 Class History Chapter 4 Thinkers beliefs and buildings Notes

ClassClass 12
ChapterChapter 4
Chapter NameThinkers beliefs and buildings
CategoryHistory Notes

Thinkers beliefs and buildings notes, Class 12 history chapter 4 notes In this chapter we will learn in detail about Jainism and Buddhism and stupas etc.

❇️ The Mid-First Millennium BCE ( An Important Period Reason ) : –

πŸ”· The mid-first millennium BCE is regarded as a turning point in world history. This period was regarded as the emergence of thinkers such as Zarathustra in Iran, Kong Zi in China, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle in Greece and Mahavira and Gautam Buddha in India. Thinkers made the efforts to understand the mysteries of existence and the relationship between human beings and the cosmic order.

πŸ”· This was also the time when new kingdoms and cities were developing and social and economic life was changing in a variety of ways in the Ganga valley.

❇️ Sanchi : –

πŸ”· It is a religious town near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

❇️ Stupa : –

πŸ”· It is originated as a simple semi-circular mound of Earth, later called the anda.

❇️ Tipitaka : –

πŸ”· It means three baskets to hold different types of texts.

❇️ Tirthankar : –

πŸ”· It means a great teacher.

❇️ Hagiographies : –

πŸ”· The writing and critical study of saints.

❇️ Anicca : –

πŸ”· It means transient and constantly changing.

❇️ Chaitya : –

πŸ”· It is derived from the word chita meaning a funeral pyre and by extension a funeral mound.

❇️ Vessantara Jataka : –

πŸ”· It is a story about a generous prince who gave everything away to a Brahmana and went to live in the forest with his wife and children.

❇️ Charanachitras : –

πŸ”· Scrolls of cloth or paper with pictures on them.

❇️ Shalabhanjika : –

πŸ”· It is a Sanskrit word. According to popular belief, this was a woman whose touch caused trees to bear flowers and fruits. It was regarded as an auspicious symbol and integrated into the decoration by the stupa.

❇️ The Sacrificial Tradition : –

πŸ”· There were several sacrificial traditions including the early vedic tradition which were known from the Rigveda. It was compiled between 1500 and 1000 BC.

πŸ”· At first, sacrifices were performed collectively but later (c 1000 BCE-500 BCE onwards), these were performed by the heads of households for the well-being of the domestic unit.

πŸ”· The sacrifices like rajasuya and ashvamedha, were performed by chiefs and kings who depended on Brahmans priests to conduct the rituals.

❇️ New Questions : –

πŸ”· Upanishads from c sixth century BCE onwards show that people were curious about the meaning of life the possibility of life after death and re-birth. Such issues were mostly debated.

πŸ”Ή People outside the Vedic tradition asked whether there was even a single ultimate reality. People also began speculating on the significance of the sacrificial tradition.

❇️ Debate and Discussions : –

πŸ”· Buddhist texts which mention as many as 64 sects or schools of thought, gives a sight of lively discussions and debates. Debate took place in the Kutagarashala. It is a hut with a pointed roof or in groves where travelling mendicants halted.

πŸ”· If a philosopher succeeded in convincing one of his rivals, the followers of the latter also became his disciples. So support for any particular sect could grow and shrink over time.

πŸ”· Many of the teachers, like Mahavira and the Buddha, questioned the authority of the Vedas. They also emphasised individual agency which suggested that men and women could strive to attain liberation from the trials and tribulations (burden) of worldly existence.

πŸ”· This was different from the Brahmanical position, wherein an individual’s existence was thought to be determine by his or her birth in a specific caste or gender.

❇️ The Message of Mahavira : –

πŸ”· The basic philosophy of the Jainas was already in existence in North India before the birth of Vardhamana, who came to be known as Mahavira, in the sixth century BCE.

πŸ”· According to Jaina tradition, Mahavira was preceded by 23 other teachers or tirthankaras.

❇️ The Central Teachings Of Jainism : –

πŸ”· The main ideology of Jainism is that they consider the entire world is animated: even stones, rocks and water have life.

πŸ”· Non-injury to living being, especially to humans, animals, plants and insects is central to Jaina philosophy.

πŸ”· The principle of abimsa, emphasised within Jainism, has left its mark on Indian thinking as a whole.

πŸ”· Cycle of birth and rebirth is shaped through karma.

πŸ”· Self-discipline and penance are required to free one self from karma.

❇️ Five Vows In Jainism : –

πŸ”· Jaina monks and nuns took five vows :-

  • (i) To abstain from killing.
  • (ii) To abstain from stealing.
  • (iii) To abstain from lying.
  • (iv) To observe (self-restraint).
  • (v) To abstain from possessing property (the state of abstaining from marriage).

❇️ The Spread of Jainism : –

πŸ”· Jainism gradually spread to many parts of India. Jaina scholars produced a wealth of literature in a variety of languages like Prakrit, Sanskrit and Tamil.

πŸ”· Some of the earliest stone sculptures associated with religious traditions were produced by devotees of the Jaina tirthankaras.

❇️ Buddhism : –

πŸ”· Buddhism, religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha a teacher who lived in northern India between the mid-6th and mid-4th centuries BCE (before the Common Era).

πŸ”· One of the most influential teachers of the Buddhism was the Buddha. Buddha’s message spread across countries like China, Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.

❇️ The Buddha : –

πŸ”· The childhood name of Buddha was Siddhartha. He was the son of a chief of the Shakya clan. He grew up inside the palace far from the harsh realities of life.

❇️ Early Life Of Buddha : –

πŸ”· One day, Siddhartha convinced his charioteer to take him into the city. His first journey into the world outside was traumatic. Siddhartha was deeply suffered when he saw an old man, sick man and a corpse (dead body).

πŸ”· From these observations, he realised that the decay and destruction of the human body was inevitable. He also saw a homeless mendicant (almsman), who found peace overcoming sufferings of old age, disease etc.

πŸ”· Siddhartha was influenced by the mendicant and left the palace to adopt the same path. He set out in search of his own truth. Siddhartha explored several paths including bodily mortification which led him to a situation of near death. He meditated for several days and finally attained Enlightenment.

πŸ”· After this, he came to be known as Buddha or enlightened one. For the rest of his life, he taught dhamma or the path of righteous living.

❇️ The Teachings of the Buddha : –

πŸ”· The Buddhist teachings have been reconstructed from stories found mainly in Sutta Pitaka. The Buddha tried to convince people through reason and persuasion rather than through displays of supernatural power. The teachings of Buddha were:

  • According to Buddhist Philosophy the world is transient (anicca) and constantly changing.
  • It is also soulless (anatta), as there is nothing permanent or eternal in it.
  • Within this transient world, sorrow (dukkha) is intrinsic (natural) to human existence.
  • By following the path of moderation between severe penance (self-punishment) and self-indulgence, human beings can rise above these worldly troubles.
  • In the earliest forms of Buddhism, whether God existed or not was irrelevant.
  • Buddha regarded the social world as the creation of humans rather than of divine origin. Therefore, he advised kings and gahapatis to be humane and ethical.
  • Buddha emphasised individual agency and righteous action as the means to escape from the cycle of rebirth and attain self realisation and nibbana. It means to put an end to ego and desire and ending of cycle of suffering for those renounced the world.

❇️ Bhikkhus ( Monks ) : –

πŸ”· Buddha founded a sangha, an organisation of monks who also became teachers of dhamma. These monks lived in a very simple way with minimum requirements, known as Bhikkhus. Initially, only men were allowed into the sangha, but later women also came to be admitted.

❇️ Bhikkhuni ( Nuns ) : –

πŸ”· Buddha’s foster mother, Mahapajapati Gotami was the first woman to be ordained (appointed) as a bhikkhuni. Women who entered the sangha became teachers of dhamma and went on to become theris, or respected women who had attained liberation.

❇️ Followers of the Buddha : –

πŸ”· The Buddha’s followers came from many social groups. These included kings, wealthy men and gahapatis and also humbler folk like workers, slaves and crafts people. After entering the sangha, all were regarded as equal after becoming bhikkhus and bhikkunis.

πŸ”· The internal functioning of the sangha was based on the traditions of ganas and sanghas where consensus was arrived at through discussions. Decisions were taken by a vote on the subject.

❇️ Followers of the Buddha : –

πŸ”· Buddhism grew rapidly both during the lifetime of the Buddha. After his death, many people were dissatisfied with existing religious practices and confused by the social changes around them.

πŸ”· They emphasised on metta (fellow feeling) and karuna (compassion), especially for those who were younger and weaker than oneself, ideas that attracted men and women to Buddhist teachings.

❇️ Buddhist Literature : –

πŸ”· The Buddha taught orally, through debate and discussion. People attended these discourses and discussed what they heard. None of the Buddha’s speech were written down during his lifetime.

πŸ”· After his death (c 5th-4th century BC) his teachings were compiled by his disciples at a council of elders’ or senior monks at Vesali (Pali for Vaishali in present day Bihar). These compilations were known as Tripitaka (three different texts i.e. Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka).

  1. Sutta Pitaka includes Buddha’s teachings.
  2. Vinaya Pitaka includes rules and regulations for those who joined the Sangha or monastic order.
  3. Abhidhamma Pitaka dealt with philosophical matters.

πŸ”· Each Pitakas comprised a number of individual limit. Commentaries were written on these texts by Buddhist scholars.

πŸ”· Buddhist texts were preserved in manuscripts for several centuries in monasteries in different parts of Asia. Modern translations have been prepared from Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan texts.

❇️ Places Related To The Life Of Buddha : –

πŸ”· Buddhist literature describes places associated with Buddha’s life. These were:

  • Lumbini where he was born
  • Bodh Gaya where he attained enlightenment
  • Sarnath where he gave his first sermon
  • Kusinagara where he attained nibbana

❇️ The Therigatha : –

πŸ”· It is the unique Buddhist text which is a part of the Sutta Pitaka. It is a collection of verses composed by bhikkhunis. It provides an insight into women’s social and spiritual experiences.

❇️ Buildings and Sculptures : –

πŸ”· The Buddhist ideas and practices emerged out of a process of discussion with other traditions including the Brahmanas, Jainas and several others. Some of the ideas and practices are identified by the historical buildings and sculptures. Of these, Sanchi and Amaravati stupas are the best examples to represent these traditions.

❇️ Chaitya : –

πŸ”· From earliest times, people tended to regard certain places as sacred. These included sites with special trees or unique rocks. Small shrines attached with these sites, were sometimes described as chaityas. Buddhist literature mentions several chaityas. Ashoka erected a pillar at Lumbini to mark the fact that he had visited this place.

❇️ Stupas : –

πŸ”· Stupas (means a heap) were built to keep relics of Buddha such as his bodily remains or objects related to him. The tradition of erecting stupas may have been pre-Buddhist, but they came to be associated with Buddhism.

❇️ Ashokavadana : –

πŸ”· According to the Buddhist text known as Ashokavadana, Asoka distributed portions of the Buddha’s relics to every important towns and ordered the construction of stupas over them.

❇️ Building of Stupas : –

πŸ”· Stupas were build through donations made by kings such as the Satvahanas. They were also made by guilds, such as that of the ivory workers who financed part of one of the gateways at Sanchi. Bhikkus and Bhikkhunis also contributed towards building these monuments.

❇️ Structure of the Stupa : –

πŸ”· The stupa originated as a simple semi-circular mound of Earth later called anda. Above anda was harmika, a balcony like structure that represented the abode of the gods.

πŸ”· Arising from harmika was a mast called the yashti, often surmounted by a chhatri or umbrella. Around the mound was a railing separating the sacred space from the secular world.

πŸ”· The early stupas at Sanchi and Bharhut were plain except for the stone railings, which resembled a bamboo or wooden fence and the gateways which were richly carved and installed at the four cardinal points.

πŸ”· Later, the mound of the stupas came to be elaborately carved with niches and sculptures as at Amaravati and Shah-ji-ki Dheri in Peshawar (Pakistan).

❇️ Amaravati Stupa : –

πŸ”· A British official named Colin Mackenzie visited the Amaravati site. He founded several pieces of sculpture and made detailed drawings of them but these reports were never published.

πŸ”· In 1854, Walter Elliot the commissioner of Gantur (Andhra Pradesh) also visited Amaravati site and collected several sculpture panels and took them away to Madras.

πŸ”· By the 1850s, some of the slabs from Amaravati had begun to be taken to different places like Asiatic Society of Bengal at Kolkata, India office in Madras and even to London.

πŸ”· An archaeologist named HH Cole opposed this but he did not succeed in convincing the authorities about Amravati.

πŸ”· The Mahachaitya at Amravati is now just an insignificant little mound, totally denuded of its former glory.

❇️ Sanchi Stupa : –

πŸ”· The most wonderful ancient buildings in the state of Bhopal are at Sanchi Kanakhera. Major Alexander Cunningham examined these buildings and described his investigations in an English work.

πŸ”· The rulers of Bhopal, Shahjahan Begum and her successor played a significant role in the preservation of Sanchi Stupa.

πŸ”· Sanchi stupa is the oldest structure and was commissioned by the emperor Asoka. It was built over the relics of Buddha.

πŸ”· When Sanchi was discovered in 1818 three of its four gateways were still standing but the fourth was lying on the spot where it had fallen and the mound was in good condition.

❇️ A Glimpse of Sanchi : –

πŸ”· During 19th century, Europeans were very interested in the stupa at Sanchi. The rulers of Bhopal, Shahjahan Begum and her successor Sultan Jehan Begum, provided money for the preservation of the ancient site. She funded the museum as well as the guesthouse. The discovery of Sanchi has vastly transformed the understanding of early Buddhism.

❇️ Sculpture : –

πŸ”· Sculptures were removed from Stupas and transported all the way to Europe because those who saw them considered them to be beautiful and valuable and wanted to keep them for themselves.

❇️ Stories in Stone : –

πŸ”· Art historians studied the sculpture at Sanchi and identified it as a scene from the Vessantara Jataka. It was a story about a generous prince who gave away everything to a Brahmana and went to live in the forest with his wife and children. Historians tried to understand the meaning of sculpture by comparing it with textual evidence.

❇️ Symbols of Worship : –

πŸ”· Many early sculptors show Buddha through symbols and not in human form. For example, the empty seat was meant to indicate the meditation of the Buddha, and the stupa was meant to represent the mahaparinibbana.

πŸ”· Another frequently used symbol was the wheel which stood for the first sermon of the Buddha delivered at Sarnath and the tree also symbolises an event in the life of the Buddha.

Popular Traditions

❇️ The woman at the gate : –

πŸ”· Some sculptures at Sanchi were not directly inspired by Buddhist ideas. These include beautiful women swinging from the edge of the gateway, holding onto a tree. It could be a representation in Sanskrit as a Shalabhanjika. It was regarded as an auspicious symbol and integrated into the decoration of the stupa.

❇️ An Elephant at Sanchi : –

πŸ”· Some of the finest depictions of animals are also found at Sanchi. These animals are elephants, horses, monkeys and cattle.

πŸ”· While the Jatakas contain several animal stories that are depicted at Sanchi, animals were used as symbols of human attributes. For example, elephants signify strength and wisdom.

❇️ A Serpent at Sanchi : –

πŸ”· One of the earliest modern art historian, James Fergusson, considered Sanchi to be a centre of tree and serpent worship. He was not familiar with Buddhist literature and arrived at this conclusion by studying only the images on their own.

❇️ Paintings from the Past : –

πŸ”· Other visual means of communication, including painting were also used in past. Paintings that have survived best are on walls of caves, of which those from Ajanta (Maharashtra) are the most famous.

πŸ”· The paintings at Ajanta depict stories from the Jatakas. These include depictions of country life, processions, men and women at work, and festivals. The artists used the technique of shading to give three-dimensional quality. Some paintings are naturalistic in nature.

❇️ Development of Mahayana Buddhism : –

πŸ”· Besides, the Buddha was regarded as a human being who attained enlightenment and nibbana through his own efforts. Gradually, the idea emerged that Buddha is a saviour. It was believed that he was the one who could ensure salvation.

πŸ”· Simultaneously, 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. The worship of images of the Buddha and Bodhisattas became an important part of this tradition.

❇️ Hinayana and Mahayana : –

πŸ”· This new way of thinking, was called Mahayana which literally means ‘great vehicle’. Those who adopted these beliefs described the older tradition as Hinayana means ‘lesser vehicle’.

πŸ”· Supporters of Mahayana regarded other Buddhists as followers of Hinayana. Followers of the older tradition described themselves as theravadins who followed the path of the theras (old teachers).

❇️ The Growth of Puranic Hinduism : –

πŸ”· Hinduism include Vaishnavism and Shaivism.

  • Vaishnavism was a form of Hinduism within which Vishnu was worshipped as the principal deity.
  • Shaivism was a tradition within which Shiva was regarded as the chief God.

πŸ”· In such worship the bond between the devotee and the god was visualised as bhakti, i.e. love and devotion between them.

πŸ”· In Vaishnavism, cults developed around the various avatars or incarnations of the deity. Ten avatars were recognised within the tradition. These were forms that the deity was believed to have assumed in order to save the world whenever it was threatened by disorder and destruction because of dominance of evil forces. Some of these forms were represented in sculptures. Shiva was symbolised by the linga.

πŸ”· All such representations depicted a complex set of ideas about the deities and their attributes through symbols such as headdresses, ornaments and ayudhas weapons or auspicious objects that deities hold in their hands and how they are seated, etc.

❇️ Building Temples : –

πŸ”· The early temple was a small square room called the garbhagriha, with a single doorway for the worshipper to enter and offer worship to the image. Gradually, a tall structure, known as the shikhara, was built over the central shrine.

πŸ”· Temple walls were often decorated with sculpture. Temples became more elaborate with inclusion of assembly halls, huge walls and gateways and arrangements for supplying water.

❇️ Artificial caves : –

πŸ”· The unique features of early temples was that some of these were hollowed out of huge rocks, as artificial caves.

πŸ”· The tradition of building artificial caves was an old one as some of these were constructed in the third century BCE on the orders of Asoka for renouncers who belonged to the Ajivika sect. For example, the entire structure of Kailashnath Temple and Ellora was carved out of a single piece of rock.

❇️ Indian Sculptures : –

πŸ”· The early scholars found early Indian sculpture inferior to the works of Greek artists. The images of the Buddha and Bodhisattas were evidently based on Greek models.These images were closest to the Greek statues and scholars and considered to be the best examples of early Indian art.

❇️ Problems Faced By The European Scholars While Studying The Sculptures : –

πŸ”· Historians faced problem to understand the meaning of sculptures through textual traditions. This strategy is effective than comparing Indian images with Greek statues, but it is not always easy to use. An example of this is a famous sculpture along a huge rock surface in Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).

πŸ”· Historians searched the story of this sculpture through Puranas and tried to identify it. Some feel that this depicts the descent of the river Ganga from heaven. The natural cleft through the centre of the rock surface might represent the river. Others feel that it represents a story from the Mahabharata when Arjuna doing penance on the river bank in order to acquire arms.

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