Get summary, textual answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF to NBSE Class 12 (Arts) History (Themes in Indian History) chapter “Social Histories: Using the Mahabharata”. However, the educational materials should only be used for reference and students are encouraged to make necessary changes.
The chapter provides information on the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic that is considered one of the longest poems in the world. The text is believed to have been composed between 400 BCE and 400 CE and is divided into 18 books or parvas. The chapter discusses the challenges of reconstructing the text due to the fluid and constantly changing nature of the text, as well as the differences between the North and South versions of the text.
Despite these challenges, there are many parts of the text where the North and South versions are in full agreement, and a considerable number of passages can be reconstructed with certainty. the chapter also discusses various books that have been published on the Mahabharata, including Sorensen’s Index, which provides a concordance and summary of the parvans and sub-parvans, and E.P. Rice’s Analysis and Index of the Mahabharata, which gives a summary of the epic and an index of names and subjects.
The chapter also discusses N.V. Thandani’s Mystery of the Mahabharata, which covers five volumes and over 2000 pages and sets forth the theory that the Mahabharata is the symbolization of all the scientific lines. Additionally, the chapter discusses Utgikar’s work on the Devnagari revision of the Mahabharata, which revealed that it had a longer and a shorter text.
The chapter also provides information on the critical edition of the Mahabharata, which was published by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune, India. The critical edition was edited by V.S. Sukthankar and is considered the most authoritative version of the text. The first fascicule of the critical edition of the Adiparvam appeared in 1927, and subsequent fascicules were published at regular intervals. The complete Adiparvam was published in 1933 along with prolegomena, which covers practically all aspects of the Mahabharata text criticism and is a brilliant exposition of the entire text-problem.
The publication of the critical edition of the Adiparvam has been acclaimed as “the most important event in the history of Sanskrit philology” since the publication of Max Muller’s edition of the Rig-Veda by Winternitz. The chapter also discusses the importance of the Mahabharata in Indian history and culture, as well as its influence on literature, art, and religion.
Textual questions and answers
I. Very Short Answer Questions
1. What is Kula?
Answer: In Sanskrit texts, the term Kula refers to families.
2. What is the main feature of Polyandry marriage system?
Answer: The main feature of Polyandry marriage system is that a woman is allowed to have more than one husband at the same time.
3. Who was the father of Dhritarashtra and Pandu?
Answer: The father of Dhritarashtra and Pandu was Vichitravirya, the king of Hastinapura.
4. Who classified people in terms of Gotra?
Answer: The Brahmanas began to classify people in terms of Gotras from about 1000 BC onwards. Each Gotra was given the name of a Vedic seer.
7. Who came to the throne of Hastinapur after the premature death of Pandus?
Answer: After the premature death of Pandu, his elder brother Dhritarashtra came to the throne of Hastinapur.
II. Multiple Choice Questions
(i) The term Vamsha is used for:
Answer: (iii) Lineage
(ii) Marriage within a caste or a group is called:
Answer: (i) Endogamy
(iii) Tracking descent from father to son, grandson and so on is called:
Answer: (i) Patriliny
(iv) Which word designates merchants?
Answer: (i) Vanik
(v) Drupada is the king of:
Answer: (ii) Panchal
III. Short Answer Type Questions-l
1. Why is social history called “grassroot history”?
Answer: Social history is often referred to as “grassroots history” because it deals with the everyday people, the masses, and how they shape history rather than their leaders. It tries to see itself as a systematic form of history not limited to the statement of so-called historical facts but willing to analyze the historical data in a more systematic manner.
2. Define a social class.
Answer: A social class is “one of the two or more broad groups of individuals who are ranked by the members of the community in socially superior and inferior positions.” Status is the basic criterion of social class or in other words, class is a status group. Social classes are heterogenous in nature and are divided into various classes, social, economic, religious, and political.
3. Give two definitions of the caste system.
Answer: According to the knowledge base, here are two definitions of the caste system:
i. V. A. Smith defines caste as “a group of families internally united by peculiar rules for the purpose of ceremonial purity, especially in the matter of diet and marriage.”
ii. H. Cooley says, “When a class is somewhat strictly hereditary, we may call it a caste.”
4. What is the meaning of gender discrimination?
Answer: Gender discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of individuals based on their gender, typically towards women. It involves treating individuals differently or unfairly because of their gender, which can result in unequal opportunities, rights, and treatment in various aspects of life, such as education, employment, and social status.
5. About how many shlokas does the Mahabharata contain?
Answer: The Mahabharata contains around 100,000 shlokas or Sanskrit verses.
10. Give the views of C. Rajagopalacharya about the influence of Mahabharata.
Answer: C. Rajagopalacharya believed that the Mahabharata is not just limited to India but belongs to the world as a whole. For the people of India, this epic has been an enduring and constant source of spiritual strength. From a young age, it is taught with deep respect and affection, inspiring great individuals to perform heroic deeds and providing solace and courage to those facing difficulties.
IV. Short Answer Type Questions-II
1. Explain why patriliny may have been particularly important among elite families.
Answer: Patriliny may have been particularly important among elite families because it allowed for the preservation and transmission of wealth, power, and status within the family. In patrilineal societies, inheritance and succession were typically passed down through the male line, which meant that elite families could maintain their position of influence over multiple generations.
2. Explain the meaning of social history.
Answer: Social history is an area of historical study that focuses on the everyday lives and experiences of ordinary people, rather than just the actions of political leaders or other elites. It seeks to understand how social structures, institutions, and cultural practices shape the lives of individuals and groups, and how these in turn are shaped by broader historical forces such as economic change, political upheaval, and technological innovation.
3. Discuss whether kings in early states were invariably Kshatriyas.
Answer: There is a controversy regarding whether kings in early states were invariably Kshatriyas. While the varna system of social hierarchy in ancient India assigned the role of rulership to the Kshatriya varna, many important dynasties had different origins. For example, the Mauryan dynasty’s social background is described differently in Brahmanical textbooks and Buddhist texts, with the former describing them as being of low origin while the latter suggests that they were Kshatriyas. The Sunga and Kanva rulers were Brahmanas, and the ruling power often depended upon support or resources rather than birth as a Kshatriya. Also, the Sakas who ruled India were regarded as outsiders by the Brahmanas.
Therefore, it is not accurate to say that kings in early states were invariably Kshatriyas. While the varna system prescribed that rulership should be reserved for the Kshatriya varna, in practice, the ruling power often depended on factors such as resources, support, and alliances rather than birth. The origins of many important dynasties were also diverse and not necessarily Kshatriya.
5. Examine the work of the research scholars of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
Answer: The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute is known for its work on the critical edition of the Mahabharata. The institute prepared and published the critical edition of Mahabharata, which was an epoch-making work in many ways. The publication was uniformly greeted with applause and approbation by all indologists. The peculiar conditions of transmission of the epic necessitated an eclectic but cautious utilization of all manuscript classes. The chief scripts represented by the manuscripts are Sarda, Nepali, Maithili, Bengali, Devnagari, Telugu, Grantha, and Malayalam.
The manuscripts were divided primarily into the North and South versions, and each is further subdivided into a smaller number of groups. The work of the research scholars of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute has been widely recognized and appreciated by scholars in the field of Indology.
V. Long Answer Type Questions-l
1. Discuss whether the Mahabharata could have been the work of a single author.
Answer: The Mahabharata is a vast epic that contains over 100,000 couplets and is considered one of the longest poems in the world. It is a complex work that covers a wide range of topics, including history, mythology, philosophy, and religion. Given its size and complexity, it is natural to wonder whether the Mahabharata could have been the work of a single author.
There is no clear evidence to suggest that the Mahabharata was the work of a single author. In fact, it is widely believed that the epic was composed over a period of several centuries by many different authors and scribes. The earliest version of the Mahabharata is believed to have been composed around 400 BCE, while the final version was completed around 400 CE.
One of the reasons why it is difficult to attribute the Mahabharata to a single author is that the epic contains many different styles of writing. Some parts of the epic are written in a highly poetic and lyrical style, while others are more prosaic and straightforward. Additionally, the epic contains many different subplots and storylines, each with its own unique characters and themes.
Another reason why it is unlikely that the Mahabharata was the work of a single author is that the epic was composed over such a long period of time. It is likely that many different authors and scribes contributed to the epic over the centuries, each adding their own unique perspective and style to the work.
Despite the fact that the Mahabharata was likely composed by many different authors, it is still considered a masterpiece of Indian literature. The epic has had a profound impact on Indian culture and has been the subject of countless adaptations, interpretations, and retellings over the centuries.
2. Discuss the controversy about the dating of Mahabharata and its historical authenticity.
Answer: The dating of the Mahabharata and its historical authenticity have been the subject of much controversy and debate among scholars and historians. While some believe that the events described in the epic are purely mythical, others argue that they are based on real historical events that took place in ancient India.
One of the main challenges in dating the Mahabharata is the lack of reliable historical records from the period in which it is believed to have taken place. The epic is believed to have been composed between 400 BCE and 400 CE, but there are few reliable historical records from this period that can be used to verify the events described in the epic.
One of the main arguments in favor of the historical authenticity of the Mahabharata is the fact that it contains many references to real historical figures and events. For example, the epic describes the Kuru dynasty, which is believed to have ruled over parts of northern India during the period in which the Mahabharata is believed to have taken place. Additionally, the epic contains many references to real geographical locations, such as the city of Hastinapura.
Another argument in favor of the historical authenticity of the Mahabharata is the fact that it contains many descriptions of ancient Indian customs and traditions. For example, the epic describes the practice of polyandry, in which a woman is married to multiple husbands, which was a common practice in ancient India. Additionally, the epic contains many descriptions of ancient Indian warfare, including the use of chariots and elephants.
Despite these arguments in favor of the historical authenticity of the Mahabharata, there are many who remain skeptical. Some argue that the epic contains many elements of mythology and fantasy, such as the descriptions of gods and demons, which suggest that it is purely a work of fiction. Additionally, some argue that the epic contains many anachronisms and inconsistencies, which suggest that it was not based on real historical events.
5. Discuss the evidence that suggests that Brahaminical prescriptions about kinship and marriage were not universally followed.
Answer: Brahmanical prescriptions about kinship and marriage were not universally followed, and there is evidence to support this claim. One example is the practice of polygamy, which was rare but still existed among some ruling lineages, such as the Satvahnas who ruled over a part of Western India and the Deccan in the second century BC. The wives of many of these rulers had names derived from their father’s gotras, instead of adopting the names derived from their husband’s gotras, which was the Brahmanical prescription. This suggests that the Brahmanical prescriptions about kinship and marriage were not always followed.
Another example is the practice of widow marriage, which was not prohibited in ancient India, despite the Brahmanical prescriptions against it. Child marriage and female feticide were unknown in ancient India, which suggests that the Brahmanical prescriptions about marriage and family planning were not always followed.
Furthermore, there were also marriages within the kin group, such as cousins, which ensured a close-knit community. This practice was not prohibited by Brahmanical prescriptions, but it was not always followed by all members of society.
VI. Long Answer Type Questions-II
1. Which research institute prepared and published the critical edition of Mahabharata? How did it start its work?
Answer: The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute prepared and published the critical edition of Mahabharata.
The need for a critical edition of the national epic was always felt and pressed by eminent indologists like Winternitz and Macdonnell. Earlier studies of the Mahabharata were vitiated, being based on defective text. European scholars undertook preparation of an international edition of the epic and some preliminary work was done, but the outbreak of the First World War prevented any further progress and the scheme was finally abandoned. The Bhandarkar Institute formed an Editorial Board of eminent scholars for the critical edition of the Mahabharata with Utgikar as the Editor. The work proceeded on systematic and scientific lines.
2. In the context of the Mantra, discuss the implications of marriage from the point of view of the bride and groom.
Answer: The Mantra, which is a Vedic hymn, is often recited during Hindu wedding ceremonies. It has several implications for the bride and groom from their respective points of view.
From the bride’s point of view, the Mantra implies that she is leaving her father’s house and entering a new family. She is expected to be a good wife and daughter-in-law, and to respect and obey her husband and his family. The Mantra also emphasizes the importance of fidelity and commitment in marriage, and the bride is expected to be faithful to her husband throughout their married life.
From the groom’s point of view, the Mantra implies that he is taking on the responsibility of providing for his wife and family. He is expected to be a good husband and son-in-law, and to treat his wife with love and respect. The Mantra also emphasizes the importance of mutual trust and understanding in marriage, and the groom is expected to be a faithful and committed partner to his wife.
The Mantra highlights the importance of marriage as a sacred and lifelong commitment between two individuals, and emphasizes the roles and responsibilities of both the bride and groom in maintaining a happy and successful marriage.
4. Do you think the silk weaver were following the occupation laid down for them in the Shastras?
Answer: It is unlikely that the occupation of silk weaving was specifically laid down for any of the varnas in the Shastras. The Shastras provided rules about the ideal professions of the four varnas, but silk weaving was not mentioned as an ideal profession for any of the varnas. The Brahmanas were expected to study and teach the Vedas, perform sacrifices, and give and receive gifts, while the Kshatriyas were expected to engage in warfare and protect people. The Vaishyas were expected to engage in agriculture, pastoralism, and trade, while the Shudras were assigned only one occupation, which was to serve the three higher varnas.
Therefore, it is unlikely that the silk weavers were following the occupation laid down for them in the Shastras. However, it is possible that silk weaving was considered a profession for a particular jati or community. Additionally, the jatis were assigned names of professions based on their occupation, so it is possible that the silk weavers were part of a jati that was traditionally involved in silk weaving.
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