Think, Learn & Perform (TLP) – Synopsis – Day 1

  • IASbaba
  • September 1, 2015
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Think and Learn, Think and Learn-2015, TLP Mains 2015, UPSC, UPSC Mains- Think and Learn-2015
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Day 1 – Art, Literature and Architecture – GS 1 


Q.1) “Architecture traditionally, i.e., before the arrival of British on the Indian soil, was from the social point of view, a creation of spectacular sculptural forms hewn out of stone.” Analyze.

Understanding the question is of a very high importance in such complicated questions. We need to identify the main keywords of the question to see what exactly they are asking. Here the key phrases are – “traditionally”, “social point of view”, “spectacular” and “stone”.

So, what the question demands is this – Before the arrival of Britishers in India, most of the stone architecture was a spectacle to behold, but their main purposes were just for socio-religious gatherings and were not much of practical use. Whereas most of the British architecture were of daily use, like administration, post offices or railway stations.

An analysis of this phenomenon was required. But, this is only 3/4th of the answer. One should also go further and say that the statement is not completely correct, as some of the old architecture were used for practical purposes also, like building of viharas as residential buildings, usage of temples for dance competitions and many more.

So, a balanced ending with the right examples at the right places was needed. Some of you have written such answers, but the

Top Answer goes to Ashoka

Ans) Traditional stone architecture of India is perceived as a creation of spectacular sculptural forms without much social relevance, supported by the following examples:

  • Initially started with creation of grand and magnificent stupas adorned with beautiful carvings and images.

  • Gandhara, Mathura and Amravati schools produced beautiful images of Buddha.

  • Temple architecture began during Gupta period, latter flourished under various rulers. They were built to show the wealth and power of rulers.

  • Mughal emperors built tombs, minarets, mausoleums, arches which reflected their wealth and glory.

However various other architectural forms have shown their importance for other people

  • Monolithic pillars erected by Asoka, carried his message to people.

  • Chaityas, viharas and monasteries served Budhha and Jaina followers.

  • Temples became centre of social activities in towns.

When we compare it with the British architecture in India, we see that most of the latter ones have served many other purposes, but not all of them. They built churches, administrative and residential buildings such as Parliament house, Connaught place, Victoria terminus of Mumbai.

But some others like India Gate, Gateway of India and Victoria memorial reflect mainly imperial glory.

Architecture in India during every period had some sort of social importance, which kept on increasing with time.

Q.2) “Hindi is a direct descendant of the Sanskrit language through Prakrit and Apabhramsa.” Narrate the evolution of Hindi as a language until modern times, giving suitable literary examples wherever necessary.

This is a straight forward answer, mainly asked the evolution of Hindi as a literary language. The various phases or “kal” should be mentioned, alongwith the various important authors in Hindi, like Prem Chand and examples of their works too.

Also, one should explain how Hindi is related to Prakrit, Apabhramsa, Sankrit and Urdu. This would complete the answer and give a complete closure to the question.

The Top Answer goes to Vicks. Introduction is by Manpreet

Ans) Hindi, a part of Indo-Aryan family of languages, is a descendent of Vedic Sanskrit. Prakrit that evolved from Vedic Sanskrit, and Pali that from Prakrit gave birth to another language, Apabhramsa which later gave way to Khari Boli, the dialect on which today’s standard Hindi is based. Evolution of the Hindi literature can be divided into four stages.

a) Adikal – Period between 10th century-14th century A.D. During this period the hindi poetry highlighted religious ideas and praised the heroic deeds of rulers and warriors. Ex: Chandbardai’s Prithviraj Raso.

b) Bhaktikal – Period between 14th century-17th century A.D. Bhaktikal poetry is divided between Nirgunas and Sagunas. Nirgunas believed in a formless God and Sagunas believed in human form of God.Nirgunas were further divided into two more groups. First group believed in a single God ex. Kabir,Guru Nanak, whereas other group believed that through love one can realise God ex. Jayasi. On the other hand Sagunas were the followers of Rama and Krishna ex. Tulsi Das, Surdas, Meerabai.

c) Ritikal- Period between 17th century-19th century A.D. During this period sanskrit rhetorical tradition was emulated on aspects like rasa, alankara, nayak-nayika bheda. In addition to this Brajbhasa was also used in the hindi poetry.

d) Adhunikkal- Around mid of 19th century A.D. Khariboli was very much prevalent during this period. Ordinary writing in hindi too evolved during this period. Eg., Bharatendu Harishchandra, Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Prem Chand and Harivansharai Bachchan.

Two general but effective answers

Sepoy No 1446

Hindi as its modern form developed during 18th century.Prior to that it was evolving in some forms during medieval era like Brajbhasa(Surdas), Rajsthani dialect(Mirabai),Avadhi (Tulsidas) etc.

Sanskrit is the pristine old classical language of India.It had gone many changes with time.So Pali evolved as people’s language to teach Buddhism,Prakrit for Jainism and Apabhramsa as north India offshoot.The early forms of Hindi language had element of these local languages.During Bhakti movement new form of Bhajans and Kirtans were made using these forms.This period is called Adikala of Hindi.

Major events in development of modern Hindi language:

The traditionalists: Bhartendu Harishchandra’s contribution during late 19th century. He is called father of Modern Hindi language. Premchanda depicted contemporary realism through Gaban, Godan, Karmbhoomi and other creations.

Chhayawad: it was a romantic upsurge helped by Jayshankar Prasad, Nirala, Sumitranandan Pant and Mahadevi verma.

Pragtivaad and Prayagavada: It was influenced by Marrxist ideology. Yashpal and Ageya come under it. Ageya was a prolific travel writer.

Nakenwad: It developed post independence. It takes it name from three writers: Nalin Vilochar, Kesari Sharma and Naresh Mehta.

Modern Hindi language is fraught with original creativity. With globalization there is a visible impact on Hindi language and sustained efforts are needed for maintaining its originality and strength.


Sanskrit is considered to be the mother of many Indian languages including Hindi. The grammar and formal vocabulary in Hindi is largely borrowed from Sanskrit.

Hindi developed from Apabhramsha between 7th and 8th century A.D. under the patronage of Rajputs. Prithviraj Raso is one of the earliest books of Hindi which belongs to this age of heroic poetry.

Braj Bhasha, Rajasthani, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Awadhi are all different forms of Hindi. The Bhakti saints like Kabir, Surdas, Tulsidas, Mirabai and others are noted for their works in these various dialects.

Hindi as we know today is Khari Boli, a dialect spoken around Delhi. Amir Khusrau is credited with extensive use of Khari Boli during the 13th century.

However it was only in 19th century that Hindi became prominent owing to its contributions to the nationalist movement. Several newspapers and books were published in Hindi like the Calcutta Samachar and Bharat Mitra. Satyartha Prakash by Swami Dayanand Saraswati popularised literary Hindi. Munshi Premchand, Mahadevi Verma, Jaishankar Prasad are also prominent writers of this time.

After Independence, Hindi was accorded the status of official language of India under the Article 343 of Indian Constitution. Being the official language of most of the states in northern India, Hindi enjoys both popularity and significance in recent days.

Q.3) “Besides entertainment, puppetry serves as an applied art form, conveying meaningful messages and stories, thus creating a more moral and value-laden society”. Examine the various forms of puppetry and their influence on the Indian history as an art form.

The various art-forms are of a very high importance. Puppets and their traditional forms have been coming in the newspapers since 2013, and we were expecting a question on puppets for the past 2 years, but it has not come. There is a very high chance of a 10-marker coming on puppetry this year (or next), so reading everything about puppets is recommended.

In this question, the various types should be enumerated along with examples and places where they are used. This will take up 100 words. The rest of the answer should speak about how pupperty is used as a medium to convey moral stories. They were also used as propaganda during the Indian National Movement, using plays like Neel Darpan etc. They have also been used to portray scenes from mythology like Ramayana etc., which had a great influence on the people.

Such in-depth analysis, along with the facts should be the crux of the answer. Such answers were written by many, but the Top Answer goes to Niranjan P 

Ans) India, considered as the land of puppets showcases different kind of puppetry, both for the purpose of entertainment and conveying moral – value laden messages to the society. Earliest reference of puppetry is traced to the Tamil epic SILAPPADIKARAM.

India hosts 4 categories of puppetry

1. String puppetry – Here the limbs are connected with strings which help for faster movements of hands and legs. Eg-Kathputhli (Rajasthan)

2. Rod puppetry- An off shot of string puppetry but rods are used instead of strings .Eg-Putulnauch

3. Shadow puppetry – Here straight figures are created and are projected towards screen with the help of light. Eg-Ravanachaya

4. Glove puppetry – Material from cotton or leather are used. They are the smallest of all puppets. Eg-Paavakoothu (kerala)

Their themes are mainly centered around epics and puranas which gives an account of India’s rich culture and heritage. During the national movement they acted as crowd pullers and often communicated message regarding freedom movement. eg, Neel Darpan.

The major audience is children and an impact on them is eventually an impact on the society. It acts a morale booster for physically and mentally challenged children. It showcases our expertise on handicrafts sector.

Even now on many tourism programs puppetry is an inevitable part. TARANG tv program in Doordarshan and its viewer ratings stands testimony to this.

Q.4) “The dance-drama of Kerala, Kathakali which originated in the 17th century, literally means story-play.” Enumerate the various classical dance forms of India, and compare and contrast each dance form with Kathakali.

This is supposed to be a very long answer, and such questions won’t come in the exam paper, especially comparing eight dance forms! But, we wanted to cover a wide range of syllabus, and in the same time, have an in-depth understanding also. So, this question was designed in such a way that, within 200 words, the eight dance forms are compared, contrasted and the various unique special features are explained. This needs a lot of intelligence to satisfactorily write within the word-limit.

Also, do mention Sahitya Natak Akademi, as it is the institution which confers this “classical” status.

The Top Answer goes to – Nikitha

Ans) Indian Classical Dance has evolved from dancing rituals at the temples and have basically 3 components Nritta (pure dance), nritya (expressive dance), and Natya (abhinaya). There are eight dance forms recognised by Sahitya Natak Academi ­

1.Bharatanatyam is practiced by both male and female dancers. Kathakali is practiced by only male dancers. Both say stories of two epics Ramayana and Mahabarata.

2. Kathak recounts moral tales from scriptures. Costume wise Kathakali is rich, vibrant but Kathak

bit simple. Both dances use hand gestures and facial expression. Kathak has fast rhythmic foot movement.

3.Mohiniyattam performed by female dancers, they were white sari embroidered with golden brocade. Here performer use eyes in a very coy, sensual manner. Kathakali has fierceful eyes also.

4.Odissi is older than Kathakali. Jewellery used made of intricate filigree silver jewellery pieces. Kathakali dancers use golden jewellery. Both dances uses costumes of bright colours.

5.Sattriya presents mythological teachings. Earlier only male performed now even women perform this dance. Uses costume made of silk.

6. Manipuri has raslila has its central theme. Dancers feet never strike the ground hard. This is not the case with Kathakali. Movement of body and feet and facial expression are subtle and aim at devotion and grace in Manipuri.

7.Kuchipudi older than Kathakali has themes of of bhagavadpurana. Usually single performace. Kathakali is performed in group and is usually performed at night.

Top Answer- Nishant

Originating from Kerala, Kathakali is one of the eight classical dances of India. The others are:

Bharatnatyam Tamil Nadu

Kuchipudi – Andhra Pradesh

Odissi – Odisha

Sattriya – Assam

Manipuri – Manipur

Kathak – Uttar Pradesh

Mohinattam – Kerala

Unique features of Kathakali can be compared with other forms under the following headings:


Unlike other dance forms, the use of elaborate makeup and costumes are central to Kathakali. They used to differentiate between different characters in story telling such as a Noble, a Royalty, an evil etc.

Facial expressions:

While most other dance forms like Bharatnatyam and Odissi focus on hand gestures and body postures, a Kathakali dancer emphasizes on their facial expressions instead to depict various emotions. Here body movements are specifically controlled.


Heavy use of drums to create an overwhelming and loud environment to showcase the conflict between good and evil. Most other dance forms such Kathak or Kuchipudi are accompanied by soothing music.

Though it lacks the grace of Bharatnatyam, the contours of Odissi, the romance of Kathak, the innocence of Manipuri but its unique features have made Kathakali stand out from other classical dances. The face of a Kathakali dancer being the logo of Kerala tourism underlines the point.

Q.5) “Indian pottery has an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years and has never ceased to exist in it’s 4000 year old history.” Discuss the various forms, styles, stages and evolution of pottery as a skilled traditional Indian handicraft.

This is also a straight-forward question. Not many questions have been asked from the handicrafts portion of the syllabus, so this also has a high chance of being asked in this year’s Mains. Pottery is one such art form, which has been known for a very long time and has been always practiced continuously. There was no break in the Indian history, at least regarding pottery as an handicraft. This unique feature gives it a special place, so understanding everything about pottery is mandatory.

The answer for this question must contain the various forms, explanation of those forms and the styles used in them, some examples of places can be mentioned along with the era they were made in. 200 words would be more than enough then.

The Top Answer goes to Silverlining and Baboi


Ans) The evolution of Indian Pottery can be traced back to the time when agriculture made its way in human civilization i.e. neolithic age in 4000 BC onwards. The need arised with the problem of foodgrains storage and as the time passed it was used as decorative item which was patronised by various rulers who ruled over India at different times.

1. IVC – While prevalent use of pottery for the first time was seen in Indus Valley Civilization for storage purpose and decoration as well as stainer. It was painted grey ware pottery where red colour formed the base with black colour on it.

2. Mauryan age – The pottery found here was Northern black polished ware(NBPW) which was highly finished pottery and other colours were also used.

3. Kushan period(1st AD) – Indian architecture took swift positive change with the advent of many foreigners and development of Mathura and Gandhara Art which had greeco-roman influence.So pottery also took a way ahead due to patronage of Kushana rulers and foreign influence.

4. Gupta Era(4th century AD) – Gupta period saw the beginning of temple architecture and revival of hinduism which also saw the pottery prevalence as rulers supported it.

5. Delhi Sultanate and Mughals- They brought with them Iranian influence, like glazed style and were lovers of art.

6. Present day- It is used as means of livilihood by poors. They are still important can be understood by the fact that some areas are marked as geographical indicators. Even today people use it as decorative item in their homes and sometimes as a gift item.


The ancient pottery of a country speaks volume about its civilisation. A large quantities of pottery excavated from different sites enable us to understand the gradual evolution of various design motifs as employed in different shapes and styles.

The real beginning of Indian pottery began with the Indus valley civilisation which consisted primarily of Plain pottery more than painted ones. Plain pottery is generally of red clay while Black painted ware (BPW) has a fine coating of red slip on which geometric and animal designs are executed in glossy black paint.

The Ochre coloured pottery is a culture of Indo-Gangetic Plain. It is contemporary to and a successor of the Indus valley civilisation. The OCP marked the last stage of the North Indian Bronze Age and was succeeded by the PGW culture.

PGW culture lasted roughly from 1200 BCE -600 BCE. PGW primarily consisted of bowls and dishes characterised by a style of fine grey pottery painted with geometric pattern in black.

NBPW: Roughly 6th Century marks the beginning of the NBPW phase and also the beginning of second urbanisation in India. NBPW is a glossy, shinning type of pottery which was made of very fine fabric and apparently served as the table ware of richer people.NBPW became abundant during Mauryan period.

Red Pottery techniques became prominent during central Asian invasions.

Glazed Pottery: This era of pottery began in the 12th century AD. This type of pottery contains a white background and has blue and green patterns.

Today, pottery thrives as an art form in India with diverse styles reflecting the local culture of each and every place.

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