1. The revival of the ancient seat of learning, Nalanda University, by the Indian government is a landmark event in Indian cultural history. Provide an account of the salient features of the architecture, literary and educational significance of the ancient Nalanda University.
The renowned University of Nalanda was established during the reign of the Kumaragupta, the famous Gupta emperor in Bihar. Turkish leader Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed the university 1193. Recently the Indian government in collaboration with other East Asian nations has signed an agreement to revive the university. It is a landmark step given the significance of the university.
Spread over large area of Bihar. Oldest fully residential university.
Properly planned residential quarters for teachers, students. Well planned drains, lecture halls.
The library at Nalanda University constituted of three main buildings, which rose to about nine stories.
The university campus had monasteries, viharas and stupas built inside it.
Chinese scholars left recordings of the various events they witnessed during their stay in Nalanda.
The mighty library of the Nalanda University was called as Dharma Gunj which meant the Mountain of Truth. It was by far the most prestigious and renowned repository of the Buddhist knowledge throughout the world, at that time. The library is said to be composed of hundreds and thousands of volumes of books.
First residential international university.
Varied range of subjects including Buddhism, Vedas, Mathematics, Medicine, Sanskrit was taught here.
Students from across the world came over.
Huan Tsang and I-Tsing, the two famous Chinese scholars studied at Nalanda university.
Surely the revival of Nalanda university will help India strengthen its soft power in the region and also the university would serve as a centre for pure and comprehensive knowledge.
2. What is the Gharana System in Hindustani style of music? Explain with the help of suitable examples. Is there a similar tradition in Carnatic style of music? Examine.
In Hindustani music, a gharana is a system of social organization linking musicians by lineage or apprenticeship, and by adherence to a particular musical style.
This concept became prominent in the nineteenth century after the fall of the Mughals due to lack of royal patronage, performers were compelled to move to urban centers or princely states. To retain their respective identities, they fell back on the names of the regions they hailed from. Therefore, even today, the names of many gharanas refer to places. Some important Gharanas in Khayal singing are Agra, Gwalior, Patiala, Kirana, Indore, Mewat, Rampur and Jaipur Gharana.
The Gharanas emerge from the creative style of an individual guru, who gives existing structures a totally new approach, form and interpretation. The new approach, form and interpretation apply to include the tone of the voice, the pitch, the inflexions and the intonations, and the specific application of the various nuances.
For e.g.: Gwalior gharana is known for lucidity and simplicity ( Pandit Vishnu Digambar)
Agra gharana is known for forcefulness (Ustad Fayaz),
Kirana Gharana is known for emotional appeal ( Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi) etc.
DIFFERENCES WITH CARNATIC MUSIC:
A song composed in the Carnatic style necessarily comprises of a Pallavi, Anupallavi and one or two or more Charanas. Each of these parts of the song is given importance, while singing in the Carnatic style. Carnatic music known for its rigour and discipline the singing style does not have much difference according to geography. The Carnatic music learning system was standardized in all areas and is not comparable to a Gharana. The singing style of Carnatic is uniform for classical concerts and gives more importance to literary aspects of singing and is based on the Melakartha system.
3. For decades, Indian cinema has served as a mirror of the Indian socio-political scenario. Do you agree? Substantiate with the help of suitable examples.
Popular Indian Cinema looms large in contemporary Indian society. Indian cinema has been reflecting social, political, and economic dynamics of the national community in its narrative since the beginning of the twentieth century. besides being the most popular medium of entertainment and amusement, Hindi cinema engages with a range of issues. It not only negotiates with several contemporary debatable themes such as globalization, nation and nationalism, caste and class, gender, diaspora, terrorism and socially relevant issues but also offers cinematic interpretation of or solution to such problems.
In 1930s, while Gandhiji was already working for the upliftment of untouchables, there existed a Gandhi amongst Indian film industry too, Niranjan Pal, who penned down a story on the social position of Dalits in the country, Acchut Kanya (1936). Then, there were movies that even showcased the emotions of women against the authoritative patriarchal setup, like Adhuri Kahani (1939). It showed the tragedy of an educated and liberal lady, who is oppressed by her conservative husband and commits suicide due to male chauvinistic ideologies of her husband.
India after partition was poor and illiterate, this was depicted in many movies including the unforgettable Mother India (1957), How women were considered to be a material possession, for the men with money, was presented on screen through the movie Bazaar (1982). This movie shows how needy parents sold their young girls to affluent Indians in the Gulf.
By 20th century, sati was abolished in India, but widow-remarriage was still a taboo in Indian society, Raj Kapoor took over and introduced the narrow-minded society to the next level with his film, Prem Rog (1982)
Roja (1992) was first film to introduce terrorism to cinema, and showed how it affected common man’s life in Kashmir, while the whole country was unaware of the circumstances there. Later on, many directors took over to show terrorism in Bollywood through movies like Drohkaal, Maachis, Black Friday and many others.
Although, India now, was a more educated and liberal, but, was not completely secular. Bombay (1995) was made, with the controversy surrounding the Babri Masjid and the Bombay riots as a backdrop. By showcasing inter-religious relations and effects of religious riots, he probably tried to mow down the intensity of hatreds among the two religions.
In Daman (2001),the movie showed how women are subject to domestic violence. The protagonist was ironically named Durga to show the condition of women, in a land where women in the form of Durga Maa is prayed.
Now in 21st century when India is educated enough to deal with cultural issues, we had other problems like brain drain in the country. Swades (2004),dealt with this issues brilliantly, On another socio politically important issues,Aarakshan (2011) was made, based on controversial policy of caste-based reservations in Indian government jobs and educational institutions.
All the socio-political topics that were discussed in cinema were nothing new, because those were prevalent in the society, but not all the sections of society were aware of them. Moreover, bringing such issues to the silver screen led masses to think about them seriously instead of just ignoring and accepting them as traditions and customs.
4. India has a rich tradition of folk dance. Discuss the common themes and occasion of folk dance forms in India. Take at least four examples for
India is a land of rich culture and heritage. Its cultural diversities and landscapes can be expressed in no better way than the folk song and dance. Every region and culture in our country has unique forms of dance and songs known as folk dance.
Themes and occasion of folk dance with examples:
They are performed for every possible occasion, to celebrate the arrival of seasons, birth of a child, a wedding, death, local god and goddesses, rituals and festivals.
Folk dance are accompanied by elaborate costumes, instruments sometimes, both male and female dancers together and also separately.
Here various types of folks dances are given. Have an elaborate idea of few of them.
Rouff of J & K: is the traditional folk dance of Kashmir, performed solely by the women on festive occasions. The dancers split themselves into two rows and put their arms around the shoulders of the ones standing next to them. The dance involves simple footwork, and is performed to a pleasant poetic song called the
Bhangra: This dance originates from the Majha area of Punjab. Bhangrais practiced and performed in the month leading up to the harvest festival of Vaisakhi. Traditionally, this is a dance performed solely by men.
Rasleela: Rasleelais an ancient form of folk dance originating from the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh. It’s a retelling of the night when the Gopis of Vrindavan heard the sound of Krishna’s flute, snuck away from their households, and into the forest to dance with Krishna throughout the night.
Garba: Garbais the folk dance of Gujarat, now popular in its neighbouring states too. The dance symbolises a celebration of life. Usually performed around a clay lantern, the dancers honour the Goddess Durga, the feminine representation of divinity.
Ghoomar: Ghoomaris performed by women in colourful swirling The beauty of this dance is in the stunning pirouetting which go on to reveal the various gorgeous colours of the swirling skirts. The steps of a Ghoomar dance are carefully measured, and paired with graceful inclinations. The women also clap and snap their fingers while dancing, at particular parts during the song. The dance is performed in honour of the Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of wealth. Ghoomar is an absolutely fascinating and hypnotic dance to watch.
Bihu: Bihuis a fast-paced, extremely joyful dance, hailing from the state of Assam. It is performed by young girls and boys during the festivals of Bihu, Assam’s three important agricultural festivals.
Raut Nacha: The Raut Nachadance is performed by the Yadava/Yaduvanshi tribe of Chhattisgarh. The Yadavas are considered to be direct descendents of Lord Krishna. The dance is performed during the ‘Dev Udhni Ekadashi’ – considered to be a time when the Gods awaken from their brief rest.
Puli Kali: Performed during Onam,Kerala’s harvest festival, Puli Kali is a visual art in almost every aspect. Artists and dancers paint their bodies as tigers and hunters and dance to the beat of musical instruments like the Udukku and Thakil.
Based on local customs, traditions, rituals many forms of dance and songs have originated over time each having its uniqueness. Its magical to watch how they all might be different but at end tell similar stories or related to one or other in some way.
5. Discuss the significance of Bodhgaya and Sarnath as the hearth of
Buddhist spiritual learnings.
Bodhgaya and Sarnath are the two places which hold very significant role in the Buddhist religion. These two places are associated with the foundation of Buddhism and its founder Gautama Buddha.
Bodh Gaya is the place where Gautama Buddha attained unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment.
Accepting from a grass-cutter a gift of kusa grass for a mat, the Bodhisattva took a seat under a pipal tree facing east to mediate.
For seven days after the Enlightenment, the Buddha continued to meditate under the Bodhi tree without moving from his seat. During the second week he practiced walking meditation. A jewel walk, Chankramanar, was built as a low platform adorned with nineteen lotuses which are parallel to the Maha Bodhi temple on its north side. For another week the Buddha contemplated the Bodhi tree. In this place a stupa was built called Animeschalochana situated to the north of the Chankramanar.
The present tree is considered only as the descendant of the original tree. There is a tradition that Ashoka’s wife had it secretly cut down because she became jealous of the time Ashoka spent there.
Since 1953, Bodh Gaya has been developed as an international place of pilgrimage. Buddhists from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan and Japan have established monasteries and temples within easy walking distance of the Mahabodhi compound. The site of the enlightenment now attracts Buddhists and tourists from all over the world.
After attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya the Buddha went to Sarnath; and it was here that he preached his first discourse in the deer park to set in motion the ‘Wheel of the Dharma’. It is one of the most holy sites as in this place the stream of the Buddha’s teaching first flowed.
He explained the middle way which avoids extremes, the Four Noble Truths, and prescribed the Eight-fold path.
Dhameka stupa: It is also said that at this spot the five ascetics who left Gautama Buddha in Bodh Gaya used to live in huts. The original stupa was constructed by Ashoka.
The Dhamekha stupa is considered to be the sacred place where the voice of Buddhism was first heard. Many dignitaries of Buddhist countries visit this place for circumambulation of this sacred stupa and to worship the Buddha and to chant sacred Mantras.
Buddha showed the light during the time when most needed to guide human beings into righteous path. These two places hold very significance not just in Buddhism but in humanism. It is a place which should be visited or seen by a person in his lifetime.