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Part 001 – History Previous Year Questions

Q1. Which among the following chronology is correct regarding four ‘samvatas’ ?
(a) Gupta–Gregorian–Hizri–Saka
(b) Gregorian–Saka–Hizri–Gupta
(c) Saka–Gregorian–Hizri–Gupta
(d) Hizri–Gupta–Gregorian–Saka
Ans: (*)
Samvat is any of the various Hindu calendars. In India, there are several calendars in use. The Saka Samvat is associated with 78 A.D; Gupta Samvat with 320 A.D; and Hijri Samvat with 622 A.D. The first year of Hijri era was the Islamic year beginning in AD 622 during which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred. The Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February, 1582.

Q2. The home of Gargi, Maitrey, and Kapila was at
(a) Vidisha (b) Ujjain
(c) Pataliputra (d) Mithila
Ans: (d)
The name ‘Mithila‘ goes back to Puranic times. It occurs in the Mahabharata and in Pali literature. According to the Puranic tradition the name has been derived from that of Mithi (son of Nimi) King of Ayodhya and grandson of Manu who founded a kingdom which was called Mithila after him. It is associated with Valmiki, Ashtavakra, Yajnavalkya, Udayana, Mahavira, Kanada, Jaimini and Kapila as well as the women philosophers, such as, Gargi, Maitreyi, Bharati and Katyayani. After the era of the Ramayana it is said that the three seats of culture in Vedic period – Kosala, Kasi and Videha – merged to form the Vajjians confederacy and the centre of political gravity shifted from Mithila to Vaishali.

Q3. Which area of India was known as Avantika in ancient times ?
(a) Avadh (b) Ruhelkhand
(c) Bundelkhand (d) Malwa
Ans: (d)
Ujjain (Avanti, Avantikapuri), is an ancient city of Malwa region in central India, on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River, today part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Avanti with its capital at Ujjaini, is mentioned in Buddhist literature as one of the four great powers along with Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha.

Q4. The Social System of the Harappans was :
(a) Fairly egalitarian
(b) Slave-Labour based
(c) Colour (Varna) based
(d) Caste based
Ans: (a)
The archaeological record of the Indus civilization provides practically no evidence of armies, kings, slaves, social conflict, prisons, and other oft-negative traits that we traditionally associated with early civilizations. If there were neither slaves nor kings, a more egalitarian system of governance may have been practiced. Besides, compared to other ancient civilizations the houses were of nearly equal size indicating a more egalitarian social structure i.e. The Social System of the Harappans was fairly egalitarian.

Q5. Which of the following Vedas provides information about the civilisation of the Early Vedic Age?
(a) Rig-veda (b) Yajur-veda
(c) Atharva-veda (d) Sama-veda
Ans: (a)
The Vedic period (or Vedic age) was a period in history during which the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed. The time span of the period is uncertain. Philological and linguistic evidence indicates that the Rig Veda, the oldest of the Vedas, was composed roughly between 1700 and 1100 BCE, also referred to as the early Vedic period. It is an important source of information on the Vedic religion and their Gods as well as presents a detailed account of the life of the people at that time.

Q6. The university which became famous in the post-Gupta Era was :
(a) Kanchi (b) Taxila
(c) Nalanda (d) Vallabhi
Ans: (c)
Nalanda was an ancient centre of higher learning in Bihar, which was a Buddhist centre of learning from the fifth or sixth century A.D. to 1197 CE. Nalanda flourished between the reign of the Sakraditya (whose identity is uncertain and who might have been either Kumara Gupta I or Kumara Gupta II) and 1197 A.D, supported by patronage from the Hindu Gupta rulers as well as Buddhist emperors like Harsha and later emperors from the Pala Empire.

Q7. Banabhatta was the court poet of which emperor ?
(a) Vikramaditya
(b) Kumaragupta
(c) Harshavardhana
(d) Kanishka
Ans: (c)
Banabhatta was a Sanskrit scholar and poet of India. He was the Asthana Kavi in the court of King Harshavardhana, who reigned in the years 606–647 CE in north India. Bana’s principal works include a biography of Harsha, the Harshacharita and one of the world’s earliest novels, Kadambari. The other works attributed to him is the Parvatiparinaya.

Q8. The first Indian ruler, who established the supremacy of Indian Navy in the Arabian Sea was :
(a) Rajaraja I (b) Rajendra I
(c) Rajadhiraja I (d) Kulottunga I
Ans: (a)
Rajaraja Chola I created a powerful standing army and a considerable navy, which achieved even greater success under his son Rajendra Chola I. One of the last conquests of Rajaraja was the naval conquest of the ‘old islands of the sea numbering 12,000’, the Maldives. Chola Navy also had played a major role in the invasion of Lanka.

Q9. Which statement on the Harappan Civilisation is correct?
(a) Horse sacrifice was known to them.
(b) Cow was sacred to them.
(c) ‘Pashupati’ was venerated by them.
(d) The culture was not generally static.
Ans: (d)
Potteries of the Harappan Civilization bring out the gradual evolutionary trend in the culture. It is on the basis of different types of potteries and ceramic art from found over the different stages of the civilization, it can be said that Harappan culture was not static and did not disappear suddenly. While showing signs of decay, in course of time it rejuvenated itself by reviving some of the earlier ceramic traditions and evolving new ones in the transitional phase.

Q10. The First Tirthankara of the Jains was :
(a) Arishtanemi (b) Parshvanath
(c) Ajitanath (d) Rishabha
Ans: (d)
In Jainism, Rishabh was the first of the 24 Tirthankaras who founded the Ikshavaku dynasty and was the first Tirthankara of the present age. Because of this, he was called Adinath. He is mentioned in the Hindu text of the Bhagavata Purana as an avatar of Vishnu. In Jainism, a Tirthankara is a human being who helps in achieving liberation and enlightenment as an “Arihant” by destroying all of their soul constraining (ghati) karmas, became a role-model and leader for those seeking spiritual guidance.

Q11. The great silk-route to the Indians was opened by :
(a) Kanishka (b) Ashoka
(c) Harsha (d) Fa-Hien
Ans: (a)
The Silk Road or Silk Route is a modern term referring to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa. Extending 6,500 km, the Silk Road gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade along it, which began during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). The Kushan empire incorporated Samarkand, Bokhara and Fergana, bordering on the Silk Road towns of Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan. The main route from Central Asia into India, connecting India with the Silk Roads and the Mediterranean, ran through Gandhara. Kanishka sought to promote the thriving trade with the Silk Road centres like Kashgar and beyond, sending an envoy to Ttajan in Rome.

Q12. The rulers of which dynasty started the practice of granting tax-free villages to Brahmanas and Buddhist Monks?
(a) Satavahanas (b) Mauryas
(c) Guptas (d) Cholas
Ans: (a)
Land grants formed an important feature of the Satavahana rural administration. Inscriptions show that the Satavahanas started the practice of granting fiscal and administrative immunities to Brahmins and Buddhist monks. Earlier, the grants to individuals were temporary but later grants to religious beneficiaries were permanent. Perhaps the earliest epigraphic grant of land is found in the Nanaghat Cave Inscription of naganika, who bestowed villages (grama) on priests for officiating at Vedic sacrifices, but it does not speak of any concessions in this context. These appear first in grants made by Gautamiputra Satakarni in the first quarter of the second century A.D.

Q13. The most important text of vedic mathematics is :
(a) Satapatha Brahman
(b) Atharva Veda
(c) Sulva Sutras
(d) Chhandogya Upanishad
Ans: (c)
The Shulba Sutras are sutra texts belonging to the Strauta ritual and containing geometry related to firealtar construction. They are part of the larger corpus of texts called the Shrauta Sutras, considered to be appendices to the Vedas. They are the only sources of knowledge of Indian mathematics from the Vedic period. The four major Shulba Sutras, which are mathematically the most significant, are those composed by Baudhayana, Manava, Apastamba and Katyayana.

Q14. Yavanika or curtain was introduced in Indian theatre by which of the following?
(a) Shakas (b) Parthians
(c) Greeks (d) Kushans
Ans: (c)
The most interesting term in Indian drama with Greek connotation is yavanika, which means a stage curtain. For the first time in Panini’s grammar, there is a reference to Yavana and Yavanani writing. However, the theory is not only erroneous but ridiculous because there is no curtain in the Greek drama and also there is no word “yavanika” in Sanskrit language. There is Yavani meaning Greek woman.

Q15. Who started the Saka Era which is still used by the Government of India?
(a) Kanishka
(b) Vikramaditya
(c) Samudra Gupta
(d) Asoka
Ans: (a)
The mightiest of the Kushan rulers in India was Kanishka. He was in power from 78 AD to 120 AD. It was Kanishka who initiated the Saka Era in 78 AD. Through inheritance and conquest, Kanishka’s kingdom covered an area extending from Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan) in the west to Patna in the Ganges Valley in the east, and from the Pamirs (now in Tajikistan) in the north to central India in the south. His capital was Purushpura (Peshawar).

Q16. What inspired the paintings of Ajanta ?
(a) Compassionate Buddha
(b) Radha-Krishan Leela
(c) Jain Thirthankaras
(d) Mahabharata encounters
Ans: (a)
The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are 30 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to the 600 CE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka tales) as well as frescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka. The Ajanta cave paintings depict the life of Gautam Buddha.

Q17. Who among the following was the first to invade India ?
(a) Xerxes (b) Alexander
(c) Darius-I (d) Seleucus
Ans: (c)
In about 518 BCE, the Persians invaded India. They were led by King Darius I, who conquered the Indus Valley and the area that is now the state of Punjab. Darius-I was successful in maintaining power, and his descendants continued to rule the area when he died. Darius-I also began to collect a tribute tax, and spread news of India’s many natural resources to Europe.

Q18. Which among the following is the oldest dynasty ?
(a) Maurya (b) Gupta
(c) Kushan (d) Kanva
Ans: (a)
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC. Originating from the kingdom of Magadha in the Indo- Gangetic plains (modern Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bengal) in the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent, the empire had its capital city at Pataliputra (modern Patna). The Empire was founded in 322 BC by Chandragupta Maurya. The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed from approximately 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. The Kushan Empire was originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria around the Oxus River (Amu Darya), and later based near Kabul, Afghanistan. The Kanva dynasty was a Brahman dynasty founded by Vasudeva Kanva, the minister of Devabhuti, the last Sunga king in 75 BCE

Q19. With which of the following is the classic “Jivaka Chintamani” in Tamil associated ?
(a) Jainism (b) Buddhism
(c) Hinduism (d) Christianity
Ans: (a)
Jivaka Chintamani (fabulous gem) is a classical epic poem, considered one of the five great Tamil epics according to later Tamil literary tradition, the others being Manimegalai, Silappadikaram, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi. It was composed during the 10th century CE by Thiruthakka Thevar, a Jain monk. It narrates the romantic exploits of Jeevaka and throws light on arts of music and dance of the era. It is reputed to have been the model for Kamba Ramayanam. The epic is based on Sanskrit original and contains the exposition of Jain doctrines and beliefs.

Q20. Where did Lord Buddha breathe his last?
(a) Rajgir (b) Bodh Gaya
(c) Sarnath (d) Kushinagar
Ans: (d)
Kushinagar is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kushinagar district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is thought to have attained Parinirvana after his death. It is one of the most important four holy sites for Buddhists. At this location, near the Hiranyavati River, Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana (or ‘Final Nirvana’) after falling ill from eating a meal of a species of mushroom, or possibly pork.

Q21. Who were the first kings to issue gold coins in India?
(a) Mauryas (b) Indo-Greeks
(c) Guptas (d) Kushans
Ans: (b)
The Indo-Greek kings were the first to issue gold coins in India and their coins were special in the sense that each king had his own distinctive coins by which he could be definitely identified. The names of at least thirty Bactrian kings are known with the help of numerous coins, and they help in the reconstruction of the history of the kings. The coins carry legends in Greek and also in Kharosthi and Brahmi.

Q22. Where is Brihadeshwar Temple situated ?
(a) Kanchi (b) Madurai
(c) Shri Shailan(d) Tanjore
Ans: (d)
The Brihadeshwar Temple at Thanjavur (Tanjore) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and a brilliant example of the major heights achieved by Cholas in Tamil architecture. It is a tribute and a reflection of the power of its patron Raja Raja Chola I. It remains India’s largest temple and is one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Great Living Chola Temples”.

Q23. In Tamil literature the glorious books ‘Shilppadikaram and Manimekhalai’ are related to
(a) Jainism (b) Buddhism
(c) Hindusim (d) Christianity
Ans: (b)
Shilppadikaram is one of the five Great Epics according to later Tamil literary tradition, the others being Manimegalai, Civaka Cintamani, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi. The poet prince Ilango Adigal is credited with this work. He is reputed to be the brother of Senguttuvan from Chera dynasty. Ilango Adigal was a Buddhist monk and Silappadhikaram and Manimekalai are Buddhist epics. Manimekalai, a purely Buddhist work of the 3rd Sangam period in Tamil literature is the most supreme and famous among the Buddhist work done in Tamil. It is a work expounding the doctrines and propagating the values of Buddhism.It also talks about the Tamil Buddhists in the island. (Source: L. Basam Page No. 475)

Q24. Who established Mahabalipuram?
(a) Pallava (b) Pandya
(c) Chola (d) Chalukya
Ans: (a)
Mahabalipuram, derived from ‘Mamallapuram’ is the prior and col loquial name of a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, now officially called Mamallapuram. Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas near the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The name Mamallapuram is believed to have been given after the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I, who took on the epithet Maha-malla (great wrestler), as the favourite sport of the Pallavas was wrestling. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th centuries, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Q25. The Saka era commencing from A.D. 78, was founded by
(a) Kanishka
(b) Asoka
(c) Chandragupta
(d) Vikramaditya
Ans: (a)
The date of Kanishka’s accession is disputed, ranging from 78 to 248. The generally accepted date of 78 is also the basis for an era presumably started by the Shakas and used in addition to the Gregorian calendar by the present-day Indian government.

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