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“Most of the art and architectural remains that have survived the ancient and medieval Indian times have been religious in nature”, Discuss with suitable examples.

Topic:   Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. “Most of the art and architectural remains that have survived the ancient and medieval Indian times have been religious in nature”, Discuss with suitable examples. (250 words)

Reference: Class XI NCERT – Medieval India by R S Sharma

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I. It aims to analyse the impact of religious nature of different kingdoms and dynasties and their impact upon the art and architecture of the times.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain with suitable examples the impact of religion over the art and architecture of ancient and medieval Indian times.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with a generic appreciation of art and architecture and its relevance in past times of ancient and Medieval India.

Body:

Explain the following viewpoints with relevant examples wherever necessary:

  • With changing times, better articulation of religious and socio-cultural beliefs develops which reflect in the contemporaneous art forms. Thus, the prehistoric art forms are confined to secular paintings like that of Bhimbetka rock shelters.
  • Later, the animistic religious belief of Harappa Civilisation gets reflected in the terracotta figurines of mother goddess. With the further passage of time and emergence of Brahmanism, Buddhism, Jainism etc. more religious art forms in terms of Ajanta caves and paintings, Dashavatara temple (Deogarh) etc. surfaced.
  • Later, in medieval India, under the patronage of Delhi Sultans, tombs and mosques emerged.
  • Nevertheless, it must also be noted that non-religious or secular art forms were also getting importance. For example, the seals, terracotta toys, granary from Harappan Civilisation and palaces, gardens from medieval India.
  • Similarly, the patronage provided by the rulers or the society also defines the type of art that gets developed. The Ashokan edicts, whose form and content was largely non-religious, incorporated principles of social conduct. During the Sultanate period emerged the Indo-Islamic form of architecture like tombs and mosques.

Conclusion:

Conclude that the art and architectural forms of ancient and medieval India never confined themselves only to the making of mammoth buildings of religious places, though it contributed the most.