UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing - 25 September (GS 1)


1. What are the main features of Vedic society and religions? Do you think some of the features are still prevailing in Indian society? (15)

2. What were the main technological changes introduced during the sultanate period? How these technological changes influence the Indian society? (15)

Model Solutions

1. What are the main features of Vedic society and religions? Do you think some of the features are still prevailing in Indian society? (15)

Core Demand: Identify features of vedic society & compare with modern Indian society.
Model structure

The Vedic period, spanning from around 1500 BCE to 500 BCE, was a crucial phase in the historical and cultural evolution of India. This era's societal structure and religious practices laid the foundations for many traditions and beliefs that persist today.

Early Vedic Society

Early Vedic Religion

  • Women enjoyed a respectable position. They were allowed to take parts of Sabhas and Samitis. There were women poets, too (Apala, Lopamudra, Viswavara and Ghosa).

  • They worshipped natural forces like earth, fire, wind, rain, thunder, etc., by personifying them into deities.

  • Cattle, especially cows, became very important.

  • Indra (thunder) was the most important deity. Other deities were Prithvi (earth), Agni (fire), Varuna (rain) and Vayu (wind).

  • Monogamy was practised, but polygamy was observed among royalty and noble families.

  • Female deities were Ushas and Aditi.

  • There was no child marriage.

  • There were no temples and no idol worship.

  • Social distinctions existed but were not rigid and hereditary.


Later Vedic society

Later Vedic Religion

  • The Varna system of social distinction became more distinct. This became less based on occupation and more hereditary.

  • Prajapati (creator) and Vishnu (preserver) became important gods.

  • Sub-castes based on occupation also emerged. Gotras were institutionalised.

  • Indra and Agni lost their significance.

  • Child marriages became common.

  • The importance of prayers diminished, and rituals and sacrifices became more elaborate.

  • Women were not permitted to attend public assemblies like Sabhas and Samitis. Their position in society diminished.

  • The priestly class became very powerful and dictated the rules of the rites and rituals. Because of this orthodoxy, Buddhism and Jainism emerged towards the end of this period.

Prevailing Features in Modern Indian Society

  • Varna and Caste
    • Despite the constitutional abolition of caste discrimination, many matrimonial ads and marriage arrangements still often specify caste preferences.
    • The "gotra" system, prevalent in many North Indian weddings, can be traced back to Vedic lineage systems.
  • Patriarchal Values
    • The practice of "kanyadaan" in Hindu weddings, where the bride is "given away" by her father to the groom, has its roots in Vedic customs and exemplifies patriarchal notions.
    • Similarly, certain rituals, like the thread ceremony (Upanayanam), are typically reserved for males, highlighting gender-specific roles from Vedic times.
  • Vedic rituals
    • Example: The "havan" or sacred fire ritual, central to many Hindu ceremonies from weddings to housewarmings, originates in the Vedic fire sacrifices.
    • The chanting of mantras from the Rigveda, such as the Gayatri Mantra during the Upanayanam, is a pivotal aspect of Hindu religious practices.
  • Philosophical Concepts:
    • The idea of "karma" or one's actions determining their fate is deeply ingrained in Indian thought. This concept, rooted in Vedic and Upanishadic teachings, is often invoked in everyday life, guiding moral and ethical decisions.
    • Celebrating festivals like Maha Shivaratri, which venerates Lord Shiva, a deity whose origins can be traced back to the Vedic Rudra.

The cultural and philosophical footprints of the Vedic era are evident in various facets of modern Indian society. From everyday rituals to deep-seated beliefs, the echoes of the Vedic period resonate, underscoring the enduring legacy and relevance of ancient traditions in contemporary contexts.

2. What were the main technological changes introduced during the sultanate period? How these technological changes influence the Indian society? (15)

Core Demand: Technological changes during the Sultanate period & their impact on society.

Model structure

  • The Sultanate period in India, from the 12th to the 16th centuries, was marked by significant technological and architectural advancements. As various dynasties of the Sultanate established their rule, they brought innovations and technologies that had lasting impacts on Indian society.

Main Body
Main Technological Changes Introduced During the Sultanate Period

  • Military Technology
    • Gunpowder and Cannons: The introduction of gunpowder changed the nature of warfare.
    • Cannons like the Malik-i-Maidan in Bijapur were a testament to this shift.
  • Paper Industry
    • The Sultanate rulers introduced the widespread manufacture and use of paper in India. This was a shift from the earlier prevalent palm leaves and birch barks.
  • Metallurgical Techniques
    • Bidriware: Originating from Bidar in modern-day Karnataka, this technique involved inlaying silver or gold onto blackened zinc and copper alloys.
    • Koftgari (Damascening): This was the art of inlaying gold and silver into steel. It was used to create ornate weapons and artefacts.
  • Water Management
    • Advanced Baolis or Stepwells: The Sultanate period saw the design of more intricate stepwells with advanced water harnessing capabilities. An example is the Rajon Ki Baoli in Mehrauli, Delhi.
  • Architectural Innovations
    • True Arches and Domes: Before the Sultanate period, the Indian subcontinent predominantly used corbelled arches. The introduction of true arches and domes changed the architectural landscape. Notable examples include structures within the Qutub Complex in Delhi.
      Influence of These Technological Changes on Indian Society
  • Change in Warfare Dynamics
    • The fort of Gwalior underwent significant modifications during the Sultanate era, especially with the introduction of gunpowder and cannons. The fort's defences, including bastions and walls, were thickened and reinforced to withstand artillery attacks, illustrating the transformative influence of gunpowder technology on fort architecture.
  • Boost in Literary Works
    • With the introduction of paper, literary output surged. Renowned Persian poet Amir Khusrow, who lived during the Sultanate period, penned numerous poems, riddles, and qawwalis. The widespread availability of paper facilitated the documentation and dissemination of his works, which might have been limited if reliant on traditional materials like palm leaves.
  • Economic Growth
    • The unique metallurgical craft of Bidriware became highly sought after, not just within India but also in markets abroad. The intricate designs, often in silver inlaid on a blackened alloy base, made Bidriware a luxury item. The town of Bidar, where this craft originated, transformed into a bustling economic center due to the popularity of these items.
  • Improved Agriculture:
    • The Rajon Ki Baoli in Mehrauli, Delhi, an advanced stepwell from the Sultanate period, played a pivotal role in water conservation. Such baolis ensured that local communities had access to water throughout the year, especially during dry seasons, thereby supporting agriculture.
  • Indo Islamic Architecture
    • The Alai Darwaza at the Qutub Complex in Delhi is a prime example of the introduction of true arches and domes. This gateway, built in 1311 AD, showcases the amalgamation of Indian and Islamic architectural styles. Its intricate latticework and use of true arches set it apart from earlier Indian architectural designs.
      The Sultanate period introduced pivotal technological changes that reshaped various facets of Indian society, from warfare and architecture to literature and economics. These innovations and their resultant impacts are still evident in modern India's cultural and historical tapestry.

Previous Post

Next Post