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With reference to the ancient history of India, consider the following statements:

1. Ashoka patronised the shraman tradition in the third century BCE.

2. Worship of Yakshas and mother-goddess was not in vogue during the Mauryan period.

3. Mauryan pillars are very similar to the Achaemenian pillars.

Which of the statements given above are NOT correct?


1. 1 and 2 only
2. 1 and 3 only
3. 2 and 3 only
4. 2 only

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Correct Answer - Option 3 : 2 and 3 only

The correct answer is 2 and 3 only.

  • 6th century BCE marks the beginning of new religious and social movements in the Gangetic valley in the form of Buddhism and Jainism which were part of the shraman tradition.
    • Magadha emerged as a powerful kingdom and consolidated its control over the other regions. By the fourth century BCE, the Mauryas established their power and by the third century BCE, a large part of India was under Mauryan control.
    • Ashoka emerged as the most powerful king of the Mauryan dynasty who patronized the shraman tradition in the third century BCE. Hence, statement 1 is correct.

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  • The worship of Yakshas and mother goddesses was prevalent during that time. So, multiple forms of worship existed. Hence, statement 2 is NOT correct.
    • Nevertheless, Buddhism became the most popular social and religious movement. Yaksha worship was prevalent before and after the advent of Buddhism and it was assimilated into Buddhism and Jainism.
  • The tradition of constructing pillars is very old and it may be observed that the erection of pillars was prevalent in the Achaemenian empire as well.
    • But the Mauryan pillars are different from the Achaemenian pillars. Hence, statement 3 is NOT correct.
    • The Mauryan pillars are rock-cut pillars thus displaying the carver’s skills, whereas the Achaemenian pillars are constructed in pieces by a mason. Stone pillars were erected all over the Mauryan Empire with inscriptions engraved on them.

  • The construction of stupas and viharas as part of monastic establishments became part of the Buddhist tradition.
  • However, in this period, apart from stupas and viharas, stone pillars, rock-cut caves, and monumental figure sculptures were carved at several places.
  • Some of the existing pillars with capital figures were found at Basarah-Bakhira, LauriyaNandangarh, Rampurva, Sankisa, and Sarnath.
  • The Mauryan pillar capital found at Sarnath popularly known as the Lion Capital is the finest example of Mauryan sculptural tradition.

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