Topic outline

    • Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic

      Q47. What are the different roles of different people during Ashvamedha Yagya?

      Ans. The raja was a central figure in these rituals. He often had a special seat, a throne or a tiger skin. His charioteer, who was his companion in the battle field and witnessed his exploits, chanted tales of his glory. His relatives, especially his wives and sons, had to perform a variety of minor rituals. The other rajas were simply spectators who had to sit and watch the performance of the sacrifice. Priests performed the rituals including the sprinkling of sacred water on the king. The ordinary people, the vish or vaishya, also brought gifts. However, some people, such as those who were regarded as shudras by the priests, were excluded from many rituals.


      Q48. How were taxes collected by the rulers of Mahajanapadas?

      Ans. Taxes were collected in the following ways:

                               i.        Taxes on crops were the most important. This was because most people were farmers. Usually, the tax was fixed at 1/6th of what was produced. This was known as bhaga or a share.

                              ii.        There were taxes on crafts persons as well. These could have been in the form of labour.

                             iii.        Herders were also expected to pay taxes in the form of animals and animal produce.

                             iv.        There were also taxes on goods that were bought and sold, through trade.

                               v.        And hunters and gatherers also had to provide forest produce to the raja.

      Q49. Write a short note on ‘ashvamedha’.

      Ans.  Ashvamedha

                                i.        Some men now became recognized as rajas by performing very big sacrifices.

                               ii.        The ashvamedha or horse sacrifice was one such ritual.

                              iii.        A horse was let loose to wander freely and it was guarded by the raja’s men. If the horse wandered into the kingdoms of other rajas and they stopped it, they had to fight.

                              iv.        If they allowed the horse to pass, it meant that they accepted that the raja who wanted to perform the sacrifice was stronger than them.

                                v.        These rajas were then invited to the sacrifice, which was performed by specially trained priests, who were rewarded with gifts.

                               vi.        The raja who organised the sacrifice was recognised as being very powerful, and all those who came brought gifts for him.


      Q50. Explain the four Varnas of the Later Vedic Period.

      Ans. The priests divided people into four groups, called varnas. According to them, each varna had a different set of functions.

                                 i.        The first varna was that of the brahmin. Brahmins were expected to study (and teach) the Vedas, perform sacrifices and receive gifts.

                                ii.        In the second place were the rulers, also known as kshatriyas. They were expected to fight battles and protect people.

                              iii.        Third were the vish or the vaishyas. They were expected to be farmers, herders, and traders. Both the kshatriyas and the vaishyas could perform sacrifices.

                              iv.        Last were the shudras, who had to serve the other three groups and could not perform any rituals. Often, women were also grouped with the shudras. Both women and shudras were not allowed to study the Vedas.

      Q51. What helped Magadha to become a powerful kingdom in North India?

      Ans. Magadha became a powerful kingdom in North India because:-

                               i.        Many rivers such as the Ganga and Son flowed through Magadha. This was important for (a) transport, (b) water supplies (c) making the land fertile.

                              ii.        Parts of Magadha were forested. Elephants, which lived in the forest, could be captured and trained for the army. Forests also provided wood for building houses, carts and chariots.

                             iii.        Besides, there were iron ore mines in the region that could be tapped to make strong tools and weapons.

                            iv.        Magadha had two very powerful rulers, Bimbisara and Ajatasattu, who used all possible means to conquer other janapadas. Mahapadma Nanda was another important ruler. He extended his control up to the north-west part of the subcontinent.

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