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Our Rich Heritage

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Our Rich Heritage - Lesson Summary

Stupas are Buddhist structures built with specific features. They were dome-shaped place of worship and contained sacred remains of Buddha or any of his followers. They also had a casket in addition to being encircled with a path.

The stupas and temples were constructed more than 2000 years back and once can still find their railings and gateways decorated with beautiful sculptures and carvings.  The temples were made of stones and had a place for the deity, a garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum and a mandapa, which is a place for the devotees to assemble for prayers.

India is famous for its temples. The craftsmen at that time were highly skillful and carved temples out from a single rock. Apart from temples, Indian paintings are also renowned across the world. Some paintings are quite well-preserved and can be found in Ajanta. The artists that time used plant and mineral extracts to paint which is the reason the paintings have survived for over 1500 years.

The ancient literature is known best for its epics. Some of the famous epics are Silappadikaram and Manimekalai in Tamil and Ramayana and Mahabharata in Sanskrit. Besides these, Puranas, meaning old are also a famous part of the ancient Indian Literature, which are written in simple Sanskrit. The poems and stories of the ordinary people were preserved in collections of Jatakas and Panchatantra.

One can find some stories from Jatakas depicted on the railings of stupas in the Ajanta cave paintings. Puranas and Mahabharata are said to be composed by Vyasa while the sanksrit version of Ramayana is credited to Valmiki. Kalidas was another very famous epic composer who has written numerous plays in Sanskrit. The epics remained unknown until they were discovered around a hundred years ago.

Indians have greatly contributed to the field of science as well and one such example is the invention of Zero. A great astronomer and mathematician Aryabhata wrote a book called Aryabhatiyam, which explains the reason behind appearance of day and night on Earth, the explaination of eclipses and even the formula to calculate the circumference of a circle. 


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