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UPSC Prelims 2023

With reference to ancient India - The concept of Stupa is Buddhist in origin, Stupa was generally a repository of relics, Stupa was a votive and commemorative structure in Buddhist tradition.

Prelims General Studies Paper -1

Jun 08, 2023

2 min read



With reference to ancient India, consider the following statements:


1. The concept of Stupa is Buddhist in origin.
2. Stupa was generally a repository of relics.
3. Stupa was a votive and commemorative structure in Buddhist tradition.




How many of the statements given above are correct?


A. Only one

B. Only two

C. All three

D. None




The correct answer is B. Only two


The concept of Stupa is pre-Buddhist in origin. So, the first statement is incorrect.


A stupa, derived from the Sanskrit word "stūpa," meaning "heap" or "pile," is a significant form of Buddhist architecture. It represents various elements simultaneously, including the Buddha, the path to Enlightenment, a mountain, and the universe.


Originally pre-dating Buddhism, stupas were sepulchral monuments used for burial or as receptacles for religious objects. They were initially simple mounds of dirt faced with stone.


In Buddhism, stupas became associated with the body of the Buddha, as early stupas contained portions of his ashes. The dome-shaped stupa symbolizes a person seated in meditation, representing the Buddha's attainment of Enlightenment.


Stupas were built at locations associated with important events in the Buddha's life. King Ashoka, an early Buddhist ruler, constructed numerous stupas across northern India and other territories, fulfilling the Buddha's directive to provide places for people to find peace and joy.


The practice of building stupas spread to various countries and remains an essential aspect of Buddhist tradition. Buddhists visit stupas to perform rituals and gain a deeper understanding of the Buddha's teachings, ultimately seeking Enlightenment.


The stupa is seen as a microcosm of the universe, with its central axis representing Enlightenment and the practitioner's journey towards it.


Circumambulation, walking or prostrating around the stupa, is a meditative practice that signifies the cycle of rebirth and the path to Enlightenment. Votive stupas, small replicas, can also serve as objects of devotion and merit-making.


Reference: Essay by Dr. Karen Shelby, Khan Academy.

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