10 Tips to prepare Ancient Indian History for Prelims and Mains!

Owing to the vast syllabus of Ancient Indian History, it becomes quite challenging for Civil Services’ aspirants to completely understand, comprehend and retain the complexities involved in the ancient Indian history. Also, many come under the spell of bandwagon effect of leaving this major pie of the syllabus, claiming less questions from this section. Even those who gird up their loins to bang on this major topic, focuses the preparation only from the Prelims point of view not from the Mains perspective. Let us try to analyze first why civil services’ aspirants need to take care of ancient Indian history in both Prelims and Mains.

In the syllabus of Preliminary examination, it is categorically mentioned ‘History of India ‘which very well includes the ancient Indian history. But, in Main’s General Studies Paper-1 syllabus, the term ancient history is nowhere mentioned directly instead ‘Indian Heritage, art and culture from ancient till modern times is prescribed’. Any student can not understand the art and culture of any age, era or epoch till the time he/she is not aware of the societal and economical set up of that part of the history.

Moreover, history is a chain of incidents, stories of victory and defeat, rise and fall of empires and events which marked the landmark changes in human life. Therefore, it always advisable to read and comprehend history from its beginning. Therefore, those who decide to chase their dream of serving the nation must go through an arduous journey and should cover very inch of this vast syllabus without leaving and speck or corner.

Some famous myths popular amongst students for avoiding studying ancient Indian history;

  1. It is very time consuming as the syllabus of ancient Indian history is humongous and challenging to study and remember.
  2. It is wastage of time to focus on this as few questions appear from this section as well as this part holds no relevance in Main Examination.
  3. More weightage should be on Modern Indian History because maximum questions come from this chunk of the syllabus.

It is true that studying ancient Indian History requires lots of patience and it is also complex to interlink and complete jigsaw puzzle to fully view the history in a kaleidoscopic view. There are some tips with which a candidate can study and learn ancient Indian history without any hiccup.

  1. Try to give a cursory glance at the table of contents first instead of jumping to chapter out rightly. This would give you an insight about what is going to be unfurled in coming pages.
  2. Avoid stressing yourself at the first stage of reading, just give a bird’s eye view and keep on marking the things which are new or difficult.
  3. The second reading will be more mature than the first one as while going through the chapters, one knows the challenging areas. Keep a note book along with for making small notes in case someone wants to.
  4. In the third round of the book, the clarity regarding concepts, incidents, regimes etc. will begin to emerge.
  5. At this level of Tier-3 learning start solving the previous years’ questions and through the process of backtracking start revising those topics which are marks resistant. There is no need to cram, mug up or forcibly fix the things into the frame.
  6. Once there is clarity of concepts, learning will be easy by default and excellence will pave way.
  7. It is advisable to start and finish one book of ancient history at a time. Sometimes, some aspirants keep on changing the resources in the search of finding the best one and they end up wasting time.
  8. Make small note of very important historical events which will be extremely helpful at the time of revision. Do not squirrel away notes so that they are out of reach when someone needs it at the hour of revision.
  9. Start interlinking all the parts of history with art and culture. Nothing happens or happened in vacuum. Each action is co-related with the other and has impact on society.
  10. ‘Study’ a subject not just ‘Read’! The scope of the term study is very wide in terms of understanding the topics so the UPSC says General Studies not General Knowledge. Study ignites thought, thought propels action and action results in creation of history.

Just give a try to this novel way of learning Ancient History with our ‘A History of Ancient India’ by Ajeet Jha which is highly worked, widely researched and resource rich book on history of India’s glorious past. This book is supplemented with flowcharts, tables etc. at the end of every chapter which helps in taming this lofty syllabus. All the Best!

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