Art & Culture TopperSpeak UPSC Preparation Strategy


This article has been written by ForumIAS Member @doodlebean selected in the CSE 2014. This article is intended to be used by aspirants preparing for CSE 2015 Prelims to quickly brush up “Art & Culture” whose significance has only increased in Civil Services Prelims. However, aspirants who are preparing for 2016 may use this 20 day formula to quickly prepare Culture *forever* in twenty days.

Art and Culture is one area which I dreaded the most. UPSC is so much in love with this topic that the demon exists not only at the Preliminary stage but in Mains too.

So, let’s do something. Let’s give some days to this topic and live the rest of our UPSC years like a King. There will be no more anxiety in the preparation from Art n Culture side after this.

OK…. gather the ingredients first.

1) NCERT (should ideally take 7 days)
Do these in small classroom sessions. They should be fun, like beautiful pictures of temples and all the accompanying characteristic features like vimaana, shikaara, torana etc in one sitting. Read them like a 5th standard kid; curiosity in mind , eyes looking for itsy-bitsy tiny-winy details.
From 6th to 10th standard — read them twice. Cut the pictures and paste them in a notebook, and write notes on peculiar features of the same.

2) CCRT culture notes (should also take 7 days)
Do these like homework. Last year 95 percent of the culture questions were from these notes only. You have to reverse the procedure here. You will get notes here, and have to supplement them with pictures. Search for pics, and attach them to temples, dances, musical instruments etc, and notice each and every detail which is written in those notes in these pictures. The link to CCRT website is here.

3) Our very own Nitin Singhania’s Culture notes (5 days)
I promise, it will not take more than 5 days to complete this. The PDFs are available here or here. (ForumIAS staff: The pages may take some time to load, so be patient).

Believe me. Just put a “poorna viraam” (full stop) on Art and Culture preparation after this. No bulky books, no extensive notes, no coaching to be attended. If you invest these 19 days wholeheartedly, it will take only 3 days to revise the Art and Culture part just before exams. A cake-walk in the literal sense of the term.

4) Over your preparation, strictly follow The Hindu and The Indian Express. You cannot afford to miss even a single topic related to Art n Culture. Whether it is an op-ed article on the GI tag for Kanjeevaram Sarees or ASI talking about restoring some ancient sites, nothing should go unnoticed. This is a steady and unending process, but will not take more than five minutes everyday.

Ek baar try to karo 😀

Best wishes
ForumIAS Moderator

ForumIAS Gyan Articles are written by experienced ForumIAS members and are aimed at guiding aspirants. They may be original articles or may be picked up from comments posted in on
Art & Culture History

Ancient Indian Physicians – important contributions

PM has been reading Dina Nath Batra certainly. He has been unequivocally rooting for Ancient Indian medicine practices and practitioners. UPSC too might be in awe of Modi , and might as well ask us to list some of them and their contributions.


  • belonged to Bihar, 6th century BC – contemporary of Bimbisara and Ajatsatru.
  • studied Ayurveda medicine under the tutelage of Atreya.
  • was the personal physician of Lord Buddha and Sangha.
  • promoted usage of purgatives, herbal remedies for wounds.
  • works illustrated in Bower’s Manuscript, Deepvamsa , Mahavamsa.


  • from Banaras, debate around which time period he existed.
  • known as father of Indian medicine and first plastic surgeon of the world. Greeks called him Sucruta.
  • studied human anatomy in great detail.
  • wrote the oldest treatise on surgery – Sushrut Samhita. It has details about surgical instruments , surgery procedures like rhinoplasty , usage of anesthesia etc.
  • emphasized the importance of balancing theoretical knowledge with practical experience.


  • known as Father of Medicine ,debate around which time period he existed.
  • Was an Ayurveda practitioner.
  • Author of Charaka Samhita – deals with physiology, etiology, embryology etc. Emphasis on physical examination and rational cure of diseases.
  • Emphasized on the principle  that  prevention is better than cure.
  • Wrote extensively on digestion, metabolism, immune system, genetics like the factors responsible for sex of a child.
  • probably the first to have made a reference about smallpox.
  • steered Indian medicine towards scientific approach , away from the notions that diseases are caused by supernatural forces and that treatments were possible by rituals and prayers.


  • believed to be an alchemist who worked extensively with mercury, and advocated the use of chemical cures rather than preparations made from herbs and vegetables.
  • described details of the circulatory system, and referred to blood as rakta dhatu.
  • made many specially concocted chemicals with therapeutic value called  bhasmas.
  • redacted sushruta samhita.
  • major works in the field of medicine and alchemy include Vigraha Vyavar Vartika , Rasa Ratnakar.


  • Vagabhatta I – chief work was Ashtanga Samgraha , a treatise on ayurvedic medicine, therapautics, hygiene, anatomy, surgery and other allied subjects. Emphasized the importance of personal hygiene to good health, and introduced the importance of combating pollution by elaborating the role of contaminated river water in adversely affecting health.
  • Vagabhatta II – wrote Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita


  • around 7th century AD.
  • Rugvinischaya or Madhavanidana is his most prominent work.
  • dealt with methods of diagnosis of diseases, pathology.










Art & Culture

Sankirtana – snippets for mains

UPSC’s penchant for culture is well known. Although this is not a very recent development , it might have caught the examiner’s eye as a potential 2/5 marker.


Why in news?

 UNESCO has inscribed Sankirtana of Manipur on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, for the year 2013. 

What is it? 

1. Ritual singing, dancing, drumming of Manipur, performed to mark   religious occasions and various stages in the lives of Vaishnava community of Manipur.

2. It is practiced at the centre of a temple, where performers narrate the lives and deeds of Lord Krishna through songs and dance.

3. Social function of the ritual — brings people together, acts as a cohesive force amongst the Vaishnava community of Manipur.

4. Society safeguards the traditional knowledge and skills and ensures its transmission across generations.

 # Inscription of Sankirtana on the Representative List would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage. It would also help to encourage intercultural dialogue and promote respect for cultural diversity.

# Sangeet Natak Akademi documents and safeguards it.

Spare a few moments for this vibrant art form – Link