A Study of Hindu Art and Architecture: With Especial Reference to Terminology (An Old Book)

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Item Code: NAD877
Author: Dr. Lalit Kumar Shukla
Publisher: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office
Edition: 1972
Pages: 370 (38 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch X 7.5 inch
Weight 690 gm
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Book Description

Hindus had codified every branch of knowledge in some kind of Sästra and we had Sãstra on Art also. Among many Vedas and Upa-Vedas there was a Sthãpatya-Veda. Accordingly Hindu Art had a very vast scope in which Fine Arts, Technical Arts and Applied Arts, all were included. We had a full-fledged science which was called ilpa astra or Vãstuãstra. We had also a tradition of Kalas what are known as ‘Catussasti-kalãs.’ Both these traditions of science, arts and crafts are very old, and we shall have an occasion to deal with them. Previous writers have contributed a good deal on Hindu Art with reference to its philosophy or its representation in architecture, sculpture and painting, specially the surviving archaeological monuments. There is no dearth of standard works on this investigation. Rain Raz, P. K. Acharya and D. N Shukla are the pioneers in the study of some manuals. There are a large number of manuals or texts on art and architecture and their evidence needs a critical examination.

I am, therefore, prompted to take up a study of Hindu Art with an especialised angle of its Terminology as found in the principal texts of art and architecture, what are called i1paastras. Dr. Stella Kramrisch has been able to do justice to this kind of investigation and has remarkably utilized the evidence from a good many texts in her ‘Hindu Temple. Mallaya has also done a creditable work on 7antrasamuccaya. Both these studies are on Temple-architecture. A good many other authors like Rao, Banerjee, Bhattacharyas (BrndAban and Binayatosh) and others have done remarkable work so far as Iconography and Sculpture are concerned. A composit survey of Hindu Canons of Art and Architecture by my revered father Dr. D. N. Shukla is well-known to scholars. All these authors have been very helpful in the present study which has set a very wide scope of investigation.

We are familiar with Dr. P. K. Acharya’s works specially his dictionary on architecture. Architecture is only one branch of Art. Sculpture, Iconography and Painting are also equally important topics of Silpasästra or Vãstuãstra—the Hindu treatises on art. The Manasra itself is such a treatise in which architecture, sculpture and iconography have been dealt with. Out of seventy chapters of the Manaszira, the first fifty chapters deal with architecture and last twenty are devoted to sculpture. It however does not deal with painting as is the case with other principal texts like, the Samarañgana-Sutradhara, the Aparajita-Prccha and the Silparatna. These are the texts on Vãstu-ãstra or Silpasastra which deal with canons of pictorial art also. Thus the present writer, therefore, has tried to fill this gap in the Hindu art terminology which besides architecture and sculpture must include painting as well; because our Västuàstras deal not only with architecture and sculpture but also with painting.

In the texts like the Samnrñgaa-Sutradhra, the Aparajitaprcch, the . ilparatna, the Mtinasara, the Vüvakarma-Vastzdastra, a good number of terms are found for all the branches of Architecture, sculpture and painting, forming the subject matter of my study. Further a good many terms, in the light of the new literature on the subject, have been dealt with from a new angle.

The Mãnasc’2ra study shows that its only last 20 chapters are devoted to the sculptural details which do not go beyond the idols of TrimUrti, the phallus and its altar, the female deities like Sarasvati, Sãvitri, Laksmi, Mahi, Mänonmani, Durga and Sapta-mikas and Jaina images, Buddha images, images of Sages, Yakas, Vidyãdharas, Bhaktas and the Vãhanas like Hainsa, Garua, Vtabha and Siñtha. But, in the later literature especially in the texts like Aprarãjita-pt’cch2 and Silpa-ratna, representing the two mediaeval schools of architecture and sculpture, the Nagara and the Drãvida, the iconography and sculpture underwent development centering round the principal sects like aivism, Vainavisni, ãktisna and the cult of Ganapati. Accordingly iconography grew very much and it is remarkably represented in the monuments also. Hence all this new material has been included in this work. The terminology pertaining to pictorial art and the art of mechanical contrivances, the Yantraghaana are altogether new introductions in the realm of contemporary terminological studies, though their traditions, canons and heritage have been ably dealt with by Dr. Raghavan and Dr. Shukia in their ‘Mecha nical contrivances in Ancient India’ and ‘if Indu Canons of Painting or Citralak’aam’ respectively.

Further the towns and forts were also built according to canons laid down in the texts. Some of the surviving ancient capitals and the forts are the representations in this respect. B. B. Datta in his monumental work 4Town-planning in Ancient India’ has dealt with this ancient wisdom. Since then a good many texts have come out and their study throws a good deal of new light on our Town-planning technique and towns of various sorts— vide the Samarnñgaw-Sutradhara, the Aparjitaprccha and the Vivakarma-VastuiJstra. Their evidence, as culled in our terminology, presents a fascinating reconstruction in the field of our city civilization. Thus as many as five principal branches of Indian Art and Architecture emerge, i. e., civil Architecture—common middle class residential houses and palaces for kings and nobles, including civil Engineering and Town-planning, Temple-architecture, Sculpture, Iconography and Painting.

In the mediaeval and later mediaeval period the exuberance of Indian art was predominantly temple-architecture and temple-sculpture. For example, we have so many Jãtis of Prãsädas and Vimänas in the texts. How are we to locate them? Where are the Nagara temples? To which region the Lãta, Vavala, BhUmija, etc. belong? We now know the ikharottamas of the North and Bhtimika Vimänas of the south, but a vast terminology of Präsdas and Vimänas has yet to be accounted for, and the details of their construction can be illustrated by reference to terms given in the said texts as well as in other sources, Similarly in the realm of sculpture and iconography—a host of images are to be correlated. E pictorial terminology can also be said to be represented in Temple-sculpture. A :‘ pioneering and notable lead has been given by Prof. Kramrisch, in her ‘Hindu Temple’ But there is a great scope for further studies, not only for bringing the terminology together And presenting a connected whole but also for pointing out still further fertile fields for :.further studies on our very rich artistic heritage.

I have made an attempt to study Hindu art with especial reference to terminology. Yet another aspect is that we should not be dogmatic with the literary terminology alone, the minology of temples and towns as has become of the monuments is also the subject matter o(tabulation. I have purposely refrained from giving any detailed account of the artistic culture India. The standpoints from which Hindus have viewed art, the scope of the present investigation and the method of the treatment of the terminology subject-wise and the sources :‘ii which it had been culled—all these have been dealt with in Introduction.

At places it seems that there are repetitions, which could not be avoided due to the equal importance given to all the principal texts forming the source of the terminology. For the sake of the convenience of the reader alphabetic Index of the more important terms and of Se texts have also been included. I also feel it my duty to acknowledge the debt of gratitude I owe to the eminent authors on Indian art, whose works have been studied. The special mention is due to Prof. Dr. Stella Kramrisch, Prof. K. B. Codrington and Sri Sivaramamurti who have given their learned opinions for this work. The inspiration came from my father, while I was just a graduate. There are no words to express the respectful affectionate gratitude that I owe to him for his keen interest and inspirations to see accompilshed this study. Research on such a branch of Indology is really a dedicated and devoted task, which could be accomplished only in the scholarly atmosphere of the Shukla.Kui and the loving care of the mother (the Departed Janani, the Real Mãta and the Divine our Ita-devata Bhagavati Durga) whose loving care has brought this day in my life to present this work before the learned world. I am conscious of my limitations and also of the limitations of this vast field. Still I have ventured to do my bit towards the presentation of the abundant material which despite care, could not be abridged. Lastly, I must acknowledge my thanks to Shri B. P. Mathur and his colleagues of department of Architectures Panjab University for their help in connection with the sketches and diagrams American. I am also indebted to my wife Rekha and my friend Satyendra for their time to time help for correcting the proofs, etc. In the end I am very much thankful to Shri Mohan Das and Bitthaldasji of Chowkhainba Sanskrit Series office, who have taken great pains in bringing out this work before the scholarly world.



The art in India was one of the most refined traits of civilization. This is what the Vatsyayana Kamasiutra proclaims with special reference to sixty-four arts and crafts, the Catuhsasti-kalas, the cultivation of which was enjoined in fashionable citizens as a daily routine. According to Yaodhara, the celebrated commentator on the Vatsyayana-Kãmasitra the sixty four arts are the basic arts which may be subdivided into five hundred eighteen. This shows how Indians were fond of arts. Some of the arts like music, dancing and painting may be termed as fine, others like carpentry, commercial and applied, and still others like Vãstu-vidyä as technical and practical. Some of the so-called arts mentioned in this list may be better called skills and social manners like make-up, puns and jokes. The list also includes medicine, mechanics, metallurgy and chemistry.

This view of Art as adopted by the Vatsyuyana-Kamasmra, is purely secular, and may be designated as social tradition of Arts. Besides there is also an aesthetic aspect. An interesting episode of these arts—the Catuhsasti-kalãs is that they are mentioned in many religious texts belonging to all the three principal religions. The srimadbhiigavata-Purana mentions these sixty four Kalãs in the schooling of Krsna and Balarãma. The Harivatha and Vizu-Puraza also give an honoured place to these Kalãs. Similarly the Uttarzdhyzyana-Sutra of the Jainas and the Buddhist work like La1itaVistara also mention some or most of these arts.

Thus the scope of this study becomes very wide and we have to investigate the relation of these sixty-four arts with those treated in the treatises dealing with Vãstu-sastra or Ilpa-ästra. Art is synonymous with Silpa or Kalä or more precisely with Silpa-kalã, which is the subject-matter primarily of the Silpa-sãstra or Västu. Sästra. The fact that only some arts are given prominence in Vãstu-Astra is due to their particular association with art and architecture. Alekhya (painting), Pratimãlã (Sculpture and Iconography—vide Jwagosvamin’s and Vallabhäcärya’s interpretation), Takana (Carpentry), Vastu-vidyã ( Architecture) and Yantramätrkä (Mechanical contrivances wrongly interpreted by Dr. P. K. Acharya as science of accidents)’ are treated in these texts, while others have been left out altogether. This is a very interesting episode in the cultural history of India. It shows that the utilitarian view of culture and civilization had the upper hand in shaping the art-history of our land. The use and disuse of these arts determine life and death of a culture and its refinement and, accordingly, a good many arts have altogether died out, and a few references can be found only in the classical writings and decoration, that is without sculpture and wood-carving, we had developed the four guilds or grades of architects—the Sthapati, Sntragrahin, Takaka and Vardhaki. Hence our Vãstu-ästra treatises not only describe the buildings but also icons and images which, in their turn are said not to be complete unless they are painted. Hence the subject matter of Indian Vstu.ãstra may be broadly classified under the following headings :—

The scope of the terminology, so far as the literature on the subject is concerned, is, very vast. Some indications have already been given regarding the texts from which this terminology is being culled. I may make some more observations on these texts below. These are only some of more important texts. There is a large number of such texts which can give more terms. Among these texts mention may be made of the Agamic texts like the Kamiki2gama and the Suprabhedagama and Puranas like Visnu, Agni, Markandeya and Silpa texts like, Agastya’s Sakaladhiklra, Kasyapa’s Si1pa and innumerable digests of the Jyotia and Pratihä classes which also deal with this side-branch of ritual. As architecture in India was not only a grand ritual but also a concrete metaphysics. The Hindu Temple, accordingly, is represented as the symbolic representation of the Cosmic-Purua, the Präsãdamurti which glows with this metaphysical implication all round. Hence in these texts a rich and varied terminology of temple architecture is the greatest contribution of Hindus in the realm of Art and Prof. Kramrisch has a unique distinction to bring their significance in her monumental work ‘Hindu Temple.’

Now a few words may be added on the angle of treatment. A study of the terminology of art and architecture must take a synthetic view, which can be accomplished only when it is a commentary on the monuments. Unfortunately this correlation is very difficult to establish in case of all the terms hence a few representative terms have been selected for its representation in the monuments which still survive ravages of time. In the tabulation of the terminology from the principal texts, which I have selected, the general terms have been expounded with details as well as critical analysis. Silpa-Sastras are very fond of giving a fascinating, symbolic and ornanientative varieties and sub-varieties of these general terms. Hence their tabulation is also included. Is it going to be Dictionary or Encyclopaedia like that of Dr. Acharya? I shall rather follow the old Hindu method treating terminology or diction subject wise. I hope it may emerge a glossary of art. The older method has been adhered to, in keeping with the requirements of the sudject. The plan of the terminology is put under five main headings. We have first to give an outline survey of both these fields of our inquiry that is, the scope of terminology and the literature and the scope of the art and architecture under purview with special reference to archaeological sources.

Now I come to mention something about the scope of terminology and the literature. The scope of the terminology in this study is comprehensive enough to cover practically All the branches of Indian art and architecture in the traditional sense. The most appropriate for art, in its broader sense is ilpa, though it is also rendered as KalA. In my view, includes all the arts both mechanical and fine, while the word KalA stands only for the fine Arts. Thus the scope of my study of Hindu art will be based on the scope of the original Sãstric texts expounding:




Dedication III
Opinion-Dr. Stella Kramrisch V
Opinion-Prof. K. B. Codrington and C. Sivarama murti VII
Preface IX
Introduction XVII
Abbreviations XXXIII
Acknowledgments XXXIV
List of Illustrations XXXV
Vastu in General 3
The scope and Literature 3
Sthapati and Sthapatya 30
Ancient India Engineering--General Principles 31
Ancient India Overseering 33
Preliminaries--Ritualistic 35
Village Towns and Forts 39
Origion and growth of Village and towns 41
Villages 42
Towns 47
Roads in a city 52
Public places and buildings 54
fortification 54
Forts 56
Civil Art and Architecture 61
Buildings in General types, etc. 63
Sala-buildings--the residential Houses 65
Establishments and Compnents of a house 71
The Door 74
The Pillar 79
Roofing of the house 83
The Planing and constructions 84
Construction of the Sala house Material 84
Examination of the trees 85
The fit trees to be selected 87
Cuting operating 87
Joinery 90
Masonry 92
Decpratopm amd Eqiopments of a house the house hold furniture 93
Decorative motifs prohibited in secular architecture 93
Other equipments 96
Defects of House Architecture 101
Defects in general 104
Defiects in pertaining to sit 104
Defects pertaining to inauspicious months and dates 104
Defects pertaining to orientaiton 104
Defects of planning 105
Defects of Marmans 105
Defective houses 105
Defects of Marmas 105
Defects in Planning of doors 106
Defects of joinery 106
Five fold marmas 106
General defects of the house 107
Palace Art and Architecture 109
Royal palace 112
Planning 113
Establishments and Compnents of a house 114
Accessory buildings 125
Stable for elephants 125
Stable for horses 126
Orientations, etc. 127
Royal chapel 128
Fountains and Showers 128
The music chamber 129
Place pleasures 129
The mechanical contrivances 129
The qualities of yantras 103
The functions of Yantras 130
The Pleasure machines 131
The domestic and defencive machines 132
The dhara yantra 132
Temple Arts and Architecture 135
Prasada Architecture 137
The Hindu temple theory 139
Planning of the Prasada 143
In relation to architectural members 146
Pithas in general 149
Pithas in particular Dravida 149
Parts of Nagara Pitha 150
Ornamentations 150
Rekhas 159
Chadya Prasadas 163
Vimana Architecture 168
Accessory buildings 184
Foundation, Masonry and Joinery 193
Style of temple Architecture 195
A note on Sikhara 204
Sculpture and Iconography 207
Classification of Brahminic Images 209
Icono-Planing and Icono-metry 210
Icono Plastic Art 212
Varieties of Images 213
Basis of portability 213
Basis as posture 213
Basis of sculpture 214
Basis as aesthetics 214
Symbolism in Hindu Art 214
The attitudes, poses and postures 214
The poses of the body 216
The postures of legs 216
Other mudras 216
Implements and other symbols 218
Drapery and decorations 219
Iconographical Aestheticism 221
Saiva-Images 223
Vaisnava-Images 233
Brahma and Trimurti Images 241
Surya-Adityas-Navagrahas and Dikpalas 243
Ganesa and Kartikeya Images 248
Devi-Images 252
Demi gods and Demons 259
Hindu Painting 267
Scope of Painting 269
Texts on the canons of painting 269
Elements of painting 269
Types of painting 269
Implements of painting 270
The differnet forms or models 270
The background or the canvas 271
Plasters and Ointments 271
Pictorial proportions 272
Pictorial iconometry 272
Paints and colours 272
Delineations 273
How to paint--Conventions in painting 275
The painter 275
Citradasana Citranidarsana 275
Appendix A  
Nagara Vasati-Folk-Planning according to Profession and Castes 277
Select Bibliography 279
Index of Important terms 283
A. Sketches I-XXXVII

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