Brahmanical Art and Iconography (Studies in Skanda Purana Part IV)

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About the Book The present work deals with architecture, sculpture, painting, drama and music (Section I) and iconography (Section II) based on the gleanings from the Skanda Purfna. The biography of Visvakarma determines the scope of ancient Indian art. It discusses three styles of temple-architecture viz, Nagara, Dravida and Vesara (Kesara). Somanatha temple was built on a definite style of temple architecture styled Kesara (cf. Kesaryadi Sandhara Prasadah of Aparajita-precha). It was...
About the Book

The present work deals with architecture, sculpture, painting, drama and music (Section I) and iconography (Section II) based on the gleanings from the Skanda Purfna. The biography of Visvakarma determines the scope of ancient Indian art.

It discusses three styles of temple-architecture viz, Nagara, Dravida and Vesara (Kesara). Somanatha temple was built on a definite style of temple architecture styled Kesara (cf. Kesaryadi Sandhara Prasadah of Aparajita-precha). It was a temple-group of 25 temples. Texts have been quoted for the perusal of the scholars.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

Introduction

Bowing low to the Goddess of the Purana-vidya-Puranamurtih Punyanga Sastramurtir mahonnata—an humble being like myself proceeds to offer his kusumanjali to Kala-devi.

People seek happiness; but true and eternal happiness lies in H's vision. Temples or shrines had plaved unique role in the life of this sacred country. With the development of mind and vision His shrines had been assuming new form and features. The shrine which has to instil peace and piety, happiness and heavenly bliss in the minds and hearts of those who seek it in viSualising them must be beautiful. Thus the idea of beauty, grace and charm is the primary function of art.

There are some mithuna-scenes portrayed on the exterior of the temples and these scenes have baffled modern art-critics. But these scenes stimulate spiritual quest for which this human body has been bestowed upon us all. Those who have obtained this human body in this world of mortals, should not give themselves up to the enjoyments of ultimately painful worldly pleasures that are partaken of by pigs and other animals. Tapa alone leads te the eternal felicity of Brahma. It purifies mind which inspires our body to devote itself to the service of Vasudeva. Union between man and woman (mithunibhavam) leads to heart-knots (granthin hrdayyan) and-it also produces the idea of ego such as ‘I’ and ‘‘mine’’ and ultimately, in consequence, there of arises the bond of fascination for house, field, wealth and sons. It is for this reason that the mithuna-scenes found on the temples assert that the union with females is not conducive to real happiness, rather it produces a mental stupefaction and leads ultimately to pain and misery. When the mind desists from the attachment towards females, then renunciation follows and then, here, in the precincts of temples the company of sages is the gateway to final liberation from the bonds of birth and death. Even the Besnager Pillar inscription of Heliodoros asserts that the ladder of three steps viz., dama, tyaga and apramada leads ustoheaven. Hence shrines and sages there have been urging human beings to strive for the realisation of human bliss. Thus these mithuna - scenes maintain:

Now let us think of the word kala which denotes art in its general sense. Kam lati iti kala i.e. that which brings (eternal) happiness is known as kala(Kam means sukhain or Brahmanandam- cf., Chandogya Upanisad, IV. 10.5 and Sainkara’s commentary on it.) This is the @tyantika - sukham or eternal happiness (cf., Gita VI. 21-28), which dawns only when a human being is free from the pain of birth, decay and death.

Prof. Stella Kramerisch observes that "Art conduces to fulfilling the aims of life whose ultimate aim is Release (cf. Visnu- dharmottaram, Lil. 43. 38; LI. 2. 1-2)."’ She adds: "Art is one means of attainig this aim’?! The Bhagavata Purana dealing with the devotion of Ambarisa observes that his eyes were engaged only in seeing the symbols of Hari (mukunda-lingalaya darSane dréau)?. Here Mukunda-lingalaya represents a shrine or a temple dedicated to Visnu. If the eyes or the vision has to be concentrated upon it, it was the duty of the artist to make it most beautiful. It is for this reason that the entire temple was permeated with the presence of divinty; for the symbolic representations of the God (lingani Visnor)? must be gifted with the divine beauty and grace as (tad gatram vastusaranam saubhagasya ca bhajanam).

While dealing with the Puranas Dr. P. K. Acharya observes : 4 Puranas generally deal with the subject of architecture in greater detail...............casual references are frequently found in all the nineteen Puranas. Some nine Puranas have, however, treated the subject more Systematically, and have contributed to the later SilpaSastras themselves. The Skanda P. has devoted three chapters to the subject. One of these refers to the laying out of a large city. In another, mention is made of the construction of golden hall and three chariots, and the names of the architects are added........ Sculpture is associated with architecture; but painting 2 is hardly mentioned in these works. "(HAIA., pp. 80—81). But Skanda gives us something more than this its contribution to art and iconography is unique unnoticied by any modern scholar.

In the present work most of the information relating to architecture, sculpture, painting, fine-arts—Section one (Dance, Drama and Music), as well as data relating to Brahmanical iconography Section two is based on the gleanings from the voluminous text of the Skanda Purana.

The biography of Visvakarma,mentioned here, throws valuable light on the nature and scope of ancient Indian art. Evolution of architecture from the tree-stage of dweliing-houses in the prehistoric age to the well built structures of the historic period reflects upon the different Stages of architecture represented by the different types of material — wood, clay, bricks and stone- employed in the construction of different Structures.

The Skanda Purana refers to the construction of beautiful ° temples built of clay, wood, bricks and stone :

But we have not found so far any temple built of clay. Wooden temples are found in the Himalyan region. "One of the most valuable contribution of the Skanda Purana ° is the picture of Somanatha temple complex comprising twentyfive temples. This list of twentyfive temples has preserved the plan and design of the celebrated shrine of Somanatha. It became a model for future architects so much so that immediately after the sack of Somanatha by Mahmud of Ghazna, Paramara emperor, | Bhoja re-erected these twentyfive temples on the same plan. He incorporated these temples in his monumental work, Samarangana Sutradhara (Chap. LVI. g—21, 115—255) descrihing their archi- tectural features which are not mentioned in the Skanda Purana. Dr. D. N. Shukla working on the archivecture of the Samarangana Sutradhara has handled the text and its contents most carelessly totally neglecting this group of temples, which assumed its new nomenclature — Kesaryadi Sandhara Prasadah-in the age of the Aparajita Precha. We have given the text of these temples found in the Skanda Purana and their comparative study with the help of Visnudharmottara (LIT, Chap. 86) and the Hindu Temple (2 Vols. by Dr. Stella Kramrisch). We have also reproduced texts from the Samarangana Sutradhara and Aparajita Precha with their characteristic features. The space here does not permit me to dea! with these architectural features which require a separat volume.

The Garuda and the Agni Puranas mention the classification of fortyfive temples on the basis of their ground-plan (caturasra, yrtta, vrttayata etc). This classification was also knwn to the Harivamsa Purana. Later on further classification was based on the sgathana , ‘qkara’, and ‘mana’ the shapes and measurements of the temples.

But with the evolution of Sikharas different varieties of temples were set UP and the three-flold classification of temples into Nagara, Dravida and Vesara (Kesara) is primarily based on the shape of the Sikharas in addition to the other architectural features. Of the eight types of temples (Nagara, Chandaka, Dravida, Misraka, Vimana, Bhumija, Sandhara, Varata, and Latina, Ap. Pr. CII. 1—2), the Sandhara type was changed to Kesaryadi Sandhara group of twentyfive temple. Hence Kesar- yadi group is the same as Kesara type of temples.

The Sikharas of the Kesara type of temples resemble the kesaras of a Padma around its karnika or the Kesaracalas — the mountains surrounding the Meru. The temples with their Even today we find Kesara type of temples in the different parts of Lucknow which contains some important antiquities associated with the Gupta art and among these the image of the Makara-Vahini Ganga anda Mukhaliiga-shrine may be mentioned as important relics of the past.

It is not fair to say, as is held by Dr. Acharya, that "The styles Nagara, Vesara, and Dravida.........purely architectural divisions, are not taken into consideration in the non architectural treatises like the Puranas.........°" (E. H. A., P- 356). The Linga Purana has mentioned them.

Data from the Skanda Purana relating to sculpture, painting and music, is important. Puranic themes had inspired the artists in the Hindu Medieval India as is reflected in the sculptures of the principal deity enshrished in Garbhagrha, artistc were expected to portary the Puranaic scenes and themes like ciraharanam, Rama-Ravana war, and Dagavataras etc. (G.S., IX. 6. 12-22.)

SECTION Il

Section II is devoted to the study of the iconographic data collected from the oceanic text of the Skanda Purana. This is very important for the study of Brahmanical Iconography Among a few students and scholars who choose Lconography as the field of their study there are few who have devoted themselves to the study of the Puranas from this point of view. Gopinath Rao utilised Puranic data for the purpose. Dr. J. N. Banerjea, the great scholar, pointed out the importance of the Puranas for the purpose (cf. Introduction to his 2nd. Edn. of DHI). Despite their importance Pnranas have not been assessed. In the present work I have discussed iconographic data mainly from the Skanda Purana.

Illustration of every image in the extant sculptures or by means of drawings and sketches is not possible. If He so desires and my health permits I feel an urge to fulfil it in the next work based On the study of all the Mahapuranas — an : onerous task.

Scholars engaged in this branch of Indology would find much valuable material unnoticed so for. With saluations to Bharati Hamsavahini I submit to the will of the God (Bible asserts : Acknowledge Him in all thy ways and He will direct thy path), and so also I offer my salutations to my spiritual teacher, Late prof. Akshaya Kumar Banerjea (of Dacca and Gorakhpur): Guru.

**Contents and Sample Pages**




















Item Code: NZW741 Author: A.B.L. Awasthi Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 1976 Publisher: Kailash Prakashan, Lucknow Language: ENGLISH & SANSKRIT Size: 9.50 X 6.50 inch Pages: 280 (22 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.54 Kg
Price: $35.00
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