Item Code: IDI645
by Sthapaka Niranjana Mahapatra, Bettina Baumer and Rajendra Prasad DasHardcover (Edition: 1994)
Indira Gandhi National Centre For The Arts New Delhi And Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: (Sanskrit Text Critically Edited with English Translation and Illustrations)
Size: 9.2"X 7.2
Pages: 271 (Black & White Illus: 35)
Weight of the Book: 855 gms
Price: $35.00 Shipping Free
The Silparatnakosa is a 7th century Orissan text composed by Sthapaka Niranjana Mahapatra, describing all the parts of the temple and the most important temple type of Orissa, such as the Manjusri and Khakara. It also contains a section on sculpture (Prasadamurti) and an appendix on image-making (Pratimalaksana). This text, though much later than the temples described, reflects the still living tradition and it contributes much to clarify the terminology of Orissan temple architecture. It contains interesting references to the symbolism of the temple and its elements. The most important contribution of this text, however, lies in the identification of the Manjusri temple with the Sricakra, which has helped the authors to re-identify the Rajarani temple at Bhubaneswar as a temple dedicated to Rajarajesvari in the form of a Sricakra.
The text ha been edited form three palmleaf MSS and translated with numerous illustrations (line-drawings and plates). The glossary adds to the usefulness of the book. This text is an important addition to the Silpa/Vastu literature published so far, and it will be very useful to all those interested in Orissan temple architecture.
About the Author
Dr. Bettina Baumer, an indologist from Austria, is living an working in Varanasi since 1967. at present she is Honorary Coordinator of IGNCA, Kalakosha Division, Varanasi, and Director of Research, Alice Boner Foundation for Fundamental Research in Indian Art. Her main fields of interest are Kashmir Saivism and Silpasastra of Orissa, as well as interreligious studies and comparative mysticism. She has published several books in German, (Upanisads, a selection from Abhinavagupta, etc.) and she is editor of Kalatattvakosa, a Lexicon of Fundamental Concepts of the Indian Art (Vol. I, 1988, Vol. II, 1992). Among the Silpasastras of Orissa she has edited the Vastusutra Upanisad (Motilal Banarsidass, 1982).
Prof. Rajendra Prasad Das is a noted archaeologist and historian of Orissa, and also a creative writer in Oriya. After serving in the Archaeological Survey of India he became Professor of History and Principal in several Colleges in Orissa. He served as Dy Director, Education, Government of Orissa. He is co-author of the important book by Alice Boner, New Light on the Sun Temple of Konarka (Varanasi, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1972). After his retirement he is engaged in the study on Orissan temple and Silpasastras.
The Silparatnakosa by Sthapaka Niranjana Mahapatra is the sixteenth in the series of Kalamulasastra. Although many Vastu texts are planned in this series, this is the first to be printed. It is hoped that in the course of the next year similar texts such as the Mayamata and Manasollasa will be published. Despite the fact that the Silparatnakosa is a late text attributed to the seventeenth century, it has an importance from different points of view. Its structure and contents differ significantly from the contents of other Orissan texts, particularly the Silpa Prakasa and the Silpasarini. Nevertheless, all these texts are distinctively Orissan in character. Besides, they belong to a Pan-Indian tradition in so far as the temple corresponds to the image of Man and that the ground plan and elevation concretize the concept of 'Purusa' on the micro and macro level. The Silpasarini develops the maharasasta pancaratha prasada on the geometrical motif of the square. The ground plans of most other Indian temples are also based on the geometrical motif of the square, circle or ellipse. The Silparatnakosa accepts the basic symbolical identification of the parts of the rekha temple to the body of the divine person (Purusa). However, the governing geometrical motif of the Manjusri type of temple is the Sriyantra. Logically. This type of temple is called Manjusri, both signifying the feminine principle and goddess Sri. Few Indian texts have given attention to the Manjusri type of temple plans built in the shape of the Sricakra, both ground plan and elevation. For this one reason alone, the Silparatnakosa assumes importance in the textual corpus of Indian architecture.
Divided into two sections on temple architecture and temple sculpture, the Silparatnakosa elaborates on the rekha type of temples and details the shape, size and measure of the different architectural members from the pitha to the kalasa. Of great interest is the detailed account of the placements of the naga and vyala motifs. This detailed account of the rekha prasada is followed by a lucid description of the Majusri type of temple. The author declares: "The Manjusri is a most beautiful variety of the rekha type of temple.
In Part II on Temple Sculpture the author is concerned with sculpture (Prasadamurti), an integral part of temple architecture. The programme of the placement of the figures is outlined, while pertinently dividing the images into those of worship (arca) and those for decoration (mandana). More significant is the classification of the images into avyakta and vyakta (unmanifest and manifest). It is only after the author has stated the broad classification that he dwells on the techniques of making images.
A perusal of this text is convincing proof of a distinctive Indian vision, a approach, methodology, and technique of not only architecture but also the other arts.
The visualiser, the composer and the sthapati accept a single basic grid at the level of macro or micro architecture, Purusa or Sakti serving as a model. He concretizes this vision through setting up a series of correspondences in theme, contents, and, most fundamental of all, a mathematical or geometrical shape and form which determines measure, be it in architecture, sculpture, drama, poetry, music or dance. The Silparatnakosa systematically establishes these correlations by accepting the Sriyantra as a basic design grid, imbues it with symbolic significance and then expands both the ground plan as also the elevation. The images on the outer walls o the temple as in the Rajarani Temple in Orissa are parts of a single vision where each image serves a geometrical or symbolical function in relation to the basic Yantra and is also a dramatis persona in a larger mythical choreography.
Between these two layers of an abstract geometrical paradigm and its manifestation through figurative art, as specific images, there are other layers. Con-currently, the temple is Purusa (as rekha prasada) and is also Manjusri, but it is also symbolic of the five elements (mahabhutas) as well as the three gunas. Thus the physical structure of the temple is a coordinate of multiple levels of consciousness almost like the staff lines of music notation. A reading of the text makes it clear that the system of establishing correspondences was sensitively understood and practised until the 7th century. This text is also important because it is codifying an existing tradition and an actual architectural practice rather than laying down guidelines or ground rules for the making of temples. Dr. Bettina Baumer's detailed analysis of the Rajarani temple as a Manjusri type of temple based on the Sricakra is therefore most welcome.
Bettina Baumer and Rajendra Prasad Das, who have so assiduously edited the text, have raised important questions regarding the nature of the textual tradition in regard to Sastras in the introduction. These issues assume a new validity in the context of the modern discourse, on what constitutes a text, whose text, and what text, and for whom? Medieval Indian writers of the Sastras may not have been participants to a modern discourse but they were certainly anticipators of this discourse. For them the text, specially the Sastra, was not prescriptive, fixed, nor was it theory, understood in its usual connotation. Instead it was indeed flexible and fluid, immutable in regard to certain guiding principles but with an inbuilt capacity for change, flexibility and varied interpretation. Thus the text and the practice interpenetrated and walked in and out of each other. The importance of the text (Sastra) is not as theory tendency to evaluate these texts merely on the basis of early or late therefore needs reconsideration. This is as true of Silparatnakosa and other text on architecture as it is of texts on Music published by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (especially the Brhaddesi). I hope that a careful reading of these carefully edited texts in the different arts will enable future art-historians to be aware of the deeper dynamics of the creative and critical discourse within the tradition.
I hope that the publication of this text will stimulate further discussion both on the particular text, on the terminology of Orissan temple architecture as also on many questions which the distinguished Editor has raised in her Introduction. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is grateful to her and Sri Rajendra Prasad Das for having undertaken to critically edit and translate this text.
|Foreword by Kapila Vatsyayan||vii|
|List of Illustrations||27|
|Silparatnakosa: Text and Translation||29-193|
|Part I : On Temple-Architecture||31|
|Part II: On Temple-Sculpture||170|
|List of Plates||227|