In her continuing quest, re-affirming the vision of India as an organic whole, Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan approaches the arts of Kerala both in their distinctive qualities and holistic dimension, which ideally represent the dynamics of Indian cultural processes. This monograph, based on the inaugural Parikshit Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr. Vatsyayan at the Government Sanskrit College, Tripunithura in August 1988, now reprinted, has been commended by many as remarkably rich in the variety of art forms it covers and the directions for future research it offers in the area.
Dr. Vatsyayan has had close association with South India, especially Tamil Nadu and Kerala. She has travelled the length and breadth of Kerala, often on foot, studying its art forms and visiting temples. The present volume is a result of this experience.
In this exploration, the author dwells on varied topics like the popular myths and the archetypal images of Bhagavati, Shiva and Bhima and their sociological connotations and various forms of oral, ritual and visual arts ranging from paintings, murals and sculptures to the performing arts belonging to the ) and classical traditions. She revisits these art forms, often termed as "little" and "great" traditions, and shows how performing art forms, like Kathakali and Krishnanattam, serve as a bridge between them.
Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan is a renowned art historian and a leading scholar and authority on classical Indian dance, art and culture. For over half a century, she has worked tirelessly to enhance the understanding and appreciation of India's cultural heritage.
She has been Secretary, Government of India, Member, UNESCO Executive Board, Member of Rajya Sabha and President, India International Centre. As adviser, administrator and policy maker in the Government of India for fifty years, she initiated many schemes and has been responsible for spearheading policy framework for programmers of art history, education, cultural awareness and Sanskrit, Buddhist and Pali Studies. Today recognized as one of the most important institution-builders in the country, she has been responsible for the establishment of many educational and cultural institutions such as: The Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath (now deemed University - Central University for Tibetan Studies); Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, New Delhi; School of Buddhist Studies, Leh, and many others. She is the conceiver and founder Academic Director of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi.
She has authored about 20 publications, each of which has broken new ground at the theoretical level, including Classical Indian Dance in Literature and the Arts and The Square and the Circle of the Indian Arts.
Dr. Vatsyayan holds a post-graduate degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi. She received her Ph.D. in Indology from the Banaras Hindu University. She has been conferred D. Litt. (Honoris Causa) by a number of Indian and foreign Universities.
Recipient of several awards and honors, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award, Talia Prize by International Association of Theatre Critics, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship and Lalit Ratna from Lalit Kala Akademi. She was elected foreign member of the French Academy of Asiatic Studies and Russian Academy of Science. Awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2011.
Kerala, the southern Indian state called Keralam in Malayalam, has been an immensely rich and complex cultural field; it is home to ancient communities, confluence of traditions and multiplicity of art forms. The co-existence of the written and the oral traditions, the rural and the urban, the theoretical and the practical, the visual and the performing arts and the inter-relationships therein present a fertile ground for holistic and multidisciplinary cultural studies.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has undertaken several significant studies on various aspects relating to arts, culture and communities in Kerala in the past twenty five years. Textual studies done under the Kala Kosa division as well as contextual studies mapping the inter-relationship of the social, economic, artistic, devotional and environmental aspects surrounding major cultural centers in Kerala, done under the Kshetra Sampada programme and oral traditions and lifestyles of communities done under the Loka Parampara programmed of the Janapada Sampada division have generated a rich data base for research on Kerala.
The Arts of Kerala Kshetram, authored by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, encapsulates the fundamental principles of cultural constitution of the region in particular, and expounds a theoretical framework for the understanding of regional cultures of India, in general. Kshetram, a conceptual term developed by Dr. Vatsyayan, has been used here in the widest sense to provide a paradigm for the study of regional cultural fields; it envisages the study of distinctive parts in their relationship of inter-connectedness and symbiosis with the whole. Totality of vision and diversity of forms go hand in hand, making this an ever-expanding field of enquiry.
This monograph, originally delivered as the inaugural Parikshit Memorial Lecture by Dr. Vatsyayan at the Sree Rama Varma Sanskrit College, Tripunithura in August 1988, has been commended by many as remarkably rich in the variety of art forms it covers and the directions for future research it offers. It is important to note here that it was at a time when South India was being re-discovered by Indologists and Historians that The Arts of Kerala Kshetram was first brought out in the book form by the Sanskrit College, Tripunithura in 1989. IGNCA is now bringing out the second edition with a new introduction, making it accessible to a wider readership.
We express our gratitude to Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan for her support and encouragement. We wish to record here our gratitude to Government Sanskrit College, Tripunithura, Kerala, Prof. K.G Paulose, the editor of the first edition of The Arts of Kerala Kshetram, Prof. Omchery N.N Pillai who wrote a well-studied introduction to the present edition, Shri. S. Sreekumar for photographs and Archaeological Survey of India. We are grateful to Smt. Dipali Khanna, former Member Secretary, IGNCA, Shri. R Nandakumar, Art Historian, and Shri. N.H. Ramachandran, Asia Project, IIC for their support in bringing out this book.
Thanks are also due to colleagues at IGNCA, Dr. Molly Kaushal, Professor and Head, Janapada Sampada Division, Dr. Sreekala Sivasankaran, Associate Professor, Janapada Sampada Division, Dr. Ramakar Pant, Assistant Professor, Janapada Sampada Division, Dr. Advaitavadini Kaul, Chief Editor and Ms. Manola K. Gayatri, Project Assistant.
We express our appreciation and gratitude to our co-publisher, Gyan Publishing House for bringing this book out in a time-bound manner.
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