Glimpses of Art, Architecture and Buddhist Literature in Ancient India

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Item Code: IDE050
Author: K. Krishna Murthy
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9788170172260
Pages: 190 (B & W Illus: 9, Figures: 7)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5" X 7.3"
Weight 500 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket:


The glimpses of art, architecture and culture of ancient India are alluring and multi-faceted. It is the complex of ideas, perceptions and developed aesthetics that exist generally in Indian culture. Schematically presented, they build up in retrospect picturesque panorama of Indian culture of the past days. The present book embodies selective research papers of Dr. Krishna Murthy diversifying various aspects of the subject, written with wonted scholarship and sensitivity. Dr. Krishna Murthy has admirably discussed in this book many fascinating topics of varied interests. For this, the author has divided the book into three major sections, namely, art, architecture and literature. He has brilliantly examined the interesting subjects like Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Hariti, Dasaratha Jataka etc. The topics on coiffures, musical instruments like lyre, Sambuca, Andhra dance tradition are the telling examples of the gay and sportive days of India's past. Similarly, the discussion on Buddhist and Hindu shrines forms the highlight of the study. The section on literature mainly dealing with Buddhist religious literature throws ample light on the activities and sects of Buddhism in South India in its heydays.

This volume is the outcome of Dr. Krishna Murthy's three decades of persevered industry and indefatigable research. This book is bound to be an authoritative, major indological tome for lovers of art and indology alike.


About the Author:


Dr. K. Krishna Murthy, M.A., Ph.D., D. Litt., born at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh is associated with many Royal Societies in London - an honour which only a few Indians enjoy. He was elected in 1972 as Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society at Great Britain and Ireland (F.R.A.S.)

In 1985 he was elected as a Member of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs in London (M.R.A.A.). In the Same year he was elected as a Member of Royal Archaeological Institute in London (M.R.A.I.). He has authored several book sand published about 100 research papers in journals of international repute. He has been associated with the Archaeological Survey of India in various capacities since 1954 and is credited with several archaeological excavations. He is a prolific writer, his forte being the material culture of ancient India in its several epochs. He is known for his scholarship and sensitivity, has brought out a series of treatises on Indian Art and Culture and his books are widely acclaimed.




This book embodies my selective research papers on the subject. The diverse topics in the book reflect intensely the schematic presentation of the subject lending latitude for building up a picturesque panorama of Indian culture in retrospect. For the compact summation of this study, I have pieced together some of my research papers which have appeared in different journals and periodicals from time to time. Substantial information on schools and sects of Buddhism has been drawn from Shri A.C. Banerjee’s paper in the anthology, 2500 Years of Buddhism.

I am grateful to many of my colleagues for the help rendered by them in various ways in the preparation of this book. I specially thank Shri A.V. Balakrishna Murthy, Head Clerk, Archaeological Survey of India, Temple Survey Project, Madras, who has typed the manuscript neatly. Sarvashri M. Theagarajan and S. Ashok Kumar, Photographers, Archaeological Survey of India, Temple Survey Project, Madras, prepared the illustrations included in this book. I wish to express my thanks to them. The illustrations published in this book are by the courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India.

My thanks are due to Shri Shakti Malik, Abhinav Publications for the elegant printing of this book within a short time.




The present book embodies chapters on different aspects of Indian art, architecture and literature with special reference to the role played by Buddhism. Schematically presented these chapters formulate in retrospect the picturesque panorama of the Indian culture that flourished in the bygone ages.

The stone image of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara discovered in the vicinity of Ramathirtham in the Prakasam district is important in many ways. This exuberantly ornamented sculpture of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara helps in dating the sculpture to the second century A.D. on stylistic grounds besides divulging the inconographic traits of the icon. The discovery of this image clearly shows that Buddhism had adopted the form of Mahayana as early as in the second century A.D. itself. This sculpture becomes the earliest form available of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

In the chapter on ‘Dasaratha Jataka’ it has been explained that the sculptor was very meticulous in giving the lithographic dileneation of the Dasaratha Jataka. The portrayal is very realistic and true to me details envisaged in the Jataka.

Following this, there is an interesting discussion on Hariti and re-identification of a sculpture as a Hariti which was earlier taken to be a local Hindu goddess, the Palakamma. Of the Buddhist Vajrayana pantheon, Hariti occupies an important place. Though the sources of information in regard to Hariti worship were widely prevalent in India, a few idols of that goddess are available at present. One such is me idol of Hariti at Bojjannakonda in the village Sankaram. But earlier scholars identified it as the local goddess Palakamma. The close study of the idol by the present author revealed it to be the idol of Hariti. The idiom and the iconographic traits of the sculpture ascribe it to the fourth century A.D. There are many legends concerning Hariti. The Samyuktavastu gives the story of Hariti in great detail. Hariti became popular in India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Java and Turkistan. She has been described also in Tibetan Sadhana.

Apart from this idol of Hariti, in Andhra it is also reported that a temple of Hariti has been excavated at Nagarjunakonda which is ascribed to the fourth century A.D.

In the chapter on ‘The Great Decease (Death) of the Buddha’ the events that led to the Nirvana of Lord Buddha are discussed. The event of Buddha Nirvana is depicted in stone and paintings which are full of life. Though the iconographic details have differed from age to age, there has been no variation in the essential elements of the event itself. The Buddhist centres like Barhut, Sanchi, Kushinara, Sarnath, etc., offer the sculptures wherein this scene is depicted with more iconographic details. The Buddha Nirvana portrayed in the reliefs from Natthu near Sanghao, Loriyan Tangai, Kafarkoi (Swat Valley) are superb. Again the original Tibetan and Japanese paintings (now preserved in Berlin Museum) revealing Buddha Nirvana are unique.

Beautification of hair is inherent in human nature. The hair-styles like curly hair peacock plume mode (Barhabhara kesa), Jatabhara-sikhanda, Sikhanda, Kesapasa, Praveni, Dhamilla were all known to the people of the Satavahana period. The Amaravati sculptor had immortalized the dhamilla hair-style, which was greatly admired and favoured during the Satavahana period. To a large extent, the contemporary Indian literature corroborates the sculptural depictions of the hair-styles found at Amaravati. What is interesting is that some of the coiffures like bun and curly hair appear to be of foreign introduction. The curly hair could have been introduced by Romans during Satavahana period. Many of the hair-styles like pony tail, praveni, dhamilla have survived even to this day.

From times immemorial, Andhras haxe been known, among other things, for their love for art. There is evidence to believe that the Andhras had developed over centuries a school of dance independent of the traditions of Bharata. In fact, the Andhra theatre pre-dates Bharata’s monumental work, Natya Sastra. That there were traditions of dance in Andhra quite different from those of Bharata is quite evident from the sculptural delineations of dance such as those in Amaravati, Goli, Nagarjunakonda, etc. At Nagarjunakonda a ranga mandapa datable to the third century A.D. with all its accessories such as the stage, the green room, etc., pre-dating Bharata at least by one century was exposed during the excavation. It becomes the earliest known structural evidence of the Andhra theatre in the country. The existence of such a building could have been a strong patronage for a regionally established tradition of dance and drama. The Satavahanas and the Ikshvakus were the lovers of music, dance and drama as is evident from the frequent sculptural representations of the musical instruments like vina, mridanga, mardala, muraja, Ghana, etc.

The musical instrument lyre gets its sculptural representation only in the Gandhara reliefs. This instrument, in all probability was introduced to the Gandharas during the Hellenistic period since the specimen noticed in the Gandhara sculptures betray unmistakable Hellenistic influence.

Sambuca is again a musical instrument that gets sculptural representation only in the Gandhara sculptures. It was introduced to the Gandhars in the Hellenistic period in the first century A.D. However one can see the prototype of Sambuca in the Babylonian civilization. In the Babylonian example one can see the forerunner of Sambuca represented in the Gandhara sculptures.

The conveyances known to the Gandharas were many and included both the means of transport, namely, the land and water. The land transport comprised of beasts of burden such as horses, elephants, camels and rams as also wheeled vehicles like carts, carriages and wagons. Among the beasts of burden used as a mode of transport the horse was important. Horse-riding appeared to be very popular among the Gandharas. The elephants always remained a symbol of sovereignty as they were mostly favoured by the kings in ancient times. The carts were used for short journeys or joy rides and chariots were used for royal processions and wars. The bullock cart Go-ratha) is perhaps the oldest and commonest wheeled vehicle known in India as also to the Gandharas. One can see the continuation of the basic form of the bullock cart through all the phases of Indian art. The chariots found in the Gandhara reliefs have similarities to those in Sanchi, Bodhgaya and the chariot depicted in Ramesses III an Thebes.

Although the Gandhara reliefs do not depict any boat or other as a means of water transport, the depiction of sea or river in one of the panels with broad-bladed boat-paddle indirectly establishes the presence of a boat in the Gandhara region.

The section under ‘Architecture’ comprises live chapters covering varied aspects of Indian architecture. In the chapter ‘Stupa at Kalingapatnam’ it is revealed that as a result of the excavation a Hinayana period stupa was exposed at Kalingapatnam in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. The excavation has brought to light a gigantic Buddhist stupa with all its structural components. The plan of the stupa followed at Kalingapatnam is that it has three concentric circles interconnected with intermediary spokes which in turn issue from the central square hub. The stupa has the vestiges of the ayaka platforms. The early Buddhist stupa of first century A.D. had its heydays up to seventh—eighth century A.D. During this period, this Buddhist centre ought to have served as a link between the northern and southern Buddhism through Orissa.

A Buddhist supta mound discovered on the banks of the river Krishna, 1.5 km. down stream from Amaravati towards Vaikuntapuram has yielded rouletted ware and celadon ware, besides other pottery like red ware, black-and-red ware, etc.

Andhra Pradesh is the land of temples. It is dotted with innumerable Brahmanical apsidal temples. The origin of the plan of this style of architecture is perhaps to be seen in the elementary abodes of huts of the Aryans. From these primitive practical expedients did Indian architecture evolve from the free standing huts, circular or apsidal, the Buddhist rock-cut caitya halls, and the range of Hindu temples, square, round or apsidal. The Brahmanical apsidal shrines had contemporaneity with Buddhist shrines or Buddhist associations or the very Buddhist edifices were made use of in the construction of the Brahmanical apsidal shrines.

The temple at Srisailam is one of the renowned Saiva centres. There are a good number of legends connected with the name of the place. The main temple of Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba is a massive stracture with gopuras. The plan of the temple is elaborate. The main shrine of Mallikarjuna consists of a garbhagrha, a narrow antarala or ardhamandapa preceded by mukhamandapa. The vimana which rises on the main cell is in stepped pyramidal shape. The sikhara is four-sided belonging to Nagara order. The temple walls are exuberantly carved with the figures of gods and goddesses.

The temples at Mukhalingam, namely, Madhukeswara, Bhimeswara and Someswara are magnificent and remain a living testimony to its past glory. Judging from the stylistic, aesthetic and epigraphi-cal evidences, Madhukeswara temple can be assigned to the eighth- ` tenth century A.D. The Bhimeswara temples can be dated to eleventh century .4.1). and the Someswara temple could have been built in the middle of the eleventh century A.D.




  List of Illustrations vi
  Preface vii
  Introduction ix
1. Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. 1
2. Dasarath Jataka: A Stone Page of Artistic Sculpturing. 5
3. Hariti 10
4. The Great Decease (Death) of the Buddha 13
5. Coiffures. 17
6. Andhra Dance and Drama Tradition. 27
7. Lyre in Sculpture. 30
8. Sambuca, the Musical Instrument. 35
9. Gandhara Conveyances. 38
10. Stupa at Kalingapatnam. 51
11. Ancient Buddhist Stupa Mound Near Amaravati. 53
12. Early Brahmanical Apsidal Shrines in Andhra 55
13. Temples of Srisailam 58
14. Temples of Mukhalingam 65
15. Principal Schools and Sects of Buddhism. 75
16. Buddhist Centres in South India. 90
17. Tamil Literature by Buddhist Authors. 100
18. Eminent Buddhist Teachers of South India. 105
19. Prominent Buddhist Converts. 116
20. Formation of the Order of Nuns. 128
21. Women Personalities in Indian Buddhism. 131
22. Famous Dancing Girls and Courtesans of the Buddhist Period 159
  Selective Bibliography 164
  Glossary 169
  Index 172


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