Kalatattvakosa series of the IGNCA has endeavoured to evolve an important modern device to grasp the essential thought and knowledge system of the Indian tradition. Through an indepth investigation into the primary sources of various disciplines, the series aims at facilitating the reader to comprehend the interlocking of different disciplines. In this volume seminal terms of space and time : Desa/kala have been included. The terms have been scanned through a very wide spectrum of texts drawn from the fields of metaphysics to science and the arts. The essays enable the reader to comprehend the multi-layered meanings of the concepts in different contexts. This volume contains the following terms: bindu, nabhi, cakra, ksetra, loka, desa, kala, ksana, krama, sandhi, sutra, tala, mana, laya, sunya and purna.
Edited by Bettina Baumer, a renowned scholar on Kashmir Saivism and Silpasastra, the contributors include : A. N. Balslev, Saroja Bhate, H. N. Chakravarty, S. Chattopaddhyay, Bruno Dagens, Vidya Niwas Misra, G. C. Pande, L. Rowell, S. R. Sarma, B. N. Saraswati, D. B. Sensharma, Prem Lata Sharma, Frits Staal, R. Tripathi and Kapila Vatsyayan. The latter has also provided the conceptual framework to the series.
It was with both optimism as also apprehension that the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts had released the First Volume of the Kalatattvakosa. In the Foreword to the First Volume I had given the rationale behind launching a programme of a multi-volumed publication which would serve as a lexicon for comprehending the complexities of meaning of certain fundamental terms which are pervasive in all disciplines and are crucial for understanding the Indian artistic traditions.
The vision and guidance of Tarkatirtha Laxmanj Shastri Joshi with his monumental scholarship and access to primary sources, his perceptivity and wisdom had made it possible to agree upon an approximately 250 such term. In these four years, the nature of the undertaking has expanded: the bija that was sown at the meeting held in Sarnath has already begun to sprout and the bindu is expanding to a series of concentric circles. It was our endeavour to place the results of this exploration before scholars in the first volume. The terms had been chosen on account of their pervasiveness, universality, their multilayered meanings and the central position they occupy in intellectual discourse of all disciplines of the Indian tradition. As has been remarked by the Editor in her Introduction, this Volume was received with enthusiasm and naturally, some criticism by the international community. She has taken into account all criticisms and suggestions received. In her Introduction Bettina Baumer has explained the methodology, the selection of the primary sources, the terms, their groupings, and sub-groupings within the larger category of space and time. There is little for me to add on the primary sources, the reasons for restricting them to Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit and the decision to concentrate the presentations in order to reveal the interlocking and interpenetrative system rather attempt "challenging interpretative essays".
It remains for me to place this project of the Kalatattvakosa in the larger context of the programmes of research, publications, exhibitions, seminars and performances of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. In all its programmes the Institution has endeavoured to focus attention and throw light on the distinctively Indian interdisciplinary and holistic system where the textual and the oral, the verbal and the visual, the scientific and the metaphysical, the transcendental and the functional were and are parts of a 'whole'. They are segments of a single circle closely interlocked, and not autonomous units to be viewed as aggregation or as polarities in a linear order. Also, the Centre's emphasis is on comprehending the Arts not as finished products but to view them against the background of an Indian world-view, within a socio-cultural context and interdisciplinary system of form and technique and a creative process where the ideational and the functional, the sacred and the secular, vision and skill merge. Further, each of the programmes aim to bridge the recent artificially created 'schisms' between theory (sastra), the prescriptive and the practical application (prayoga). With a view to concretize this approach, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has endeavoured to initiate a number of complementary programmes around related concepts. In this context notions of space and time (akasa and kala) have been the first concerns of the search. Four years ago, a Seminar on "CONCEPTS OF SPACE" (AKASA) was held. Here, although the Sanskrit term akasa was used, the exploration was neither restricted to Sanskrit and Pali sources nor to verbal articulation in ancient texts. So also it was with the Seminar on "TIME" (KALA) which was held in 1990. Here, the notions of 'Time' were explored through all cultures and disciplines. In each case, there was confluence of those who had viewed the universe as 'matter' and 'physical space and time' as also others who comprehended the notions at the metaphysical level and as inner psychical states. There were no boundaries of the disciplines, cultures, civilizations and the Arts. In the Kalatattvakosa the boundaries of our endeavour have been clearly demarcated by the terms intrinsic to one tradition and as elucidated in primary texts.
Further, the two Seminars were complemented with exhibitions where notions of Space and Time were explored visually and orally as primordial stillness and as exploration leading to the expanse of the galaxies in on case and silence of the void, in the other. The exhibitions were multimedia presentations for evoking experience of a 'totality' which is here and now, not forgetting civilizations past and the worlds dead or telescoped of astrophysics and of a new science. Judging from the response, the prayoga was complete as it had utilised the tools of intellectual discourse and artistic manifestation to re-evoke experience. Also, many other publications were released, in particular: 'Concepts of Space'; 'Time and Eternity'; 'Time and Eternal Change'; 'Srsti: Its Philosophical Entailment'; 'Temporality and Logical Structure'. Notwithstanding this larger context, the necessity, one may add sadhana and svadhyaya of investigating each tradition and each discipline in its own terms as an essential prerequisite is obvious. This is what this volume of the Kalatattvakosa has sought to do.
The perseverance, diligence, co-ordinating skills of sifting through hundreds of cards along with perceptions and sensitivity of the Editor and her dedicated team is exemplary. For all this I am grateful. I am now more hopeful that this approach as also structure will mark the beginning of a different method of viewing and comprehending the Indian tradition.
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