From the Jacket:
Kalatattvakosa series of the IGNCA has endeavoured to evolve as 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. The present volume: Srsti Vistara is the fourth in the series. It contains the seminal terms which are complementary to the primal elements (mahabhuta) in the manifestation of cosmos. This volume deals with the terms: Indriya, dravya, dhatu, guna-dosa, adhibhuta-adhidaiva-adhyatma, sthula-suksma-para, srsti-sthiti-samhara.
Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan who has provided the conceptual framework to the whole project, is also General Editor of the series. Present volume has been edited by Advaitavadini Kaul and Sukumar Chattopadhyay. Besides the General Editor and the Editors, other contributors are: Prem Late Sharma, Saroja Bhate, L. M. Singh, Satkari Mukhopadhyaya, R. S. Bhattacharya, H. N. Chakravarty, S. K. Lal, Ratna Basu and Sanghamitra Basu.
"The project Kalatattvakosa is ambitious: it aims at replacing the major categories of Indian aesthetics and arts in their environment of Indian ness
The non-specialist who has no access to the Sanskrit encyclopedias and texts will find here easily a mine of useful quotations and the means of situating the aesthetic and artistic concepts in a general context." -Gerard Colas, CNRS, PARIS(Art Asistiques, Vol. XLV., 1990)
It is, in fact, a concerted efforts to change the face of Indian art history by providing an easier access to the intricacies of Sanskrit aesthetic terminology." -Michael Brand
Australian National Gallery (South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Vol. 12(2), 1989)
"The scholarship of the volume is impeccable. The range of quoted references is formidable and illuminating. For this alone the volume would be invaluable. It does also establish beyond any doubt the binding unity of spiritual experiences and underlying artistic conceptualization in the traditional arts of India." -Peter Malekin, Durham
(Temenos: A review devoted to the Arts of the Imagination, No. 11, 1990)
"The artistically got up and neatly printed book is of seminal importance and a veritable intellectual treat to lovers of Indian culture and will serve as an indispensable work of reference to all students of Indian Arts. The work indeed fulfills a long felt want and Indologists all the world over would keenly look forward to the publication of further volumes in the same series." -Krishna Deva
(J. I. S. O. A., Vol. XVIII & XIX, 1989-91)
"This is a very important reference and source book that any serious scholar would need to consult frequently." -N. Ramanathan
General Editor's Note:
Kalatattvakosa volume IV continues with the investigation of another group of key terms seminal to the Indian artistic traditions. As has been pointed out in my Forewords and General Editor's Notes of the respective volumes, this endeavour is an integral part of the IGNCA's commitment to explore the nature of the holistic system. The intellectual tools at our command are understandably limited on account of specialization in particular disciplines. What was and is an asset and an indispensable pre-requisite for multidisciplinary work can and has become a difficulty. Insularity of disciplines from each other in recent scholarship has been recognised by most serious scholars, many attempts have been made to cross boundaries. In the Indian context, the specific disciplines evolved from a unified vision and manifested themselves in a multiplicity which was contained within the periphery of a circle. The disciplines and specific concerns were thus segments of a circle, emerging from a centre and bonded by a circumference. What is true of the emergence of specific disciplines: Ayurveda, Vyakarana, Jyotisa, Ganita, Darsana, Itihasa, Purana, Vastu, Silpa, Sangita and Natya, is also true of the key concepts and terms selected for the Kalatattvakosa project.
The concepts and keywords included in the earlier volumes (Kalatattvakosa volumes I, II, III) clearly demonstrated the pervasiveness of the term, as also its capacity to acquire a distinctive specificity conditioned by the context of the particular discipline. Thus three movements are clearly discernible. The first is the glacial level of thought, this is initially articulated in the Vedas and elucidated in the Upanisads. At this level, the concepts and the terms, constitute the basis for developing a system of interpenetration as also establishing correspondences at the micro and macro level. The conjointedness of sarira and atma, brahman and atman, jivatma and paramatma and interpretation of bija and bindu, ap and agni bears this out. The second movement is the development of the concept within the larger ambience of the specific discipline, e.g. Vyakarana (grammar), Ayurveda (medicine), Jyotisa, Ganita (Astronomy, Mathematics), Darsana (philosophic schools) and the Vastu, Silpa, Natya (architecture, sculpture, dramaturgy). Besides etymology, there is an organic growth of the concept within the discipline. This is evident from a perusal of the journey of terms, such as prakrti, akasa, vayu, agni, jyotis, prakasa, ap, prthivi, included in volume III of the Kalatattvakosa. Here the movement is from the centre to the circumference but within the boundaries of its own segment. The third movement builds upon the first two particularly the establishment of correspondence, and that of taking cognizance of the levels of perception explored in the specific disciplines. The methodologies of the third movement are diverse. Some times a multilayered system is evolved, at other times 'codes' are established through a language of myth as in the Puranas. Plurality and flexibility of approaches characterises the third movement. Reversibility and transmutation are always possible.
Consequently no categories can be considered frozen or static. While a rough chronological graph can be drawn up, this can be misleading because like time itself, the terms make loops in meaning and are not restricted to a linear movement in an un-dimensional plane. An outstanding instance are the terms like prakrti, bija, bindu. Understandably in the absence of a comprehension of the system of a centre, circle, circumference, segments, and multi-dimensionality and frequent overlaying, there has been comment on the fuzzy ambiguity of the layers of meaning of the terms. The basic difference between this system and the others (we may even call them knowledge systems) is the recognition of fluidity and flux in one and fixed entities in the other.
These general remarks could only be made after a close investigation of the usage of the terms in a large corpus of primary source material in many domains, and a close perusal of the texts so far published in the twin project of the Kalamulasastra series of the IGNCA. There is now a basis for identifying (if not yet deducting all the principles) the contours of the Indian system.
The terms included in this volume are incontrovertible proof. The comprehensive term indriya includes sense organs, sense perceptions (motor sensory). It can be further broken up into smaller constituents. Six, eleven, twenty-two and more. Each corresponds to the primal elements, and has an inner and outer dimension. Other correspondences are established with the forms of nature and the mythic world of deities. The history of the development of the terms takes different shapes and contours in the Buddhist, Jaina streams, as also the diverse disciplines. The term is crucial for an understanding of the body, mind, self (soul) relationship. A mighty edifice of embodiment is created in the arts. The sensuous and the spiritual move in tandem. Multilayering and the interpenetration of the levels of the physical and non-physical (even metaphysical), the imperceptible and perceptible, the implicit and the explicit are guiding principles.
The terms dravya and dhatu strongly reinforce the view that the material and non-material are only two dimensions of a single entity. From their primary meanings to their etymologies and further growth and application in diverse contexts and disciplines it is clear that the terms are like seeds. Each seed gives rise to a particular tree with a trunk, braches leaves and flowers, each part distinctive but dependent for its life source on the latent potentialities of the seed. And yet they are interrelated as different trees of similar species.
The term guna along with its twin dosa is an instance of entwining or symbiosis which takes place at the very moment of initiation. The single strands of a rope entwined, they can be measured (counting in arithmetic) and yet are hard to separate one form the other. Extended to the sphere of mental constricts and states of consciousness, logically the term denotes attributes and qualities, which are ever present and equally inextricably interwined. The categories of tamas, rajas, sattva are neither insulated nor fixed. The inert can be ignited to activity and can reach evanescence. Contrarily the refined evanescent can become tangible and powerful and descend to dark inertness. A correspondence is established with the indriya sense perceptions and the dravya and dhatu and primal elements (mahabhutas). More, each singly and together can be gross or subtle. Alongside is the twin category of dosa also not insular or in direct opposition. There is immense possibility of guna becoming dosa and vice versa. The dynamics of reversibility of related categories is unambiguous.
It will be obvious from the above that none of these terms denote tangible, graspable materiality and physicality despite their being grounded in the latter. Also they are not just entities, they become indicators of processes and eventually systems of thought.
Common of these terms, as also the terms included in the previous volumes, are the key terms often in triads, which denote dimensions, levels and processes. The cluster of adhibhautika, adhidaivika and the adhyatmika allude both in spatial and temporal terms to the primal elemental materiality, non-materiality and the inner core self. The unsaid implicit relates to not only an object but to the subject. Not only the perceived but the perceiver. Again they are inter penetrative like the gunas. In turn the triad of the gunas interacts with that of the adhibhautika, adhidaivaka and adhyatmika. A distant correspondence can also be established between tamasika and adhibhautika, the rajasika and adhidaivika, and sattvika and adhyatmika.
The next triad of the sthula, suksma and para allows for the cognizance of levels of both the signified and the signifier. Grossness and subtlety is intrinsic to the material and the non-material. Object-subject, perception and idea-alike. The cluster also suggests movement and process in an ascending or descending order. The recognition of the para transcendental does not exclude the material and tangible. These are levels with a constant movement from one to the other. Thus there is a sthula (gross) and suksma (subtle) sarira (body). Again an edifice of gigantic structure of embodiment and disembodiment is created through the inter-connected terms. As elsewhere, the cluster is related to the preceding two.
All these together culminate conceptually to the most fundamental triad of srsti, sthiti and pralaya or samhara. Now the process and movement is given a central place. The essence is in the kinetics of origin, evolution and dissolution in an unending movement. The beginning is the end, the end is the beginning. Indian myth and art is the unequivocal articulation of the conception, of continuous movement, of change and of 'form' in an unceasing cycle. The countless myths and the consequent typologies of iconographical forms communicate through a visual, aural and kinetic design this dynamics. If the Nataraja encapsulates the myths, by collapsing the myth into an icon, the Durga puja the Mudiyettu convey the same through 'performance' in defined time. The making and unmaking of the Kalacakra mandala in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is analogous. Indeed the methodologies of evolving a ritualistic and/or artistic design to re-enact and re-create this movement of involution, evolution and dissolution are multiple. It ranges from the making and ultimate annihilation of the sala (enclosure) in the Vedic yajna or the immersion of the very image made, adored and worshipped or the desecration of the visual design (Mudiyettu, Kalacakra) or symbolizing it as through the iconographic form of the Nataraja. The terms permeate poetry of most Indian languages from the earliest to the latest. Two examples one from the prologue of Abhijnana Sakuntala by Kalidasa and the other from The Compositions of Muddusvami Dikshitar (pp. 414-415) in the 18th century will suffice.
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