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Kalatattvakosa Vol. V: (A Lexicon of Fundamental Concepts of the Indian Arts, Form/Shape Akara/Akrti)

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Kalatattvakosa Vol. V: (A Lexicon of Fundamental Concepts of the Indian Arts, Form/Shape Akara/Akrti)
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Item Code: IDJ494
Author: Ramesh Chandra Sharma
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 8120819179
Pages: 507 (Black & White Illus: 28)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.9" X 7.5"
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: Akara/Akrti : Form/Shape is the fifth in the series. It is the manifestation of the vicaragni (fire of thoughts) kindled by the earlier seers and continued by later thinkers that highlights a number of visual art forms. The form or shape remains the basic element despite its multiple representations and their explanations. The study reveals a vast and interesting scope for further studies in the subject. The volume deal with ten articles: rekha, akara-akrti, rupa-pratirupa, sakala-niskala, arca, murti, pratima-pratikrti, vigraha, bandha-prabandha and prasada.

Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, former Academic Director of IGNCA has provided the conceptual framework to the whole project. Prof. Ramesh Chandra Sharma, a renowned art historian and archaeologist, is the editor of this volume. Besides the editor, other contributors are; Bettina Baumer, R. N. Mishra, V. N. Misra, P. K. Agrawala, Prem Lata Sharma, R. Nagaswamy and Krishna Deva.

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)

"This is a very important reference and source book that any serious scholar would need to consult frequently." - N. Ramanathan (Sruti, 1994)

"The task undertaken is admirable and ambitious and the vast source material, carefully selected and presented in original Sanskrit, Pali or Prakrit accompanied with a standard English translation, is very impressive indeed. The interpretation of this documentation is restrained and reasonable and at the same time suggestive and imaginative." - Gyula Wojtilla
(Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Budapest, Vol. 51(3), 361-371, 1998)

"The Kalatattvakosa is an indispensable tool for the Sanskritists interested in higher textual criticism in specialized disciplines of Ayurveda, Vyakarana, Jyotisa, Ganita, Darsana, Itihasa, Purana, Vastu, Silpa, Sangita, Natya and Alankara, for it provides the necessary background in the semantic evolution of several technical terms within the holistic frame work of Indian cultural heritage in a historical perspective… the project of Kalatattvakosa is throwing open new vistas in the studies of Indian culture, with special reference to Indian artistic traditions." - M. Srimannarayana Murti
(S.V.U. Oriental Journal, Triupati, Vol. XLII, 1999)

"… the Kalatattvakosa becomes relevant and important for both, those doing textual work and those others who are interested in understanding the multilayered system of concept, word and meaning." - Kapila Vatsyayan
Citrasutra, Foreword, IGNCA, 2001)


The sacred syllable hrllekha, very essence of all beings of three worlds should always be muttered and worshipped; knowing whom all the enticing fetters of deeds are removed and entire Universe attains Supreme abode of Visnu.

1. General Background
Indian tradition both in theory (sastra) and practice (prayoga) evolves from the vision of 'Absolute Reality' that governs the whole universe at all levels and states of existence. The Vedas are revelations from a heightened state of consciousness. Upanisads, Brahmanas and Puranas unravel the mysteries of the phenomena at various levels of perception. Various systems of thought, including the Buddhist and Jaina emerge. So do the disciplines - Ayurveda, Astronomy, metaphysics, philosophy and the arts. Fundamental conceptions of the cosmos, space, time, body, mind, and self pervade almost all theories and disciplines making each of them interrelated and interdependent just like a sutra (thread) that holds (invisibly) all beads together.

In this framework the wide range of Indian art-forms can never be understood in isolation. For a fuller comprehension of the system of interrelatedness and interpenetration IGNCA identified approximately 250 important terms representing fundamental concepts occurring in various schools and disciplines. This was done after considerable research and deliberations with the scholars. By selecting the groups of terms under particular categories and thereby concentrating upon each category in each volume of the Kalatattvakosa while focussing upon their occurrence and significance in the arts, has endeavoured to evolve and important modern device to grasp the essential thought and knowledge system of the Indian tradition.

The criteria of selecting the terms and their grouping in the previous four volumes has been elaborately discussed by the editors of those volumes. The main purpose of the Kalatattvakosa is to concentrate on texual traditions principally drawn from Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit sources. An indepth investigation into the primary sources will and has hopefully already facilitated the reader to learn about the interlocking of different disciplines. The groupings in the first four volumes relate to:
a. pervasive and perennial terms (vyapti);
b. terms relating to notions of space and time (desa and kala);
c. the primal elements (mahabhutas);
d. manifestation of nature (srstivistara).
The present volume deals with another cluster - grouped together as: Form/Shape - Akara/Akrti. Volume VI will be devoted to symbols. Subsequently another subsidiary series on the subsidiary technical terms specific to the arts will be envisaged.

II. Method and Use
The system followed here in the method and use corresponds almost completely with that introduced in the previous volumes. The same is given as under:
1. The list of terms has been organised thematically by concepts. Groups of related terms are assembled in each volume, and the logic of their arrangement is explained in the introduction. Alphabetical reference is facilitated by the List of Terms which gives the complete list of entries for the whole series, mentioning the volume in which an article has already appeared. The Index directs the reader to the occurrence of the terms throughout and also refers him to other significant terms in Sanskrit and English. Arrow - refers to an entry, in the same or another volume, where the term in question is treated more extensively.

2. Within a desirable flexibility of structure, the content of an entry generally follows this sequence as under:
Etymology and Related Terms
Layers of Meaning
Development of the Concept
Manifestation in the Arts
Quick identification of a section which may interest the reader specifically in thus facilitated.
In some cases where a concept has distinct meaning in different fields, an article has been divided into two or three parts assigned to different authors.

3. All Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit quotations are given in Devanagari with a full English translation; Sanskrit words or phrases occurring in the running text are transliterated and accompanied by a translation at least once. This is designed to provide access for those having limited knowledge of Sanskrit, and for non-readers of the Devanagari script.

4. Text references are abbreviated; full titles appear only in the running text of the entry (in bold face). The List of Abbreviations provides the full titles, and the General Bibliography notes the text editions and translations used.

5. A Select Bibliography is appended to each article; this contains references to secondary literature to which the author refers. These references are not exhaustive but are relevant to tracing further information about the concept.

6. The etymologies, whether traditional or based on modern linguistics, represent the opinion of the author; they have sometimes been edited, and in cases of doubt or difference of opinion the reader is referred to Manfred Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Worterbuch des Altindoarishchen, Heidelberg (Carl Winter) 1986ff.

7. All translations are acknowledged, whether published (see Bibliography) or unpublished. If a translator's name is not given, the text has been translated by the author. Where the author has amended a previous translation, this is indicated.

8. The series is illustrated with a minimum number of essential line-drawings of fundamental diagrams, yantras. Full photographic illustration of art-historical developments and variations falls outside the purview of these volumes.

III. Concepts of Form/Shape
The present volume is the fifth manifestation of the vicaragni (fire of thoughts) kindled by the earlier seers and continued by later thinkers. This is what has been observed by the Vedic rsi: agnih, purvebhih, rsibhiridyo nutanairuta (RV 1.1.2).

The earlier four volumes dealt with several terms under the ambits of pervasive terms (vyapti), space and time (desa-kala), primal elements (mahabhuta) and manifestation of nature (srsti-vistara).

This volume highlights a number of visual art forms under main heading Akara/Akrti. The form or shape remains the basic element despite its multiple representations and their explanations. The things are recognised by shape and when form is invisible those have to be felt by hint, indication, touch or mind. When a simple line is drawn it takes some shape. Even a line (rekha) is the result of the continuity of a number of dots although this process is some times visible and sometimes invisible. There two aspects i.e. (rekha) and akara give birth to countless forms one after the other: rupam rupam pratirupo babhuva (RV VI. 47. 18).

The creation of shapes goes on and we see them as full or in parts. Though, the term sakala means entire or having parts and niskala without parts, they connote the same concept but their usage in different situations offers variety of interpretations.

The form (akara) becomes more distinct when it is transformed into arca, vigraha, murti and pratima. The concept of akara is also suggested in bandha-prabandha compositional form, as without the act of binding no form is possible. The aspect finds much more elaboration when it projects a building or a temple (prasada). It is, however, interesting to note that our literature and canonical texts unfold multiple layers of meaning of these terms. Much depends on the context and circumstances in which a word has been used. The spirit and message change as per mundane, supermundane, metaphysical, artistic, architectural and musical rendering of the term. As discussed and interpreted by the subject experts of this volume, the study reveals a vast and interesting scope for further studies in the subject.


IntroductionR. C. Sharmavii
List of Termsxxvii
List of Illustrationsxxxi
1. REKHABettina Baumer1
2. AKARA-AKRTIR. C. Sharma37
5. ARCAP. K. Agrawala145
6. MURTIP. K. Agrawala181
8. VIGRAHAP. K. Agrawala295
10. PRASADAR. Nagaswamy
Krishna Deva
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