Part - 1
Hindu temples result, in the early centuries A.D., from a felt need to give shelter to images that could make present for worship a divine force that otherwise remained invisible. "Seeing" the divinity - in this period increasingly presented in both aniconic and anthropomorphic form - becomes the central act of this developing form of worship, for which architects were called upon to provide a suitable environment. Vol. I of this Encyclopaedia has covered the Dravida form of architecture as it developed in southern India. Vol. Il, which begins with these volumes, traces the evolution of that form of temple architecture known as Nagara, found principally in northern India but with extensions also into the Deccan under the Calukya and Rastrakuta dynasties.
Building on earlier pan-Indian forms of urban and domestic architecture, architects of the Dravida mode of temple in South India had created, by the late sixth or early seventh century A.D., a palatial structure out of recognizable wooden forms to act as encasement for the inner sanctum in which the divine image was placed.
In North India, on the other hand, architects in the fourth to sixth centuries A.D. participated directly in the process of religious and symbolic experimentation that made visible forms of divine manifestation possible. A variety of solutions resulted, some tied directly to the ontology of manifesting divinity (as is the case with the created cave-cells at Udayagiri and the simple masonry cave-like cells that followed in Central India in the fifth century A.D.). Some solutions mixed sheltering fence-forms with that of the altar, as in later mandapika shrines. Kashmir, building partly on earlier Candharan forms, by the early seventh century A.D. had created a pragmatic pent-roof shed as shelter for divinity that survived there as a regional form for many centuries.
Some architects, however, began to play with symbolically subtle solutions to the need for an architectural shelter for divinity that led, by the sixth century A.D., to a new form of monument - the Nagara temple with its Latina sikhara - that spread widely across North India as a symbol for an emergent Hinduism. This form - potent in its architectural vocabulary - provided a symbolically vital integument for the interior sanctum; in which manifesting divinity was revealed.
This volume provides a background for the formation of temple architecture in North India, surveying the varieties of North Indian experimentation and their survivors as well as the emergent, dominant form of early Nagara structure in western, central, and eastern India and the Deccan. Further volumes will carry the evolution of this form forward and explore its expression and efflorescence in the high Hindu "medieval" period and after.
The style code used throughout this volume as reference for Chapters and Plates follows the Style Outline given below:
Vol. II, part 1: Foundations of North Indian style
I. Beginnings of North Indian Style, c. A.D. 350-650
A. Uttarapatha style, c. A.D. 360-575 Guptas and their feudatories
B. Early Vidararbha style , c, A.D. 350-500 Vakatakas (main branch)
C. Early Vidarbha (Vatsagulma) style, C, A.D. 450-5—Vakatakas of Vatsagulma
D. Apaanta style, C, A.D. 480-533 Traikutakas of Anirrudhapura
E. Kunkanadesa style, c, 450-610 Mauryas of Puri
F. Late Vidarbha style, c, A.D. 550-650 Kalacuris of Mahismati and Early Rastrakutas of Elapura
II. Varieties of North Indian style, c, A.D. 500-1100
A. Upper Indian
1. Magadha style, phase 1, c, A.D. 500-700 Later Guptas and minor dynasties
2. Madhyadesa style, c, A.D. 575-700 Maukharis and Puspabhutis of Kanyakubja
B. Central India
1. Dasarnadesa style, phase 1, c. late sixth- late seventh century A.D. Minor dynasties, mandapika and early nagara traditions
2. Malava style, c. early sixth – late seventh century A.D Aulikaras, Mauryas, and minor chieftains
3. Dasarnadesa style, phases 2 and 3, c. mid-eighth to early tenth century A.D. Pratihara period, mandapika shrines
4. Dahala style, phase 1, c. late eighth – early ninth century A.D. Kalacuris of Tripuri, mandapika shines
C. Western Indian
1. Surastra style, c. late sixth – mid-eighth century A.D.
a. Pre-Nagar ogase, c. late sixth – late seventh century A.D. Maitrakas of Valabhi and Garulakas of western Surastra
b. Early Nagar phase, c. late seventh – mid-eighth century A.D. Maitrakas of Valabhi
2. Maha-Gurjara style, phase 1, Arbuda school, c. seventh century A.D. Capotkatas of Bhillamala
D. Eastern Indian
1. Kamarupa style, c. seventh century A.D. Varmans of Kamarupa
2. Daksina Kosala style, c. late sixth-early eighth century A.D. Panduvamsis of Sripura and Nalas
3. Kalinga style, phase 1, c. late sixth-early eighth century A.D. Sailodbhavas
E. Southern Extension of North Indian style
1. Karnata style, Nagara phase 1, c. A.D. 62-0-750
a. Calukyas of Badami, Karnatadesa
b. Calukyas of Badami, Andhraadesa
2. Karnata style Nagara phase 2, c. A.D. 700-775 Rastrakutas of Elapura and Manyakheta
F. North-western India
G. Styloe of Kashmir and the Panjab, c. seventh – tenth century A.D. Karkotas and Upalas of Kasmira
Use of this outline for subsequent volumes in this series tentatively is as follows:
Vol. II, part 2: Period of Early Maturity, c. A.D. 700-900
III. Nagara style of Common lineages
IV. Nagara style of separate lineage
Vol. II, part 3
V. Beginnings of Medieval Idiom, c. A.D. 900-100
Vol. II, part 4
VI. High medieval period, c. A.D. 1000-1300
VII. Sultanate period, c. 14th-16th century A.D.
VIII. Mughal period, c. 16th-17th century A.D.
Vol. II, part 5: Annotated Glossary and Comprehensive Index.
Style and patronage are difficult masters, and sources of creativity in architectural matters are nearly impossible to attribute in ancient India. In these Volumes we follow style, while dividing chapters according to the likelihood of dynastic patronage. The realities of local guilds and master architects can only be suggested, though through them the greatness of this architecture was created and continually given expression.
As in volume I, the system of diacritics used in this volumes that used by Epigraphia Indian only by using c, ch, and s to suit international. As in Epigraphia Indica, corpus Inscriptionum, and most Archaeological Survey of India publications, e and o are used in order to make possible the distinction between these forms in Sanskrit and e and o in words of Dravidian origin.
Drawings made by the Institute have scales in feet or miles. Others retain those provided by their sources.
Texts from ancient India provide us an insight into the worship of divinities in India and the shelters devised for them. In the Astddhydyl (c. fourth century B.C.), Panini mentions a number of Vedic deities (Agni, Indra, Varuna, Bhava, Sarva, Rudra, Mrda, Vrsakapi, Pusa, Aryama, Tvasta, Surya, Soma, Vastospati, Mahendra, Apamnaptr, Nasatya) who received oblations. Female deities include Indranl, Varunani, Agnayi, Usa, Vrsakapayi, and Prthivl, the last always referred, to as a pair with Dyaus. Post-Vedic female divinities named include Bhavani and Sarvani (popular in the Vahika and Pracya regions), Rudrani, and Mrdani. Theistic devotion (bhakti) had its beginning in Panini's time, a fact made clear by his reference to devotion to Vasudeva and Arjuna, as from names like Varunadatta and Aryarnadatta that indicate that the sons so named were born through the grace, respectively, of Varuna and Aryama. Such devotion extended also to the Lokapalas, to yaksas, and Panini mentions paired deities such as Sivavaisravanau, Sankarsanavasudevau, and Skandavisakhau. Panini knew of images under worship (areas), the mention of which might presuppose the existence of shrines.
Patanjali's Muhdbhdsyn (c. second century B.C.), which is a detailed commentary 'on Panini, mentions the worship of Vasudeva-Krsna as both hero and deity; his identity as one of the four Vyuhas is well established and that with Visnu is suggested. The performance of Visnu's Balibandhana and Krsna's Kamsavadha exploits are popular. Patanjali mentions Siva-bhagavatas, the devotees of Siva, and discusses their unsocial practices.
The Muhdbhdsyu specifically refers to the temples of Dhanapati (Kubera), Rama (Balararna), and Kesava (Vasudeva), with worship attended by dance, music, and elaborate rituals. Contemporary representations of Kupiro yakho (Kubera yaksa) are known from Bharhut and of Balarama from Mathura, An inscribed image of fourarmed Vasudeva- Visnu carrying gada and cakra in his upper hands and clasping a mutilated sankha in the lower hands, held against his chest, from Malhar (Bilaspur District, Madhya Pradesh), is assignable to the close of the second century B.C. Worship of Gauri, Sarasvati, Laksml, and Yami also had become popular.
Kautilya's Arthusdstru, a compilation completed as late as the third century A.D., refers to' the placement within a fortified city of temples that enshrine Siva, Vaisravana, the Asvinikumaras, Sri(Laksml), and Madira (perhaps a fertility goddess associated with the cult of the Great Mother). The ArthaSdstra prescribes that images of Aparajita (Durga), Apratihata (Visnu), Jayanta (Kumara), and Vaijayanta (lndra) should be set in niches as well as ones of Vastudevatas. Most deities in the Arthasastra are common to Panini and Patanjali as well, and pertain to the earliest strata of the manuscripts not much distant from the age of Patanjali.
Early Buddhist and Jaina literature, as well as Kautilya's Arthnsdstru, refer to various types of structures and their embellishments prevailing in the early centuries B.C. and in the Saka-Kusana and transitional periods. Bas-reliefs from Bharhut, Saficl, Bodhgaya, Mathura, and Amaravati (c. second century B.C. to third century A.D.) corroborate this literary testimony. Such evidence can conjure up a picture of a contemporary Indian city, with moat (parikha), rampart (prakara), bastioned and turreted gate houses (dvarattalakas or gopurattalakas), corner-bastions (karnattalakas), ornamental gates (toranas), and busy streets lined with private and public buildings, such as the royal palace (raja-prasada or raja-nivesana), shops and emporia, punyasalas, caityas, and an assortment of small, medium, and large residential houses (including multi-storeyed mansions).
The mansions and the royal palace had various types of pavilions or chambers (known as ktagara, kutagarasala, candrasala, simhapanjara, or harmya). A kutaara or kutagarasala was a roofed pavilion on any upper storey; the former normally was square on plan with a conical roof, the latter rectangular, with a vaulted roof with gabled ends crowned by small stupis or kalasas. A candrasala was an open type of pillared pavilion, normally on the sky-storey. A simhapanjara usually was a bay-window projecting from an upper storey enclosed by a parapet (vedika), lattice (jala), or bars (salakas). Harmya was a rectangular kutagara topped by valabhi or sabha-kara sikhara situated on the uppermost storey.
Shrines were modelled after prevailing domestic structures and the forms of kutagara, kutagarasala, candrasala, etc. were freely borrowed from civil architecture. An independent shrine with a small chamber and peaked roof came to be designated kutagara or kutagarasala (the former square with a domical roof, the latter rectangular with a vault). An example from Amaravati (Fig. 1) is labelled the "kutagarasala of the Mahavana at Vaisali."
A basic form for a shrine was a modest platform with a top slab frequently depicted in Hinayana Buddhist reliefs. According to the Samyutto Nikaya (Yakkha- suttas), the Buddha once relaxed on the "tankitamanca" in the bhavana of Yakkha Suciloma at Caya. The commentary explains tankitamanca to be a stone slab resting on four other stones, obviously referring to a four-legged 'stone dais or altar. The term might alternatively have meant an altar carved with designs, as in the case of the Asokan period vajrasana at Bodhgaya.
Often such altar-platforms were placed under trees, which had been taken as objects of worship (caityas) in India from great antiquity. This combination of platform and tree occurs abundantly on bas-reliefs at Sancl (Plate 3), Bharhut, Bodhgaya, and Amaravatr. A tree enclosed by a railing is designated "cetiya" on an Amaravati relief from the second century B.C. The provision of an umbrella (chatra), a mark of royal dignity, gave a similar significance.
Frequently the dais was enclosed by a railing (vedika) demarcating a sacred area (sthana), This became in due course the symbol or cognizance of a shrine. While describing the caitya (shrine) of Purnabhadra, the Aupapdtika-satra uses the expression "kia-veyaddi," which Coornaraswamy interpreted as "having an earthen or stone slab altar." The term is equivalent to Sanskrit "vitardi" and means a railing or enclosure. In the Aupnpdtikn-sutru, the railing obviously was regarded as an integral part of a shrine. Made originally of bamboo or timber, this vedika subsequently was constructed of brick or masonry, and ultimately of stone.
Shrines of yaksas, nagas, and other divinities worshipped in the early centuries B.C. (copiously referred to in early Buddhist and Jaina literature) were of this sort. Yaksa-shrines are called jakkhayatna or often simply cetiya, bhavana, or ayatana. Tree-worship is far older than worship of stupas, supported by the fact that "caitya" originally meant "vrksa-caitya" while "stupa" denoted a funerary monument embodying the concept of memorial. Both existed before the time of Gautama Buddha or Vardhamana Mahavira: the Buddhists (and, to a lesser extent, the Jainas) adopted both forms and, to an extent, conceptually and formally amalgamated them. The stupa came to symbolise the parinirvana of Gautama Buddha and of past Buddhas, and the tree their enlightenment. By Asoka's time, the worship of stupas was well established, taking on the features and attributes of the older tree-worship. The stupa became "caitya" and a stupa-shrine came to be designated "caitya-grha," "cetiya-ghara," or "grha-stupa. "
Shrines represented on early reliefs show the following varieties: (1) a platform (with or without some symbol); (2) a platform under an umbrella; (3) a platform under a tree; (4) a platform enclosed by a railing; (5) a platform within a simple pillared pavilion; and (6) permutations and combinations of the above. These shrines were mostly modest roofless structures, some had large compounds, a few were provided with one or more toranas, and some are represented having roofs.
Bodhigharas (not illustrated)
Bodhigharas were Buddhist shrines meant for worshipping the Bodhi tree under which Gautama received enlightenment. The spot is represented as a dais (Bodhimanda) under a peepul tree. Coomaraswamy has discussed literary references to Bodhigharas and the early representations on has-reliefs. He shows that these were hypaethral shrines, in some cases with two or more storeys (timber-built galleries that the worshipper could conveniently ascend for lustrating and honouring the Bodhitree).
Bharhut has yielded two reliefs of double-storeyed Bodhigharas, one of which shows three doorways on the ground floor and two ornate windows; the upper floor represents a modest shrine, probably with an apsidal end. The other relief, labelled the "Bodho of Sakamuni," shows a large, complex structure with a circular plan and multiple ornate windows on the upper storey.
Sanci has four representations of Bodhigharas, two of which-appear to be octagonal, one circular, and one apsidal. Three are two-storeyed; the apsidal one is four-storeyed. The top storey of the latter has two ornate windows at lateral ends, as on the apsidal Bodhighara from Bharhut.
Of the two reliefs of Bodhigharas from Amaravati, one is circular, the other apparently rectangular, with a conspicuously tall upper storey, a sala on each side, and a pair of projecting simhapanjaras supported on stilt-like pillars.
A relief of a Bodhighara from Mathura seems to depict a two-storeyed square structure with polygonal projections at the four corners. The spreading branches of the Bodhi tree jut out of numerous windows on the ground floor and upper gallery.
Other shrines (Figs. 2-10; Plates 1-3, 7)
Other religious structures depicted on bas-reliefs at Bharhut, Sancl, Bodhgaya, and Mathura are largely of kuta, sala, and cap a types. A small apse-ended shrine (capakara on plan and gajaprsthakrti in elevation) with three finials on the sikhara is shown at Mathura (Fig. 2). The Jetavana scene at Sanci shows three shrines, of which one is a small circular structure enclosed by a railing with an octagonal ridged roof crowned by a stupl (Plate 1; Fig. 3); two are larger shrines having sala-sikharas crowned by four stupis (Figs. 4-5) and with ornate entrances marked by gavaksa arches that terminate in finials.
Two of the Jetavana shrines figured at Bharhut (labelled "Gandhakuti" and "Kosamba-kuti") closely resemble the salakara shrines at Saficl. The ensemble of a small domed structure and two larger rectangular structures in an Amaravati panel labelled "Savathi" (Fig. 7) confirms the tradition of Jetavana-shrines associated with the Buddha.
A naga shrine shown at Sanci is a square pillared pavilion with an octagonal sikhara crowned by a stupi (Plate 2). The domed sikhara is pierced by gavaksa windows and enclosed by a vedika.
An example of a domed pillared pavilion with a kapota-cornice is seen in the depiction of the Sudhamma-devasabha at Bharhut (Fig. 6). A more complex shrine, with a praggriva-Iike projection at the cornice level and a front window through the domical roof, is shown at Sand (Plate 3). Larger pillared pavilions, roofed by a sabha-kara sikhara and with cornice, are also represented at Sanci. One has a single front window (Plate 7); the other, with two front windows, appears to be a two-storeyed structure, with vedika as balustrade on each storey. Two-storeyed shrines are frequent- ly depicted at Bharhut, One, with an imposing sabhakara sikhara and crowned by ten stupis. (Fig. 8), is enclosed by a vedika railing on each storey. The lower tala shows five stunted pillars with ornate capitals; the upper storey shows three gavaksa-arches.
A shrine suggesting a double-level thatched hut (Fig. 9), engraved on a bronze plaque from Sohgaura inscribed in the Mauryan Brahmi script, shows a form continued at Saficl, Bodhgaya, and Mathura.
Similar pavilions appear on roughly contemporary Audumbara copper coins; these depict three varieties of shrines (all Saiva, as indicated by the presence of trisula-cum-parasu), Variety "a" (Fig. 10a) is an elaboration of the Sohgaura type, with two kapota cornices surmounted by a domical sikhara. Variety "b" has a square sikhara (Fig. 10b); Variety "c" is similar, but lacks pillarets at the grlva level (Fig. 10c).
Shrines in early epigraphy (not illustrated)
There is considerable epigraphic evidence, in fact, for the early worship of divinities in shrines. Two inscribed Garuda-dhvajas at Vidisa, one set up in honour of the "supreme god Vasudeva" by the Bhagavata Heliodorus (a Yavana ambassador from the court of the Indo-Bactrian king, Antialkidas, of Taksasila) in the 14th year of the reign of Bhagabhadra (c. 131 B.C.), the fifth Sunga king, the other erected by GautamIputra Bhagavata, the ninth Sunga ruler, in his 12th year, attest to the existence of Vaisnava shrines. The first referred to must be the elliptical shrine for which foundations have been excavated near to Heliodorus's pillar.
Three inscriptions from Nagari, District Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, refer to the con- struction of a stone wall that encloses a place for worship of Sankarsana and Vasudeva by the Bhagavata king, Sarvatata, who probably belonged to the Kanva dynasty. The site preserves a massive stone enclosure and the plinth of an elliptical brick temple.
The Nanaghat (District Poona) inscription of Naganika of the first century B.C. refers to the performance of Vedic sacrifices by the Satavahana royal family and opens with obeisance to such divinities as Dharma, Indra, Sankarsana- Vasudeva, Candra-Surya, and the Lokapalas (Yama, Varuna, Kubera, and Vasava).
An inscription from Mora (Mathura) of the reign of Mahaksatrapa Sodasa (c. A.D. 10-25) records the installation of images of the five Vrsni heroes in a stone shrine. Another Mathura inscription of the same reign, engraved on a doorjamb, records construction of a shrine, torana, and vedika at the mahasthana of Bhagavan Vasudeva. Numerous Kusana inscriptions also refer to the setting up of images of the Buddha and of Jaina Tirthankaras and to the foundation of shrines for them.
An inscription from Nandsa, District Udaipur, Rajasthan, dated A.D. 226, records performance of Vedic sacrifices following construction of shrines to Brahma, Indra, Prajapati, and Visnu.
Maurya and Post Maurya Periods: Structural Remains (Fig. 11)
From the time of Asoka Maurya (c. 272-232 B.C.) to the early Kusana period, evidences from rock-cut shrines and from surviving foundations of constructed shrines suggest that temples existed in circular (vrtta), elliptical (vrttayata), and apsidal (capakara) forms. The Ajivika caves at Barabar, District Gaya, Bihar, which contain inscriptions of Asoka and his grandson, Dasaratha, preserve both circular and elliptical hut-forms with domical or vaulted roofs. The facade of the Lomas Rsi cave replicates a large timber gavaksa-arch, supported by curved rafters (gopanasi) within an ogee-shaped frame of laminated planks, crowned by stupi-finials. The architrave of the entrance represents jalavatayana (latticed wickerwork) for the first time.
Also assignable to the Maurya period is the plinth of a circular brick-and-timber stupa-shrine that survives at Bairat, District Jaipur, Rajasthan. Enclosed by a pradaksina, the shrine was preceded by small praggriva. Temple no. 40 at Safici was originally an apsidal stone temple of the Maurya period raised on a rectangular plinth, the superstructure built of timber. Another unusual complex of four, elliptical, stone halls was unearthed at Rajgir (Rajagrha), the ancient capital of Magadha. This complex has been identified with the Buddhist Ilvakamravana-vihara, but only the foundations survive. An apsidal brick temple was also excavated at Sarnath and an elliptical brick hall formed part of the Chositararna at Kausambi, the ancient capital of Vatsa.
Structural forms prevalent during the Maurya period continued in subsequent centuries, as recorded in numerous bas-reliefs from Bharhut, Safici, Bodhgaya, Mathura, and Amaravati. The apsidal plan in this period perhaps was more popular than either the circular or elliptical plan. Buddhist cave-shrines begin to replicate complex wooden structures with apsidal ends, barrel-vaulted naves, and side aisles, but the type was not restricted solely to Buddhist use. Three astylar apsidal shrines in stone from c. the first century B.C./A.D. are known from Taxila (Taksasila). Temple no. 18 at Sanci was an apsidal shrine, and apsidal structures are shown on reliefs from Mathura (Fig. 2) and Amaravati (Fig. 1) as well. At Ramatirtharn, Sankaram, and Nagarjunakonda in Andhradesa, also, numerous apsidal temples of brick were constructed under the patronage of the later Satavahanas and Iksvakus. At Nagarjunakonda, these apsidal chapels begin to house image of the Buddha as well as stupas. An apsidal temple enshrining Siva is known from Nagarjunakonda and there are also examples of an apsidal Jaina shrine at Udayagiri, Bhuvanesvara (c. 25 B.C.), and an apsidal Naga shrine at Sonkh near Mathura (c. second century A.D.).
Nagarjunakonda, by the third or fourth century A.D., also preserves rectilinear shrines with square cellas, a type that ultimately eclipsed all other forms.
Pillar-types in this period include plain octagonal pillars with that follow a pristine timber tradition and are seen often in rock-cut shrines during the second and first centuries B.C. Later pillars develop a ghata base and a capital-type that has affinity to the Maurya bell-capital but loses the ridges of the lotus petals and becomes simply an inverted ghata. At Bharhut, pillars usually lack ghata base but show inverted lotus-capital, cable design, and large, flaring Taranga-bracket adorned adorned with criss-cross pattern (Fig. 11d.) This pillar-type may later show an amalaka set in box above the ghata, a stepped abacus, and various kinds of animal brackets. Variant forms with ghata base and plain bell-capital appear on reliefs at Sanci, occasionally surmounted by ghatapallava crowned by animals (Fig11a-b). A Bodhgaya relief shows a pillar with a ghata base and capital surmounted by a standing bull (Fig.11c).
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