Manasara (English translation)

by Prasanna Kumar Acharya | 1933 | 201,051 words

This page describes “general survey (summary of contents)” which is Preface 5 of the Manasara (English translation): an encyclopedic work dealing with the science of Indian architecture and sculptures. The Manasara was originaly written in Sanskrit (in roughly 10,000 verses) and dates to the 5th century A.D. or earlier.

Part 5 - General survey (summary of contents)

So far as the contents of the Mānasāra are concerned it will be a mere repetition to give a detailed summary, as that has once been separately published from Leiden (1917) and has also been included in the writer’s Indian Architecture (1927). It will be enough to refer to the main points. It will be noticed that of the seventy chapters the first eight are introductory, the next forty-two deal with architectural matters, and the last twenty-one are devoted to sculpture.

Chapters I-II:

It opens, following the usual custom, with a prayer to the Creator Brahmā and touches upon the origin and development of the science of Architecture, from Śiva, Brahmā, and Viṣṇu, through Indra, Bṛhaspati, and Nārada, to the class of seers (ṛṣi) called Mānasāra, and concludes the introduction with a list of the chapters. Of the preliminary matters, two distinct subjects, namely, the system of measurement and the qualifications of an architect, are dealt with next (Chapter II). Aṅgula (finger’s breadth), equivalent to three-fourths of an inch, is the unit of architectural measures. The tāla (span between the tips of fully stretched thumb and middle finger) is the unit of sculptural measure, which is regulated by the length of the face, inclusive of head, of an image. This latter system of measure is dealt with in several chapters of the sculptural section.

Chapters III-VIII:

Architects are divided into four classes. Together they form the guild of architects, each, an expert in Ms own department but possessing a general knowledge of the science of architecture as a whole. They consist of the chief architect (Sthapati), the designer or draftsman (Sutrāgrāhin), the painter (Vardhaki), and the carpenter or joiner (Sūtradhāra). Different sets of qualifications are prescribed for each class, the gist of which may be expressed in the words of the Roman architect Vitruvius: ‘an architect should be ingenious, and apt in the acquisition of knowledge; he should be a good writer, a skilful draftsman, versed in geometry and optics, expert at figures, acquainted with history, informed on the principles of natural and moral philosophy, somewhat of a musician, not ignorant of the sciences of law and physic, nor of the motions, laws, and relations to each other, of the heavenly bodies.’ He must possess a wide outlook, bold temperament and self-control, and be endowed with, all qualifications of a supreme managing director. He must be free from disease or disability and from the seven vices, like gambling, addiction to women, etc. The next chapter (III) called Vāstu-prakaraṇa defines the different brandies of architecture, which, are divided into four classes, namely, the ground, buildings, conveyances, and couches. The two following chapters (IV, V) on examination of soil and selection of site deal with the contour, colour, odour, features, taste and touch, elevation of the ground, and growth, thereon of certain plants, trees, grasses, whereupon a village, town, fort, palace, temple, or dwelling house is to be built. Chapter VI deals with, the orientation, of buildings and recommends that a residential building should preferably lace the east or the north-east, and never the south-east. Incidentally the principles, mechanics, and details of dialling are exhaustively described. The site-plans are next described (Chapter VII): thirty-two schemes are distinguished, each of which is divided into squares of various numbers. Following the usual custom, this preliminary section concludes with a chapter (VIII) on offerings to the presiding deities of the site.

Chapters IX-X:

Town-planning is the next subject described in great detail in two chapters (IX, X). It is treated under two heads, Grāma-lakṣaṇa (village scheme) and Nagara-vidhuna (lay-out of towns), and under three categories, village, town, and fort. Villages are divided into eight classes called daṇḍaka, sarvatobhadra, nandyāvarta, padmaka, svastika, prastara, kārmuka and caturmukha: each of these, as the names indicate, represents a particular design and lay-out of which detailed measures and other particulars are given. Towns are also divided into eight classes: Rājadhānī, nagara, pura, nagarī, kheṭa, kharvaṭa, Kubjaka, and pattana. Forts are first divided into eight classes according to the size and the object and are called sibira, vāhinimukha, sthāniya, droṇaka, saṃviddha or vardhaka, kolaka, nigama, and skandāvāra. According to their situation they are further classified into the mountain fort, water fort, chariot fort, divine fort, clay fort, and mixed fort. The mountain fort is further subdivided into three classes as it is built on the top of a mountain, in the and on the slope.

Chapter XI:

The next chapter (XI) describes in detail the proportions of breadth, length, and height of buildings of one to twelve storeys, assigned to persons of different ranks. Five forms, namely, square, rectangular, octagonal, round, and oval, are prescribed for buildings of four different classes, jāti, cchanda, vikalpa and ābhāsa. These forms are equally applicable to religious, military, and residential buildings. A palace of five to twelve storeys is stated to suit the emperor or universal monarch, highest in rank among the nine classes of kings. Residences of one to three storeys are assigned to the heir-apparent and the chief feudatories, and so on.

Chapter XII:

Chapter XII deals with, the foundations whereupon, buildings, villages, and tanks are built. The foundation is excavated up to the depth of man’s height with. uplifted arms in the rocky or sandy ground as may be available and best suited to the structure to be erected. It is laid down, that the bottom of the pit should be rocky or watery. The different materials to -fill up the pit and various processes and measures are specified in great detail. The gist of the directions on foundations may be best expressed mutatis mutandis in the words of Vitruvius: ‘When we are satisfied with the spot fixed on for the site of the city... the irfoundations should be carried down to a solid bottom, if such can be found, and should, be built thereon of such, thickness as may be necesaary for the proper support of that part of the wall which stands above the natural level of the ground. They should be of the soundest workmanship and materials, and of greater thickness than the walls above. If solid ground can be come to, the foundations should go down to it and into it, according to the magnitude of the work, and the sub-struction be built up as solid as possible. Above the ground of the foundation, the wall should be one-half thicker than the column it is to receive so that the lower parts which carry the greatest weight, may be stronger than the upper part.... Nor must the mouldings of the bases of the columns project beyond the solid. Thus, also, should be regulated the thickness of all walls above ground. The intervals between, the foundations under the columns, should be either rammed down hard or arched so as to prevent the foundation piers from swerving.If solid ground cannot be come to, and the ground be loose or marshy, the place must be excavated, cleared, and either elder, olive, or oak piles, previously charred, must be driven with a machine, as close to each other as possible, and the intervals between the piles filled with charcoal. The heaviest foundations may be laid on such a base.’

Chapters XIII-XVI:

The next four chapters (XIII-XVI) deal with the column and its different component parts, namely, the pedestal, the base, the shaft, and the entablature, and their various mouldings and ornaments. Twelve kinds of pedestals are described with detailed measurements of the various mouldings of each, pedestal. The variety, the beauty of proportion, and the richness of ornaments are remarkable. The same remark is true with, regard to the bases also which are described in detail under sixty-four varieties. While in Graeco-Roman orders the forms and dimensions of both the base and the pedestal are fixed by invariable rules with respect to the orders in which they are employed, in the Indian orders, it will be noticed, the choice is left to the option of the architects. The entablatures, including the capital, and comprising the arcitrave, frieze and cornice, are described in detail under eight varieties. Their massiveness offers a striking contrast to the lightness of the Grecian entablatyres.

Columns are divided into five orders in regard to general shapes and are called Brahmakānta, Viṣṇukānta, Rudrakānta, Śivakānta, and Skandakānta. With respect to dimensions and ornaments columns are classified under Citrakarṇa, Padmakānta, Citraskambha, Pālikā-stambha, and Kumbha-stambha.

In the Matsya-purāṇa, the Bṛhat-saṃhitā, and the Kiraṇatantra columns are also divided into five classes and are called Rucaka, Vajra, Dvi-vajra, Pralinaha, and Vṛtta. In the Suprabhedāgama the names of the five orders are Śrīkara, Candrakānta, Saumukhya, Priyadarśana, and Śubhaṅkarī which is composite of Saumukhya and Priyadarśana. The Graeco-Roman orders, as is well known, are also five in number and are called Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite.

The total number of mouldings or the component parts of the column, including those of the pedestal, base, and entablature are forty-seven in the Mānasāra. The mouldings of the shaft alone number five and are called bodhikā, muṣṭibandha, phalakā, taṭikā, and ghaṭa.

The Suprabhedāgama describes two sets of seven mouldings, one set referring to the column of the main building and the other set to that of the pavilion, and are called respectively, daṇḍa, maṇḍi, kaṇṭha, kumbha, phalakā, vīrakaṇṭha and bodhikā; and uttara, potikā, v[?]jana, mūrdhikā, tulā, jayantī[?] and tala. In the Matsya-purāṇa, the Bṛhatsaṃhitā, and the Kiraṇa-tantra, the mouldings are eight in number and bear the same names: vāhana, ghaṭa, padma, uttaroṣṭha, bāhulya, hāra, tulā, and upatulā. The component mouldings of the Graeco-Roman orders are also eight in number and are known as (1) tho ovolo, echinus or quarter-round, (2) the talon, ogee or reversed cyma, (3) the cyma, cyma-recta, or cymatium, (4) the torus, (5) the scotia or trocilos, (6) the cavetto, mouth or hollow, (7) the astragal, and (8) the fillet, listel or annulet.

Chapter XVII:

The concluding chapter (XVII) on the preliminary subjects deals with joinery. The wood-joining is of various kinds and forms. Pieces of wood are joined in such a way as to make the figures of nandyāvarta, svastika, sarvatobhadra, and such other shapes. Some kinds of wood are strictly forbidden to be joined with some others.

Chapter XVIII:

The next chapter (XVIII) deals with, certain general features of buildings which are specified in the following twelve chapters (XIX—XXX). A brief reference is made in the beginning to the foundations. Then the subjects are divided under several headings. First the classification of buildings of one to twelve storeys, and the proportionate dimensions thereof are described very elaborately and. various alternatives are given. The three styles, Nāgara, Vesara, and Draviḍa, and their distinguishing features based on the shapes of the top portions (śikhara, spherical roof) are next described. Then are described in order the domes, the pinnacle staffs, the pentroofs, and the front porches, of each of which, the classification, dimensions and other particulars are given in detail. The chapter concludes with a description of the building materials, namely stone, brick, wood, and metal (lit., iron), and the classifications of buildings thereunder.

Chapters XIX-XXX:

The chapter on ‘Single-storey buildings (XIX) opens with further classifications of buildings under jāti, chanda, vikalpa, and ābhāsa, based on the length of the cubit, which is taken as the unit of measure; under sthānaka, āsana, and śayana, otherwise called saṃcita, asaṃcita and apasaṃcita based both on the standard of measure, which may be respectively height, breadth and length, and on the erect, sitting, and recumbent postures of the idols when the buildings happen to be temples; lastly, under masculine, feminine, and neuter, based on the equiangular, rectangular, and circular forms, as also on the sex of the main deity to be installed when the building is used as a temple.

After a brief reference to the dimensions of the storey the comparative measurement and plans are described at great length. The whole height of the building is divided into a certain number of equal parts which are distributed in a happy proportion amongst the component members, namely the base, pillar, entablature, neck, dome and pinnacle. Similarly, the length of the entire temple is divided into a certain number of equal parts which are also distributed amongst various rooms and halls, such as the shrine, the anterooms, the pavilion, etc. A detailed account of the water-channels, like those of the Mahenjodaro, is added. Steps and staircases are described at the end of Chapter XXX. The concluding portions of Chapter XIX and the next eleven chapters are devoted to an enumeration of the various deities with whose images the doors and walls of buildings are decorated. The Buddhist and the Jain temples are stated to be similarly built, with this difference, that in those temples the images of Buddhist and Jain deities are installed.

There are eight types of single-storey buildings indicating different designs and bearing technical and mostly significant names. Similarly, the buildings of two storeys are divided into eight types, of three storeys into eight types, of four storeys into eight types, of five storeys into eight types, of six storeys into thirteen types, of seven storeys into eight types, of eight storeys into eight types, of nine storeys into seven types, of ten storeys into six types, of eleven storeys into six types, and of twelve storeys into ten types. The last ten types are given geographical names and seem to imply ten provinces into which whole India was architecturally divided—Pāñcāla (the Punjab), Drāviḍa (Deccan), Madhyakānta (Doab), Kaliṅgakānta (Coromandal Coast), Virāṭa (Jaipur), Kerala (Malabar), Vaṃśakānta (Kauśāmbī), Magadhakānta (South Bihar), Jamakakānta (North Bihar), Sphurjaka (? Gurjara)[1].

Chapter XXXI:

The compound of a big house, temple, or palace, is divided into five courts (Chapter XXXI). The fourth court, after which the chapter is named Prāhāra, is divided into jāti, chanda, vikalpa, ābhāsa and kāmya classes, as also into śuddha (of one material), miśra (of two materials), and saṅkīrṇa (of mixed materials) classes. At the outset a reference is made to five kinds of prākāra buildings in connexion with bali (offerings), parivāra (attendant deities), śobhā (beauty), and rakṣaṇa (defence). The shrines of the attendant deities in connexion with a big temple, and the gate-houses both for temples and palaces are very briefly described in conclusion, the next two chapters being entirely devoted to a special treatment of these two subjects.

Chapter XXXII:

The temples of the attendant deities are stated (in Chapter XXXII) to be built round the prākāra (court). At the eight cardinal points of the innermost or the first court, the shrines of a group of eight deities are built. Groups of sixteen and thirty-two deities are located in the second and the third court respectively. Between the third and the fifth, court is said to be a special pavilion. After an elaborate description of the situation of the shrine for each of the deities of the three groups, the attendant deities of Viṣṇu are described in detail.

Chapter XXXIII:

Chapter XXXIII deals with gate houses of various kinds which are assigned to both, temples and palaces. They are first divided into fire classes as they belong to the five courts and bear very significant names: dvāra-śobhā (beauty of the gate), dvāraśālā (gate-house), dvāra-prāsāda (gate-palace), dvāra-harmya (gate-mansion) and mahā-gopura (great cow-house). Each of these five classes is sub-divided into three sizes: small, intermediate and large. Under each, of these fifteen varieties the gate-houses are elaborately described. They are further divided into ten classes, bearing ten different technical names, with regard to the number of domes, pinnacles, neck-peaks, and vestibules. They are made one to sixteen storeys high. The dimensions and ornaments of each storey are described in detail. Pillars, entablatures, roofs, walls, floors, doors, etc., are also fully described.

The chapter closes with an interesting description of windows, not only for gate-houses, but also for other kinds of buildings, both religious and residential. Windows admit of various patterns represented by the following designations: nāgabandha (snake-band), valli (creeper), gavākṣa (cow’s eye), kuñjarākṣa (elephant’s eye), svastika (cross-shape), sarvatobhadm (a special design), nandyāvarta (another special design), and puṣpabandha (flower-band). They are decorated with floral and foliated ornaments, as well as with decorative devices in imitation of jewels. The dimensions are mostly left to the discretion of architects with a general direction in regard to the windows for gate-houses.

Chapter XXXIV:

Detached, buildings situated both within the compound and outside, have been described in gṛeat detail in the chapter (XXXIV) on ‘Pavilions.’ Pavilions are single-storey buildings, generally self-contained, but sometimes they imply the special rooms in a house. They are also built on the roadside and on the sea-shore; on the banks of a river, tank, or lake.

Various component members of pavilions such as walls, roofs, floors, verandahs, court-yards, doors, windows, pillars, sheds, etc., are described in detail. Seven pavilions bearing the names of the seven well-known mountains are stated to be built in front of the main edifice and to be used as a bath-room, study, library, and so forth.

Pavilions bearing other names and descriptions are mentioned for wedding and other ceremonies, for kitchen, for storing water, etc., for guests, elephants, horses, and for pilgrimage, etc. The chapter closes with a description of the forms and shapes of pavilions. The jāti shape is given to the pavilions of the temples and the residences of the Brahmans, the chanda shape to those of the Kṣatriyas, the vikalpa shape to those of the Vaiśyas, and the ābhāsa shape to those of the Śūdras. Again, the pavilions are classified under technical names in accordance with the number of their faces, which, vary from two to six.[2]

Chapter XXXV:

Chapter XXXV deals with the ‘Storeyed Mansions’ which consist of rows of buildings varying from one to ten. The blocks of buildings varying in number of storeys up to twelve are artistically joined up. They are classified under six main, groups called Daṇḍaka, Svastika, Maulika, Caturmukha, Sarvatobhadra, and Vardhamāna. Each of these is again sub-divided into several types: the arrangement of the Daṇḍaka mansion, for instance, is described under eight varieties. The Daṇḍaka is an isolated mansion and consists of a single row of buildings and would look like a stick (daṇḍaka). The Svastika mansion is plough-shaped and consists of two rows of buildings. The Maulika mansion is shaped like a winnowing basket and consists of three rows of buildings. The Caturmukha mansion is four-faced and consists of four rows of buildings. The Sarvatobhadra mansion consists of seven rows of buildings, and the Vardhamāna of ten rows of buildings. These huge buildings are naturally meant for kings, to the nine classes of whom they are assigned in accordance with, the importance of the mansions and the rank of the king. But they axe also stated to be used by the Gods, the Brahmans, the Kṣatriyas, the Vaiśyas, the Śūdras, the ascetics, the hermits, the priests, the Buddhists, the warriors fighting with the help of the horse, the elephant, and the chariot, the artists and the courtesans. Their lay-out, architectural members with dimensions, ornaments, and other details are fully described.

Chapter XXXVI:

Chapter XXXVI deals with, the situation and dimensions of houses fit for the residence of the twice-born and all other castes. They may be built in a village, city, trading centre, on sea, on the bank of a river, on the side of a hill, etc. The length of a house may be one-and-a-quarter to four times the breadth. On the central plot of the innermost court is generally built a temple or public hall. Around this are constructed dwelling-houses for the master of the family, his wife and children, servants, sheds for cows, horses, poultry, etc., kitchens and dining halls, guest houses, reading rooms, halls for daily sacrifice, music, dancing girls and for all other domestic purposes. Excepting the extreme boundary wall these houses are generally built in order on one side of the (partition) wall. Thus are stated to be built ‘in accordance with the rules of the science of architecture, temples, residences, monasteries, treasuries, law-courts, stables, etc., as described in case of towns’ (Chapters IX, X). This chapter corresponds in a way to Chapter XXXII where the situations of shrines for attendant deities are described.

Chapter XXXVII:

The next chapter (XXXVII) describes the ceremonies in connexion with the opening of and first entry into a house.


Chapters XXXVIII and XXXIX are devoted to a description of doors, including what is called the water-door or drain, and dormer-windows, windows proper having been treated at the end of Chapter XXXIII. In the former of these two chapters mainly the situations of doors are elucidated, while dimensions, constructional details, ornaments, etc., are referred to in the latter chapter.

Chapters XL-XLII:

Chapters XL—XLII deal primarily with, the palaces of kings of various ranks. Incidentally, the royal orders, insignia, qualifications and entourage, including the strength of the army and revenue, are mentioned in two chapters (XLI—XLII). The royalty is divided into nine classes, namely the Cakravartin, Mahārāja also called Adhirāja, Narendra, Pārṣṇika, Paṭṭadhara, Māṇḍaleśa, Paṭṭabhāj, Prāhāraka, and Astragrāha. Their characteristics are described in detail (in Chapter XLII). The general and individual qualifications of these kings, as also the army and entourage of each class, are given in. Chapter XLI. Very minute details of the palaces of each of these nine classes of kings are described in full in Chapter XL. Palaces are naturally the most gorgeous buildings and the large ones are furnished with as many as seven courts in place of the five courts referred to in Chapter XXXI, which are meant for large temples and edifices.

Other buildings which are necessary adjuncts to the palace of an Indian King include the coronation pavilion, audience halls, arsenals, treasury, store rooms, etc., in addition to the gorgeous inner apartments and residences for private use of queens and others. In the outer part are situated the offices and the residences for the Crown Prince, family priests, ministers and others. Stables are generally situated near the main gate. Prisons axe built in an out-of-the-way place. Pleasure gardens, groves, tanks, arena for ram fights, etc., are assigned their proper places.

Chapter XLIII:

In Chapter XLIII cars and chariots for the ceremonial and ordinary use of Gods, Brahmans and Kings, as well as for war and other purposes, are treated with, all architectural details. Their wheels, storeys, pinnacles, etc., and the shapes, dimensions, ornaments, and mouldings are described in detail. They are once classified under the four main styles, namely the Nāgara (square), Drāviḍa (octagonal), Vesara (circular, i.e. round) and Kāliṅga (hexagonal). Then with regard to the number of porticos (bhadra) and other features they arc classified as nabhasvānbhadraka, prabhañjanabhadraka, nivātabhadraka, pavanabhadraka, pṛṣadabhadraka, candrakabhadraka and anila-bhadraka.

Chapter XLIV:

Chapter XLIV deals with couches and swings which are meant for the use of deities, the twice-born, and the members of the other castes. They admit of two sizes, large and small, and are described with all constructional details.

Chapter XLV:

The next chapter (XLV) is devoted to a description of thrones. The royal thrones are divided into four classes, called prathama (first coronation), maṅgala (auspicious, a stage of coronation), vīra (heroic, a stage of coronation) and vijaya (victory, a stage of coronation). The divine thrones are also divided into four classes according to the occasion of use; the nityarcana throne is for daily worship, the viśeṣārcana throne for special worship, the nityotsava throne for ordinary (daily) festival, and the mahotsava, throne for the great festival. An elaborate account of the general plans, dimensions, ornaments and other architectural details of both the royal and the divine thrones is given under tea types, namely, padmāsana, padma-kesara, padma-bhadra, śrībhadra, śrī-viśāla, śrībandha, śrī-mukha, bhadrāsana, padmabandha, and pādabandha. These thrones axe specifically assigned to the great Gods, the Buddhist and the Jain deities, as also to the Kings of nine orders.

Chapter XLVI:

Chapter XLVI deals with The first three lines where the objects of arches are specified are not well preserved. The tentative translation would run thus: “Arches are made for (the decoration of) the (temples of) gods and the (palaces of) kings, for (ordinary residential buildings, as well as for) the upper portions of all kinds of thrones.” In the writer’s Dictionary numerous references to the arch have been, gathered together from other chapters of this text and also from various literature and inscriptions, wherefrom it may be clear that the principles and use of the arch in buildings were sufficiently known to the old architects.

Various forms of the arch, are described in this chapter. It may be triangular, circular, crescent-shaped, bow-shaped, or of any other, suitable form. Other features and the rules for their construction are fully described. With regard to the ornamentation, arches are divided into four types: patra-toraṇa (foliated arch), puṣpa-toraṇa (floral arch), ratna-toraṇa (jewelled arch) and citra-toraṇa (ornamental arch). Arches are also stated to be supported by leographs which are placed on both sides of the pillars.

Chapter XLVII:

Chapter XLVII deals with the open shedyard (mukta-prapāṅga), and the (closed) central theatre (madhya-raṅga) which is generally erected to serve as a stage in the courtyard of big temples and palaces and is furnished with, raised platforms, galleries, and royal seats, etc. Their architectural details, together with various dimensions and ornaments, are described in full. The materials of which they are built are stated to be wood, stone, brick, and metal (lit. iron).

Chapter XLVIII:

The next chapter (XLVIII) is devoted to the description of a decorative device called. ‘the ornamental (all productive mythic) tree’ (kalpa-vṛkṣa) which is used over the thrones, open shedyards, pavilions and arches. The minute description and detailed measurement of the various parts of the tree are given. Its trunk is stated to have a serpent coiling round it with. an expanded five-told hood. Incidentally, the measurement of the tail, hood, etc., of the snake is given in. detail. The tree is also decorated with creepers, leaves and flowers of various colours and forms. Jewels and garlands of pearls are inserted in suitable situation. Figures of deities, demigods, monkeys, etc., are placed in the intervals between the branches.

Chapter XLIX:

The primary object of the next chapter (XLIX) is to describe really the crowns of gods, goddesses, kings and queens of various orders. The ceremonies in connection with the coronation of kings are incidentally described. The chapter is, however, named ‘Coronation’ instead of ‘Crowns.’ The crowns are divided into twelve types, namely, jaṭā, mauli, kirīṭa, karaṇḍa, śirastraka, kuṇḍala (kuntala), kesabandha, dhammilla, alaka, cūḍā, mukuṭa, and paṭṭa. The design, dimensions, ornaments, number of jewels set in every one of these crowns, as also other architectural details and the names of users and the occasion of the use are elaborately described. The height of the crowns varies in accordance with the importance of the divine or royal bearers. The chapter closes with a recapitulation of the four forms of coronation and the direction as to the conduct of the ceremonial regal procession.

Chapter L:

The ornaments of the body and articles of house furniture are described in the next chapter (L) which is the last chapter on architectural subjects. The personal ornaments are divided into four groups. The patrakalpa is so called because it shows foliated decoration. The citrakalpa consists of floral and foliated designs and precious stones. The ratnakalpa is made of flowers and jewels and the miśrakalpa consists of a mixture of all the others. All these are suited to the deities. The universal monarch, the first of the nine orders of kings, can put on all these excepting the patrakalpa. The miśrakalpa is prescribed for all other kings. In. addition to these general divisions, a list of some thirty personal ornaments is given with details.

The articles of furniture are divided into seven general groups consisting of lamp-posts, fans, mirrors, wardrobes (baskets and chests), palanquins, balances, and cages. The architectural details including measurement of some fifteen cages are given in full.

Chapter LI:

Chapter LI on ‘Triad’ is the first chapter of the sculptural section. This section opens with a detailed account of the materials of which images are made, the specially sculptural measurement being treated in chapters LV, LXVII. The materials are divided (in Chapter LI) into nine classes, namely gold, silver, copper, stone, wood, stucco, grit (also sugar or gravel), glass and terra-cotta. ‘Both, the movable and the stationary images should be made with these nine materials; (of these) the metallic substances (i.e. gold, silver and copper) as well as stucco, grit, glass, and terra-cotta are stated to be the materials for the movable images; and the rest (i.e. stone and wood) are known to be for the immovable images.’

The citrāṅga, ardha-citrāṅga and ābhāsāṅga axe said to be the three kinds of images.. That of which all the limbs are made visible is called the citra (high relief), that of which half the limbs are visible is called the ardha-citra (middle relief), and that of which, one-quarter limbs are visible is called the ābhāsa (low ox bas-relief). But the

Idols are made in the erect, sitting, recumbent and dancing postures. The poses, namely, the equipoise, flexion, three flexions, and excessive flexions are referred to in a later chapter (LVII).

After this preliminary account the sculptural details of the images of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva are given in full. Brahmā is furnished with, four arms and four faces. Two of his hands are curved in the boon-giving and refuge-offering attitudes. The attributes held in his hands are the water-pot and the rosary, or the large and small sacrificial ladles. He wears a diadem and the matted hair, a strip of bark, an upper garment, and. various ornaments. His whole body is of golden colour. His limbs are measured in the large type of ten tāla measures of which details are given in a separate chapter (LXV). He is accompanied by Ms two goddesses, Sarasvatī and Sāvitrī, standing to his right and left respectively, who are measured in the middle ten tāla.

Viṣṇu is also four-armed, but has one head. His head-gear is the diadem called kirīṭa. He wears a yellow garment, while the colour of his body is dark blue. His chest is adorned with the symbol called Śrīvatsa. Two of his hands are in the gift-bestowing and refuge-granting attitudes. His attributes are the lotus-flower, the mace, the discus, and the conch-shell. At the back of his head there is an ornamental nimbus. Among numerous ornaments he is adorned, with a garland of wild flowers which hangs down to his legs. His limbs are also measured in the large ten tāla system. Ho is also attended by two goddesses, Lakṣmī (goddess of prosperity) and Bhūdevī (earth goddess), who are measured in the middle ten tāla.

Śiva, the third member of the Triad, is four-armed and is distinguished by a third eye in the middle of his forehead. Like Brahmā, he wears the matted hair of the ascetic. The figures of Gaṅgā (the river Ganges) and the crescent moon are inserted in his head-dress. On the left side of Ms neck there is the mark of the deadly poison kālakūṭa. His dress consists of a tiger-skin reaching down to the knees and a waist cloth. His complexion is red, (elsewhere stated to be white). Two of his hands are in the attitude of granting a boon and of conferring security. In the remaining two hands he holds an antelope and a tabor or hand-drum. His limbs are also measured in the large ten tāla system. He is accompanied, by the goddess Pārvatī (mountain-maid) who keeps standing or seated on Ms left side. The consort is measured in the middle tea tāla.

The chapter closes with, a brief reference to the pedestals for images which are described elsewhere, and with a direction that the particulars not mentioned here with regard to the carving of these idols should be supplied from tradition (Śāstra).

Chapter LII:

The next chapter (LII) deals with the so-called Phallus which is Ordinarily understood to be an emblem of Śiva, the third member of the Triad. But in fact it is a symbol for all the three members of the Triad. Its bottom portion is called here the Brahmabhāga. and is generally square in shape, the middle portion is called the Viṣṇu-bhāga and is octagonal in shape, and the top portion is called the Śiva-bhāga and is round in shape. These shapes are interchangeable and the topmost point may be like a bud, leaf or umbrella. It also consists of another essential portion, called Pīṭha or pedestal upon which, it stands.

The popularity of its worship throughout the country is indicated by the fact that there are more than, thirty million such emblems, including Viśvanātha at Benares, Somanātha in. Gujarat, Mahākāla at Ujjayinī, and the famous ones at Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Rameśvaram, etc. Architecturally they are classified under several types, such as Śaiva, Pāśupata, Kālamukha, Mahāvrata, Vāma, Bhairava, Samakarṇa, Vardhamāna, Śivāṅka, Svastika; Juti, Chanda, Vikalpa, Ābhāsa; Nāgara, Vesara, Drāviḍa; the four self-revealed ones, namely, Daivika, Mānuṣa, Gāṇava, and Ārsha; those for personal and public worship; those made singly and in a group; and those named as Vajra (diamond), Suvarṇa (golden), etc., according to the material of which they are made. All these are described at great length. Various alternative measures are prescribed for each of them; in some oases as many as thirty-six alternative heights are suggested.

Chapter LIII:

The following chapter (LIII) deals with the Altar (Pīṭha) which symbolically represents Satī (the chaste), the consort of Śiva. The well-known fifty-one Pīṭha-sthāna are the sacred spots spread over the whole country, where the parts of the body of Satī fell after she had been cut to pieces by the discus of Viṣṇu as a result of her quarrel with the gods at a great sacrifice (festival) at her father’s house wherefrom her husband was excluded in order to humiliate him.[3]

The sculptural details of altars are given under the following types: Bhadrapīṭha, Śrībhadra, Śrīviśāla, and Upapīṭha; and also under Nāgara, Vesara and Drāviḍa.

Chapter LIV:

The following female deities or goddesses are next described (in Chapter LIV): Sarasvatī (goddess of learning), Lakṣmī (goddess of prosperity), Mahī (the earth-goddess or mother country), Manaunmādinī (enchantress of mind, the goddess of love), Sāvitrī (consort of Brahmā), Durgā (consort of Śiva) and the seven mothers comprising Vārāhī, Kaumārī, Cāmuṇḍī, Bhairavī, Māhendrī, Vaiṣṇavī, and Brahmāṇī. The former are superior goddesses and are measured in the middle ten tāla, and the latter are inferior and measured in the nine tāla. The characteristic features, complexions, attributes, poses, ornaments, crowns, garments, etc., of every one of these are described in detail.[4] The chapter closes with, a brief reference to the plumb-lines which are more fully treated in a later chapter.

Chapter LV:

The next chapter (LV) describes the Jain images. The opening lines give a detailed account of the various kinds of sculptural measurement. The linear measurement is divided into six kinds. Māna is the measurement of an image from the foot to the top of the head. Pramāṇa is the measurement of breadth. Parimāṇa, is the measurement of girth or circumference. Lambamāna is tho measurement along the plumb-lines. Unmāna is the measurement of thickness or diameter. And Upamāna is the measurement of interspace such as that between the two feet of an. image. Then the ādimāna (primary measurement) refers to the comparative measurement and is divided into nine kinds, as the height of an image is determined by comparing it with the breadth of the temple, with, the height of the cella or sanctum, with, the height of the temple-door, with the base, with the height of the worshipper, with the height of the riding animal (or with the principal idol in case of auxiliary deities), in tāla system, and in cubit. The cubit measure is sub-divided into smaller units such, as the aṅgula, which admits of four varieties. Berāṅgula is the measurement taken by the finger-breadth of the main idol. Mānāṅgula refers to the ordinary absolute measurement which is equivalent to eight yavas (barley corns) or three-fourths of an inch. Mātrāṅgula refers to the measurement determined by the length, of the digit and the width of the middle finger in the right hand of the master (worshipper). And Deha-labdhāṅgula or dehāṅgula refers to one of the equal parts (as in the tāla system) into which the whole length of an image is divided.

The Jain images which are measured in the large ten tāla have a purely human shape, carved in an erect or sitting posture, and may be stationary or movable. They are furnished with, no robes or ornaments, but are placed on a throne decorated with, the makara arch and the kalpa tree. On the chest the śrīvatsa symbol is marked in gold. They are attended by Nārada and other sages, as well as by Yakṣas, Vidyādharas, Siddhas, Nāgendras, Lokapālas, etc. The twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras are also measured in the ten tāla system.

Chapter LVI:

A short account of the Buddhist images is given in Chapter LVI. The Buddha image is measured in the large ten tāla and is thus of the superior type. He has a full face, a long nose, smiling eyes and elongated ears. His body is fleshy, Ms chest broad, his belly round, and his arms long. His complexion is white. He wears a yellow-garment. He is furnished with the uṣṇīṣa or protuberance of the skull, which is a peculiar mark of Buddha. Another Buddhistic mark is the aśvattha or Ficus religiosa, which, along with the kalpa or mythic wonder-tree, is a characteristic feature of the thrones on which. Buddhist figures are placed in an erect or sitting posture.

Chapter LVII:

The images of the sages are described in the next chapter (LVII). They comprise the seven well-known patriarchs, namely Agastya, Kāśyapa, Bhṛgu, Vaśiṣṭha, Bhārgava, Viśvāmitra. and Bharadvāja. Agastya is bright blue in complexion, Kāśyapa yellow, Bhṛgu dark or black, Vaśiṣṭha red, Bhārgava brownish, Viśvāmitra red, and Bharadvāja yellow. Agastya is measured in the seven tāla, Kāśyapa and Bhṛgu in the eight tāla, and the rest in the nine tāla. They are represented in a purely human shape, being two-armed and two-eyed. They wear yellow garments and the sacred thread, and are distinguished by the matted hair of the ascetics. In their two hands they hold a staff and a book. Of Agastya it is stated that he is corpulent and hump-backed.

Chapter LVIII:

Chapter LVIII deals with the semi-divine beings and demons. They are classified under four main groups, namely Yakṣas, Vidyādharas, Gandharvas, and Kinnaras, with Rākṣasas and Nigrahas as two sub-classes of Yakṣas. Rākṣasas are evil spirits, while Nigrahas are supernatural beings of a benevolent or inoffensive disposition. Yakṣas act as attendants to the gods. Vidyādharas are chowry-bearers of the gods and are a kind of fairy possessed of magical powers. Gandharvas are celestial choirs and are celebrated as musicians. Kinnaras are hybrid beings. Their legs are like those of an animal, the upper body is like that of a man, the face is like that of Garuḍa, and the arms are provided with wings. They hold a lute, possess the beautiful hue of a flower, and are adorned with a diadem and a red lotus. The colour of the Yakṣas is dark blue and yellow, and that of the Vidyādharas dark red and yellow. The right legs of Yakṣas are cross-shaped (svastika) and the left bent. In one hand they hold the chowries and the other is kept touching the ground. Yakṣas are placed on a seat with plough-shaped legs stretched backward and forward, and the hands are kept resting on the knees and stretching towards the gate-house. Gandharvas are carved in a sitting or erect posture and are furnished with lutes, etc. All these have two arms and two eyes and are adorned with, the karaṇḍa crown, Yakṣas and Vidyādharas are measured in the nine tāla.

Chapter LIX:

The next chapter (LIX) describes the devotees who are furnished with human features but possess superhuman measures. They are divided into four classes according to the four stages of spiritual advancement known as Sālokya (dwelling in the same world as the deity), Sāmīpya, (dwelling in the vicinity of the deity), Sārūpya (being in close fellowship with the deity) and Sāyujya (being united with, the deity). The images of the Sālokya class of devotees are measured in the large type of nine tāla system, those of the Sāmīpya class in the small type of ten tāla, those of the Sārūpya class in tḥe middle type of ten tāla, and those of the Sāyujya class in the large type of ten, tāla.

Chapter LX:

The riding animals of gods, of the Triad in particular, called Vāhana (conveyance) are described in the next four chapters. The sculptural details of the goose, who is the conveyance of Brahmā, are given in Chapter LX. It is white all over with, red legs and a golden beak. It is measured in the two tāla system. The chapter closes with a, statement that rows of geese should be beautifully carved ox painted in the temples of gods and mansions of Brahmans and kings; they are figured on the entablature, arcitrave, finial, recess (nest), and neck of those buildings.

Chapter LXI:

Chapter LXI opens with a lengthy discussion, on the application, of the rules, for verification (ṣaḍvarga)[?] of various alternative measures, suggested in connection with the riding animals. Garuḍa, the conveyance of Viṣṇu, who is the primary object of the chapter, is described in very great detail. He is a mythical being. Garuḍa is figured partly as a human creature and partly as a bird. He is provided with feathers, wings, painted in five colours, and a beak; but on the other hand, the description refers to his arms, ears, and hair. He wears various ornaments including the karaṇḍa diadem and is gorgeously painted in a, great variety of colours. He assumes a terrific appearance. He is figured in an erect or sitting posture and as meditating on Viṣṇu with joined palms. His limbs are measured in the nine tāla system.

Chapter LXII:

The next chapter (LXII) describes the bull Nandin who is the animal of Śiva. Its image, which may be either recumbent or erect, is placed facing the Śiva temple on a pedestal, either inside the shrine, or in a pavilion in front of the temple, or at the door. Ho is white in colour, but his four legs, hoofs and ears are red. He is covered with a tiger-skin and wears garlands at the neck, and foot-rings or anklets. He is not measured in. any tāla system, but various absolute and comparative measures have been prescribed. The bull is made, solid or hollow, of metals, stone, wood, glass, gems, stucco, baked clay, and grit.

Chapter LXIII:

The lion is the next riding animal described (in Chapter LXIII). The Mountain-Maid Pārvatī rides on him. He is made in an erect, sitting, or recumbent posture. His four legs are like those of the tiger. His colour is white but Ms mane should be red. His nails and teeth are crescent-shaped. He, also, is not measured in any tāla system. His tail is generally equal to his height.

Chapter LXIV:

Chapter LXIV proposes to give a general description of all images particularly of the attendant deities of the Viṣṇu temple. But it actually supplies a general resumé of all kinds of architectural and sculptural measures and of the rules concerning the verification of alternative measures, which have been repeatedly referred to both in the architectural and sculptural sections. The comparative measurement is distinguished into twelve kinds, as it is compared with the Phallus, the main Viṣṇu image, the width of the sanctum, the breadth of the main, temple, the door, the rafter (vaṃśa), the basement, and the pillar, as also in cubit, in the tāla system, in comparison with the worshipper, and in aṅgula of which four varieties have also boon mentioned in Chapter LV. The various sub-divisions of each of these measures, illustrations of their application, and the effect of adopting a particular system are discussed in great detail.

Chapters LXV-LXVI:

Chapters LXV and LXVI supply minutest details of the large and the middle types of the ten tāla system. Under the former the measure of one hundred and fifty-four parts of the body is given. The former is employed in measuring superior gods and the latter for goddesses. The details of other tāla measures have been already given in various chapters. Incidentally, Chapter LXVI supplies a general clue to the exact features of the various important limbs. The lace is stated to be oval or shaped like the egg of a hen. The eye-brows should be shaped like a bow, the eyes like a fish, the nose like a sesame flower, etc, the nostrils like a bean, etc.

Chapter LXVII:

The next chapter (LXVII) deals with the plumb-lines which are drawn through, the body of an image in order to find out accurately the perpendicular and the horizontal measurement of and the distance between different parts of the body. The construction of the boards between which the image is to be placed and of the plummet is described in detail. As many as eleven perpendicular plumb-lines are referred to. The subject has become all the more complicated as the three postures, the erect, sitting, and recumbent, and the four poses, namely, the equipoise, slight flexion, three flexions and excessive flexions, are also taken into consideration in ascertaining the measures along and between the eleven plumb-lines. Thus the variation of the measures of a figure is carefully considered in each. case.

Chapter LXVIII:

The next chapter (LXVIII) deals with, the casting of images in wax. The chapter opens with an enumeration of the names of phalli and ascetics, as well as of architects. So far as the casting is concerned all kinds of images, temporary or permanent, stationary or movable, art moulded in wax. The process slightly varies according to the materials of which an idol is made. Generally a half of the image is covered with a thin copper leaf ox melted iron, and the wax is laid two or three aṅgulas deep; and the other half is covered with earth. The metallic portion is washed in water. Thus in casting images in metals wax is melted and poured out of the mould and defects are removed with, cloth. Metal images are first made of wax and coated with earth; gold and other metals are purified and cast into the mould. For images made of earth rods of wood or metal are inserted in them.

Chapter LXIX:

Chapter LXIX deals with the defects of the limbs. It is laid down that no part of a building should be larger or smaller than what is prescribed; The evil consequences of a defective construction threaten the king, the kingdom, the master, and the maker. The penalties for defective const ruction are enumerated with reference to architectural objects, but nothing is specifically stated regarding the sculptural objects.

Chapter LXX:

The concluding chapter (LXX) deals with the chiselling of the eyes of an. image, which is the final function. The purification and setting of precious stones in the images and phalli are also mentioned. The chapter closes with a statement that this science of architecture and sculpture was originally described by Brahmā, Indra, and all other gods, and that the text has been compiled on the basis of these authorities.

This brief outline of the chapters, if read with reference to the Index, where under each term all necessary information has been gathered together, with great labour, may supply the gist of the summary without which an average reader might find it rather difficult to form a complete and connected idea by a single reading of the text or the translation.

Footnotes and references:


For identification of these places see details in the writer’s Indian Architecture, pp. 173-175,


In the Matsya-purāṇa (chapter 270, v. 1-16) pavilions are divided according to the number of pillars (see the writer’s Dictionary, pp. 471-472).


In Persian architecture similar altars are the only relics to represent the temple which was not in vogue there (for details see the writer’s article ‘The Indo-Persian Architecture,’ the Calcutta Review, 1930, February, pp. 163-179; March, pp. 373-379; April, pp. 22-35).


A reference to the Index may supply a brief summary of the details.

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