Vastu-shastra (1): Canons of Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 63,284 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes Foreword of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) first part (Fundamental Canons/Literature). It discusses basic concepts such as the philosophy, astronomy, geography and history of Hindu Architecture. Vastushastra can be traced to ancient literature while this thesis also reveals details regarding some of the prime canonical works.

Dr. Shukla desired me to write a foreword to his Vāstu-Śāstra Volume I, Hindu Science of Architecture, with special reference to Bhoja’s Samarāṅgaṇa-Sūtradhāra. I naturally hesitated to accept his suggestion as I have no deep acquaintance with the subject so ably dealt with by Dr. Shukla in this Volume. I am, however, greatly interested in Vāstu-śāstra and since this book deals with that science in a scientific manner, I have ventured to write a few words by way of foreword. We arc reluctant to believe in Sanskrit Literature and lore anything other than Hymns, Sūtras, Philosophy, Religion, Mythology, Grammar, Poetry and Drama. As a matter of fact Sanskrit lore is a rich store-house of technical sciences and arts but no systematic presentation of the same has been done so far. From this point of view Dr. Shukla’s dedicated efforts in this realm of our ancient wisdom is a matter of great satisfaction. He has published more than half a dozen works on the subject of the Hindu canons of architecture, sculpture (iconography) and painting. These are understood by Sanskrit scholars like Shukla as constituting Vāstuśāstra, Śilpaśāstra and Citraśāstra. Two volumes on this subject are indeed of special interest and should be of special interest even to laymen. These two volumes are based on his Ph. D. and D.Litt. Theses and are published with the grants received from the University Grants Commission which consider these works as of high merit and high research scholarship. The perusal of expert opinions expressed by such eminent Indian scholars like Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Mirashi, Dr. J. N. Banerjea and Prof. C. D. Chatterjee will show how scholarly these works arc I should think that Dr. Shukla deserves still greater credit and greater praise not only for the work done but for his high devotion to Sanskrit research in this branch of Indology. Probably he is the first earnest research scholar in this field.

I find this work to be an extended study of Dr. Shukla’s Ph. D. Thesis “A study of Bhoja’s Samarāṅgaṇa-Sūtradhāra, a treatise on the science of Architecture”. The Samarāṅgaṇa-Sūtradhāra of King Bhojadeva is a datable work and in the opinion of Dr. Shukla it is the most authoritative and standard medieval compendium of Hindu canons of architecture, sculpture and painting Undoubtedly it is a scientific and systematic study by Dr. Shukla who is really a pioneer in this branch of Sanskrit lore. The value of the work is enhanced as critical study of five other important texts, namely, Mānasāra, Mayamata, Śilparatna, Aparājitapṛcchā [Aparājitapṛcchā] and Viśvakarma-Vāstuśāstra is included. It is not my intention nor am I competent also to make any detailed comments on the work presented to the reader in this volume. I have no doubt scholars and experts will critically evaluate the same. I think I ought to observe that some of the themes have been elucidated by Dr. Shukla in a right, modern and scientific manner. These arc fundamental canons of Hindu Architecture like site-planning what the ancient had termed Vāstupada-vinyāsa; the theory of orientation what is called Diṅnirṇaya and the importance of the rythm in the structures, the Chandas etc. A perusal of the code of masonry, its virtues and defects and the demarcation of the three broad divisions of architecture, the civil or secular architecture, the aristocratic architecture or palace-architecture and the devotional or religious architecture, will convincingly show that the Hindus had developed all the three kinds of architecture in ancient times.

From the stand-point of pure research the preparation of voluminous anthologies of Vāstu-lakṣaṇas, Pratimā-lakṣaṇas and Citra-lakṣaṇas by Dr. Shukla is indeed a contribution of no small importance. It is altogether a new presentation in the contemporary Sanskrit scholarship and research and I am sure even the more orthodox Sanskrit scholars would appreciate the new research technique as initiated and enunciated by Dr. Shukla, In this volume, it appears that Dr Shukla has fully used all that has been said or written about the subject concerned and he has acknowledged it himself. Both these works, namely Vāstuśāstra Vol. I and Vāstuśāstra Vol. II represent a lucid survey of the whole field of this technical branch of Sanskrit lore. Dr. J. N. Banerjea has stated that Dr. Shukla should have included the illustrations from amongst the Indian monuments which are really our rich architectural heritage. However, I hope that Dr. Shukla will take this into consideration when he publishes his volume no. Ill which, I understand, is going to be the concluding volume to complete the survey not only on Śāstric lines out on objective lines as well.

I have no doubt that the public, both expert and lay, will find this work of great value. Modern engineers, in particular, will find this volume a source of inspiration, something that will provoke thought and may possibly bring some contribution to current thinking on the subject. Such works shall take a long time to be appreciated and longer time still for being re-printed. From this point of view, it is necessary that, the first edition should be excellently printed and excellently edited. Study of Sanskrit is becoming more popular after independence but I feel the tradition of devoted and dedicated work, particularly, in Sanskrit research, is not well-sustained. A scientific an systematic outlook in the interpretation of Sanskrit lore deserves to be encouraged. Dr. Shukla’s research work, I am sure, will inspire younger generation to undertake such work. In conclusion I hope that Dr. Shukla completes all the ten volumes of this particular branch of Indology as he has contemplated.

I wish him success in this.

Governor, Punjab.

15th March, 1961.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: