Vastu-shastra (1): Canons of Architecture

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

This page describes General Introduction 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.

(i) General Introduction

King Bhoja of Dhārā, one of the greatest rulers of India, ruled from 1018 to 1060 A. D. He was great in the art of Government and war, but still greater in the art of peace. He had earned immortal fame as a great patron of poets and men of letters and a mass of legends has grown about his name. He is reported to be the author of more than three dozen works. These works, published and unpublished, show a wide range of subjects. Poetics, grammar, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, lexicography, architecture and archery, to mention only a few of the subjects, distinct in nature and definite in their respective domains, had an equal fascination for the illustrious king.

Sri Viśveś ara Nātha Reu has laboured very hard in his treatise on ‘Rājā Bhoja’ (published by Hindustani Academy) in collecting all the available material on the subject to give an account of the life and works of Bhoja. He has given a list of the following thirty four books ascribed to Rājā Bhoja of Dhārā:

1. Astronomy:—1. Rājamṛgāṅka, 2. Rājamārtaṇḍa, 3. Vidyujjana-vallabha-praśnajñāna, 4. Ādityapratāpa-siddhānta and 5. Bhujabalanibandha.

2. Poetics:—6. Sarasvatī-kaṇṭhābharaṇa and 7. Śṛṅgāra-prakāśa.

3. Yoga-philosophy:—8. Rājamārtaṇḍa-Yoga-sūtra-vṛtti (commentary on Pātañjala-Yoga-Sūtra).

4. Politics and Dharma-Śāstra:—9. Pūrtamārtaṇḍa, 10. Cāṇakya-Rājanītiśāstra, 11. Vyavahāra-sammuccaya, 12. Cārucaryā, 13. Vividha-vidyāvicāra-caturā and 14. Siddhānta-sārapaddhati.

5. Architecture (Śilpa):—15. Samarāṅgaṇa-sūtradhāra and 16. Yuktikalpataru.

6. Poetry & Drama:—17. Campū-Rāmāyaṇa (or Bhoja-Campū), 18. Mahākālī-vijaya, 19. Vidyā-vinoda, 20. Śṛṅgāra-mañjarī (prose) and 21. Kūrmaśataka (in Prakṛta).

7. Grammar:—22. Prākṛta-Vyākaraṇa and 23. Sarasvatī-kaṇṭhābharaṇa.

8. Medicine:—24. Viśrānta-vidya-vinoda, 25. Āyurveda-sarvasva and 26. Rājamārtaṇḍa-sārasaṃgraha.

9. Śaivism:—27. Śivatattva-prakāśa, 28. Sivatattva-ratnakalikā and 29. Siddhānta-saṃgraha.

10. Lexicons:—30. Nāmamālikā and 31. Sabdānuśāsana.

11. Miscellaneous:—32. Śālihotra, 33. Subhāṣita-prabandha and 34. Rājamārtaṇḍa (Vedānta).

The question of authorship of these works is worthy of an independent investigation. Nothing can be said authoritatively—what books were his own and what were produced under his patronage by the talented Pandits of his Sabhā. Tradition, however, warrants us to remark that king Bhoja did win the laurels as versatile, talented and authoritative an author, as per the evidence which has come down from the writings of his successor writers who have acclaimed his authorship of the different works on the different subjects.

Aufrecht (vide his Catalogus Catalogrum) says that there are references to the authorship of Bhoja in the following post-Bhoja writers and works:—

  1. Śūlapāṇi (cf. Prāyaścitta-viveka);
  2. Daśabala—the Buddhist writer;
  3. Allādanātha and
  4. Raghunandana.

N. B.—All these writers have acclaimed Bhoja’s authority’ on Dharmaśāstra.

  1. Bhāvaprakāśa and Rugviniścaya of Madhava attribute to him the authorship of the works on Ayurveda.
  2. Keśavārka acclaims him a writer on Astronomy.
  3. Kṣīra-svāmī, Sāyaṇa and Mahīpa acclaim him as a grammarian and lexicographer.

Similarly the following quotations also prove the place of Bhoja among the reputed Sanskrit-authors:—

munīnāṃ bharatādīnāṃ bhojādīnāṃ camūbhṛtām |
śāstrāṇi samyagālocya nāṭyavedārthavedinām ||

(cf. Kāṭayavema’s commentary on Abhijñāna-Śākuntala ref. in Government Mss. Litrary Madras—Sanskrit books—Pt. I. Sec. I (A) p. 405—Kuppuswami).

bhojarājena yatproktaṃ smārttamanyatra coditam
nyāyasiddhaṃ ca saṃgṛhya vacanāni purātanaiḥ ||
anuṣṭhāna prakārārtha smṛtiratnaṃ mayocyate ||

(ibid 646)

bhoja ivāyaṃ nirato nānāvidha-nibandha-nirmāṇe |
samayocchinnaprāye sodyogaḥ kāmaśāstre'pi ||

(cf. Kandarpa-cūḍāmaṇi of King Vīrabhadra).

We know that Bhoja’s works like Sṛṅgāra-prakāśa [Śṛṅgāraprakāśa?], Sarasvatī-kaṇṭhābharaṇa and Rajamārtaṇḍa and his contribution in these works were quite well known. His contribution to the science of architecture was very little known or practically unknown till the Late Mahāmahopādhyāya T. Gaṇapati Śāstri, edited this work in the G. O. S. in two volumes. Naturally, therefore, the life and works of such a gifted and talented author, such a versatile genius must fascinate any researchscholar. It was my good fortune that my revered teacher Prof. K.A.S. Iyer prescribed for me the subject “THE LIFE AND WORKS OF RĀJA BHOJA” for my Ph.D. dissertation after I had taken my M. A. in Sanskrit from the University of Lucknow in 1940.

[Continue reading at the Introduction to the Samarāṅgaṇa-Sūtradhāra]

Footnotes and references:


It is on the nucleus of this study of Bhoja‘s Samarāṅgaṇa-Sūtradhāra that I have instituted an extensive research under the general caption ‘Bharatīya Vāstuśāstra or Vāstuśāstra and have attempted a comprehensive survey of the whole branch of this technical lore—vide the series of my publications already refered to, in the Introduction.

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