Vastu-shastra (1): Canons of Architecture

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

This page describes Other Acaryas (chief preceptors) of Vastushastra 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.

(iv) Other Ācāryas (chief preceptors) of Vastuśāstra

There is a long line of the preceptors of Vastuśāstra as referred to in the. different sources like Matsya-Purāṇa, Agni-Purāṇa, Bṛhatsaṃhitā, Mānasāra, Sānatkumāra-Vāstuśāstra and Viśvakarma-Vāstuśāstra. My predecessor Dr. Bhattacharya has discussed this subject in great details and I have no inclination to enter into the details as most of the matters discussed by the learned author of ‘A study of Vāstu Vidyā or canons of Indian architecture’ are very much disputable, especially the identity of two Viśvakarmās, two Mayas and the late date of the Mānasāra, Kāśyapaśilpa etc. etc. The controversy is not very much desirable either, here in this context of my presentation of an outline history of the science. For the sake of completeness, however some remarks are called for. Let us first take the names of these ancient Ācāryas as per the authority of the different texts:

(i) Matsyapurāṇa:

  1. Bhṛgu,
  2. Atri,
  3. Vaśiṣṭha [Vasiṣṭha?],
  4. Viśvakarmā,
  5. Maya,
  6. Nārada,
  7. Nagnajit,
  8. Viśālākṣa,
  9. Purandara or Śakra,
  10. Brahmā,
  11. Kumāra,
  12. Nandīśa (Śambhu),
  13. Śaunaka,
  14. Garga,
  15. Vāsudeva,
  16. Aniruddha,
  17. Śukra,
  18. Bṛhaspati and
  19. Manu.

(ii) Agnipurāṇa:

N.B.—Here are enlisted not the preceptors but their works, the Tantras passing by their names; hence these names as authorized by the Agnipurāṇa itself are to be reckoned as the preceptors of the Śāstra in its better and more fuller connotation (ie. Tantra is Science specially the science of the Philosophy of the ritual and the metaphysics connected with Arcā, Arcya, Arcaka and Arcāgṛha):—

  1. Hayaśīrṣa,
  2. Trailokyamohan,
  3. Vibhava (Vaibhava Tantra),
  4. Puṣkara (Pauṣkara Tantra),
  5. Prahlāda (cf. Prāhlāda Tantra),
  6. Garga (cf. Gārgya Tantra),
  7. Gālava,
  8. Nārada (Nāradīya Tantra),
  9. Sampraśna,
  10. Śāṇḍilya,
  11. Viśvaka (Vaiśvaka Tantra),
  12. Satya (Sātya Tantra),
  13. Śaunaka,
  14. Vaśiṣṭha [Vasiṣṭha?] (cf. Vāśiṣṭha [Vāsiṣṭha?] Tantra),
  15. Jñānasāgara,
  16. Svayambhu (Svāyambhava Tantra),
  17. Kapila (Kāpila Tantra),
  18. Tārkṣya,
  19. Nārāyaṇa (Nārāyaṇika Tantra),
  20. Atri (Atreya Tantra),
  21. Narasiṃha (Nārasiṃha Tantra),
  22. Ānanda,
  23. Aruṇa (Āruṇa Tantra),
  24. Bauddhāyana,
  25. Ṛṣi (Ārṣa).

N.B.—Six of these names (nos. 6, 8,13, 14, 16 and 20) may be said to be common to those mentioned in the text of the Matsyapurāṇa.

(III) Bṛhatsaṃhitā:

  1. Parāśara,
  2. Kaśyapa and
  3. Bharadvāja etc.

(IV) Mānasāra: (cf. LXVIII)

  1. Viśvakarmā,
  2. Viśveśa,
  3. Viśvasāra,
  4. Prabodhaka,
  5. Vṛta,
  6. Maya,
  7. Tvaṣṭṛ,
  8. Manu,
  9. Nala,
  10. Mānavit,
  11. Mānakalpa,
  12. Mānasāra,
  13. Praṣṭṛ,
  14. Mānabodha,
  15. Viśvabodha,
  16. Naya,
  17. Ādisāra,
  18. Viśāla,
  19. Viśvakāśyapa,
  20. Vāstubodha,
  21. Mahātantra,
  22. Vāstu-vidyāpati,
  23. Pārāśariyaka,
  24. Kālayūpa,
  25. Caitya,
  26. Citraka,
  27. Āvarya,
  28. Sādhakasārasaṃhitā,
  29. Bhānu,
  30. Indra,
  31. Lokajña and
  32. Saura.

(V) Sanatkumāra-Vāstaśāstra:

  1. Brahmā,
  2. Indra,
  3. Yama,
  4. Bhargava,
  5. Aṅgirasa,
  6. Gautama,
  7. Gārgya,
  8. Manu,
  9. Vyāsa,
  10. Bhṛgu,
  11. Viśvakarmā.

(VI) Viśvakarma-Vāstuśāstra:—

It refers to the ancient authorities, the Pūrva-Sūris at several places. In the first list (in the context of Māna) they are Guru (Bṛhaspati), Maghavā (Indra), Nandī and Nārada. The second list is more informative and here are listed as many as the following fifteen Vāstuśāstra-Pravaktās; some of whom are not very familiar names:

  1. Agastya,
  2. Nandī,
  3. Nārada,
  4. Bṛhaspati,
  5. Timyaloka,
  6. Kaśyapa,
  7. Lokadarśaka,
  8. Kātyāyana,
  9. Mārīci,
  10. Citratoyaka,
  11. Pālakāpya,
  12. Puṇḍarīka,
  13. Dīrghadarśī,
  14. Punarvasu and
  15. Yogasāra.

There is yet another list of the ancient preceptors in this text, though not in connection with the Vāstu-lore, but with the weapons and their allied Mantra-śaktis etc. They include such names as Atri, Vasiṣṭha [Vaśiṣṭha?], Pulaha, Kāśyapa, Bhṛgunandana, Mārīci, Cyavana, Kaṇva, Viśvāmitra, Nārada, Vālakhilya-branda, Lokadarśaka, Dīrghadarṣī Kundaroma, Gālava, Pañcavāraka, Bhāradvāja, Kṣatrapāla, Keśika Madhusūdana, Sudarśana and Piṅga. These are the great sages ‘svara-śakti-kriyā-koṭidhvani-tādyupadeśinaḥ’.

All these great teachers cannot be said to be legendary. Parā and Aparā, both the Vidyās used to be propagated in ancient India. No nation can flourish without its care for its material prosperity. All this technique and training and their systematic and successful teaching and transmission were of equal importance. Most of the treatises of Vāstuśāstra carry many of these names, yet a good many of them are quoted as authorities, yet still others are honoured with actual passages being quoted from their works. The following tabulation may help us in our estimation of these authorities:

A. Names associated with the treatises:

  1. Atri: Samūrtārcanādhikaraṇa or Ātreya-tantra.
  2. Viśvakarman: associated with several treatises (see ahead)
  3. Maya—Mayamatam [Mayamata]
  4. Nārada—Nārada-Vāstu-vidhāna and Naradaśilpaśātra
  5. Śukra—Śukranītisāra
  6. Bhṛgu—Vaikhānasāgama
  7. Nagnajit—Gitralakṣaṇa
  8. Kaśyapa—Kāsyapa-śilpa
  9. Agastya - Sakalādhikāra
  10. Prahlāda—Prāhlāda-tantra
  11. MārkaṇḍeyaPurāṇa, Tantra & Vāstuśāstra
  12. Mārīci—Vaikhānasāgama

B. Names cited as authorities in:

  1. Bhṛgu—Śilparatna, Viśva. śilpa, Atrisaṃhitā & Vāsturatnāvalī
  2. Atri—Bṛhatsaṃhitā of Varāhamihira and Agnipurāṇa
  3. Maya—Br. Sam. and Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati
  4. Viśālākṣa - Arthaśāstra, Mānasāra, Agni & Devi Purāṇas
  5. Parandara—or Śakra—Br. Sam., Mānasāra and Śilparatna
  6. Kumāra—Śilparatna
  7. Śaunaka—Agnipurāṇa & Rājamārtaṇḍa-saṃgraha of Varāhamihira.
  8. Garga—Br. Sam., Viśvakarma Pr. and Sanatkumāra-Vāstuśāstra
  9. Vāsudeya—Viśvakarmaprakāśa
  10. Śukra—Śilparatna, Viśvakarmaśilpa and Br. Sam.
  11. Bṛhaspati—Br. Sam. and Mānasāra
  12. Manu—Br. Sam, Mānasāra and Viśvakarma-prakāśa
  13. Parāśara—Viśvakarmaprakāśa, Mānasāra & Śilparatna
  14. Kāsyapa—Mānasāra, Śilparatna & Atri-saṃhitā
  15. Agastya—Śilparatna & Mānasāra
  16. Mārkaṇḍeya—Hayaśirṣapañcarātra and Viṣṇudharmottaram [Viṣṇudharmottara]
  17. Nārada—Agni P. and Mānasāra
  18. Naganjit—Br. Sam and Citralakṣaṇa
  19. Nandīśa—Br. Sam. (commentary)
  20. Śukra—Br. Sam. Commentary and Nāradaśilpśāstra
  21. Bṛhaspati—Br. Sam. Commentary, Nāradaśilpaśāstra, Devī-purāṇa and Mānasāra

C. Names, the passages from whose works are quoted:

  1. Bhṛgu—Vāsturatnāvalī, Śilpasaṃgraha and Hayaśīrṣapañcarātra.
  2. Vaśiṣṭha [Vasiṣṭha?]—Raghunandan’s [Raghunandana’s?] Vāstuyajñatattva [Vāstuyāgatattva?] and Vāsturatnāvalī
  3. Viśvakarmā—Bhattotpala’s commentary on Br. Sam.
  4. Maya—Bhattotpala, Īśānaśivaguradevapaddhati and Śilparatna.
  5. Nārada—Raghunandana’s Maṭhapratiṣṭhā and Vāsturatnāvalī
  6. Nagnijit—Bhattotpala’s commentary on Br. Sam.
  7. Purandara—,,,,,,,,
  8. Brahmā—Brahmaśilpa quoted in Śilpasaṃgraha, Brāhma-Yāmala (ibid) and Pitāmaha in Īśāna.
  9. Nandīśa—(Śambhu) Vāsturatnāvalī
  10. Śaunaka—Raghunandana’s Jalāśayotsarga
  11. Garga—Bhattotpala’s commentary
  12. Bṛhaspati—Bhattotpala’s
  13. Parāśara—Bhattotpala’s & Iśāna [Īśāna?]
  14. Kaśyapa—Bhattotpala’s
  15. Bharadvāja—Bhattotpala’s

This tabulation is very interesting at least from one point of view; it gives you to understand the unique place of Bṛhatsaṃhitā’s celebrated commentator in reconstructing our art history. Bṛhatsaṃhitā is the earliest datable work and its commentary by Bhattotpala is a landmark in our architectural history. Unless these ancient authorities were very popular and a flourishing tradition how could they have got a place in an early commentary on a standard text on the subject? Secondly to determine their respective chronology is very difficult of solution and a concentrated research is called for. Most of the manuals of Vāstuśāstra, the science of Architecture, are records of oral traditions which go back to undefined past. Some of them like Bṛhatsaṃhitā, Viṣṇudharmottaram [Viṣṇudharmottara] are datable works and the references to these authorities in such works are very valuable for reconstructing the relative chronology. Similarly Viśvakarma-prakāśa may be deemed as a datable work. Dr. Kramrisch conjectures, (H.T. p. 425) “If the name of Bṛhadratha, in the Viśvakarmaprakāśa could be taken to refer to the last Maurya king of that name, the Viśvakarma-Prakāśa would thereby show its teaching established in Eastern India before 184 B. G”. As regards other treatises, the dates of which are approximately certain, are later works e.g. Śilparatna, Tantrasamuccaya, Aparājita-pṛcchā, Samarāṅgaṇa Sūtradhāra etc.

Dr. Bhattacharya has also taken pains to make an attempt to locate these early authorities of Vāstuśāstra to their respective schools, the Drāvida [Drāviḍa?] or the southern and the Nāgara or the Northern. But as per the above thesis (cf. Viśvakarma’s role in both the traditions) this watertight allocation is difficult for establishment. More concentrated, critical and objective study is needed to formulate any workable hypothesis. For information’s sake however, his conclusions regarding the allocation of these Ācāryas to the principal schools of Indian architecture may be noted in brief:

Ācāryas of the Dravidian or Southern School:

  1. Brahmā,
  2. Tvaṣṭṛ,
  3. Maya,
  4. Mātaṅga,
  5. Bhṛgu,
  6. Kāśyapa,
  7. Agastya,
  8. Śukra,
  9. Parāśara,
  10. Nagnajit,
  11. Nārada,
  12. Prahlāda,
  13. Śakra (Purandara),
  14. Bṛhaspati and
  15. Mānasāra.

Ācāryas of the Nāgara or Northern school:

  1. Śambhu (Nandīśa),
  2. Garga,
  3. Atri,
  4. Vaśiṣṭha [Vasiṣṭha?],
  5. Bṛhadratha,
  6. Viśvakarmā and
  7. Vāsudeva.

N.B. The details may be seen in Dr. Tarapada’s work.

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