Vastu-shastra (1): Canons of Architecture

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

This page describes (iv.b) Aparajitapriccha (Subject-matter and Creation) 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.b) Aparājitapṛcchā (Subject-matter and Creation)

Origin of the Śāstra and its scope—Here a graphic description of the mountain Gandhamādana follows where 81 Ṛṣis were practising penances and it was at this pious place that god Viśvakarmā had founded his hermitage. Aparājita, his fourth mānasa son, after offering his salutation to his father begs of his permission for the questionair related to the Sūtraśāstra (I). Thus obtained the mandate, the worthy son Aparājita faces his father with a volley of questions intimately related to the lore of an architect, the Sūtradhāra akin to the Jayapṛcchā in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra a detailed notice of which has already been taken in the preceeding pages. Thus in this 2nd Sūtra (chap.) a very broad scope of the science—vide Vāstulakṣaṇa—has been hinted at.

N.B.—Now is the turn of Viśvakarmā to take all these queries one by one in which all the knowable subjects were put up by the great seeker. These relate to the creation in general as well human and divine, indirectly related to human-planning and also to all those subjects which directly fall in the domain of an architect. Aparājita does not sit idle, he puts so many inter-questions in the middle of the discourse. It is in this way that the complete Vāstuśastra is evolved in the following pages.

Creation.—Brahmāṇda (3): A. Pātālalokas: Tala-vitala-sutalas; B. Martyalokas: Jambū-plakṣa-kuśa-krauñca-śālmali-śuka-puṣkaras 7 Dvīpas;kṣāra-kṣīra-dadhi-sarpi-madhu-ikṣu-udakas, 7 oceans;Meru-mandara-gandhamādana-himavad-himakūṭa-niṣadha-nīla-śveta-śṛṅga-vats, 9 kulācalas;mahendra-malaya-sahya-vindhya-hemanta-pārijāta-śrīśaila-arbuda-udayādri-trikūṭ-devīpaśaila-vindhyācala-maināka-bhūpariṣa-kaṅkaṭa-prāntakodbhavas 16 (or only 15 as vindhya seems to be repeated) Kulaśaila-vanāni (Forests attached to Kula-mountains) (4); C. Svargalokas: Seven uppermost Iokas—bhuvasvar-mahas-jana-tapas-satya-jñānas as abodes of gods—also seven-fold Mālikās—Kāñcanasabhā-sphaṭikanirmalā-indranīlā-vaidūryā-padmarāgā-vajrakā-sarvaratnādhyās—above which resides Brahma-Tejas, The Primordial Prakṛti, whose qualities being Sattva, Rajas, Tamas and their Powers (5); Rise of the eightfold Powers:—Ditī, Asurī, Gandharvī, Yakṣī, Vidyādharī, Narendrī, Nāgarājendrī, and Aditi and the rise of creation from these Powers (6).

Now is taken up the creation of the world, under the title ‘Sṛṣṭisaṃsārāvataraṇam [sṛṣṭi-saṃsāra-avatāra?]’ and herein is introduced Kāśyapa and his Five Daughters from whom seven-fold Netherland-regional kingdoms, their people and respective kings, sevenfold continents their countries, people and kings etc etc. have been elaborated. Incidently the abodes of Gandharvas, Vidyādharas;Yakṣas etc. the denizens of heaven have also been hinted at. Then follows the description of sevenfold Iokas and above all the great Meru where Mahādeva resides and from there (and from whom) the whole creation springs (7-9).

Further next is taken up this mortal world with its Bhutagrāmas in which the Āgamic accounts inter-mingled with Tantric philosophy based on Śāmbhavadarśana are very much elaborated to give an impression that the author of the Aparājita is follower of both the Āgamas and Purāṇas alike. This is one unique feature of this text and is quite in keeping with the genius and the spirit of the times when this work was compiled. It was great epoch of Indian unity and brotherhood culminating in all India composite culture where petty sectarian dissensions and differences had lost their ignoble value and a more tolerant and catholic out-look was being cultivated to face the alien upsurge which was destroying the very roots of the culture and the art of the land. We are familiar with the tenets of Śāmbhava-philosophy where the supremacy of the Lord Śiva and the Universal Energy, the Devi, the Śakti is equally adorable and it is from their conjugated Principles that this Universe is taken to have been evolved. All these accounts of creations, accordingly, of this text, are coloured on every page and in every line with this fundamental background of Metaphysics and Mythology. Hence these borrowings from Āgamas and Tantras on the one one hand and Purāṇas like Skanda and Śiva (Vidyeśvarasaṃhitā) etc. on the other can be understood and appreciated.

The question is: What is the significance of these mythologies and philosophies in a text on Vāstu, architecture, sculpture and the fine arts of Painting etc. Here broad Hindu view of the art and still broader and loftier principle of planning, which is the elder sister of creation, as per the following doctrine of the S. S.: “vāstu brahmā sasarjādau viśvamapyakhilaṃ [...svilaṃ?] tathā”—i.e. Brahma, before creating this world, first created Vāstu the essence of which is planning, come to our rescue. Naturally in any human planning—be it a town or a residential house, not only its surrounding regions or environments are worthy of consideration but also the country at large, the whole world at larger and the planets (under whose sway this vast world of ours works) at the largest, are to be taken into consideration and this brings us to the domain of the whole creation. Human life is not isolated. It is guided by the stars who reside in different planets. Hence the knowledge of the different planets and the Iokas is a great requirement of the planner who is nobody else than the architect of the land. Viśvakarmā is our national architect. His sons are the prototypes of the architect-guilds This is the sum and substance of these elaborations in a technical work—wrongly discarded as non-architectural matters.

Accordingly in the text—vide Sūtra 11-21 all these planets and their systems have been described. It is they who have evolved the time and its various ramifications into tithis, kalās, black and white fortnights, months, seasons, years, yugas, manvantaras and lastly the kalpas etc. etc. At the end of the Kalpa, gods get absorbed in themselves or in the Five liṅgas or in the spirits of all the Bhūtas.

Naturally even in kalpānta, Five liṅgas exist as they are eternal and it is from them that Creation again follows:

līyante sarvadevāśca kalpānte liṅgamadhyagāḥ |
kalpāntato'kṣayaṃ liṅgaṃ............ ||
dvipe [?] dvipe puna [? stvevaṃ?]...... |
tebhyo jātā punassṛṣṭirjagatsthāvarajaṅgamam ||

Accordingly in the Sutra no. 22 this whole creation as rising from the Five Eternal Liṅgas has been described. Then from 23rd to 29th all the Ten Incarnations of Viṣṇu have been taken up meaning thereby the Evolution of the world. Creation itself is not sufficient unless it gets evolved into different chanels of life and matter. These Incarnations therefore, may be regarded as open books of Evolution

With this very meaningful introduction of the creation and evolution etc. now Aparājita, the great seeker asks the Lord Viṣṇu (who had come to the Mountain Gandhamādana on his own accord) that he had learnt the secrets of His Incarnations alright but how and when was Tvaṣṭṛ born? At this Viṣṇu replied—vide 30th Sūtra and his expatiations intermingled with the middle queries related to the advent of Viśvakarmā with his four mānasa sons on the stage (31-32); and here then comes up the regular subject matter of the planning of the earth, the Vastu, which planned out becomes Vāstu.

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