Vastu-shastra (1): Canons of Architecture

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

This page describes (iv.c) Aparajitapriccha (Summary) 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.c) Aparājitapṛcchā (Summary)

This subject-matter may be conveniently sub-divided into the following heads:

I. Scope of the Śāstra:

Mission of Planning and its Trinity—Earth the substratum, king Pṛthu, the patron-lord and the planner-architect Viśvakarmā (cf, the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra I)—vide 33rd Sutra, Then is expounded ths domain of the Planner in the respective querries of all the four sons, Jaya, Vijaya, Siddhārtha and Aparājita—vide Sūtra 34th.

Earth, Netherlands Continents, Oceans, Lokas, Mountains etc.—their dimensions, locations, characteristics of peoples and countries etc. etc. (35-36).

N. B.—The opening verse of the 35th chapter gives you a clear idea of the aerial survey of the world by Viśvakarmā:

puṣpakaṃ tu samā[???] merumāśritya dakṣiṇam |
vilokitā bhūtadhātrī samuvrāntā [?] ca medinī ||

—which is the most modern device of surveying the land and landscape for foundation of a big metropolis or large industrial town, Our ancient masters must have some unique devices of measurements as the minutest of details of the dimensions etc. of the earth with its mountains, oceans, and countries could not have been forthcoming.

Thus surveying Viśvakarmā saw as many as nine Khaṇḍas of the earth (37) and as the treatise is directly concerned with the sacred land of ours the following chapter (38) describes in detail the Bhārata-varṣa, its area, settlements (villages etc.) kingdoms and kings. Next follow the mahāvanas, upavanas and the kānanas (the differences being: Mahāvanas the great forests are the Mountain-beds;the Upavanas small forerts, just in the vicinity of the habitations of men and Kānanas man-made gardens).

II. Preliminaries to actual operations—going to the forest for wood.

This gives you to attack an architectural mission—Dāru-āharaṇa—visit to the forests for bringing wood worthy of use in the house-construction (39). The 40th chapter incidently takes up the topic of the collection of stone for the sculptural purposes liṅga-icons etc.

III. Code of Measurements:

The 41st Sūtra deal with this code.

IV. Sūtras 42-47:

Sūtras 42-47 relate to the astronomical-astrological and mathematical problems.

V. Examination of the soil:

Examination of the soil and selection of the site and other accessory rites and operations like Vāstupūjā and ācāryapūjā etc. (48).

N.B.—Incidently here in the 49tn and the?0th Sūtras the selection of an architect and his qualification are taken up.

Next follow Bhūparigraha i.e. digging the whole and ascertaining its suitability or otherwise and the Plavavicāra i.e. declivity or proclivity (extension to a particular direction) of the plot along with the vegetation in the environment—the trees etc. (particular trees being deemed as auspicious) and testing of the different soils in respect of their colour, taste and smell etc. All these tests undertaken the Kīlakāropaṇa and Kūrmapratiṣṭha arc delineated upon (51-52).

VI. Site-planning (53-62)

N.B.—chapters have been noticed in the body of the work—vide Town-Planning ahead and hence no repetition here.

VII. Determining of the auspicious dates etc.

Ayādivicāra, (63-66) the topic reserved for the subsequent Chapter of this part.

VIII. Determining the aspect and prospect of the building—

Chandanirṇaya (67-68), the Meru, Khaṇḍameru, Patākā etc. six Chandas (also to be dwelt at length in the subsequent chapter).

IX. (A) Buildings (in general)—origin, types etc.

Harmyas and Śālās (along with their total number of varieties)

(B) Royal palaces—

With their types of Māḍa, Mauda etc. the six and the Mālikā-varieties for the different orders of the royalties (69). Both these topics of buildings in general and particular to be taken into account ahead in Pt. IV ‘Palace-architecture’.

X. Town-Planning.

Defence arrangements (Fortification etc.), laying out of the town-deities and residential houses—folk-planning etc. installation of Yantras like Sūrya-yantra and Bhairava-yantra on the Prākāra-wall of the town, 20 types of the town and their shapes etc. seven inauspicious towns, gradations of towns and villages like Kūṭa and Kheṭa etc. along with the water-reservoirs—ten types of wells, four types of vāpis, six types of Tanks etc. etc. (70-75).

XI. Palace architecture and accessory structures ( 76-90)—

In details of general planning (76), Sabhās and Vedīs, Nanda etc. the eightfold Sabhās and Svastikā etc. fourfold vedis; the royal seats in the Assembly (77-78); Gajaśāla daṇḍni [daṇḍin?] etc. and six types of elephants and their jātis, the bhadra etc. the eightfold forests where elephants are found, the fourfold dimensions of the elephants (79); Horses and their sheds—the Aśvaśāla etc. (80); Palaces of kings belonging to the different strata of royalty and their royal seats (81), royal palace in its site-plans and gates, the pratolī, ekapolī, tripolī, pañcapolī etc. (82-83) along with their beautification (84-85).

Now follow the different styles of Palace-architecture and the varieties thereof (86-88), to be taken notice of, ahead. Incidently separate expatiations are made on some of the important equipments of a royal palace such as Dhārāgiri, Udyāna, Jalayantra, Vādyaśālā etc. (88-90). This Palace architecture in its accessory structures is resumed again in Sutra no. 102—Āyatana-niveśa.

XII. House-architecture.

Common middle class residential houses—from ekaśālas to daśaśālas (91-101).

XIII. Temple-architecture, the Prāsādakhaṇḍa (Sūtras 103-195).

Rise of Prāsādas, the temples, has been accounted from the Daṇḍidāruvana, where Yogeśvara Śiva was residing and the ceremonies and festivities performed by gods like Brahmā and Viṣṇu and host of others made it easy to beg of the Lord to perpetuate them (i.e. the ceremonies) in the shape of a Śivālaya, the projenitor of Prāsāda, the Hindu Temple. This being granted, rise of the five principal varieties of the Nāgara temples, the Vairaja, Puṣpaka, Kailāśa, Maṇika and Triviṣṭapa was the consequence which in their turn gave rise to an innumerable variety of the Prasadas, in details of their manifold styles, lay-outs, measurements, super-structures, ornamentations like Vitānas and accessory establishments and structures like Jagatīs and Maṇḍapas etc. etc. The main details are to be purviewed in the book—vide Pt. V. Here a brief indication may be done avoiding the thousand-fold varieties and sub-varieties of the Prāsādas, which may be tabulated at their proper places. Sūtras 104-106 deal with the general classification of Prāsādas and their main varieties—Nāgara, Drāviḍa, Vimāna, Bhumija [Bhūmija?] etc etc. as many as ten principal classes of temples. Sūtra 107 takes up the respective measurements and incidently hints at the distinguishing features of a Prāsāda and a Harmya along with the intimate relationship of the Jagatīs, doors, the temple gates, the pratoli [pratolī?] etc. Then follow the details of the Jīrṇa-Prāsāda (108-111). In Sūtras 112-14 other details also crop up and then in 114-120 Sūtras elaborations of Jagatīs are made and in the end are taken up the Pīṭhas. The 121st chapter is interesting from the standpoint of the temples dedicated to the principal deities among which Jina-devatā-yatana [yatanam] is also included. In Sūtra 122 Valāṇaka is delineated upon and in the following chapters 123-25 the socle in respect of the different classes of Prāsadas is again taken up. In the subsequent chapters i.e. 126-130 the height of walls and the inner-shrine, the garbhagṛha along with the principal parts of the temple-superstructure and their measurements and those of the door etc. are dealt with.

Now follows the Rekhā-architecture, the chief characteristic of temple-architecture as presented by this text from ekakhaṇḍā rekhā to pañcaviṃśati rekhās—vide Sūtras 131-40. In the following Sūtras details of Skandha, Kalaśa, Dhvajā, Pataka, Pratiṣṭhā, Nyāsa and miscellaneous rites and ceremonies are dwelt at length (141-53). Sūtras 154-183 expatiate on the manifold varieties of Prāsādas belonging to the different orders, styles and types. Sūtras 184-88 deal with Maṇḍapas and the subsequent ones 189-92 deal with Vitānas. Then follow the details of 25 Saṃvaraṇas (193), Pañca-toraṇa-pañca-hindolakas [hiṇḍolakas?] (194) and saptamaṭha-navarathas (195). Thus end the portion dealing with Architecture.

Now are taken up the sculpture (iconography), and its canons, descriptions of icons and iconology behind them (196-223) to be followed by the canons of painting (224-236) and ends with sonic useful details on Music and Dancing.

As thesee portions of the text fall in the domain of sculpture (iconography) and painting and as they have been noticed in the writer’s Vāstuśāstra Vol. II—Hindu Canons of Iconography and Painting, they are not elaborated here and the readers may see them in the book referred to.

After we have noticed these principal texts of Northern school of Architecture, let us take up the Southern texts. Mānasāra, Mayamata and Śilparatna have been chosen by me as three representativemanuals on Dravidian architecture. Let us begin with Mānasāra.

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