Kashyapa Shilpa-shastra (study)

by K. Vidyuta | 2019 | 33,520 words

This page relates ‘Date of the Kashyapa Shilpashastra’ of the study on the Kashyapa Shilpa-shastra (in English) with special reference to the characteristics of Prakara (temple-components), Mandapa (pavilions) and Gopura (gate-house). The Silpa-Sastras refers to the ancient Indian science of arts and crafts, such as sculpture, architecture and iconography. This study demonstrates the correlatation between ancient Indian monuments (such as temples and sculptures) and the variety of Sanskrit scriptures dealing with their construction.

3. Date of the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra

It is generally difficult to establish an exact date for Śilpa texts. According to its practical importance, the Śilpaśāstra texts were always exposed to additions or alterations which had to bring them, “up to date”. So fixing an exact date is generally difficult. There are a few exceptions to this general rule such as the Samarāṅgaṇa Sūtradhāra, which is attributed to king Bhoja and therefore belongs to the 11th Cent. A.D. or the Tantrasamuccaya in which the date of the author is given to be of 15th Cent. A.D.

The Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra does not belong to the exceptional category and so the exact date of this text is not known. Nevertheless, some attempts have been made to establish a date for this text. Stella Kramrisch[1] places the text prior to the 15th Cent.A.D., before the Tantrasamuccaya and Śilparatna. Another author Varma[2] believes that Kramarisch's date is too late and on the basis of the style and the way of treating the subjects, estimates that the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra was composed during the 12th Cent. A.D.

Pisharoti[3] notes that the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra and the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati give a different geographical distribution of the three traditional architectural styles, namely the Nāgara, Drāviḍa and the Vesara. On this basis he considers the text to be later than the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati but though a little earlier to the Tantrasamuccaya. Moreover, he also admits that the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra is most advanced from the point of view of the structural development and therefore represents the latest phase of Indian architecture[4].

A similar time frame is suggested by Bhattacharya[5] as he states: A work of Kāśyapa available to the Śilparatna[6] refers to sixteen-storeyed temples. As the Mānasāra does not refer to sixteen-storeyed temples, we may guess that the Mānasāra was an earlier work than that of Kāśyapa and Śrī Kumāra''. Thus he places the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra between 11th and the 15th Cent. A.D., but at the same time contradictorily apprehends that it was compiled earlier than the Mānasāra and later than the Mayamata.

From all the above accounts it can be concluded that the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra could not have been written later than the 15th Cent. A.D. Nevertheless, establishing the lower limit for the time frame of the text is more difficult. So, taking into account the views of Pisharoti and its resemblance with certain Āgamas, the lower limit can be set between 11th -12th Cent. A.D., for the period after the 12th Cent. A.D. seems too late a date for this text and also it could not have been produced before 11th Cent. A.D. as the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra is definitely later than the Īśānaśivagurudeva-paddhati of the 11th Cent. A.D.

Footnotes and references:


The Hindu Temple, Vol. I, 1946, p. 269-70, 67fn.


The Indian technique of clay modelling by K.M. Varma, Motilal Banarsidass Pub., New Delhi, 1970, p. 3.


Cf. “Nāgara, Drāviḍa and Vesara”, Indian Culture, Vol. VI, pt. I, by K.R.Pisharoti, 1939, p. 23-38.


ibid., p. 25.


ibid., p. 179-81.


XXXVII. 110.

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