Kashyapa Shilpa-shastra (study)

by K. Vidyuta | 2019 | 33,520 words

This page relates ‘Shala, Sabha and Malika-kara Lakshanas’ 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.

8. Śālā, Sabhā and Mālikā-kāra Lakṣaṇas

The walls must have an alinda or a varṣasthala and the measure of the prastaras, alinda, etc. should be very accurate and as prescribed. The gopuras can be shaped like a śālā of equal parts or a mālikā. The shape of the gopura is decided upon the shape of the door.

The pillars are erected on the outer side and in the centre of the gopura (44. 148cd-50):

alindaṃśaṃ tu kuḍyaṃ vā varṣasthalamathāpi vā ||
tulyādyaiḥ prastarādhi alindāṅgaṃ yathocitam |
śālākāraṃ sabhāgaṃ vā mālikā kṛtireva vā ||
yaddudiṣṭaṃ tu yad dvāre tattatraiva prakalpayet |
bāhye'bāhye'ṅghripādāḍhyaṃ madhyakuḍyayutaṃ tu vā ||

Gṛhapiṇḍī and the Garbhagṛha must be constructed as instructed earlier. In the space assigned to the alinda and the hāra, the pillars are also to be erected. Prastara and sopānas have to be constructed uptil the desired storey.

The kūṭa-koṣṭhas must be decorated until the desired height and as regards every storey of the gopura, they must be decorated till the gala portion (44. 151-53ab):

gṛhapiṇḍaṃ garbhagehaṃ ca prāgivaiva prakalpayet |
alindaṃ hārayormāne vivṛtāṃ ghrikameva vā ||
prastaroddiṣṭabhūmyantaḥ sopānādisamanvitam |
kūṭakoṣṭhādyalaṃkāraṃ ūrdhvasthavat prakalpayet ||
bhūmibhāgamalaṃkāraṃ galāntaṃ parikalpayet |

If the śiras is in the form of a daṇḍa or śālā, then the gopura is said to be of the śālākāra. If there is a lūpā in the upper part then the gopura is said to be a sabhākāra.

If the prastara is enclosed by three viṣṭis (a measure) then it is the maṇḍapākāra or mālikā-kāra gopura (44. 153cd-55ab):

śīrṣaṃ daṇḍakaśālābhaṃ śālākāraṃ taducyate ||
lupopari tadāyattaṃ sabhākārakamucyate |
prastaraṃ pratisaṃchādyaṃ maṇḍapaṃ yattriviṣṭinā ||
mālikākṛtikaṃ khyātaṃ maṇḍape tu parasparam |


The following information is gleaned from the above analysis the text Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra enumerates the five types of gopuras, their measurements and that of their doors. Then the different storeys of the gopuras and their constituent parts are explained in detail. Kāśyapa then classifies the five gopuras (except Dvāraharmyas) further into three types each based on the shape and varied ornamentation. Finally, he explains the terms–śālā, sabhā and mālikā kāra.

As all the three available texts (Grantha edition from Tanjore, Ānandāśrama series editon and Maharishi University edition) are not clear in the enumeration of various types of gopuras, especially in mentioning the lengths and breadths of the components of the structure, details furnished in this chapter are based on the text that appears to be better at the respective contexts.

Footnotes and references:


Śrī Kāśyapa Śilpaśā stram, Op. cit., reading in p. 542 is better as it says “Whatever appeals to one can be designed at the respective place.”

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