Vishnudharmottara Purana (Art and Architecture)

by Bhagyashree Sarma | 2021 | 59,457 words

This page relates ‘Conclusion’ of the study on the elements of Art and Architecture according to the Vishnudharmottara Purana: an ancient text whose third book deals with various artisan themes such as Architecture, Painting, Dance, Grammar, etc. Many chapters are devoted to Hindu Temple architecture and the iconography of Deities and their installation rites and ceremonies.

Chapter 7 - Conclusion

The First Chapter of this dissertation provides a general introduction about Purāṇas. Various definitions of purāṇa, given by different works are quoted here to introduce the term purāṇa as a storehouse of age old stories and legends through which very simply but extensively these works scatter the knowledge of different subjects. Moreover, the list of eighteen Mahāpurāṇas and eighteen Upapurāṇas are given in this chapter according to various sources. As the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa is the main concern of this dissertation, an introductory note on the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa along with the date and authorship of this Purāṇa, the subject matter as well as the importance of this Purāṇa are briefly discussed here. In this context it can be seen that though there remain a great controversy and confusion about the date of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, an approximate time i.e. from 5th century A.D. to the 10th century A.D can be assumed as the time of this work and it has been elaborately discussed in this chapter. Thus the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa can be regarded as a successor of the Viṣṇupurāṇa that belongs to 4th-9th century B.C. Though a long gap prevails between these two works, the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa can be considered as an appendix of the Viṣṇupurāṇa. In this present chapter the title Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa is explained thoroughly. From this explanation it can be seen that in the term viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, the meaning of word dharma is taken as quality. And from this it can be proved that the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa possesses the qualities of Viṣṇupurāṇa. Moreover, a detailed discussion on the importance of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa is done here and after this the necessity of the reason of a complete research study on this work has been established. Again, a general introduction to the Art and Architecture has been given here as this dissertation basically concerns about Art and Architecture following the discussion found in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. In this context, the list of sixty four kinds of Art forms is given in this present chapter according to the Vātsyāyaṇa’s Kāmasūtra, from where only viz. Music, Drama, Dance, Architecture, Painting and Iconography are discussed in this present dissertation. Because the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa deals with only these six types of Art. Moreover, the problems of this present thesis, previous Hypothesis, methodology taken in this dissertation and the objectives of the present thesis are elaborately discussed here in this present chapter. Literature review is added at the last of this chapter.

The Second Chapter of this present dissertation is devoted to Music where all the necessary elements of Music as found in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa are elaborately discussed. Music is such an art that gives a divine pleasure to the listener. Though apparently, it is a combination of words and tone, it needs certain important elements to become more sophisticated. The technical knowledge of Music is very important in the practice of this art form. In this context, the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa has a great importance as this work tells about different elements of music. The views of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa about the elements of Music viz., organs of utterance, scales of Music, notes of Music etc. are seen to be very scientific as well as practical. Moreover, though a small portion of this work is dedicated to Music, almost all the essential aspects are seen to be accumulated in the within that domain. In this present chapter, all the elements of Music are elaborately discussed as found in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. Moreover, the references from different sources regarding elements of Music are compiled here for a collaborative study. The impact of the Nāṭyaśāstra and the Nāradīyāśikṣā is mostly seen on the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa as both these works are the predecessors of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. In this second chapter, both kinds of Music i.e. Vocal Music and Instrumental Music are taken up for an elaborate discussion. Again, a special discussion about the relationship of Music with the sentiments is briefly discussed in this chapter. The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa accepts various svaras i.e. the musical notes as the carrier of different sentiments through which a musical composition also becomes rasasamṛddha.

The Third Chapter deals with both Dance and Drama together. In this chapter all the elements of Drama such as acting, costume, make-up, movements of different limbs, characters, Dramatic styles, sentiments etc. are discussed according to the views of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. To support the views of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa and to get a comparative study, the observations of different treatises are also accumulated here in necessary places. Sanskrit Dramas are basically shaped by the norms of Sanskrit Dramaturgy. In this context the Nāṭyaśāstra has the supreme authority. Though the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa seems to follow the Nāṭyaśāstra in most of the cases, this work has its own perspectives and views, which establishes the utmost importance of this work in the field of Sanskrit Dramaturgy. The perspective of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa regarding the physical and internal projection of a Drama seems to be very practical, technical and systematical. The discussions of four kinds of abhinaya viz. āṅgika, vācika, āhārya, and sāttvika; four kinds of vṛttis i.e. Dramatic styles such as bhāratī, sāttvatī, kauśiki and ārabhaṭī; projections of different characters, delineations of different sentiments etc. are elaborately discussed in this chapter. From the discussion, it can be assumed that the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa seems to be very accurate in many points, where as in some cases the views of this book appears to be typical. The acceptance of the qualities of Dhiralalita type of nāyaka for the Main character of a Drama instead of Dhirodātta, as well as the acceptance of śāntarasa as a nāṭyarasa in this work does not suit with the practicality.

Moreover, the hand gestures, standing postures of Dance, proper movements of eyes and eyeballs during the time of dancing etc. are quite elaborately conversed in the present chapter. The instructions of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa regarding the hand gestures and postures of Dance can be considered as very useful like the Nāṭyaśāstra and the Abhinayadarpaṇa, the most authentic works on Dance and Drama. The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa seems to admire and follow these two works in a great extent in this regard. But in some other context, the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa deviates itself and establishes its own and different perspectives with the case of hand gestures and postures

The Forth Chapter comprises a detailed discussion on the temple Architecture of ancient India. In the very beginning of this chapter the development of temple Architecture from the idea of yajñavedīs to a full form of temple as found in various works of different ages has chronologically been established. After that, the time, from when the necessity of the temple building originated, is justified here with proper evidences. Moreover, a complete and exclusive discussion on the selection and examination of proper site for the construction of a temple, solution of necessary materials for the construction of a temple etc. are projected in this present chapter. Site, associated with trees and water sources is highly recommended in this regard in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. Actually, a calm and quite surrounding with a clean and pure environment is very necessary for meditation and worship. Trees purify the environment and the breeze blowing over the water of a pond or a lake makes the surrounding very cool as well as peaceful. It generates the concept of śītatva and pāvanatva. So, it can be said that to get a peaceful environment for a temple, the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa suggests such an ambiance. Again, the wood, stones, bricks of higher quality etc. are instructed to be taken by the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa for temple construction as the quality of a construction of the building is predominantly based on the good qualities of the materials. A detailed discussion about the process of selection of proper wood, stones, making the procedure followed for appropriate bricks, preparation of cement for a temple construction are discussed in this present chapter. Again, various fundamental parts of a temple such as the platform, womb chamber, storeys, roof, pavilions etc. are elaborately discussed here. Different kinds of temple viz. that with circular shape, shape of the phallus, shape of swans etc. and temples having storeys are taken for elaborate discussion in the present chapter. In each and every discussion regarding temple Architecture, the views of different works related to this subject have also been brought here for a comparative study and analysis.

The Fifth Chapter is devoted to Painting and Iconography. A long journey of the development of Painting through the lens of Sanskrit literature is elaborately presented here. From this, it can be assumed that though the seed of Indian Painting had sprouted in the Vedic texts, the perfect blooming started from the period of the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata as both of these works contain direct references of Painting. Moreover, the term citra is explained here in this chapter which is an equivalent word of Painting in Sanskrit. Six limbs of Painting through which an imagination finds its pictorial form has been explained here. The existence of these six kinds of limbs is very important in a picture to make it accurate as well as attractive. An interesting story behind the origin of the Painting is narrated here through which the credit of the origin of Painting has been given to God Nārāyaṇa. A point to be noted here is that in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, the credit of origin of the art forms like Dance and Painting is seen to be given to Viṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa. This also points out Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa’ s affinity to the Viṣṇupurāṇa, where Viṣṇu is regarded as the ultimate truth. This chapter also contains a detailed discussion on various kinds of portrait used in Painting. Portrait of men and women along with the proper measurements of each and every limb, portrait of different class of people, portrait of natural objects and phenomenon, portrait of different places, symbolization and personification in portrait etc. are elaborately discussed in this chapter. From the discussion, it can be seen that the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa speaks about the formation of portraits of different objects as well as portraits on different themes separately and systematically which definitely can help the painter to visualise an object or a scene or a theme before going to paint the particular picture. Moreover, in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa a minute observation can be made regarding the shapes of eyes, as this work suggests different shapes such as the shape of a bow, the belly of a fish, lotus etc. In this chapter, the execution of sentiments through the Painting is nicely projected. Though Painting is a still medium of expression, it seems to carry the inner feelings of an artist through which the delineation of sentiments can be projected.

Again, this chapter deals with an exclusive discussion on the image making of different deities. The concept of image making and the development of Iconography from the Vedic period to the date of Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa has been presented here with proper references. From this discussion, it can be assumed that though in the Vedic period, people were not familiar with the concept of making idols of their deities, they used to construct the forms of their Gods in their imagination. In later period the practice of image making had come forward in real sense. The images of different gods and goddesses with their complete forms are discussed in fifth chapter. In this context the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa gives instructions about the complexion, attire, weapons, accessories, carriers of the idols of different deities etc. from which the sculptors of present time can get various ideas regarding a complete structure of an idol of a particular deity. To present a collaborative study, the view points of different sources on Iconography are also ascribed in this chapter.

The Sixth Chapter comprises various information about the modern relevance of Art and Architecture as found in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. In this chapter the characteristics of different art forms given by the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa are tried to correlate with the modern practice of these art forms. Firstly, the rules of Dramaturgy as found in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa are tried to show in the Dramas of modern age such as Aṅkīyā Bhāonā of Assam, Kūṭiyaṭṭam and Kathakalī of Kerala. The views of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa on Dramaturgy can be seen on the plot, costume, make-over, characters etc. in these three kinds of Dramatic performance. From this, it can be said that, in some Dramatic performance, the rules of Dramaturgy as found in our ancient scriptures are still maintained even in this age of science and technology. Moreover, in this chapter an attempt has been made to show the similarities and dissimilarities of the views of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa regarding the hand gestures and postures with that of the practice reflected in some classical Dance forms of India. A pictorial showcase of the hand gestures, standing postures of Dance is done here. Different styles of Architectures of the temples from different regions of India are shown her with pictures from which the ideas of architectural differences among those can be easily ascertained. Again, taking the Kamakhya Temple of Assam as a model, different parts of a temple are shown here on the basis of the view points of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa has a great importance on the Rajput Painting of Rajasthan. The views of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa reflected on those portraits of Rajput Paintings have been taken here for projection through some pictures. Indian Iconography seems to be very much influenced by the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa as various statues of different deities made at different times, possess similarities with these in the discussion found in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. The pictures of the statues of different deities preserved in various museums, temples etc. are referred to here to show the modern relevance of the views found in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa.

So, from the above discussion it can be said that, though the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa is regarded as an Upapurāṇa, the jurisdiction of this work spreads to various field of knowledge. The practical as well as systematical discussion on various aspects of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa can prove and establish the authenticity of this work in the globe of world literature. Moreover, this book remains as the intersection between the ancient works like the Nāṭyaśāstra and some of the earlier Purāṇas and their subsequent projection in modern era. As the Purāṇas are the documents of staged development of the Indian society with Art and Architecture as a strong component, the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa stays undoubtedly as the bridge between the ancient and modern deliberation of Hindu Art and Architecture. Being inclined to the old sources, this book has established its own perspective and outlook in the concerned areas. This way this Purāṇa can be taken up as a conglomeration of old and new ideas which can offer a vast area of research in future.

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