Tuesday, 16 October 2018

THE INDIAN SAN MARCO - 2

This silent throng of painted worshipers suggests to the mind's eye the worship itself that once filled the little cathedral chapel. We see the procession of monks that must have entered at one door, made Pradakshina about the altar, and gone out on the other side. We see the lights that they carried, the incense they waved, the prostrations they made, and the silent congregation of lay-folk and students who may have looked on them from the back of the nave, as even now at a Hindu Arati one may kneel apart and watch. We hear the chanting of the monks as the incense was swung, and we realise the problem that Buddhism had to solve in giving solemnity and impressiveness to a worship denuded of the slendours and significance of sacrifice. It must have been this consciousness that led to the rapid organisation of a ritual whose elements were all indeed derived from the Vedic, but which was in its entirety the most characteristic and organic expression of democratic religion that the world had ever seen. The history of Christian worship has not yet been written, but it is open to us to believe that when it is, it debt to the Chaityas will be found greater than is now suspected.

The host of saints and apostles brings us face to face with another thought. We see how much the Stupa-shaped altar meant to the Buddhist worshipper. We begin to feel our way back to all that it implied. Sanctified by ages of consecration-for there was a pre-Buddhistic Stupa-worship; Newgrange, the Irish Sanchi, is a thousand years older than Buddha-men saw in that domed mound more than we now can ever fathom. Yet we may look at it and try to summon up all that we have felt for this symbol or for that. How curious are the things to which the heart of man has gone out in its fulness from time to time! A couple of spars lashed together at right angles; a couple of crescent shaped axes back to back; a cairn. And each of these has had the power in its day to make men die joyfully and merrily as a piece of good fortune! Usually it is easier to imagine this when the emblem has taken to itself an icon or image. The crucifix might better make martyrs than the cross, one thinks. The Stupa, with the Buddha upon it, stirs one deeper one deeper than the Stupa or Dagoba alone. Yet here amongst the choir of saints we catch a hint of quite another feeling, and we understand that when the icon was added to the emblem, faith was already dim.

The University of Ajanata departs in its painting from primitive simplicity. Cave Sixteen is highly decorated, and Cave Seventeen a veritable labyrinth of beauty and narrative. Everywhere flames out some mighty subject, and everywhere are connecting links and ornamental figures. Not once does inspiration fail, though the soft brightness today is for the most part dim, and the colours have largely to be guessed at. What are the subjects? Ah, that is the question! Here at any rate is one rendered specially famous, for the moment, by the recent labours upon it of any English artist,* which evidently portrays the Maha Hamsa Jataka from the Jatakas or Birth-Tales. These were the Puranas of Buddhism. That is to say, they were its popular literature. History is to a great extent merely the story of organisation, the gradual selecting and ordering of elements already present. And in that sense the Puranas form a reflection and imitationof the Jatakas. The elements of both were present before. Buddhism organised the one in Pali, and Hinduism, later, the other in Sanskrit. But in some cases it would appear as if the Mahavamsha, with its history of the evangelising of Ceylon, had been the treasure-house of Ajanta artists. There are in some of the caves, notably One, pictures of ships and elephant-hunts which seem to correspond to known fragments of that story. Yet again, in the same cave, there will be another picture of something frankly Pauranika or Jatakyan, -such as the king stepping into the balances, in the presence of a hawk and a dove-and it is impossible in the present state of the paintings to make out the sequence. Here also occurs that political picture which dates the paintings of Cave One as after, but near, A.D. 626. It would be natural enough that the story of Ceylon should dispute with the Jatakas the interest of the Buddist world. It formed the great romance of the faith. The same efforts had been made and as great work done in many other cases, but here was a country so small that the effort told. The whole civilisation yielded with enthusiasm to the stream of impulse that came to it from the home-land of its sovereigns. The Sacred Tree, with the prince Mahindo and the princes Sanghamitta, had formed an embassy of state of which any country might be proud. And the connection thus made had been maintained. We may imagine, if we places, that there were students from Ceylon here in the Sangharama of Ajanta. Kings and nobles would doubtless send their sons to the monasteries for education, even as is still done in the villages of Burma and Japan. The East was early literary in her standards of culture, and the fact that monastic instruction would in no way have benefited a Norman baron need not make us suppose that the ministers and sovereigns of India, early in the Christain era, boasted an equally haughty illiteracy. The whole aspect of the caves, with the Viharas containing the shrine of the Great Guru, tells us of the development which their functions had undergone, from being simple Bhikshugrihas to organised colleges, under the single rulership of the abbot of Ajanta. Hiouen Tsang was only one out of a stream of foreign guests who came to the abbey to give knowledge or to gather it. And we must, if we would see truly, people its dark aisles and gloomy shadows with voices and forms of many nationalities from widely distant parts of the earth. In Cave One is a historical painting of the Persian Embassy which was sent by Khusru II to Pulakesin I about A.D. 626.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Sunday, 14 October 2018

THE INDIAN SAN MARCO - 1

There is outside Florence a Dominican monastery which is famous for the fact that once upon a time Fra Giovanni of Fiesole-better known as Fra Angelico-lived within its walls and covered them with his saints and angels against the gilded background of heven. Later, it was the one undecorated chamber in this monastery that Savanarola took as his own, when he came as a Dominican to San Marco. The old convent remains to this day for Europe one of the trysting-places of righteousness and beauty. We know not which are more real, the angels that still blaze upon the walls, or the lives that once were lived within them.

Something of the same feeling must have clung to Ajanta in the late fifth to the eighth centuries. A great art-tradition had grown up about its name. It is very likely, of course, that such a tradition was commoner in the India of those days than we can now realise. Perhaps many buildings were covered within with emblazoned literature. Gold and scarlet and blue were often, it may be, united together, to sing the heroic dreams of the time to the eyes of all. But it is difficult to imagine that in any country the splendours of Ajanta could seem ordinary. Those wonderful arches and long colonnades stretching along the face of the hillside, with the blue eaves of slate coloured rock overhanging them, and the knowledge of glowing beauty covering every inch of the walls behind them-no array of colleges or cathedrals in the whole world could make such a thing seem ordinary. For it was doubtless as colleges that the great task was carried out in them, and we can see that it took centuries. That is to say, for some hundreds of years Ajanta was thought of in India as one of the great opportunities of the artist, or maybe as a grad visual exposition of the monkish classics.

We can judge of the length of time over which the work spread, the time eduring which the tradition was growing up, by the fact that the paintings in CAve Sixteen, which is older, are stiffer and more purely decorative, such of them as remain, than those in Seventeen. But even those of Sixteen are not the oldest pictures At Ajanta. When we enter Cave Nine for the first time, we find ourselves in the company of a great host of rapt and adoring worshippers. They stand on every fact of the simple octagonal pillars, with their looks turned always to the solemn looking Stupa or Dagoba. They have each one of them a nimbus behind him. They might Bodhisattvas, but hte feeling of worship so fills the little chapel that instinctively one puts them down as the early saits and companions of Buddha, and turns with a feeling of awe to join their adoration of the domelike altar. They are not arhiaic in the sense of crudity. But they have the feeling of an early world about them. They are like the work of Fra Angelico, but may be anything date from the second century onwards, that is to say a thousand years before his time! In the aisle that runs behind the pillars the walls are covered with simple scenes from the Teaching of Buddha. Here we find the mother bringing her dead son, and the Master seated with his disciples about him. Bu we return to the nave, and, again looking at the forms on the pillar-faces, let ourselves dream for a moment, till we seem to hear the deep Adoramus with which they fill the air around us.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 13

Magadha has produced symbols whose dignity Gandhara was never able to approach. But in complex composition, in power of architectural story-telling, in dignity of the decorative synthesis, it is diffult to feel that the ultimate achievements of Gandhara and her posterity had ever before been approached, even at Sanchi.

It must never be supposed, however, that Gandhara was Europe. In spite of the Western elements, whose existence its art demonstrates, Gandhara was pre-eminently Asiatic. And never again perhaps will the actual facts be better or more comprehensively stated than in the memorable words of Havell, in his Indian Sculpture and Painting.

"Indian idealism during the greater part of this time was the dominating note in the art of Asia, which was thus brought into Europe; and when we find a perfectly oriental atmosphere and strange echoes of Eastern symbolism in the mediaeval cathedrals of Europe, and see their structural growth gradually blossoming with all the exuberance of Eastern imagery, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Gothic architecture and Gothic handicraft owe very much to the absorption by the bauhutten of Germany, and other Western craft guilds, of Asiatic art and science, brought by the thousands of Asiatic craftsmen who entered Europe in the first millennium of the Christian era; a period which in the minds of Europeans is generally a blank, because the 'Great Powers' were then located in Asia instead of in Europe. Byzantine art and Gothic art derived their inspiration from the same source-the impact of Asiatic thought upon the civilisation of the Roman Empire. The first shows its effect upon the art of the Greek and Latin races, the other its influence upon the Romanesque art of Teutonic and Celtic races. The spirit of Indian idealism breathes in the mosaics of St. Mark's at Venice, just as it shines in the mystic splendours of the Gothic cathedrals; through the delicate tracery of their jewelled windows, filled with the stories of saints and martyrs; in all their richly sculptured arches, fairy vaulting and soaring pinnacles and spires. The Italian Renaissance marks the reversion of Christian art to the pagan ideals of Greece, and the capture of art by the bookmen, leading to our present dilettantism and archaeological views of art.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 12

Gandhara did really, however, have its period of influence over the sculpture of India. But this period began when its own style had reached its zenith. Comparatively early in the sixth century, incursions of Huns swept over the country, and, in a year to which the date of A.D. 540 has been assigned, we are expressly told of the destruction of monasteries and Stupas in an outburst of vengeful cruelty, by the tyrant Mihirakula. This destruction was not complete, for a hundred years later the pilgrim Hiouen Tsang passed through the country and found many monasteries in full vigour. Still, it cannot have failed to drive large numbers of the Gandharan monks to take refuge in the Viharas and monastic universities of India. This is the event that is marked in the Ajanatan series of caves of Number Nineteen. Here on the outside we have for the first time of the employment of carvings of Buddha as part of the decoration included in the original architectural scheme. It is a secularised Buddha, moreover ; a Buddha who, as already said, has been seen from a new point of view as a great historical character. He receives a banner. He is crowned by flying figures. The chequer-pattern appears here and there, in lieu of the Ashokan rail which is represents. And inside the hall we have that great multitude of Buddhas, in the triforium and on the capitals, in those richly-decorated niches, for which Fergusson's account of the Gandharan monasteries has prepared us. But these represent a more Indianised and religious type than the panels of the outside. The date and source of the new influence is still further fixed by the indubitable fact of the choga, or robe, worn by the Buddha on the Dagoaba.

We have seen that, according to the evidence of the inscription, Cave Seventeen with its shrine, and the cistern under Eighteen, may be taken as completed about the year A.D. 520. It is my personal opinion that the right-hand series of caves from Six to One were undertaken, or at least finished, not long after this date, and distinctly before the arrival of the refugees from Gandhara. Ajanta must have been one of the most notable of Indian universities, and the influence of the north-west upon its art does not cease with Ninteen. The whole interior surface of Twenty-six -probably undertaken by the abbot Buddha Bhadra at some date subsequent to the visit of Hiouen Tsang in the middle of the seventh century- is covered with carvings, culminating in an in an immense treatment of the subject so much beloved by the latest Gandharan sculptors, the Mahanirvana of Buddha. The Buddha in this carving is 23 feet long, and even the curious tripod which seems to support the beggar's bowl and crutch is reproduced. This duplication of a known subject is very eloquent.

We may conclude, then, that a vital artistic intercourse was now maintained between Gandhara and Ajanta, and in this connection the cared ornament of palm-leaves, so reminiscent of the bole of the date-palm, amongst the ornaments of the doorway on Cave Twenty-three, is of the utmost significance.

But a second catastrophe occurred in Gandhara, and the destruction of the monastic foundations in that country was complete. The wars between the Saracenic Mohammedans and the Chinese Empire culminated about the middle of the eighth century in the utter defect and expulsion of the Eastern power(A.D. 751). The Arabs must then have swept Gandhara from end to end, and every monk who had not fled was doubtless put to the sword. India was the obvious refuge of the consequent crowd of emigres, and art and education the only menas open to them of repaying the hospitality of the Indian monasteries and governments. From this period must date the small panelled Buddhas which have been carved all over the older caves,not only at Ajanta, but also at Kanheri, at Karle, and doubtless elsewhere. The great durbar hall at Kanheri (Cave 10) is filled with a splendidly planned and coherent scheme of such decoration. But the artists have not always been so considerate. They have begun their carvings in the midest of older work, and side by side with it-probably wherever they were not stopped by the presence of paintings-without the slightest regard to the appropriateness of the combination, For some become as energetic as the sculptural capacitiees of the artisans of Byzantium had already shown themselves in the Gandharan monasteries.



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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 11

For ourselves, however, while we grant the mixture of elements in Gandhara, the question arises whether the latter did not influence Byzantium quite as much as the Western capital influenced it. According to the data thus propounded, we may expect to find amongst these Gandharan sculptures a vast mixture of decorative elements, all subordinated to the main intention of setting forth in forms of eternal beauty and lucidity the personality of Buddha, it being understood that the form of the Buddha himself is taken more or less unchanged from the artistic traditions of Magadha. It may be well to take as our first point for examination the Gandharan use of the Ashokan rail. We are familiar with the sanctity of this rail as a piece of symbolism in the early ages of Buddhism. At Ranchi-undoubtedly a very close spiritual province of Magadha, and intimately knit to Sarnath in particular-we find it used not only pictorially, but also to bound and divide spaces. As we have seen, the gradual forgetting of the meaning of architectural features like the Ashokan rail and the horse-shoe ornament affords a very good scale of chronology by which to date Indian monuments. Nowhere have we a better instance of this than in the Gandharan use of the rail. In the relief from Muhammad Nari we have several stages in its gradual forgetting, ending with its becoming a mere chequer, as at the top of the lower panel. This illustration is extraordinarily valuable for us, moreover, for the way in which the figure of the Buddha is violently inserted amongst strikingly incongruous surroundings. We can almost see the two opposing traditions, by the discord between him with his clothes of the eastern provinces and attitude which forbids activity, and his environment. This Buddha is not,however, a very successful example of the tradition out of which he comes. He was a singularly uneasy and intruded look on the height where he is seen uncomfortably perched.

A second feature that will strike the observant in this picture is the curious use of the lotus-throne. It looks as if the sculptor hand been told to seat his subject on a lotus, but had had a very vague idea of how this should be done. We can almost hear those verbal instructions which he had tried to carry out. In the Buddha from Loriyan Tangai is another instance of a similar difficulty. The sculptor in this second fragment, rightly feeling that the seat, as he understood the order, could not possibly support the hero, had adopted the ingenious device of introducing two worshipping figures to support the knees! Still more noticeable, however, are the two feet, or petals reversed, which he had adopted to make of the lotus-throne from Nepal. At the same time, the early age of the lotus-petal ornament is seen on an Ashokan doorway in the Vihara at Sanchi, the only doorway that has escaped improvement at a later age. Another curious example of the attempt to render symbolistic scenes, according to a verbal or literary description of them, is seen in the picture representing the familiar First Sermon at Benares. There is undoubted power of composition here. To the untrained European eye these beauties may make it more appealing than the old Sarnath images of the shrine type at Ajanta. Still, the fact remains of an obvious effort to render to order an idea and a convention only half understood. And the place occupied by the Dharmachakra is like a signature appended to the confession of this struggle. It will be noted too, that this Charma-chakra is wrong. The Trishula should have pointed away from the Chakra. Other curious and interesting examples of the same kind may be seen in the Museum.

Grunwedel had drawn attention to the question of clothing, but apparently without understanding the full significance of the facts. It will be noticed throughout these illutrations that the artists tend to clothe Buddha in the dress that would be appropriate in a cold climate. Our illustration of the relief found at Muhammad Nari is in this respect specially vauluable It is probably early Gandharan, since the attempt to render the clothes of Buddha and the ornaments of the women correctly is very evident, and, it may be added, extremely unsuccessful. It would appear as if this relief had been commissioned by some monk who was a native of Magadha. But no Magadhan workman would have draped the muslin in such a fashion at the knees or on the arm. Yet the correct intention is manifest from the bare right shoulder. Afterwards Gaharan artists solved this problem by evolving a style of costume of their own for the sacred figures. AS this was their own, they were much happier in rendering it. But another point that jars on the Indian eye is the allusion here made to women's jewellery. The matter has been mentioned as needing particular care-that we can see. But the results are forced and inappropriate, and serve only to emphasise their own failure. Instances of the particular facts abound. It is unnecessary to enter further into detail.

Throughout these illustrations what may be called the architectural ornament is very noticeable. It has no connection whatever with what we are accustomed to think of as characteristically Buddhist. The spacings are constantly made with the stem of the date-palm. and ends and borders are painfully modish and secular. Such a want of ecclesiastical feeling,in sculpture that aims at a devotional use, can probably not be paralleled at any other age or place. The Corinthian finals and floral ornaments, to eyes looking for the gravity and significance of old Asiatic decoration, are very irritating. An excellent example is the Loriyan Tangai Buddha. Here we have a singularly phonetic piece of statuary. The feeling it portrays is exquisite. The pious beasts with their paws crossed are not less beautiful than the peacock which stands with tail spead to proclaim to the world the glories of the dawn of the morning of Nirvana. Yet even here a jarring note is struck in the irrelevancy of the borders, like a piece of school-girl embroidery.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 10

Thus a definite theory has been enunciated of the chronological succession of religious ideas in Indian sculpture. According to this theory, Magadha was the source and centre of the Indian unity, both philosophically and artistically. This province was in fact, like the heart of an organism, whose systole and diastole are felt to its remotest bounds with a certain rhythmic regularity of pulsation, as tides of thought and inspiration. All such will not be felt equally in all directions. In this case, the work in Ceylon was the result of an early impulse, Gandhara much later, and possibly we should find, if this were the place to follow up the question, that Tibet was evangelised as the fruit of a still later pulsation of the central energy. This being so, the fact would stand proved that Gandhara was a disciple and not a Guru in the matter of religious symbolism. The question is : Can this relationship be demonstrated and how?

A crucial test would be afforded if we could find anything in the art of Gandhara itself which might show it to be a derived style. Creative works, like myths, almost always include some unconscious sign-manual of their origin and relations. What they deliberately state may be untrue, or, as in the present case perhaps, may be misunderstood. But what they mention is usually eloquent, to patient eyes, of the actual fact. It hs already been pointed out by Mr. E. B. Havell, in his Indian Sculpture and Painting, that even the Buddha-types, the serious affirmations of Gandharatan Art, could not possibly be mistaken for originals. And if anyone will take the trouble to go into the hall of the Calcutta Museum and look for himself, it is difficult to see how this argument can be answered. Who that has steeped himself in the Eastern conception of the Buddha-unbroken calm,, immeasurable detachment, and vastness as of eternity-can take the smart, military-looking young men there displayed, with their moustaches carefully trimmed to the utmost point of nicety, and their perfect actuality and worldiness of expression, as satifsying presentments? In very sooth do these Gandharan Buddhas, as Mr. Havell says, bear their derivative character plainly stamped upon their faces.

But it may be help that this is the end of the argument, not the beginning. There may be many incapable of appraising an expression, who will want more elementary and incontrovertible grounds of judgment, and for these we have plenty of evidence.

The first discovery of the Gandharan monasteries, with their treasures of sculpture, in 1848 and 1852, seemed to the minds of European scholars, naturally enough, an event of the greatest artistic and historic importance; and Fergusson has left on recorded, in his invaluable book, an account of that impression, and also of its grounds, in a form which will never be repeated. Unfortunately the finds were very carelessly and incompetently dealt with, and their mutual relations and story thus rendetered irrecoverable. Out of the eight or ten sites which have been examined, however, it is possible to say that Jamalgarhi and Takh-i-Bahi are probably the most modern, while Shah-Dheri was very likely the most ancient. Judging by the plans and description which Fergusson gives, indeed, of this last-named monastery, it would seem to have belonged to the same age and phase of Buddhism as the old disused Cave Number One at Elephanta-a long verandah-like Chaitya cave which cave evidently held a circular Dagoba on a square altar. The sculptures of the later monasteries, according to Fergusson, as well as the plans of those monasteries appear to be characterised by excessive duplication. The architecture associated with them seems to have been extra-ordinarily mixed and unrestrained in character. Amongest the leafage of pillar-capitals occur hundreds of little Buddhas. But it would have been obvious that these were late examples, even if Fergusson had not already announced that opinion. The main chamber of each monastery seems to have been a hall or court, either square or circular, in the middle of which stood an altar surmounted by a Dagoba. Round this the walls were broken up into quantities of small niches or chapels, teacher one containing into image, and the whole decorated to excess. Regarding this as representing theoretically rated to excess. Regarading this as representing theoretially the Vehara surrounding a Dagoba of searlier days, Fergusson is very properly struck with astonishment by the phenomenon. In no Buddist monument in India of which he menon. In no Buddhist monument in India of whih he knows, he says, have the monks ever been thrust out of the ceels to make way for images. IF he had not been told what the plans were and where they came from, he would unhesitating ly have pronounced them to be from Jain monasteried of the ninth and tenth centuries. From architectural considerations he thinks that the classical influences seen here must have culminated at and after the time of Constantine, that is from A.D. 306 onwards, and that they speak even more loudly of Byzantium than of Rome. He has difficulty in understanding how Byzantium should make itself so tryingly felt in a remote province, without leaving any trace on the arts of intermediate kingdoms, such as the Sassanian empire. But we have already seen that this is no real difficulty, since it is precisely at their terminal points that those influences act, which pour along the world's great trade-route. The Indian man of genius in modern times makes his personality felt in London, and not in France, though he landed at Marsilles.



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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Monday, 8 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 9

Early Buddhism has thus had two products : the portrait-statue and the iconic Stupa. The Stupa in its turn has given birth to the Shiva emblem and to the image proper. The image has developed itself as Buddha, and also borne as an offshoot the image of Narayana. But with this extraordinary energy of modification, only to be credited when we remember the wonderful theological and philosophical fertility of the Indian mind, it is not to be supposed that the Stupa as such had ceased to develop. There was at least one well-marked phase before it yet. The world, for the monk, was peopled with meditating figures. The church was ideally a great host who had he sat enthroned had many branches. This thought also found expression in the Stupa. The same idea is laboriously sculptured on the walls of the shrine in Ajanta Seven. And on reaching more distant parts of the order, no doubt it was this development that gave rise to the multiplication of small meditating figures and their being placed even on straight lines, or amongst leafage, wherever the architecture gave the slightest opportunity or excuse.

Al this goes to show that Magadha remained (as she began), throughout the Buddhist age the source and creative centre, alike for theology and for the system of symbolism which was instrumental in carrying that theology far and wide. Waddell some years ago communicated a paper to the Royal Asiatic Society in which he urged that the original types of the Mahayanist images of Tibet must be sought for in Magadha. He was unboubtedly right, and the conclusion is forced upon us that the doctrine of the Bodhisattvas must have been born in Magadha, and from there have been poured out upon the Council of Kanishka, at Taxila, or Jalandhara (Jullundur), or Kandahar. The Kanishkan council thus would only give effect to the opinions and speculations that had long been gathering in the eastern centre. The doctrine of the Bodhi-sattvas came ful blown to jalandhara and there gathered the force that carried at over the Chinese Empire. Indeed the very fact that the commentaries of this Council were written down in Sanskrit is strong presumptive evidence for the vitality and force of the eastern elements at the Council, an added witness to the prestige which their presence conferred upon it. This Council is said to have sat some months, and we are expressly told that its work lay in reconciling and giving the stamp of orthodoxy to all the eighteen schools of Buddhism which by that time had come into existence. That is to say, it did not profess to give currency to new doctrines. It merely conferred the seal of its authority on phases of the faith which would otherwise have tended to be mutually exclusive. This in itself is evidence of the way in which its members were saturated with the characteristic eastern idea of Vedantic toleration. And Buddhism stands in this Council alone in religious history as an example of the union of the powers of organisation and discretion with those of theological fervour and devotional conviction inthe highest degree. Evidently we ahve here a great body of monk-pundits, imported for the summer into Gandhara. Probably many of them never returned to their mother-communities, but remained, to form the basis of that great monastic development which Gandhara was afterwards to see.

The priority of Magadha requires little further argument. At the time of the Council the synthesis of the Mahayana was already more or less complete.. And in accordance with this is the fact that on the recently-discovered relic casket of Kanishka are three figures-Buddha and two Bodhisattavas. In harmony with this is the further fact that the few inscriptions hitherto discovered in the Gandhara country are all dated between A.D. 57 and 328. We can see that after the evolution of the ornate and overmultiplied style of Gandhara, Buddhism could not have had the energy to begin over again in India to build up a new art with its slow and sincere history of a growing symbolism. As a matter of fact, Gandhara was in the full tide of her artistic success in the fourth and early fifth century, when Magadha had already reached the stage of pre-occupation with images of Narayana.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 8

After Shiva, however, the attention of sculptors in Magadha was more and more concentrated on the image of Narayana. It is probably an error to think of this as rigidly fixed in form. An unyielding convention is always the end of an evolution, never the beginning. And like Shiva in the west, so also Narayana in Magadha is connected with Buddha by a long series of gradual modification. Sometimes we can detect Chinese influence in a particular statue. With the rise of the Guptas and the necessity of a gold coinage, it would seem as if Chinese ministers had been employed, just as in his time and capital Kanishka had undoubtedly employed Greeks, for the same purpose. There is no difficulty in imagining that such Chinese workmen might somtimes be employed on a statue. The fact that the form itself however was not of their initiating is best proved by the gradual transitions which connect it with the image of Buddha. So much has been said, so lightly, about the impossibility of Indian inventiveness, that it is necessary to guard from time to time against petty misconception. Another point of the same kind arises with regard to Hinduism itself. It may be well to say that Buddhism did not originate the ideas which in their totality make up Hinduism. Indeed Buddhism was itself the result of those ideas. But by its immense force of organisation, it achieved such a unification of the country and the people, that it forced upon the Brahmins the organisation of Hinduism.

The conception of Narayana was taken up by the Guptas to be made into the basis of a national faith. This took shape as Krishna, and its epos was written in the Mahabharata. But the image associated with it was still that of Narayana. This was the form that was carried to the south by the missionary-travellers who were the outcome of the educational and propagandist zeal of the Guptas, and there it is worshipped to this day. It was an image of this type that was placed by Skanda Gupta on the top of the Bhitari-Lat when he erected it in A. D. 455 for the purpose of recording on his father's Shraddha-pillar his own victory over the Huns.

There is thus a continuous history of sculpture in Bihar, beginning with the earliest period of Buddhism, and passing gradually, and by easily distinguished phases, into various forms of modern Hinduism. In this continous development we can distinguish local schools, and this is the best answer to those who would talk of foreign influence.

The comparatively coarse, artisan-like work of Bodh-Gaya can never be mistaken for the soft, exquisitely curved and moulded forms of Baragaon, the ancient Nalanda. The Hindu carvings of Rajgir, again, are distinct from both. It is almost impossible therefore to speak of a single Magadhan school of sculpture. Much of the Rajgir work is Shaivite in subject, being earlier than the Narayana types of Baragaon.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Thursday, 4 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 7

These points established, the course of history is clear enough. He who would understand the development of Buddhist art has only to follow the development of the Stupa. This is as fixed in its succession of forms as a chronological scale. At first it is plain, as at Sanchi. Then it is ornamented with the Ashokan rail itself, which by this time shares the general sanctity of association, as a Karle, Bhaja, Kanheri, and Ajanta Caves Nine and Ten. Then it is elongated, and forms what we regard as a temple. Then the small Stupa takes to itself the four Buddhas. Gradually these undergo changes. The line of development hesitates for awhile, and then branches off in a new direction. The four figures become four heads, but whether of Brahma or the Mother of the Universe is not yet determined. Gradually the name of the Great God is triumphant, the pillar-like top in the middle of the four heads is more and more emphasised, and along this line of development the Stupa is finally converted into the Shiva emblem of Hinduism. One of the worship-Mantras to this day ascribes to Shiva the possession of five faces. That is to say, his emblem is still to the eye of faith a domeshaped projection in the midst of four head.

At that moment when the four seated Buddhas were becoming the four heads, the image of Buddha was being detached from the Stupa altogether, and entering on a new phase of development as an icon or symbol of the highest sanctity. It was because this was happening that the Stupa altogether, and entering on a new phase of development as an icon or symbol of the highest sanctity. It was because this was happening that the Stupa itself had been enabled to undergo the changes necessary to convert it into the Shiva. It is now, then, that we may place the evolution of the image of the First Sermon at Benares. This was to so fixed as is commonly supposed. In the caves of the second period at Ajanta-Seven,Eleven. Fifteen, Sixteen and Seventeen-We may judge for ourselves of the rigour or latitude of the convention. No two of these are exactly alike. Seven is one of the earliest, because the ambulatory which was essential to the Chaitya-Dagoba is here found, at immense cost of labour, to have been provided for the image in the shrine also, showing that the excavators were as yet inexperienced in the different uses of the two. The shrine, or Gandhakuti, was not yet stereotyped into a mere hall of perfumes, or incense, as Hiouen Tsang calls it. This processional use of the shrine explains the elaborate carving of the side-walls here, to be described later. In the image which is still more or less intact at Sarnath itself, we find an effeminacy of treatment which is very startling. The predella too is unexpected, holding worshipping figures turning the wheel of the law, instead of the peaceful animals lying quietly side by side in that wondrous eventide. Grunwedel points out that the use of the halo speaks of the existence of an old school of art in the country. So also do the flying Devas and the wheel and the symbolistic animals. The artist was speaking a language already understood by the people. The first images had arisen out of the desire to express to foreign peoples something of the ideal, in the form of the beloved personality. This particular image now became pre-eminent as a mark of the fact that Viharas were becoming colleges. Buddhism was taking upon itself the task of national education and scholarship.

But the original idea, in its original home had not ceased to develop. There was always the irresistible instinct to express the growing and changing forms of the national faith in plastic concreteness. The evolution of Shiva and Shaivism being first to branch off from the original Hinayana stream, early hardened down, as far as Bihar was concerned, into the use of an emblem as its supreme expression , instead of an image. It gave rise to a certain amount of descriptive sculpture, as in the case of Kartikeya, for instance, but it did not share to the full in the later artistic and sculptural impulse. Still, there remained unregimented the old idea of the Mother or Adi-Shakti, and sculptural allusions to this begin to be frequent in the laster phases of Buddhist art, along with that which supersedes everything under the Gupta emperors as the religion of the state. Here we come upon a wholly new symbolism, that of Naravana or Vishnu, the Great God of those who worship Krishna. Artistically speaking, indeed, on the west side of India, it took centuries to exhaust the sculptural impetus associated with Shiva, and much history is written in the fact. He rose upon the horizon as the third member of a trinity - reflecting the Buddhist trinity, of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha - a conception which is recorded in the large cave at Elephanta. At Ellora and at Elephanta he is almost passionately revered, so absorbing is his hold on the artistic imagination, and such is the wealth of illustration that they lavish on him. In Magadha, however, creative art is playing with two different ideas at this time. They are the Mother- later to become the occasion of an alliance between Brahmanistic and Mongolian ideas - and Vishnu or Narayana. At Ayodhya, indeed, the second member of the Trinity had already given rise to a humanised reflection of Buddha in the notion of a human incarnation, which had been preached as a gospel in the Ramayana. The poet Kalidasa had written the romance of both branches of Hinduism in his kumarasambhava and Raghuvansha. And throughout all the works of this period, the attempt is constantly made to prove the identity of Rama with Shiva. This is satisfactory evidence that the worship of Shiva was elaborated as a system earlier than that of Vishnu or his incarnations. It also shows the intense grasp which the Indian philosophy of unity had gained over the national mind. The Stupa continued even now to reflect the changing phases of thought. Hence it is doubtless to this time that we may ascribe those Shiva-lingas covered with the feet of the Lord that are to be met with occasionally in Rajgir.



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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 6

These are true statues, not mere bas-reliefs. And perhaps the great proof of their early occurrence in the Buddhist series lies precisely here, that they were found in Ceylon, where the enthusiasm of Indian intercourse was a marked fearture of the age immediately succeeding Ashoka, and were the Hinayana theology would not be friendly to statuary like the images characteristic of a rich mythology.

The clay seal is of extraordinary interest. The Buddha himself appears to be seated in somthing like the temple of Bodh-gaya, with branches of the sacred tree appearing behind and above. The plain Stupas all round show the contemporary development of that symbol. Now there was a moment when, by the simultaneous modification of all its five parts, the Stupa was transformed into something very like what we now recognise as a temple. Specimens of this phase abound in the neighbourhood of Nalanda, and indeed some hand has gathered a quantity of representative examples together and placed them on the bathing ghat at Baragaon. Except in the instances of this clay seal figured by Grunwedel and a Stupa which is to be seen in the Sone Bhandar Cave at Rajgir, however, I do not remember ever to have seen this phase of the Stupa associated with an image. The panelled example at Rajgir would seem to be old because of the stiffness with which the standing Buddha is portrayed. He stands with feet aprt, as in the drawings of children. But never have I seen a work of art which was equal to this in the depth and strength of the personal conviction which it found means to convey. The Buddha is clad in the usual invisible clothing of the period. He is stiffly and awkwardly posed, and conveys the idea of gigantic size. Outside the sunken panel on which he is carved, above him and to right and left, appear branches of trees of recognisable species, and each such branch half conceals a hand with pointing finger. The whole effect is extraordinary. The words "This is the man!" are almost to be heard. This vivdness of feeling combined with the stiffness of the work would incline one to place the statue early, and with this the evidence of the clay seal now before us is in agreement. But if we are to assign an early date to sculpture of this description, we must completely abandon the notion of pre-Buddhistic Indian art as semi-barbarous and crude. This degree of expressive power and this irresistible impulse towards the rapid modification of fixed symbols argues a long familiarity with the tools and the method of plasti enunciation. The Hinayana doctrine would incline the Stupa-maker at first to its aniconic development, but the innate genius of the Indian race for man-worship and its the end over all the fundamental fearlessness of symbolism would triumph in the end over all the artificial barriers of theology, and the aniconic Stupa would inevitably receive its icon. Of this moment our clay seal is a memorial.

The next step was to take the unmodified Stupa, and carve on it four small Buddhas, one on each of its sides. We can well understand the impulse that lead to this. The Dagoba was a geographical point from which Buddha himself shone forth to north, south, east, and west upon the world. It is the same idea which in a later age led to the colossal images of the Roshana Buddha in Japan. The very thought of the Master, with his spiritual empire in the foreign missions, brought up a geographical conception. And this geographical idea it is that finds expression in those small and simple Stupas, carved each with the four Buddhas, which one could often hold on the palm of one hand. In imitation of these, but much later, four Budhdhas were placed round the great Stupa at Sanchi.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 5

No one has ever pretended that these sculptures were foreign in origin. In fact competent critics are wont to turn to them for the exemplification of the somewhat vague entity that may be called the indigenous impulse in Indian art. In the low carvings in relief, therefore, on the Ashokan rail at Bodh-Gaya, we are not called upon to suspect a foreign origin. We may take these frankly as we find them, as examples of the Indian art of the year 250 B.C. or thereabouts. From this point on we watch the development of Buddhistic art in Bihar. Here we have the enclosure built about the sacred tree. Again we have a footprint, as at Gaya itself, where that now worshipped as the Vishnupada was almost certainly originally a Buddhistic symbol. Bihar was at one time full of Stupas, but the very fact that these have been defaced and treated as mounds or hills is testimony to the fact that they were probably as plain in the time of Ashoka as that now at Sarnath or at Sanchi. It is true enough that at its birth Buddhism found all holiness in that plain dome-shaped cairn of earth and bricks, which somtimes did as at Rajgir, and somtimes did not, as at Sanchi, conceal a deposit of relics. Amongst the small votive Stupas which it became the fashion for pilgrims and visitors to leave at sacred shrines, there are many of this phase of development.

It was essential that they should have five parts, clearly distinguishable, and a system of philosophy grew up which connected these with the five elements-earth, air, fire, water, and ether.

It must have been soon after Ashoka that attempts were made to evolve a portrait-statute of Buddha. In accordance with the Indian character as well as with the severe truthfulness of early Hinayana doctrines, the first efforts in this direction would almost certainly be intensely realistic. In faraway Sanchi, even as late as 150 B.C., we have the bas-reliefs on the great gateways representing anything and everything Buddhistic that could be worshipped save and except Buddha himself. But this is only what we might expect, if, as we have supposed, precedence in this matter really belonged to Magadha. At some later date we find at Kanheri illustrations of the blending of the old school of art to which Sanchi belonged-in which a story was told, in picture form-and this new idea of the super natural personage appearing as heroic amongst even the holiest of mortal men. This particular panel illustrates the Jaraka birthstories, which must have been the absorbing themselves only a hint of the place which the personality of its founder must sooner or later assume in the religion. This figure of a former Buddha is not naked, as might be supposed. It is merely clothed in muslin so fine as to be seal from Both-Gaya, in which we have another specimen of this period in the idealisation of the Buddha. The little turret-like patterns which accompany it are Stupas. But the Buddha himself is imaged in front of a temple-Sputa.

To this period probably belongs the story that when Ajatashatru wished for a portrait of the Teacher, he allowed his shadow to fall on a piece of cloth, and then the outline was filled in with colour. Grunwedel suggests that this story shows a desire to claim canonical authority for the portrait-statue. Whether this be so or not, it certainly does indicate incidentally that the Buddhist world itself ascribed the origin of the Master's image to Magadha. The supreme example of this school of sculpture is undoubtedly the Great Buddha of Nalanda, which is to this day the pride of the country-folk at Baragaon, who call it Mahadeva. To the same school belongs also the Buddha of the temple at Bodh-Gaya. And we cannot do better than take as an example of the type the Buddha from Anuradhapuram in Ceylon.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
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Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Theory Of Greek Influence On Indian Art - 4

The same is true of the Persepolitan pillars and winged animals of the older Mauryan art. Of internationalism these are eloquent, but by no means of intellectual imitation. India, as the producer of so many of the rare and valuable commodities of the world, was the most international of early countries. The positions of her great merchants, such as was that one who excavated the Chaitya at Karle, may well have transcended those of kings. Amongst the most important of the world's highways were those that joined Babylon and Nineveh to the Deccan and to Pataliputra, or Egypt and Arabia to Ceylon and China. It shows the dignity and international standing of India that she should have used freely the best of the age, undeterred by any premature or artificial sense of national boundaries. If we take one group of winged animals quoted by Grunwedel from Sanchi, there is even a kind of accuracy of scholarship in the way these are given foreign men, as riders, in their own dress and with their heraldic devices, so to speak, of the time. Those who incline to think that because she used Persepolitan pillars, therefore she derived her civilisation from West Asia, have to ignore the whole matrix of the original and individual in which such elements inhere. The pillars of the Chaitya at Karle may go by the name of Persepolitan, but the idea of the Chaitya-hall itself, for which they are utilised, has never been supposed to be anyting but Indian. The pillar with a group of animals on the top of it is not, in truth, adapted to teh structural uses that it serves at Karle. It is the creation of Asia at an age when pillars were conceived as standing free, to act as lnadmars, as vehicles of publication, as memorials of victory, and possibly even as lampstandards. But this use was common to all Asia, including India, and though the Achamenides adorn Persepolis with it in the sixth century before Christ, and Ashoka uses it at Sarnath or at Sanchi in the third, we must remember that the latter is not deliberately copying mouments from a distant site, but is translating into stone a form probably familiar to his people and his age in wood. In the simple Chaityas Nine and Ten, at Ajanta-excavated during the same period as Karle, but by simple monks intent upon thier use, instead of by a great merchant-prince, with his ecclesiastical ostentation-the columns from floor to roof are of unbroken plainness. The result may lose in vividness and sphlendour, but it certainly gains in solemnity and appropriateness. And the extremes of both these purposes, we must remember are of the Indian genius.

Other things being equal, it is to be expected that symbols will emanate from the same sources as ideals. For an instance of this we may look at the European worship of the Madonna. Here it is those churches that create and preach the ideal which are also responsible for the symbolism under which it is conveyed. It would seem indeed as if it were only as the vehicle of the ideal that the symbol could possibly be invented or disseminated. Now if we ask what was the radiating centre for the thought and aspiration of Buddhism, the answer comes back without hesitatoin or dispute-Magadha. The Holy Land of Buddhism was the streach of country between Banaras and Pataliputra. Here the First Council had been held in the year after Buddha's death, at Rajgir. Here at Pataliputra, under Ashoka, was held the great Second Council about teh year 242 B.C. It is quite evident that the lead so well taken by Magaadha, in recognising the importance of Buddhism during the lifetime of its founder, had been signally maintained, and for the Council of Kanishka to assert canonical rank, it must have been attended by numerous and authoritatvie representatives from the monasteries of Magadha, notably that of Nalanda, whose supremacy as the seat of exposition and elucidation was still acknowledged in the time of Hiouen Tsang in the middle of the seventh century of the Christain era. Unless then there should be unimpugnable evidence to the contrary, the rule being that ideals create symbolisms as their vehicle, and the source of Buddhist thought having always been Magadha, we should expect that that country would be responsible amongst other things for the divising and fixing of the image of Buddha. Thata this was the common belief on the matter in teh seventh century, moreover, appears highly probable from the life of Hiouen Tsang, whose biographer and disciple Hwui Li, represents him as bearing back to China, and passing through the country of Takkha or Gandhara on the way, a precious load of books and images, and amongst these first, and evidently most sacred and important, that of Buddha preaching his First Sermon at Banaras, fully described. From this it is clear that in China, in the seventh century at all events, India was regarded as the source of authentic interpretations. To India, and more especially to Magadha, the East turned again and again to refresh and deepen her own inspiration. For final pronouncements men did not look to the schools of the frontier countries and daughter chruches.

Now there are to be found in Bihar, the ancient Magadha, to this day, the vestiges of a long history of Buddhist sculpture in many phases and developments. No one has ever denied to India the pre-Buddhistic existence of secular sculpture of the human form. In front of the Chaitya at Karle (date 129 B.C.) we find integral figures of men and women which may be portraits of kings queens, or of donors and their wives. In the rail of Bharhut we find figures in the round, and abundance of animal representation. And the whole range of Naga-types is common from the earliest times.


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read Article, Magazine, Book @ http://eshop.vivekanandakendra.org/e-granthalaya
Cell : +91-941-801-5995, Landline : +91-177-283-5995

. . . Are you Strong? Do you feel Strength? — for I know it is Truth alone that gives Strength. Strength is the medicine for the world's disease . . .
This is the great fact: "Strength is LIFE; Weakness is Death."
Follow us on   blog   twitter   youtube   facebook   g+   delicious   rss   Donate Online