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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