8: Ancient Books and Architecture
During the Vedic period itself the architectural knowledge and capabilities
of Hindus had progressed a lot. The branch of science dealing with
architecture was called 'Vaasthu - Vidhya'. And, the books that enunciate
this were called Vaasthu - Sasthra works. Mythological books like
Matsyapurana, Vishnu dharmothra purana and so on, and books on Scripture
like 'Hayasirsha Pancharatra Agama', 'Vaiganasa Agama' etc lay down the
rules and regulations of temple - structure. In the mediaeval period
some more books came into being in this branch of science. Manasara,
Shilpaprakasha and the like are noteworthy. In Tamil also there appeared
books such as Chinthamani, Sirparathnam etc. Though there exists
some dissimilarities between these, they were having a common viewpoint
in general. Usually the divine sculptor Viswakarma is called the
principal author of North Indian books on architecture. Mayan
is usually referred to as the principal author of south Indian works.
From the rules and norms laid down by these books on architecture we can
see how much religion had influenced the structural patterns of the city
and its buildings. Till the mediaeval period all those available
informations pertaining to the field had been orally passed on from father
to son and so on. Only in the mediaeval period all those available
informations about the field were for the first time recorded in the palmyra
leaves in the written form of language. In the year 1920 a person
called Stella Kramisch had studied very many of these palmyra leaves.
Let us look at some of the important information's that these leaves impart.
In particular, let us look at the information's on city layout.
Universe and Hindu's
In the philosophies of the Upanishads
of Hindus, we find descriptions
about 'Brahmam' or Brahma.
He who has no beginning nor end and who is
'Omnipresent' is Brahma. And,
gods like Siva, Vishnu, Brahma and others are
the physical images of this formless
Brahma. And, he who is called 'Vasthu
Purushan' or 'Vasthu Dhevan' is
the one who had been created out of this
formless principal image.
And, having him as the focal point, the field of
architecture of the Hindus had progressed.
The above - mentioned books on
architecture describe this image
with a physical form, the Vasthu Purusha as
the Vasthu Purusha Mandalam (Vasthu
Male zone). And, in the same way how
the physical form of Vasthu Purusha
was created out of the formless brahman,
the architects also while shaping
the formless environment into buildings
with concrete forms make it a point
to do it in a way that would please and
satisfy the Vasthu Deva mentioned
above. From this it becomes evident that
the Hindus preserved the association
between Man and Universe even in
CIRCLE, SQUARE AND
THE VASTHU PURUSHA ZONE.
Those who view the buildings of
Hindus and that of Budhists would
easily comprehend one thing.
Budhists building towers have been built in a
round, circular shape. But,
the buildings of Hindus are of square or
rectangular shape. Anuradhapuram
is one of the important cities of the
Budhists. How much the round
or circular shape had influenced the ancient
city and building style of architecture
is brought out by a sinhalese
professor by name Rolan-de-silva
who has undertaken an in-depth study of the
said issue. In the ancient
Anuradhapura city which was created with the market
place as the axis, round - shaped
stupas (Thadhu Gopangal) around the city
of Anuradhapura in a circular fashion,
were built in two different streams, and
these informations are authentically
arrived at in his investigations. The
circular form implies 'motion' or
movement. Birth and Death, Night and
Day - so the passage of time which
moves on in a sort of circular motion is
implied in the above - mentioned
round shape. Further, this round shape
would also refer to the nature or
character of the world we are in. That
the Budhists who believe more in
the doctrine of materialism chose the round
shape is no surprise at all.
Unlike it the square - shape is a
decisive and clear form. It doesn't
imply motion as like the circular
form. The Hindus viewed this Universe as
a square shaped space created by
such others and identified the impact of
time on this space in terms of 'Rasis'
(Zodiac). From this it becomes clear
that as claimed by the Neo-physics
the hindus too had understood this Universe as a spatial time frame.
And, the fact that the hindus who identified this
Universe as a square-shaped frame
have structured the buildings and cities
too which had been constructed based
on these laws as square-shaped (or
rectangular) is not something surprising.
Thus, cities and buildings were structured,
keeping in line with this
'Vasthu Purusha Mandala' formed
in square shape. Each and every god was
created as small small squares.
This square-shaped 'Vaashtu Purusha
Mandala' was divided into many more
small, tiny squares. And, these small,
tiny squares were called 'Padas'.
Each small square would be occupied by a
god. And, in the centre of
Vaasthu Purusha Mandala there would be a big
square comprising of many small
squares. This square stood for Brahma.
1. Brahma's four squares.
2. Belonging to the next important
gods 2 squares.
3. Belonging to the rest of the
gods. 1 square.
The above cited Vaasthu Purusha Mandala
would be divided in such a way
with the squares of the gods comparitively
of less importance surrounding
Brahma. Vaasthu Purusha Mandala
can be formed in 32 different ways in
square – shape.From a square shaped
Vaasthu Purusha Mandala
4,9,16,25,36,49,64,81……… and so
on, in thirty - two different ways
comprising of 1024 small squares,
the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala can be made
.This is enunciated in out ancient
Indian books on
architecture. In such Vaasthu
Purusha Mandalas or zones that which is
called 'Manduka Mandala' comprising
of 64 small squares and another called
Parama Sayika Mandala comprising
of 81 small squares are important :
Parama Sayika Mandala :
As for 'Manduka Mandala' the whole
square would be divided by the two
axes that go North-south and East-west.
In the case of 'Parama Sayika
Mandala' the entire squire would
be unevenly divided. Thus, each and every
building (be it a temple or a house)
and city that are constructed according
to the architectural norms or laws
of hindhus stand as symbols highlighting
the hindhus' laws and principles
of creation in right earnest, and, they are structured in such a way as
to reveal the modes and codes of Hindhus's laws of creation, so to say.
This, in turn, reveals the key role that religion plays in our city and
building construction - works. (Though there exists slight differences
between the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala spoken of in North Indian books of
Architecture and that explained in South Indian Works, in general, there
is no great difference or disparity. In the South Indian temple cities
of Madurai, Srirangam and such others this difference or deviation
is clearly perceivable)