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The Present publication forms Volume III of a stupendous project, suitably entitled as Kala-tattva-kosa, being truly the 'Compendous Treasury of Elements of Arts', brought out under the auspicies of IGNCA, with Kapila Vatsyayan as its general editor and organiser. Like the already issued first and second parts of this encyclopaedic series, this volume too, is edited by Bettina Baumer. It has been given the subtitle of 'Primal Elements - Mahabhuta', that seems quite suggestive as the main articles studied therein are on five great elements.
volume contains specific studies on eight basic themes selected from the
rich Indian vocabulary of sastric definitions, believed commonly to have been evolved as
loaded with ideas of far-reaching imports by the tradition of sages,
scholars, poets and artists, aestheticians and conneisuers. They are some of
those terms on which there came to be pegged fundamental concepts and
thoughts being intrinsically handed down through successive ages of their
development in ever-expanding currents and cross-currents of
multidisciplinary implications and suggestivity.
The list of concepts treated here both in respect of multiple strands
of meanings and references as well as expositional cycles of Indian
traditional understanding, includes such terms as prakrati,
bhuta-mahabhuta, akasa, vayu,
agni, jyotis/tejas/prakasa, ap
and prthivi/bhumi. The authors contributing to the volume are some
well-known names of modern authorities on Indology : K.A. Jacobsen, P.S.
Filliozat, S.C. Chakrabarti, B. Baumer, S. Chattopadhyay, L.M. Singh, Frits
Staal, S. Gupta-Gombrich, and Prem Lata Sharma.
Quite exhaustive treatment of each of the above terms or concepts is
to be found by general readers as well as experts, now readily available for
reference and wider understanding. The methodology adopted connotes upon the
particular concept as defined and explained in its thematical involvement of
etymologies, exegetical analysis and principles, related terms and synonyms,
mythical and metaphysical expansion, adaptations in diverse disciplines of
religion, ritual, ethics and polity, arts and iconographies, astronomy,
medicine, poetry and aesthetics, and so on.
However, in case of this or that term referred to in this volume, one
would have liked to see several more aspects and contexts to be included and
commented. One may call some of such missing references to be minor or
obscure although their concurrence in the tradition would be found to have
its significant bearings on their wider understanding. Let us take few
instances. Under akasa,
there can still be added a reference to be Akasa-linga
(also, called isana linga), to the vyoma
as Surya's symbol. Khasam
which is a Tantric (Buddhist and Hindu) concept implying the absolute
principle, akasa as the Visnu-pada,
In the case of prithivi/bhumi,
there are likewise certain aspects to be mentioned in addition; namely,
iconographic forms of the Goddess Earth, her vehicle kurma,
her figure shown in Buddhist as well as Brahmanical sculptures as a female
bust half-emerged from the ground, bhumi-silapatta
(as mentioned in the Jaina canonical texts), bhumi's representation on the hood of ananta; in illustrations, adi-varaha-dramma
of Pratihara emperor Bhoja, etc.
Dept. of AIHC & Archaeology,
Hindu university, Varanasi.
Copyright IGNCAŠ 1999