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Concept of Space in the Vístu Tradition

My Experiences

V. Ganapath Sthapati


In this paper mine, I have poured out many a concept of the traditional Science of Vístu of Indian origin. These concepts, I was able to identify, internalize, experience and implement in actual practice. To have access to these vaijÁínic concepts, I actually retraced my steps from Technology to Science. I have been working on this subject for years, as there is no technology without science. Added to this, the wisdom and knowledge of the tradition came to me as heritage. My father and forefathers, were all Vístu┐ilpós of very high repute. My teaching and working in the Government College of Architecture and Sculpture, Mamallapuram, as Principal, for about three decades gave me many insights into the Science and Technology of the Vístuvidyí.

          My deep involvement in creative works both in the religious and secular fields enriched my knowledge and experience yielding large dividends. This is with respect to temple sculptures of religious nature and secular sculptures of literary and ethical value, coupled with new spatial concepts, new forms and motifs. I have also successfully attempted to created spaces for two different belief systems under one common roof without detriment to their respective pújí modalities - evolved and continued over the centuries.

          Further, my deep involvement in the design and execution of huge sized secular buildings for certain universities in Tamil Nadu as also Indianization of certain modern building in conjunction with contemporary architects have helped me to understand the problems of contemporary architecture in India in respect of spatial concepts and aesthetics preferred by modern society. In all those interactions and connected attempts, I was able to prove also the fitness of indigenous technology and the traditional ┐ilpó's command over the handling of modern materials.

          Another project that came in my way was that of a documentary report on Housing Architecture, sponsored by the National Housing Bank, New Delhi. This gave me an opportunity of going deep into the principles of Building Architecture and to re-interpret them in a way that would be intelligible and inspiring to the contemporary  minds, since they have been in search of a tradition suited to the indigenous culture and changed circumstances. In this research project, I had to work with a contemporary architect and got my interpretations internalized so as to present them in modern English in a way that would attract the contemporary minds, particularly to the basic. The impact of this work is going to be very great. Foreign scholars are already very much ahead of Indians in this respect.

          My contacts with overseas architects particularly of UK and USA provided me ample opportunities to impress upon them the traditional principles of design. These interactions enboldened me to march on the chosen path with added   pace and hope. The universal nature of the traditional space-theory and its applicability in the design of secular and religious buildings, in today's context, have been well appreciated and responded by them. They have also closely observed the day-to-day artistic activities of the team of ┐ilpó's, put on work in those foreign countries. They were amazed to see young ┐ilpó's  working with simple tools and doing impressive works. They appreciated the validity of the indigenous technology.

          My discovery is, that they appreciate the orderliness of the horizontal and vertical modulated forms as well as commend the spatial aesthetics and its order being analogous to the musical forms. In other words they were able to recognize a musical order and harmony in the spaces that go into the fabrication of building parts. Added to this, they were amazed to hear me saying that every building in the tradition is designed into an organic form, filled with vibrant and orderly live-spaces. 

          In spite of all these, I see that there is till a vast area to be covered. The subject is as vast as the Space. I have shown only a paramíŞu. Experiments are going on under the roof on one Vístu Vedic Research Foundation. I am confident that this brief essay  would be an eye-opener to many who doubt the independent and spiritual nature of the Vístu┐ilpa traditions and the efficacy of Temple-worship and Temple-culture anchored in these principles. I have shown elsewhere that the temple building is the form of God, rather than a home of  God. Further, a section of the contemporary architects that I have come into contact with, is able to appreciate the timelessness of the VístuvijÁína and I hope that they would, with confidence, recreate the building tradition, putting into their built up spaces the spiritual vibrations and make the occupants respond to them and live in harmony with the environment created inside their homes as much as they enjoy outside. Such a life in harmony with nature affords both spiritual and physical well-being.

          House buildings can also be designed to suit individual nature and taste taking into calculation the occupant's birth star. The wave-lengths of individuals are taken here as the basic unit of measure and various parts of the building designed. This is another point that the contemporary architects look at with amazement. Added to this the age of the houses can also be determined, not the physical aspects of longevity but in respect of the spiritual vibrations that would continue to exist in them. The house building is considered as a living organism as already stated.

          The ancient authority for the Science and Technology of Vístu is Mayan of Indian origin. He was born to a father and mother with flesh and blood. He is not a mythological person as our PuríŞas and Itihísas exhibit him. The repeated occurrence of his name in such ancient literature speaks much of his remote antiquity. He was the vijÁínó of Bhírat having specialized in kíla jÁínam. His name is found linked to the authorship of Súrya Siddhínta (vide three opening verses). My request to the scholars at this hour is, that few of our Indian scholars should take up a serious research into his identity and personality. Over and above the points related to this originator, I would like to invite the pointed attention of scholars to a fact that there are a number of sculptors whose names have been recorded in the inscriptions but not exposed by the archaeologists for public interest, in a separate volume with photographs of their creations. Foreign scholars are already ahead of us, in their inquiry into Mayan's whereabouts, his culture and civilization. We can do at least a local search for restoring the identity of our own men.

          As one practising in the hoary tradition of Vístu┐ilpa, with a lineage of over one thousand years as a backdrop, I would like to say, that for the so-called Mayan civilization of Mexico and for such other civilizations of the remote past, the Indian Mayan of Vístu tradition looks like the author. I am able to perceive this, and recognize this, in those monuments spread all over the world, as a shepherd capable of identifying the owner of the individual sheep of which his flock is composed. That sense of recognition and basic knowledge I am blessed with, in view of years of exposure and involvement. But I know that this is the area of historians and anthropologists. Concurrently I feel that the time has come to identity him and explore his contribution to Indian as well as world culture and civilization. The shutters have to be unlocked and lifted. Banging on the door has already started.

          To me the Science of Vístu looks very basic and fundamental as also incredibly old, besides the spiritual culture of Bhírat looking anchored in this science and technology of Vístu.

          The science behind the vístupuru└amaŞĚala that signifies the universal rhythm of the Space and the emanation of universal objects therefrom, in musical phrases, is the key to the culture of India as a whole. Mayan is the author of this discovery.

To this Mayan I offer my respects and homage.


The quintessence of Vístuvidyí

Space is íkí┐a, the primal element. There are two such spaces, the inner space and the outer space. This space exists in all animate objects. Nothing in this universe is inanimate. That which within the individual space also happens in the universal space. They experience, vibrate and take form.


Vastu and Vístu


Vastu is Energy. Vastu is the Unmanifest.  Vastu is the Substance of all substances.  Vastu is the  Puru└a'- the "Vastu-Brahman".


Vístu is the Energy manisest - Vístu is substantial -  Vastu is the micro space.  Vístu is themacro space.  Indwelling Energy is Vístupuru└a - the " Vístu-Brahman".


Time and Space

Space is the substance of all substances, the Ultimate substance. It is a space filled with minutest particles called paramíŞu. Every paramíŞu is a minute space possessing Energy. It is square In form basically and cubical  three-dimensionally. It is absolute or abstraction of all visual and aural phenomena of the universe or the ultimate form. The space is luminous, as the particles are always emitting light. This is called foetus or germ, the basic material for the emergence of subtle forms in the micro as well as macro spaces. This material is called vastu, and it is Eternal. This is the live material which has metamorphosed itself into the manifest world. All the objects of the universe are therefore 'Space-turned spatial forms'. This is just like the gold turned into gold ornaments.

Space, whether of the individual or the universal, possesses a unique quality of experiencing. It is hyper sensitive, besides being super potential. This is capable of giving form to its experience. For the experience to take form, the space goes into self-spin. It vibrates. This effortive force of the Space is called Kíla, the Absolute Time. Kíla literally means that which emerges from within. This happens to be the intrinsic property of space. This is contained in all animate object of Nature. What is actually experienced by the Space is vibrated into a form within. This is just like the vibration of the stringed instrument turning into sound forms. The Space is sensitive enough to order rhythmically structured and aesthetically alluring. This is its unique quality.

In art, Kíla becomes Tíla. In the physical world Kíla measure is produced by the dancer by beating her foot (tíla or pída) on the ground. The same is produced by the musician by his hands (kara tíla). Tíla is rhythm. The dancer producer bodily forms by dancing to this Time-scale. The musician signs his song to the same Time-measure. Time produces musical forms. Poetical compositions are also governed by Time-measure called Mítríkíla or Ak└akíla.

These rhythms, in abstraction, are discovered to be rhythmic numbers. They are the spatial measures for the ┐ilpó to shape his experiences into the forms desired. They are spatial forms produced by the time-scale. Time and space are therefore equated in the Vístu science, a discovery of the Indian genius. Mayan, the celebrated authority on the Vístu-┐ilpa tradition is the discoverer.

          Through this unique grammar of the Tílam, the ┐ilpó creates and his own feeling take form. He feels transformed into the gross forms that he has created. Seeing himself in the  forms, he experiences inestimable joy. He looks upon them as ╦tmajans - his own sons and daughters in flesh and blood.

Time is stilled in such visual creations of the ┐ilpó. They do not suffer distortion, deterioration or decay as the objects of nature do undergo. They become therefore timeless objects signifying the attribute of Brahman. What amazing and to be remembered in this context is, that they are the forms (geometrical patterns) of the Sprit, reproduced in its own Time-Scale. They are the pratimís (replicas) of the subtle forms experienced at heart. Further, the verbal forms that we produce by mouth are all spatial forms, of course, but the force of vibrational Time dissolves them into the cosmic space, as soon as they shoot forth from within. So the dictum,. "Absolute Time creates life".

kíla┼ sĄjati bhútíni kíla┼ saĂharati prají┼ l

sarve kílasya va┐agí┼ sa kílo'sya va┐e sthití┼ ll 

MBh, III.57.1.

Time is the creator, sustainer and destroyer.

What the ┐ilpó has created outside according to the TílapramíŞa can be designated as Kalpita ╦tman. The silpi is jóvítman, the microcosm. The macrocosm is the paramítman. The common vibrational measures that they possess, provide a link among the three. Indian traditional art causes this wonder. By virtue of this unique Kíla-measure they resonate and lose their individual identities. This is an advaitic state of experience. This is ╦tma SaĂyogam. This is pure love. This is divine love. This is Bhakti - a scientific interpretation! This is spiritual experience leading into the world of peace and bliss. This is liberation from earthly involvements. This elevates us to the realm of divinity, the ╦kí┐a. This is the ultimate goal of Life.     


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