A mythical genealogy of the artists is given in most of the architectural treatises.1 From the four faces of Brahma, the creator, are stated to have originated the four heavenly architects Visvakarman, Maya, Tvashtar, and Manu.2 Their four sons are called respectively Sthapati, Sutra-grahin, Vardhaki, and Takshaka. These four evidently represent the progenitors of the four classes of terrestrial artists. They form the guild of architects, each an expert in his own department, consisting of the chief architect or master-builder, the designer or the draftsman, the painter, and' the joiner.
Slhapati is in rank the director-general and the consulting architect, Sutra-grahin is the guide (guru) of the other two, and Vardhaki is the instructor of Takshaka.3
Sthapati must be proficient in all the sciences. He must know all the Vedas. He must be endowed with all the qualifications of a supreme managing-director.4 The master-builder must be a draftsman and able to design. He must be proficient in all S'astras. He must not be deformed by lacking in one or possessing too many limbs. He must be proficient in laws and compassionate. He must not be malicious or spiteful. He must be well versed in music. He must be of noble descent. He must be a mathematician and a historian. He must be content in mind and free from greed. He must be proficient in painting. He must know all countries. He must be truthful and possess self-control. He must not have any disease or disability. He must be above committing errors. Hp must be free from the seven vices (Manu VII, 47-8) viz., hunting gamblingi day-dreaming, blackmailing, addiction to women, etc. He must have a good name and be faithful to friends.
He must be an expert in the ocean of the science of architecture.5 Thus, he must be very learned, meritorious, patient worker, dexterous, champion, of large experience, kulina (one who follows ancient custom, possesses modesty, learning, has fame; performs pilgrimage, faithful, peaceful, practices meditation, gives charity).6 He must be full of resources, and capable of application to all works.7 Further, he must be acquainted with the use of instruments and should devote himself whole-heartedly to his work.8
He must also be a skilful draftsman of industrious habit, must possess wide outlook and be bold in temperament.9
Sutragrahin10 should also be proficient in the Vedas and S'astras (sciences). But the special branch of his study is measuring and he must be an expert in drawing.11 On his part too it is necessary to possess the general knowledge of all the departments of the science of architecture and to follow the instructions of the master-builder'12
Vardhaki,13 too, should have the general knowledge of the Vedas and the sciences. But the object of his special study is painting. Besides, like Sutragrahin, he should have an idea of accurate measurements. He must also be able to design architectural and sculptural objects from his own ideas.14
Takshaka,15 carpenter or joiner must be an expert in his own department, namely, carpentry. He should also be proficient in clay work. He must be a qualified and able man. He should have the capacity for application to his work. He should follow the instructions of his three superiors, namely the chief architect, the designer and draftsman, and the painter, but at the same time he must be capable of doing all his works independently. And he should have aspiration to rise in rank. But he should be of good behaviour, clever, dexterous, learned in sciences, free from excessive desire for gain, and generous to forgive his rivals.16
Whatever might have been the actual custom in the period of the early S'ilpa-shastras, in more historical periods no distinction has been observed in the division of either functions or ranks between the Sthapati, Sutragrahin, Vardhaki, and Sutradhara. These terms appear in historical documents to have been indiscriminately used.17 Like the term artist in English, Silpin is the common epithet.
But the object of this article is to deal with the branches of studies absolutely necessary for the architect or artist to be thoroughly acquainted with.
Thus mere enumeration of a long list ofaccomplishments will not justify us to declare that the ancient architect was actually endowed with all these qualifications. So to decide the actual state of things with regard to the training of the architect, further critical scrutiny is necessary. And that is possible in the absence of direct evidence only by examining the subjects treated in a standard work on architecture.
First of all it is necessary to be clear about the meaning or meanings of Veda, Sruti, and S'astra, which terms are generally used rather loosely in Sanskrit literature, because the architect is stated to be proficient in these branches of knowledge. In literature ' S'astra is used to imply any instrument of teaching, any manual or compendium of rules, any religious book or scientific treatise, any sacred book or composition of divine or temporal authority. It is sometimes used in the sense of Vidya, meaning knowledge, science, learning, scholarship or philosophy. It also means practical arts such as literature, commerce, medicine, architecture, sculpture, painting(cf. Silpa-S'asi. >, Vastu S'astra). Vidya has fourteen divisions, viz., the four Vedas, the six Vedangas, the Puranas, the Mimamsa, the Nyaya or the Dharma or law; or with the four Upa-Vedas, eighteen divisions; others reckon thirty-three, and even sixty-four sciences generally known as Kalas or arts. Obviously, therefore, the expression ' Versed in all S'astras' cannot be taken in an unrestricted sense. What the architect is required to know can, however, be deduced from his actual works and from the details given occasionally in the science of architecture (Vastu-S'astra or Silpa-S'astra).
In the Vastu-S'astra the term architecture is taken in its broadest sense and implies almost everything built or constructed. Thus in the first place it denotes all kinds of buildings — religious (temple), residential (dwellings), and military (forts), and their auxiliary members (colunms, walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, doors, and other openings) and the component mouldings and ornaments; such as plinth, base, pedestal, shaft, entablature; fillet, listel, annulet, astragal, caretto, scotia or trochilos, torus, cyma, talon, ovolo or echinus. Secondly it implies the town-planning; laying out gardens, constructing market places and ports; making roads, bridges, gates; digging wells, tanks, trenches, sewers, moats; building enclosure walls, embankments, dams, railways, landing places (ghats), flights of steps for hills and lladders, etc. Thirdly, it denotes articles of house furniture, such as, bed-steads, couches, tables, chairs, thrones, wardrobes, baskets, conveyances, cages, nests, mills, etc. It also includes making dresses, ornaments such as crowns and head-wear, etc.
Architecture also includes sculpture and deals with carving and phalli, idols of deities, statues of great personages, images of animals and birds. Painting also forms part of architecture.
As preliminary matters, architecture is also concerned with the selection of sites, testing soil, planning, designing, finding out cardinal points by means of a gnomon, dialing and astronomical and astrological calculation.
Besides being an all-round good, clever, and intelligent man, why an architect is required to possess the general knowledge of all sciences (S'astras) and the special knowledge of mathematics, history, geography, music aesthetics, law, astronomy and engineering can be imagined when the list of qualifications is read with reference to the subject-matters of architecture mentioned here. The point is satisfactorily elaborated by Vitruvius.
Before proceeding further, it is profitable to note that the leading Roman architect, Vitruvius, suggested in the first century of the Christian era, in a more methodical and scientific manner, almost the same syllabus. 'An architect " says Vitruvius (Book 1, Chapter I), "should be ingenious, and apt in the acquisition of knowledge He should be a good writer, a skilful draftsman, versed in geometry and optics, expert at figures, acquainted with history, informed on the principles of natural and moral philosophy, somewhat of a musician, not ignorant of the sciences of both law and physic, nor of the motions, laws, and relations to each other, of the heavenly bodies."
It is familiar to everybody that for success in any profession in life one must be clever, industrious, honest and generous. It is also easily understood that an architect, who has got to do both manual and brain work must not be deformed and must be free from all disease and disability. According to Vitruvius he is required to be a good writer also, because an architect is to commit to writing his observations and experience, in order to assist his memory. Drawing is employed in representing the forms of his designs. Geometry which forms a part of mathematics affords much aid to the architect, to it he owes the use of the right line and circle, the level and the square, whereby his delineation of buildings on plane surfaces are greatly facilitated. Arithmetic estimates the cost, and aids in the measurements of the works; this assisted by the laws of geometry, determinaton of those abstruse questions wherein the different prbportions of some parts to others are involved. The science of optics enables him to introduce with judgment the requisite quantity of light according to the aspect. Unless acquainted with history, he will be unable to account for the use of many ornaments which he may have occasion to introduce. For history, the expression 'Purana' is used in the Indian literature and it implies mythology or mythological stories which are as a rule depicted in the buildings of a nation. There are, however, other uses of history for an architect.
"Moral philosophy" says Vitruvius "will teach the architect to be above meanness in his dealings, and to avoid arrogance; and will make him just, compliant, and faithful to his employer; and what is of the highest importance, it will prevent avarice gaining an ascendancy over him; for he should not be occupied with the thoughts of filling his coffers, nor with the desire of grasping everything in the shape of gain, but, by the gravity of his manners and a good character, should be careful to preserve his dignity." These precepts of moral philosophy are prescribed by our Indian authorities almost in the same terms. We have seen above that the architect is required to be of noble descent, pious and compassionate. He must not be malicious or spiteful. He must be content and free from greed. He must be truthful and possess self-control. He must be above the seven vices, namely, gambling, blackmailing, addiction to woman, etc. He mitst be faithful to his employer. He must have excessive desire of gain. He must be of good behaviour and generous enough to forgive his rivals.
"The doctrine of physics is necessary to him in the solution of various problems; as for instance, in the conduct of water, whose natural force, in its meandering and expansion over flat countries is often such as to require restraints, which none know to apply, but those who are acquainted with the laws of nature." This matter too has been more exhaustively discussed in various chapters of the Manasara.
"Music assists him in the use of harmonic and mathematical proportion.' In these matters, the Manasara is rather too elaborate, in most individual cases, nine proportions have been suggested and the selection of the right proportion and harmony has been made dependent on the application of the rules of six formulae which are treated in a very technical manner based on mathematics. According to Vitruvius, music is, moreover absolutely necessary in adjusting the force of the ballistae, catapultae, and scorpions in whose frames are holes for the passage of the homotona, which are strained by gut-ropes attached to windlasses worked by hand spikes. Unless these ropes are equally extended, which only nice ear can discover by their sound when struck, the bent arms of the engine do not give an equal impetus when disengaged and the strings, therefore, not being in equal states of tension, prevent the direct flight of the weapon." A knowledge of music is especially useful to the architect in building theatres, lecture rooms, and such other halls where the spread of sound is taken into particular consideration. Both Vitruvius and the Manasara are equally enthusiastic on speaking on it. The former further says that the architect "would, moreover, be at a loss in constructing hydraulic and other engines if ignorant of music."
"Skill in physics enables him to ascertain the salubrity of difFerent tracts of country, and to determine the variation of climates, for the air and water of different situations, being matters of highest importance, no building will be healthy without attention to these points." Most elaborate description on the selection of site and the examinatirjn of soil is given in the Manasara and otherarchitectural treatises. The salubrity of the tracts is minutely ascertained with reference to the site where a village, town, fort, palace, temple, or dwelling house is to be built. The soil is examined with regard to its shape, colour, odour, features, taste and touch. The elevation of the ground as well as the luxuriant growth of certain plants, trees, and grasses on the ground are also minutely examined. "Law should be an object of his study especially those parts of it which relate to party walls, to the free course and discharge, of the eaves' waters, the regulations of cesspools and sewage, and those relating to window lights. The laws of sewage require his particular attention that he may prevent his employers being involved in law suits when the building is finished. Contracts also, for the execution of the works, should be drawn with care and precision; because, when without legal flaws, neither party will be able to take advantage, of the other."18
Law asexplained by Vitruvius is not mentioned in so many words in the lists of accomplishment: given in the Vastu S'astras quoted above. But most elaborate instructions are given in these treatises on the party walls, sewage system, windows and other openings."
"Astronomy instructs him in the points of the heavens, the laws of the celestial bodies, the equinoxes, solstices, and courses of the stars; all of which should be well understood in the construction and proportion of blocks." In the Vastu S'astras dialing is an important subject but astronomy which is always mixed up with astrology, has been drawn upon particularly with regard to the auspicious moment invariably observed in almost all matters.
Vitruvius has added an explanatory note on the expression 'all sciences' of which; the architect is required to have sufficient knowledge. This explanation will indeed throw a clear light upon a similar expression Sarva S'astra, used by the Indian authorities. But for the following note of Vitruvius, we should have taken Sarva S'astra, as an exaggeration which is very often found in the Sanskrit literature to imply nothing more than general knowledge.
"Perhaps to the misinformed mind," begins Vitruvius, "it may appear unaccountable that a man should be able to retain in his memory such a variety of learning; but the close alliance with each other, of the different branches of science will explain the difficulty. For as a body is composed of various concordant members, so is the whole circle of learning in one harmonious system."
"On this account, Lythius, the architect of the noble temple of Minerva of Priene, says, in his commentaries, that an architect should have that perfect knowledge of each art and science which is is not even acquired by the professors of any one in particular." This seemed rather too much to Vitruvius; so he asks "how can it be expected that an architect should equal Aristarchus as a grammarian, yet should he not be ignorant of grammar. In music, though it be evident he need not equal Aristonenus, yet he should know something of it. Though he need not, excel, as Apelles, in painting, nor as Myron or Polycletus, in sculpture, yet he should have attained some proficiency in these arts. " Thus also in other sciences," concludes Vitruvius, " it is not important that pre-eminence in each be gained, but one must not, however, be ignorant of the general principles of each. For io. such a variety of matters, it cannot be supposed that the same person can arrive at excellence in each, since to be aware of their several niceties and bearings cannot fall within his power wherefore Pythius seems to have been in error, forgetting that art consists in practice and theory. Theory is common to, and may be known by all, but the result of practice occurs to the artist in his own art only. The physician and musician are each obliged to have some regard to the beating of the pulse, and the motion of the feet, but who would apply to the latter to heal a wound or cure a malady. So, without the aid of the former, the musician affects the ears of his audience by modulations upon his instrument, the astronomer and musician delight in similar proportions, for the positions of the stars, which are quartile and trine, an&wer to a fourth and fifth in harmony ... Throughout the whole range of art, there are many incidents common to all. Practice alone can lead to excellence in any one. That architect, therefore, is sufficiently educated, whose general knowledge enables him to give his opinion on any branch when required to do so. Those unto whom nature has been so bountiful that they are at once geometricians, astronomers, musicians, and skilled in many other arts go beyond what is required of the architect."
Manasara 11. 10—19.
Vastu-vldya (ed Shastri) I. 12—19 Brihat SamViita.
Vastu-jnanatn athatah Kamaia-bhavanan muni-parampar-ayatam I
Kriyate'dhuoa mayadam vidagdha-samvat.sara-prityai II
- 2. Tvashtar is obviously a professional name. To the other three names several extant architectural
treatises are attributed, e.g. —
i. Visva-karma-prakasa, otherwise called Vastu-S'astra (Manuscript).
Another treatise bearing the same title has been printed by one Kshemaraja in Saka 1819; another at Benares in 1888. The same treatise is stated to have been translated into Bhasha under the title of Palaranvilasha by Mukula Saktidhara
Sarma at Lucknow in 1896.
In Raja Rajendra Lai Mitra's Notices of Sanskrit Manuscripts (Vol II, No. 731, p. 142) probably the same Minussript bears the title Visva-karmiya
In the Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, there is yet anothar Manuscript bearing the title Visva-karmiyam Silpa-Sastram.
The Visvakarma prakasa or Vastu S'astra is stated to have been founded on the revelation of Visvakarmm, traced back successively to Brihadratha, Parasara, and Sambhu. The Madras Manuscript contains a statement referring to Visvakarma's debt to Brahma, Indra, Maya, Bhargava, Angirasa, Manu, Vyasa, and.Bhrigu.
ii Six works are attributed to Maya :—
(1) Mayamata Vastu-S'astra (Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, Nos. 13034 to 13039).
(2) Silpa-S'astra Vidhana.
(3) Maya Silpa Satika.
(4) Maya Silpa (A few extracts from this have been translated into English by Rev. J. E. Kearns in the Indian Antiquary, Vol. 230).
(5) Maya Vastu, text p. 33, published by V. Rama Svami and Sons, Madras, 1916.
(6) Maya Vastu S'astra, text p."40, published by K Lakshmana, in Madras, 1917.
(7) There is also another few pages of English translation of Mayamata in the Mackenzie Collection (India Office Library, London,) Translation, Class X, Sanskrit, 2s.
iii No work has yet been discovered with the authorship of which Manu is credited. But to one or other of the fourteen mythical Manus several architectural treatises, including the Maaasara have referred as an authority. One of the Manu is stated in the Ramayana (Vol. I, pp. 5 and 6) to have been the architect who built the city of Ayodhya:—
Ayodhya nama nagare tatra silloka-visnlt
Manuna manavendrena ya puri airmita svayam II
Truly historical documents also refer to these names as actual builders, e-g.— Manu-Maya Mandavya-Visvakarma-nirmitam. (Ep. Carnatica, Vol V, part I, No. 265, text p. 530).
- 3. Sthapatis tu Sva-turyebhyas
trivys (for trisrinya) gururiti smritah
Sutragrahi gurur dvyabhyam.
Takshakasya gurur nama
(M. II. 19-22.)
- 4. Sthaptih sarva-sastrajnah;
Veda-vich chhastra paragah;
tasmat sthapatir uchyate.
(M. II, 19—30.)
- 5. Sthapatih sthapanarhah syat
Sarva sastra-visaradah II,
(Vaatu Vidya Vol. I, p. 12.)
Na hinango 'tiriktango dharmikas tu dayaparah II.
'Amatsaryo' anasuyas'cha tantrikastv abhijatavan II
Ganitajnah puranajnah anandotma pyalubdhakah II
Chitrajnah, sarva-desajnah satyovadi jitendriyah II
Arogi chapramadi cha sapta vyasana-vajritah II
Sunama dridha-vandhuscha vastu-vidyabdhiparagah II
(Vastu Vidya, Vol. I, pp. 12-17)
Here tantra implies stringed musical instrument, compare Vitruvius quoted below.
Usually ' dharmika ' is taken to mean ' pious ' or dutiful, but here, in view of the sense suggested by Vitruvius, it may be taken to mean ' proficient in law.'
- 6. Achara-vinaya-vidya pratishtha-tirthadarsanam I
Nishtha sastis tapo danam navadha kulalakshanam II
- 7. Prajna medhavino danta dakshah sura bahu-sruta I
Kulina sattva-sampanna yuktah sarveshu karmmashu II
(Mahabharata, Vol. XII, pp. 3244; see also Vol. XIII, pp. 5073-74, and Vol. XIV, pp. 2520—24).
- 8. Karmantikah sthapatayah purusha yankrakovidad I
Tatha vardhakayas chaiva margino vriksha takshakah II
(Rjunayana, Vol. II, pp. 80—3.)
- 9. Vastu vidnajno laghuhasto jita sramah I
Dirgha-darsicha surascha sthapatih parikirtitaha II
(Matsya Purana, see Pet. Diet.)
- 10. Various etymological meanings of the term have been suggested, eg., sntragrahiti sutra-dhrist. (M , Vol. II, p. 23)
Sutra-graha, yah sutrani grihnati nata dharayati.
Sutra-graha, yah sutrani grihnati dharayati cha.
(Vartika of Katyayana on Panini.)
Vardhaki implies both carpenter and sculptor (Karle Cave Inscriptions No. 6, Ep. Ind., Vol. VII, p. 53.)
- 11. Stratajnah sutragrahi cha rekhajnah sastra-vit-tamah.
(M, Vol. 11, p. 31)
- 12. Sthapatyajnanusari cha sama-karmavisaradah II
Sutra-danda-pramanajno raanonmanapramana vit II
(Vastu vidya, Vol. I, dp. 16 and 17.)
- 13. Vardhaki is stated to be one who advances the scheme and follows sutragrahin implicitly;
Vriddhi krit vardhakih proktah sutragrahyanugah sada II
(M.,Vol. II,p. 18.)
In the Mahabharata (Vol. p. 256—266) Vardhaki is called Takshana (—ka) not however in the sense of care enter, but to imply executioner.
- 14. Vicharajnah Srutajnascha Chitra-karmajno vardhakih Vardhakir mana kormajnah
(M , Vol. II, pp. 32, 24)
- 15. Etymologically the term implies the cutter
of timber for building purposes :—
Takshanat takshaka sraritah
(M., Vol. II, p. 24.)
Takshanat sthula sukahmanam takshakah sa tu kirtitah
(Vastu Vidya. Vol. I, p. 13)
- 16. Takshakah karma-vidyas cha bala-bandhudayaparah
(M., Vol. II, p. 33.)
Mrit-karmajno guni saktah
Sarva-karma svatantrakah I
Guru bhaktah sada-nishthah
Sthapatyady-anugah sada II
(Vastu Vidya. Vol. I, p. 19.)
Susilas chaturo dakshah
Sastrajno lobha-varjitah I
Kshamavanasya (-nsyat) dvijas chaiva
Sutra dharah sa uchyate II
(Silpa-dipaka. Vol. I, p. 3.)
Compare also, —
Purusha yantra kovidad I
Tatha vardhakayas chaiva
Margino vrikska takhakah II
(Ramayana. Vol. M, p. 2, 80.)
(a) Sutradhari implies - Draftsman (Ep. Camatilca. Vol. V, Part 1, No. 133, Translation p. 163, line 2.)
(b) Vardhaki implies —
Carpenter (Karle Cave Inscriptions No. 6, E.p.IND Vol. VIII)
(c) Sutradhara implies —
1. Architect, artisan (Bheraghat Inscription of Alhavadevi, verses 33, 36, Ep. Ind.VoI. II, pp. 13, 17).
2. Mason (Inscription from Dabhoi, verse 112, Ep. Ind. Vol I, pp 1, 31. cf. First Prasasti of Baijanatha verse 36. Ep. Ind. Vol. I, pp. 107, 111.)
3. Sculptor (Verawal Image Inscription, line 5, Ep. Ind. Vol. Ill, pp. 303—11)
4. Architect (Inscription from the Mahadeva T«mple, verses 29 and 30, Ind. Ant. Vol. XIII, p. 165; Gaya Inscription of Vikrama Samvat 1429, line 9 Indian Ant. Vol. XX. pp. 313—315.
5. Similar instances could ha multiplied, but the point seems to be clear
- 18. Quotations from the following authorities
will be found in the author's dictionary of architectural
terms under Bhu Pariksha :