THIS is the seventh and the last volume of the Mānasāra series so far as the present writer is concerned. A few more volumes are, however, required to complete the work. Those new volumes will have to deal with the practical conclusions and workable plans and designs. This remaining work will involve an additional expenditure and an engineering study and draughtsmen's survey, estimate, calculations and comparisons with the few extant structures referred to in the writer's sixth volume, the Hindu Architecture in India and Abroad. In fulfilment of the fateful prediction of the late Professor E. J. Rapson of Cambridge University, the whole of the official career of the present writer commencing from the eventful year of 1914 has been fully occupied in preparing and seeing through press some 5, 000 pages of these seven volumes. As the decree of fate would have it the war of 1914-18 caused from the very beginning of this task all possible interruption, risk and inconvenience while the work was carried out in London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Leyden. The difficult Indian conditions presented the familiar dilemma either to give up the self-imposed task altogether as is usually done by us after securing a degree and an appointment to a permanent post, or to carry it through, without much encouragement and assistance from any quarter, shouldering in addition to the peculiar duties of an occasionally unfortunate Professor of an Indian University the heavy burden of research. The unusual exigencies of the reconstructed Allahabad University demanded of the writer preparation and delivery of lectures to B.A., M.A., and Research classes up to 30 times per week and never less than 18, and also to do the departmental administration, and the routine work of various committees and examinations.

Contrary to the Sadler Committee's policy recommended for the new type of Indian Universities research activities even for the professors of the highest rank became practically of no importance, the teaching and social activities, as in schools and colleges, being much better appreciated by the authorities. Thus for instance our autonomous University considered it a useless waste of public funds to include a few pages in its annual report in order to give publicity to the mere titles of papers and books written and published by their teachers. Our non-interfering Government authorities also ceased to take any notice of their own servants who were sent on ‘foreign service,’ or rather banished to the universities.

The great educationist Governor, late Sir Harcourt Butler, sanctioned the cost of publication of these volumes to be advanced from the public funds before the delegation of the writer to the Allahabad University. But he left to Sir Claude de la Fosse, who was the first Vice-Chancellor of the reconstructed Allahabad University for a few months, to settle the terms of the publications including the author's royalty and reward. Sir Harcourt was sorry to learn of the changes which had taken place since his retirement from India and was ‘shocked’ when he was told in London in 1933 that an Indian successor of Sir Claude, as the Head of the Education Department of the Government, actually questioned in an official correspondence ‘the public importance of printing Indian Architectural researches.’

The commitment of his predecessor had, however, to be carried out, and the Government, at the suggestion of again an Indian Adviser to the Governor, have since decided that after the realization of the full sum of money advanced by the Government for the cost of printing and publishing through the Oxford University Press, the further sale-proceeds, if there be any, will go to the successors of the writer. This is certainly a business arrangement. But the question of profits was not unfortunately considered when the first five volumes were published, for, the first two volumes published in 1927 actually gave a small profit to the Government of Rs.300 to Rs.400 despite the fact that only 250 copies were then published for circulation among scholars and that the prices of those volumes were fixed not as a business proposition, but merely to realize the cost of publication.

Naturally under such circumstances one would not feel encouraged to put in further labour and incur enormous expenditure, which are needed for the preparation of the remaining volumes and completion of the series. And there is not much hope either that the Governments and the various corporations, municipal boards, and other authorities who sanction the plan of a private building or erect a public structure will interest themselves in introducing an Indian policy in architecture until the new order following the present devastating war comes into being and until the new nations are able to rebuild and repair the rackless destruction. In the pre-war and peaceful times, however, facilities were freely provided by the State, especially in the big European and American cities like London, Leyden, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Washington, New York, etc., to hold extramural evening classes and deliver popular lectures on architecture. Cities like Milan used to hold perpetual exhibition of model houses in order to educate the public in the construction of suitable dwellings. Perhaps a time will come even in countries like India, when it may be considered barbarous to question ‘the public importance of architectural researches.’ The common sense of civilized and progressive peoples has recognized that residential buildings are more important in some respects than even food and clothes. It is well known that among the amenities of life, houses afford in a large degree not only comfort and convenience but also health and longevity of life, safety, and security. Nomads are not considered civilized; they are not attached to any locality; they have no fixed hearth and home; they are not inclined to spend their fortune in erecting dignified edifices, everlasting ancestral residences, memorials, monuments, temples, churches, mosques, mausoleums, towers of silence, monasteries and pagodas. The art and culture of a people are reflected and preserved in such monuments. They sustain and stimulate national pride. Thus the architectural structures differ in various countries to suit their economic and climatic conditions, weather and soil, taste and aspiration, and material, moral and spiritual progress. It is, therefore, necessary to settle the architectural policy of each country in its own way. For India no better authority containing the experience of generations and experiments of centuries will ever be available than what is revealed by the Mānasāra series.

Apart from supplying cultural and historical information these volumes contain a key which when understood may help the tackling of Indian housing problems. It has been shewn and recognized by discerning authorities that whatever elements have been introduced to India by the Persians, Moghals, Pathans, and the Europeans, have failed to suit the Indian climatic and soil conditions. Neither the desert houses of Arabia nor the rain-coats and the snow covers of European countries can ever suit the peculiar conditions of India. Experience of generations and experiments of centuries are contained in our Vāstu-śāstras (science of architecture). Like the Indian dietary of predominantly vegetarian dishes and Indian clothes of loose types, Indian houses of our Śāstra (scientific) styles are naturally more suitable for us. A wide dissemination of an accurate knowledge of true Indian architecture as revealed for the first time in these volumes must be the first step of the housing reform in India.

The present volume is a revised and enlarged edition of the writer's Dictionary of Hindu Architecture which was published in 1927, without any plates. Its change of title to An Encyclopaedia of Hindu Architecture was originally suggested to the London University and missed by several learned scholars. A respected one1

commented in his review of the Dictionary on this point very strongly: '’The Dictionary is a book which is so well done that it appears to be no exaggeration to say that for many decades it cannot be improved upon unless, of course, the South reveals to us more hidden treasures. If there is anything to object to, it is the tide of the book, which does less than justice to it. “Encyclopaedia” would be a fitter title. The term “Dictionary” is associated in our minds with word-meanings, while Dr. Acharya's work is very much more than “word- meaning.” Each term is followed by its meanings, mostly technical, an exhaustive account of the subject, and references to standard works of a wide range of literature. Thus, it will be seen, the work deserves a better title than “Dictionary.” In fact Dr. Acharya himself suggested to the London University the compiling of “An Encyclopaedia of Hindu Architecture,” and it appears to have been a mere freak of fortune that when the University decided to entrust the learned Doctor with the work of compiling, they chose the term “Dictionary.” They appear to have been led to do this by the nature of the usual run of work done by modern scholars who in many cases have the, unhappy knack of “shirking work”; but in being led away by the prejudice, the University were unfair to their alumnus, who has, by this work, more than justified the title that he had himself suggested… It is a matter of special gratification to us of the Allahabad University that we have at the head of our Sanskrit Department a scholar capable of doing work which, as a monument of industry and patience, compares favourably with the best of that class of scholarly work which has hitherto been regarded as German.’2

The distinguished artist, Dr. Abanindra Nath Tagore, C.I.E., observes also that the Dictionary is ‘in the nature of an Encyclopaedia embracing all the existing treatises on Indian art. He (the author) has herein presented before us all the information that so long lay hidden and scattered all over the world … it may be appropriately called the Mahābhārata of the literature on Indian art, for, in it we find all that there is to know about Indian art.... Hitherto it has been extremely difficult to be able to read all the connected literature that is to be found in libraries whether in India or outside. Everyone of us does not know the language in which the treatises are written. Moreover, most of the original texts are preserved in distant lands. In the circumstances, a volume of this nature, written in English and containing as perfect a compendium as is possible, of all the existing treatises on art, came to be a necessity, not only for us but for foreign artists as well.... I cannot adequately express the extent to which I shall be able to make use of it... and the profit which my pupils will derive from it.’3

‘Students of Indian architecture should be grateful to him (author) for accomplishing with such thoroughness a task which has been long overdue, and which must have entailed a tremendous amount of patient and often disinteresting work, in a number of different languages. The Dictionary of Hindu Architecture contains all the architectural terms used in the Mānasāra and in the known Vāstu-śāstras, published inscriptions and other archaeological records with full references and explanations.’4

‘Professor Acharya's Dictionary of Hindu Architecture is a monumental work, the first of its kind. It deals with three thousand words relating to architecture and sculpture and cognate arts. Under each term is brought together all the necessary information in the form of a short article illustrated with copious quotations from the ancient printed books, as well as manuscripts, the general literature and the archaeological records. And this has been done with a thoroughness and accuracy which are the author's own. Full quotations for bringing out each and every shade of the meaning of a word are  given. In effect the Dictionary becomes more of an Encyclopaedia rather than a dictionary.’5

In consideration of such comments and in view of the fact that illustrative plates containing measured drawings and photographs have been added, the Government and the Oxford University Press have agreed to the present title. But ‘the freak of fortune’ truly designated by Sir Ganganatha has continued to the very end in other respects as referred to in the opening paragraphs and mentioned later on.

The prediction that ‘for many decades it cannot be improved upon’ has also proved literally true. ‘No hidden treasures’ have been revealed in any quarter. All the new publications including all archaeological explorations and reports which came out between 1928 and 1943 have been closely searched. The very extensive volumes, reports, and explorations relating to Central Asia which have been largely due to Sir Aurel Stein, as well as the voluminous publications of the Dutch, the French and lately of the Indian scholars relating to the Far East and Insulindia have also been patiently gone through.6 But not many new ‘terms’ have been discovered. The new terms added in this volume will be hardly one or two per cent, of the original list. But a number of new ‘articles’ under the old and the new terms have been added. Articles like the playhouse (under RAṄGA) and Svastika symbol, etc., contain all information which is at present available. Articles on fine arts (under KALĀ) and Indo- Persian Architecture, and Maya Architecture of Central America, etc., are also new.7

Thus although the matter has largely increased, Lt.-Col. D. W. Crighton decided to reduce the unwieldy bulk of the volume by the device of smaller types, larger pages, and closer printing, which, it is hoped, will not cause any inconvenience to the readers. Colonel Crighton and Mr. M. G. Shome, his successor, as the Superintendent of Government Press, have endeavoured to produce a faultless volume comparable with the best of European publications.

The original plan and scope as well as the ideal and general method followed in the Dictionary8 have been retained in this Encyclopaedia also. 9

What remains to be added refers to further instances of the ‘freak of fortune.’ Under the war conditions of 1914-18 the work was commenced and under the present devastating war conditions it is completed. Among various other disappointments it is painful to recall that in April, 1939, Lt.-Col. D.W. Crighton took to England about 250 pages manuscripts of the present volume and after the declaration of the war in the fateful month of September, the Colonel wrote that he would send back the manuscripts together with his suggestions for printing. His suggestions were received and have been followed but the original manuscripts never came back. They had to be prepared again with all the annoyance and labour involved in such a process. Some of the new entries and additions and alterations made in the missing pages during the past twelve years may have been, however, lost altogether. Those who work along this line may share the writer's disappointment and will recognize the fact that it is hardly possible for a writer to re-write an article in the same spirit, with the same fulness and satisfaction as at the first inspiration.

Another unfortunate incident alluded to in the Preface refers to the eye-trouble which started as the result of a very close examination and decipherment for several years of a huge quantity of very badly preserved old manuscripts on  ‘Śilpā-śāstras written in five different scripts, and of some 50, 000 lines of inscriptions.’ Over and above this the eyes were severely exercised by the reading of three proofs of some 5, 000 pages of these seven volumes, of which not only every word but also every letter and every line thereof had to be minutely scrutinized at least three times each. All this strain for the past thirty years aggravated the ailment to such an extent that the proofs of this last volume had to be read, despite medical advice, with one eye only, the other being unserviceable and requiring a risky and expensive operation which had to be postponed with a view to completing this work.

I take this occasion to record my most respectful thanks to the Government of the United Provinces for generously advancing the cost of publication of all the seven volumes. My respectful acknowledgments are also due to the Government of India, especially to the Department of Archaeology whose Directors General and Provincial Superintendents very generously supplied all the necessary photographs of the extant monuments and reprints from the Government publications. I also take this opportunity to express my indebtedness to the Governments of Siam, Netherlands (Java and Sumatra), and French Indo-China for supply of photographic views of Indian monuments in Insulindlia and for permission to reprint certain plates from their official publications. Mr. S.G. Mukerjee, B.A., C.D., A.R.C., A.I.I.A., and his draughtsmen have supplied all the measured drawings and the plates for the illustration of certain objects of which no extant examples are available. These drawings and plates had to be prepared from the description found in the texts and required great skill in representation. Thus they have earned my gratitude.

Lt.-Col. D.W. Crighton, and, after his retirement, his successor, as the Superintendent of the Government Printing and Stationery, Mr. M.G. Shome, and their staff have endeavoured to produce a faultless volume. Colonel Grighton's plan and arrangement of the matter has been strictly followed. In his great wisdom he cast the new types for the last two volumes of the series and stocked the required amount of paper excepting those for plates before the war of 1939 was declared. I shall always remain grateful to Colonel Crighton, Mr. Shome and their staff for all they have done to bring out these volumes and to mitigate my drudgery for more than a quarter of a century during which these volumes passed through the Press.

My thanks are due to Mr. M.S. Sharma, M.A., L.T., who assisted me substantially in preparing the Index of the modern architectural terms as translated in the body of the work together with their Sanskrit equivalents.

I am also thankful to Mr. M. G. Nayar, Senior Reader of the Government Press, for arranging the plates and the final revision of the last proof.

April, 1944-46.

  • 1. Mahāmahopadhyāya Dr. Sir Ganganatha Jha, Indian Review, March, 1928.
  • 2. For similar comments by several other Reviewers, please see the concluding appendix of this volume and also pp. IA to IIA of the writer's Architecture of Mānasāra (Volume IV of the Mānasāra Series).
  • 3. Translated by Mr. B. N. Lahiri, M.A., I.P., from the Pravasi, April, 1928.
  • 4. The Times Literary Supplement, May 31, 1928.
  • 5. The Pioneer, February 13, 1928.
  • 6. See further reference to these works under “Sources” in the Preface which follows this Foreword (pp. xvii-xviii) and also the Bibliography, pp. 679-84.
  • 7. Another additional and very expensive effort, which is not directly concerned with the present volume, has been made in erecting a residential house for a demonstration, the result of which is elaborated in the Preface of Volume VI (Hindu Architecture in India and Abroad).
  • 8. See pp. x-xii.
  • 9. For details, see pp. xx-xxii.