Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

The Citrasutra of The Visnudharmottara Purana

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[product_description]From the Jacket

In this book, the author has worked at a critical approach in the study of the Silpasastras. Contrary to the received opinion that the past is directly accessible to us via the sacrosanct fragments of the texts, the author argues that they only make sense within a framework, which is necessarily contenoirary.

In the introduction, the Citrasutra, comprising nine adhyayas or chapters of the third khanda of the Visnudharmottara Purana, is posited as a much "discovered" and interpreted text. As a result, it has a long history of interpretation by pioneering art historians of the 20th century like A K Coomaraswamy, Stella Kramrisch and C Sivaramamurti. Interest in the text is triggered by asset of concerns of the art historians, which tied up with questions of Indian identity and the construction of an authentic past. The author locates her own interpretation of the text within the tradition of hermeneutics forming around this text.

The second section, divided into three part - Text, Translation and Notes, takes up the nine adhyayas from 35-45. The Text puts together a critical apparatus which incorporated fresh evidence from two new manuscripts from Nepal and Bangladesh, hitherto not considered by the earlier editors. The Notes are detailed and bring in the interpretations by the earlier scholars to indicate important deviations from the official line of interpretation. It is followed by a detailed Glossary, the first of its kind, which focuses on the technical and context-specific sense of the terms.

The Author received her B. A. in the History of Art from Kala Bhavana, Vishwabharati University, Santiniketan and took her M. A. in the Department of Art History & Aesthetics at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University, Baroda. She then enrolled herself as an M. Phil student at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford University to work on "The Theory of imitation (anukriti) in Early Indian art" with Prof. B K Matilal. Later, for her doctoral dissertation, she took up the task of editing the Citrasutra of the Visundharmottara Purana with Prof. Alexis Sanderson. Grants from the Charles Wallace, the British Council, the Al Falak Foundation and the Radha Krishnan Memorial Bequest funded her doctoral research.

Dr. Dave Mukherji is currently Reader of Art History & Aesthetics at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University, Baroda. She has lectured in India and Europe and published a range of articles on historiography of Art History and the dialectics of nationalism and 'naturalism' in the study of Indian art. At present, her research focuses on the question of caste and gender in the study of early treatises of Indian art.


The Citrasutra of the Visnudharmottara-purána, Khanda III Chapters 35-43 is the thirty-second volume in the Kalãmulasastra Series of the Kalãkoâa Division in the Indira Gandhi National Centre For the Arts (IGNCA). The earlier volumes have included the seminal texts, relevant to the Indian arts: Matralaksanam, volume 1; Kanvasatapathabrahmana volumes 12 and 22; Latyayana-srauta-sutra, volumes 27, 28 and 29. These lay the foundations for an incipient theoretical framework before a clearly articulated theory of art emerges. Also these texts provide the basic structure and building blocks for the evolution of a language of ‘form’. The Karmakanda (popularly called ritual practices) and its systems of a multilayered spatial and temporal design employ a multi-media vocabulary of sound, music, word, movement and gesture. This design-style permeates into the fabric of the specific arts. The texts on music Dattilam volume 2, Brhaddesi, volumes 8 and 10 and Sangitopanisatasroddhara, volume 23, move concurrently on the three planes of concept, form and technique. So also the texts of architecture (vastu) ,the Mayamatam, volume 14 and 15; and Silparatnakosa, volume 16. Underlying all is a shared world view, a distinctive approach to phenomena and all that we understand by the word ‘nature’. Besides there is the affirmation of the principle of inter-connectedness and interdependence. This is the glacial level of thought as articulated in the Vedas specially fig Veda and the Upanisad. The texts as also the artistic practice, subscribe to the world-view, accept it as given. It is therefore not considered necessary to explicitly state it in the texts of the specific arts. Understandably they have been considered as treatises, manuals of technique.

Although texts such as the Satapatha and Srautasutra go back many centuries before the era. The texts on the specific arts roughly open a period from the second century to the eighteenth century. Throughout there is adherence to the fundamental concepts. This is the time of continuity; alongside there is an equal pre-occupation with change and specificity. Now categories and typology of forms constantly evolve.

The contents of the few volumes published by the IGNGA bear testimony to the dynamics of continuity and change, the perennial and the temporal as concurrent movements. Basic to the textual tradition in all the arts is the Natyasastra which will be published later. This monumental text lays the foundation of a theory of the Indian arts, which continues to be valid in practice over a millennium and more. The textual tradition flows along one direction, the actual practice (prayoga) in turn gives concrete shape in defined space and time. The Sastra (general theory) and prayoga (practice) interpenetrate and re- inforce each other.

The Puranas, Agni, Visnu, Matsya, and Mãrkandeya provide a necessary bridge between the ritual texts such as the Satapatha and Latyayana and the texts of the particular arts. Now the abstract concept, the philosophic discussions as also structures are couched in a language of myth and a narrative mode. The Puranas are neither a sub-stream of popular discourse as considered by some or narratives of complex mythologies and legends manifesting flights of poetic imagination or shrouding social histories only. Indeed they are another mode of communicating the same ontological and epistemological concerns as the Vedas and the Upanisads and the systemization of method of the Brahman as they provide another method of relating the abstract and the concrete, the universal and the specific, the philosophic and the artistic. Their mythical world with a staggering variety serves as transition from a system of thought, a knowledge and scheme of ritual to the vocabulary of form in the specific arts. Now myth which was seminal but capsuled earlier, a methodology of ritual which was highly structured is given a fluidity through the expansiveness of the myth. There is plurality of a figurative language. Consequently they provide the basis of the figurative language of iconography where myth collapses into an icon with attributes. The chapters relating to the Murtivinirdesah in the Kalikapurane Murtivinirdesha volume 9 and the chapters on the arts in the Agni Puràna, not yet published by the IGNCA bear this out. Only on the surface are the Puranas compendiums of disparate concerns. Thus the chapters on the Arts in the Puranas have to be comprehended against the larger concerns. There is the Endeavour to contain multi-dimensions of concepts and meanings through narrative myth and its transformation into a vocabulary of formal elements in the arts, singly and together.

While this is not the occasion to delve more fully into the contribution of the Puranas as also the Upapuranas in facilitating the flow of a tradition through an alternate mode of expression, it is well to remember that no Purana is a single isolated entity, unrelated to the other Puranas or to other texts on the arts. There is a continuing dialogue within their own category and each component also has interaction with the discourse in the specific disciplines. A vertical transmission and a horizontal movement can be discerned.

The Visnudharmottara -purana occupies a predomi[/product_description] [product_video]
Item Code: IDI659
Cover: Hardcover
Edition: 2001
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN: 8120818059
Language: (Sanskrit Text with English Translation)
Size: 9.2"X 7.3
Pages: 338
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 990 gms[/product_video]


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