THE AGAMIC TRADITION AND THE ARTS
of Space in the Vístu Tradition
V. Ganapath Sthapati
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
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
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
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.
this Mayan I offer my respects and homage.
quintessence of Vístuvidyí
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
kíla┼ sĄjati bhútíni kíla┼
saĂharati prají┼ l
sarve kílasya va┐agí┼ sa kílo'sya va┐e sthití┼ ll
is the creator, sustainer and destroyer.
ę1995 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi