The immortal epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, are the cherished and prized heritage of Indian culture. The idealized versions of Rama and Krishna narrated in the two epics and the Bhagwat Purana, the episodes and characters described in them have sunk deep into the psyche of every Indian. Like Buddhism which provided inspiring themes to the Indian artist, the epics too inspired the Indian sculptor to execute his artistic creations in stone, stucco and terracotta in rock caves and temples all over the subcontinent. The artistic depiction of the epic themes in different ages and regions testifies to the universal and everlasting popularity of the epics with the lasting popularity of the epics with the Indian artists. In spite of the gap of centuries between the Gupta period and the medieval period, the core values and the personality of the ideal or semi-miraculous personages depicted in the Indian sculpture remain changeless.
The book is a fascinating study of epic themes appearing in visual art. The author has painstakingly documented the various themes carved in temples and rock caves, garnered from every nook and corner of the subcontinent - from Deogarh and Osian in the north to Badami and Belur in the south, from Paharpur in Bangladesh to Wadhwan and Markandi in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Born and educated at Allahabad, she did her M.A. from Allahabad University in 1975. She was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1979 by Saugar University for her research work. Thereafter for a number of years she served as a lecturer of Ancient Indian History in degree colleges. Since 1987 she has been working in the North Zone Cultural Centre, Allahabad.
Dr. Jayantika Kala has to her credit a number of research papers which have been published in the leading research journals of the country.
The present study forms part of my thesis on 'Epic Scenes in Indian Plastic Art' which earned me a doctrate from the University of Saugar in 1979. Since then I have been pursuing the subject and have added more material, but left out some part of the thesis, which was of general nature. I have tried my best to collect as much fresh material as was possible within the available resources and time. It is, perhaps, for the first time that a coherent study of plastic art depicting episodes from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and, the life of Krsna have been documented.
I express my deep gratitude to Shri K.D. Bajpai, Tagore Professor of Ancient Indian History and Archaeology, Saugar University, for guiding me in the preparation of the thesis. He was also kind enough to go through the revised version of the thesis.
I am also grateful to the late Shri C. Sivaramamurti, former director of the National Museum, New Delhi, and to Shri M.N. Deshpande, former Director General of Archaeology in India for going through the manuscript and offering valuable suggestions. I thank the American Institute of Indian. Studies, Varanasi, the Archaeological Survey of India, the National Museum, the Museums of Mathura, Lucknow, Allahabad and Bharat Kala Bhawan Varanasi, for supplying me photographs for illustrating this book.
I also thank Shri Shakti Malik of Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, for undertaking the publication of this work.
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