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Kalatattvakosa: A Lexicon of Fundamental Concepts of the Indian Arts, Appearance/Symbolic Form Abhasa (Vol - VI)

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Item Code: IHE024
Author: Sukumar Chattopadhyay & Narasingha Charan Panda
Publisher: Indira Gandi National Center for the Arts, New Delhi & Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788120832862
Pages: 482 (35 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.9” X 7.5”
From the jacket

Kalatattvakosa series of the Indira Gandhi National for the Arts has endeavoured to evolve an important modern device to grasp the essential thought and knowledge system of the Indian artists and cultural traditions. Through and indepth investigation into the primary source of various Ideological disciplines, the series aims at Facilitating the reader to comprehend the interdisciplinary approach of Indological and arthistorical research. The present volume Abhasa (Appearance/Symbolic form) is the sixth manifestation of the series devoted to key concepts of Indian art and deals with the abstract or symbolic forms containing closely related eight terms where the basis concepts of abhasa appearance or seemliness or reflection is inherent. Abhasa helps to realise the structure even in the field of symbolic or invizsibale form. This volume contains eight articles on the following concepts abhasa, sadrsya- sarupya, anukarana/ anukrti/ anukirtana, chaya bimbapratibimba linga pada and urttirti

Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan has provided the conceptual framework to the entire Kalatattvakosa series. Two learned editors Dr. Sukumar Chattopadhayay and Dr. Narasingha Charan panda senior research Officers of IGNCA, Varanasi office have edited this volume. In addition to the editors other contributors are P.K Agarwal late Vidya Nivas Misra, Anamika Roy, Puspa Tiwari, Radhavallabh Tripathi and Biswasnath Bhattacharya.


Importance Reviews

“It is in fact a concerted effort to change the face of Indian art history by providing an easier access to the intricacies of Sanskrit aesthetic terminology.”


Michael Brand
Australian National Gallery
(South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
Vol. 12(2) 1989)

“This is a very important reference and source book that any serious scholar would need to consult frequently.”


N. Ramanathan

The task undertaken is admirable and ambitious and the vast source material carefully selected and presented in original Sanskrit pali or prakrit accompanied with a standard English translation is very impressive indeed. The interpretation of this documentation is restrained and reasonable and at the same time suggestive and imaginative.


Gyula Wojtilla
(Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae,
Budapest, Vol. 51 (3), 361-371,1998)

The Kalatattvakosa is an indispensable tool for the Sanskritists interested in higher textual criticism in specialized disciplines of ayurveda vyakarana jyotisa ganita darsana ithasa purana vastu silpa sangita natya and alnkara for its provides the necessary background in the semantic evolution of several technical terms within the holistic frame work of Indian cultural heritage in a historical perspective the project of Kalatattvakosa is throwing open new vistas in the studies of Indian culture with special reference to Indian artistic traditions.”


M. Srimannarayana Murti
(S.V.U Oriental Journal, Tirupati.
Vol. Xlii, 1999)

“Altogether this volume (v) and the series as a whole should make it convenient for scholars to access in one source the technical terms and aesthetic issues that interested the ancient Indian writers and thinkers and that are widely scattered in diverse literary sources.”


Pratapaditya Pal
(Marg Vol. 54, No. 4 2003)




Consciousness which appears to be born or to move or to take
the form of matter, is really ever unborn, immovable and free
from the character of materiality; it is all peace and non-dual.

I General Background

Indian tradition both in theory (sastra) and practice evolves from the vision of ‘Absolute Reality that governs the whole universe at all levels and states of existence. The Vedas are revelations from a supreme state of consciousness. Upanisad Brahmans and Puranas unravel the mysteries of the phenomena at various levels of perceptions. Various system of thought including the Buddhist and Jaina emerge. So do the disciplines – Ayurveda, Astromony, metaphysics philosophy and the arts. Fundamental conceptions of the cosmos, space, time, body, mind, and self pervade almost all theories and disciplines making each of them interrelated and interdependent just like a sutra (thread) that holds (invisibly) all beads together (servamidam protam sutre manigana iva – Bhagvad Gita VII.7).

In this framework the wide range of Indians art-forms can never be understood in isolation. For a fuller comprehension of the system of interrelatedness and interpenetration Indira Gandhi National Center for the arts identified approximately 250 important terms representing fundamentals concepts occurring in various Indological schools and disciplines with the scholars. By selecting the groups of terms under particular categories and thereby concentrating upon each category in a single volume of the Kalatattvakosa while focusing upon their occurrence and significance in the arts, has given rise to an important modern device to grasp the essential thought and knowledge underlying in Indian tradition.

The criteria for selecting the terms and their grouping in the previous five volumes has been elaborately discussed by the editors of those volumes. The main purpose of the Kalatattvakosa is to concentrate on textual traditions principally drawn from Sanskrit Pali and Prakrit source covering a span of nearly 3500 years stating from the Vedas. An indepth investigation into the primary sources will and has hopefully already facilitated the reader to learn about the interlocking of different disciplines. The groupings in the first five volumes relate to:

a. pervasive and perennial terms (Category vyapti)

b. terms relating to notions of space and time (Category desa and kala)

c. the primal (Category mahabhutas)

d. manifestation of nature (Category srstivistara)

e. form/ shape (Category akara/akrti)

Following the same process of enquiry into the fundamental concepts the present volume deals with the concepts of abstract or symbolic from grouped together as abhasa signifying appearance, reflection, shining principle, semblance and convisibility for illuminating the creation.

Volume VII will be devoted to Substratum/Adobe – Ayatana Subsequently another volume concentrating on the related technical terms specific to the Indian arts is envisaged

II Method and Use

The system followed here in the method and use corresponds almost completely with that introduced in the previous volumes. The same is given as under :

1. The list of terms has been organised thematically by concepts. Groups of related terms are assembled in each volume and the logic of their arrangement is explained in the introduction. Alphabetical reference is facilitated by the List of Terms which gives a complete list of entries for the whole series mentioning the volume in which an article has already appeared. The Index directs the reader to the occurrence of the terms throughout and also refers him to the other significant terms in Sanskrit and English.

2. Within a desirable flexibility of structure the content of an entry generally follows this sequence as under:


Etymology and Related terms

Layers of Meaning

Development of the Concepts

Manifestation in the Arts




Quick identification of a section which may interest the reader specifically is thus facilitated.

In some cases where a concept has a distinct meaning in different fields an article has been divided into two or three parts assigned to different authors.

3. All Sanskrit Pali and Prakrit quotation are given in Devanagari with a full English translation; Sanskrit words or phrases occurring in the running text are transliterated and accompanied by a translation at least once. This is designed to provide access to the contents of the quote for those having limited knowledge of Sanskrit and for non- readers of the Devanagari script.

4. Texts reference are abbreviated full titles appear only in the running texts of the entry (in bold face). The List of Abbreviations provides the full titles and the General Bibliography notes the texts editions and translations used.

5. A Select Bibliography is appended to each article. This contains references to secondary literature to which the author refers. These reference are not exhaustive but are relevant to tracing further information about the concept.

6. The etymologies whether traditional or based on modern linguistics represent the opinion of the author.

7. All translations are acknowledged whether published (see Bibliography) or unpublished. If a translator’s name is not given the texts has been translated by the author. Where the author has amended a previous translation this also is indicated.

8. The volume is illustrated with a minimum number of essential line drawings of fundamental diagrams. Full photography illustration of arts historical developments and variations falls outside the purview of these volumes.

III. Concepts of Appearance/Symbolic Form (Abhasa)

Entire world or creation is actually the reflection of the Supreme Being an inherent nature or appearance of Absolute Reality where some invisible or symbolic forms do appear as the primal factor to unravel the mystery of nature.

The concepts or key-terms of Indian arts as recorded in the previous Kalatattvakosa volumes (I-V) clearly show the manifestation of a unified vision to multidimensional aspects within the periphery of various Indological disciplines from the Vedas to modern art and architecture – a journey in the field of eternal wisdom through the spheres of specific disciplines like epics grammar, linguistics, politics astronomy ,mathematic, philosophy kavya poetics, dramaturgy, sculpture, architecture, etc. Thus the Pentateuch of Kalatattvakosa attempts to touch the concepts of almost all schools of Indian thought and disciplines related to pervasiveness (vyapti), space and time(desa-kala), primal elements (mahabhutas), manifestation of nature (srstivistara) and from or shape (akara/akrti). The present volume is a competently to the previous volume (V) on akara/ akrti as it deals with the abstract or symbolic forms containing closely-related eight fundamental terms: abhasa, sadrsya/ sarupya, anukarana/anukrit/anukirtana, chaya, bimba-pratibimba, linga pada and urtti-riti. In these terms the basic concept of abhasa appearance or seemliness or reflection is inherent. Where the form is invisible or symbolic, only abhasa helps there to realise the structure. Sadrsya or convisibility and sarupya or conformity also stand for semblance or abhasa persisting between original or model and the replica. Abhasa again is basis of all forms of imitation – anukarana, anukrti and anukirtana. Imitation presupposes a model, of which it is a reflection.

Chaya is a related concepts interlinking with all other terms of this volume bearing the sense of reflection, appearance, convisibility, imitation, sign or symbol and an unmanifest state as a reflection of the Supreme Being. The technical term bimba-pratibimba (bhava) clearly denotes a model and a semblance of it. Linga is a representation of a godhead or an idea.

Pada is also related with linga or cihna, especially when we worship a footprint of maha-purusa like Rama, Buddha etc and various deities like Visnu, Siva, Laksmi etc, it indicates an abhasa, sadrsya, anukrti of the original person or god where a ritti or style of worship is reflected. Hence pada is not only measurement but also a symbol for keeping a mark in the permanent memory of being. Different marks on the foot-sole of a great person symbolise many mysteries of his personality and creation.

Likewise, urtti and riti signify the basis concepts of status and its mode. As such, all these related terms, come within the purview of the keyterm of this volume, abhasa.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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