The Mayamata is a Vastusastra, i.e. a treatise on dwelling and as such it deals with all the facets of gods and mens dwellings, from the choice of the site to the iconography of the temple walls. It contains numerous and precise descriptions of villages and towns as well as of the temples, houses, mansions and palaces. It gives indications for the selection of a proper orientation, right dimensions, and of appropriate materials. It intends to be a manual for the architect and a guidebook for the layman. Well-thought of by traditional architects (sthapatis) of South India, the treatise is of great interest at a time when technical traditions, in all fields, are being scrutinized for their possible modern application.
The present bilingual edition prepared by Dr. Bruno Dagens, contains critically edited Sanskrit text, which is an improvement over the earlier edition by the same scholar and published as No.40 of Publications de I'Institute Francais d'Indologie, Pondicherry. The English translation, also published earlier, has now been revised with copious notes. The usefulness of the edition has been further enhanced by adding an analytical table of contents and a comprehensive glossary.
About the Author
Dr. Bruno Dagens (b. 1953) is an eminent Sanskritist and archaeologist. He is a member of the Ecole Francais d'Estreme-Orient. Dr. Dagens taught Sanskrit at the University of Louvain (Belgium) and did archaeological research in Afghanistan and Cambodia. He also worked, since 1977, at the Institute Francais d'Indologie, Pondicherry for quite a few years.
Besides articles and research papers on the Archaeology and Iconography of monuments in Afghanistan and Cambodia, two earlier editions of the Mayamata and one edition of the Saivagamaparibhasamanjari (a compendium of Saiva doctrines and rituals), Dr. Dagens has authored Architecture in the Ajitagama and the Rauravagama (Sitaram Bharatia Institute of Scientific Research, New Delhi, 1984).
The body of Sanskrit literature dealing with architecture and iconography is voluminous, even if scattered and insufficiently surveyed and it is matched by a vernacular literature, more scattered and less known. It comprises, first of all, independent works which can be classified under the general heading of "technical treatises" (silpaSastra) or under the more precise one of "treatises on dwelling" (vastuSastra) or "treatises on dwellings" (vastuSastra) The scope of these works, and that of the domain they cover, varies considerably and that goes for the comprehensive treatises as much as for those which confine themselves to limited subjects, such as iconography or astrological points bearing upon the founding and the construction of a house. There are few specialized works of importance in this category even so, architecture and iconography being more often dealt with in various works, whether more or less ambitious encyclopaedias or treatises which concentrate upon areas where architecture and iconography are involved. Some of the main purana or upapurana are to be found in this category (e.g. Matsyapurana, Agnipurana, Visnudbarmottarapurana ... ) along with encyclopaedias of royal inspiration (e.g. Manasollasa of Somesvara, Samaranganasutradbara of Bhoja ... ) and the Saivite and Vaisnavite agama of various persuasions, as well as the Grbyasutra. the Arthasastra and the Brhatsamhita. These types of works are just those in which the material is most abundant but most scattered; it should be added that a number of small independent treatises are nothing more than extracts from much larger works and, as well, that it is hard to be sure whether the Purvakamikagama has borrowed from the Mayamata the very great number of passages common to both texts or whether the reverse is the case (see below).
That the dispersion is also historical and geographical only complicates the problem still further: the architecture and iconography, as they appear in a given work, are but the reflection of what was in existence during the time of its drafting in the region where that was done; significant in relation to the described forms, this factor is also apparent in the technical vocabulary which is always more or less marked by regional usage, as well as by borrowings from the vernacular. Then, there is the sectarian bias, whether stressed or not and very apparent in the iconography and also, even if to a lesser degree, in complex architectural forms, if not in their elements envisaged separately." The pretension to universality of many of these texts does nothing to conceal this phenomenon, and whether the regional and sectorian features are more or less emphasized, they are still, usually, obvious. It must also be added that the Indian or, more precisely, the Hindu koine, is so much the fruit of such a mixture of regional and unitarian trends that each author, or school, may legitimately imagine that its day-to-day reality is nothing but an accurate reflection of the whole Indian world.
In that very extensive and widely disseminated range of works, the Mayamata occupies a fairly well defined place. It is a general treatise, a vastusastra, written in Sanskrit but originating from Dravidian India, most probably from the Tamil area; it is part of the Saivite agamic literature without the connection being underlined by any pronounced sectarianism and its drafting must have been done during the Cola period, at the time when the architecture it describes had reached the peak of its maturity. Comprising about 3300 verses and divided into 36 chapters, it is identified as a vastusastra, that is, as a treatise on dwelling, for it defines the vastu as "anywhere where immortals or mortals live" (2.1)' This definition is followed by specifications which show that the concept of housing is very wide and is divided into four categories: the Earth (considered as original dwelling), buildings, vehicles and seats (which last three are nothing but "vastu" deriving from the first "vastu",the Earth). Once iconography has been added to this list we have a panorama, brief but inclusive, of the content of the work. Leaving aside here the details of this content which we will analyse further on, we note that the Mayamata is arranged in three large sections: the first (Chapters 1-10) deals with dwelling sites, the first vastu, the second section with buildings (Chapters 11- 30) and the third (Chapters 31-36), with the last two vastu, vehicles and seats, and with iconography (Linga images and their pedestals). In these different sections are found entire chapters or significant passages consecrated to particular topics in the sphere of technique or that of the ritual which sets the pace for the construction: system of measurements and quality of the architects (Chapter 5), orientation and laying-out (Chapters 6-7), offerings to the gods of the site (Chapter 8), foundation deposit (Chapter 12), joinery (Chapter 17), rites for the end of the construction of a temple and for the first entry into a house (Chapters 18 and 28) and renovation work and associated rites (Chapter 35).
The work as a whole is coherent in spite of various interpolations which are sometimes, but not always, indicated by changes in the metres." These appear quite frequently in chapters describing temples where they often give information on details of decorative motifs which were evidently mentioned, though not described, in the original text; in the same way the description of a pavilion of the siddha type (25.39 sq.) is interrupted by fourteen verses given over to ritual firepits (kunda); this interpolation would seem to have been entailed by the mention of the fact that the siddha pavilion may serve "for all rituals"; sometimes definitions of terms have been added, such as in Chapter 26 where we are given, but quite untimely, precise meanings for vimana, barmya and malika (26.100). These interpolations do not seem to give rise to any great internal discrepancy; it is only to be noted that the mention, in a general chapter on temples, of thirteen, fourteen and sixteen storeyed temple ( 11.19) seems to be the result of an updating of the text which never otherwise describes temples with more than twelve storeys (22.66 sq., see below ).
That the Mayamata belongs to Saivasiddhanta literature is demonstrated by the leading place given to Siva temples, by the chapter given over to the Linga and especially by the speculations on the nature of the Linga which it contains and, lastly, by the pantheon described in Chapter 36 which is essentially that found in saivagamas. This being said, the Mayamata nevertheless does not appear to be a sectarian work; the list of Siva's Attendants is followed by a list of those of Visnu (Chapter 23) and Chapter 36 includes descriptions of images of Buddha and Jina which are not usual in agamic literature, no more than are mentions of the temples of these two deities such as are found here in the chapters dealing with villages and foundation deposits (9.70 sq. and 12.59 sq.). Ram Raz, who has noted the tolerance shown in the Mayamata (and the Mana- sara ) towards Buddhists and jains, says however that the locations attributed to the cult places of these two sects were close to those suitable for inferior deities or for malignant spirits.This absence of sectarianism is marked in a much more general way by constant references to a very classical society such as is presented in the Dbarmasastras. The society for which arc intended the construction prescribed by the Mayamata is that of the four uarnas and the "others", who are installed at a distance and who are responsible for polluting tasks such as refuse collection (e.g. 9.95-98). If the society of the Mayamata is that of the Dharmasastras, its political organization is that of the Arthasastra; there too the references to classical India are very evident, as well where they concern the hierarchies of towns and villages, as when they give the method of organizing the defence of a kingdom with forts, and the way in which the royal council chamber is to be arranged (cf. Chapters 9 and 10 and 29.191 sq.).
It may be said, quite definitively, that the aim of the Mayamata is to organize the integration of the external manifestations of siddhanta Saivism in a context which could be qualified as "non-sectarian Hindu", so as to avoid the term "secular" which is not very appropriate when speaking of traditional India.
This is our third MAYAMATA and it owes a lot to the former Institute of Indology (now French Institute of Pondicherry) we have retained without any substantial change the Sanskrit text and, after revision and emendation, the material for many of the footnotes, which have been added to the translation. That last, as well as the Introduction, has been borrowed after revision from our second work published in 1985 by the Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Scientific Research; we have tried to clarify it on several points, without however being able to make more than little progress in the interpretation of the ones. From the first published in 1970-1976 by the French passages dealing with timber work (chapters 18 and 25). The drawings of that second edition too have been kept with slight corrections; it should be reminded that they are meant to be no more than tentative sketches. Lastly an Index-glossary and an Analytical table of contents have been prepared.
The helps received since 1964 when the late Professor Jean Filliozat introduced us for the first time to the MAYAMATA, have been too numerous to be acknowledged one by one; exception is to be made however for that brought by Pandit N.R. Bhatt, founder and former Head of the Sanskrit Department at the French Institute of Pondicherry; I owe him more than can be expressed.
Lastly we thank Mrs. Kapila Vatsyayana for having asked us some years ago to prepare that book for the I.G.N.C.A. series, and for having friendly stood for out endless delays.
In the series of Kalamulasastra early texts on music, namely, Matralaksanam, Dattilam and Brhaddesi, have been published. The medieval texts on music, specially, the Sri hastamuktavali (No.3 in the series) and the Nartananirnaya (No.17 in the series), bring us upto the 15th and 16th century. In the case of architecture, despite the IGNCA's endeavour to publish portions of the Brhatsamhita, the Agnipurana and the Visnudharmottara-purana, first this has not been possible. Instead, our scholars wrere able to complete work first on a late but important text, namely, silparatnakosa. We hope that the sections on architecture in the Brhatsamhita, the Agnipurana and the Visnudharmottara-purana which predate the medieval texts, will be published soon, alongwith revised and re-edited texts of Manasollasa and Aparajitaprccha.
The Mayamatam is the fourteenth and fifteenth volumes in the Kalamulasastra series of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).
Urban development and city planning was, undoubtedly, known to the Mohenjodaro, but its most outstanding survivals of the historical period are in South India. The layout of Tanjore and later, Madurai has been widely commented upon. Understandably, technical texts, which devote attention to village, city planning, house building and temple construction, should be expected. An outstanding example of a comprehensive text, comprising thirty-six chapters, is the Mayamatam, written sometime between 11th and 12th century. The text is, obviously, a deduction from existing practices and actual structures rather than an abstract theoretical treatise on architecture. Its contents are more systematic than those found in other comprehensive texts, such as, the Manasollasa or the Samaranganasutradhara. The latter two are encyclopaedic in nature but are not tightly structured. In contrast, Mayamatam is more definitive and coherent as it situates itself within the larger saiva tradition and even more particularly, the Saivagama tradition and takes into account actual town and village layouts and temple construction. While it would be debatable whether the text precedes or succeeds the construction of the Brhadisvara with architectural plans, techniques of construction and the modular approach in regard to the number of storeys. The text assumes importance not only for its detailed descriptions of temples, but also for its detailed descriptions of houses for different categories of inhabitants in a village and a city, entrances, exists, ventilations and much else. Equally revealing is the concern with examination of the site, the analysis of the soil, the preparation of the foundations, the materials to be used and the methods of construction. A comparative study of the valuable date in this text, with techniques, which survive with the traditional sthaptis and others, would be the next rewarding journey.
As we have observed elsewhere Vastu and the Agama traditions are complementary and often they overlap. This was evident in the Svayambhuvasutrasamgraha and this interdependence has been highlighted by Prof. Pierre Filliozat in his Introduction. The Mayamatam, likewise, complements material in the Kamikagama specially the section on the Purvakamikagama and the two should be seen together, because while the text on architecture details the techniques of construction, the Agama texts lay down the process by which the material is transubstantiated to a non-material plane.
The text of the Mayamatam also interlinks the IGNCA programmes of studying the area of Tanjore and the Brhadisvara Temple. In a related programme, precise measurements have been taken of the city, new layout plans have been made, the Tmple has been measured precisely and a new set of drawings of ground plans, elevation and sections, is ready. Alongside, a volume on sculpture of the Temple, not understood in isolation but in its aspect of a programmed orchestration of the outer and the inner, the lower and the higher is ready for publication. Inscriptions have been re-assessed from the point of view of their placement and the contents of these inscriptions, specially those that have been deciphered recently, throw a fund of information on the organization of temple architecture activity. Alongside, the temple rituals are being documented. Studies are being carried out in regard to adherence or departures in contemporary practice of these rituals from the Agamas- whether the Kamikagama or the Makutagama. A comparison of the material of Mayamatam and the studies in the Brhadisvara project will, undoubtedly, throw up a new set of issues for further study.
With the publication of a group of monographs relating to the Brhadisvara Temple, including the Isanasivagurudevapaddhati and the Makutagama, the architectural, sculptural, painting and epigraphical volumes, and the volume based on the socio-political and cultural aspects and the history of the period and region, and the Mayamatam the Institute will have, hopefully, provided a new or, certainly, an alternate medel for the study of cultural areas and regions. Here theory and practice-the textual and the oral, the historical and contemporary, the monument, the texts and the living traditions are being investigated as interpenetrative categories.
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is grateful to Dr. Bruno Dagens, Editor and Translator of this edition of the text. A French edition was published by the French Institute of Indology, Pondicherry, in 1970-76 and an English translation of the text from Sitaram Bharatia Institute of Scientific Research was published in 1985. The present edition is a revision of Dr. Bruno Dagen's critical text published as also a revision of the English translation. He has provided an insightful introduction and an exhaustive glossary of technical terms, which will be an invaluable source of understanding for future scholars. Dr. Bruno Dagens brings to this edition the sensitive understanding of an excavator and an archaeologist. Thus, many complex passages have been edited by him with a view not only of grammatical correctness but also from the point of view of comprehension as statements of architectural construction. The question of homogeneity of this text - whether it was all composed during Cola or the post Cola period is somewhat debatable. Dr. Bruno Dagens concedes that there may be some interpolations. However, the question of interpolations in the Indian textual tradition is itself a complex matter. The text was never considered to be a frozen text. Since at all times the text reflected actual practices, as and when actual practices went through modifications, these changes were reflected in the subsequent texts or incorporated into an already prevalent text. Elsewhere, we have taken up the question "What constitutes the authenticity of a text in the Indian tradition, other than the Vedic text under the category of Sruti?". The Mayamatam, like many other texts in different disciplines but particularly the arts, is also not a frozen text of a particular fixed date and time, but belongs much more to the stream of evolution and development of distinctive schools of architectural style.
I would like to take this occasion to thank Dr. Bruno Dagens for preparing the present text and thank my colleagues, especially Dr. N.D. Sharma who has assisted in proof-reading of the Sanskrit documents and publications, and Prof. Satkari Mukhopadhyaya, for supervision.
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