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Symmetry and Proportion in Indian Vastu and Silpa

Symmetry and Proportion in Indian  Vastu and Silpa
Item Code: NAL945
Author: R. Vasantha and P. Purushotham Reddy
Publisher: Sharada Publishing House
Language: English
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 8185616957
Pages: 224 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.5 inch X 7.0 inch
weight of the book: 721 gms
About the Book

This book explores whether the beauty or perfection of a building or an architectural monument is just a matter of luck and individual taste or whether the builders and architects had explicit rules and canons of proportion and design. What were the doctrines or schools of thought that inspired the architects and sculptors of early centuries is still an open question?

This book tries to answer the question as to how the temples, churches, mosques etc. play a significant role in a society and why people build structures where they congregate to perform their religious practices, totally different from the shape of their usual residential buildings.

This book attempts to explain how geometry (Indian) was employed as a method for mensuration and composition before the appearance of our present numerical decimal system in 16th century AD. A brief explanation is also presented on how in conceptual terms of most forms of artistic expression in Indian civilization were found on the same ordering principle (balance, order, harmony), which was conceived as the basis of laws of creation.

In Toto the aim of this book is to analyze the Symmetry and Proportion in Vastu AND Silpa making use of the following steps.

Firstly, the book discusses the geometric analysis of sculptures with reference to space and time division and analyzes a few compositions belonging to different periods by subjecting their photographic replicas to the analysis, through the digital technique.

Secondly, investigates the Pentagonal and Hexagonal Symmetry related to organic and inorganic systems and applies the concept to different pieces of Art and Architecture.

Thirdly, the Golden Section theme is discussed and verified through the analysis of a few compositions.

Lastly, the concept of dynamic symmetry in the harmonic analysis of architectural monuments is discussed in detail.

The rational of the book to explore the fundamental technical principles, which reflect a holistic vision, typical of Indian-view.

About the Author

Dr. (Mrs.) R. Vasanth has been working as professor in the Department of History at Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anontapur, India since 1983. In 1995 she was selected as a DAAD fellow and was attached to the Orientalisches Seminar Albert-Luwigs-Universitat, Freiburg, Germany. In 2000, she was a CWLT fellow and carried her research at The Institute for Advanced Studies in Art and Humanities, Edinburgh. In 1970-1973, she was an UGC fellow at the University of Mysore. She has been awarded Senior Fellowship from the Department of Culture, HRD, Government of India for the project, “study of monuments and sculptures through the image technique-a new approach” 2001 – 2003.

Among Prof. Vasantha’s most important publications are: The Narayana Svami Temple at Melkote-a Historical and Archaeological study (Government of Karnataka, 1992); Penugonda For – A Defence Capital of the Vijayanagara Empie – History, Art and Culture (Delhi 1999); Nava-Narasimha Temples at Ahobilam – A Sociological and Archaeological study (Tirupati, 2000); Islamic Architecture of Deccan (Co-author Dr. M.A. Mannan Basha). Her research articles are published in various International Journals.

Dr. P. Purushotama Reddy works at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Anantapur.



Dr. R. Vasantha’s research on Symmetry and Proportion in Indian Vastu and Silpa published here for the first time brings involvement of geometry in early Indian art pieces to the attention to both the scholars and the general reader. The volume includes the study of geometry in literary texts and its transcriptions in Silpa and Vastu.

Dr. R. Vasantha’s wor is a great involvement and contribution to Heritage studies in India and serves as a model of how to investigate scrientifically a religious monument. I am pleased to have the opportunity of providing her volume with a foreword.



What do Order, Harmony, in Nature mean?

An inherent characteristic feature of a human mind is to always probe into the universe, which surrounds him and can be perceived through his five sense organs. Thus, it has been an endeavor of mankind to understand the mysterious universe, which ultimately leads to the development of various branches of knowledge viz., Philosophy, Science, and Arts etc. Also the human mind slways tries to imitate, create or replicate whatever exists in nature. This resulted in the development in the development of varied fields like Architecture, Art, Music, Painting and other Fine arts. However everyone whether a Philosopher, a Scientist, an Artist, or an Art Historian, has the same goal to probe into the order, harmony, symmetry and proportion in human life, in particular, and universe in general.

What is Proportion?

The Concept of Proportion is based on ratio is the relation between two things of the same kind, of which we know the measure of the one as compared with other. We call one half of another which is double of the former’. Ratio is expressed as a:b (or) represented as fraction a/b, where a and b are integers. Proportion is the equality of two or more ratios, which can be either continuous or discontinuous.

What is Symmetry?

Every object, which is real occupies finite space in this Universe and hence has a geometrical shape, which may or may not be definite depending the nature of the objet. Such geometrical shapes also play a significant role in Patterns, Designs related to Art &Architecture. The concept of symmetry is an important aspect in geometry. Any object, pattern or design in the universe is said to be symmetric whenever its geometric shape remains unaltered with reference to change in orientation of its reference frame. Symmetry also means the proportionality between constituent elements of the whole. Like in space, symmetry may also be defined with reference to time. If proportion is concerned with symmetry in space, periodicity refers to symmetry in time.

Rhythm & Eurhythmy

The ‘science of space’ including the theory of proportion has been the basic discipline, the esthetical frame and guide for the Artists and Architects of all times. Symmetry resides in the correlation of measurement between the various elements of the plan and between each of these elements and the whole. This symmetry is regulated by the modulus, the standard of common measure, which the Greeks called the number. This symmetry results in the interplay of proportion of the elements of the parts and of the whole, may it be a symmetry of the human body or of a living from or a symmetry of a building or an architectural monument or a symmetry of art or a poem or music. The notions of proportion and periodicity and their interplay are used to explain symmetry in space or in time. We associate the term Rhythm for the events working in time dimension, like poetry, dance or music, while eurhythmy for events in spatial dimension like Architecture, Sculpture or Painting. Periodicity is the characteristic of rhythm in time just as proportion or symmetry is the characteristic of eurhythmy in space.

Golden Section-Its role in the morphology of life and growth

All systems in the Universe may be classified into inorganic and organic systems. The forces manifested in organic system (living organism) are quite different from the physic-chemical reactions, which ultimately determine the shapes appearing in inorganic Systems. The difference between inorganic (purely physic-chemical) and organic reactions is that where as in the first case the principle of least action tends to produce an economy of energy where as in the second case (living systems), there seem to be tendency towards economy of substance. This apart the predominance of hexagonal symmetry is notable in inorganic systems.

While the pentagonal and the dodecahedral symmetry plays a dominant role in the shapes of living organisms.

One of the most striking examples of the predominance of hexagonal symmetry in inorganic systems, is the microscopic examination of snow flakes; and the photograph taken by W, Bentley and other; gives a practically infinite number of hexagonal patterns (more rarely, triangular) with beautiful perfection. (In non-living organisms, for example in crystals the growth is by “agglutination”, simple addition from outside of identical elements, each particle getting at the place most easily reached, the final distribution of energy in the system being such as to cause no further motion).

Professor Jaeger states in his “Lectures on the Principle of Symmetry” that a certain preference for Pentagonal Symmetry; symmetry connected with the Golden Section and unkown in inanimate systems, seems to exist in the animal kingdom as well as in plant kingdom.




  Foreword vii
  Acknowledgements ix
  List of Illustrations xi
  Introduction 1
1 History of Gemoetry of Art 17
2 Proportion and Linear Geometry Applicable 27
3 Symetry and Proportion in Vastu and Shilpa 43
4 Geometrical Analysis of The Ground Plan of Religious Buildings 155
  Bibliography 204
  Index 207


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