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peculiarly sacred, and adapted for the performance of holy rites and sacrifices; and thence proceeds to describe the various sacrifices ordained in the Véda, to be performed when the purpose is to obtain special boons or favours, either temporal or spiritual, such as progeny, riches, wisdom, absolution from sin, purification, &c. It next treats of the mystical rites practised in honour of Vástu, preparatory to the building of sacred edifices, or of altars for sacrifices; of villages, towns, and cities, the fruits to be derived from building and peopling them with Brahmans; the construction of temples dedicated to Vishnu, with rules for carving the images of that deity and his attendants, on whose attributes the author occasionally dwells with that devotion and zeal which characterize all his followers.
The work entitled Sacaládhicára, an excellent but rather voluminous performance, is attributed to Agastya, a sage whose history occupies a conspicuous place in the Puránas. Some few sections only of this work are to be now met with ; and the portion which has as yet come under my own observation, is exclusively on the subject of sculpture as connected with the formation of statues; but it is so diffuse, that if we suppose the whole work to be written in a similar style, it must considerably exceed the volume of Mánasára, the largest at present of my collection.
As I have but a few detached pieces of the other works mentioned above, they do not appear to call for any distinct notice. Some of these pieces are descriptive of the construction of temples, some of the towers over gateways, some contain directions for laying the foundation of a building, some treat of the auspicious and inauspicious seasons for the commencement of an edifice, and others of the manufacture of images and so forth. However, as the rules contained in these fragments differ very little in substance from those laid down in the Munasára and other treatises on the same subject, I shall seldom have occasion to refer to them in the course of this essay.
The exact age of each of these treatises it is very difficult to ascertain. Tradition gives to most of them an antiquity altogether extravagant; and
however diligent the endeavour to obtain authentic information on this point, success can hardly be expected to attend it, when we consider in what obscurity and oblivion the ancient history and chronology of the Hindús are involved. Of Mánasára,* the sage to whom the first treatise is attributed, I have not been able to procure any distinct historical notice; but, as has already been mentioned, the supposed authors of the other treatises, entitled Cásyapa and Máyámata; are, under these names, greatly celebrated in the Puránas and other sacred writings of antiquity. That all these treatises were composed in the South of India, there appears indeed no reason to doubt, for they seem to have been the standards by which the existing religious structures were reared throughout this part of the peninsula.
The most interesting circumstance connected with these treatises, is their toleration of the worship of the Jainas and Bauddhas; the authors of them having carefully pointed out distinct sites to be set apart in villages and towns for the erecting of their temples, and having likewise prescribed rules for constructing images of the objects of adoration by these sects. This prescription marks, though indefinitely, the age of these compositions to have been posterior to the great schism which took place between the Hindús and Jains, and which terminated in the overthrow of the latter. The contentment, too, of this latter sect with the inferior situation assigned them by their conquerors for their divine worship, in a place contiguous to that which, among Hindús, is usually appropriated to the shrines of inferior deities and malignant spirits, evinces their complete subordination at the period alluded to.
Another circumstance in that portion of the foregoing treatises which has fallen into my hands is worthy of notice. They prove by internal evidence, that they were written at a period subsequent to the canonization
* Some say Mánasára is not the name of the author but the title of the work itself, signifying “ the essence of proportion,” and which, from this etymology, I am inclined to believe ; but whatever may be the real name of the author, I shall make use of the word both
name of the author and the title of the work throughout this essay.
of Apper, Sundarer, Sammander, Mánicyavásarer, and other holy men, several of whom are supposed to have lived between the third and fifth century of Salivahn. The ground on which this proof rests is, that in the chapters which prescribe rules for carving statues, directions are likewise given for carving those of the personages here mentioned, who have been admitted among the inferior divinities, and assumed their places around the temple of Siva, particularly in the South of India. But some learned men to whom I mentioned this circumstance, rather than concur in an opinion which detracts from the antiquity of these works, are inclined to think that the passages in question are modern interpolations.
The small portion which has come under my observation of the work called Sacaládhicára, “the universal authority,” does not furnish sufficient data to form any opinion of the precise time at which it was composed; and in the section which gives rules for carving statues, that is, in the only part I have seen of it, I find no mention of the saints above referred to. It is generally believed to have been composed by Agastya, under the auspices of the founder of the Pándya government, a circumstance which, if admitted, would give to this work a very high antiquity. It is, however, difficult to trace the exact period when the Pándya principality was originally established. Mr.Wilson, in his prefatory remarks to his catalogue of the M-Kenzie collection, places this event three or four centuries before the Christian æra, although in another place he fixes the date of the civilization of the South of India, ten centuries before Christ; but the data on which this conjecture is formed is imperfect, being derived from a source which can be no authority in matters of this nature.* There exists indeed a long list of the princes of the Pandya, and their contemporary Chóla and Chéra dynasties, many of whom appear to have reigned long anterior
* The author, it would appear, identifies the civilization of the South of India with the establishment of the Pandya principality ; events which Professor Wilson conjectures, on the authority of the traditional records of the South, to be distinct, and of different eras.
to the Christian æra, and their celebrity to have attracted the notice of Ptolemy. The few facts, it is true, that have been recorded of these dynasties, or preserved by tradition, are unfortunately inadequate to the formation of a connected sketch of their history, or to trace their chronology with precision; but the various accounts which are obtainable of these ancient monarchies, though they usually commence with the earliest ages, and are blended with marvellous and extravagant fictions, would still afford ample historical proofs of the establishment of these principalities at an earlier period than what has been hitherto assigned them by western antiquarians. And as the Mahabharat, which is believed to have been composed by Vyása, in the beginning of the Caliyug, makes mention of the Pandya and Chóla governments, we must give them credit for a higher antiquity.
That the religion and literature, as well as the political constitution of the South, were derived from the North, the earliest seat of the Hindú empire as well as of arts and sciences, and that the southern peninsula was before that period a vast uncultivated forest, inhabited by small insulated tribes, speaking a jargon which hardly furnished them with terms expressive of their immediate and natural wants, there is scarcely any doubt. While in this state of society, the sage Agastya, to whom the treatise under examination is attributed, appears to have brought hither the first colony of Brahmans and other classes from the north, and with them the Hindú religion and literature, in form the same as at the present day. He is believed to have been the inventor of the letters now in use in the Tamil, and the first who refined that language on the principles of the Sanscrit or northern dialect; and as this personage is stated also to have officiated both as minister and spiritual teacher to the founder of the Pándya principality, it is not unlikely, that the usefulness of the art of building to such an infant state, should have induced him to write a treatise on the subject.
The foregoing notice of the contents of the several treatises, or fragments of treatises, may seem to promise a good deal of useful information on the arts of which they treat; but, in truth, the architectural portions of them, if
divested of all the extraneous matter with which they abound, contain little more than a dry detail of the technical names, and of the proportions of the several members of a sacred edifice. It has already been stated that considerable portions of the works above-mentioned, are replete with minute descriptions of religious rites, to be performed on various occasions from the commencement, to the completion of a building, as well as rules and aphorisms drawn from its situation, aspect, &c. for predicting the future destiny of the builder. The latter, however, form no part of the present inquiry, and they are interesting so far only as being descriptive of the customs of the ancient Hindús, with regard to their belief in divinations, omens, prodigies, &c., a belief which is still fondly adhered to by their posterity. With respect to other branches of the art on which information is wanting, it is stated by good authorities, and there is reason to believe the statement, that military architecture is treated of at length in some of the ancient treatises on Arthasástra, or political science, and particularly in one attributed to Chánacya, the well-known minister of Chandragupta. * The same authorities also state, that ample instruction for the building of private dwelling-houses, is contained in other works, professedly written on civil architecture:t but as these books are not at present to be met with, it has been thought advisable to restrict this research to religious architecture.
I now proceed to a more detailed consideration of the portions of the treatises in my possession, trusting that it may serve to elucidate both the theory and practice of the art. In doing this, I purpose occasionally to introduce extracts from the authorities which I may consult, and to make
* A celebrated prince who reigned in Pátáliputrá when Alexander visited the upper Hindústan; the same who is known to the Greek writers by the name of Sandracottus.
† Since writing the above, a respectable friend of mine had the kindness to procure me, from Travancore, a copy of a work entitled Mánushyalaya Chandrica, which, as its name implies, treats of that branch of the art which applies to private houses, but of the description built in that kingdom.