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President of India Receives IGNCA Publication
Most revered honourable Rashtrapatiji Shri K.R. Narayanan, Trustees of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts Trust, your Excellencies, distinguished members of the audience. Allow me to express on behalf of the IGNCA Trustees our deepest appreciation of the generous graciousness you have bestowed upon us in acceding to our request to receive copies of the recent publications of the IGNCA. This is a matter of great honour and privilege for us.
|Sir, twelve years ago on a November early morning with dew and sun,
a Centre was launched. The inauguration was a symbolic
presentation of the concepts and intellectual and artistic goals of the Centre. Waters
from five perennial rivers of this land were brought, along with five rocks of the earth
of this Country, five trees were planted, the Aswatha (pipal) (the tree with
extensive roots) the Arjuna with its depth and erect vertical ascension, the Ashok
and Nayagrodha (vat) and the Kadamba with its seasonal fragrance. Five lamps
were floated in the water, with music from the high Himalayas, the Gootuvadyam and Panchmukha
Vadya from the deep South, the Sankirtana from the East. Over these years, the
Centre has endeavoured to give concrete form and shape to the vision of the Centre and its
conceptual plan. Through all its programmes it seeks to make manifest the holistic nature
of Indian civilisation and culture, as exemplified in the artistic expressions of the
country. Here, the arts are not defined or classified in a linear order or as insulated
products. It eschews the binary hierarchy or opposition of the textual and the oral, the
high and the low, classical and folk. It also does not consider the arts in isolation from
each other or dissociated from the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, the
fundamental sciences, social sciences, and the humanities and technology. It seeks to
place the arts in their intrinsic relationship with the intellectual discourse of
metaphysics, the sciences, specially mathematics and science as also their
socio-historical context. Synoptic symbiosis, complementarity rather than conflict is our
Logically emerging from this approach has been a programme of documentation, research, field studies, and projects which are interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary and cross-cultural. The Centre has made a heroic effort to microfilm thousands of unpublished manuscripts which lie scattered in collections of private and public in India and abroad. Today it has a repertory of nearly 15 million folios of unpublished manuscripts. Soon these will be digitized, classified according to disciplines. This is reassembly of the fragmented heritage in virtual form. From a sifting of this primary material, research programmes are launched and publications brought out. In this task a vast number of scholars are involved, Indian and foreign. We are indebted to them all.
Oral traditions and life-styles are complementary. This necessitates a massive programme of recording, video-documentation, field studies and multidisciplinary projects. These also culminate in monographs and films.
The holistic view and system of inter-relationship and mutual interpenetration is evident in all aspects of the Indian cultural traditions. An attempt to make it manifest and to distill its essence can only be done by identifying key concepts and single unifying themes which provide the foundation of the underlying unity and facilitate identify the pathways network of interconnections of the textual and oral, the urban, rural and tribal, the scientific and metaphysical and the artistic, the Indian and all that lies beyond its boundaries. What we are presenting to you are a few fruits of this endeavour through a series of publications of the last year. Each of the series and the particular publications, the films and the CD ROM are all parts of a total design of the conceptual plan of the Centre.
The first series is the Kalatattvakosa. Through the programme about two hundred concepts and key terms were identified. These have been scanned through two hundred primary texts of diverse disciplines, ranging from Vedic, Upnisadic sources, Ayurveda mathematics (ganita jyotisha) and the arts from sources largely Sanskrit, but also Pali and Prakrit. These concepts are pivotal for the emergence of the language of form and techniques. Ordinary terms like atma-sarira, purusa, sunya, kala, akasa, embody a worldview and knowledge system intrinsic to the Indian tradition. The same terms are being investigated in the tribal languages of India as also in other languages and cultures. So far three volumes have appeared. We are presenting to you volume IV which deals with the senses and sense-perceptions (indrya), attributes (guna), tamas rajas sattva, dhatu (root), dravya and the process of involution, evolution and dissolution (sristi, sthiti, and samghara). These terms elucidate the multilayered and multi-meaning knowledge system of the Indian tradition. The familiar image of the Nataraja exemplifies encapsulates these concepts in an iconic form at its most chiselled and concentred. The multidimensional nature of Indian art can be comprehended by knowing these key concepts. The programme will continue hopefully through another fourteen volumes. Edited by younger scholars Mrs. A. Kaul and Sukumar Chattopadhyaya.
The IGNCA search for manuscripts and microfilming as well as other related research, a convincing proof for the need for making accessible the fundamental texts, collated and edited in original and translation. There are hundreds of treatises on the specific arts as also the inter-relationship of the arts. From amongst this material, IGNCA has so far published thirtyone volumes parallel to the Harvard Oriental Series. These include texts seminal to the Indian arts and those specific to the arts. It is not commonly known that a vigorous textual discourse in the arts continued well into the early nineteenth century. IGNCA has published the first extent text on music of 4th century B.C. which speaks of sound as measure. This has been published in original and in English along with staff notation, Matralakshanam.
The texts normally called Srautasutras have been studied as ritual texts of the Brahmanical tradition of little relevance today. A closer investigation revealed that those texts lay the foundation of a multimedia performative act based on concurrency and simultaneity. Thus, a number of Srauta texts, have been resulted. One important is the Latayayanasrautasutra. This is a complex voluminous text. Prof. R.H. Ranade, most distinguished scholar has done us the honour of editing and translating this difficult text.
From the Srauta texts we take a big leap in time. IGNCA has already published the Dattilam and Brhaddesi, architecture, namely, Mayamatam and Silparatnakosa. These belong to 2nd Century to 11th Century. This year four important texts of music between the 13th to 17th Century have been completed. First amongst these is the Sangitoupnisadasarodhara of the western tradition. Written by a Jaina it is a lucid account of the changes which took place. At one place the author makes important statement on the need for scholars to know music and musicians to read texts.
Sangitopanisatsaroddhara written in 1350 is attributed to a Gujarat scholar Vacanacarya Srisudhakalasa. The text reflects the phenomenon stream of both a continuity with ancient tradition as also the many changes that took place in the field of music between the writing of the Sangitaratnakara and that other text which was to come later, i.e. Nartananirnaya. The text and the translation has been done by Dr. Allyn Miner of the University of Pennsylvania.
Akbar's court provided the forum for a vigorous dialogue on different streams in many fields. This electicism is reflected in the architectural styles, painting, music and dance traditions. The IGNCA has focussed attention on this period through a number of inter-related programme of publications, architectural studies, land records and much else. Nartananirnaya is an exceptional text of the 16th Century written by a Pandarika Vitthala, a versatile scholar from Karnataka. He had a mastery over Sanskrit, Persian and Kannad. He wrote extensively on the theory and practice of the arts. The text reflects an active dialogue between the South and North India, as also the many innovations which have been introduced. For the first time we find a full discussion of ankle bells. His discussion on structured and unstructured aspects of music and dance nibandha abhinanda is most illuminating.
Prof. R. Sathyanarayana, recognised as an outstanding authority on Indian music and dance, a scientist by training, has painstakingly edited the text and has provided a most erudite introduction. Two Volumes were published earlier. This year, the third and the last Volume has been printed.
Contemporaneous were other developments. These were in the periphery but of equal importance. Foremost amongst them was renewed interest in the theory of rasa. This time it was not the savants and the commentators sitting in Kashmir, such as, Abhinavagupta and Anandvardhana of the 9th Century. Instead, it was the Goswami of Vrindaban and Bengal. Chief among them was Rupagoswami who wrote the Bhaktirasamrtasindu. To the age-old classification of 8 or 9 rasas, emotive states sringara karune hasya etc. of the Indian aesthetic tradition another rasa was added, namely, the bhakti rasa. The primary text of Bhaktirasamrtasindhu was not easily accessible. Dr. Premlata Sharma who is, unfortunately not with us and whose sudden passing away we mourn, had worked on this text for many decades.
The tradition of an active discourse in the fields of music and dance, architecture and sculpture, continued well into the 17th and 18th Centuries. About 1666 Nawab Sait Khan, better known as Faqir Ali made a translation and wrote a new treatise. This was known as Tarjuma-i-Manakutuhala & Risala-i-Ragadarpana. The text assumes great importance on account of a detailed analysis of the seasons and assigning appropriate time of night and day to every raga. Important also is the last Chapter which gives a brief note on Kashmiri music of the time. This was also a very difficult text to be edited. Shahab Sarmadee worked on this text for many years. Unfortunately, he too has passed away before the publication of the text.
From another region but in the same period, i.e. 17th Century, comes the Krsnagiti, the lyrical devotional poem composed by Manaveda. The poem celebrates the life of Krsna and constitutes the textual base of the renowned and today popular dance form Krishnattam. The IGNCA was anxious that the full text of this dance drama should be available in Devnagari and English translation. Edited and translated by Dr. C.R. Swaminathan and Dr. Sudha Gopalakrishnan.
Exploration of key concepts and terms, the publication of bilingual and trilingual texts of primary material constitutes the foundation. However, on this foundation have been the many plural interpretations of the different streams of Indian culture and artistic expressions. It was important in IGNCA's perception that critical interpretative works should be brought out. This would facilitate the contemporary scholar's access to primary material and also initiate him in adopting an alternative approach of understanding the Indian tradition. So until the early twentieth century the Indian arts were considered as only orally transmitted or belonging to a mystical dimension. Some scholars gave the study of the Indian arts a new turn. Amongst these were A. K. Coomaraswamy and M. Hiriyana. IGNCA refocussed attention on them. An attempt is being made to republish their works, rearranged and re-edited. In the case of A.K. Coomaraswamy, the IGNCA has been most privileged to receive graciously the gratis copyright from his son - Dr. Rama Coomaraswamy - for publication of all his works. Ten Volumes have already appeared. The eleventh is Hinduism and Buddhism. The succinct, lucid and even unconventional interpretation makes the most engaging reading at a time when there is a renewed interest for comprehension of these streams at deeper levels. Similarly, Hiriyana's works, both in the realm of philosophy as also art, turned the course of discussion on Indian art and aesthetics from a mere narration of historical dates to a discussion on the fundamentals of a worldview which allows diverse paths for the quest of truth.
Complementing the discourse of Coomaraswamy and Hiriyana there have been those others who have investigated and understood, more they have lived the experience of the vast expanse and the lifestyle of the rural and tribal culture of India, and its oral traditions. They evolved new paradigms of understanding life-styles function and art. They were pathmakers. One amongst these was Prof. Gunther Dietz Sontheimer, physically born in Germany. Perhaps in an earlier life he must have been a Maharashtrian as he is today revered. Sontheimer had identified his intellectual and emotive being with Khandoba. He perceived the natural environment, the ritual, the annual renewal as a reaffirmation of the relationship of man and nature, the vegetative, animal and the human. He was a conceiver, the creator of a film on Khandoba. He passed away a few years ago. The IGNCA is privileged to print some of his essays called the "King of Hunters, Warriors and Shepherds : Essay on Khandoba". The work has been jointly edited by Ann Feldhaus H. Bruckner and Dr. Aditya Malik.
In Kerala was born another person - Prof. G. Shankar Pillai. He lived the theatre of the Earth and the earth of the theatre which nurtured him. Dramatist, writer, educationist, he looked at the arts of Kerala in a manner which give us new insights into the dynamics of socio-cultural relationships. His essays reverberate with an intensity of feeling for theatre and the earth of Kerala. As writer and critic he was deeply rooted to the earth, earth as mother and yet could incisively reach across other regions and lands. The two complementary but mutually supporting discourses on the textual and the oral traditions run through all the programmes of the IGNCA.
In another field, this time architecture, the IGNCA has carried on a well-conceived programme of textual studies, actual measurements of ground plans, elevation plans and a study of the layout of village and urban sites. Alongside, there is study of the monument as a living presence as centre of cultural interaction. All dimensions are being investigated in the specific areas. The IGNCA has concentrated on the remarkable temple of Tanjavur of the 11th Century, the Brhadisvara temple and has already brought out a monograph on it as part of its major programmes, called the Ksetrasampada. Another four are on the anvil. In addition, at the critical level, there have been studies of A.K. Coomaraswamy's Essays in Early Indian Architecture, on the Buddhist Stupas by Dorji, on the Karnataka temples by Adam Hardy and Vasundhara Filliozat. Independently, the American Institute of Indian Studies has been engaged for some years in a major project of the Encyclopedia of Indian Architecture. Many volumes have already appeared. Since the approach of the IGNCA and the American Institute of Indian Studies converged, the two institutions have collaborated in bringing out the Encyclopedia of Indian Temple Architecture-North Indian - Beginnngs of Medieval Idiom edited by Prof. M.K. Dhaky, the most distinguished archaeologist and art-historian.
In the IGNCA's concern for identifying the paths of dialogue between India and other cultures and civilizations, there has been a search for material and an endeavour to re-assemble even in virtual forms the fragments of evidence of this extensive dialogue between India, South-East Asia, East Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. Naturally it has had to restrict itself to only a few select themes. A volume on the Dunhuang Caves was published some years ago. You graciously released the book Across the Himalayan Gap edited by Prof. Tan Chung in Shantiniketan. Alongside, we have attempted to bring to Indian audiences the interaction between India and Indonesia. Some years ago a translation of a German Book : Rama Legends and Rama Reliefs, was published. This dealt with Pramabaran temple in Indonesia. Prof. Paul Mus was an exceptional scholar who spent many years of his life in South-East Asia and was the author of a monumental book on Barabudur. Since this book was not available in English, the IGNCA made an effort to locate an appropriate scholar to translate not the full book but only the Foreword to the main book. This is monumental in itself. Mr. A.W. Macdonald, a pupil of Prof. Paul Mus and Professor of Research in Paris kindly undertook to translate this work. The influence of Paul Mus on the writings of A.K. Coomaraswamy and Stella Kramrisch is well known.
Sir, we now turn our attention from aspects of the artistic heritage in word, stone image to the primeval senses of sight and sound. The IGNCA has endeavoured to explore the many dimensions of these two sense perceptions as manifested in the artistic traditions of the world not only in the past but also the present. If the prehistorical rock art and sites of Bhimbetaka and Mirzapur captured the man's perception of the phenomenon the wall paintings of the Warli and the Saoras reflect the same urge in our contemporary world. The IGNCA has made a concerted effort to look at the prehistoric rock art sites of India not merely as vestiges of the forgotten past but as stimulus for contemporary creativity. Following upon its earlier publications of the Rock Art and the Old World, Rock Art of Kumaon, this year the IGNCA has published the 4th in the series, the Rock Art of Kerala. The approach and methodology followed in the IGNCA's work is distinctive because each time it is making a connection between the past and the present. In time to come, two galleries, called the Adi drsya and Adi sravya will be established.
Sound is known by its many names, nada, dhvani. It is equally important to a musician, a linguist or a musicologist or engineer. Through a series of programmes, the IGNCA has pursued this theme to understand the experiential and cultural perception of sound as relevant to environmental studies, the understanding of distinctive sound culture of the East and the West. The results of an International Seminar have been now published as a volume, called Dhvani : Nature and Culture of Sound, edited by Dr. S.C. Malik.
However, from all these concerns, the IGNCA has to engage itself in the here and now of living. No intellectual endeavour would be complete unless it has a relevance and immediacy for the human predicament of today. Logically, the IGNCA has not confined itself to be only the investigator of the textual and the oral traditions and observer from the outside. It has engaged itself in a discourse both at an intellectual and experiential level, for this it has established a forum for dialogue with a vast number of scholars - scientists - Raja Ramanna, J. Narlikar, Ilya Prigogine, Roy Burman, philosophers, social scientists - R. Panikkar, Raja Rao, G.C. Pande, P.K. Mukhopadhyaya, V.N. Misra, Ayyappan Panikkar, rural development activists, educationists, artists and field workers from areas - Muthican and others. There has been a dialogue on culture and its interface with the fields of ecology, education, rural development and social development. The Unesco, recognising the initiative taken by the IGNCA, instituted a Chair on Cultural Development in the IGNCA. Prof. B.N. Saraswati holds the Chair and has edited five volumes based on the Seminars, discussions and field programmes. Also included are two books for children by Haku Shah.
The printed word and the sound heard were means of communication so far. However, with the development of information technology and the many instruments now available through computer sciences and multimedia technology, it is important to make a bridge between the traditional systems of knowledge, the dynamics of culture and the artistic expressions and technology. For us the technology has come as a great tool for communicating the holistic vision and inter-relatedness and interconnection between the parts and the whole of the Indian cultural tradition. 13 Multimedia programmes have been launched. A presentation was made on the Gita Govinda, Jayadeva's great little poem, to exemplify the relationship of the invariable and the variable, the pervasiveness of a single poem in different parts of India. It showed the capacity of the tradition for innovation and improvisation within a constant perennial flow for a thousand years. Continuity and change was its theme. A similar project is on the anvil in regard to Brhadisvara and Tanjavur temples. For the time being we can only present to you small products which are parts of our larger agenda. These are three CD Roms - Devadasi Murai; Man & Mask; and Elizabeth Brunner's Paintings. Each of these programmes enables the user to enter into the world of temple dance, to browse into the mask traditions of the world and to know the paintings of wonderful painter, Elizabeth Brunner who has made India her home.
Let me now present you one group copies of the catalogues and the various exhibitions of the IGNCA specially the last one : Man and Mask, two Bibliographies - one on Zoroastrian Studies for which we are indebted to Piloo Jungalwalla and the other on Shadow Puppetry. The IGNCA has made films specially on the lifestyle of communities in North-East. Two films - one on Lai Haroaba : A ritual dance of Meteis of Manipur and the other on Garos in Meghalaya. These have already received President's Award. These films are as much on music and dance as on water, earth, conservation and shifting cultivation. Today we present to you the third of these films, called the Sacred World of Todas : Lifestyle of Todas of Nilgiri Hills directed by Bappa Ray, highlighting the Man and Animal relationship.
People see Kathakali but they do not know about the rigorous system of massage and exercises and body training required to practise Kathakali. The film is in six parts and the last is a memorable interview with late Shiv Ram Karanth. There are other samples of our recent recordings, such as of the Tevaram hymns.
Sir, I have already taken too much of your time and I am most grateful for your patience. What remains is only to thank you and to thank many scholars, researchers who constitute the extensive family of IGNCA. There are Indians and foreigners - Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, Sri lankans, Nepalese, Europeans specially French, Germans, Italians, Swedish, Swiss and Fins, Canadians, British and Americans, literate and illiterate, scientists, astronomers, physicists, philosophers and others. I thank them all. None of these modest achievements would have been possible but for the dedication of my colleagues in the IGNCA - Academic and administrative, technical and others. Our Co-publishers MLBD, OUP, Abhinava, Sterling, D.K. Print World, film directors, multimedia specialists. I am indebted to them all. The unstinting support of the members of the Trust, and the trust of the trustees. I thank you, your Excellencies and the distinguished members of the audience for joining us today.
Copyright IGNCAŠ 1999