Out of many writers and editors of various works on Vastu and Silpasastra, Sutradhara Mandana of the reign of Maharana Kumbha (1433-1468 A.D.) holds the most important place. Mandana is the creator of numerous works on Vastusastra including Devatamurtiprakaranam, Rupamandanam, Vastumandanam, Prasadamandanam, Vastusaramandanam, Ayatattvam etc. Rajavallabhavastus'astram is another important work by Mandana and is considered as the foremost of all the works on Vastu by Mandana. The important characteristic of this treatise is that it not only includes verses related to Vastu, but also on Ancient Mathematics, Astrology, science of Omens etc.
Rajavallabha is regarded as a primary and an authentic treatise of Indian Vastu science. It describes in brief the concepts of Vastu and Jyotisa science of Visvakarma, Matsya, Narada, Jaya, Aparajit, Maya, Mana, Varahamihira, Hemadri, Lallacarya, Sripati, Bhaskaracarya etc.
This is the first time that a English translation of Rajavallabhavastus'astram is done with a detailed introduction, various notes, sketches, color plates and index of verses for the benefit of readers and scholars.
During my childhood when I often went from my headquarters in the Akola village to the famous fort of Chittorgarh and saw the palace of Maharana Kumbha, the famous Kumbh Shyam Temple, the unique tower of victory, I used to lost myself in so many imaginations which I could collect in my mind. At many a times, I happened to visit Kumbhalgarh also. I was dumb-founded to see the grandeur of architecture there. Afterwards, when I surveyed about them from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, then I found it impossible to be described in words.
Many a times, it seemed that their importance can not be bound in words and my situation became in the words of Tulsidas in the Ramayan- from^ ^FT f^FJ wR i.e., the tongue has no eyes and the eyes have no tongue so how can the seen experience be described by the tongue? I found that when these desolated walled buildings can give such a grand impression today then they must have been unique in their hay days when they were constructed. It may be for this reason was said that the Chittor is the best of all the forts in the world.
The stone inscriptions of the Tower of Victory and Kumbha Shyam Temple praise the buildings and the large hearted builders that this was made like a great Sun among the mountains. It has great lakes to give good crops. It is like the Kailash mountain in its grandeur and the crown of all the mountains of the world created by the king Kumbha for the grand pleasure of the God Sarikara. It has temples of Adi Varaha and many types of statues of Visnu. Ramakunda and the step-well with the Persian wheels are an astonishment for the citizens. The Klrtistambha and the Somadhlsa temple were made for the nymphs as their playground. The Sun with its one wheeled chariot could go around the Meru mountain but it could not be possible for him to do so even with his two wheeled chariot here.
I have written many a times about this and I found that after all who was the scholar who could think of this grand plan and what was the grand literature which gave direction to the construction. This thought made way for my research work and I went to Udaipur in search of the architects who opened the secret of Sutradhara Mandana and his works. In his literary works 'Rupamandana' and 'Devatamurtiprakarana', he gives the definitions and canons of creating the statues of gods in this area. His 'Prasadamandanam' defined the construction of the temples and his 'Rajavallabhavastusastram' and 'Vastusaramandanam' elucidated the way for constructing the forts, towns, palaces and all sorts of mechanical arms.
After the study of 'Rajavallabhavastusastram' in 1994 A.D., I took the translation work of this grand book for which I had to survey again the land of Chittor, Vasantgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Ranakpur and meet the architects and Silpa-sastris. The different manuscripts of the 'Rajavallabhavastusastram' were attempted for study. In the manuscript of 'Rajavallabhavastusastram' of Samvat 1627, many quotations were found to elucidate the different visvakarmas&stra which then aroused in me the collection of the Vastusastra books and to know the 'Rajavallabhavastusastram' in the light of Mandana's reference source books.
The present work is the result of all this efforts. I had to do hard work to know the meanings of its verses. This book was first published in 2005 A.D. and this first English version of the present book is the result of the efforts of Prof. Bhanwar Sharma, who is a descendent of Visvakarma and a scholar of many arts and the languages. He is engaged in translating rare Silpasastra books even at his present age of 90 years after his retirement as Principal of P.G. College in 1979 A.D.
I would like to throw some light on the life of such a veteran scholar. Prof. Sharma is born teacher. He passed elementary diploma from Sir J.J. School of Arts, Bombay in 1935 A.D. when he was merely a child student of class IV. From his early childhood, he learned all sorts of Arts e.g., painting, glass inlaying, sculpture, plaster casting, photography, block printing, engraving, screen printing, clay modelling, stencil printing as well as the languages like Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Sanskrit and English. He is the first man in his caste to become a graduate, teacher, lecturer, gazetted officer, principal and translator of many books on Silpas'astras.
In my opinion, the books on Indology are an important asset for us. Most of the books are in Sanskrit language and the dearth of such books made me to resolve to bring them into lime-light so that they can have a wide publicity with their translation. Such a big task is a mighty project work which could hardly be accomplished by a single person. At such a juncture, Prof. Sharma co-operated me fully in this monumental translation work. The co-operation of Prof. Sharma with me is like a union of a jewel with gold which I consider a grace of god to fulfill my resolve. I always find him engaged in his scholarly act and he takes me as an inspiration for himself, a high tribute for me.
Such a veteran scholar has done this English translation of Rajavallabhavastus'astram of Sutradhara Mandana for the benefit of scholars all around the world. Prof. Sharma is a simple person, unassuming, honest, expert, has a knowledge of canons, have no greed, forgives, and such a person could only be a Sutradhara. I wish him all success in his life.
For the English translation of this important Silpa treatise, the motivation and publication by Shri Parimal Joshi, proprietor of Parimal Publications, Delhi deserves all sorts of thanks.
I here also want to thank my daughters- Anubhuti and Anukriti Chauhan for their co-operation which the scholars will praise. It is expected that the scholars will convey their reactions and the suggestions. May it be submitted to lord Sri Krsna!
Sutradhara Mandana and his Rajavallabha treatise on Vastu Sastra
Among the famous personalities on theoretical and practical aspects of Indian Architecture, the name of Sutradhara Mandana is always recognised. His decisions on the practical side of Architecture, Mathematics and Astronomy according to the time and place are accepted as a profound accomplishment for the last five hundred and fifty years.
Sutradhara Mandana had a complete knowledge of Architectural construction of temples, step-wells, tanks, sculpture, royal palaces and houses for the persons of higher rank and the common man for all times, that is why he was a dear architect expert of Maharana Kumbha - the paramount king of the land of Mewar of the famous Guhila parentage.
The ruling time of Maharana Kumbha
In the history of the Indian states, the ruling time of Maharana Kurhbha is considered to be of the greatest importance. During the medieval period, there was no ruler of the calibre of the personality of Maharana Kumbha. He was considered to be a second Harsa or a second Bhoja for his works and personality. During his reign, the boundaries of Mewar and his sovereignty was tremendously increased. Under his sovereignty were- Sirohi, Gagron, Ajmer, Nagore, Deedwana, Khatu, Chatsu, Sarangpur, Sambhar, Malwa, Mandu, Champaner in Gujarat, Mandor and Abu.
There was unrest in Mewar before the reign of Maharana Kurhbha and it was highly unsettled and disturbed in political affairs also. Maharana Kumbha first of all subsided the internal disturbance and gave internal security as well as he defended Mewar territory from the attack of the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat. He was a brave victor on one side and was a great literator personality himself, on the other hand he was also a patron of the scholars, architects and artists. By these qualities, he was adorned by the title of 'Hindu Suratrana'.
Maharana Kumbha is very much famous in history as a great builder. Out of the eighty four forts of Mewar, the building of thirty two forts goes to the credit of Maharana Kumbha among which Kumbhalgarh, Chittorgarh, Vasantgarh, Achalgarh and Mandalgarh are considered to be invincible and extraordinary. Here in these many of the palaces, pillars, temples, vedis, gates, doors and walls of the forts and castles are the best examples of the art of architecture. These places are a source for the study of fort architecture uptil now for being strange, extraordinary and astonishing.
Mandana - the courtier of Kumbhakarna-
The reign of Kumbhakarna is considered as a period of construction during the circumstances of wars. In his royal court were- Kanha Vyasa, Mahesa Vyasa, Ekanatha, Abhananda Misra, Saranga Vyasa and Atri like scholars and ritualists having their important places. Similarly, Sntradhara Mandana, Jayata, Narada etc., were also had their respectable posts as Architects (Sthapati). Among these Sthapatis, Sutradhara Mandana made his special identity and he became dear to Kumbhakarna due to his scholarly aptitude as he has written in Rajavallabha-
Mandana was the eldest son of Sutradhara Ksetraka - the courtier of Maharana Mokala - the father of Maharana Kumbha. In his treatise 'Vastusara', Mandana writes-
In his treatise on sculpture named 'Devatamnrti Prakaranam', he has shown himself son of Ksetraka in the colophon of every chapter.
Mandana was a descendant of the Somapura architect family of Gujarat. He was by his gotra in the lineage of Bharadvaja and by his Atavailka, he was called Bhangora. It may be that his ancestors came from Somanatha, Which is known In the Puranas as Somapura or Prabhasa Patana.
It is written in the 'Skanda Purana' that god Candrama - Moon, performed a Somayajfia there to get rid of his illness from consumption in which many eloquent Brahmanas took part. To them god Candra - Moon also bestowed Somapura. From this very place they were called Somapura to whom god Visvakarrna later on gave education of architecture with which they became so much expert that they themselves were known as avataras like the god Visvakarma himself-
These Somapura Shilpis (architects) showed the miracles of their hands not only in Gujarat but also they have shown it in Vatpadrak (Vagad), Mewar, Marwad and Arbud region. The Mandana family was also attached to this work. In his descendants there is a conviction prevalent that on the invitation of Maharana Mokala - the father of Maharana Kumbha, the ancestor of Mandana came to Mewar. Among these were the father of Mandana, named Kheta also.
Mandana was younger than Maharana Kumbha in age. The reign of Kumbha was from Sarhvat 1490 to 1525 (1433-1468 AD). Mandana was the chief architect of the Royal family during that period. After him, this honourable post was given to his brother Natha and son Govinda or Isvara in the court of Maharal).a Rayamala. All in his family lineage received the respectable titles of Sthapati, Gajadhara in Mewar.
The Respected Sthaptati
The respect commanded by Mandan in the Royal Court can be esteemed by his own admittance
That that after the completion of the construction work, the Sutradhara must be honoured variously by offering him land, money, clothes. Ornaments, cow, buffalo, horse, vehicles etc. His co-workers should also be given clothes, betel and favorite food according to one’s capability. The same is admitted by Natha-the brother of mandana.
Mandana had also suggested Sutradhara to give benedictory statements against these bestowal.
This honour must have also been received by Mandana also. The personality of Mandan was full of various attributes. These are described by Mandana himself in the context of Sutradhara laksanam.
The lineage of Mandana
In the Udaipur district, there was a zinc mine near village Javar where zinc was smelted. The daughter of Rana Kumbha dedicated it to Lord Vishnu. The architect of that temple was the youngest son of Mandana named Isvara. He gave his lineage in the inscription as follows.
In this way, the Mandana family was continuously engaged in the service of Mewar Government. For a patron of architecture like Kurnbhakama, Mandana first of all made agood collection of the treatise on Vastu (Architecture) for the need of the time at Chittorgarh and later on, he compiled new treatise on the art of architecture based on them as per the need of time and place. However, on coming from Gujarat, this family must have brought with them the books like- Aparajitprccha, Mayamatam, Visnudharrnottara Purana etc.
This family is fortunate for being master of all the treatise on Vastusastra architecture. Lasa Sutradhara had already achieved this honour and from Ksetrarka and Lasa, Mandana learned this art. It is also possible that his contemporary Sutradhara Jayata must have been his guide, whom Maharana Kumbha gave such a great honour that he along with his sons idols were placed with the sculptures of Hindu gods in the form of Indian God iconography in living form in the tower of victory of Chittorgarh.
Sutradhara Jayata was older in age than Mandana whose heard sculpture is present in the tower of victory at Chittorgarh. Jayata was probably the son of Lakha and brother of Narada and the names of his sons were- Napa, Poma, Pufija, Phumi, Cauthi and Balaraja. Lakha was the brother of' Ksetrarka as may be possible.
The Architect Kumbha and Mandana
Maharana Kumbha himself studied the treatise on architecture and in accordance with 'Diparnava' got a tower of victory constructed in 1439-59 AD at Chittorgarh and caused a writing to be engraved upon stone slab to give publicity to the construction of the tower of victory. This writing on architecture engraved upon stone slab contains a description about the construction of the towers for Indra, Brahma and Visnu as stated by Ramvallab Somani. It appears that this engraved writing contains the principles of Visvakarma as stated in ‘Diparnava’ and the text and its creation must have been under the original description of constructing victory towers in his treatise-‘Rajavallabha’. In the opinion of Shri Ratan Chandra Agrawal, this engraved stone slab of Maharana Kumba’s tower of victory is based on the ‘Jaya’ and ‘Aparajitprccha’ and was prepared according to it.
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