DEFINITION OF A SCULPTOR FROM INSCRIPTION

The following inscription is very interesting and rare due to its nature. The inscription is inscribed on the north wall of the first Prākāra of the Tyāgarāja svāmi temple, Tiruvārūr. The inscription is bilingual. The Sanskrit portion is engraved in Grantha letters and the Tamil in Tamil letters. The inscription gives the elaborated study of the Viśvakarmā caste. The Brahmins of Pāṇḍikulantaka caturvedi maṅgalam examined the social status, rights and duties of the caste from various āgama, śilpa, Purāṇa and Dharma śāstra texts. The Main focus of the inscription is the duties and qualifications of a sculptor. The discussion in the inscription includes quotations from various texts, some of which are not found today. The inscription is published in the South Indian Inscription Vol 17 with the number 603. Though no king or year us mentioned in the inscription, can be dated as 11th – 12th CE on paleographic ground. Let us see the inscription.

Line 1: हर स्वस्तिश्री.   रथकारனாயுள்ள கண்மாளனுக்கு वृतिविधानஞ்சொல்லுகிற ஸ்ம்ருதிகளில் गौतमवाचकத்தாலும் नारदवचनத்தாலும் याज्ञवल्क्यवचनத்தாலும் ….ल्लवृत्तिवचनத்தாலும் ब्राह्मपुराणवचनத்தாலும் क्षत्रियवैश्यानुलोमान्तरजोत्पन्नो रथाकारः अनुलोमनेन இதனுக்கு वचनम् वैश्यतश्शूद्रकन्यायां सञ्जातः करणस्त्रियाम्। अस्मादम्बष्ठतो जातो रथकार इति स्मृतः। अत्र याज्ञवल्क्यवचनम्। माहिष्येण करण्यान्तु रथकारः प्रजायते। नास्योपनयनन्नेज्या नाधानञ्च निषिध्यते। …. यत्तु कल्पयेस्येन्दनस्य च। विद्ययाधीतया स्वस्य शरीरं वर्त्तयदेयम्। अत्र शंखवचनम्। क्षत्रियवैश्यानुलोमानन्तरजोत्पन्नो रथकारः तस्येज्याधानोपनयनसंस्कारक्रियाश्च प्रतिषिद्धास्तस्याश्वरथ

Line 2: सूत्रशिल्पवास्तुविद्याद्यध्ययनक्रमः वृत्तिता चेति अनुलोम्योपनयनाम् सन्ध्यायमप्युपासनम्। नाधानं सन्निधानाग्निहोत्रन्नौपासनन्तथा। न च पञ्चमहायज्ञो न वेदाध्ययनन्तथा। मन्त्रेण रहिता तेषामुपनीतिरपि स्मृता। अत्त्र गौतमीयविवरणं कुर्व्वता मस्करपठितं स्मृत्यन्तरवचनम्। अनुलोमानामुपनय…. न वेदाध्ययनन्न पञ्चमहायज्ञा नौपासनन्नाग्निहोत्रन्न समित्कार्यन्न सन्ध्योपासनमुपनयनमपि तूष्णीमेवेति। विश्वकर्म्मीये। अम्बष्ठेन करण्याञ्च रथकारः प्रजायते। .. जाय …. समर्चितः। न जायते विश्व…… सर्वतः प्रियः। अनुलोमेषु सर्वेषु तूष्णीमुपनयक्रिया।  सवर्णाम्बष्ठयोरेव सापि तत् सविधीयते। रथकारादिजा

Line 3: तीनामुपनीतिरमन्त्रकम्। न यज्ञो नापि सन्ध्यादि किञ्चान्यत्तु वैदिकम्। आधानमात्रं कुर्वीत रथकारस्तु विश्वकृत्। वास्तुशिल्पकविद्याभ्यां वर्त्तयेदेष नित्यशः। देवताप्रतिमाञ्चापि कुर्याच्चित्रन्तथैव च। यज्ञानामपि पात्राणि प्रतिपूर्व्वं प्रकल्पयेत्। सुवर्ण्णाभरणानाञ्च काञ्चाव्ययस्क्रिया। देवतादितनूनाञ्च करणं शिल्पजीविका। सौवर्ण्णवस्तुनिर्म्माणं स्वर्ण्णकार इतीष्यते। अयस्कर्म्मण्ययस्कारस्तक्षा तक्षककर्म्मणि। तनूनां करणं त्वष्टा स एव रथकृत् भवेत्। प्रासादं देवतादीनां स्थापनात् स्थपतिः स्मृतः। स्थपतिर्व्विश्वकृत् तक्षा त्वष्टा च रथकारकः। काष्ठिको वर्द्धकिश्चेति शिल्पिपर्यायवाचकाः। இப்படி சைவாகமங்களிலும் பஞ்சராத்ரஸம்ஹிதைகளிலும் வைகாநஸग्रन्थங்களிலும் विश्वकर्म्मीयम् आगस्त्यादिशास्त्रங்களிலும் उत्पत्तिवृत्तिविधानஞ்சொல்லுதலாலும் இவநே ग्रामादि

Line 4: वास्तुக்களையும் प्रासादादिवास्तुக்களையும் पञ्चायुधाद्यायुधங்களையும் ब्रह्मसृष्ट्यादि…..दिकर्म्मங்களையும் செய்ய विधानமுண்டாதலால் இவ்वरिष्ठोमापत्तिயையுடைய रथकारानुलोमனாகிய कर्म्मारநே இவையெல்லாஞ் செய்வானெந்று கல்லிலும் செம்பிலும் வெட்டிக்கொள்க வெந்று சொந்நோம் ஸ்ரீபாண்டிகுலாந்தகச் சதுர்வேதிமங்கலத்து गोमडत्तु यज्ञातभट्टसोमयाजिயேந் यज्ञात्मभट्टसोमयाजिनः। இப்படி சொந்நேந் கொம்மக்கை पुरुषोत्तमभट्टநேந் शिरियचिङ्गभट्टसोमयाजिनः। …प्रतिहासः शङ्करनारायणभट्टसोमयाजिनः। चक्रपाणिभट्टस्य। இப்படி சொந்நேந் செந்திறத்து …… देवभट्ट अग्निचिदतिरात्रयाजिயேந் अग्निचिदतिरात्रयाजिनः। काञ्चिக்குறி கேசவந்  सोमयाजिनोप्येवम्।

Line 5: चतुरग्रहारभुक्त्या मधुराजातभट्टस्याप्येवम् प्रतिभासनरसिंहस्य हृषीकेशभट्टसोमयाजिनोप्येवम् प्रतिभासः। குளவி திருவயாற்றடிகள் दशप्रियभट्टந் மகந் திருவியலூரடிகள் भट्टस्याप्येवम्। காரம்பிச்செட்டு தூம்பில் भट्टसोमयाजिनः। …. न्नकमूर्त्ति दक्षिणामूर्त्तिभट्टवसन्तयाजिनः। श्रीराजाधिराजचतुर्वेदिमङ्गलத்து முப்புரர் भवस्कन्द…. सोमयाजिயேன் भवस्कन्द….. क्षत्रियवैश्यजातனாயுள்ள शूद्रஜாதியாயுள்ள

Line 6: आगमम् … दित्त वचनम्। स्थपतिशास्त्रकर्म्मज्ञश्शुभाशुभविभागवित्। भूपरीक्षा च या विद्या वास्तुविद्या च या परा। त… सहितौ कार्य्यमाचरेत्। तावेव सहितौ… सर्व्वसम्पत्करं नृणाम्। भीमसंहितायाम् सुलेखस्सुगुणश्शिल्पशास्त्रज्ञः कर्म्मयोग्यकः। मानादिसमानज्ञश्शल्योद्धारविशारदः। वास्तुविद्याकृताभ्यासश्शल्योद्धारविशारदः। योगजे। स्थपतिर्व्वास्तुतन्त्रज्ञस्सर्वशास्त्रविशारदः। महादेशस्थसङ्कीर्न्नोत्पन्नजन्मा कुलाधमः। स्थापको देवदेवस्याद्यजमानो जनार्दनः। विधाता स्थपतिस्साक्षादेतैर्धर्म्मस्थितिस्त्रिभिः। सुप्रभेदे। आचार्यमुक्तपाठश्चैव पूर्व्वोक्तान् सम्प्रगृह्य च।

Line 7: स्यान्वेषयेत् तद्वत् शिल्पिनं सुकुलोद्भवम्। स्थपतिस्सूत्रग्राही च वर्द्धकिस्तक्षकस्तथा। तनूकरण……………………. स्थपतिसूत्रग्राहिभ्यां प्रासादप्रतिमांस्तथा। अक्षिमोक्षादिकं सर्वं कारयेत् तक्षकोत्तमः। स्थपतिश्शास्त्रकर्म्मज्ञः कृतकर्म्माभिजातवान्। ईदृशं शिल्पिनं गृह्य प्रारभेत् सर्व्वकर्म्मकम्। प्रपञ्चोत्तरे विद्यासूत्रे। सुलेखस्सुगुणो धीमान् शास्त्रज्ञः कर्म्मयोग्यकः। वास्तुविद्याकृताभ्यासश्शल्योद्धारविशारदः। लक्षणप्रमाणे। सर्व्वलक्षणसम्पन्नो नीरोगः कोपवर्ज्जितः। उपायज्ञः सुशीलज्ञः कृतहस्तो विचक्षणः। तक्षकश्शास्त्रसम्पन्नो विनीतो वास्तुवित्सदा। पोस्तकं हस्तधारी च कृतकृत्यस्सुजातकः। प्रपञ्चतन्त्रे लक्षणप्रमाणे प्रसिद्धदेशे सङ्कीर्न्नजातिजोभीष्टल….

Line 8: णः वास्तुविद्याविधानज्ञस्तूहापोहसमन्वितः। निमित्तशकुनज्योतिर्ज्ञाने सम्यक् प्रबोधकः। वेदविद्धर्म्मविद्धीमानाचार्यः प्रोक्षितः सुधीः। प्रासादलिङ्गकार्येषु मानो सुरकायकर्म्मभिः ब्रह्मैव स्थपतिस्साक्षात् यजमानस्तु केशवः। गुरुस्सर्वस्य कार्य्यस्य महादेवस्स कारणम्। श्रीपञ्चरात्रम् कापिञ्जलम् भुवं खात्वा शिलां पश्येदाचार्य्यश्शिल्पिभिस्सह। शिल्पिनं पूजयेत् काले धनधान्यगजादिभिः। परमपुरुषसंहितायाम्। ………… सारेण कारयेत्। .. श्रीवैखानसमहास्तवे शिल्पशास्त्रोक्तविधिना शिल्पिनस्सम्यगाचरेत्। तस्मात्सर्वप्रयत्नेन आचार्य्यः शिल्पिभिस्सह। अत्रिप्रोक्ते विधिवत्स्थापयित्वैवं शिल्पिभिः शास्त्रकोविदैः। आगस्त्यवास्तुशास्त्रे स्वतन्त्रः परतन्त्रज्ञः कृतकृत्यस्सुमानसः।

Line 9: धर्म्मज्ञः सत्यसम्पन्नः सर्व्वेन्द्रियजितेन्द्रियः। इतिहासपुराणज्ञः स्मृतिवित् वास्तुवित्सुधीः। अत… ध भक्तश्च अलुब्धश्चामलात्मकः। निमित्तानां क्रमज्ञश्च चित्रकर्म्मविशारदः। सर्व्वायवनिष्पन्ने विमाने चोत्तरायणे। प्रशस्तपक्षनक्षत्रे यजमानो जनार्द्दनः। …….. पतिश्च महात्मनः …. शरीराङ्गं वाचे भौतिकसंज्ञितम्। विमानं विधिना सम्यक् जलसम्प्रोक्षणञ्चरेत्। वास्तुविद्यायाम्। विश्वकर्म्मा च आचार्यो गुरुत्वात् विश्वकर्म्मणाम्। स्थपतिः स्थापनं कुर्वन् इति शिल्पी…… स्थपतिस्सत्यशास्त्रकर्म्मविचक्षणः कृतकृत्यः कुलीनश्च अहीनाधिकक्षणः। धार्म्मिकः सत्यवादी च गणितज्ञः पुराणवित्। चित्रवित् सर्व्वदेशज्ञः सुनामायमनामयः। दृढो योनसू…

Line 10: योनलसोभयः लुब्धोशनदोदीनोप्रमादी च जितेन्द्रियः। सप्तव्यसनजिद्धीमान् ऊहापोहविचक्षणः। सारस्वतीये। विश्वकर्म्मा ऋषेर्नाम्ना गुरुत्वात् विश्वकर्म्मणः। स्थपतिः स्थापनं कुर्व्वन् इति शिल्पिर्व्विधीयते। तत्त्वज्ञः स्थपतिस्सर्वशास्त्राणाञ्च विशेषतः। धार्म्मिकस्सत्यवादी च कृतकृत्यः कुलोद्भवः।

Line 11: नारायणभट्टसोमयाजिनः श्रीराजाधिराजचतुर्व्वेदिमङ्गलத்து நம்பூர் கட்டுக்கே श्रीरंगनाथभट्टवाजपेययाजिயேந் श्रीरंगनाथभट्टநேந்

Beginning of the inscription refers the following texts

  1. Gautama Dharmaśāstra
  2. Nārada dharmaśāstra
  3. Yājñavalkya dharmaśāstra
  4. Brāhmapurāṇa
  5. Some commentary by …lla
  6. Maskara’s commentary to Gautamīya
  7. Viśvakarmīyam
  8. śaṅkha Dharmaśāstra

The abridged meaning of the first part is as follows

          A person from the Viśvakarma community alone is entitled build the temples. The goldsmith is called as “Svarṇakāra”, the ironsmith is called as “Ayaskāra”. The carpenter is termed as “Takṣā” and one who makes the devine idols is called as “Tvaṣṭā”. One who build the temple is called as “Sthapati”. Sthapati, Viśvakarmā, Takṣā, Tvaṣṭā, Rathakāra, Kāṣṭika, varddhaki are the synonyms of the term “śilpi”.

The duty of the Viśvmakarmā is explained in śaivāgamas, Pāñcarātra, Vaikhānasa and the śilpa texts like Viśvakarmmīya and Āgastya as making of Grāmādivāstu (building of villages etc), building of temples, idols, weapons starting from the principal five weapons and works like Brahmasṛṣṭi (?). Permission is sought to engrave these duties in stone and in copper plates. The signatories of the above agreement are,

  1. Yajñātmabhaṭṭasomayāji from Gomaḍa of Pāṇḍyakulāntaka caturvedi maṅgala
  2. Śaṅkaranārayaṇa bhaṭṭa somayāji
  3. Cakrapāṇi bhaṭṭa
  4. Devabhaṭṭa Agnicit Atirātra yāji
  5. Keśavaṉ somayāji of Kāñcīkkuṙi
  6. Madhurājātma bhaṭṭa somayāji who is entitled to enjoy four agrahāras
  7. Narasiṃha
  8. Hṛṣīkeśabhaṭṭa somayāji
  9. Tiruviyalūraḍi Bhaṭṭa, son of Kuḷavi Tiruviyāṙṙagal Daśapriya bhaṭṭa
  10. Tūmpil Bhaṭṭasomayāji of Kārambiceṭṭu
  11. Dakṣiṇāmūrti bhaṭṭa vasantayāji
  12. Muppura Bhavaskanda somayāji of śri Rājādhirājacaturvedimaṅgala

The second part gives the details definition and duties of a sculptor. The texts are mentioned from which the lines are quoted.

  1. …. (name is lost) Āgama

One who knows the works mentioned in śāstras and knows the difference between auspicious and inauspicious deeds and knows Bhūparikṣā (testing of soil) and vāstuvidyā, is called as Sculptor.The Ācārya (śivācārya) should accompany him is building the temple. The temple built in this way will shower wealth to the people.

  1. Bhīmasaṃhitā

One who has good handwriting, man of good qualities, knower of śilpa śāstra, qualified for building works, unparallel in measurement, a good trouble shooter, experienced in Vāstu vidyā texts, will be called as sthapati.

  1. Kāraṇāgama

One who has good hand writing, man of good qualities and qualified for building works, experienced in in Vāstu vidyā texts, will be called as sthapati.

  1. Yogajāgama

One who knows the techniques of Vāstu tantra, expert in all scriptures, born in a great region will be a good sthapati. The ācārya is the embodiment of śiva, owner is Janārdana and the sthapati is Brahmā himself. The virtue will be stabilised by these three only.

  1. Suprabheda

The ācārya should select a super sthapati with the qualifications said above. The sthapati should be searched and selected from a good race. Sthapati, Sūtragrāhi, varddhaki, Takṣaka and the maker of divine idols……. The Acārya should make the temple and the idols through Sthapati and Sūtragrāhi. The best Takṣaka should do the eye-opening ceremony etc. One who knows the scriptures, well experienced, born in a good race will be a good sthapati. Ācārya should start the work after identifying such sthapti.

  1. Vidyāsūtra of Prapañcottara

One who has good hand writing, man of good qualities and qualified for building works, experienced in in Vāstu vidyā texts, will be called as sthapati.

  1. Lakṣaṇapramāṇa

One who fits with all qualifications, healthy, devoid of anger, knower of techniques and good qualities, expert, intelligent, blessed with knowledge of scriptures, obedient, knower of vāstu texts, bearer of texts at hand, specialist and holds a good horoscope will be a good sculptor.

  1. Lakṣaṇa pramāṇa from Prapañcottara

One who born in a great region, …… knower of techniques of vāstu vidyā, knower of guessable and abondonable parts, knower and preacher of of Nimitta, śakuna and Jyotiṣa, knower of Veda and dharma, intelligent will be a ācārya. One who is expert in building of temples and in making Liṅga, expert in measurements and making divine idols will be a good sculptor. The Sthapati is Brahmā himself, owner is Keśava and he guru is śiva himself.

  1. Kāpiñjalam of Pāñcarātra

Ācārya should find the idols by digging the earth with the help of sculptor. The sculptor should be honoured with wealth, grains and elephants etc..

  1. Paramapuruṣa saṃhitā

… should do with sculptor.

  1. Śrī Vaikhānasa mahāstava

The sculptors should build according to the śilpa śāstra. So ācārya should act with all his spirit with the sculptors.

  1. Atri’s quote

The ācārya should erect the temple along with the sculptors.

  1. Agastya Vāstu śāstra

One who is independent and knower of other’s techniques, doer of good things, good minded, knower of dharma, speaker of truth, conqueror of all sensual organs, knower of Itihāsa and purāṇas, knower of dharmaśāstras and vāstuśāstras and an intelligent, a devoted and devoid of greed and pure-hearted, knower of nimittas, expert in painting, will be a good sculptor. The consecration of the vimāna should be done after the final work and in Uttarāyaṇa in good star and fortnight. The owner is Janārdana. … The limbs of vimāna… is called as Bhautika. The Samprokṣaṇa should be done according to the rules.

  1. Vāstu vidyā

Since Viśvakarmā is the preceptor of the caste, he is the ācārya. One who make the sthāpana is called as sthapati. Sthapati should be expert in scriptures, building work and truth. He should be doer of good things, of good race, fits with qualifications, pious, truth-speaker, knower of mathematics, Purāṇas and painting, knower of all regions, bearer of good name and healthy. He should be strong and devoid of greed, laziness and fear. He should be great hearted and careful. He should be conqueror of sensual organs. He should be devoid of seven pains like liquor, hunting etc. He should be intelligent and expert in guessable and abondonable parts.

  1. Sārasvatīya

By the name of the guru Viśvakarmā, the sculptors are called as Viśvakarmās. The sculptor one who builds the temple is called as sthapati. The sthapati should know the inner meaning of the śilpa texts. He should be virtuous, truth-speaker and from good race.

        Thus the qualifications of a sculptor are well explained from scriptures. It is very  astonishing to note that such an elaborated study was done in an inscription. There are more than twenty scriptures are referred.

           The following scriptures are not available today.

  1. Agastya śilpa śāstra (May be sakalādhikāra?_
  2. Pramāṇalakṣaṇa
  3. Sārasvatīya
  4. Bhīma saṃhitā
  5. Prapañcottara
  6. Paramapuruṣa saṃhitā
  7. Maskara’s commentary
  8. Yogajāgama (in manuscript form, to be printed).

This inscription seems be a very rare of its kind which fully analyses the āgama and śilpa texts and gives the qualifications of a sculptor.

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