This course will discuss the Śilpakalā on the temple walls, and study the techniques of identifying (despite their ransack/plunder during Islamic invasions) and interpreting the hidden message these past sculptures offer.
शिल्पं हि परमपूज्यं सर्वदर्शनलक्षणम्’ । सर्वप्रमाणरूपाय साकारतत्त्वमेव च ॥ ३ ॥ – ŚILPARATNAKŌŚA As per Śilparatnakośa, of all the darśanas, Śilpa is the most venerated as visual testimony; and the Devālayams are home to such sacred Śilpa (includes art, mūrtis, intricate designs and secular themes). Numerous inscriptions across the country attest that temples not only served as the abodes of divinity, but also patronised different facets of Bhāratīya culture. For over two millennia, various rulers and dynasties erected temples to upkeep Dharma, with many texts enlisting the benefits of temples as harbingers of peace, fame, wealth, grain, sons and Mokṣa. With the drastic reduction in temple construction activities in the last 200 years, the science and meaning behind their construction and art vanished from the public discourse. Today, a temple remains just a place of worship for Hindus, most of whom are inattentive to the symbology and meaning of the Śilpa on temple walls. Every design and mūrti in a Hindu temple is carved for a purpose, with a codified message to be delivered to the next generations, which is nonexistent now. The temple that helped a Hindu climb the spiritual ladder through Śilpa, today remains an objective structure due to a lack of interpretation. This course will discuss the Śilpakalā on the temple walls, and study the techniques of identifying (despite their ransack/plunder during Islamic invasions) and interpreting the hidden message these past sculptures offer.