Journal of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
Volume I. No. I July 2003
We are very happy to place in the hands of the scholars of Art, Philosophy, Religion and Literature this inaugural issue of the Journal of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and hope that it will be received well by scholars all around. There are quite a number of journals in the present times on various aspects of Indian culture and the rationale of launching one more periodical on a similar subject may be questioned. However, we think that there was a need of such a periodical which not only takes a holistic view towards all forms and expressions of art but is basically inspired by that unique concept of Arts which defines it as the whole body of literary, oral and visual forms, or even that intangible heritage of culture which we call philosophy. "Art is an expression of the self of a human being", says the great Sanskrit poet Bhavabhuti (8th century) in his Uttararamacaritam, " and is a part of the immortal form of the goddess Sarasvarti" (vindema devatam vacam amrtam atmonah kalam).
Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, the founder Member-Secretary of the IGNCA, writing in the Preamble of a brochure outlined the concept of our Centre in the following words: "[The IGNCA] is visualised as a Centre encompassing the study and experience of all the arts - each form with its own integrity, yet within a dimension of mutual interdependence, interrelated with nature, social structure and cosmology. This view of the arts, integrated with, and significant to the larger matrix of human culture is essential to the integral quality of person, at home with himself and society. It partakes of the holistic world-view so powerfully articulated throughout Indian tradition and emphasised by modern Indian leaders from Mahatma Gandhi to Tagore".
The Kalakalpa thus considers Art in its totality, as an integral whole and tries to look for the fundamental unity between the various art forms and the principles underlying its multifaceted expressions. These principles may be culture-specific, born of certain social milieu, but it shall be our endeavour to look beyond these narrow horizons and to take note of parallels in other cultures as well, since we believe that the basic aesthetic experience of all human beings is the same.
The title of the journal may need some explanation. Kala is the well known Sanskrit term for Art and in our Centre it forms the first component of the compounds designating three of our divisions, namely Kalanidhi, Kaladarsana and Kalakosa. Kala is also an attribute of the goddess Sarasvati. In the Tantric worship, the presiding deity of the Kalanyasa, the most important of all Saktistic Nyasas, is the goddess of learning. The word Kalpa is derived from the root klp: a root which means 'to imagine', 'to think', 'to conveive', but at the same time also 'to compose', 'to form', 'to create by giving a concrete shape to an abstract thought or concept'. The first group meanings gives rise to such words as Kalpana (imagination), Kalpah, (ideas; e.g. badhah, kalpah, prathamah, kalpah=good idea, an excellent idea!), Samkalph, (resolution, determination), Samkalpana (conceptualisation), Upa-kalp (to visualize a form), Vikalpah (alternative idea, alternative); and the second groupd of meaning forms the basis of the word Kalpah in the sense of 'creation' (also the duration of creation, cf, the concept of 'Kalpas' of the Puranas), Klpti (the act of carrying out, accomplishment), etc. These two groups of meanings are not contrary to each other, but complementary. The second is only a corollary to the first and is its logical development. Any thing concrete in creation exists in the beginning somewhere in the mind of someone as an abstract idea, as a concept.
Same in the case with an object of art which exists in the embryonical stage simply as a vision or a concept in the mind of the artist before it assumes a concrete shape either though words becoming literature; or through manual dexterity in the form of a painting or sculpture; through the body language becoming a dance; or through vocal cords becoming a song, etc. Kalpa is virtually transformation of the mental vision of art into a tangible, visible or audible form. 'Kalakalpa' is thus a journal where the thoughts and views of the scholar on various facets and aspects of Art get crystallized through language in the form of critical appreciation. It could be a critique, an appraisal or an interpretation of a work of art, where the term 'Art', as saod above, is understood in its widest connotation.
To be true to the above basic motive of the journal we have included in this inaugural issue articles on Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Mythology, Ritual, as well as Visual and Performing arts. The issue starts with a very significant articles by our Hon'ble President Laxmi Mall Singhvi which gives an overview of the development of Indian religion and philosophical tradition right from the Vedic times to the present age. Indra Nath Choughuri delves deep into the Vedic knowledge revealing its symbolism and assessing its importance for World Civilization. There are also other articles on Vedic studies such as Narayan Datta Sharma's paper on the Vedic sacrificial rite Avabhrtha and Gaya Charan Tripathi's paper on the source of the Sanskrit word 'Gokarna' which he traces back to Avesta and allied literature. Lionel Rothkrug's learned article 'Mapping Religion and Culture in Time and Space' reveals the mysteries of the temporal and spatial dimensions of the phenomenon of religion and culture. The article of Vasistha Narayan Jha on 'Sentence beyond Sentence Boundary' discusses the concept of sentence from the two varied stands of Mimamsa and Grammer. Kapila Vatsyayan provides in her article a deep study of interconnections between culture and development. This is a much debated subject but she tackles it from an entirely fresh point of view. Lokesh Chandra, an internationally acclaimed scholar of Buddhism and East-Asian Studies, has contributed a fascinating articles on the background of Chinese art and Aesthetics.
The most valuable 'export commodity' of India to the outside world in ancient times has been Buddhism. It is, therefore, not surprising that quite a number of articles are there on Buddhist Studies. Mariko Namba Walter in her article has drawn our attention to various aspects and versions of the myths of Maudgalyayana (who was a foremost disciple of Buddha with great supernatural powers) in the context of his mother's sufferings in hell. Priyatosh Banerjee, in his article has identified a mural fragment from Kumtura, Xinjiang, which had remained unidentified so far. He has described the fragment as representing Bodhisattva Siddharatha's visit to the school of Guru Visvamitra. Shashibala explains the esoteric nature of the symbol of Mandala in Japanese Buddhism. The Buddhist temples of Pagan in Myanmar (Brahmandesa or Burma) have been described briefly but critically by Ashin Pyin Nyaw Bhasa. Advaitvadini Kaul tries to show that contrary to the comman belief of Budhism influencing Saivism in Kashmir, it is fact Saivism which has exerted influence on the Buddhism in this region. Radha Banerjee has contributed a highly interesting article on the inclusion of and the place occupied by several Vedic-Hindustic deities in the Buddhist pantheon of Central Asia. In the field of Bhakti religiosity Usha V.T. speaks elopquently on the poetics of Bhakti in relation to women's discourses. We have an article on Manuscriptology as well, a special field of IGNCA, by Vijay Shankar Shukla who reports about the efforts of cataloguing Sanskrit manuscripts by the scholars of the 19th century.
This issue contains review of only one single publication called 'Dancing in the Family - An Unconventional Memoir of Three Women' written by Sukanya Rahaman. In his review, Sunil Kothari highlights the achievements of the famous dancers, Ragini Devi, her daughter Indrani and the latter's daughter Sukanya.
The best judges of any academic endeavour are the scholars themselves. Unless they are satisfied, our efforts cannot be said to have been successful. To say it in the words of Kalidasa:
a paritosad vidusam na sadhu manye prayogavijnanam
We shall be happy to receive any critical comments on our journal as a whole and be grateful for any suggestions towards improvement of its academic standard.
Copyright IGNCAŠ 2003