Kalatattvakosa Vol IV: Manifestation of Nature – Srstivistara

Kalåtattvakosa – A Lexicon of Fundamental Concepts of Indian Arts, vol. IV : Manifestation of Nature – Srstivistara, edited by Advaitavadini Kaul and Sukumar Chattopadhyay, published by IGNCA in association with Motilal Banarsidass Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi pp. xxxviii+429, Price : Rs. 450/-

The Kalatattvakosa is an indispensable tool for the Sanskritists interested in higher textual criticism in specialized disciplines of Åyurveda, Vyakarana, Jyotosa, Ganita, Darsana, Itihasa, Purana, Vastu, silpa, Sangita, Natya and Alankara, for it provides the necessary background in the semantic evolution of several technical terms within the holistic framework of Indian cultural heritage in a historical perspective. Volume IV contains the terms, ‘which speak of both becoming and the being, material and nonmaterial, entity, substance and process’, namely : indriya, dravya, dhatu, guna-dosa, adhibhuta-adhidaiva-adhyatma, sthula-suksmapara, srsti-sthti-samhara. The meanings obtained for these words in the vedic texts are taken as the basis and those in other disciplines like grammar are targeted for analysis and comparison.

Just as the meaning, a word accumulated in future cannot be predicted. The meanings of several words which developed in the past in different periods cannot also be accounted for precisely, because the accumulated meanings often are not gradable on account of the texts available to us, which are uneven in time and space. Several words in the earliest known texts like the Rgveda and others of the same genre are imprecise with regard to their meanings; for, the attributable basal meaning by application of grammar is itself unsatisfactory by logical contextualization. This is more so in the case of those words which turned into technical names and obtained coinage in different fields of knowledge. To begin with the meanings of words in the Vedic texts as basic is again axiomatic. This axiomatic sense forms the basis for a workable holistic system to account for the semantic growth in different branches of knowledge. For reasons of commonness in meaning in some areas in knowledge, representation of one and the same word gets used in different subjects. Such a word again gets restricted in its meaning within a given branch of learning in relation to other words in the same category, as for example the word dhatu in the grammatical literature gets different restrictions in the expressiveness of action in relation to other components in a verb (p. 123). Grouping or pairing of words is an advantageous method in order to draw lines of demarkation in the area of the meanings which a word can denote. For example the word guna in dramaturgy and poetics has its specialized meaning restricted in relation with other words laksana, alankara and dosa (pp. 185-189), which are to explain the expressiveness of the language artistically. The guna is an inherent quality of the sentence to present itself agreeable, sweet and graceful. Its existence can be demonstrated negatively by sentences which are not agreeable by the existence of dosas ‘defects’. Hence Bharata has defined guna as ‘the negation of defect’ (p. 189). In the realm of textual tradition adhibhµuta-adhidaiva-adhyatma, sthulasuksma-paraand srsti-sthti-samhara are to be considered as related in a single semantic field for the relative significance of each item in the given system of philosophy or art form. For example “the Brhadasanyaka Upanisad (III .7. 1-23) explains adhibhuta as organic beings, the material world, adhidaiva as nature-phenomena and adhyatma as indivisible self (body)” (p. 259). In the Tantra-Ågama, ‘adhibhuta and adhyatma are interrelated terms especially with reference to sense and motor organs’ (p. 265). The Matn∆ga-paramesvara Ågama states : ‘all the instruments of knowledge and action have the characteristic of adhyatma abiding in the body, adhibhauta the physical and adhidaiva the divine aspect each’ (p. 266).

            It is very interesting to find unity in diversity as being demonstrated by contraction and expansion of meanings through metaphor. The elaborate discussions on the development of the sense of guna from rope (rajju) to a line (rekha) convinces how the words are unfailing guides for the study of cultural growth both in theory and practice. Thus the lexical items in a dictionary cannot be viewed as isolated entities and they become significant only in juxtaposition with other related items. In view of this, the project of Kalåtattvakosa is throwing open new vistas in the studies of Indian culture, with special reference to Indian artistic traditions.

            The Sanskrit extracts are provided with translation and interpretation in English to the best advantage of the users of the lexicon. This multiplex volume is an outcome of concerted effort of many eminent scholars from various disciplines.

Srimannarayana Murti

Prof. & Director, Sri Venkateswara University

Oriental Research Institute, Tirupati


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