Third in series, the N.K. Bose Memorial Lecture on : Professor Nirmal Kumar Bose and his contribution to the studies on Indian Temple Architecture and The Prathistha-Laksanasamuccaya and the Medieval Architecture of Kalinga was delivered on 1st and 2nd December 1997 at the IGNCA. The talk was delivered by Prof. M.A. Dhaky, Director (Emeritus) at the American Institute of Indian Studies Centre for Art and Archaeology, Varanasi. As a historian and researcher of ancient and medieval Indian art and architecture, he has studied the available Sanskrit texts that relate to the architecture of ancient buildings; his publications include monographs on The Vyala Figures on the Medieval Temples of India, and The Indian Temple Forms in Karnata Inscriptions and Architecture.
Professor Nirmal Kumar Bose and his Contribution to the Studies on Indian Temple Architecture
Prof. N.K. Bose was a multitalented person. He was, what is termed in the West, a ‘Renaissance Man’. A thoroughbred nationalist and freedom fighter, he was the product of those times when ethics and morality, simplicity in personal style and high thinking besides hard work were the goal and way of life for many patriotic intelligent citizens. Serene, but not unassuming, dignified, but not unduly humble, fearless, commanding, but not overbearing, in the academia he was known both for his sterling contributions to the fields of anthropology as well as premedieval and medieval architecture with special focus on Kalingadesa. While Mano Mohan Ganguly (Calcutta 1912) pioneered the use of Oriya (with a sprinkling of Sanskrit) architectural terms, it was Prof. Bose who for the first time edited the Bhuvanapradipa as the Canons of Orissan Architecture (Calcutta 1932), whose original text in Sanskrit is lost but whose sense and essence are preserved in the bhasa form, a craftman’s version of the rendering of that sastra in Oriya language. The impact of this first edition was considerable : it enlarged the understanding of form, morphology, and metrography of the medieval Kalinga temple, and as its consequence, stimulated the studies on one of the most powerfully impressive and handsome styles of north Indian temple architecture. The subsequent writers – Prof. S.K. Saraswati, Debala Mitra, D.R. Das, Thomas E. Donaldson – largely followed Bose in their choice of terminology. His second work, the Indian Temple Designs (Calcutta 1981), published posthumously by the admirers of his work, contains rough sketches of temple-mouldings and features drawn by him during his long travels for visiting the then known temple sites all over India; it also contains brief notings in English and Bengali. In that work, an earlier important address he delivered at the Indian Science Congress (Allahabad 1949) has been incorporated as a prologue. Prof. Bose also had collaborated in the production of an art book, Designs from Orissan Temples (Calcutta and London 1950). My paper will evaluate and access the importance and impact of Prof. Bose’s contributions to the field of Indian temple architecture.