The prathistha-Laksanasamuccaya and the Medieval Architecture of Kalinga

The State of Orissa is very rich in its wealth of temple architecture. In that sphere, its extant temples of the medieval period are the largest in number. They were shaped after a characteristic form that was progressively developing from the seventh century onwards till it achieved a highly evolved, perfected, and stable pattern in the latter half of the 11th century. Most of the available north Indian vastu treatises concerning temple architecture belong to the medieval period. However, Orissa apparently has lost its medieval Sanskrit texts, the only one whose content is preserved in the Oriya version is the Bhuvanapradipa of Visvakarma. Since much of the original Sanskrit terminology was replaced in this version by Oriya, the absence of earlier texts of the Sanskrit tradition is acutely felt, particularly since from central India – its Malava territory to be precise – at least three important works have survived and from Western India there at least are five works dating from the 11th to early 13th century.

The Laksanasamuccaya, composed in good Sanskrit by Vairocana, is a work on rituals associated with building of a temple as well as temple architecture proper and iconography. Vairocana was a pontiff of the Mattamayura Saiva sect. The Laksanasamuccaya’s stylistically suggested provenance seems somewhere between Kalinga and Vanga in some unspecified area where king Gopala of an unknown dynasty was earlier ruling. From its style of writing and the details of architecture, the work may be dated to c. the 13th century (and not to early ninth as the Editor had assumed). The architectural rules and the details pertaining to the morphology expounded in the text here seem to apply partially to the building in Kalinga, Utkala, and Kiching areas and partially also to that in North-Western Bengal. As a result, the text of the work to some extent allows us to infer the authentic sanskrit nomenclature for the parts, mouldings, and features of the medieval Kalinga temple and hence its contents are invaluable for the study and standardization of terms, and as its consequence in adopting a course for medieval Kalinga reverting to the Sanskrit tradition of description and identification of the temple structure.

M.A. Dhaky

Newsletter | a href=”/online-digital-resources/vihangama-news-letter/”>List of Newsletter