“Our architecture, sculpture and painting have been for ages confined to a class of people known as SILPIS who were not mere builders, but were scientists and technologists of exceptional wisdom and talents” – Ram Raz in ‘Essay on Architecture of Hindus’.
(Ram Raz was a Tanjore born Indian who served as a native judge with the British Government. A great Sanskrit scholar, his work has been applauded as one of the first relevant works on Indian architecture).
Indian architectural heritage stands out among the rest of the world and claims to be the most ancient as well as time-tested one which has withstood the vagaries of nature since many centuries. What comes rushing to our mind when we think of the ancient culture of India? Of course our great dynasties and valiant kings. And what remains of all these? Without any doubt, we would recall their sprawling palaces and mighty forts, majestic temples and monuments with lofty entrance towers, the mesmerizing sculpted images of Gods, Goddesses, men and women, the various monuments, our massive rock cut caves, so on and so forth, which make our culture stand out among the rest of the world. It is ideal to put it this way. One cannot reminisce on Indian culture devoid of all these. The aboriginal race of India who have made all these wonders possible are none other than the Viswakarmas themselves. They have been the creators of the art and architectural wonders which are the hallmark of the Hindu culture, which India stands to represent.
Having taken the name of the Universal Creator, they have etched their marks on all mediums of work they have laid their hands on. The ancient kings were great visionaries that they patronized these group of technologists and engaged them to do eternal creations which stands tall even to this day. Not only the temples and sculptures, Viswakarmas have served the land of Bharatavarsha as metal craftsmen and mechanical engineers who made all sorts of agricultural and industrial tools, vehicles, utensils, metal images, irrigation engineers who built dams, defence engineers who made various weapons for several dynasties over the years, builders who created wonders with wood, stone and other medium, and town planners who created systematic planned building layouts. And last but not the least their hands could work wonders on jewellery of gold that even Gods love to wear and enthral, not to say about women.
VISWAKARMAS -DIRECT DESCENDANTS OF THE VISWAKARMAN
The name Viswakarman literally translated to ‘Creator of the Universe’ or the Ultimate Energy. We get a glimpse of the greatness of the all-pervading Supreme Energy Viswakarman through the Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. The following verses from MoolasthambaPurana endorses that Viswakarman is the primordial energy that emerged in this entire Universe.
Na Bhoomimnajalamchaivanatejona cha vaayavaha
Na cha akasamnachitthamschanabudhhighranagochara ha
nachaBrahmaa Na VishnuschanaRudrashchaTaarakaaha
sarvashoonyaniralambaswayambhuViswakarmana – MoolasthambhaPuranam
Which goes to describe the origin of this universe; when there was no earth, no water no light, no water, no space and not even intelligence or consciousness and no stars, planets or their movements. Even the trinity of Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma didn’t exist. When the entire space was thus void and destitute, emerged on Its own the Primal energy Viswakarman.
These verses of ViswakarmaSukta of Rigveda says:
bhoomijanayan deva ekaha: – ViswakarmaSukta
This literally translates as having eyes everywhere, and having a face everywhere, having arms everywhere and having feet everywhere, he traverses (heaven) with his arms, earth with his swift moving (feet) and here exists a God without companion generating heaven and earth.
Yet another Upanishad, called SilpaVidyaRahasyopanishad clearly lays down the divine process of manifestation:
Which means that root cause for the emergence of entire world systems originates in His mind. And all the world systems are harmonious creative ideations of his mind.
It further says:
He, Viswakarma the Designer and Creator of all, is indeed the Supreme Primal Existence. Therefore, he becomes known as the Primordial and Foremost Designer of forms.
In the Vedic parlance, Lord Viswakarma takes many names like Prajapati, Vaasthoshpathi, Vachaspathi, Twashta etc. Viswakarma, the primordial architect and master sculptor, propelled by the desire of creation, manifested into the panchabhootas. The artistic framework of His mind is a repository of supreme energies. From the panchabhootas were created all the flora and fauna and all other animate beings of the universe, called the prapancha in Sanskrit.
Puranic references further lays down that Lord Viswakarma as a five faced God, and from these five faces namely Sadhyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Ishana.emanated the five prajapathies of Viswakarmas namely Manu, Maya, Twashta, Silpi and Viswajna. These five clans belong to pancha Brahmarishigotra, namely Sanaga, Sanathana, Ahabhuna, Prathnasa and Suparna. This class arising out of the very Supreme Energy thus is destined to make creations on earth that is in harmony with the creations of the divine Brahman himself. In the annals of history, Viswakarma clan was also referred to as panchamar, the five-sect community, which goes parallel to the five-fold order in the universe, the prapancha (where the term pancha refers to number five, referring to the panchabhootas out of which emerged this universe) such as Panchabhootha, the five primal elements, Panchaloha, the five essential metals, the Pancharathna, the five precious stones, Panchangam, the five part Indian astronomical calendar followed in the Hindu culture, Panchaprana, the five breaths identified in the human body, the Panchavaadhyam, the five types of instruments used in temple rituals, the Panchagavyam, the sacred medical concoction etc.
And now coming to the social disposition of the race, I am to reiterate Viswakarmas does not represent a caste, but they form a race, who were unique because of their profession and its proximity to the divine creator, the universal energy Viswa Brahman. They were also called the VastuVedins as they handled a separate Vedic text called the Vastu Veda or Sthapatya Veda, which laid down the entire tenets for creation of all material forms on the earth in tune with the principles handled by the Divine Creator Viswakarma. The knowledge of the divine creation is gained through mastery on Brahmajnana. As if acknowledging their mastery on Brahma jnanam, the Viswakarmas also adorned the title Brahmasree in ancient times. They were also referred as Viswakarma Kula Vallabhas, Viswakarma Kula Bhushanas, Viswakarma Rishis and Viswakarma Kulavamsodhbavas. That they worshipped the universal energy is proven by their invocation sloka, Om ViratViswabrahmanenamah, which adorns the header of all their invitations printed for wedding or other auspicious functions.
That the Viswakarmas walked the earth during pre-vedic period is evident from the fact that mention about their divine profession is found in Rig and Atharva Vedas. There are Upanishads solely dedicated to them like the SilpavidyaRahasyopanishad, Vastusutroupanishad, ViswakarmaSuktam, VastoshpathiSuktam etc. All these explain the Vedic truth followed by Viswakarmas that create wonders through the ideations of their mind which gets transferred to the medium through their hands.
ICONOGRAPHIC REPRESENTATION OF LORD VISWAKARMAN & ITS SIGNIFICANCE
Lord Viswakarman, the forefather of the Viswakarma community is represented iconographically as five-headed and ten handed as described in the dhyanasloka. From his five faces are said to have originated the five-fold Vedas, all of which are based on the scientific principle of space and time. The head on top represents the source Veda or the primal Vedic literature of all times, the Pranava Veda. From Pranava Veda, branches out the other four Vedas of Sabda Veda(Poetry), Gandharva Veda (Music), Natya Veda (Dance) and Sthapatya Veda (Architecture & Sculpture), represented by the four faces which are placed in the lower level facing the four directions. Later on during the post-vedic period, the five-headed Viswakarma got changed into the five-headed Shiva calling him as Sadashiva, evident from the fact that the names of the five faces remains the same for both these forms.
Pranava Veda, the foremost vedic literature was handled by the Viswakarmas, which formed the fundamental principle for their profession. The text of Pranava Veda, deals with the science of OM, the primal energy existing as a single entity, though its nature is duality of OM Light and OM Sound, which forms the basis of all visual and aural forms in the universe. The existence of the duality as the single OM is the advaitic philosophy of Vastu tradition. The author of Pranava Veda or PranavaNool which is in chaste technical Tamil is the progenitor of Vastu tradition Maya Brahmarishi who was born in the land of KumariKandam/Lemuria.
Veda Vyasa in Mahabharatham makes a reference to Pranavaveda as:
Which says there existed in remote past, the one and only veda called Pranava Veda. This corroborates the theory of Pranava Veda being the foremost and most ancient Vedic literature.
MAYA BRAHMARISHI – PROGENITOR OF VASTU VEDA/STHAPATYA VEDA
Illustrated scientist, architect & builder, astronomer, voyager &technocraft Maya BrahmarishiMayan was the originator of Mayan tradition which has a pan global presence. A native of NavalanTheevu Or KumariKandam, the lost landmass south of present day India some 25,000 years ago, he is also the author of most popular and widely accepted text of building design and civil engineering namely Mayamata, still in vogue today. He also authored the first ever treatise on astronomy Surya Siddhanta among many other immortal works. His supreme works include the PranavaNool, Aintiramatham and the Agamam. His disciple Manasara Maharishi authored the architectural treatise Manasara, which is followed by architects and engineers even to this day.
LITERATURE AS POINTER TO THE LOST LANDMASS OF MAYA TRIBE AND ITS ORIGINATOR MAYAN
Many scholars, from colonial era as well as from India have made extensive studies on the lost landmass, south of present day South India. Evidences about a highly civilised land of BharathaDesa and Maya Brahmarishi can be found in ancient Tamil literary works of Silappathikaram by famous poet IlangoAdigal, Thiruvachagam by Sri ManickavasaPurananooru, Kalittokai ,Tholkappiyam etc. and also the great Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. This landmass goes by several names – KumariKandam, Lemuria, NavalanTheevu, Gondwana Land etc. One of the earliest literary references to KumariKandam is found in Kantapuranam of 15th century CE. It says one among the 9 division of Bharatavarsha, is not inhabited by barbarians, with numerous Saivaite temple and Brahman settlements. Europeans called this land mass as Lemuria, so named by English Zoologist Philip Scater as being predominantly inhabited by Lemurs in distant past. Indian scholars chose to mention it as NavalanTheevu (Tamil) or JambuDweepa (Sanskrit), as this place had abundant growth of a fruit called Naaval or the Jambula or the Jamun fruit.
Even today, this island of JambuDweepa, is part of the sacred ritual at the start of an auspicious ceremony in the Hindu system. It is called Sankalpam, where in the priest who does the Pooja, utters the sloka, which starts off from the current cyclical cosmic time period followed by the geographical area, year of happening, month, ayanam of the Sun or the solstice, the season, the month, the paksha, the two fortnights before or after fullmoon, the thithi, the week, and finally the star of the day when the event is happening and then he mentions the ritual that is going to take place. By this he seeks to invoke the blessings of the Gods.
The veneration goes thus:
Kaliyuge Prathama padhey
Sagabdhe Mero DakshinaParsve……
In the ancient past, Tamil Academies were held at Madurai which is a congregation of great poets and men of wisdom. The age of this Sangam is more than 10-15 thousand years old. Such a land of high cultural values was engulfed by the sea along with the great works of art, architecture, science and literature along with cities, temples and other establishments. We get an account of the first Sangam from the Tamil poetic works of Appar (around 600 CE), Sambanthar (around 700 CE) and Nakkirar(250 BCE). The second Sangam was held in Kapatapuram and third Sangam in Madurai. Mayan who inhabited this fertile land of KumariKandam could sow the seeds of his wisdom, which grew up to establish the first ever human civilization on earth. From here through his students Mayan took the native science and technology to different parts of the earth. We have texts in the name of his students, Manu, Kashyapa, Vaisampayana etc. In later days Mayan having proceeded towards north India established Brahmavarta along the banks of river Saraswathi and being a skilled seafarer and ship builder moved across seas to reach the coast of South America, where he established the Mayan kingdom.
THE SCIENCE UNDERLYING THE SACRED ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF VISWAKARMAS
Viswakarmas, as noted from their long history, have been venerators of Space or the Akasa, which is also called the Para Brahman. The outer space is called the Bahirakaasa whereas the space residing within every animate being of the universe is called Antharaakasa. This space is not mere void, but filled with innumerable particles of energy called vinkaru in Tamil and paramanu in Sanskrit. This particle is the pulsating foetus of energy pervading throughout the Akasa which makes it a throbbing entity. Akasa, hence has the primal role among Panchabhoothas as seen in Taithareeyopanishad:
agnerapahaadhbhyaprithvi – Thaithareeyopanishad
Which says from Akasa (Space) came the Vayu (Air), from Vayu came the Agni (Fire), from fire came the Apa (water) and from water finally the Prithvi (earth). In Vastu Shastra, Akaasa is denoted as the Subtle Unmanifest energy (Para Brahman , the Vastu) and Earth is denoted as the Material manifest energy (Artha Brahman the Vaastu). Here we see how the energy transforms itself into matter, through manifestation. Or otherwise we can say that it is Vastu that transforms itself into Vaastu, which justifies the saying ‘VasturevaVaastu’. The science of energy transforming into matter is dealt deeply in Vastu tradition. Just as the Supreme Brahman, the supreme unmanifest energy manifests himself into the various material universal forms, so does the inner energy of the Viswakarmas manifests itself into visible material forms, which he works deftly through his hands on various media.
Coming to the foetus of energy, the paramanu pervading the Space energy, our forefathers who were great Brahmarishis, through their intuitive powers have deduced the form of the paramanu. The tradition says:
From which we understand that the form of the paramanu is intelligible only to great Yogis. Brahmarishi Mayan says that this paramanu which is the primal form of the Unmanifest Brahman exists in the form of a square two dimensionally, golden in hue and brilliant in form. This square has come to be the basic form in architecture, which as we understand carries great significance.
Further the Unmanifest Brahman, during the process of manifestation is propelled by the Time energy, which Mayan terms the Kaala Brahman. The Brahman, undergoes vibrations, which are rhythmic in nature and every Time unit of vibration gives forth a unit of Space, which prompted the Mayonic theory Time is equal to Space. These vibrations which fall under a mathematical rhythmic measure gives form to geometrical forms in the universe, which is why every being in the universe is a joy to watch. Hence all the forms in the universe invariably inheres this numerical order as their basic measure of development. The same theory applies to the creations of a Viswakarman. When a ViswakarmaShilpi or an artist conceives an image inside his inner space, there occurs rhythmic vibrations in tune with the way he conceives the image or art form. From the state of becoming conscious about the art form to the state where he comes out with an aural or visible form; be it poetry, music or architecture, it is the Time measure of his inner space that vibrates, that evolves, that sustains the form and finally cause disappearance of the form. Hence the Mayonic theory that Time is the causal factor for all creations in this universe. A highly cultured inner spirit of the artist will ensure a high level of performance in his art and this is called as the Culture of the Spirt, which is different from one artist to another.
During the process of manifestation, the Unmanifest Supreme Energy which is primarily in the form of a subtle energy, propelled by KaalaBrahman or Time energy undergoes self-vibration, pulsates rhythmically transforms into an intermediary form of octagon and finally when it manifests in the material world is circular in form, which is why the square manifesting into a circle or the Unmanifest Supreme Brahman manifesting into material forms is symbolically represented in the making of a Shiva Linga or the making of a DwajaSthambam Flag post in the temple. The supreme theory of energy transforming into matter have been perceived and encapsulated in the ShilpaShastras by the Viswakarmas and followed till date. When the Supreme energy is in the unmanifest state, it is of satwik nature – the subtle state, represented by its square form. When it starts to evolve and manifest, it becomes conscious, pulsates and develop into the intermediary octagonal form which represent the Rajoguna, intermediary state and finally attains a circular form representing the Tamasicguna or the gross state.
Further, Brahmarishi Mayan postulated that the imagic forms perceived within an artist’s inner space is first laid out in the form of a square layout which is a 8×8 grid layout. This is named as MandukaVastuPurusha Mandala, which square grid layout pattern, while transforming into the material world, becomes the 9×9 grid called the ParamasayikaVastu Mandala. The grid layout of architecture followed in house and temple layouts as well as city and town planning is based out of this Mandala architecture. The grid pattern of layout is found in the planned towns of Mohenjodaro & Harappa, Indus Valley Civilisation, ancient cites of Rome. Greece, Babylonia, Egyptian Pyramids etc. Every built space enclosing the outer energetic space is considered to be a living entity and hence is laid out following the square pattern of grid design in tune with the form of the Unmanifest energy. This was done to align the built space with the Universal energy so that the vibrations of the enclosed space and the outer universal space resonate and throb harmoniously.
Thus the tradition of Viswakarmas, as seen from their works of art and architecture and as delineated by the literary references stands to represent a lofty and sacred science indigenous to the land of Bharatavarsha. This science is based on the principle of OM, the Ultimate Energy, the Unmanifest Whole which manifests into the universal forms, based on the eternal principles of Time and Space units. That everything in this universe, be it created by the Brahman or the Viswakarma people, is based on mathematical vibrations of the energetic Akaasa, makes the Viswakarma tradition unique and supreme.
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