Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kashmir: the Buddhist and Brahmanical remains ( A.D. 200 to 1300)

Temple of Sun, Martand

700 A.D. to the begining of 14th century had the classical form of buildings. Harwan site and Ushkar showed some traces of Buddhist settlement. And later period was entirely Brahmanical.

Stupa within its courtyard, accommodation for its monks, a chaitya hall. The stupa was square in plan, with its base in three tiers and flight of steps onits western side. This arrangement corresponded to the stupa court of Gandhara.

Lalitaditya Muktapida was the emperor of Kashmir from 724 to 760 under the Karkota dynasty. During his reign, he conquered most of Northern India and Central Asia.
According to the historian Mazumdar, Lalitaditya concentrated his attention on the areas in the north after important victories in the south. His empire reached the remote corner of the Karakoram mountain range.
In the beginning of the 8th century, the Arab invasion had started knocking at the door of the Kabul valley. During this period, the Muslim power in Sindh was trying to march towards the north.
While the empires of Kabul and Gandhar were occupied by these invasions, Lalitaditya used the opportunity to establish his foothold in the north, moving with his victorious army from Dardistan to Turkey. The entire area was rich in Kashmiri traditions and education, due to the efforts of monks and Kashmiri people in towns of Central Asia. Lalitaditya achieved an easy victory in this region.
After the end of Teng reign, those states that had come under the Chinese rule had disintegrated because of civil wars.
Kashmir, at that time, was the most powerful state. During the time of Lalitaditya, its boundaries covered an area from Tibet in the east to Iran and Turkey in the west and from Central Asia in the north to Orissa and the seashores of Dwarka in the south.
Lalitaditya expressed interest in other areas besides his army life. Art and trade gained importance during his reign, religious festivals were held, and special facilities and encouragement were provided to support painters and sculptors. He was a successful writer and a Veena player. Bamzai wrote that Lalitaditya's war victories have received special place among different accounts of his reign. He was later made a hero of Kashmiris. Lalitaditya is considered to be the greatest ruler of Kashmir due to his encouragement of art, great work in human welfare, love of education, protection of scholars, and kindness.

The ancient sites of Ushkar, built by the Kushan king Huvishka approximately in the 3rd century A.D., and Harwan, a typical Buddhist settlement of the type that flourished in Gandhara kingdom, provide the earliest glimpse of the building-art in Kashmir. During the reign of the great king Lalitaditya, who ascended to the throne in 724 A.D., temples constructed using stone masonry sprang up in large numbers all over Kashmir. This building activity continued with the wave of religious emotion which swept over India about the same time, and resulted in a fever of temple building – Lalitaditya's triumphs in the realm of territorial expansion created a cultural climate, of which grandeur was an important ideal. The monumental Buddhist shrine at Parihasapura, now a mass of sculptured stones, and the temple of the Sun at Martand show this quality, not only in their stupendous size but also by the bold confidence with which they were built.
The Martand temple has been often called "the materialized-spirit of a transcendent vision". Built on a plateau encircled by a range of eternal stones this temple represents an architectural expressiveness of the highest order, and forms the supreme model of a style to which a great number of later temples are subscribed. Instead of the Buddhist assembly hall, where congregational worship was held, the central structure here is a sanctuary for the divine symbol. This perhaps signifies a departure from the Buddhist influence and the acceptance of the Brahmanical creed by the people. The shrine stands within a big courtyard surrounded by a pillared arcade and a series of cells. Certain features in the surface decoration of the Martand temple are of unique interest. The regularly spaced medallions, the frequent use of pilasters (cantilevers), and the pediment motif, all recall the architecture of the antique classical west (see also: the parts of a temple). The capitals of the pillars that support cornices have something Doric about them, and their molded bases are of attic type. The encircling colonnade is also reminiscent of the Greek style. However, experts are of the view that these influences are not deep-rooted and that the main composition is of indigenous inspiration, the product of the genius of Kashmir.

No comments:

Post a Comment