ANCIENT INDIAN TEXTS ON TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
AND
THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO MODERN PRACTICES

Concept

The history of temple architecture in India represents a dedicated approach to preserving and nourishing the aspects of religion and spirituality. This approach combines meticulous research, extensive planning, and appropriate application. It abides by long-standing traditions while synthesizing various kinds of architectural features found in the Indian landscape. Yet its adherence to sacred ancient architectural texts like the Shilpa Shastras and Vastu Shastras renders a typical quality to temples and their complex forms. The present conference aims to showcase the present research on the nature of the relationship between modern temple architectural practices and ancient texts on temple-building.

To understand the interactions between the performative and normative aspects of temple architecture in the modern era, it is vital to trace its past. Temple building activity in India’s past provides a picture of the fluidity of form; discreetly adapting and adopting wide-ranging features of temple architectural texts and practices. The tendency to adhere to normative architectural styles corresponds to the formation of several traditional temples throughout India based on the canonical texts like Mayamatam, Samaranganasutradhara, Aparajitaprichcha, Vishnudharmottara Purana, Brihatsamhita, and others.  Based on architectural styles, temples in India can be grouped into three main categories: 1) the Nagara style of architecture widely prevalent in northern India, 2) the Vesara style of architecture largely prevailing in central India and the Deccan, and 3) the Dravidian style of architecture commonly found in southern India. These three main normative categories witnessed that temples were often products of experimentation and cultural fusion, and brought forth several other nuanced styles of temple architecture; the striking specimens of which can be identified across medieval and early modern India.

Temple construction based on Indian concepts was not confined to the Indian subcontinent alone. The constant negotiations between past architectural norms and contemporary architectural practices were a reverberating phenomenon outside India as well. South-east Asia hosts perhaps, the finest examples of a symbiosis of the normative and performative aspects of temple architecture. The Prambanan Temple (Indonesia) built in the 9th century and the Angkor Wat Temple (Cambodia) built in the 12th century, represent the finest achievements of the architects of yore. 

After a considerable time gap, Bhagwan Swaminarayan reinitiated the temple-building activity, which helped in reviving this ancient tradition. By building six magnificent traditional-styled temples within a span of less than ten years (from 1819 to 1828), Bhagwan Swaminarayan redefined the meaning and purpose of temple architectural art. Through a fine infusion and enhancement, the divine legacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan continues to act as spiritual sanctuaries for millions. The tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan has been further enriched by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and he managed to build 1200 such temples, which stand tall as beacons of faith, harmony, and spirituality. These act as modern reflections of ancient Hindu temples, synthesizing art, spirituality, and life. Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, created by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 2005, epitomizes the harmonious and aesthetic manifestation of all cosmic elements which create and celebrate life in the Hindu tradition – from earth to sky, from nature to divinity, from femininity to masculinity, from birth to death, from the desire to fulfillment, from transience to transcendence, from ephemerality to eternality, and from atom to the universe and beyond. By envisioning and executing the formation of these temples, Pramukh Swami Maharaj enabled smooth and successful synchrony of ancient texts and modern practices.

In the commemoration of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj – the master-builder who continued and enhanced the legacy of the Indian temple architectural tradition by building worldwide more than a thousand temples, a grand centennial celebration has been organized. On the occasion of his centennial celebration, an international conference on the ‘Ancient Indian Texts on Temple Architecture and Their Contribution to Modern Practices’ has been organized. This conference aims to encourage a nuanced reading and contextual understanding of the ancient texts in the study of modern temple architecture as well as encourage new perspectives and insights on this continuous relationship. The conference proposes to have the following (theme-based) sessions:

  1. Ancient Indian Texts on Temple Architecture
  2. Architectural style and Iconography
  3. Significance of Rituals and Crafts, and
  4. Living Traditions and Continuity

Scholars are requested to submit their paper under any of the above themes, as per the guidelines attached herewith.

About IGNCA, New Delhi 

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is visualized as a centre encompassing the study and experience of all the arts – each form with its own integrity, yet within a dimension of mutual interdependence, interrelated with nature, social structure and cosmology. The arts are here understood to comprise the fields of creative and critical literature, written and oral; the visual arts, ranging from architecture, sculpture, painting and graphics to general material culture, photography and film; the performing arts of music, dance and theatre in their broadest connotation; and all else in fairs, festivals and lifestyle that has an artistic dimension.

Through diverse programmes of research, publication, training, creative activities and performance, the IGNCA seeks to place the arts within the context of the natural and human environment. The fundamental approach of the Centre is that all its work will be both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Recognizing the need to encompass and preserve the distributed fragments of Indian art and culture, a pioneering attempt has been made by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) to serve as a major resource centre for the arts, especially written, oral and visual materials.

About BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, New Delhi

The BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute at Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, was inaugurated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj on Sunday, 4 July 2010 in the presence of leading scholars of India.

Since its inauguration, the Institute has become a home of innovative research and collaborative study. Its considerable growth in membership, the expansion of its research facilities, and increased affiliation with other internationally acclaimed institutes pay testament to the commitment of its members and research faculty. The Institute’s outlook toward developing a multi-disciplinary approach to academic study and toward recognizing cultural beliefs and practices on their own terms has built an interface between modern academia and traditional modes of scholarship. In doing so, the Institute allows for the possibility to amalgamate contemporary, valuable systems of transmission along with an intellectually rigorous traditional scholarship.

BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute strives to encourage interdisciplinary study of various cultures, religions, philosophies, languages, and texts to promote a better understanding through comprehensive educational, research-oriented, and publication programs.

Patrons

Dr. Sachchidanand Joshi, Member Secretary, the Executive and Academic Head of IGNCA
B V Doshi, Padma Bhushan, Pritzker Architecture Prize, Renowned Indian Architect
Dr. Bimal Patel, President, CEPT University
Mr. Yatin Pandya, Proprietor: Footprints E.A.R.T.H. (Environment, Architecture, Research, Technology, Housing)
Chandrakant Sompura, Renowned Architect
Dr. Shri Krishna Jugnu, Renowned Scholar of Hindu Temple Architecture

Coordinators

Dr. Jyotindra Dave, Director, BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, New Delhi
Dr. Anand Acharya, Associate Professor, Gujarat Arts, and Commerce College, Ahmedabad
Dr. Jayesh Mandanka, Assistant Professor, Smt. L and C Mehta Arts College, Ahmedabad

Guidelines for Abstract and Final Paper Submission

The abstract of the conference paper should be less than 300 words. The full paper should not be more than 5000 words. The submission should be in Microsoft Word only. It should be written in A4 single format with 1.5 line spacing. It should be written in Unicode font, in font size 12. Kindly keep the layout of the text as simple as possible.

Please follow the below guidelines:

  1. The paper may be presented either in English, Hindi, or Gujarati.
  2. The paper should be original, unpublished, and plagiarism-free.
  3. The abstract should possess the author’s name, designation, affiliation, email-id, mobile number, and address.
  4. Reference style of the paper should be Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
  5. The abstract and the full paper should be submitted to [email protected]
  6. For queries, please contact at +91 9998999331, +91 9998999545

Paper Submission email: [email protected]

Last date for Acceptance Form & Abstract Submission: 25 October 2022

Last date for Research Paper Submission: 10 December 2022

Paper Publication Details

A select number of papers presented at the conference will be published in the form of an edited volume. Selection of the papers will solely depend upon the critical evaluation by the peer editing, reviewing, and publishing committee.

Conference Testimonials

Gallery

Swamishri engrossed in puja

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