Aesthetic theories and forms in Indian tradition

New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers (2008)
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Illustrations: Numerous Colour and 15 B/w Illustrations Description: The volumes of the PROJECT OF HISTORY OF SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE IN INDIAN CIVILIZATION aim to discover the central aspects of India's heritage and present them in an interrelated manner. In spite of their unitary look, these volumes recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The Project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers, methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. Rather, contributions are made by different scholars of diverse ideological persuasions and methodological approaches. The Project is marked by what may be called 'methodological pluralism'. In spite of its primarily historical character, this project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is the first time that an endeavour of such unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization. History of art, unlike that of science, is not an accumulation of facts. It comprises concurrences and overlappings cutting across the linearity of time. Based on this premise the essays in this volume delve into the discourse as also forms of creativity in the Indian tradition in terms of both the perennial and the ephemeral aspects of aesthetic experience. The essays form four groups dealing with (a) core concepts which permeate the discourse on aesthetic theories, and having ramifications in many other disciplines and domains; (b) The Rasa theory in the framework of classical philosophical traditions of Vedanta, Mimamsa, Samkhya, and Kashmir Saivism, and (c) the comprehension of the foundational concepts of aesthetic theory, namely, Rasa and Dhvani from the perspectives of Indian thought traditions addressing also music, dance and the visual arts. There is no clear-cut demarcation between the four groups of essays though in their own framework they illustrate a transition from the discourse (sastra) to practice (prayoga) i.e., from theorizing on the nature of aesthetic experience to the process of concretizing it into forms of music, dance, architecture, and painting. The contributions highlight the fact that the history of Indian aesthetic tradition comprises various textual and performing traditions that have flourished in the Indian subcontinent. What we have is not a single history but multiple histories based on various philosophical and methodological approaches adopted by art historians. Some of these histories pertain to the technical details of a given art form, and some with the changes that have occurred in the evolution and development these forms. While some historical accounts focus on the relevant biographical details of the artists, some art histories focus on the social, cultural, political, and even the economic conditions of civilization that determine the nature of an art form. Considering the multi-dimensional and multi-level complexities of Indian civilization and culture, the contributions to this volume have investigated into a number of factors which are directly and indirectly relevant for comprehending the complexities of the Indian aesthetic tradition.



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