India is a land known for its antiquity. Its heritage is expressed in its cultural and architectural traditions, which have transcended time and space to remain alive and appropriate even in the present. Gujarat in western India is a place with many historical monuments, the step-wells; especially the one at a place called “Patan” is truly a store-house of the rich cultural and religious heritage of India with stunning architectural grandeur. Ranki Van also called Rani-ki-Vav; the step-well at Patan in Gujarat State was constructed by Queen Udamati in the AD 11th century.
The Indian art of Ranki Vav is born of deep understanding of the divine glory. The sculptures explain all aspects of life and the eternal wisdom of divinity is explained and shared with the viewers. A casual look at the sculptures may indicate that the figures of apsaras are dancing figures. But a detailed examination and analysis convey a deeper philosophical message. It is a sincere attempt to relate physical health to spiritual well-being.
This book gives a brief introduction to the historical background and the purpose in creating this monument. The first chapter is about the external appearance of the apsara; sculptures, the pillars and the symbols, which are present in an apsara sculpture unit. In the second chapter, an attempt is made to discuss the various healing therapies that were practiced in those days for conditioning the physical body, and how and when therapies ayurvedic principles. It also explains the science of mudra vignana (the science of sacred and gestures) and its usages to establish equilibrium in the body. The third chapter gives a brief introduction to the vast and sacred philosophy of ‘Kundalini’ power and how this abstract thought is conveyed through sculptures.
The fourth chapter gives some clues towards easy understanding of the apsara sculptures. The philosophy of ‘Kundalini’, and the various Gods and Goddesses of sakti are beautifully carved in this monument. In chapter five, around 50-55 apsara sculptures are described for the physical problem that is indicated, the diagnosis and the remedy for it as indicated in every sculpture and the level of mental awareness that is associated with the actions. Ranki Vav thus reflects the Hindu mind in its religious, spiritual and medical aspects. The mysterious ancient Indian culture with its varied facets of life and love for art combined with spirituality can be seen at its peak in Ranki Vav sculptures.
Table of Contents:
- List of Illustrations
- Ranki Vav: A Historical Background
- Apsara Sculptures: An Approach
- The apsara sculptures
- Heyam Dukkham Anagatam
- A Description of Apsara Sculpture at Ranki Vav
- Asanas (Pedestals)
- The Pillars and their Significance
- The Motifs
- The therapeutics, healing systems and mudra vignana
- Aroma Therapy
- Su-jok therapy
- Stone Therapy
- Serpentine Stone
- Gem Therapy
- Mudra Vignana: The Sacred and Graceful Hand Gestures
- The Mandalas
- Muladhara Chakra
- Svadhisthana Chakra
- Manipura Chakra
- Anahata Chakra
- Visuddha Chakra
- Ajna Chakra
- Sahasara Chakra
- Obstacles to Concentration
- Pancha Makaras (The five Ms)
- Some Clues to Understand the Apsara Sculptures at Ranki Vav
- Analysis of Individual Apsara Sculptures
- Glossary of Sanskrit Terms
About the Author:
Rekha Rao has a master degree in Indology from the University of Mysore, India. Her interest in the temple sculptures has made her visit and studies various temples in India. She has presented three research articles for the “Visvakosha” - the encyclopedic work on ancient history and archaeology by the University of Mysore (forthcoming). She has also participated in subject related seminars and is the author of the book Therapeutics in Indian Sculptures - Ranki Vav, Patan. Rekha Rao is an accomplished dancer in Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Kuchipudi styles and is well trained in Karnatic instrumental music. She has given several performances and choreographed dance items in India and abroad. She has the honour of ‘Natyaratna’ from The Academy of General Education, Manipal. Rekha Rao is widely traveled and enjoys studying historical monuments.