Hellenism in Ancient India

By Gauranga Nath Banerjee | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
SCULPTURE

SECTION I
Post-Buddhist and Pro-Gandhara Sculptures--The Graeco-Buddhist Sculptures of Gandhara : the 'Ekasringa' Statue and the Bacchic episodes.

SCULPTURE in India followed faithfully the destinies of Architecture; the Hindus have always treated it as an auxiliary art, made for contribution to the decoration of an edifice. Sculpture appears to be of an ancient date in India, the rituals and the epic legends allude to its gradual development. But its history did commence only with Buddhism. If the piety of the first followers of the Buddhist faith refused to carve the image of the Master with symbols, it contented itself to indicate clearly his personality by representing either the two feet ornamented with conventional marks, or by an elephant as on the rock of Khalsi at the top of the inscription of Asoka. The Mahabharata and the Ramayana contain frequent references to 'storeyed towers, galleries of pictures and castes of painters,' not to speak of the golden statue of Sita and the magnificence of personal adornment. "Indeed," asserts Dr. Okakura, "it is difficult to imagine that those centuries in which the wandering minstrels sang the ballads, that were later to become the epics, were devoid of image worship, for descriptive literature, concerning the forms of the gods means correlative attempt at plastic actualisation." This idea finds corroboration later on in the sculpture on Asoka's rails, where we find images of Indras and Devas worshipping the Bo-Tree. "Among the monuments of Asoka," says Sir John Marshall in his Guide to Sanchi

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