"According to traditional Indian belief... the purpose of the artist was to reproduce those Divine forms which... lead the spectator to union with the Divine. Exalted though his task was, there was no division between artist and craftsman in ancient India. The most usual word for art (shilpa) covered a huge range of creative and useful endeavour spread over all aspects of culture. Shilpa was divided into sixty-four branches which, in addition to the visual arts of painting, sculpture and architecture, included accomplishments ranging from dance, music and engineering to cooking, perfumery and making love. Art, in short, was the practice of all those refined skills that enrich our being in the world, bringing nourishment, fullness and delight to life. This delight was not just pleasure, which depends on the senses, but what is called in Sanskrit ananda, an inner spiritual bliss that exists prior to, and independent of, any sensory or mental stimuli. This state of pure, unalloyed Being is the natural fruit of refining senses and mind by leading them away from the field of gross perception, through the subtle realms, to the unbounded level of life, which is our own nature. The attainment of this intrinsic bliss was not only the goal of artistic endeavour but also the highest spiritual experience and as such the effective aspect of Enlightenment."

(Alistair Shearer, The Hindu Vision, Thames and Hudson, 1993, pp. 15-16)

Indian Sculptures