Buddhist Art and Thought is a kaleidoscopic canvas of cultural interflow among Asian countries discussing Sanskrit manuscripts from Japan, inscriptions from Southeast Asia, the texts translated into Chinese and Tibetan languages, Sanskrit as a shared heritage of Japan and SEA. The role played by Buddhist sutras in polity, transmission of philosophy, creation of innovative iconic forms, their identification and categorization, philosophic interpretations of mandalas, impact of Indian art forms on painting and sculpture, martial arts, the cult of mystical medicine, Divine guardians for defense, light symbolism, the concept of colossal images are some of the topics covered. Dhyana permeated into the lives of the people. Indian rituals and ceremonies were performed for deification and to derive sanctity and power to serve, sustain and rule.
The book covers topics like Amitabha in Japan, Yoga as the Basis of Pure Land mandalas represented through Sukhavati scenes, Shingon mandalas in Japan represent levels of meditation and emergence of the world from the Great source. The philosophy of Avatamsaka-sutras, mandalas for an upward journey through meditation, the ceremonies performed in Shingon monasteries, Indian Brahmanas, deities of time and space, categorization of Bodhisattvas, similarities between art of Ajanta and mural at the Horyuji monastery are a few attractive topics.
Tantric deities of royal cults were worshipped for divine empowerment and conquering in Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia. History of monasteries in Khotan revisited through Tibetan literary sources. Suvarnaprabhasa-sutra promises to protect the kings and kingdoms. Thousands of fragments of manuscripts, and artifacts excavated from ruined monasteries highlight an era of splendor of international cultural relations.
Siddham calligraphy is still practiced in Japan. Sanskrit hymns taken to Japan were accompanied by musical notations. Japanese alphabet Katakana and Hiragana are based on the Sanskrit sound sequence.
The book skims over to the modern period highlighting contributions of 20th century scholars who strengthened cultural linkages. George Nicholai Roerich was one of the great Indologists. His life and research for Shambhala, is a symbol of aspirations for a bright future.
Buddhist Art and Thought, Shashi Bala, Eternal Tree Books LLC, Paperback (8 x 11.5 inches), 325 pp, $24.99
Prof. Dr. Shashibala, a renowned Indologist, Chair, Acharya Raghuvira, Dean, Centre for Indology, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Delhi Kendra, an alumni of Himachal Pradesh University, specializes in India’s Cultural linkages to other Asian Countries, Sanskrit, history of arts, Buddhism and cross cultural connections across political boundaries etc.. As a Research Professor at the International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi, founded by Prof. Raghu Vira, (presently Director-Prof. Lokesh Chandra), she has authored twenty two books and 75 research papers. She taught 'History of Japanese Art and Southeast Asian Art' for fifteen years at the National Museum Institute, a deemed University, New Delhi.
Documentation of the relics of Asian art and culture preserved in museums and other collections in several countries contributes immensely to her research. As a researcher and explorer she has traveled to 15 countries including Mongolia. The courses offered by her on Indian culture, international conferences organised, exhibitions curated, illustrated lectures delivered, TV interviews etc. are highly acclaimed.
As a Consultant at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts she organized international conferences and exhibitions on great Indian Acharyas Kumarajiva and Atisa. International seminars on Sanskrit on the Silk Route, Sanskrit in Southeast Asia and Sanskrit and Europe were coordinated by her for the Centre of Indology, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Her well-researched exhibitions on Sanskrit as Shared Heritage of Asia and Sanskrit and Indian Culture: Voyages are travelling in Indian and abroad. Catalogues of exhibitions and proceedings of all the seminars and conferences add up to her research credentials.
She was invited as a guest Professor by Bristol University, UK, for a teaching assignment. Ural Federal University, Russia invited her for a course on Indian culture and Buddhist art, combined with an exhibition on "The Life and Legacy of Atisha". She has delivered lectures in USA and participated in the conference of Indologists initiated by the President of India. She has drafted courses on Holistic Science in Sanskrit and Indian Knowledge traditions for Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan which are approved by the AICTE. The IGNCA organized her photo exhibition on Abolition of Indentured Labour System and ICCR organized on Roma--The forgotten Children of India. A series of lectures on Indo-Chinese cultural linkages was delivered at the Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi. She is a founder member of International Buddhist Confederation, President- International Council for Cultural Studies, Bharat, Joint Secretary--Antar Rashtriya Sahyaog Parishad, Member of Research Group for implementation of the New education Policy. A couple of books are to be published soon.
Prof. Dr. Shashibala is a recipient of several national and international honors and awards like Panini Sammaan and Wakankar Puraskar.