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Jewel In The Palace Sub Indo

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Jewel In The Palace Sub Indo

Ali notes further that "The overall descriptions of gardensin the early Indian sources ... suggest that they were not perceived as'wild,' 'untamed' or 'pristine' nature, butinstead, carefully constructed and highly supplemented places" (p. 223);that the character of gardens was "artificial"; that they were"places which required great material expenditure and laboriouscare" (p. 225); and were "highly manipulated and ornamented spaces... furnished with various forms of decoration--paintings, hangings, silkencloths and jewels" (p. 233). According to Sudraka's Mrcchakatikathe owner of a garden had to go every day to look after it to ensure that itwas properly drained, cleaned, thriving, and manicured (tatra ca preksitumanudivasam suskam karayitum sodhayitum pustam karayitum lunamkarayitumgacchami). (13) Again the monks who compiled the Mulasarvastivada-vinaya werefully aware of all this, and not infrequently refer in some detail to the"supplemented," "artificial," "manipulated andornamented" character of the garden. Its Ksudrakavastu, for example,describes what went into preparing the gardens of Sravasti by saying thatofficials had them

It has been suggested already elsewhere that by describing thebeauty of their monasteries in very much the same terms that they use todescribe a garden in spring, the redactors of the Mulasarvastivada-vinayawanted to assimilate the one to the other, the former to the latter. (29) Butin fact this assimilation appears to have taken place on a number of levels.Certainly it was already present--as we have seen--in the Buddhist choice ofwords for what we call their monasteries: vihara and arama, while they mighthave come to refer to monasteries, actually meant 'pleasure ground'or 'garden'. This assimilation would have been favored or furtheredby the fact that both monastery and garden were also located in the samespaces: in the suburbs or immediate surroundings of urban settlements. Thepreferred location of Buddhist monasteries outside of, but near, towns orsettlements is, of course, well known (30) But this was also where Indiangardens were located (31) In the Raghuvamsa (xiv.30), for example, when Ramastood on the roof of his palace gazing out on Ayodhya he saw "... thegardens at the boundaries of the city, crowded with playfulcitizens."(32) In the Mrcchakatika the hero's garden is somedistance from the city (nagarat suduram) and a vihara is nearby.(33) In theVibhanga of the Mulasarvastivada-vinaya, when a man and his daughter who aretraveling by cart to Sravasti are getting close, they first see parks(arama), ponds or tanks (puskarini, tadaga), shrines (devakula), gardens(udyana), wells (kupa), and viharas; and almost exactly the same list is alsoassociated with the suburbs in the Mrcchakatika. (34)

Here the markers of the beautiful garden that have already beennoted (trees and bird song) are supplemented by reference to water (ponds andpools) and, again as Ali has noted, "water was an integral element inall early Indian gardens" ("Gardens," 231). But these in turnare seamlessly combined with the beauty of the architecturalcomponents--railings, latticed windows, etc. Indeed, to judge by theimitative facades of the monasteries that still survive with their railingsand elaborate windows in the Western Caves, it is, again, hard to imagine theimpact that such monastic buildings would have had on farmer ormerchant--they probably would not have seen such things anywhere else. Therealmost certainly would have been, to use Coomaraswamy's translation ofsamvega, an "aesthetic shock."(41) But to pursue the aesthetics ofBuddhist monastic architecture further here would lead too far afield, and wecan only note two additional things that garden and monastery shared.

The Mulasarvastivadin description of the ideal beautiful monasteryhas already been quoted, but one element of it might repay furtherdiscussion. The first part of the long compound that comes at the head of thedescription of the beautiful vihara is udgatamancapitha, and there is someambiguity here. Typically in vinaya literature manca would seem to mean'bed' or 'couch', and pitha 'seat' or'stool', but all the other members of this long compound refer toarchitectural components--"railings, latticed windows, round windows,and flights of stairs"--so that "couches" and"seats" would not seem to fit well here. (63) Then there is theproblem that manca-pitha are here specifically described as udgata'raised' or 'high', and this makes the fit even moreawkward since, as anyone familiar with Buddhist monastic rules will know,both the basic siksapada rules and specific rules of the Pratimoksa make itan offense for monks and novices to use high couches or seats. (64) Todescribe the ideal monastery as having couches and seats which theirinhabitants could not use seems therefore distinctly odd. If, however,udgatamancapitha here in fact refers to "raised benches onplatforms," then we would have not only a reference to an element of theIndian garden, but a reasonably close description of what has been found at anumber of actual monasteries in India. There is, in short, much that wouldfavor the latter possibility.


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