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bounds with a certain rhythmic regularity of pulsa-
tion, as tides of thought and inspiration. All such
will not be felt equally in all directions. In this
case the work in Ceylon was the result of an early
impulse, Gandhara much later, and possibly we
should find, if this were the place to follow up the
question, that Tibet was evangelised as the fruit of
a still later pulsation of the central energy. This
being so, the fact would stand proved that Garid-
hara was a disciple and not a guru in the matter of
religious symbolism. The question is, Can this
relationship be demonstrated, and how ?

A crucial test would be afforded if we could find
anything in the art of Gandhara itself which might
show it to be a derived style. Creative works, like
myths, almost always include some unconscious
sign-manual of their origin and relations. What
they deliberately state may be untrue, or, as in the
present case perhaps, may be misunderstood.
But what they mention is usually eloquent, to
patient eyes, of the actual fact. It has already been
pointed out by Mr. E. B. Havell, in his Indian
Sculpture and Painting, that even the Buddha-types,
the serious affirmations of Gandharan art, could
not possibly be mistaken for originals. And if
anyone will take the trouble to go into the hall of
the Calcutta Museum and look for himself, it is
difficult to see how this argument can be answered.
Who that has steeped himself in the eastern con-
ception of the Buddha unbroken calm, immeasur-



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF AJANTA 113

able detachment, and a vastness as of eternity can
take the smart, military-looking young men there
displayed, with their moustaches carefully trimmed
to the utmost point of nicety, and their perfect
actuality and worldliness of expression, as satisfying
presentments ? In very sooth do these Gandharan
Buddhas, as Mr. Havell says, bear their derivative
character plainly stamped upon their faces.

But it may be held that this is the end of the
argument, not the beginning. There may be many
incapable of appraising an expression, who will want
more elementary and incontrovertible grounds of
judgment, and for these we have plenty of evidence.

The first discovery of the Gandharan monasteries,
with their treasures of sculpture, in 1848 and 1852,
seemed to the minds of European scholars, natur-
ally enough, an event of the greatest artistic and
historic importance ; and Fergusson has left on
record, in his invaluable book, an account of that
impression, and also of its grounds, in a form
which will never be repeated. Unfortunately the
finds were very carelessly and incompetently dealt
with, and their mutual relations and story thus
rendered irrecoverable. Out of the eight or ten
sites which have been examined, however, it is
possible to say that Jamalgarhi and Takht-i-Bahi are
probably the most modern, while Shah-Dheri was
very likely the most ancient. Judging by the plans
and description which Fergusson gives, indeed, of
this last-named monastery, it would seem to have

belonged to the same age and phase of Buddhism

H



ii 4 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

as the old disused Cave Number One at Elephanta
a long verandah-like chaitya cave which evidently
held a circular dagoba on a square altar. The
sculptures as well as the plans of the later monas-
teries, according to Fergusson, appear to be char-
acterised by excessive duplication. The architecture
associated with them seems to have been extra-
ordinarily mixed and unrestrained in character.
Amongst the leafage of pillar-capitals occur
hundreds of little Buddhas. But it would have
been obvious that these were late examples, even
if Fergusson had not already announced that
opinion. The main chamber of each monastery
seems to have been a hall or court, either square
or circular, in the middle of which stood an altar
surmounted by a dagoba. Round this the walls
were broken up into quantities of small niches or
chapels, each one containing its image, and the
whole decorated to excess. Regarding this as re-
presenting theoretically the vihara surrounding
a dagoba of earlier days, Fergusson is very properly
struck with astonishment by the phenomenon. In
no Buddhist monument in India of which he knows,
he says, have the monks ever been thrust out of
the cells to make way for images. If he had not
been told what the plans were and where they
came from, he would unhesitatingly have pro-
nounced them to be from Jain monasteries of the
ninth and tenth centuries. From architectural con-
siderations he thinks that the classical influences
seen here must have culminated at and after the




RELIEF FROM MUHAMMAD NARI, IN YUSUFZAI



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF AJANTA 115

time of Constantine, that is from A.D. 306 onwards,
and that they speak even more loudly of Byzantium
than of Rome. He has difficulty in understanding
how Byzantium should make itself so strongly felt
in a remote province, without leaving any trace on
the arts of intermediate kingdoms, such as the
Sassanian empire. But we have already seen that
this is no real difficulty, since it is precisely at
their terminal points that those influences act,
which pour along the world's great trade-routes.
The Indian man of genius in modern times makes
his personality felt in London, and not in France,
though he landed at Marseilles.

For ourselves, however, while we grant the
mixture of elements in Gandhara, the question
arises whether the latter did not influence Byzan-
tium quite as much as the Western capital influ-
enced it. According to the data thus propounded,
we may expect to find amongst these Gandharan
sculptures a vast mixture of decorative elements,
all subordinated to the main intention of setting
forth in forms of eternal beauty and lucidity the
personality of Buddha, it being understood that
the form of the Buddha himself is taken more or
less unchanged from the artistic traditions of
Magadha. It may be well to take as our first point
for examination the Gandharan use of the Asokan
rail. We are familiar with the sanctity of this
rail as a piece of symbolism in the early ages
of Buddhism. At Sanchi undoubtedly a very
close spiritual province of Magadha, and intimately



n6 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

knit to Sarnath in particular we find it used not
only pictorially, but also to bound and divide
spaces. As we have seen, the gradual forgetting
of the meaning of architectural features like the
Asokan rail and the horse-shoe ornament affords
a very good scale of chronology by which to date
Indian monuments. Nowhere have we a better
instance of this than in the Gandharan use of the
rail. In the relief from Muhammad Nari we have
several stages in its gradual forgetting, ending with
its becoming a mere chequer, as at the top of the
lower panel. This illustration is extraordinarily
valuable for us, moreover, for the way in which
the figure of the Buddha is violently inserted
amongst strikingly incongruous surroundings. We
can almost see the two opposing traditions, by the
discord between him with his clothes of the eastern
provinces and attitude which forbids activity,
and his environment. This Buddha is not, how-
ever, a very successful example of the tradition
out of which he comes. He has a singularly un-
easy and intruded look on the height where he
is seen uncomfortably perched.

A second feature that will strike the observant
in this picture is the curious use of the lotus-
throne. It looks as if the sculptor had been told
to seat his subject on a lotus, but had had a very
vague idea of how this should be done. We can
almost hear those verbal instructions which he
has tried to carry out. In the Buddha from
Loriyan Tangai is another instance of a similar




GAUTAMA ON THE PADMASANA
From LOKIYAN TANGAI



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF AJANTA 117

difficulty. The sculptor in this second fragment,
rightly feeling that the seat, as he understood the
order, could not possibly support the hero, has
adopted the ingenious device of introducing two
worshipping figures to support the knees ! Still
more noticeable, however, are the two feet, or
petals reversed, which he has adopted to make
of the lotus-throne a lotus-bearing tripod. With
this we may compare the genuine Indian treat-
ment of a lotus-throne from Nepal. At the same
time, the early age of the lotus-petal ornament
is seen on an Asokan doorway in the vihara
at Sanchi, the only doorway that has escaped
improvement at a later age. Another curious
example of the attempt to render symbolistic scenes,
according to a verbal or literary description of
them, is seen in the picture representing the
familiar First Sermon at Benares. There is un-
doubted power of composition here. To the
untrained European eye these beauties may make
it more appealing than the old Sarnath images of
the shrine type at Ajanta. Still, the fact remains
of an obvious effort to render to order an idea
and a convention only half understood. And the
place occupied by the dharma-chakra is like a
signature appended to the confession of this
struggle. It will be noted too, that this dharma-
chakra is wrong. The trisul should have pointed
away from the chakra. Other curious and inter-
esting examples of the same kind may be seen in
the Museum.



n8 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

Griinwedel has drawn attention to the question
of clothing, but apparently without understanding
the full significance of the facts. It will be noticed
throughout these illustrations that the artists tend
to clothe Buddha in the dress that would be appro-
priate in a cold climate. Our illustration of the
relief found at Muhammed Nari is in this respect
specially valuable. It is probably early Gandharan,
since the attempt to render the clothes of Buddha
and the ornaments of the women correctly is very
evident, and, it may be added, extremely unsuccess-
ful. It would appear as if this relief had been
commissioned by some monk who was a native
of Magadha. But no Magadhan workman would
have draped the muslin in such a fashion at the
knees or on the arm. Yet the correct intention
is manifest from the bare right shoulder. After-
wards Gandharan artists solved this problem by
evolving a style of costume of their own for the
sacred figures. As this was their own, they were
much happier in rendering it. But another point
that jars on the Indian eye is the allusion here
made to women's jewellery. The matter has been
mentioned as needing particular care that we can
see. But the results are forced and inappropriate,
and serve only to emphasize their own failure.
Instances of the particular facts abound. It is
unnecessary to enter further into detail.

Throughout these illustrations what may be called
the architectural ornament is very noticeable. It
has no connection whatever with what we are ac-




OLD NEPAL STONE FIGURE OF GAUTAMA BUDDHA
Original in the Berlin Museum



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF AJANTA 119

customed to think of as characteristically Buddhist.
The spacings are constantly made with the stem of
the date-palm, and ends and borders are painfully
modish and secular. Such a want of ecclesiastical
feeling, in sculpture that aims at a devotional use,
can probably not be paralleled at any other age or
place. The Corinthian finials and floral ornaments,
to eyes looking for the gravity and significance of
old Asiatic decoration, are very irritating. An ex-
cellent example is the Loriyan Tangai Buddha.
Here we have a singularly phonetic piece of
statuary. The feeling it portrays is exquisite.
The pious beasts with their paws crossed are not
less beautiful than the peacock which stands with
tail spread to proclaim to the world the glories of
the dawn of the morning of Nirvana. Yet even
here a jarring note is struck in the irrelevancy of
the borders, like a piece of school-girl embroidery.

Gandhara did really, however, have its period of
influence over the sculpture of India. But this
period began when its own style had reached its
zenith. Comparatively early in the sixth century
incursions of Huns swept over the country, and,
in a year to which the date of A.D. 540 has been
assigned, we are expressly told of the destruction
of monasteries and stupas in an outburst of venge-
ful cruelty, by the tyrant Mihiragula. This destruc-
tion was not complete, for a hundred years later
the pilgrim Hiouen Tsang passed through the
country and found many monasteries in full vigour.
Still, it cannot have failed to drive large numbers



120 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

of the Gandharan monks to take refuge in the
viharas and monastic universities of India. This
is the event that is marked in the Ajantan series
of caves by Number Nineteen. Here on the out-
side we have for the first time the employment of
carvings of Buddha as part of the decorations in-
cluded in the original architectural scheme. It is
a secularised Buddha, moreover ; a Buddha who,
as already said, has been seen from a new point of
view as a great historical character. He receives
a banner. He is crowned by flying figures. The
chequer-pattern appears here and there, in lieu
of the Asokan rail which it represents. And inside
the hall we have that great multitude of Buddhas,
in the triforium and on the capitals, in those richly-
decorated niches, for which Fergusson's account
of the Gandharan monasteries has prepared us.
But these represent a more Indianised and religious
type than the panels of the outside. The date and
source of the new influence is still further fixed
by the indubitable fact of the choga, or robe, worn
by the Buddha on the dagoba.

We have seen that, according to the evidence of
the inscription, Cave Seventeen with its shrine, and
the cistern under Eighteen, may be taken as com-
pleted about the year A.D. 520. It is my personal
opinion that the right-hand series of caves from
Six to One were undertaken, or at least finished,
not long after this date, and distinctly before the
arrival of the refugees from Gandhara. Ajanta must
have been one of the most notable of Indian univer-




BUDDHA VISITED BY SAKRA AT THE INDRASAILA
A sculpture from LORIVAN TANGAI in the Calcutta Museum



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF A J ANT A 121

sities, and the influence of the north-west upon its
art does not cease with Nineteen. The whole in-
terior surface of Twenty-six probably undertaken
by the abbot Buddha Bhadra at some date subse-
quent to the visit of Hiouen Tsang in the middle
of the seventh century is covered with carvings,
culminating in an immense treatment of the subject
so much beloved by the latest Gandharan sculptors,
the Mahanirvana of Buddha. The Buddha in this
carving is 23 feet long, and even the curious tripod
which seems to support the beggar's bowl and
crutch is reproduced. This duplication of a known
subject is very eloquent.

We may conclude, then, that a vital artistic inter-
course was now maintained between Gandhara and
Ajanta, and in this connection the carved ornament
of palm-leaves, so reminiscent of the bole of the
date-palm, amongst the ornaments of the doorway
on Cave Twenty-three, is of the utmost significance.

But a second catastrophe occurred in Gandhara,
and the destruction of the monastic foundations in
that country was complete. The wars between the
Saracenic Mohammedans and the Chinese Empire
culminated about the middle of the eighth century
in the utter defeat and expulsion of the Eastern
power (A.D. 751). The Arabs must then have
swept Gandhara from end to end, and every monk
who had not fled was doubtless put to the sword.
India was the obvious refuge of the consequent
crowd of Emigres, and art and education the only
means open to them of repaying the hospitality of



122 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

the Indian monasteries and governments. From
this period must date the small panelled Buddhas
which have been carved all over the older caves,
not only at Ajanta, but also at Kenheri, at Karli,
and doubtless elsewhere. The great durbar hall at
Kenheri (Cave io)is rilled with a splendidly planned
and coherent scheme of such decoration. But the
artists have not always been so considerate. They
have begun their carvings in the midst of older
work, and side by side with it probably wherever
they were not stopped by the presence of paintings
without the slightest regard to the appropriate-
ness of the combination. For some years the face
of the rock must have swarmed with these in-
dustrious sculptors working all at the same time.
And then some other political catastrophe stopped
all chisels in a moment. The cheerful hum of
study and ringing of tools on the stone were
suddenly silenced. The caves were swept bare
alike of the monks and their students ; and though
not destroyed, Ajanta lay for centuries deserted,
like the Gandharan monasteries before it.

But some of the Gandharan exiles had taken up
the task of general education, and it is probably
from the period of the Arab conquest of Gandhara
in A.D. 751 that we must date the Brahmanical
organisation of learning, reflecting the monastic
universities of the Buddhists, in tolls and akaras,
together with the widespread diffusion of the Saka
or Scythic era, dating from 57 B.C. in all parts of
Northern India. Thus a remote province repaid



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF A J ANT A 123

its debt to the Magadhan and Indian Mother-
land.

When we come to consider their relative dates,
the influence of Gandhara on European art through
Byzantium is hardly a matter that will be seriously
denied. Anyone who looks at a scene in the
Lumbini Garden, which is exhibited in the Calcutta
Museum, not to mention many of the illustrations
in Griinwedel's book, must acknowledge the debt
owed to Gandhara by Christian art from the end of
the fourth century and onwards. To some of us
in Europe to this day, just as the Gregorian is the
most devotional of all music, so even the art of
Catholicism only seems fully religious in proportion
as it returns upon the stiffness and gravity of that
early Byzantine which is so obviously the product
of the union of Eastern and Western elements in
Gandhara.

For the art of Gandhara made a wonderful
attempt at blending the epic feeling of European
classical art with Eastern wealth of decoration.
Such minglings can never be attempted artificially
or of set purpose. They cannot be reached because
we should like to reach them. They have to be
unconscious, organic, a matter of growth round
some idea in which the whole heart is engaged.
Aristotle lamented the fall of Greek art from epos
to pathos, from heroic dignity to human emotion.
But even pathos could be made heroic, as the East
well knew, by consecration to an ideal ; and that
ideal the Gandharan artists found in Buddha.



124 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

There Eastern and Western alike fell under the
eastern spell. The thought of a human being who
was at the same time incarnate Godhead fascinated
them. Influenced by the tendency of classical
Europe to exalt the human and virile side of every
concept, they busied themselves in portraying the
companions and disciples of Buddha. These became
as essential a part of the scheme of the evangel as
the Master himself. The old Asiatic conception of
a story told in a series of bas-reliefs, as we see it at
Sanchi, came to their aid, and we have a singularly
impressive epos of the ideal rendered into stone.
Apostolic processions and saintly choirs, as we
know them from the fourth century onwards in
Christian art, whether Byzantine, Roman, or Gothic,
began in the Gandharan art of the second and
third. There, from Buddhist monks trying to
instruct their workmen in the feeling and artistic
traditions of Magadha, was learnt the power to
utter the divine epic whose hero was the conqueror
of the mind, perfect in chastity as in compassion,
and its appeal to man in the name neither of
country nor state, nor yet in that of personal emo-
tion, but in something which is beyond either and
includes both, the passion of the upward-striving
soul.

We cannot too clearly understand that while
Gandharan art made no contribution whatever to
the Indian ideal of Buddhahood, while it created
nothing that could stand a moment's comparison
with the work of the nameless artist of Nalanda,



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF AJANTA 125

it nevertheless captured Buddha, and through his
life and his disciples elaborated a religious type
for the West. From the moment when Constantine
established his new capital at the ancient site on
the shores of the Bosphorus, that is to say, from
about A.D. 335, the influence of the East on the art
of the younger faith would become as energetic as
the sculptural capacities of the artisans of Byzantium
had already shown themselves in the Gandharan
monasteries.

Magadha has produced symbols whose dignity
Gandhara was never able to approach. But in
complex composition, in power of architectural
story-telling, in dignity of the decorative synthesis,
it is difficult to feel that the ultimate achievements
of Gandhara and her posterity had ever before
been approached, even at Sanchi.

It must never be supposed, however, that
Gandhara was Europe. In spite of the Western
elements, whose existence its art demonstrates,
Gandhara was pre-eminently Asiatic. And never
again perhaps will the actual facts be better or
more comprehensively stated than in the memor-
able words of Havell, in his Indian Sculpture and
Painting :

" Indian idealism during the greater part of this
time was the dominating note in the art of Asia
which was thus brought into Europe ; and when
we find a perfectly oriental atmosphere and strange
echoes of Eastern symbolism in the mediaeval
cathedrals of Europe, and see their structural



i 2 6 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

growth gradually blossoming with all the exuber-
ance of Eastern imagery, it is impossible to avoid
the conclusion that Gothic architecture and Gothic
handicraft owe very much to the absorption by the
bauhutten of Germany, and other Western craft-
guilds, of Asiatic art and science, brought by the
thousands of Asiatic craftsmen who entered Europe
in the first millennium of the Christian era, a
period which in the minds of Europeans is gener-
ally a blank, because the ' Great Powers ' were
then located in Asia instead of in Europe. Byzan-
tine art and Gothic art derived their inspiration
from the same source the impact of Asiatic
thought upon the civilisation of the Roman Empire.
The first shows its effect upon the art of the Greek
and Latin races, the other its influence upon the
Romanesque art of Teutonic and Celtic races.
The spirit of Indian idealism breathes in the
mosaics of St. Mark's at Venice, just as it shines in
the mystic splendours of the Gothic cathedrals ;
through the delicate tracery of their jewelled
windows, filled with the stories of saints and
martyrs ; in all their richly sculptured arches, fairy
vaulting and soaring pinnacles and spires. The
Italian Renaissance marks the reversion of Christian
art to the pagan ideals of Greece, and the capture
of art by the bookmen, leading to our present
dilettantism and archaeological views of art."

THE INDIAN SAN MARCO

There is outside Florence a Dominican monas-
tery which is famous for the fact that once upon a
time Fra Giovanni of Fiesole l better known as Fra

1 Fra Giovanni of Fiesole lived from A.D. 1387 to 1455.




AJANTA: PILLARS, CAVE NUMBER SIXTEEN



THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF AJANTA 127

Angelico lived within its walls and covered them
with his saints and angels against the gilded back-
ground of heaven. Later, it was the one undecor-
ated chamber in this monastery that Savonarola
took as his own, when he came as a Dominican to
San Marco. The old convent remains to this day
for Europe one of the trysting-places of righteous-
ness and beauty. We know not which are more
real, the angels that still blaze upon the walls, or
the lives that once were lived within them.

Something of the same feeling must have clung
to Ajanta in the late fifth to the eighth centuries.
A great art-tradition had grown up about its name.
It is very likely, of course, that such a tradition
was commoner in the India of those days than we
can now realise. Perhaps many buildings were
covered within with emblazoned literature. Gold
and scarlet and blue were often, it may be, united
together, to sing the heroic dreams of the time to
the eyes of all. But it is difficult to imagine that
in any country the splendours of Ajanta could
seem ordinary. Those wonderful arches and long
colonnades stretching along the face of the hillside,
with the blue eaves of slate-coloured rock over-
hanging them, and the knowledge of glowing


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