Monday, October 20, 2008

The Forgotten Arts

Many a time, we would have discussed hobbies; the options present, the use of each activity that we could think of or someone might have suggested, the presence or our absence of our interest in some of them, or even the validity or worth of each. Some might consider themselves to know all the arts or might think of having specialized in most of them. Some unfortunate ones might feel that the popular arts are too expensive to learn, and hence they couldn’t afford. Some might feel disinterested in some of the arts, but might not know about the others present at all! In the ancient Hindu mythology, there is said to have been 64 different types of arts, which were taught in the schools back then and which were practiced by the commoners on a daily basis.In Srimad Bhagavatam, it is said that Lord Krishna and his brother, Balarama learn all the 64 arts listed in the ancient Hindu mythology. The following are the 64 arts, which have been translated to English from Sanskrit, and further simplified (to make sense in the present picture). I am not sure if the order is right (if at all there is one). If there are any mistakes in the translation or the simplification, please feel free to comment, and I’ll amend the list.

1) Singing
2) Playing on musical instruments
3) Ringing water-pots/creating music with water
4) Splashing with water;
5) Dancing
6) Drama
7) Preparing auspicious designs on the floor with rice grains and flowers (kolams)
8) Flower decorations at home and temple
9 Making flower garlands & preparing wreaths
10) Knowledge of how to build carts & carriages with flowers
11) Skills of cooking, eating and drinking
12) Beverage and dessert preparation
13) Embroidery, needlework and weaving
14) Spinning with a spindle & sewing (making and mending garments)
15) Making puppets dance by manipulating thin threads
16) Painting
17) Mixing colors & mosaic tiling
18) Bedroom arrangements
19) Erotic devices and knowledge of sexual arts
20) Carpentry
21) Architecture
22) Gardening and horticulture
23) Making simple mechanical devices
24) Mineralogy & mining
25) Metallurgy & metal-working
26) Jewelry making
27) Testing silver and jewels and precious stones
28) Hairdressing
29) Head adornments
30) Decorating the earlobe and forehead
31) Applying aromatics/perfumery
32) Costume decorations
33) Artful dressing
34) Art of applying colored unguents and cosmetics on the face and body
35) The art of disguise/impersonation
36) Magic and illusions
37) Manual dexterity/sleight of hand
38) Personal grooming
39) Physical culture
40) Herbal medicine
41) Healing a person with ointments
42) Designing a literary work or a medical remedy
43) Prosody and rhetoric
44) Lexicography
45) Making and solving riddles & enigmatic verses
46) Tongue twisters and difficult recitation
47) Poetry games
48) Literary recitation/reciting books
49) Composing verses mentally
50) Enacting short plays and writing and reciting anecdotes
51) Knowledge of foreign languages and provincial dialects
52) Fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry
53) Art of conversation
54) Coding & decoding messages
55) Art of guessing
56) Memory training
57) Art of listening (and game of reciting verses from hearing)
58) Training parrots and mynas to speak
59) Personal etiquette and animal training
60) The art of training and engaging rams, cocks and quails in fighting in games of wager
61) Knowledge of various forms of gambling, aakarsha-kreedaa - playing dice
62) Knowledge of dharmic warfare, martial arts and victory
63) The use of spells, charms and omens and amulets
64) Enforcing discipline by mystic power

Wow! Compared to ancient men n women, we are pretty incompetent, aren’t we? It is our life and we do what we choose to do, n mostly, very few of the list above. We work our asses off- for what? Money! Aah. Now there is the answer! These ancient people did not weigh everything they did with money. They didn’t calculate the worth of studies according to the money it would bring in future, or the power n position it would lead to in life. They just studied what was taught by their gurus (which was everything of the above list, or at least most of them); what was essential for a healthy life. No. Money doesn’t count!
Well, can’t really blame anyone for the importance and quality of these arts were lost long back. The teachers n elders may have been at fault for not passing it on to the future generations, or the then children may have been responsible for not having learnt their lessons dutifully. Whichever it is, the very names of some of these arts are lost in the present world where the one who earns the most is considered the most talented n best disciplined!

Well, I have heard my mom mention about this vaguely a really long time back, and I thought of researching on this a little more. So here you go! Now, you have so many options, so many things that you could learn and be proud of knowing just for the sake of knowledge and interest n not for money!


  1. Wow!! That's an extensive list. Thanks for sharing. Some arts in the list are now 5 year full fledged courses (BE Architecture :)). These days, the Guru-Dakshina for each of the art mentioned has multiplied many folds too. Also, there are some arts in the list that a parent has to take responsibility of teaching.

  2. lol i knowww!! i agree wid both.. but there are also some of them which can be learnt by one only with some interest n initiative to learn it. :)

  3. Its funny how your MOM 'vaguely' mentioned 64 ancient arts!
    But yeah, its true Teaching by itself has become more of a business than an art.
    I agree with Varun on this.
    Money talks and People have realized that with the types of people being the HAVES and the HAVE-MORES there is no time for activities of no monetary value.
    Que sera sera

  4. no dude.. my mom didnt mention wat d arts were. she jus told me that there were 64 arts. tats all. :)

  5. Thanks for the info.Never knew there were these many arts itself. During the olden days, I guess they had a lot of time to spend on each of these arts. Where do we have the time there days?? Life has become so mechanical. Anyway, its a part of my next years resolution to go for music training. Lets see.

    but splashing with water, is that an art? Isnt that what we do when we go to beaches???LOL.

  6. WOW thats really fascinating!! Thanks for sharing it! Wish we could go back that age :(

  7. @ vimmuuu: splashing water.. i dunno re.. it was mentioned in sanskrit.. dunno.. may b thr is a specific method of doing it n we all do it d wrong way in beaches (may b..) :P jus a theory!

    @ verbivore: lol! shearr!! metoo.. but then i wud miss my comp n my mobile badly.. (they r my horcruxes u c.. :P)

  8. When you said 64, I thought you were kidding! I realize now that you are not! 64?? Really? Art of teaching discipline?? Wow!! How do I find out more about all of this? Please, flood me with links... :-D

  9. hey.. no links n all.. i cudnt findmuch more abt it myself..wat ever i knew i hav put it down her. the list i found in only one srimad bhagavadam site in post scripts. everywhr else they jus mention the existance of 64arts. sadly i cudnt find out more on the topic in ne search! :) so sorry- no links to be shared! :(

  10. wow. i remember my tamil teacher teachin.. 'aaya kalaigal arupathi nalu' wen i was in school.. how did u manage to get the complete list.. hmmm good wrk.. btw.. wat is tht 4 th kalai.. splashin with water.. is that a kalai..???..
    and btw our kings who learnt these kalai s learnt it for disiplined living.. (they didnt ve to worry abt the money... tht time..) times ve changed now.. nowadays if v don worry abt makin money ppl say 'u r mad' rite @ ur face .... :)

  11. hey.. yup u r right abt ppl callin u mad or rather u definitely being mad not to earn a living n makin money.. but these arts mostly shud be pursued as passtime activities just for the sake of passion n interest. :)
    n abt splashing water.. dunno y its been listed under d 64 arts dude.. infact i m a little puzzled abt a number of them myself! but i wasnt the one who compiled d list neways.. so i wudnt know right? esp since r gr8 very knowledgeable forefathers havnt passed the knowledge to their future generations.. :P

  12. he he.. i can boast tht i am expert in atleast one of the aaya kalaigal... water splashin.. am quite good @ it.. :)

  13. Ok... One hell of a delay... Blasted training sessions...

    That's a nice list. I have read on this topic somewhere. Fail to recollect where, though...

    Ummm, comparing tht list to todays education system... :D :D :D


  14. @ viki: yeah yeah sure dude!absoutely! :D

    @ kartz: lol dont even try to compare! u'll find nothing in common at all! n blasted trining sessions?? u give ppl training or take training?? :P jus kidding!


  15. :D :D :D Am not that old, yet... :P But I am sure I can train those who are eager to learn under my tutelage though. :)

    And warm Diwali greetings to you and all your family. Peace, take care and blessed be.

  16. Nice compilation. I ancient days, there was no paper and plastic money and hatred towards almost all people. Was there? :) Nice post.

  17. no there wasnt.. thats why such forms of arts flourished and people respected everything they did and also people who did them.. right?

  18. 1. அக்கர இலக்கணம் 33. பூ பரீட்சை
    2. லிகிதம் (இலிகிதம்) 34. சங்கிராம இலக்கணம்
    3. கணிதம் 35. மல்யுத்தம்
    4. வேதம் 36. ஆகர்ஷணம்
    5. புராணம் 37. உச்சாடணம்
    6. வியாகரணம் 38. வித்து வேஷணம்
    7. நீதி சாஸ்திரம் 39. மதன சாஸ்திரம்
    8. சோதிடம் 40. மோகனம்
    9. தரும சாஸ்திரம் 41. வசீகரணம்
    10. யோகம் 42. இரசவாதம்
    11. மந்திரம் 43. காந்தர்வ விவாதம்
    12. சகுனம் 44. பைபீல வாதம்
    13. சிற்பம் 45. தாது வாதம்
    14. வைத்தியம் 46. கெளுத்துக வாதம்
    15. உருவ சாஸ்திரம் 47. காருடம்
    16. இதிகாசம் 48. நட்டம்
    17. காவியம் 49. முட்டி
    18. அலங்காரம் 50. ஆகாய பிரவேசம்
    19. மதுர பாடனம் 51. ஆகாய கமனம்
    20. நாடகம் 52. பரகாயப் பிரவேசம்
    21. நிருத்தம் 53. அதிரிச்யம்
    22. சத்த பிரமம் 54. இந்திர ஜாலம்
    23. வீணை 55. மகேந்திர ஜாலம்
    24. வேனு 56. அக்னி ஸ்தம்பம்
    25. மிருதங்கம் 57. ஜல ஸ்தம்பம்
    26. தாளம் 58. வாயு ஸ்தம்பம்
    27. அகத்திர பரீட்சை 59. திட்டி ஸ்தம்பம்
    28. கனக பரீட்சை 60. வாக்கு ஸ்தம்பம்
    29. இரத பரீட்சை 61. சுக்கில ஸ்தம்பம்
    30. கஜ பரீட்சை 62. கன்ன ஸ்தம்பம்
    31. அசுவ பரீட்சை 63. கட்க ஸ்தம்பம்
    32. இரத்தின பரீட்சை 64. அவத்தை பிரயோகம்

  19. 1. அக்கரவிலக்கணம்
    2. இலிகிதம்
    3. கணிதம்
    4. வேதம்
    5. புராணம்
    6. வியாகரணம்
    7. நீதி சாத்திரம்
    8. சோதிட சாத்திரம்
    9. தர்ம சாத்திரம்
    10. யோக சாத்திரம்
    11. மந்திர சாத்திரம்
    12. சகுன சாத்திரம்
    13. சிற்ப சாத்திரம்
    14. வைத்திய சாத்திரம்
    15. உருவ சாத்திரம்
    16. இதிகாசம்
    17. காவியம்
    18. அலங்காரம்
    19. மதுரபாடனம்
    20. நாடகம்
    21. நிருத்தம்
    22. சத்தப்பிரமம்
    23. வீணை
    24. வேணு
    25. மிருதங்கம்
    26. தாளம்
    27. அத்திரப்பரீட்சை
    28. கனகபரீட்சை
    29. ரத பரீட்சை
    30. கசபரீட்சை
    31. அசுவபரீட்சை
    32. ரத்திரனப்பரீட்சை
    33. பூமிபரீட்சை
    34. சங்ககிராம இலக்கணம்
    35. மல்யுத்தம்
    36. ஆகரூடணம்
    37. உச்சாடணம்
    38. விந்து வேடணம்
    39. மதன சாத்திரம்
    40. மோகனம்
    41. வசீகரணம்
    42. ரசவாதம்
    43. காந்தருவவாதம்
    44. பைபீலவாதம்
    45. கவுத்துக வாதம்
    46. தாது வாதம்
    47. காருடம்
    48. நட்டம்
    49. முட்டி
    50. ஆகாயப் பிரவேசம்
    51. ஆகாய கமணம்
    52. பரகாயப் பிரவேசம்
    53. அதிரிசயம்
    54. இந்திரசாபம்
    55. மகேந்திரசாபம்
    56. அக்கினித்தம்பம்
    57. சலத்தம்பம்
    58. வாயுத்தம்பம்
    59. நிட்டித்தம்பம்
    60. வாக்குத்தம்பம்
    61. சுக்கிலத்தம்பம்
    62. கன்னத்தம்பம்
    63. கட்கத் தம்பம்
    64. அவத்தைப் பிரயோகம்.

  20. Really Good Post.. Our Ancestors are more brilliant than current Scientists..