Title of the book: THE SYMBOLISM OF THE
Author: Adrian Snodgrass
Publisher: Cornell Southeast Asia Programme,
First Indian Edition: Motilal Banarasidas
Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, 1992
Price of Indian Edition: Rs. 300 Indian Currency.
Contains: 286 Figures, 26 Pages of Bibliography,
list of illustration.
Index, An introductory Preface by Craig J. Ronalds, Table
of contents and the text is divided in two parts: the First
part has thirteen Chapters and the second hs hard cover.nine,
The whole volume has 469 pages and an arlialic
Prof. Adriam Snodrass of Australia
is an well known scholar of Asian culture. He studied Indian
culture, mostly the Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka for more
than 6 years and in Japan as well where he observed Buddhism
visiting all the Buddhist temples. Since 1976, he has been
teaching Asian Art and Architecture at the university of Australia.
He is a great scholar of Far Eastern Buddhism. and has written
In The symbolism of the stupa,he has used classical Buddhist
literature both of Theravadins and Mahayan School of Buddhism
to interpret the plan, symbolic meaning of the every details
of the stupa from most of the Asian countries.One of the greatest
and academic aspect of the present volume in hand is that
he has used the contemporary texts of Hindu architecture to
explain the development of Stupas from simple mound to complicated
forms. He talks about architectural symbolism and analysis
of the Stupa, then gradually move on to explaining the spatial
configuration of the Stupa and the ritual demarcation of it.
He has provided a new light of thought to the academic world
in general and specifically to the Students of Buddhism and
Buddhist architecture.He mainly focuses on the Stupa and its
relation and symbolism of directions and space, while doing
so he compares them with Vedic Fire Altars from macrocosm
to microcosm. Thus providing a new thought process, he continues
the deployment of Space in iconography, art and architecture
and the Buddhist Kingdom.
The Stupa is explained from various angles as the wheel plan,
and the lotus plan symbolising the circle and Square respectively.
The plan of the Stupa as developed from Mandala, while describing
and explaining this he also compares them with the Vastu
Purusa Mandala. Every details of t he stupa has been
explained citing examples and texts of Pali
and Sanskrit literature. Through the explanation of the stupa
and its development he has given or provided many examples
from Hindu ions and vedic literature. He is among the very
few foreigner, who knows the meaning of a Shivalinga
other than an object of Phallicism cult. To him Shiva
Linga is cosmos . The author providing some example
from the Vengi art of Amaravati has shown that even Buddha
was adoraded as a fiery pillar, not as Lingam
or phallus but as an universal axis. This shows the depth
of knowledge the author has and wants to share with he academic
circle. Hundreds of examples from vedic literature like Srutis
Smrits have given a fine touch to this book..
The second of the book deals in detail and the Symbolism
of the Axis, the Pillar and Buddhism, the pillar and its place
in Hinduism, where Shiva is addressed as Sthanubhuta,
Aja Eakpada is compared with the Yasthi
The symbolic meaning of the dome, the whole super structure,
Harmika and various kinds of spires
are described in detail and in a convincing way citing examples
from the stupas and literature.
This volume with many drawing and photographs provides an
in-depth knowledge of Buddhism as well as of Hinduism.
Many ideas provided in this book is based upon hypothesis.
The author has provided many hypothesis which yet has to be
proved and accepted .
Reference to terminology from Pali
and Sanskrit makes a difficult read especially for those who
are unfamiliar with Pali and Sanskrit .
This book is not free from errors but the attempt of the
author to cover almost every aspect of the Stupa architecture
is praiseworthy. .
A Glossary of original words would have added the value of