crash courses - yes. learn 64 arts in just 64 days

today, we take enough pride even if we just know few words in some topics and if we can converse confidently using those words & sentences on variety of topics during water-cooler break or in social media. do we invest time in going deep in learning? we need to retrospect on that.

 in this modern day education, we have a very tight scheduled time table for day & also for life. learning kind of stops once we get a job or a decent earning. learning & knowledge is now a days measured in the units of bank balance & also to an extent of the outer appearance. Isn’t it? Am sure you will agree with this.

 so, what did ancient indians learn? Did they go to school? Yes. Ofcourse gurukul. We know that. what was taught in those day gurukuls? definitely not the one-size fits all 1st standard to engineering or medical. so what was taught & learnt? What were the subjects?

 here i would love to take reference from bhagwan sri krishna & sri balarama learning kalas & vidya. That is 64 primary arts, vedas, their upanishads, vedangas and sciences. It’s the chausath kala I am talking about.

 in srimad bhagavatham, to teach human race about the proper way to respect one’s guru, kṛṣṇa and balarāma served their spiritual master sandipani muni with great devotion, as they would a deity of the supreme lord himself.

sandīpani muni pleased by their service, imparted to them detailed knowledge of all the vedas, together with their six corollaries and the upaniṣads. 

 as students, sri krishna and sri balarama  needed to hear each subject explained only once to assimilate it completely, and thus in sixty-four days they learned the sixty-four traditional arts.

 yes, 64 primary arts in just 64 days. one-day crash course for each art was sufficient for them to master the art of the day.

 srimad bhagavatham - this is one of the 18 puranas & also called as bhagavata purana. in this purana,  in the skandha about sri krishna, chapter 45 is to teach us by example how to be a perfect student & receive immense knowledge from the right guru. to know about the proof of the arts they learn, refer to the texts numbered – 33 to 36 in 45th chapter of Krishna avatar in Srimad Bhagavatam

pl make a note of this. vidyas & kalas ( arts ) are learnt. this is smart isn’t it? arts & vidyas are two different categories. really? wow. the syllabus is getting tough. by the way what’s the difference between vidya & kala. Sukra niti explains as below:

 

vidya is one which can be said

kala is that which can be acted even by a dumb.

 

what?? kala can be enacted by dumb?? ok. seriously not fair. Anyways, let’s check out the primary arts first. for my easy understanding, i have made sets of 8 arts in each table. sure, it’ll help you too .

 after this list, pl do check below the other arts & sciences that were taught & learnt in those golden days.

 playing with toys, telling what’s in the other person’s fist, playing dice, memorizing verse are all part of the primary arts to be learnt. how interesting. right??

 

1st set -  8 / 64 primary arts

 

1

 gītam

 singing

2

 vādyam

 playing on musical instruments

3

 nṛtyam

 dancing

4

 nāṭyam

 drama

5

 ālekhyam

 painting

6

 viśeṣaka-cchedyam

 painting the face and body with colored unguents and cosmetics

7

 taṇḍula-kusuma-bali-vikārāḥ

 preparing auspicious designs on the floor with rice and flowers

8

 puṣpāstaraṇam

 making a bed of flowers

  

2nd set  - 16 / 64 primary arts

9

 daśana-vasanāṅga-rāgāḥ

 coloring one’s teeth,  clothes and limbs

10

 maṇi-bhūmikā-karma

 inlaying a floor with jewels

11

 śayyā-racanam

 covering a bed

12

 udaka-vādyam

 ringing waterpots

13

 udaka-ghātaḥ

 splashing with water

14

 citra-yogāḥ

 mixing colors

15

 mālya-grathana-vikalpāḥ

 preparing garlands

16

 śekharāpīḍa-yojanam

 setting a helmet on the head

 

3rd set  - 24 / 64 primary arts 

17

 nepathya-yogāḥ

 dressing appropriately

18

 karṇa-patra-bhaṅgāḥ

 decorating the earlobe

19

 sugandha-yuktiḥ

 applying aromatics

20

 bhūṣaṇa-yojanam

 decorating with jewelry

21

 aindrajālam

 jugglery

22

 kaucumāra-yogaḥ

 the art of disguise

23

 hasta-lāghavam

 sleight of hand

24

 citra-śākāpūpa-bhakṣya-vikāra-kriyaḥ

 preparing varieties of delicious food

 

4th set  - 32 / 64 primary arts

25

 pānaka-rasa-rāgāsava-yojanam

 preparing palatable drinks and tinging draughts with red color

26

 sūcī-vāya-karma

 needlework and weaving

27

 sūtra-krīḍā

 making puppets dance by manipulating thin threads

28

 vīṇā-ḍamarukavādyāni

 playing on a lute and a small x-shaped drum

29

 prahelikā

 making and solving riddles

30

 pratimālā

 capping verses  or reciting poems verse for verse as a trial of memory or skill

31

 durvacaka-yogāḥ

 uttering statements difficult for others to answer

32

 pustaka-vācanam

 reciting books

 

5th set  - 40 / 64 primary arts

33

 nāṭikākhyāyikā-darśanam

 enacting short plays and writing anecdotes.

34

 kāvya-samasyā-pūraṇam

 solving enigmatic verses

35

 paṭṭikā-vetra-bāṇa-vikalpāḥ

 making a bow from a strip of cloth and a stick

36

 tarku-karma

 spinning with a spindle

37

 takṣaṇam

 carpentry

38

 vāstu-vidyā

 architecture

39

 raupya-ratna-parīkṣā

 testing silver and jewels

40

 dhātu-vādaḥ

 metallurgy

 

6th set  - 48 / 64 primary arts

41

 maṇi-rāga-jñānam

 tinging jewels with various colors

42

 ākara-jñānam

 mineralogy

43

 vṛkṣāyur-veda-yogāḥ

 herbal medicine

44

 meṣa-kukkuṭa-lāvaka-yuddha-vidhiḥ

 the art of training and engaging rams,  cocks and quails in fighting

45

 śuka-śārikā-pralāpanam

 knowledge of how to train male and female parrots to speak and to answer the questions of human beings

46

 utsādanam

 healing a person with ointments

47

 keśa-mārjana-kauśalam

 hairdressing

48

 akṣara-muṣṭikā-kathanam

 telling what is written in a book without seeing it,  and telling what is hidden in another’s fist

 

7th set  - 56 / 64 primary arts

49

 mlecchita-kutarka-vikalpāḥ

 fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry

50

 deśa-bhāṣā-jñānam

 knowledge of provincial dialects

51

 puṣpa-śakaṭikā-nirmiti-jñānam

 knowledge of how to build toy carts with flowers

52

 yantra-mātṛkā

 composing magic squares,  arrangements of numbers adding up to the same total in all directions

53

 dhāraṇa-mātṛkā

 the use of amulets

54

 saṁvācyam

 conversation

55

 mānasī-kāvya-kriyā

 composing verses mentally

56

 kriyā-vikalpāḥ

 designing a literary work or a medical remedy

 

8th set  - 64 / 64 primary arts

57

 chalitaka-yogāḥ

 building shrines

58

 abhidhāna-koṣa-cchando-jñānam

 lexicography and the knowledge of poetic meters

59

 vastra-gopanam

 disguising one kind of cloth to look like another

60

 dyūta-viśeṣam

 knowledge of various forms of gambling

61

 ākarṣa-krīḍa

 playing dice

62

 bālaka-krīḍanakam

 playing with children’s toys

63

 vaināyikī vidyā

 enforcing discipline by mystic power

64

 vaijayikī vidyā

 gaining victory

65

 vaitālikī vidyā

 awakening one’s master with music at dawn.

 

now, let’s check out the remaining subjects

 4 vedas, 4 upavedas and 6 vedangas  are the 14 sciences that are part of vidya that was learnt in good old black & white or the eastman color days

1

veda

rig veda

For skilled learner. has advanced metaphors and allusions – has hyms of praise for 5 elements & nature in the form of deities. Explains the nature & features of the 5 elements in a very elaborate & complicated presentation

2

veda

yajur veda

contains explanatory commentaries on how to perform religious rituals and sacrifices

3

veda

sama veda

 Content similar to rig veda. But arranged in simpler format that’s easy to chant

4

veda

atharvana veda

 charms and magical incantations and has a more folkloristic style that has more of tantras i.e techniques

5

upavedas

Artha shastra

 Governance, economic policies and military strategy

6

upavedas

Dhanur veda

 Science of archery

7

upavedas

Gandharva veda

 Performing arts

8

upavedas

ayurveda

 Science of life

9

angas

sikshâ

Phonetics & phonology of Sanskrit

10

angas

vyâkarana.

Sanskrit grammatical tradition

11

angas

kalpa

rituals in ceremonies

12

angas

nirukta

etymology – explanation of Sanskrit words

13

angas

jyotish

Studies on traditional astronomy, predictions of major events for a person or country, vastu shastra, omens,

14

angas

chhandas

about prosody ( meter in classic poetry )

 

Oops.. there’s a lot missing the ancient subjects. Isn’t it? – digital photography, digital marketing, product management, project management and more..

By the way, in tamil nadu – there is something called aaya kalaigal 64.

And there’s something that elders wish youngsters with this - padhinaarum petru peruvaazhvu vaazhga, which means there’s some 16, that you need to be blessed with for a great life.

So, what are those 64 arts & what are those in the list 16 for a great life. Will reserve this topic for the next writing.

For now, a tiny bonus: We often hear about the 18 puranas are. if you want to know about them in a simple table, here it is.

1

agni

includes geography of mithila (bihar and neighboring states), cultural history, politics, education system, iconography, taxation theories, organization of army, theories on proper causes for war, diplomacy, local laws, building public projects, water distribution methods, trees and plants, medicine, vastu shastra (architecture), gemology, grammar, metrics, poetry, food, rituals and numerous other topics.

2

bhagavata

the most studied and popular of the puranas, telling of vishnu's avatars, and of vaishnavism.

3

brahma

includes mythology, theory of war, art work in temples, and other cultural topics. describes holy places in odisha, and weaves themes of vishnu and shiva,

4

brahmanda

includes lalita sahasranamam, law codes, system of governance, administration, diplomacy, trade, ethics.

5

brahmavaivarta

centres around the greatness of krishna and radha.

6

garuda

describes cosmology, relationship between gods. discusses ethics, what are crimes, good versus evil, various schools of hindu philosophies, the theory of yoga, the theory of "heaven and hell" with "karma and rebirth", includes chapters on rivers, geography of bharat (india) and other nations on earth, types of minerals and stones, testing methods for stones for their quality, various diseases and their symptoms, various medicines, aphrodisiacs, prophylactics, hindu calendar and its basis, astronomy, moon, planets, astrology, architecture, building home, essential features of a temple, rites of passage, virtues such as compassion, charity and gift making, economy, thrift, duties of a king, politics, state officials and their roles and how to appointment them, genre of literature, rules of grammar, and other topics.[41] the final chapters discuss how to practice yoga (samkhya and advaita types), personal development and the benefits of self-knowledge.

7

kurma

contains a combination of vishnu and shiva related legends, mythology, pilgrimage and theology

8

linga

discusses lingam, symbol of shiva, and origin of the universe as per shaivism.

9

markandeya

describes vindhya range and western india. contains chapters on dharma and on hindu epic mahabharata.the purana includes devi mahatmyam of shaktism.

10

matsya

narrates the story of matsya avatar

11

narada

discusses the four vedas and the six vedangas.

12

padma

a large compilation of diverse topics, it escribes cosmology, the world and nature of life from the perspective of vishnu. it also discusses festivals, numerous legends, geography of rivers and regions from northwest india to bengal to the kingdom of tripura, major sages of india, various avatars of vishnu and his cooperation with shiva, a story of rama-sita that is different from the hindu epic ramayana

13

shiva

discusses shiva, and stories about him.

14

skanda

describes the birth of skanda (or karthikeya), son of shiva. the longest purana, it is an extraordinarily meticulous pilgrimage guide, containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in india, with related legends, parables, hymns and stories.

15

vamana

describes north india, particularly himalayan foothills region.

16

varaha

primarily on varaha avatar

17

vayu

possibly the oldest of all maha puranas. discusses rituals, family life, and life stages of a human being.

18

vishnu

one of the most studied and circulated puranas.  some versions discussing buddhism and jainism, focussed on vishnu.

 

 pl share your views on this writing. if you liked this or you got bored

wishing you health & happiness in abundance

 

 

2 comments

This is super informative and thanks for sharing.

Deepika June 27, 2020

Hi Mam,

This is really wonderful to know. And with this coming from our Vedas is more authentic in itself!

Please Keep Sharing:)

Akshaya May 19, 2020

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