Dr. Coomaraswamy’s study of the Indian craftsman raises questions of the widest and deepest interest, questions that will not only give consciousness to modern Eastern thought, but help us with some of the most advanced of our Western problems.
It was a week ago when I was reading about the books written on Indian Craft. I found this online edition of ‘Indian Craftsman of India’ by Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy.
Winter is not a good time for my craft-work as my fingers get swollen 😦
so I am spending my time in reading and discovering 🙂
C.R.Ashbee has written in the last lines of the Foreword : ‘ I never heard of the god Visvakarma, the god of the Arts and Crafts, before I learned of him from Dr. Coomaraswamy. But he seems strangely like a personification of that Platonic idea of abstract beauty which for so many centuries has haunted the Western mind. Whether it be Plato or Plotinus, Pico della Mirandola or Rossetti, ever and again in the great periods of our Western development the idea recurs. Who knows, perhaps Visvakarma is the god for whom we in the West, in our spiritual reawakening, are in search; possibly he can help us!
The book sheds light on the value of crafts before industrialization of commodities and the philosophy which sustained craftsmen through vicissitudes.
How long ago the craftsmen were organized into these great municipal guilds, is suggested by a well-known passage in the Ramayana, describing the procession of citizens who went out into the forest with Bharata in search of Rama.
Dr. Ananda writes under chapter-King’s Craftsmen:
The royal craftsman in the East, however, is our immediate interest, and to him we must return.
We find him well established at a very early date. In the reign of Asoka (275-231 B.C.)
Shri. A. K. Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese philosopher and metaphysician.
A pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, particularly art-history and symbolism and an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West.
In India, he was part of the literary circle around Rabindranath Tagore and contributed to the “Swadeshi” movement, an early phase of the struggle for Indian independence.
This is just a glimpse of the book. If you are interested you can download and read the book here.