Frog Hymns and Rain Babies

Monsoon Culture and the Art of Ancient South Asia
By: Gautama V. Vajracharya
Binding: Hardcover
Specifications: 212 pages, 194 illustrations
ISBN: 978-81-921106-4-6
Dimensions: 305 x 241 mm

Right from the time of the Indus Civilization we begin to see traces of the monsoon becoming an important facet of Indian religious rituals. The Himalaya, as a physical barrier, which separates the monsoonal weather system of South Asia from the dry weather systems of Afghanistan and Persia, inadvertently formed a cultural barrier with the influence of the monsoon at one end and winter hibernation at the other. The Vedic people who came from a hibernation culture from the Perso-Afghanistan region were quick to adapt their literature and way of life to include the knowledge, rituals, and mythology surrounding the monsoon that was prevalent in the subcontinent.

The author examines and brings to light aspects of ancient Indian art and literature to re-evaluate the depth of the monsoon’s influence on the subcontinent. This book is a unique contribution to the field of Indian art history, with new information and new ways of looking at Indian culture. It is extensively illustrated to ensure that the true visual imagery of the author’s textual imagination reaches the reader.

Gautama V. Vajracharya, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison is a Sanskritist with a deep interest in South Asian art and culture. He is a Tagore National Fellow, researching the Nepali objects at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai and a visiting curator, Rubin Museum of Art, New York for the exhibition of Nepali art in 2015.

Foreword by Pratapaditya Pal



Part I: New Methodology
1. The Rigvedic Frog Hymn, Shaving of Hair, and Monsoon Culture
2. Monsoon Culture and the Concept of Prana in Visual Art

Part II: Artistic Expressions of Monsoon Culture
3. Pipal Tree, Tonsured Monks, and Ushnisha
4. Chakravartin, the Rainmaker
5. The Symbolism of Ashokan Pillars
6. Atmospheric Gestation: Deciphering Ajanta Ceiling Paintings and Related Works

Part III: The Continuity of Monsoon Culture in Nepal
7. Creatures of the Rain-River and Cloud-Lakes
8. Dance of Conception and Rain Babies: Mother Goddesses and the Cult of Kumara
9. Shri and Lakshmi: Rain-River and Agrarian Prosperity

List of Words with Diacritical Marks