yugas and colours

Thomas Kintaert thomaskintaert at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 23 21:09:25 UTC 2009

Please excuse my late posting to this thread (have only become list member 
recently) and thank you Joanna for the useful references to secondary 
The four colours white, red, yellow and blue/black are indeed widespread in 
Hindu mythology, including cosmography (e.g. the colours of Meru’s four 
sides). Apart from some of the associations already mentioned in this 
thread, further ones are given in my article "The Use of Primary Colours in 
the Nāṭyaśāstra". In: S. Das, E. Fürlinger (eds.), Sāmarasya: Studies in 
Indian Arts, Philosophy and Interreligious Dialogue - in Honour of Bettina 
Bäumer. New Delhi 2005: D.K. Printworld; 245-273 (cf. esp. fn. 148).
Interestingly, the Nāṭyaśāstra not only mentions the use of these colours in 
ritual contexts (the colour of food offerings in the cardinal directions, of 
cloth attached to the internodes of the jarjara staff, etc.), but moreover, 
in the secular context of paints used for make-up, states that these very 
colours are svabhāvajavarṇa-s, i.e. primary colours which cannot be created 
by the mixture of other colours, but by the mixture of which secondary 
colours (saṃyogajavarṇa-s) and tertiary or subordinate colours (upavarṇa-s) 
are created. So on the one hand each one of these colours is indivisible and 
on the other hand they collectively encompass all existing colours. I 
therefore assume that these qualities might have been responsible for using 
this set of colours in many of the contexts mentioned before. I find it 
especially meaningful that the Buddhist kasiṇa-s, 10 objects of meditation 
already described in the Pali Canon, consist of the same four colours 
together with the six Buddhist elements, and that each kasiṇa is said to be 
advaya and appamāṇa.

By the way, can anyone help me obtain a copy of the following article?

Sen, Prabal Kumar: The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika theory of variegated colour 
(citrarūpa): some vexed  problems. Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences 
(Shimla, India) 3, 2 (1996) 151-172. (= Thematic Issue: Epistemology, 
meaning and metaphysics after Matilal; Theories of the Nyaya school of Hindu 
philosophy and logic.)

Many thanks in advance! And should someone be interested in a pdf of my 
article, just send me a private e-mail.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list