yugas and colours

Thomas Kintaert thomaskintaert at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 23 23:38:18 UTC 2009

(Since the diacritics didn't show properly in my previous post, I'm sending 
it once more using the Velthuis encoding. Sorry for the inconvenience!)

Please excuse my late posting to this thread (have only become list member 
recently) and thank you Joanna for the useful references to secondary 
literature. 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 Naa.tya’’saastra". In: S. Das, E. Fürlinger (eds.), 
Saamarasya: 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 Naa.tya’’saastra 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 svabhaavajavar.na-s, i.e. primary 
colours which cannot be created by the mixture of other colours, but by the 
mixture of which secondary colours (sa.myogajavar.na-s) and tertiary or 
subordinate colours (upavar.na-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 
kasi.na-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 kasi.na is said to be advaya and appamaa.na.

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

Sen, Prabal Kumar: The Nyaya-Vaisesika theory of variegated colour 
(citrarupa): 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.


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