Civilization, sophistication and curtains apparently go together; for as urbanization grows, man closes the windows of his house, veils them with colourful drapes and shuts out light. So too does he screen his mind with cherished beliefs and makes them proof against doubts and new concepts. Occasionally, some one arrives, begins to doubt and starts questioning the established views. S.P. Gupta does exactly this in The Roots of Indian Art. He has pushed aside the blinds, thrown open the Oeil-de-boeui and allowed light to pour in so that the Formative Period (300-200 B.C. Mauryan and Late Mauryan) of Indian art and architecture is better illuminated.
The root of the huge tree of Indian Art goes deep into time and spreads over a large part of the oriental world. To trace the roots of this towering evergreen is o mean task. The colossal nature of the undertaking can be gauged from the fact that the geographical territories covered here include vast areas from three continents-Europe, Asia and Africa with their diverse traditions in art, architecture, culture language, race and people. Yet the author has encompassed his them within the confines of a single, fully documented and comprehensive volume. He has marshaled a large array of facts and figures and presented them in six chapters, such as The pillars, the ringstones, the sculptures and art motifs, the terracottas, the rock cut caves, and the architecture, each one neatly divided into short bibliography arranged in historical perspective, complete documentation and highly penetrating discussion. He has provided aids to comprehension in the shape of hundreds of illustrations, such as maps, charts, sketches, photographs and coloured plates. Further, he has encapsulated the quintessence of his thesis in the chapter titled The Polemics and also Summing Up. The Backdrop discusses some of the fundamental questions regarding the background of the formative period of Indian Art.
This book shall serve as a beacon to all research scholars, students and interested readers tormented by doubts and questions and enable them to appreciate the art and architecture of Early India more intimately than hitherto.