'Campanology in India - Bell Ringing, An Aid to Worship' by Dr S. Srikanta Sastri
‘The Hindu: Illustrated Weekly’, September 15, 1935"
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'Campanology in India:
An Aid to Worship'
Dr S. Srikanta Sastri
'Campanology in India - Bell Ringing, An Aid to Worship'
Dr S. Srikanta Sastri
(Published in ‘The Hindu: Illustrated Weekly’, Sep. 1935)
Bell-ringing as an aid to worship is an art of extreme antiquity in India and China where some of the oldest and the biggest bells in the world are to be found. In Agamic worship, the sound of the bells indicates the beginning as well as the ending of the ritual. Its function is to invite the Gods and chase away the evil influences so that the worship might proceed uninterrupted to the very end when, at the waving of lights, the union of light and sound is intended to convey the esoteric significance of the two aspects of Brahman as tejas and Sabda. Therefore the agamas prescribe elaborate rules as to the shape, size, and the tuning capacity of the bell and several deities are supposed to preside over the different parts of the bell. The small bells used in daily worship are surmounted usually by the figure of some minor God like Nandi, Hanuman or Garuda, to act as the mediator between the worshipper and the chief deity. Except perhaps on the war-chariots, the bell, in India was used little for secular purposes, and its present shape is evidently of tantric origin. The pinched waist, and the broadened skirt, it can be conjectured, are the result of the evolution from the steatopygous figurines of the Mother goddess, found at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro as well as in other ancient sites throughout Asia.
The Bell-Capitol of Mauryan Art
The Bell-capitol of Mauryan art is now recognised to be of indigenous origin, developed from the lotus-motif. But the whole pillar represents nothing but a variety of the usual flag-staff (Dhvaja-stambha) which was adorned with bells and it is not improbable that, as the column became more and more stereotyped, the artists converted the top itself into the shape of a bell which due to the decorations, assumed the aspect of an inverted lotus.