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Maya - Divine Architect In Hinduism – Mayamata Treatise On Architecture

Maya is the legendary architect and master craftsman mentioned several scriptures of Hinduism. His name is found in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas like Matsya Purana. His treatise on architecture is known as Mayamata. He is described as the architect of the asuras (demons) in contrast to Vishwakarma, the architect of the Devas (gods).

As per Shiva Purana, Maya built Tripura (the tree cities of gold, silver and iron) for the three demons (sons of Taraka), one in heaven, one in air and one on the earth respectively, which were later destroyed by Lord Shiva in the form of Tripurantaka.

Maya is extolled as the divine architect who laid down principles and practice of architecture and town planning in the Tamil epic Silappadikaram.

The Tamil poet Kamban in this Ramavataram refers to him as deivatatchan (the architect of the gods).

Mayamata Treatise On Architecture

Maya’s famous treatise on architecture, Vastu Shastra in Sanskrit, has come down to us and is known as Mayamata.

Mayamata is an authoritative work of encyclopedic nature and deals with a variety of subjects like the classification of architects (chapters 5, 15 – 23), selection of proper site (chapters 13-15), orientation of buildings 9 (chapter 3), the types of stones, different types of building plans and the layout grid (chapter 7), the sacred and secular buildings, and the placement of deities in their proper directions.

Mayamata mentions thirty two types of grid (or padavinyas – plan layouts) rom the smallest sakala (one-cell unit) to indra kanta (1024 cell units).

The work still serves as a valuable source of reference for Vastushastra and guidance for architect and sculptors, especially in South India.

Source - Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VII page 117-118 - IHRF