64 arts in Indian Scripture

Jul 16, 2014 by


Advancing oneself by marrying well, is a time honored way to make one’s fortune, no matter how politically incorrect it might be today. In a bygone era of India, girls’ schools offered home science or home economics courses. There were Women’s’ Academies and Finishing Schools which most girls were advised to join after completing their High School. Mostly the idea was to equip young girls with the skills to attract well-to-do partners and to skillfully manage their husbands’ households.

Today women have the opportunity to attend university on par with men.And many of today’s billionaire wives are no slouches in the mental department.They are shoulder to shoulder with their husbands, playing the role of major decision makers at every front intheir lives.

Also, most of the Hindu scriptures talk of Gods such as Hanuman of having learnt the 64 arts. Have you ever wondered what these arts are? Here is the actual list of the 64 divine arts that the great kings of India were well versed in.

Ancient 64 Arts

Vatsayana lists out 64 arts to be cultivated to make a person more attractive.Incidentally his recommendations are gender neutral.Listofthe 64 arts as below.These arts are explained with their Sanskrit terms too.

A classical curriculum of sacred sciences, studies, arts and skills of cultured living listed in various Hindu shastras.
It is believed that lord Krishna possesses 64 kinds of arts called “Chausath Kalas“. They are as follows.

The Sanskrit names and there meanings for all the 64 Arts

(1)Geet vidya—art of singing.
(2) Vadya vidya—art of playing on musical instruments.
(3) Nritya vidya—art of dancing.
(4) Natya vidya—art of theatricals.
(5) alekhya vidya—art of painting.
(6) viseshakacchedya vidya—art of painting the face and body with color
(7) tandula-kusuma-bali-vikara—art of preparing offerings from rice and flowers.
(8) pushpastarana—art of making a covering of flowers for a bed.
(9) dasana-vasananga-raga—art of applying preparations for cleansing the teeth, cloths and painting the body.
(10) mani-bhumika-karma—art of making the groundwork of jewels.
(11) sayya-racana—art of covering the bed.
(12) udaka-vadya—art of playing on music in water.
(13) udaka-ghata—art of splashing with water.
(14) citra-yoga—art of practically applying an admixture of colors.
(15) malya-grathana-vikalpa—art of designing a preparation of wreaths.
(16) sekharapida-yojana—art of practically setting the coronet on the head.
(17) nepathya-yoga—art of practically dressing in the tiring room.
(18) karnapatra-bhanga—art of decorating the tragus of the ear.
(19) sugandha-yukti—art of practical application of aromatics.
(20) bhushana-yojana—art of applying or setting ornaments.
(21) aindra-jala—art of juggling.
(22) kaucumara—a kind of art.
(23) hasta-laghava—art of sleight of hand.
(24) citra-sakapupa-bhakshya-vikara-kriya—art of preparing varieties of delicious food.
(25) panaka-rasa-ragasava-yojana—art of practically preparing palatable drinks and tinging draughts with red color.
(26) suci-vaya-karma—art of needle works and weaving.
(27) sutra-krida—art of playing with thread.
(28) vina-damuraka-vadya—art of playing on lute and small drum.
(29) prahelika—art of making and solving riddles.
(30) durvacaka-yoga—art of practicing language difficult to be answered by others.
(31) pustaka-vacana—art of reciting books.
(32) natikakhyayika-darsana—art of enacting short plays and anecdotes.
(33) kavya-samasya-purana—art of solving enigmatic verses.
(34) pattika-vetra-bana-vikalpa—art of designing preparation of shield, cane and arrows.
(35) tarku-karma—art of spinning by spindle.
(36) takshana—art of carpentry.
(37) vastu-vidya—art of engineering.
(38) raupya-ratna-pariksha—art of testing silver and jewels.
(39) dhatu-vada—art of metallurgy.
(40) mani-raga jnana—art of tinging jewels.
(41) akara jnana—art of mineralogy.
(42) vrikshayur-veda-yoga—art of practicing medicine or medical treatment, by herbs.
(43) mesha-kukkuta-lavaka-yuddha-vidhi—art of knowing the mode of fighting of lambs, cocks and birds.
(44) suka-sarika-prapalana (pralapana) — art of maintaining or knowing conversation between male and female cockatoos.
(45) utsadana—art of healing or cleaning a person with perfumes.
(46) kesa-marjana-kausala—art of combing hair.
(47) akshara-mushtika-kathana—art of talking with fingers.
(48)dharana-matrika—art of the use of amulets.
(49) desa-bhasha-jnana—art of knowing provincial dialects.
(50)nirmiti-jnana—art of knowing prediction by heavenly voice
(51) yantra-matrika—art of mechanics.
(52)mlecchita-kutarka-vikalpa—art of fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry .
(53) samvacya—art of conversation.
(54) manasi kavya-kriya—art of composing verse mentally.
(55) kriya-vikalpa—art of designing a literary work or a medical remedy.
(56) chalitaka-yoga—art of practicing as a builder of shrines called after him.
(57) abhidhana-kosha-cchando-jnana—art of the use of lexicography and meters.
(58) vastra-gopana—art of concealment of cloths.
(59) dyuta-visesha—art of knowing specific gambling.
(60) akarsha-krida—art of playing with dice or magnet.
(61) balaka-kridanaka—art of using children’s toys.
(62) vainayiki vidya—art of enforcing discipline.
(63) vaijayiki vidya—art of gaining victory.
(64) vaitaliki vidya—art of awakening master with music at dawn.

English translation and categorization  of 64 arts  : 

1. Make-up, toilet and use of beautifying agents
2. Painting the body, and colouring the nails, hair, etc.
3. Decoration of the forehead.
4. Art of hair dressing.
5. Art of dressing.
6. Proper matching of decorations and jewellery.
7. Singing.
8. Playing on musical instruments.
9. Playing on musical glasses filled with water.
10. Acting.
11. Dancing.
12. Good manners and etiquette
13. Knowledge of diffenrent langguages and dialects.
14. Knowledge of vocabularies.
15. Knowledge of Rhetoric or Figures of Speech.
16. Reading.
17. Reciting poems.
18. Criticism of poems.
19. Criticism of dramas and analysis of stories.
20. Filling up the missing line of a poem.
21. Composing poems to order.
22. Reply in verse (when one person recites a poem, another gives the reply in verse).
23. The art of speaking by changing the forms of words.
24. Art of knowing the character of a man from his features.
25. Art of attracting others (bewitching).
26. Art of cooking.
27. Preparation of different beverages, sweet and acid drinks, chutneys, etc.
28. Sewing and needle work.
29. Making of different beds for different purposes and for different seasons.
30. Physical culture.
31. Skill in youthful sports.
32. Swimming and water-sports. Games.
33. Games of dice, chess, etc.
34. Games of chance.
35. Puzzles and their solution.
36. Arithmetical games.
37. Magic: art of creating illusions.
38. Trick of hand.
39. Mimicry or imitation (of voice or sounds).
40. Art of disguise.
41. Painting in colours.
42. Stringing flowers into garlands and other ornaments for decorating the body, such as crowns, clapnets, etc.
43. Floral decorations of carriages.
44. Making of artificial flowers.
45. Preparation of ear-rings of shell, ivory, etc.
46. Making birds, flowers, etc., of thread or yarn.
47. Clay-modelling: making figures and images.
48. The art of changing the appearance of things such as making to appear as silk.
49. Training parrots and other birds to talk.
50. Training rams and cocks and other birds for mock fight.
51. Gardening and agriculture.
52. Preparation of perfumery.
53. Making furniture from canes and reeds.
54. Wood-engraving.
55. Carpentry.
56. Knowledge of machinery.
57. Construction of building (Architecture).
58. Floor decoration with coloured stones.
59. Knowledge of metals.
60. Knowledge of gems and jewels.
61. Colouring precious stones.
62. Art of war.
63. Knowledge of code words.
64. Signals for conveying messages.


“A public woman, endowed with a good disposition, beauty and other winning qualities, and also versed in the above arts, obtains the name of a Ganika, or public woman of high quality, and receives a seat of honour in an assemblage of men.She is, moreover, always respected by the king, and praised by learned men, and her favour being sought for by all, she becomes an object of universal regard. The daughter of a king too as well as the daughter of a minister, being learned in the above arts, can make their husbands favorable to them, even though these may have thousands of other wives besides themselves.If a wife becomes separated from her husband, and falls into distress, she can support herself easily, even in a foreign country, by means of her knowledge of these arts. Even the bare knowledge of them gives attractiveness to a woman, though the practice of them may be only possible or otherwise according to the circumstances of each case.A man who is versed in these arts, who is loquacious and acquainted with the arts of gallantry, gains very soon the hearts of women, even though he is only acquainted with them for a short time.”

These are among the skills traditionally taught to both genders, while emphasizing masculinity in men and femininity in women. Their subject matter draws on such texts as the Vedangas and Upavedas, and the ShilpaShastras, or craft manuals. Through the centuries, writers have prescribed many more skills and accomplishments. These include sculpture, pottery, weaving, astronomy and astrology, mathematics, weights and measures, philosophy, scriptural study, agriculture, navigation, trade and shipping, knowledge of time, logic, psychology and Ayurveda. In modern times, two unique sets of 64 kalas have been developed, one for girls and one for boys.

Reference : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kal%C4%81

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