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The 64 Kalas: Unlocking India's Ancient Artistic Treasures

The 64 kalas are a traditional Indian system of art forms and skills. While they were originally defined in ancient times, their relevance continues in the modern era as a representation of the diverse range of creative pursuits and practical knowledge that humans have developed over time. Each of the 64 kalas represents a specific area of expertise or craft, ranging from music and dance to architecture, metallurgy, and agriculture. By embracing these traditional skills and crafts, people can continue to explore and develop their creative potential while also preserving important aspects of cultural heritage.

Here are some of the Indian mythological figures who are known for their mastery of the 64 kalas:

Lord Krishna

  • Known for his expertise in multiple arts such as music, dance, painting, and archery, among others.

  • In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna plays a pivotal role as a charioteer and strategist during the Kurukshetra war. He also exhibits his musical prowess by playing the flute, which attracts both humans and animals.

Goddess Saraswati

  • The goddess of learning, music, and arts, who is believed to have invented the Sanskrit language and the Veena (a musical instrument).

  • According to mythology, when Lord Brahma created the universe, he realized that it lacked the power of speech. To solve this, he prayed to Goddess Saraswati, who appeared and invented the Sanskrit language, making it the language of the gods and goddesses.

Lord Shiva

  • Considered to be the god of dance (Nataraja) and music (Rudra), Lord Shiva is also known for his skills in archery and martial arts.

  • In the story of Markandeya, Lord Shiva appears as a wandering mendicant and blesses the young Markandeya with knowledge and longevity. He also performs the cosmic dance of destruction (Tandava) to slay a demon that threatens the universe.


  • One of the main protagonists of the Mahabharata, Arjuna is known for his exceptional archery skills and martial arts, along with his proficiency in music, dance, and painting.

  • In the Mahabharata, Arjuna is a key player in the Kurukshetra war, where he exhibits his archery skills by shooting arrows that pierce through multiple targets. He also has a passion for music and dance, which he inherited from his father Indra, the king of gods.

  1. Gīta-kalā - The art of music.

  2. Vādya-kalā - The art of playing musical instruments.

  3. Nṛtya-kalā - The art of dance.

  4. Nāṭya-kalā - The art of drama.

  5. Bhaṇḍa-kalā - The art of making utensils.

  6. Vāstra-kalā - The art of weaving fabric.

  7. Vāstu-kalā - The art of architecture.

  8. Ratha-kalā - The art of making chariots.

  9. Chitra-kalā - The art of painting.

  10. Lepa-kalā - The art of applying makeup and perfumes.

  11. Mālya-kalā - The art of making garlands.

  12. Ābharaṇa-kalā - The art of making jewelry.

  13. Maṇi-kalā - The art of making gemstones.

  14. Puṣpa-kalā - The art of making flower arrangements.

  15. Dhātu-kalā - The art of metallurgy.

  16. Mṛdaṅga-kalā - The art of playing the mridangam (a type of drum).

  17. Jala-kalā - The art of water management and conservation.

  18. Vāyu-kalā - The art of controlling wind.

  19. Agni-kalā - The art of controlling fire.

  20. Kṣiti-kalā - The art of controlling the earth.

  21. Megha-kalā - The art of understanding clouds and predicting weather.

  22. Gaja-kalā - The art of training elephants.

  23. Aśva-kalā - The art of training horses.

  24. Śvāna-kalā - The art of training dogs.

  25. Mahiṣī-kalā - The art of training buffaloes.

  26. Baka-kalā - The art of training cranes.

  27. Matsya-kalā - The art of fish farming.

  28. Śuka-kalā - The art of training parrots.

  29. Haṁsa-kalā - The art of training swans.

  30. Śārdūla-kalā - The art of training tigers.

  31. Khura-kalā - The art of training goats.

  32. Jāla-kalā - The art of fishing.

  33. Madhu-kalā - The art of beekeeping.

  34. Ghaṭa-kalā - The art of pottery.

  35. Khaṇḍa-kalā - The art of breaking objects into pieces.

  36. Loha-kalā - The art of blacksmithing.

  37. Rajju-kalā - The art of making ropes.

  38. Sūcī-kalā - The art of making needles.

  39. Śalākā-kalā - The art of making combs.

  40. Mūṣikā-kalā - The art of training mice.

  41. Baṇa-kalā - The art of archery.

  42. Aśvaśāstra-kalā - The art of training horses for warfare.

  43. Gajāśāstra-kalā - The art of training elephants for warfare.

  44. Vanijya-kalā - The art of commerce and trade.

  45. Akṣara-kalā - The art of writing and calligraphy.

  46. Vṛkṣāyurveda-kalā - The art of plant-based medicine.

  47. Sūkṣma-vyavahāra-kalā - The art of diplomacy and negotiation.

  48. Dhanurveda-kalā - The art of archery and warfare.

  49. Mlecchita-vikalpa-kalā - The art of non-Indian languages and cultural practices.

  50. Āsana-kalā - The art of yoga and physical postures.

  51. Tāntrika-kalā - The art of tantra and mysticism.

  52. Jyotiṣa-kalā - The art of astrology and astronomy.

  53. Ayurveda-kalā - The art of traditional Indian medicine.

  54. Siddhānta-jyotiṣa-kalā - The art of advanced mathematical and astronomical calculations.

  55. Khaṭvāṅga-kalā - The art of using sticks and staffs as weapons.

  56. Danda-nīti-kalā - The art of martial arts and combat strategy.

  57. Jaladauḥkānta-vikalpa-kalā - The art of underwater diving and exploration.

  58. Bhūri-saṃsthāna-kalā - The art of large-scale construction and engineering.

  59. Dhānya-kalā - The art of farming and agriculture.

  60. Puruṣa-vaiśeṣika-kalā - The art of human anatomy and physiology.

  61. Sthūla-vyavahāra-kalā - The art of practical skills and day-to-day living.

  62. Vāyavya-vidyā-kalā - The art of martial arts and physical fitness.

  63. Mṛga-śāstra-kalā - The art of hunting and tracking animals.

  64. Karma-kalā - The art of work and productivity.

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