In my previous post, I wrote about the 14 Vidyas (knowledge domain). This post is about the 64 Kalas (skills domain). The Vidyas and the Kalas comprised of the education system in ancient India (1500- 600 B.C). The 64 Kalas have always fascinated me because of the following reasons:

  • While the Vidyas form an epistemologic base, the Kalas comprise of both practical and eclectic trades and skills.
  • The Kalas are gender neutral and considered equally useful for both men and women. Indeed, the male God Ganesha is considered to be a practitioner of all 64 Kalas, including knowing how to apply makeup, how to decorate the house with flowers, ie, skills typically attributed to women.
  • The Kalas identify skills needed to make a well-rounded individual. These skills go well beyond the range of just an epistemologic expertise.
  • Most of the Kalas are relevant even today, with some of them being extremely topical: the art of mixing drinks, slam poetry, etc.

So here are the 64 Kalas. To shorten the list, I have grouped similar Kalas together. Speaking for myself- there are several Kalas I still need to learn about. There is one Kala I have perfected, though: the art of making the perfect bed!

1. General Education

  • Manners and etiquette
  • Languages, dialects, & vocabularies
  • Figures of speech, including metaphors and puns
  • Reading
  • Recitation
  • Literary criticism
  • Writing, including ghost-writing
  • Slam poetry & Jamming!
  • Art of war
  • Powers of observation (to sum up a person)
  • The power of attracting others (includes flirting guidelines)

2. Fine Arts

  • Sketching & Painting
  • Decorating the home with flowers
  • Pottery
  • Crafts from paper and other material

3. Trades

  • Gardening & agriculture
  • Preparation of perfumes
  • Carpentry & Furniture making
  • Knowledge of machinery
  • Architecture
  • Knowledge of metals
  • Knowledge of gems and jewels
  • Writing & deciphering codes (Cryptography?)

4. Music & Dancing

  • Singing
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Acting
  • Dancing

5. Domestic Science

  • Art of cooking
  • Mixing drinks!
  • Sewing and needle work
  • Making the perfect bed!

6. Physical & Mental Exercise

  • Physical exercise
    Games & Sports, including water sports
    Indoor games like chess
  • Games of chance, like dice
  • Mathematical & other types of puzzles

7. Fashion & Makeup

  • Fashion: clothing, shoes, jewelry
  • Hairdressing
  • Applying makeup, using beauty products, body painting, coloring of nails and hair, drawing decorative symbols on the forehead
  • Using flowers to decorate the body

8. Art of Entertaining

  • Magic tricks
  • Mimicry and imitation
  • Art of disguise

9. Training Animals

  • Training birds to talk
  • Training animals to fight

Which Kala(s) are your favorite?