Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

by A. Yamuna Devi | 2012 | 77,297 words | ISBN-13: 9788193658048

This page relates ‘Family system’ of the study on the Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (in English) which represents a commentary on the Amarakosha of Amarasimha. These ancient texts belong the Kosha or “lexicography” category of Sanskrit literature which deals with the analysis and meaning of technical words from a variety of subjects, such as cosmology, anatomy, medicine, hygiene. The Amarakosa itself is one of the earliest of such text, dating from the 6th century A.D., while the Amarakoshodghatana is the earliest known commentary on that work.

Information regarding the family system during the time of Kṣīrasvāmin is culled from the words explained by him. Family was a small unit of the society. From the list of relationships explained by Kṣīrasvāmin, it is understood that joint family was the order of the day.

Amarakośa in the Nṛvarga after dealing with synonyms of man and woman goes on to enunciate the words related to family and members of the family (II. 6.27-38; pp. 139-42) such as ātmaja–son, duhitā–daughter, apatya–offspring, tāta–father, janayitrī–mother, bhaginī–sister, nanāndā–husband's sister, naptrī–son's daughter, yātā–husband's brother's wife, prajāvatī–brother's wife, mātulānī–maternal uncle's wife, śvaśuraḥ–fatherin- law, śvaśrūḥ–mother-in-law, pitṛvyaḥ–paternal uncle, mātulaḥ–maternal uncle, śyālaḥ–wife's brother, devā / devara–husband's brother, svasrīyaḥ–sister's son, jāmātā–son-in-law, pitāmahaḥ–father's father, prapitāmahaḥ–paternal great grandfather, mātāmahaḥ–mother's father, sapiṇḍa–Kinsmen, samānodarya–brother of whole blood, sagotra–a distant kinsman, b andhurelative, dhava–husband. Kṣīrasvāmin's comments on some of these terms are interesting to note and are presented below:

(a) Sapiṇḍas and sagotras[1] (II. 6. 33; p. 140)–

[Descendants of same lineage:]

Kṣīrasvāmin records from the Kullūka’s commentary of Manu (3.5) that the kinsmen of seven generations were sapiṇḍas. He supplements that those beyond the seven generations were sagotras.

Thus the lineage or a gotra[2] was reckoned from the seventh generation–

samānaḥ piṇḍaḥ eṣāṃ, yatsmṛtiḥ -sapiṇḍatā tu puruṣe saptame vinivartate | saptamādūrdhvaṃ sagotrāḥ ||

(b) Bījya[3] (II. 7. 2; pp. 162-63)–

[Celestial descendant:]

Kṣīrasvāmin cites Rāma born in the solar dynasty as illustration for the word bījyabīje sādhurbhavo vā yathā sūryabījyo rāmaḥ |

(c) Kulīnaḥ[4] (II. 7. 3; p. 163)–

[Honourable parentage:]

Kulīnaḥ was one belonging to an honourable parentage. Kṣīrasvāmin supplements by adding two more words in the same sense viz., āmuṣyāyaṇaḥ and āmuṣyaputraḥ–The son of such an honourable couple: āmuṣyāyaṇo'muṣyaputraśca |

The previous term denotes the royal origin while the present refers to the cultured parents.

(d) Marriage (III. 1. 14; p. 238):

The Dharmaśāstra texts mention eight forms of marriage viz., Brāhma, daiva, ārṣa, prājāpatya, āsura, gandharva, rākṣasa and paiśāca.

caturṇāmapi varṇānāṃ pretya ceha hitāhitān |
strīvivāhānnibodhata ||
brāhmo daivastathaivārṣaḥ prājāpatyastathāsuraḥ |
gāndharvo rākṣasaścaiva
paiśācaścāṣṭamo'dhamaḥ ||

Amarakośa does not mention any of these marriages; however, Brāhma marriage seems to be indicated as explained by Kṣīrasvāmin while discussing the word kūkudaḥ occuring in the third Kāṇḍa, Viśeṣyanighna varga.

Amarakośa mentions that a man who voluntarily invites and gives in marriage his daughter who is well attired, to a learned and deserving, is called kūkudaḥ:

satkṛtyalaṃkṛtāṃ kanyāṃ yo dadāti sa kūkudaḥ |

Deriving the form kūkudaḥ, Kṣīrasvāmin explains that a father offering his daughter in brāhma form of marriage is called kūkudaḥ and explains this brāhma form of marriage in the words of Manu (III. 27):

kokate ādhatte dharmaṃ kūkudaḥ kuṅ śabda ityasya vā rūpamakūtavat | brāhme vivāhe dātā | yanmanuḥ-ācchādya cārhayitvā ca śrutaśīlavate svayam | āhūya dānaṃ kanyāyāḥ brāhmo dharmaḥ prakīrtitaḥ ||

From this it could be understood that the form of marriage in which a well attired bride decorated with ornaments is given in marriage to an erudite, bridegroom of good character, especially invited by the bride’s father himself to marry her, is called Brāhma marriage by Manu.

(e) Dampatī (II. 6. 38; p. 142)–


A wedded couple is denoted by the word dampatī, jampatī, jāyāpatī and bhāryāpati. Kṣīrasvāmin explains grammatically the formation of the word with Paninian sūtra.

He also observes that the Nighaṇṭu[5] gives ‘dam’ to mean bhāryā or a wife:

rājadantādau jāyapatyorjāyaṃśabdasya daṃbhāvo jaṃbhāvo vā nipātyate daṃ bhāryeti nighaṇṭuḥ |

Other words to denote the pairs mentioned by Amarakośa are bhrātarau–brother and sister, pitarau–father and mother, śvaśurau–parents in law and putrau–son and daughter which are complimented by Kṣīrasvāmin mentioning the Paninian rule (I. 2. 68)–bhrātṛputrau svasṛduhitṛbhyām forming ekaśeṣa compound.

(f) Tāta (II. 6. 28; p. 140)–


Amarakośa mentions tāta, janaka and pitā as synonyms to which Kṣīrasvāmin adds vaptā.

(g) Bhrātṛjāyā (II. 6. 30; p. 140)–

[Brother's wife:]

Kṣīrasvāmin illustrates the term citing from the Meghadūta (10) of Kālidāsa

drakṣyasi bhrātṛjāyām |

(h) Devara (II. 6. 32; p. 140)–

[Husband's brother:]

Amarakośa mentions devṛ and devara to denote husband's brother.

Kṣīrasvāmin specifies that it denotes the younger brother of the husband or husband's brother younger to the wife in age–

svāminaḥ patyuḥ bhrātā kaniṣṭhaḥ patnyāḥ |[6]

(i) Samānodarya (II. 6. 34; p. 141)–

[The brother of the whole blood:]

Amarakośa mentions sodarya, sagarbhya and sahaja.

Kṣīrasvāmin derives it as those who were born of the same womb–

samāna udare śayitaḥ |

This term is different from bhrātā who is a half brother or a cousin. Hence it can be observed in the Rāmāyaṇa (VI. 5. 15), in the wailings of Rāma where he remarks that it is rare in this world to find a half-brother who is like a uterine brother–taṃ tu deśaṃ na paśyāmi yatra bhrātā sahodaraḥ |

(j) Putraḥ (II. 6. 27; p. 139)–


A son is called putra as he is said to save the ancestors from the hell called ‘put’–

punnarakāttrāyate puttraḥ punāti vā purvohrasvaśca (Uṇādi. 604) iti ktraḥ |

(k) Aprajam (III. 3. 32; p. 277)[7]


The citation of Cāṇakya Nīti Śataka (57) by Kṣīrasvāmin that the childless couple were pitied upon suggests that great importance was attached to a son or a child in the family–

saṃtatau yathā śocyaṃ mithunamaprajam ||

(l) Suto matṛśvasuḥ (II. 6. 25; p. 139)–

[Mother's sister's son:]

Amarakośa suggests that the son of mother’s sisters are similar to the forms paitṛṣvaseyaḥ and paitṛṣvasrīyaḥ which denote the sons of father’s brothers.

Kṣīrasvāmin furnishes two words mātṛśvasrīyaḥ and mātṛśvaseyaḥ to denote maternal aunt’s son.

The Paninian sūtras relating to both the words are also provided by him:

mātṛśvasuścaṛ (Pā. IV. 1. 134) iti chaṇi mātṛśvastriyaḥ | ḍhaki lopaḥ (Pā. IV. 1. 133) iti ḍhaki mātṛśvaseyaḥ ||

Footnotes and references:


sapiṇḍāstu sanābhayaḥ |


This definition of gotra given here is in keeping with the Smṛti texts, while in Vyākaraṇa śāstra the term gotra denotes the grandson and the succeeding generations–pautra prabhṛti gotram | and in popular usage gotra applies to the son also.


bījyam tu kulasambhavaḥ |


mahākulakulīnā''rya sabhya sajjana sādhavaḥ |


Source not available


It is to be observed that in north India the term devara is in vogue in Hindi language, signifying the younger brother of the husband and jeṭhāna to denote the elder.


prajā syāt saṃtatau jane |

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