Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Pastimes and Games’ 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.

Pastimes and Games

Some of the pastimes mentioned in Amarakośa are as follows: patralekhāpainting with figures on the body of persons, dyūta–game of dice, prāṇivṛttam–gambling with fighting animals.

(a) Patralekhā (II. 6. 122; p. 159):

[Facial decoration with figures:]

Amarakośa[1] mentions two words namely patralekhā and patrāṅguliḥ. Kṣīrasvāmin explains patralekhā as the decking of the cheeks with the figures of leaf (with fragrant and coloured substances, such as musk, saffron, sandal-juice, yellow pigment etc.).

Kṣīrasvāmin remarks that in the Draviḍa Country cheeks of a person are decorated with paintings in accordance with their gender.

patrāṅguliḥ draviḍakādiṣu liṅgādibhedena kapole patrabhaṅgaḥ |

But Liṅgayasūri[2] interprets patrāṅguliḥ as the symbol of finger drawn on face instead of the figure of a leaf. The same is interpreted by Bhānuji[3] as the symbols drawn on the cheeks and bosom with perfumed substances.

(b) Prāṇivṛttam (II.10.46; p.235)–

[Gambling with fighting animals:]

Amarakośa mentions samāhvaya also to denote the gambling with fighting animals.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains that prāṇivṛttam denotes cock fights and ram–fighting and that samāhvaya is betting on fighting animals–

prāṇibhirmeṣakukkuṭādibhirdyūtaṃ prāṇidyūtam | saṅgharṣeṇāhvayante'tra samāhvayaḥ |

(c) Dyūta (II. 10. 45; p. 235)–

Game of dice is denoted by four terms in Amarakośa Other terms related to dyūta are also described such as–glaha–dice-box or wager, devana–die for playing with, moving a piece at play, suggest that gambling was a pastime.

Paṇa[4] (III.3.46; p.281)–


Amarakośa mentions it as a stake made in a game. It is inferred that the dice game was played with bettings.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains that the stake in the game of dice is called paṇa (III. 3.46)–

dyūtādāvutsṛṣṭaṃ jayyatve sthapitaṃ paṇaḥ |

(d) Caturaṅga

Caturaṅga is based on the four constituents of the Indian army–chariot, elephant, horse and infantry; and the king, minister, etc. The Mānasollāsa (V. 12) of king Someśvara gives a detailed description of the caturaṅga play and a variety of it called sarvatobhadra. The Śāriphala is the checkered board on which gambling called pāśaka is played. This is allied to the chess (Mānasollāsa, V. 13)

Aṣṭāpadam and Śāriphala (II. 10. 46; p. 235)–


Amarakośa gives these two words which are explained by Kṣīrasvāmin as the game-boards, mainly the checkered boards like caturaṅga and others–

āṣṭaupadānyasyāṣṭāpadam | śārayaḥ phalantyatra śāriphalaṃ khelanādhāraḥ caturaṅgaphalakādi |

The above statement of Kṣīrasvāmin suggests that by his time the game of chess was a popular Indian game.

(e) Mauṣṭā and pāllavā (III. 5. 5; p. 345)–

Amarakośa specifies that when beating or striking in a game is to be indicated then the ṇa pratyaya[5] is to be used as in mauṣṭā and pāllavā.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains that a game in which the the striking is made with fists is mauṣṭā and the one in which striking is with twigs or sprouts is pāllavā

muṣṭiḥ praharaṇaṃ yasyāṃ krīḍāyāṃ mauṣṭā, pallavā praharaṇamasyāṃ pāllavā | tadasyāṃ praharaṇamitikrīḍāyāṃ ṇaḥ (. 4.2.57).

Saṃgrāha (III. 2. 14; p. 263)–

[Clenching the fist:]

Amarakośa mentions Saṃgrāha as the clenching of the fists, which Kṣīrasvāmin mentions, is with respect to a wrestler

saṃgrāho mallasya |

This reference suggests that wrestling[6] was also a popular pastime.

(f) Daṇḍapātā (III. 5. 6; p. 345):

Amarakośa defines it as the festival of floating sticks in the month of phālgunī[7].

Kṣīrasvāmin also explains the same as–

daṇḍapāto'syāṃ phālgunyāṃ vartate |

Illustrating the rule of Pāṇinian sūtra 4. 2.57, the Kāśikā mentions the dāṇḍā, a game in which sticks are used in a mock-fight.

(g) Śyainampātā (III. 5. 6; p. 345):

Amarakośa as well as Kṣīrasvāmin explain it as hawking–

śyenapāto'syāṃ mṛgayāyāṃ vartate |

Hawking was a widely prevalent game in India. An exclusive text on this game called the Śyainika-Śāstra (IV. Adhyāya 13) of king Someśvara also describes the catching and training of Hawks.

Footnotes and references:


patralekha patrāṅgulirime same |


patrādyākṛtilekhane āṅgulyākṛtirapi kapolādau bhavatīti patrāṅguliḥ |


stanakapolādau kastūrikādiviracyamānaṃ bhakta?[i] viśeṣanāmanī |


paṇo dyūtādiṣūtsṛṣṭe bhṛtau mūlyo dhane'pi ca |


tat krīḍāyāṃ praharaṇaṃ cen mauṣṭā pāllavā ṇa-dik


The mallayuddha is mentioned in Harivaṃśa (Ch. 30), in which Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are described wrestling with the mallas and winning over them.


daṇḍapātā hi phālgunī |

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