Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Politics and Administration (1): The State requisites of regal administration’ 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.

Politics and Administration (1): The State requisites of regal administration

The political science is popularly konown as Daṇḍanīti or Rājanīti. Excerpts or discourses on Rājanīti are found in Rāmāyaṇa (II. 30) and Mahābhārata. Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, a text in the field of science and Politics was composed as early as 3rd C.B.C. which stands unparalelled even to this day. Amarakośa mentions many terms related to Political science in the Kṣatriya varga and Kṣīrasvāmin gives additional information on them which are analysed here:

The State requisites of regal administration: Amarakośa[1] gives the 7 constituents (prakṛtis or aṅgas) of the regal administration as–

  1. a king (svāmī),
  2. minister (amātya),
  3. friend (mitra),
  4. treasury (kośa),
  5. the territory of the state and its people (rāṣṭra),
  6. fort (durga) and
  7. army (bala).

(a) Prakṛtayaḥ (II. 8. 18; p. 179)–

Kṣīrasvāmin also approves of the same and adds that the citizens are also included in the above and quotes Kātya in this regard:

prakṛtya rājyāṅgānītyeva, yatkātyaḥ—
āmātyadyāśca paurāśca sadbhiḥ
prakṛtayaḥ smṛtāḥ ||

84 svāmī āmātya suhṛd kośa rāṣṭra durga balāni ca rājyāṅgāni |

Explaining the term pratyaya (II. 3. 147; p. 305) a homonymous word as given in Amarakośa, in the sense of adhīna or subservient, Kṣīrasvāmin mentions that all the subjects are subservient to the king–

ādhīna āyattaḥ—
rājapratyayāḥ prajāḥ |

From the above statement it is inferred that Monarchy was the order of the day.

(b) Svāmī or Rājā (II. 8. 1-2; p. 175-76)–


Amarakośa gives the words rāṭ, Pārthiva, kṣmābhṛt, nṛpa, bhūpa and mahīkṣit as synonynms to denote a king. A king before whom all feudatories humble themselves is called adhīśvara, cakravartin and sārvabhauma.

Cakravartin or Sārvabhauma is the universal monarch. Cakravartin is derived by Kṣīrasvāmin as—

sarvasyā bhūmerīśvaraḥ sārvabhaumaḥ |

Maṇḍaleśvara (II. 8. 2; p. 176):

A Maṇḍaleśvara is:

“One who wields lordship over a circle of kings or who makes the circle (i.e. kingdom) abide by his orders”.

According to Kṣīrasvāmin maṇḍaleśvara is the king of Maṇḍala–circle of kings, comprising of 12 kings–

maṇḍalasya dvādaśarājakasya samuditaṃ lakṣaṇaṃ caitat |

(c) Amātya or Mantrī (II. 8. 4; p.176)–


The king was assisted by ministers in administration of the state. Amarakośa states that the amātya who is a dhīsaciva (counsellor) is denoted by the term mantrin, while the other ministers were called karmasacivas.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains the difference between the two clearly thus the ministers were of two kinds the counsellor–mantrin and the others who assisted the king in accomplishing the tasks or planned projects–

amātyasmantraḥ kartavyāvadhāraṇamastyasya mantrī | dhiyā sacati samaveti dhīsacivaḥ | āmā saha samīpe vā bhavaḥ āmātyaḥ | sāmavāyiko'pi | tato mantriṇo'nye'mātyaḥ karmasahāyā niyogyākhyāḥ |

Kautilya (I. 8. 29) also suggests that the mantrins were graded higher than the amātyas in general–

āmātyaḥ sarva evaite kāryāḥ syurna tu mantriṇaḥ |

Ministers and officers were tested for their character and integrity before appointment by the process called–upadhā

Upadhā (II. 8. 22; p. 180)–

[Test of honesty:]

Amarakośa mentions that the test of honesty was done by dharma and others.

Kṣīrasvāmin specifies the four ways of testing their integrity employing dharma, kāma, artha and bhaya and cites Kauiṭlyā (I. 10) justifying his statement–

upadhīyate samīpe ḍhaukyate parokṣārthamupadhā dharmakāmārthabhayopanyāsenāśayānveṣaṇaṃ, yatkauṭilyaḥ -upadhābhiḥ śaucāśaucaparijñānamamātyanām |

The ministers, officers, counsellors and other government officials were appointed after being tested by the four upadhās or secret tests–Dharmopadhā–test of Piety; Arthopadhā–test of material gain; Kāmopadhā–test of lust; Bhayopadhā–test of fear.

Kauṭilya details (I. 10) as to how the amātyas were to be tested by upadhās i.e. by means of tempting them as regards to each of dharma, artha, kāma and bhaya and to be employed if found honest after any one of the four tests, while they could be appointed as mantrins only if their integrity and loyalty were proved by all tests combined.

(d) Mitra or Suhṛt (II. 8. 12; p. 178)–


Amarakośa gives two kinds of friends-friends of same age denoted by terms vayasya, snigdha and savayā; and a friend in general as mitram, sakhā and suhṛt. Sakhyam and sāptapadīna are terms mentioned in Amarakośa for friendship.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains the term sāptapadīna[2] as one who is a friend by taking seven steps or by speaking to a person a few (or seven) words–

sapta padāni kramāḥ suptiṅantāni vā vyāpnoti, sāptapadīnaṃ sakhyaṃ (. 5/2/22) iti sādhuḥ |

The term saptapadī is now commonly used only as a marraige ritual where the husband and wife are regarded as friends. Thus the term is very aptly listed in the Kṣatriya varga by Amarakośa In Raghuvaṃśa[3]

King Dilīpa tells the lion that friendship is preceeded by conversation; Kumārasmbhava[4] Śiva tells Pārvatī not to treat him as a stranger citing the view of the wise that friendship of the good is to be effected by a speech of seven words. The same idea is reflected in the statement of Sāvitrī to Yama in Mahābhārata[5].

(e) Kośa (III. 3. 221; p. 325)–


This term is not enumerated in the Kṣatriya varga by Amarakośa but is found in the Nānārtha varga where one of the meanings of the term is given as arthaugha.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains it as bhāṇḍāgāra meaning treasury–

ārthaugho bhāṇḍāgāram |

Kauṭilya (II. 2) rightly remarks that all the undertaking of a king depends on Kośa and hence a king should give prominence to it–

kośamūlāḥ kośapūrvāḥ sarvārambhāḥ | tasmātpūrvaṃ kośamavekṣeta |

(i) Bhaurika (II. 8. 7; p. 177)–

[Treasurer of the country:]

Amarakośa mentions bhaurika and kanakādhyakṣa as terms denoting a treasurer.

Kṣīrasvāmin observes a variant reading for bhaurika as hairika and gives derivation for both the words as–

bhūriṇi hemni niyukto bhaurikaḥ | hairika iti pāṭhe hiraṇye niyuktaḥ |

(ii) Tax:

The principal and perennial sources of income to the state or treasury were three viz. the king’s share of the produce of land, tolls and customs duties, fines levied on wrong doers or defeated litigants (Cf. M. bh. Śanti. 71. 10; Śukra. IV. 2. 13). From Manu Smṛti (X. 119-20) it appears that the principal tax-payers were agriculturists, traders, manual workers and artisans). Udyogaparva (34. 17-8) states

“Just as a bee draws honey but at the same time leaves the flowers uninjured, so the king should take wealth from men without harming them”–

yathā madhu samādatte rakṣan puṣpāṇi ṣaṭpadaḥ |
tadvadarthānmanuṣyebhya ādadyādavihiṃsayā |
puṣpaṃ vicinvīta mūlacchedaṃ na kārayet |
mālākāra ivārāme na yathāṅgārakārakaḥ ||

Manu (VII. 128-29 & 139-140) reflects the same idea–

yathā rājā ca kartā ca syātāṃ karmaṇi bhāginau |
saṃvekṣya tu tathā rājñā praṇeyāḥ satataṃ
karāḥ |
nocchindyādātmano mūlaṃ pareṣāṃ cāpi tṛṣṇayā |

Dharmaśāstra, Arthaśāstra and inscriptions mention several kinds of taxes that would strengthen a treasury. Some of the words to denote a tax are listed by Amarakośa as follows: Bhāgadeya, kara and bali. It also gives Śulka in the sense of a toll. Kṣīrasvāmin's explanations point out the differences in each of these terms:

Bali (II. 8. 28; p. 181)–

[Tax or royal revenue:]

Kṣīrasvāmin explains bali as the 1/6th of produce paid as royal revenues–

valante'nena baliḥ rājagrāhyaḥ ṣaḍbhāgādirbhāgaḥ |

Bali is the oldest word for a tax paid to the king. The RV. VII. 6. 5 and X. 173. 6;[6] speak of the common people as ‘balihṛt’–bringers of bali, tribute or tax for the king. The Aitareya Brāhmaṇa (35. 3) characterizes a vaiśya as balikṛt (payers of taxes) since the brāḥmaṇas and kṣatriyas were mostly exempted from taxation.

Kara (II. 8. 28; p. 181)–


Kṣīrasvāmin explains it as a tax levied on movable and immovable goods[7]

pratyekaṃ sthavārajaṅgamādideyaḥ karaḥ |

Kṣīrasvāmin further mentions that the varieties of taxes as mentioned in Arthaśāstra are not mentioned in Amarakośa

niyojyopajīvyo balirityavāntarabhedo'rthaśāstrokto nāśritaḥ |

Kara and bhāga are words to denoted tax in general.

Śulka (II. 8. 28; p. 181)–


The word śulka generally means tolls or customs duties levied from vendors and merchandise carried into or out of the kingdom (Śukra. IV. 2. 108). Amarakośa[8] defines it as that which is paid at toll-gates (ghaṭṭa).

Ghaṭṭa is explained by Kṣīrasvāmin as port–

ghaṭṭante'nena ghaṭṭayati vā ghaṭṭo nadītarasthanam |

Kṣīrasvāmin mentions that the word ādi in the definition of Amarakośa indicates different kinds of tolls levied on goods imported or exported through forts or villages, highways or towns–

ādiśabdād gulmapratolyādau prāveśyanaiṣkrāmyadravyebhyo rājagrāhyo bhāgaḥ śulkaḥ śavati śalati vā sukhena yātyaneneti |

(f) Rāṣṭra (III. 3. 184; p. 314-15)–

[A Country:]

Amarakośa does not furnish the definition or other details of a rāṣṭra in the Kṣatriya varga but only a passing reference is made in the Nānārtha varga.

One of the meanings enumerated for the word rāṣṭra is viṣaya which Kṣīrasvāmin explains as janapada

viṣayo janapadaḥ |

Amarakośa (II. 1. 9; p. 71) lists the terms to denote a country as nīvṛt, janapada, deśa, viṣaya and upavartana.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains janapada as an inhabited country also called as rāṣṭra

janānāṃ padaṃ janapadaḥ janairvāsyamāno rāṣṭrākhyo'yam |

Amarakośa (II. 1. 14; p. 72) also mentions that a country ruled by a good king is called Rājanvān, while a country which has a king only for name sake is called Rājavān

surājñi deśe rājanvān syāt tato'nyatra rājavān |

(g) Durga (II. 2. 1; p. 74)–

[Fort or capital:]

Amarakośa lists the synonyms of a city or town which is discussed under “Town Planning”.

Kṣīrasvāmin adds durga and koṭṭa to denote a capital–

durga koṭṭau rājadhānī ca |

A list of famous cities are also mentioned.

Kauṭilya (II. 3 and 4) details the construction of durgas and laying out of the capital in one of them. He says that in the four quarters of the boundaries of the kingdom, forts should be built for offering resistance to the enemy, on ground naturally fit for the purpose. He mentions four kinds of forts[9] viz., audakawater-protected, which is on an island or on a plain surrounded by low ground; pārvatamountain one, such as a rocky hill or a cave; dhānvana–desert fort, on a waterless tract full of thickets or waste-land; Vanadurgam a forest fort full of wagtails and water and thickets of reed.

(h) Bala (II. 8. 79; p. 191)–


The army was called by several terms as mentioned in Amarakośa. The senāṅga (II. 8. 34; p. 182) or constituents of an army were the infantry or foot-soldiers, chariots, horses and elephants.

These with various capacities were named differently and the strength of each are well explained by Kṣīrasvāmin with their numeric values quoting the Ādi parva (II. 19-22) of Mahābhārata which is presented in the table[10] below for an easy reference–

yad bhārataṃ
eko gajo rathaścaiko narāḥ pañca padātayaḥ |
trayaśca turagāstajñaiḥ pattirityabhidhīyate ||

āśvanavakaṃ 9 padātayaḥ pañcadaśa 15 ||
tattriguṇaṃ guḍati gulmaḥ-gajāḥ 9 rathāḥ 9 āśvāḥ
27 padātayaḥ 45 |
satriguṇo gaṇyate gaṇaḥ-gajāḥ 27 rathāḥ 27 āśvāḥ 81 padātayaḥ 1—5 |
satriguṇo vāhyate vāhinī-gajāḥ 81 rathāḥ 81 āśvāḥ 24—padātayaḥ
405 |
triguṇā pṛtanā -gajāḥ 24—rathāḥ 24—āśvāḥ 729 padātayaḥ 1215 |
triguṇā camūḥ -gajāḥ 729 rathāḥ 729 āśvāḥ 2187 padātayaḥ—645 |
triguṇā'nīkinī -gajāḥ 2187 rathāḥ 2187 āśvāḥ 6561 padātayaḥ 109—5 |

Name Elephant Chariot Cavalry Foot soldiers
Patti 1 1 3 5
Senāmukhaṃ 3 3 9 15
Gulma 9 9 27 45
Gaṇa 27 27 81 135
Vāhinī 81 81 243 405
Pṛtanā 243 243 729 1215
Camū 729 729 2187 3645
Anīkāni 2187 2187 6561 10935
Akṣauhiṇī 21870 21870 65610 109350

A different information, however, is given in Udyogaparva (155.24-26) about the constituents of an army:

Name Elephant Chariot Cavalry Foot soldiers
Senā 500 500 1500 2500
Pṛtanā 5000 5000 15,000 25,000
Vāhinī 50.000 50,000 1,50,000 2,50,000
Dhvajinī 5,00,000 5,00,000 15,00,000 25,00,000
Camū 50,00,000 50,00,000 1,50,00,000 2,50,00,000
Akṣauhiṇī 5,00,00,000 5,00,00,000 15,00,00,000 25,00,00,000

Footnotes and references:


svāmī āmātya suhṛd kośa rāṣṭra durga balāni ca rājyāṅgāni |


Cf. Atharvaveda (V. 11. 9-10): Atharvā calls Varuṇa his saptapada friend and Varuṇa pleased with the insight of Atharvā and his consequent fitness to keep the Pṛṣṇi cow reciprocates the same sentiment.


II. 58: saṃbandhamābhāṣaṇapūrvamāhurvṛttaḥ sa nau saṃgatayorvanānte |


V. 39: yataḥ satāṃ sannatagātri saṃgataṃ manīṣibhiḥ sāptapadīnamucyate ||


Vanaparva. 297. 23: prāhuḥ sāptapadaṃ maitraṃ budhāstatvārthadarśinaḥ |


sa nirudhyā nahuṣo yahvo āgnirviśaścakre balihṛtaḥ sahobhiḥ |; ātho ta indraḥ kevalīrviśo balihṛtaskarat |


This statement of Kṣīrasvāmin is quoted in (p. 66) 'Taxation in ancient India, Kunwar Deo Prasad, Mittal Publications, Delhi, 1987.


ghaṭṭādi deyaṃ śulko… … … |


It is interesting to note here that Manu VII. 70 speaks of six kinds of forts while Manasollāsa (II. 5; p. 78) of nine kinds.


The Vaijayantī Kośa also concords with the details given here.

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