Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Politics and Administration (2): Defence and Foreign Policy’ 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 (2): Defence and Foreign Policy

Defence and foreign policy are inter-related. The state has to be defended from the hostile states. The science of Polity discusses the foreign policies from the stand point of the vijigīṣu, concentrating on how a state, desirous of extending its influence and expanding its territory should conduct its relations with foreign states. The foreign policies are capsuled into the ṣāḍguṇya—the collection of six measures which is associated with the theory of rājamaṇḍala or the circle of kings. All these terms are listed in Amarakośa and are well explained by Kṣīrasvāmin following Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra.

(a) The theory of Rājamaṇḍala:

Amarakośa (II.8.9-12; pp.177-78) mentions synonyms of a King, an enemy (śatru), friend (mitra), a neutral king (udāsīna) and an enemy in the rear (pārṣṇigrāha). The term rājamaṇḍala or vijigīṣu does not find mention in the text.

Kṣīrasvāmin throws much light on this matter explaining these terms and mentions that the maṇḍala theory is complete even within these five terms mentioned in Amarakośa

pañcasveteṣu dvādaśarājakamaṇḍalaṃ parisamāptam |

Kṣīrasvāmin quotes from an unknown text mentioning all the 12 Kings who constitute the rājamaṇḍala or circle of kings–

ārirmitramarermitraṃ mitramitramataḥ param |
tathārimitramitraṃ ca
vijigīṣoḥ puraḥ smṛtaḥ ||
rgrāhastathāskanda āsāraśca tayoḥ
pṛthak |
madhyamo'thāpyudāsīna iti dvādaśarājakam ||

The five terms explained by Kṣīrasvāmin and the rest as found in Arthaśāstra (VI. 2. 13-24) are presented here–

(i) Vijigīṣu–the aspiring king,

(ii) ari–the enemy whose territory is contiguous to that of vijigīṣu

vijigīṣuviṣayādavyavahitaḥ |

(iii) mitra–the friend of vijigīṣu, with territory immediately beyond that of an ari

ātaḥ śatroḥ parabhūmisthaṃ vijigīṣormitram |

(iv) arimitra–the enemy's ally with territory boyond that of the mitra,

(v) mitramitra–the friend of vijigīṣu's ally with territory beyond that of the arimitra,

(vi) arimitramitra–the ally of the enemy's ally, beyond the mitramitra,

(vii) pārṣṇigrāha is an enemy at the rear of the vijigīṣu, he is so called as he may seize or attack the heels–

netuḥ paścātsthito rājā pārṣṇimiva pārṣṇiṃ gṛhṇātyavaṣṭa?[ṛ]ati |

He is really an enemy but this special term is applied to him as he causes trouble in the realm of the vijigīṣu when the latter has started on an invasion or is about to start on one

(viii) ākranda is a king who is the ruler of the country behind that of the pārṣṇigrāha; he is one for whose help a cry is or may be raised by the vijigīṣu.

(ix) pārṣṇigrāhāsāra–the ally of the pārṣṇigrāha, behind the ākranda,

(x) ākrandāsāra–the ally of the ākranda, behind the pārṣṇigrāhāsāra

(xi) madhyama–is the middle king with territory adjoining those of the vijigīṣu and the ari and stronger that either of these and

(xii) udāsīna–an indifferent or neutral king, more powerful than the vijigīṣu, the ari and the madhyama

ūrdhvamāsīna ivodāsīnaḥ śatrumitrabhūmibhyo bāhyo'ta eva taṭasthaḥ |

The following diagram represents the position of the twelve kings with respect to the vijigīṣu:

Twelve Kings

(b) Dūta (II.8.16.179)–


Amarakośa mentions that he is the ambassador.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains that he is the one who carries the message of the king and hence considered as the mouth of the king–

saṃdiśyate saṃdeśo mukhasvarūpam |

He further adds that the term dūta signifies that the enemies are afflicted or pained by his message–

dūyate'nena yatho ktavāditvātpara iti dūtaḥ |

All the foriegn policies are established and negotiated through him and Kauṭilya mentions three kinds of ambassadors (I.16)[1].

(c) Ṣaḍguṇāḥ (II. 8. 19; p. 180)–

[Six Foreign Policies:]

Amarakośa mentions the Ṣaḍguṇas which are explained by Kṣīrasvāmin as follows–

(i) Sandhi is to unite–

saṃdhānaṃ saṃdhiḥ ekatvamityarthaḥ |

(ii) Vigraha–is to attack the enemy’s territory–

viruddhaṃ grahaṇaṃ svasthanātparamaṃḍalā dāhavilobhādirvigrahaḥ |

(iii) Yāna–is expedition–

yānaṃ yātavyaṃ prati yātrā |

(iv) Āsanam–is to refrain from war–

āsanaṃ vigrahādinirvṛttiḥ |

(v) Dvaidham–is to divide and rule policy; unity with one and waging war with another or it is to befriend both enemies taking a stand point like that of the crow’s eye–

dvau prakārau dvaidhaṃ ekena saṃdhāyānyatra yātretyarthaṃ yadvā—
balinordviṣatormadhye vācātmānaṃ
samarpayan |
dvaidhidhībhāvena vartata kākākṣivadalakṣitaḥ ||

(vi) Āśraya is to surrender or to seek refuge under the strong king—

āśaktyā balavadāśrayaṇamāśrayaḥ |

Kṣīrasvāmin further mentions that since these are means to help the king in conquering or defending himself, they are termed Guṇas

guṇā rājyopakārakaḥ |

Kṣīrasvāmin almost reflects the sentiments of Kauṭilya regarding the same[2].

(e) Anaya (III. 3. 149; p. 305)–

This is a homonymous word which Kṣīrasvāmin explaining in the sense of calamity says that it is the result of misapplication or improper application of the ṣadguṇasviruddho nayo vyasanaṃ -ānayaḥ ṣāḍguṇyasyāyathā prayogāt |

(f) Upāya (II. 8. 21; p. 180)–

[Means of overcoming opposition:]

Amarakośa mentions the well-known four upāyas (II. 8. 21; p. 180)–sāma, bheda, dāna and daṇḍa the means of overcoming the opposition.

Kṣīrasvāmin observes that some strategies like use of spell, deceit and magic were also employed as other means to overcome the enemy–

māyopekṣendrajālānya-traivāntarbhūtāni |

Two examples for these are found in the commentary of Kṣīrasvāmin while explaining terms in Nānārthavarga.

(i) The bheda is illustrated in commenting on Kṛtya (III. 3. 158; p. 308) One of the meanings of the word is bribery.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains that the act of splitting the enemy by bribing them with money and others is Kṛtya and cites from Kauṭilya (Arthaśāstra, I. 13. 22)–

dhanādinā yaḥ śatrorbhedyate saḥ kṛtyaḥ yat—
kruddhalubdhabhītāvamānitāḥ pareṣāṃ
kṛtyaḥ |

(ii) Amarakośa mentions that the word rasa (III. 3.227; p. 327) is also used in the sense of poison. Kṣīrasvāmin illustrating it remarks that use of poison and bhikṣu are among the various methods employed to kill an enemy–

viṣe yathā—
tīkṣṇarasān bhikṣukāṃśca ripau yuñjīta |

In the Mudrārākṣasa (I. 15)[3] the viṣakanyā is employed to kill King Parvataka.

(g) Trivarga (II. 3. 20; p. 180)–

[Three fold objects of state:]

Kṣaya, sthāna and vṛddhi are the trivargas mentioned by Amarakośa

Kṣīrasvāmin explains each as follows:

Kṣaya is defined as the decline (in power and object) of the state of the country, compared to its former condition–

prāgavasthanataḥ śaktisiddhyorapacayaḥ kṣayaḥ |

Sthāna is statutory status of the state or country–

sāmyaṃ sthanam |

Vṛddhi is growth or prosperity of the country–

upacayo vṛddhiḥ |

(h) Śaktis (II. 8. 19; p. 180)–


The foriegn policies are designed after analysing the following called the Śaktis or powers. Amarakośa mentions prabhāva, utsāha and mantra as three śaktis. Kṣīrasvāmin explains each as–

(i) Prabhāva or prabhuśakti–The prosperity in administration and treasury

kośadaṇḍardhiḥ prabhuśaktiḥ |

(ii) Utsāhaśakti–the ability to withstand after attacking

udyamya sahanamutsāhaśaktiḥ |

(iii) Mantraśakti–the power of counsel which Kṣīrasvāmin mentions as comprising of five elements–

mantraḥ pañcāṅgo mantraśāktiḥ |

He further adds explaining the term bheda (II. 8. 22; p. 180) that the mantra should be kept secretly within two for it is said that when a third person hears, it loses its value–

ṣaṭkarṇobhidyate mantraḥ |

Explaining the term mantra in the Nānārtha varga (III. 3. 167; p. 311) in the meaning of secret counsel Kṣīrasvāmin defines it as that which is to be secretive–

guptavādo rahasi kartavyāvadhāraṇam |

The importance of mantra śakti was also well understood. Amarakośa gives ārambha or undertaking as one of the meaning for the word kriyā in the Nānārthavarga (III. 3. 156-57; p. 307-08).

Kṣīrasvāmin cites from an unknown source highlighting the importance of deliberation for any undertaking–

ārambhe yathā—
mantramūlā nṛpāṇām |

Amarakośa lists synonyms of war, its related terms like weapons, fight, guard, general, combat, violence, fainting, revenge, defeat, victory, slaughter death, cemetery, dead body, prison and such other words in the kṣatriya varga. Some of them with special notes of Kṣīrasvāmin are analysed here[4].

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Arthaśāstra, I. 16. 2-4:
āmātyasaṃpadīpeto nisṛṣṭārthaḥ |
pādaguṇahīnaḥ parimitārthaḥ |
ārdhaguṇahīnaḥ śāsanaharaḥ |


Arthaśāstra, VII. 1. 6-12:
sandhivigrahāsanayānasaṃśrayadvaidhībhāvāḥ ṣāḍguṇyamityarthaḥ | tatra paṇavidhaḥ sandhiḥ | āpakāro vigrahaḥ | upekṣaṇamāsanam | ābhyuccayo yānam | parārpaṇaṃ saṃśrayaḥ | sandhivigrahopādānaṃ dvaidhībhāvaḥ | iti ṣaḍguṇāḥ |


ātra tāvadvṛṣalaparvatakayoranyataravināśenāpi cāṇakyasyāpakṛtaṃ bhavatīti viṣakanyayā... |


Other details on horses and elephants used in war are discussed in the section on “Fauna”. Chariots are discussed under “Transportation”.

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