Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Politics and Administration (5): Law and 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 (5): Law and Administration

The administration of the state was efficiently carried out by the king with the help of various members of state. The king was sovereign and was assisted by officers in administration. The administration included collecting taxes, solving disputes, maintaining army and country with the help of ministers and various officers. Their heirarchy was–King was the supreme, next was the Purohita, mantrin, amātya and so on.

Some of these superindents carrying special connotations of Kṣīrasvāmin are discussed here:

(a) Purohita (II. 8. 5; p. 176)–

[The priest:]

Amarakośa gives another word purodhāḥ to denote a priest.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains the term purohita as one who holds or pleases the city or citizen. He also adds sauvastika to denote the priest:

puro dhīyate hinoti vā purohitaḥ | sauvastiko'pi |

The Purohita was held in high respect by the kings. Kauṭilya (I. 9) says that the king should honour purohita’ s advice as a pupil honours his teacher’s or a son his father’s and so on.

(b) Prāḍvivāka or Akṣadarśaka (II. 8. 5; pp. 176-77)–

[A Judge:]

Kṣīrasvāmin derives the word as one who enquires in various ways. Kṣīrasvāmin adds Dharmādhikaraṇika and Akṣapaṭalika to the list–

pṛcchati prāṭ prāṭ cāsau vividhaṃ vakti (vivākaḥ) prāḍvivākaḥ ākṣāṇyāyamukhāni rūpyāṇi vā paśyati (ākṣadarśakaḥ) ākṣadarśako'pi dharmādhikaraṇiko'kṣapaṭalikaśca |

(c) Dvāsthita darśaka (II. 8. 6; p. 177)–


Kṣīrasvāmin explains the term as one who stands at the gates or cognizes the person at doors. He further observes that some read it as a single word while others read it as two different words.

Kṣīrasvāmin takes it as a single word–

dvāri tiṣṭhati dvāḥsthaḥ | dvāristhitaṃ darśayatyavedayati dvāḥsthitadarṣakaḥ | dve saṃjñe ityeke dvāḥsthita eva hi darśayati dvāḥsthopasthitadarśakā ityeke peṭhuḥ | daṇḍī dauvāriko vetrī utsārakaśca |

Kṣīrasvāmin adds Daṇḍī, Dauvārika, vetrī and utsāraka to denote a warder.

(d) Kāraṇika (III. 1. 7; p. 237)–

[One who examines or investigates:]

Amarakośa mentions Kāraṇika as an examiner[1].

Kṣīrasvāmin explains the term Kāraṇika as an officer at religious centres to examine the brāḥmaṇas. He also adds the term ākṣapaṭalika

karaṇaṃ prayojanamasya kāraṇikaḥ maṭhādau dānārthaṃ brāhmaṇaparīkṣitā | ākṣapāṭaliko'pi | karaṇenādhikāra (ri) vargeṇa caratīti vā |

(e) Rāṣṭriya (I. 6. 14; p. 51)–

[King's brother-in-law:]

Amarakośa mentions that a Rāṣtriya is the king's brother-in-law.

Other than in drama literature, Kṣīrasvāmin observes that the same term means ‘one ruling over a Province a like Provincial Governor’–

nāṭyādanyatra rāṣṭrādhikṛto rāṣṭriyaḥ |

Some of the terms related to legal suits are as follws:

(f) Vyavahāra (II. 8. 5; pp. 176-77)–


Kṣīrasvāmin explains the term in simple terms as the lawful judgement in dispute of lending and borrowing.

According to Kātyāyana smṛti the term vyavahāra is explained as 'The (upasarga) ‘Vi’ is employed in the sense of ‘doubt’, ‘hāra’ means ‘removing’; ‘vyavahāra’ is so called because of its removing various doubts[2]

‘–vyavahāra ṛṇadānādinyāyaḥ | yatsmṛtiḥ—‘vi’ ‘nānārthe’ ‘va saṃdeheharaṇaṃ hāra ucyate | nānāsaṃdehaharaṇād vyavahāraḥ prakīrtitaḥ |[3]

The word ‘vyavahāra’ is used in several senses in the Sūtra and Smṛti texts on law. Vyavahāra is ‘transaction’ or dealing ( Udyogaparva. 37. 30) ‘a dispute’, 'a law suit' ( Śanti. 69. 28, Manu. VIII. 1, Vas. 16. 1, Yāj. II. 1) ‘legal capacity to enter into transactions (as in Gau. X. 48); ‘the means of deciding a matter’ (Gau. XI. 19 tasya vyavahāro vedo dharmaśāstrāṇyaṅgāni … …)

Some of the terms appearing in the Nānārtha varga commented upon by Kṣīrasvāmin in administrative connotations are analysed here:

(g) Parivṛḍha (III. 1. 11;p. 238)–

[Owner or master:]

In the context of deriving the word parivṛḍha Kṣīrasvāmin adds grāmaṇī and agraṇī. A grāmaṇī was the leader or chief of a village or community. Agraṇīḥ generally denoted a leader.

(h) Lekhya (III. 3. 128; p. 300)–


Kṣīrasvāmin records that the land grants were to be recorded in inscriptions–lekhyaṃ bhūmyādidānārtham |

(i) Śāsanam (III. 3. 128; p. 300)–


The punishments were to be mentioned as orders–yātanājñā ca śāsanam |

(j) Samvid (III. 3. 92, p. 291)–


Amarakośa mentions this homonymous word with several meanings, one of it is kriyākāra.

Explaining the term samvid in the sense of kriyākāra or conduct or established custom, Kṣīrasvāmin cites from Yājñavalkya Smṛti (II. 190) which commands forfeiting all possessions and banishment of the person who robs the wealth of the villagers or breaks the established custom of the society–

kriyākāro vyavasthapanaṃ, yathā—saṃvidaṃ laṅghayecca yaḥ ||[4]

(k) Ātatāyin (III. 1. 44, p. 245)–


Amarakośa lists this word in the Viśeṣyanighna varga.

Quoting a well-known Smṛti text, Kṣīrasvāmin explains an ātatāyin as–one who attempts murder, one who sets fire, gives poison, employs weapon, robs wealth and usurps the field or wife of another–

sannaddhaḥ san yo vadhārthamudyataḥ saḥ ātataḥ sodyogaḥ sanneti vadhādyarthaṃ dhāvati āvaśyam ātaṃ palāyamānaṃ trāyate vā ātatāyī | vadha upalakṣaṇaṃ yatsmṛtiḥ -āgnido garadaścaiva śastrapāṇirdhanāpahaḥ | kṣetradāraharaścaiva ṣaḍete tvātatāyinaḥ ||

(l) Ādhi (III. 3. 97; p. 293)–

[A pledge:]

Kṣīrasvāmin illustrating the word in the meaning of pledge marks a statement from yājñavalkya smṛti (3. 58) that the pledge is lost or perishes if it is not retrieved before the borrowed amount doubles–

bandhakaṃ yaduttamarṇāya bhūmyādyādīyate yathā ādhirvinaśyed dviguṇo dhane yadi na mokṣyate ||

(m) Atyaya (III. 3. 150; p. 306)–

[Transgression or punishment:]

The word is employed in the sense of transgression expressing ‘dharmasyātyayaḥ’ ‘Transgression of law’.

In the sense of punishment as The punishment for verbal assault was 100 paṇas

daṇḍe yathā -vākpāruṣye'tyayaḥ śatam |

(n) Satya (III. 3154; p. 307)–


A brāhmaṇa was to take an ordeal by truth in case he was alleged–

śāpathe yathā satyena śāpayedvipram

(o) Anubandha (III. 3. 98; p. 293)–

[Offence or guilt and its status:]

Explaining or illustrating the term in the sense of offence Kṣīrasvāmin quotes from Manu (VIII.126) that the punishments should be imposed after rightly knowing the nature of the offence and its status–

doṣotpāde yathāānubandhamavasthāṃ ca jñātvā daṇḍaṃ nipātayet |

Footnotes and references:


parīkṣakaḥ kāraṇikaḥ …. |


Quoted by Vyavahāra Mātṛikā of Jīmūtavāhana p. 283. Kullūka on Manu. VIII. 1
vi nānārthe'va sandehe haraṇaṃ hāra ucyate |
nānāsandehaharaṇād vyavahāra iti smṛtaḥ ||


Kātyāyana quoted in Kullūka in his com. on Manu VIII. 1.


gaṇadravyaṃ haredyastu saṃvidaṃ laṅghayecca yaḥ | sarvasvaharaṇaṃ kṛtvā taṃ rāṣṭrādvipravāsayet |

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