Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Internal Anatomy’ 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.

Internal Anatomy

[Full title: Human Body Health and Diseases (1): Internal Anatomy (II. 6. 63-9; p. 147- 49)]

Āyurveda adopts a few principles by which the diseases can be cured. The basic principle according Āyurveda is–human body is a constitution of kapha, vāta and pitta which are collectively termed as tridoṣas. The equilibrium of these three indicates healthy body and in abnormal state they destroy the body in the form of diseases.

Āyurveda considers herbs and food as medicine. Hence food is also classified on the basis of these doṣas and are employed for specific treatments. Kṣīrasvāmin displays his thorough knowledge of Āyurvedic principles when he explains the qualities of food which either mitigate or vitiate the doṣas.

The Manuṣya varga listing words pertaining to relations of man and woman in society and then various stages, record the physical anatomy of the human being their peculiarities and diseases.

The internal anatomy of human body is recorded by Amarakośa as consisting of blood–rudhira, flesh–piśita, dry flesh–vallūram, heart–bukkā, fat–vapā, nerve–nāḍī, lungs–kloma, brain–mastiṣka, skeleton–kaṅkāla, back bone–kaśerukā, and so on. Some of the interesting comments and explanations made by Kṣīrasvāmin are:

(a) Bukkā (II. 6. 64; p. 148)–


Regarding this word Kṣīrasvāmin points out that it is a ‘na’ termination or ‘nānta’ in masculine gender while some take it as feminine gender[1].

He observes that the physicians read the word as vṛkka

bukyate svādutvānmṛgyate bukkā nāntaḥ puṃsyāyaṃ strītyeke vṛkketi vaidyāḥ |

Heart is also indicated as hṛdaya and Kṣīrasvāmin explains it as–

hriyate hṛd | jīvādhāraṃ padmam |

The main life-holder of human being.

(b) Yakṛt, Plīhā, Kloma or Puppusaḥ (II. 6. 66; p.148)–

[Liver, spleen and lungs:]

Kṣīrasvāmin‘s knowledge of physical anatomy is revealed when he quotes from a medicinal text that the liver (yakṛt) and lungs (kloma) are situated to the right of the heart (body) and to the left are spleen (plīhā) and lungs (pupphusaḥ)–

hṛdayasya dakṣiṇe yakṛtkloma vāme plīhā puppusaśceti vaidyāḥ |

Yakṛt is explained by Kṣīrasvāmin as the dark organ in the right side of the body–

dakṣiṇapārśve kṛṣṇamāṃsāṃśaḥ
kālakhaṇḍam kālakhañjamityeke |yamaṃ karoti yakṛt |

(c) Snāyuḥ (II. 6. 66; p. 148)–


A tendon is denoted as snāyuḥ.

Kṣīrasvāmin adds that the big tendons or a collection of tendons are denoted by the physicians as kaṇḍarā

mahāsnāyuśca kaṇḍarā snāyu saṃghāta iti vaidyāḥ |

According to Śuśruta all circular ligaments are known as kaṇḍarā (tendon).

The above explanation of Kṣīrasvāmin reflects the idea of Ḍalhaṇa the commentator of Śuśruta who reads–(Śuśruta. sam. Śārīrasthāna.V. 31)

vṛttāstu kaṇḍarāḥ | mahāsnāyustu kaṇḍarā iti saṃjñā |

(d) Kaṅkālaḥ (II. 6. 69; p. 149)–


Kṣīrasvāmin adds three more words to denote a skeleton namely Dehārambhakaḥ, asthipañjaraḥ and karaṅkaḥ

dehārambhako'sthipañjaraḥ karaṅko'pi |

(v) Karpara (II. 6. 68; p. 149)–


Amarakośa gives kapāla also to denote the skull.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains that since it protects the head it is called kapāla. He also reminds, that in usage, the part of a pot is also kapāla

kaṃ pālayati kapālaṃ mūrdhno'sthi | ghaṭādi khaṇḍo'pyupacārāt |

Footnotes and references:


Other commentators like Bhānuji and Liṅgayasūri also opine that both the genders were in vogue.

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