Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Division of Time’ 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.

Division of Time

The term to denote time is Kāla. The concept of time is found from the Vedic age. In the Ṛg Veda (X. 42. 9) the word Kāla occurs once–

kṛtamiva śvaghnī vicinoti kāle |

“As a gambler collects the highest stake (kṛta) at the proper time (Kāla).”

The Mahābhārata (Ādi parva I. 248)[1] recurs to the theme of Kāla time and again. In Bhagavad Gītā, Kāla is referred to in several places and identified with the lord himself (X. 30) where Kāla is described thus–'I am Kāla among those that sieze and I am Kāla that is imperishable'. The schools of Indian philosophies have discussed at length about Kāla, some treating it as one of the dravyas. Mathematical and astrological texts also deal with time and its units, so also the Arthaśāstra and Dharmaśāstra texts also have recorded the measures of time.

Amarakośa has an exclusive section on time, titled the Kāla varga (I. 3). Beginning with synonyms of time, day, night, fortnight, its specialities, seasons, man-year, deva-year, manes’-year are detailed. Kṣīrasvāmin adds valuable notes wherever necessary and reveals his expertise in astronomy. The variant readings or forms are also mentioned by Kṣīrasvāmin

(a) Kalyam (I. 3. 2; pp. 31-2)–


Kṣīrasvāmin opines that the word should be kālyam; he however quotes Śāśvata (v. 24) who approves of the form kalyam; he also adds vibhātam and vyuṣṭam and further states that in Deśī the word was gosarga

kāle sādhu kālyaṃ, śāśvataḥ

116 kālaḥ sṛjati bhūtāni kālaḥ saṃharate prajāḥ |
saṃharantaṃ prajāḥ kālaṃ kālaḥ śamayate punaḥ |

kalyaṃ prabhātaṃ sajjaṃ ca kalyo nīroga dakṣayoḥ | vibhātaṃ vyuṣṭaṃ
ca | gosargo deśyām |

(b) Tamī (I.3.4; p.32)–


Kṣīrasvāmin observes that the word can also be used as tamā as in Vidagdhamukhamaṇḍana. He also adds vāsateyī given in Mālā to denote the night–

ke bhūṣayanti stanamaṇḍalāni kīdṛśyumā candramasaḥ kutaḥ śrīḥ | kimāha sītā daśavaktranītā hārā mahādevaratā tamātaḥ || iti tamāpi | vāsateyīti mālāyām |

(c) Pakṣiṇī (I. 3. 5; pp. 32-3)–

[A night between two days:]

Amarakośa mentions that a night between two days is denoted by the term pakṣiṇī.

Kṣīrasvāmin suggests that a day between two nights is also denoted by the same word–

pūrvāparayoḥ pakṣayoriva madhye vartamānatvāt vartamānāho yadīyā niśā—niśā madhye'pi divasaḥ—pakṣiṇītyahuḥ |

(d) Niśītha (I. 3. 6; p. 33)–


Amarakośa gives ardharātra and niśītha as synonyms.

Kṣīrasvāmin explains that the time when all living beings are fast asleep is niśītha and justifies his statement by quoting the text of Kātya

niyataṃ śerate'smin bhūtāni niśīthaḥ |
āta eva kātyo
niśīthaṃ suptajanamāha |

(e) Puṣpavantau (I. 3. 11; p. 33)–

[The Sun and the Moon:]

Amarakośa mentions that the Sun and the Moon together are denoted by a single word puṣpavantau.

This idea of denoting both by a single term is emphasised by Kṣīrasvāmin citing the example of the word rodasī which is also a single term used to denote both earth and sky. He also explains that puṣpa means brightness: ekoktyā

āpṛthagvacanena rodasīvat na tu puṣpavāninduḥ sūryo vocyate puṣpaṃ vikāśaḥ prakāśa ityarthaḥ ||

Footnotes and references:


kālaḥ sṛjati bhūtāni kālaḥ saṃharate prajāḥ |
saṃharantaṃ prajāḥ kālaṃ kālaḥ śamayate punaḥ |

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