Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Musical instruments (e.g., Stringed, Percussions, Cymbals and Wind-blown)’ 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.

Musical instruments (e.g., Stringed, Percussions, Cymbals and Wind-blown)

Amarakośa after defining the notes, tones and harmony, mentions the various instruments begining with vāditra.

Vāditra (I. 6. 6; p. 49)–

A musical instrument: Amarakośa says that the vāditra or ātodya is a musical instrument which has all the characteristics of the four types of music.

Substantiating the same Kṣīrasvāmin quotes from Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra (28 -1)–

“Regular musical instruments are of four kinds, such as tatam (stringed), avanaddha (percussions), ghana (cymbals) and suṣira (wind-blown)”

caturvidhamidaṃ vādyaṃ vāditrātodya nāmakam |
tataścaivāvanaddhaṃ ca ghanaṃ suṣirameva ca |
caturvidhaṃ tu
vijñeyamātodyaṃ lakṣaṇānvitam ||

(a) Tatam (I. 6. 5; p. 48)–

[Stringed instrument:]

Amarakośa says any stringed instrument like vīṇā is called tatam[1].

Kṣīrasvāmin adds that sairandhrī, Rāvaṇahasta, Kinnarī etc., as other stringed instruments–

tantrī tananāttatam | ādi śabdātsairandhrīrāvaṇahastakinnaryādi |

Vīṇā (I. 6. 4; p. 48)–

[Lute:]

Amarakośa gives three synonyms for a lute namely–vīṇā, vallakī, vipañcī[2] and pāṇivāditra. Kṣīrasvāmin adds ghoṣavatī to the list.

Mahatī[3] (III. 3. 69; p. 286):

Amarakośa mentions mahatī as a variety of lute which Kṣīrasvāmin mentions as one comprising of 100 strings–

śatatantrī vīṇā mahatī |

The Taittirīya saṃhitā 7. 5. 9. 2 mentions a variety of vīṇā called vāna which consists of a wide plank of Udumbara wood with 100 strings.

Kacchapī (III. 3. 132; p. 301):

Amarakośa mentions kacchapī as a variety of lute which Kṣīrasvāmin mentions is also called sārasvatā

vīṇā viśeṣaḥ sārasvatākhyaḥ |

The various parts of the lute are described as follows:

(i) Koṇa (I. 6. 8; p. 49)–The bow or quill: Amarakośa defines it as the bow used to play the lute[4].

Kṣīrasvāmin adds an interesting remark that even a hundred stringed instrument was played with it and hence earns the name vāditravādanam

kuṇatyanena koṇo vādanakāṣṭhaṃ ḍhakkādyupayogī, kuṇa śabde |
śatatantrīpyanena vādyate āta eva koṇo
vāditravādanam |

(ii) Kakubha (I. 6. 8; p. 49)–Crooked piece of wood at the end of lute: While describing the various parts of a lute Amarakośa mentions kakubha is the Prasevaka.

The word kakubha is well explained by Kṣīrasvāmin as the belly below the neck of the lute which is made of wood for giving a majestic tone–

kaṅkate kakubhaḥ daṇḍādhaḥ śabdagāmbhīryārthaṃ dārumayaṃ bhāṇḍaṃ yad bhastrayācchādyate |

(iii) Kolambaka (I. 6. 8; p. 49)–Body of the lute: Amarakośa mentions that the body of the lute is called kolambaka and Kṣīrasvāmin opines that it is a corrupt form or apabhraṃśa word of ‘Kevalambante tantryotra’—

ke āvalambante tantryotretyapabhraṃśe kolambakaḥ kulasaṃstyāna ityasmādvā āmbac |

(b) Suṣira (I. 6. 5; p. 49)–

[Wind instruments:]

Kṣīrasvāmin observes that the word signifies the cavity in the instrument and that the easterners read the word as śuṣirasuṣicchidraṃ vidyate'sya suṣiram śuṣiramiti prācyāḥ | But he does not explain the word ādi in Amarakośa' s statement vaṃśādikam suṣiram.

At first the flutes in India were made from vaṃśa (bamboo) and hence called by the same name, says Nāṭyaśāstra (30. 1)–

ātodyam suṣiram nāma jñeyam vaṃśakam budhaiḥ. Saṅgītaratnākara (VI. 424)

Mentions that besides wood (khadira and candana) horns, ivory and other metals were also used in making flutes.

(c) Avanaddha (I.6.4, 6; p.48, 49)–

[Percussion instruments:]

Defining avanaddha as murajādikam, Amarakośa enlists different instruments of this group as–mṛdaṅga, muraja, aṅkyā, āliṅgyā, ūrdhvaka, yaśaḥpataha, ḍhakkā, bherī, dundubhi and ānaka. To this list Kṣīrasvāmin adds dardura and karaṭa. Nāṭyaśāstra (XXXIII. 10-13)[5] gives an interesting anecdote about sage Svāti creating these instruments with the help of Viśvakarman; it is also said that he further covered these instruments with hides and bound them with strings.

(d) Other instruments (I. 6. 9; p. 49)–

Ḍamaru, maḍḍu, ḍiṇḍima, jhañjhara mardala and paṇava are other instruments mentioned by Amarakośa after discussing the four types of musical instruments. Commenting on these Kṣīrasvāmin says–(i) the ḍamaru is so called since the noise ' ḍam ' is raised by it is avyakta (unclear), (ii) the maḍḍuka is a jalavādya (water instrument); ḍiṇḍima and jhañjhara are so called because of the sound they make.

Kṣīrasvāmin adds to the list–huḍukā gomukha and the like–

ḍamityavyaktaṃ śabdamiyarti ḍamaruḥ |
maḍḍu kāyati maḍḍūccāraṇāt maḍḍūkaṃ
jalavādyamāhuḥ |
ḍiṇḍimajharjharau śabdānukārāt |
ānye huḍukagomukhādayaḥ |

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

tataṃ vīṇādikaṃ... |

[2]:

Nāṭyaśāstra XXIX. 120: saptatantrī bhaveccitrā vipañcī navatantrikā | vipañcī koṇavādyā syāccitrā cāṅgulivādanā | ... vīṇā tu vallakī | vipañcī sā tu tantrībhiḥ saptabhiḥ parivādinī | vīṇā bhede'pi |

[3]:

Mahatī is the name of the lute of Nārada.

[4]:

mahatī | koṇo vīṇādi vādanam |

[5]:

... mṛdaṅgāṃśca puṣkarānasṛjattataḥ |
paṇavaṃ durdurāṃścaiva sahito viśvakarmaṇā ||
devānāṃ dundubhiṃ dṛṣṭvā cakāra murajaṃ tataḥ |
āliṅgyamūrdhvakaṃ caiva tathaivāṅkameva ca ||
carmaṇā cāvanaddhāṃstān mṛdaṅgān durdurāṃstathā |
tantrībhiḥ paṇavaṃ
caivamūhāpohaviśāradaḥ ||
bhūyaścānyānapi tathā kāṣṭhāyasakṛtānyatha |
jhallarīpaṭahādīni carmanaddhāni tāni tu ||

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