Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Belief in the presence of evil spirits’ 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.

Belief in the presence of evil spirits

In explaining the word unmāda (I. 6. 27; p. 54), Kṣīrasvāmin says it is the abnormality of mind caused by the possession of evil spirits–

cittānavasthitirbhūtādyāveśāt |

Amarakośa mentions that the word yātayāmam[1] (III. 3.145; p. 304) signifies old and used. Kṣīrasvāmin illustrating the word in the sense of ‘used’ records that the darbhā, kṛṣṇājinam, mantras, brāhmaṇas, havis and agni can be used again and again; Indians seem to have held the view that these things are never considered as used products in rituals and sacrifices.

This is brought to the fore when Kṣīrasvāmin illustrates the word yātayāmam

paribhuktaṃ yathā—
kṛṣṇājinam mantrā brāhmaṇā haviragnayaḥ |
āyātayāmānyetāni niyojyāni punaḥ punaḥ ||

Kṣīrasvāmin illustrating the word ketanam[2] (III. 3. 114; p. 297), records the general custom “that a brāhmaṇa should not disregard an invitation”–

upanimantraṇe yathā—brāhmaṇo niketanaṃ nātikramet |

(a) Akaraṇiḥ (III. 2. 39; p. 268)–


Kṣīrasvāmin illustrates the word in the sense of curse ' that the use of condemned or unworthy metals may invite curse'–na karaṇam ākaraṇiḥ yathā -ākaraṇiriha bhūyādapraśastasya dhātuḥ |

(b) Varaḥ (III. 2. 8; p. 262) (III. 3. 173; p. 312):

Kṣīrasvāmin adds that the word also means “a boon or that which is sought” and quotes the statement of Kātya “that which is sought by penance from the gods” is vara or boon–

varaṇaṃ varaḥ vriyate vā | yatkātyaḥ—
tapobhiriṣyate yastu devebhyaḥ sa varo
mataḥ |

(c) Kāśyapī (II. 1. 2; p. 70)–


Amarakośa mentions kāśyapī as one of the synonyms of earth.

Kṣīrasvāmin while explaining this word refers to the legend of Bhārgava winning the earth and giving it to Kaśyapa[3]

kaśyapasyeyaṃ kāśyapī bhārgaveṇa jitvā hyasmai dattā |

(d) Tīrtham (III. 3. 86; p. 290)–

[Holy rivers:]

Amarakośa gives various meanings to this word. One of it is holy river. Kṣīrasvāmin explains that a river or a place resorted to by the sages is called a tīrtha and cites from Kumārasambhava (VI. 38) in support of his expalnation.

This is a general belief prevalant in India even today; Kṣīrasvāmin also gives example of such rivers as prabhāsa[4] tīrtha, puṣkara[5] tīrtha and others–

ṛṣi juṣṭaṃ prabhāsapuṣkarādi, yadadhyāsitamarhadbhistaddhi tīrthamiti |

(e) Ūrṇā (III. 3. 50; p. 281)–

[A circle of hair between the eyebrows:]

Amarakośa mentions that the word ūrṇā denotes both the wool of sheep and the circle of hair between the eyebrows.

Illustrating the latter meaning Kṣīrasvāmin quotes from nāgānanda (17; 5-32) that it is the symbol or indicative if emperorship–

āvartaścakravarticihnaṃ yathā—
ūrṇoyamantabhrurvoḥ |

Such and other beliefs based on the bodily features were and are still much prevalent in India.

Footnotes and references:


jīrṇaṃ ca paribhuktaṃ ca yātayāmam |; Cf. Bhagavad Gīta XVII. 10:
yātayāmaṃ gatarasaṃ pūtiparyuṣitaṃ ca yat |
ucchiṣṭamapi cāmedhyaṃ bhojanaṃ tāmasaḥ priyam ||


ātha ketanaṃ kṛtye ketāvupanimantraṇe |


Is in modern Gujarat, near the sea and has famous temple of Somanātha, one of the jyotirliṅgas; mentioned in Ādi parva, 218. 2-8; Śalya parva, 35. 42.


Lake, six miles from Ajmer. Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, P. V. 15.150; Cf. Padma Purāṇa Ch. 11 Svarga kāṇḍa for greatness of tīrthas.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: