Amarakoshodghatana of Kshirasvamin (study)

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

This page relates ‘Flora (15): Hydrophytes and Phylum algae’ 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.

Flora (15): Hydrophytes and Phylum algae

The Vāri varga rightly describes the phylum algae and the hydrophytes as follows:

(a) Kalhāra (I. 9. 37; p. 68)–


All species of lotus and lily being acquatic are grouped under hydrophytes.

(i) The lilies are categorised according to their colour. The white water lilly is called saugandhika and kalhāra.

Kṣīrasvāmin observes that the first variety is very fragrant–

sugandhi prayojanaṃ saugandhikākhyam |

And explains that kalhāra is so called for its whiteness–

ke hlādate kahvaraṃ śāradaṃ śuklaṃ caitat |

(ii) The red lily is hallaka or raktasandhyaka.

Kṣīrasvāmin mentions these to be red in colour–

raktotphalaṃ caitat |

The acquatic plants like lilies and lotuses have adaptations to survive in that medium. Such features also find mention in the commentary of Kṣīrasvāmin

(i) Karahāṭa (I. 9. 43; p. 69)–

[The root of a water lily:]

Kṣīrasvāmin explains it as that which abandons water, the waxy coating on the shoots, roots and leaves which prevent soaking of the plant suggests the lightness of the plant, a typical feature of aquatic plants–

kaṃ rahayatīti karahān kūlotthān padmānaṭati karahāṭaḥ |

(ii) Its spherical arrangement of petals are referred to by the etymology of Kṣīrasvāmin–

saṃvartayati veṣṭayati saṃvartikā |
navodbhinnaṃ dalaṃ śaraccandrikākhyam |

(b) Jalanīlī (I. 9. 39; p. 68)–

[The Phylum algae:]

Phylum algae is mentioned in Vāri varga inkeeping with their habitat. The blue green algae which is of great medicinal value could be meant by jalanīlī

nīlikākhyo jalaśūko'pi |

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