Nitiprakasika (Critical Analysis)

by S. Anusha | 2016 | 34,012 words

This page relates ‘Commentary of the Nitiprakashika’ of the study on the Nitiprakasika by Vaisampayana which deals primarily with with Dhanurveda, i.e., the science of war, weapons and military strategies of ancient Indian society. It further contains details on Niti-shastra, i.e., the science of politics and state administration but most verses of the Nitiprakashika deal with the classification and description of different varieties of weapons, based on the four groups of Mukta, Amukta, Muktamukta and Mantramukta.

Commentary of the Nītiprakāśikā

Compared to the author of the text, the commentator provides more information about himself. At the beginning of the commentary, after paying obeisance to Lord Jagannatha[1], Sītārāma, the commentator talks about himself and his family. His gotra is Kauṇḍiṇya and his father‘s name is Nañjuṇḍa.

He uses the term ‘budha’ as an adjective to his father, thereby, suggesting that he is hailing from an erudite and scholarly family (verse 2cd):

[...]

While, these informations are given in the latter two pādas of the verse, he proclaims his own knowledge in the earlier half of the verse.

By using the terms, siṃha and sudhīndra-agraṇīḥ he describes himself as a lion among scholars whom he probably won and gained fame (like the lion that gained pearls by crushing the temples of the mighty elephants) (verse 2ab).

[...]

Sitarama’ s proclamation that he is ‘the foremost among the excellent scholars’ is justified for the following reasons:

His style is simple, direct and elucidative; he has complete mastery over the subject namely, Nītiśāstra that he is dealing with; his scholarship is evident in the various places where he adds explanations and clarifications to the text and his commentary provides a detailed analysis of the text of war-science drawing support from epics, lexicons and Nītiśāstras.

The name of his father being Nañjuṇḍa, a name in Kannada language synonymous of Nīlakaṇṭha in Sanskrit, indicates his Śaivaite background. However, his paying obeisance to Lord Jagannatha and others indicates that he worshipped other deities also.

Dr. Oppert also reports that, he procured one of the manuscripts from M.R.Ry.T.Krishna Rao, a learned Brahmin of Triplicane, Chennai. This manuscript in Telugu letters had a complete commentary by Sītārāma, the son of Nañjuṇḍa.

He adds that,

“A learned Kanarese Brahmin of Mysore, whom I consulted, states that Sitārāma had lived in the place about three hundred years ago.”[2]

Urmi Shah agrees more or less to this viewpoint. She points out to the usage of words in the commentary like mleccha bhāṣa, patadgrāha and pīrudāna to say that Sītārāma is familiar with Persian words. She arrives at the date 1697 C.E for the commentary based on the colophonic details[3] and concurs with the idea of Dr. Oppert that he is probably a South Indian Brahmin, hailing from Karnataka (given his father‘s name).

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

[...]

[2]:

Oppert, Op. cit., p. 3

[3]:

Urmi Shah, pp. 20-2; p. 335fn.

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