The backdrop of the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa

by Dhrubajit Sarma | 2015 | 94,519 words

This page relates “Sanskrit kosha texts” as it appears in the case study regarding the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa. The Shrikanthacarita was composed by Mankhaka, sometimes during A.D. 1136-1142. The Mankhakosa or the Anekarthakosa is a kosa text of homonymous words, composed by the same author.

Part 1 - Sanskrit koṣa texts

The Sanskrit koṣa texts or the Sanskrit lexicography has an ancient origin. The koṣa or kośa also means thesaurus. It is an abridgement of abhidhānakośa or the treasure of words. It is used to mean dictionary or lexicon. Other terms employed to designate koṣa are nāmamālā i.e. garland of nouns or nāmapārāyaṇa i.e. complete list of nouns. [1] Again, Sanskrit poeticians take the kośa-kāvya in a different sense also. They understand anthologies by this term and define kośa-kāvya as a series of detached verses, arranged under different segments. The beginning of this anthological literature in India dates back probably in the 8th century A.D. or even prior to that. Though, the earlier anthologies are lost or not deciphered, yet among the extant treatises, those composed in the land of Kashmir are of great importance. The foremost among them are viz. the Subhāṣitāvalī of Vallavadeva, consisting of 3,527 verses, the Subhāṣitamuktāvalī or Sūkti-muktāvalī, attributed diversely to Jalhaṇa and physician Bhānu, consisting of 2,790 verses, another Subhāṣitāvalī of Śrīvara, the disciple of Jonarāja.[2] However, in the present context, the term koṣa is taken to mean the lexicography.

Originally, the koṣa texts were written to make the meaning of the difficult Vedic words understandable as well as to fulfil the practical necessities of the Sanskrit-Pāli and Prākṛt poets.[3] The Sanskrit lexicography is broadly divided into Vedic and general and special vocabularies. The first one is the nucleus of various Vedic commentaries and the best history of growth of our earliest ideas. Again, the other koṣas either treat of names of things (nāmamālā) or of words used in many senses (nānārthakoṣa).[4] The Indian lexicography is found to have rooted in the Vedic Nighaṇṭus. The Nighaṇṭu is suitable for deciphering the sense of the very old, hard words found in the Vedic mantras. While, in the Nighaṇṭus, the verbs are also inserted, however, in the koṣas, only the nouns and the indeclinables are included. Again, the Nighaṇṭus belong to some particular Vedic texts; the koṣas are not drawn from such word-books.[5] Regarding its objective also, the dictionaries and the Nighaṇṭus are far apart. The Nighaṇṭus serve as commentaries, while the other koṣas, containing a collection of uncommon and essential words, are meant for the use of the poets. The lexicographers are always found emphasizing that they have composed their works for the utilization of the poets. Thus, the study of the koṣas is closely connected with that of the kāvyas.

In the History of Sanskrit literature, there are examples of many poets, who were writers of koṣa also, viz. Murāri, Mayūra, Bāṇa, Śrīharṣa, Bilhaṇa, Maṅkhaka etc. Among them, Śrīharṣa, the writer of the Naiṣadhacarita, had written the Śleṣārthapadasaṃgraha, a dictionary of homonyms, with the intention of employment of puns. It may be mentioned here that the koṣa texts are generally written mostly in Śloka or Anuṣṭubh metre, also in the metre Āryā. Thus, the koṣa texts are important compendium as well as handbooks for the ornate poets. The authors of the koṣa texts always endow their works with information gathered from various sciences viz. Nītiśāstra, astronomy, nouns as well as all the important words. Therefore, the poets, who undertake the study of the koṣas, need not involve themselves in the laborious task of studying other sciences.

The koṣas are of two types viz. synonymical and homonymical. The first variety contains systematically arranged collection of words, having one and the same sense. They are found arranged according to the theme, with the form of a real encyclopaedia. They are also, found containing a section on homonymous words. Again, the second type is consisting of words with meanings more than one i.e. anekārtha or nānārtha. It is to be noted here that the words in the koṣas are arranged on the basis of various principles such as considering the extent of the items, in order of the letters (either according to the terminal consonant or according to the initial letter or according to both at the same time) or according to the number of syllables. Whereas, in the homonymical dictionaries, the words and their meanings stand either side by side in the nominative or the senses are placed in the locative form. Again, some of the koṣa texts, not only provides the meaning, but also contain a section, wherein the gender of words are kept as an appendix. Sometimes, according to the gender also, the words are systematised partly. The older koṣas are found in fragments, arranged neither alphabetically nor according to any other method. They tend to explain the words such elaborately that they spend a complete verse to express the meaning of a single word. On the contrary, in the subsequent koṣas, the largest possible number of words has been dragged into a single stanza.

The Nighaṇṭus are found at the very outset of Indian koṣa texts. Though, at the ancient times, there were many Nighaṇṭus, however, at present only one Nighaṇṭu is available and there is divergence of opinion about the authorship also. According to the evidence found in the Mahābhārata, Kaśyapa is the compiler of the same. Yāska has written his Nirukta (Nirukta) on the basis of the Nighaṇṭu. This Nirukta is the oldest extant koṣa text, containing a collection Vedic terms. It is a treatise on etymology, philology and semantics. Tradition ascribes wrongly the list of words or the Nighaṇṭus to Yāska. Actually, the work of Yāska is only a commentary to this list of words. The Nirukta is consisting of five chapters. The first three chapters are known to be naighaṇṭukakāṇḍa, the fourth chapter is called the naigamakāṇḍa and the fifth one is said to be the daivatakāṇḍa. Among these, the naighaṇṭukakāṇḍa, consists of three lists, in which words are collected under certain main ideas. The naigamakāṇḍa, is consisting of a list of ambiguous and particularly difficult words of the Veda. The daivatakāṇḍa classifies the deities, according to the three regions, viz. earth, sky and heaven.

Among older koṣa texts and their authors, there was one Nānārthakoṣa, mentioned in the Kāśikā. Again, the Nāmamālā of Kātyāyana or Kātya, the Śabdārṇava of Vācaspati, the Saṃsārāvarta of Vikramāditya, the Utpalinī of Vyāḍi, were a few of them. However, amongst the grammarian, as Pāṇini had pushed aside all of his ancestors as well as stands at the topmost level, regarding reputation among his contemporaries and descendants, likewise among the koṣa texts, there stands out predominantly the name of Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana otherwise known as Amarakoṣa Amarasiṃha, of about 7th century A.D., wrote this book. Though primarily a Buddhist, Amarasiṃha is not found to have giving attention to the Buddhist vocables in his work. The decline of Buddhism in India starts in 8th century A.D. and thus, it may be assumed that Buddhist Amarasiṃha lived in between 6th to 8th century A.D., probably in the 7th century A.D.[6] He might have younger than Kālidāsa as he is seen deriving materials from Kālidāsa. Tradition places him among the navaratnas i.e. nine gems in the court of king Vikramāditya.

The Amarakoṣa, a dictionary of synonymous words, is consisting of three sections, for which reason it is termed often Trikāṇḍī.[7] Section I contains words for the heaven, gods, atmosphere, stars, time, sound, word, language, snakes, music, dance, netherworld, sea, water, island, river, ship, water-animals and water-plant etc. Section II is consisting of the words for city, forest, earth, mountain, trees, plants, animals, man, woman, disease, relationships, body parts, various garments, jewelleries etc. Section III is couched up of the words for compound words and supplements on homonyms, adjectives, indeclinables and on the gender of nouns.

There are many commentators of the Amarakoṣa, not less than fifty, Among them, Bhaṭṭa Kṣīrasvāmin (11th century A.D.), Sarvānanda, Bhānuji, Maheśvara, Bṛhaspati Rāyamukuṭamaṇi (15th century A.D.) are prominent. The most popular commentary on the Amarakoṣa, is considered to be written by Rāmāśrama. The Trikāṇḍaśeṣa is a supplement to the Amarakoṣa, arranged exactly like that of the Amarakoṣa was written by Puruṣottamadeva (probably of 12th century A.D.).[8] It contains rare names of Buddha and many peculiar words, words of inscriptions as well as Prākṛt words. The same author wrote another small koṣa named Hārāvalī. The Hārāvalī is a collection of rare words and its Nānārtha part is divided into two sections. Both of these works are of considerable authority among the Paṇḍits.[9] Another important homonymical work on koṣa is Śāśvata’s Anekārthasamuccaya (6th century A.D.) Halāyudha wrote the Abhidhānaratnamālā (10th century A.D.). Then comes the Vaijayantī of Yādavaprakāśa (11th century A.D.), Nāmamālā of Dhanañjaya, the poet, (written between A.D. 1123-1140), Viśvaprakāśa of Maheśvara, (written in A.D. 1111). The arrangement of the Viśvaprakāśa is first by final consonants, divided into monosyllables, disyllables etc. the final arrangement is by affixes, words with the same affix being always grouped together.[10] Thereafter, Maṅkhaka wrote the Anekārthakośa or the Maṅkhakośa (12th century A.D.), with a commentary.

It may be mentioned here that Maṅkhaka himself acknowledges the names of the following lexicographers viz. Halāyudha, Amarasiṃha, Śāśvata, Dhanvantari. According to him, he utilizes the koṣa text of Śāśvata particularly. Maṅkhaka suggests a great number of meanings in his lexicon, which are not found, indicated in any other dictionary. He often cites Bhallaṭa, the poet and the Harṣacarita, in his commentary of the text. Hemacandra wrote the Abhidhānacintāmaṇimālā, a synonymical dictionary of much importance. As a supplement to this work, he also wrote the Nighaṇṭuśeṣa. He is to his credit, another work named Anekārthasaṃgraha (Anekārthasaṃgraha), a homonymical dictionary consisting of seven chapters. Towards the end of the 12th or in the beginning of the 13th century A.D., Keśavasvāmin wrote the Nānārthārṇavasaṃkṣepa, wherein, words are arranged according to the number of syllables, alphabet and gender. Again, in the 14th century A.D., Medinīkāra wrote the Nānārthaśabdakośa, otherwise known as the Medinīkoṣa or shortly the Medinī. The source of this work is said to be the Viśvaprakāśa of Maheśvara Kavīndra.[11] In the Medinī, the words are arranged first, according to the final consonants and next, according to the syllables, as found in the Viśvaprakāśa of Maheśvara, but the final arrangement is more or less alphabetical as in Anekārthasaṃgraha of Hemacandra.[12]

Besides these, there were some other koṣa texts, worthy to be mentioned viz. the Nānārthamañjarī of Rāghava (14th century A.D.), Nānārtharatnamālā of Irugapa Daṇḍādhinātha, (in the reign of Harihara II of Vijayanagara, A.D. 1379-1406), consisting of six kāṇḍas. There is the Kalpataru of Viśvanātha, containing both synonymous and homonymous words. It deals also with the gender of words as well as the indeclinables. Bhoja of Dhārā has been attributed the authorship of Nāmamālikā, a small lexicon. Mahīpa wrote the Anekārthatilaka, of uncertain date. Herein the words are alphabetically arranged in each chapter.[13] The Ekārthanāmamālā-dvyakṣaranāmamālā has been attributed to Saubharī of A.D. 1582. There is the Abhidhānappadīpikā, the Buddhist koṣa text of peculiar characteristics. Harṣakīrti wrote two dictionaries viz. the Śāradīyākhyanāmamālā, divided into four vargas and the Śabdānekārtha (A.D. 16th century).[14] In the 17th century A.D., Śāhaji, the ruler of Tanjore wrote the Śābdaratnasamanvaya and the Kalpadrukośa was written by Keśava. The Śabdakalpadruma was written by Rādhākāntadeva (A.D. 1822-1858) and the Vācaspatyaṃ was composed by Tārānātha Tarkavācaspati. In 1884, Anunoram Borooah wrote the Nānārthasaṃgraha (Nāns). In compiling this lexicon, he drew upon the works of seven different lexicographers, viz. Amarasiṃha, Maheśvara, Hemacandra, Halāyudha, Puruṣottamadeva, Hārāvali and Medinīkāra.[15]

Besides these, synonymical and homonymical dictionaries, there were the glossaries of words, suitable for writing in different manners like Dvirūpakoṣa, Trirūpakoṣa etc. Moreover, there were astronomical, astrological, medical and botanical glossaries also. Again, there were the Nṛtyaratnakoṣa of Mahārāja Kumbhakarṇa of Citrakūṭa, Vasturatnakoṣa of anonymous writer.[16] This way, there were lots of Sanskrit koṣa texts flourished through the ages.

Footnotes and references:


Winternitz, M., History of Indian Literature., fn, page 491


Banerji, Sures Chandra, Cultural Heritage of Kashmir, pages 100-102


Sanskrit Sāhityar Itivṛtta, Sarma, T., page 331


Borooah, A., Nānārthasaṃgraha, Preface, page 21


Winternitz, M., History of Indian Literature., page 492


Winternitz, M., History of Indian Literature., page 494


Ibid., page 494


Ibid., page 495


Borooah, A., Nānārthasaṃgraha, Preface, page 25


Ibid., page 23


Ibid., page 498


Nānārthasaṃgraha, Borooah, A., Preface, page 26


Ibid., page 499


Ibid., page 499


Borooah, A., Nānārthasaṃgraha, Introduction by C. P. Saikia, pages 7-8


Ibid., 500

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