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The Amarakosha (Devanagari: अमरकोशः, IAST: Amarakośa) is the popular name for Namalinganushasanam (Devanagari: नामलिङ्गानुशासनम्, IAST: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsanam) a thesaurus in Sanskrit written by the ancient Indian scholar Amarasimha. It may be the oldest extant kosha. The author himself mentions 18 prior works, but they have all been lost. There have been more than 40 commentaries on the Amarakosha.
The word "Amarakosha" derives from the Sanskrit words amara ("immortal") and kosha ("treasure, casket, pail, collection, dictionary"). The actual name of the book "Namalinganushasanam" means "instruction concerning nouns and gender".
Amarasimha is said to have been one of the Navaratnas ("nine gems") at the court of Vikramaditya, the legendary king inspired by Chandragupta II, a Gupta king who reigned around AD 400. Some sources indicate that he belonged to the period of Vikramaditya of 7th century.
The Amarakosha consists of verses that can be easily memorized. It is divided into three khāṇḍas or chapters. The first, svargādi-khāṇḍa ("heaven and others") has words pertaining to gods and heavens. The second, bhūvargādi-khāṇḍa ("earth and others") deals with words about earth, towns, animals and humans. The third, sāmānyādi-khāṇḍa ("common") has words related to grammar and other miscellaneous words.
Svargadhikanda, the first Kanda of the Amarakosha begins with the verse 'Svaravyam swarganakathridivatrishalaya..' describing various names of Heaven viz. Sva, Avya, swarga, Naka, Tridiva, Tridasalaya etc. The second verse 'Amara, nirjara, deva,’ describes various words that are equivalent to word God. The fifth and sixth verses give various names of Gautama Buddha. The following verses give the different names of Brahma, Vishnu, Vasudeva, Balarama, etc. All these names are treated with great reverence which makes it difficult to ascertain Amara Sinha's theological bent.
The second Kanda, Bhuvargadhikanda, of the Amarakosha is divided into ten Vargas or parts. The ten Vargas are Bhuvarga (Earth), Puravarga (Towns or Cities), Shailavarga (Mountains), Vanoshadivarga (Forests and medicines), Simhadivarga (Lions and other animals), Manushyavarga (Mankind), Bramhavarga (Brahmin), Kshatriyavarga (Kshatriyas), Vysyavarga (Vysyas) and Sudravarga (Sudras).
The Third Kanda, Samanyadhikanda contains Adjectives, Verbs, words related to prayer and business etc. The first verse Kshemankaroristatathi Shivathathi Shivamkara gives the Nanarthas of the word Shubakara or propitious as Kshemankara, Aristathathi, Shivathathi and Shivamkara.
- Amarakoshodghātana by Kṣīrasvāmin (11th century CE, the earliest commentary)
- Tīkāsarvasvam by Vandhyaghatīya Sarvānanda (12th century)
- Rāmāsramī (Vyākhyāsudha) by Bhānuji Dīkshita
- Padachandrikā by Rāyamukuta
- Kāshikavivaranapanjikha by Jinendra Bhudhi
- Pārameśwari by Parameswaran Mōsad in Malayalam
In Popular Culture
The words "immortal," "treasure" and "gem" may have inspired the American writer Jane Espenson, previously a student of metaphor with the linguist George Lakoff, to invent the "Gem of Amara." In the episodes The Harsh Light of Day of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and In the Dark of the series Angel, both transmitted on 19th October 1999, the Gem of Amara is a ring, part of a buried treasure, which makes a vampire invulnerable while wearing it.
The Pali thesaurus Abhidhānappadīpikā, composed in the twelfth century by the grammarian Moggallāna Thera, is based on the Amarakosha.
- Amarakosha compiled by B.L.Rice, edited by N.Balasubramanya, 1970, page X
- Literary and Historical Studies in Indology, Vasudev Vishnu Mirashi, , Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1975, p. 50-51
- Krsnaji Govinda Oka, Poona City, Law Printing Press, 1913
- Amarakosha at sanskritdocuments.org
- Amarakosha files by Avinash Sathaye
- The Nâmalingânusâsana (Amarakosha) of Amarasimha ; with the commentary (Amarakoshodghâtana) of Kshîrasvâmin (1913) at the Internet Archive.
- A web interface to access the knowledge structure in Amarakosha at Department of Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad.