From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Amarakoṣa literally means ‘immortal lexicon’ or ‘Lexicon of Amarasimha’.

Lexicography is one of the important branches of technical literature in Sanskrit. The Nighantu, a vocabulary of Vedic words, is the oldest lexicon so far known. The Nirukta of Yāska (800 B. C.) is a commentary on it.

But among the extant lexicons of Sanskrit, the Amarakoṣa of Amarasiṃha (A. D. 500), a Buddhist scholar, who might have adorned the court of Vikramāditya, is the best known and the most widely used.

Popularly known as the Nāma-liñgānuśāsanam[1] and Trikānda [2], it is divided into three ‘kāṇḍas’ or books.

  1. The first called Svargakānda deals with heavenly matters.
  2. The second called Bhumikānda deals with earthly things.
  3. The third called Sāmānyakānda is concerned with general matters.

The whole work is written in the anuṣṭubh metre. A major part of the work deals with synonyms and only a small section called Nānārthavarga is devoted to homonyms.

Being the most popular of such lexicons, the Amarakosa has sixty commentaries. Out of them the Amarakosod-ghātana by Kṣīrasvāmin (11th cent A. D.) seems to be the earliest. Tikāsarvasva of Sarvānanda (12th cent. A. D.) are more scholarly works.


  1. Nāma-liñgānuśāsanam literatlly means ‘a work which deals with vocables and their genders’
  2. Trikānda literally means three ‘kāṇḍas’ or books
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore