This paper has two purposes. The first is to provide an accurate definition and history of the origin of the Sanskrit term akṣayanīvī. The standard scholarly translation of this term, which is encountered almost exclusively in inscriptions, is “permanent endowment” and has been established since the mid-19th century. It will be shown that the usual translations of both members of the compound—akṣaya as “permanent” and nīvī as “endowment”—are at the least misleading. This will be accomplished through a discussion of the occurrences of the terms in the Adhyakṣapracāra “Activities of Superintendents” (Book II of the Kauṭilya Arthaśāstra), with a particular focus on KA 2.6.27 which contains an explicit definition of nīvī. The second purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the Adhyakṣapracāra, the largest and most perplexing chapter of the KA, utilizes a technical vocabulary which points to a specific context of production. This will be done through an examination of a series of fiscal and administrative technical terms which occur in the Adhyakṣapracāra and which emerge in the Indian epigraphic record at around the time period and geographic region commonly given for the composition of the text (ca. 1st c. BCE—1st c. CE Western Maharashtra/Southern Gujarat).
This paper provides a new interpretation of a type of etymological explanation (T) characteristic of Yāska’s Nirukta. The proposed interpretation sheds light on Yāska’s distinctive ideas on the relation between semantics and etymology. Exemplified by the occurrence meghaḥ … mehati iti sataḥ, T conveys the following information: the noun to be explained is a name (nāman-) that denotes a certain thing (sattva-) as characterized by a certain action. In the example, the noun meghaḥ is a name that denotes the thing cloud as emitting rain-water (mehati). T operates with two ideas intersecting semantics and etymology: (1) names denote things in relation to the latter’s association with a name-giving action; (2) one thing can receive various names in relation to various name-giving actions. While (1) underlies Yāska’s etymologies in general, (2) informs T as well as the structural organization of noun groups in the Nighaṇṭu ‘Thesaurus’, the word-list constituting the root-text commented upon in the Nirukta. Recognition that (2) underlies both T and the Nighaṇṭu noun groups is consistent with the observation that most nouns explained with T occur in the Nighaṇṭu.
This study proposes a new understanding of the semantics behind Sanskrit śigru-, which Lubotsky (2002) suggested is a loanword from Scythian related to Old Persian *θigra(ka)- and Modern Persian sīr “garlic.” Although śigru- has been assumed to refer to Moringa oleifera Lam. “drumstick tree,” Meulenbeld (2009=2018) has shown that in Āyurvedic literature it is not exclusively used to denote moringa, but must have referred to various pungent, pro-pitta plants. Lubotsky proposed that what links śigru- (as moringa) to Iranian words for garlic is the idea of a sharp shape. However, given Meulenbeld’s conclusions, enhanced by the survey of śigru- in non-Āyurvedic literature undertaken here, the author proposes that the connection is sharp taste rather than shape. The pungent connection is supported by the fact that Dharma texts forbid eating śigru- along with garlic and onions, as well as by semantic developments of the Sanskrit root tij-. Finally, the survey allows for some cultural explanations of the traditional garlic-and-onion prohibition.