Friday, April 7, 2006

दुर्गलक्षणम् (fort classifications)

Some more background to the unusual eightfold classification of durgāṇi (forts) given in the (well-titled) Sāṃrājyalakṣmīpīṭhikā of the Ākāśabhairavakalpa. I cannot date the text yet though with a bit more work it should be possible with quite some precision. The first 30 of its 139 chapters are concerned with the Tantric cult of the Goddess embodying the welfare of the polity: Sāṃrājyalakṣmī.

Chapters 31–38 I will discuss in the next few posts, they are concerned with fortresses, and I had ample opportunity to make use of them while exploring
Senji. I quote from the editor’s introduction:
“We have in the Saraswati Mahal the personal copies of this work inscribed with the names of some of the Mahratta kings of Tanjore, and it is clear that this work has been regularly studied and practised by every prince and heir-apparent in our country.”
I tried on several occasions to see these MSS in the Sarasvatī Mahal Library in Tanjore but was denied every single time (the reasons varied). I will of course try again on my next visit. It should be self-evident that this is a text of great importance to all serious historians of South India (that is, those who still bother with that “antiquarian pursuit” of trying to make sense of primary sources…). Click below for more...

That there should be eight basic types of durga appears to be somewhat unusual. A common list gives six types:

dhanvadurga (desert-fort),
mahīdurga (earth-fort),
abdurga (water-fort),
vārkṣadurga or vanadurga (tree-fort),
nṛdurga (man-fort),
giridurga (mountain-fort).
Many thanks to Peter Bisschop for sending me these references for the sixfold classification:

Manusmṛti 7.70–71:
dhanvadurgaṃ mahīdurgam abdurgaṃ vārkṣam eva vā |
nṛdurgaṃ giridurgaṃ vā samāśritya vaset puram ||
sarveṇa tu prayatnena giridurgaṃ samāśrayet |
eṣāṃ hi bāhuguṇyena giridurgaṃ viśiṣyate ||

Mahābhārata: 12.87.4–5:
ṣaḍvidhaṃ durgam āsthāya purāṇy atha niveśayet
sarvasaṃpatpradhānaṃ yad bāhulyaṃ vāpi saṃbhavet
dhanvadurgaṃ mahīdurgaṃ giridurgaṃ tathaiva ca
manuṣyadurgam abdurgaṃ vanadurgaṃ ca tāni ṣaṭ

Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa 2.26.06–7:
tatra durgaṃ nṛpaḥ kuryāt ṣaṇṇām ekatamaṃ budhaḥ/
dhanvadurgaṃ mahīdurgaṃ naradurgaṃ tathā^eva ca//
vārkṣaṃ caivāṃbudurgaṃ ca giridurgaṃ ca bhārgava/
sarveṣāṃ eva durgāṇāṃ giridurgaṃ praśasyate//

Ibid 3.323.15cd–16
tatra durgāṇi kurvīta svadurgaṃ ca viśeṣavat//
dhanvadurgaṃ mahīdurgaṃ giridurgaṃ tathaiva ca/
abdurgaṃ vṛkṣadurgaṃ ca naradurgaṃ tathaiva ca//

A further text giving this six-fold classification is Agnipurāṇā 2.221B.1–5.

Compared with this ancient, very theoretical, list the account of fortresses given in the
Sāṃrājyalakṣmīpīṭhikā is much more detailed. Even at first reading it gives the impression that it is more practical, and after attempting to apply some of it to Senji this seems justified.

The Sāṃrājyalakṣmīpīṭhikā is, however, not the only text to expand this inherited classification scheme. Nine types of durga (fort) are discussed in the Abhilaṣitārthacintāmaṇi or Mānasollāsa of the Cālukya emperor Someśvaradeva (Someśvara III), composed in the Śaka year 1051 = 1129 AD. We do not really have a reliable text of this monumental work, both of the published editions can differ substantially, so reading them in concert is a must. Someśvaradeva classifies fortresses as follows:

jaladurga (water-fort),
giridurga (mountain-fort),
pāṣāṇadurga (stone-fort),
iṣṭikādurga (brick-fort),
mṛttikādurga (earthen-fort),
vanadurga (forest-fort),
marudurga (desert -fort),
dārudurga (wooden-fort),
naradurga (man-fort).

It is easily evident hat some of these might simply be duplicates based on double interpretations of the ancient terms. Thus the
vārkṣadurga could mean “fort made of trees” (= Someśvara’s dārudurga) or “fort built in a thorny thicket” (= Someśvara’s vanadurga).

1. Mānasollāsa, ed. R. Shama Sastry
Oriental Library Publications, Sanskrit Series No. 69
Mysore 1926

2. GOS = Gaekwad Oriental Series 28, Mānasollāsa Vol. 1, ed.
Gajanan K. Shrigondekar, Baroda 1925. Continued in GOS 84 138

From the
Mānasollāsa, Prakaraṇa 1, Durgādhyāya 5, navavidhadurgalakṣaṇam:

jaladurgaṃ giridurgaṃ & durgaṃ pāṣāṇanirmitam
iṣṭikābhiḥ kṛtaṃ durgaṃ
& durgaṃ syān mṛttikāmayam
vanadurgaṃ marudurgaṃ
& durgaṃ dāruvinirmitam
naradurgaṃ ca navamaṃ
& teṣāṃ vakṣyāmi lakṣaṇam
agādhenātha toyena
& veṣṭitaṃ jalajaṃ bhavet
durārohaṃ ca śailāgram
& udakena samanvitam
giridurgaṃ samākhyātaṃ
& nayaśāstraviśāradaiḥ
pāṣāṇaghaṭitaṃ durgam
& aśmadurgam udiritam
iṣṭikābhiḥ kṛtaṃ samyak
& sudhāliptaṃ samujjvalam
iṣṭikādurgam ākhyātaṃ
& parikhāveṣṭitaṃ mahat
mṛdā viracitaṃ yat tu
& tad durgaṃ mṛttikāmayam
vanadurgaṃ samākhyātaṃ
& ghanaṃ kaṇṭakaśākhibhiḥ
antaḥsthaiḥ sañcitaṃ toyaṃ
& bahiḥsthānāṃ ca durlabham
marudurgaṃ samākhyātaṃ
& marudeśasamaṃ yataḥ
dārubhir veṇubhiḥ kḷptaṃ
& durgaṃ dārumayaṃ smṛtam
śastrahastair mahāyodhair
& nirmitaṃ naradurgakam
eteṣām uttamaṃ durgaṃ
& girijaṃ jalajaṃ tathā
madhyamanītarāṇy āhuḥ
& kaniṣṭhaṃ syāc ca dārujam

iti navavidhadurgalakṣaṇam

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