by Sandeep Nangia

Spying in Polity and the paspaśāhnika in Science of Words

शब्दविद्येव नो भाति राजनीतिरपस्पशा

There has been a of hullaballoo recently about spying on Subhash Bose recently. I was reminded of this verse in शिशुपालवधम् by माघ which was told to me by a friend (emphasizing the importance of पस्पशाह्निक - the introductory chapter of Patanjali's Mahabhashya). But the real import of the verse is about the importance of spying in politics. Of course, I am not justifying that spying on Bose - that depends on the motives for that spying. Here goes that celebrated verse.

अनुत्सूत्रपदन्यासा सद्वृत्तिः सन्निबन्धना।
शब्दविद्येव नो भाति राजनीतिरपस्पशा॥
शिशुपालवधम् २.११२

This is what Magha says: राजनीति (politics) like शब्दविद्या (the science of words) even if it is अनुत्सूत्रपदन्यासा, सद्वृत्तिः and सन्निबन्धना does not shine forth if it is अपस्पशा.

Magha uses double meaning words to compress a lot here. The adjectives अनुत्सूत्रपदन्यासा, सद्वृत्तिः, सन्निबन्धना and अपस्पशा have two meanings each in the context of politics or the science of words.

In the context of राजनीति politics the meanings are:

अनुत्सूत्रपदन्यासा Completely conformant to the नीतिशास्त्र. सद्वृत्तिः Able to provide good subsistence (to ministers etc) सन्निबन्धना Having good grants/royal gifts अपस्पशा without spies

In the context of शब्दविद्या science of words the meanings are

अनुत्सूत्रपदन्यासा Having पदमञ्जरी and न्यास commentaries that are conformant to the (Panini) sutras. सद्वृत्तिः Having the good commentary काशिकावृत्ति सन्निबन्धना Having the good treatise (Mahabhashya) अपस्पशा without the introductory chapter पस्पशाह्निक (of Mahabhashya)

Wow, that's a lot in 32 mātrās.

End note

  • Had written this note on the spur of the moment and had published as a tweet. That tweet contains the Mallinatha’s commentary as well on this verse.