Description of Elephant’s Scents in Pālakāpya’s Gajaśāstra

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Thawatchai Dulyasucharit
Samniang Leurmsai


Scents appear commonly in Sanskrit literature, especially the scents of flowers. However, other scents have still been overlooked in Sanskrit literature. The researchers have studied the descriptions related to elephant’s scents in Pālakāpya’s Gajaśāstra, a Sanskrit treatise of elephants. The aims of the study are twofold: to explore the classification of elephant’s scents in Gajaśāstra, and to explain the method for describing elephant’s scent in Gajaśāstra. It was found that there are limits of words for scent: gandha and surabhi, and verbs from ghra root, meaning to sniff. The scent classification in Gajaśāstra has three main criteria: 1) divided by auspicious characteristics, that is the scent is auspicious or not, 2) divided by the qualities of Sattvaguna which comprises of 6 classes, and 3) divided by the origins of the elephants, which have three groups of regions. The author uses a comparative method to describe the scents, which corresponds to the use of alamkāra in Sanskrit poetics: upamā. There are two major occurrences in the process: upamā, the object with which anything is compared (plants, animals, objects), and upameya, the subject of comparison (scents of elephants). In the text, upamāna can be separated into 3 classes: 1) 6 types from animals, 2) 22 types from plants, and 3) 14 types from objects. However, some types of scents were addressed by more than one word. Totally, there are 42 types of scents and addressed with 48 words.


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Dulyasucharit, T., & Leurmsai, S. (2020). Description of Elephant’s Scents in Pālakāpya’s Gajaśāstra. Journal of Human Sciences, 21(2), 29-45. Retrieved from
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