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Women In The Sacred Laws
Kulapati's Preface The Author
Foreword Prologue
The Dharma Sutras Contemporary Evidence
The Manu - Samhita The Later Law-Books
Digest On Hindu Law Espirit Des Lois
Major Sections

CONTEMPORARY EVIDENCE

The word Avarodha which indicated the strictest type of seclusion, is also to be found in the literary works of the classical period.(16 a) But it cannot be traced in Vatsyayana book. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that the word was in vogue even before the beginning of the Christian Era, as it is clearly proved by its occurrence in Rock Edict VI of Asoka.

Hence, it can be concluded that the practice of the seclusion of women was prevalent at least as early the Maurya period; for the word occurs in Kautilya: as well as in the inscriptions of Asoka. But perhaps the earliest reference to the existence of’ this custom can be inferred from that Sutra of Panini (17) which teaches us the formation of the word Asuryampasya which is explained by a commentator, the author of the Kasika, as Asuryampasya Rajadarah. (Those who do not see the sun are the wives of kings).

This shows that in the time of Panini, a most rigid type, of seclusion existed in the royal families. Panini has been assigned to the fifth century B.C. The practice of Purdah must have come into vogue before his time. The word Asurayampasya is known to Sanskrit literature and has been used with reference to the princess figuring in the historical drama Kaumudimahotsavah. 18

If Panini lived and wrote in the 5th century B.C., we may reasonably assume that this change in society, at least in the., royal families, as Panini directly refers to royal households, must have taken place at least a century previously. But the epics and classical Sanskrit literature do not indicate seclusion of such a rigorous type as is implied by the term Asurayampasya: which suggests that such a rigid seclusion was probably more prevalent in that part of the country where Panini lived.

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Women In The Sacred Laws
About Contemporary Evidence
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