Panini is supposed to have been a native of Satatura, which was in
ancient Gandhara and it possible that such a strict seclusion was prevalent among some of
the foreign tribes that were settled in and about the northwest frontier of India. In
later times, however, the word lost its original literal sense and came to denote simply
the wives of kings.
The word occurs in Act II of the drama Kaumudimahotsavah, where
it is used with reference to Princess Kirtimati. But Princess Kirtimati was not, strictly
speaking, Asuryampasya, although saw, has been so styled in Verse 4 of the same act; for
we know that the freely moved about in broad daylight, when she goes, to pay her obeisance
to the goddess Chandika, near to whose temple she meets and falls in love with Prince
Kalyanavarman, who ultimately becomes the ruler of Magadha.
Such a princess cannot be called Asuryampasya at all. Nevertheless the
word originally must have conveyed the exact sense that follows front that compound. Hence
the earliest reference to the existence of seclusion of women is to be found in Panini and
it is followed by a reference to it by Kautilya in his Artha Sastra, where the seraglio
of women is termed Avarodha and Strinivesa.
The word Antahpura, no doubt, occurs there, but it means the entire
fortified palace. It is interesting to note how this word gradually changed its meaning
and came to indicate a seraglio. In Kautilyas time the fortified palace of the king
was denoted by the term, as it was located in the heart of the town.