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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

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 Kautilya’s time the fortified palace of the king was denoted by the term, as it was located in the heart of the town.

It is in Vatsyayana that we find this word used to designate a seraglio, and he is, in all probability, the first writer to use the term in this special sense. Vatsyayana refers to the seclusion of women and says, ‘The inmates of the Antahpura should not be allowed to go out nor any outsider to enter it, except, those of the approved character’.19

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Women In The Sacred Laws
About Contemporary Evidence
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