कुलटा । This word refers to both “unchaste woman” and “honourable female mendicant”. How is it possible that a single word could mean both negative and positive meanings? It is possible, as the meaning is same in both the cases. However, its connotations are different. This word कुलटा is to be explained as “कुलानाम् अटा”. Meaning “wanderer of houses”. अटा means अटति इति अटा – “one who wanders”. Unchaste woman also “wanders from house to house” to satisfy her sexual wish. At the same time female mendicant also “wanders house to house” for Bhiksha (dharma begging). So the meanings “unchaste woman” and “honourable mendicant” are suggestive in nature. Hence, the word कुलटा means two distinct senses.
Here, there is a debate among the scholars “in which way this word कुलटा is to be explained?” There are two possibilities to explain this word कुलटा । One is कुलानाम् अटा इति कुलटा । The other one is कुलानि अटति इति कुलटा । Both explanations can mean suggestively both the meanings. However, here the debate is in which it is to be derived.
Here, 1) the commentary Balamanorama (a commentary on Siddhanta Kaumudi) says “कुलटेति – अट गतौ, पचाद्यच्, टाप्। कुलानाम् अटा इति विग्रहः। भिक्षार्थं व्यभिचारार्थं वा या गृहान् अटति सा कुलटा। कुलानि अटति इति विग्रहे तु कर्मण्यणि ङीप् स्यात् । (अर्थात् कुलाटी इति रूपं स्यात्)।तथा च कुल+अटा इति स्थिते पररूपम्”। 2) Another commentary Tattvabodhinii says “ अटति इति अटा। पचद्यचि टाप् । कुलस्य अटा=कुलटा। यदि तु कुलम् अटति इति विगृह्णते तदा कर्मण्यणि ङीपि कुलाटी इति स्यात्”। 3) Vacaspatya Kosha says “व्यभिचारिण्यां स्त्रियां कुलटा इति, या भिक्षार्थं कुलम् अटति सा कुलाटा इति तत्र न पररूपम् इति”। 4) Commentaries on Amarakosha authored by Kshiirasvami and Sarvananda say “कुलानि अटति=कुलटा, पचाद्यच्, शकन्ध्वादिः” and “कुलानि अटति=कुलटा, पचादिः शकन्ध्वादिः” respectively.
For us Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali are authentic in grammar. Panini did not say anything on this matter. Katyayana just said पररूपं takes place in the words शकन्धुः, कुलटा etc. He also did not say about its explanation. However, Patanjali shows this much “कुल अटा कुलटा। This is the key to us. By this he meant that अटा is the separate word. So we can infer that what Patanjali had in his mind. He wished to convey the explanation “कुलानाम् अटा कुलटा”. This is evident from his “कुल अटा कुलटा”. That is what explained by KaiyaTa a commentator on Mahabhashya of Patanjali as “अटति इति अटा पचाद्यच् । पश्चात् कुलेन सम्बन्धः । अन्यथा कर्मण्यण् इति अण्प्रसङ्गः”। Nagesha a commentator on KaiyaTa says as “कुलटा – स्वैरविहारिणी भिक्षुकी च”। These commentaries reveals the intention of Patanjali.
Hence, the explanation should be कुलानाम् अटा = कुलटा and not कुलानि अटति इति कुलटा । If we explain कुलानि अटति इति कुलटा, then the word should take form as कुलाटी and not कुलटा। So the explanations given at S.No. 3 and 4 at para third are wrong as they are against the intention of Patanjali.
Thus, कुलानाम् अटा = कुलटा is the right explanation, which can mean both “unchaste woman and honourable mendicant”.
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