A. Villarroel's query

cardona at unagi.cis.upenn.edu cardona at unagi.cis.upenn.edu
Fri Feb 10 14:31:10 UTC 1995

A few days ago, A. Villarroel inquired about words in Sanskrit for a canal.
 I hope the following is helpful.  The word kulyaa refers to a canal used
for irrigation.  In the MahaabhaaSya, this is used three times in
illustrating how something intended for one purpose to begin with serves
other purposes also: Irrigation canals are made for the sake of rice
(zaalyarthaM kulyaaH praNiiyante), but water is also drunk from them
(taabhyaz ca paaNiiyam piiyate) and one takes water from them for aacamana
(upaspRzyate ca).  This is said in the Bh. on PaaNini 1.1.13, 1.3.12, and
6.1.50 (Rohatak edition I:263, II.239, IV.362-3); the same is said also in
Sabara's BhaaSya on Jaiminisuutra (Ananandasrama, vol. 97.5 [1984],
p. 63).  In KauTilya's Arthasaastra, kulyaavaapaanaam refers (2.24.5) to
areas where sowing depends on water gotten from such canals.  Moreover,
kulyaa can refer to a trench or ditch in which there is no actual water
flowing.  Arthasaastra 2.3.33 speaks of such things in connection with a
fortress.  The word kulyaa is also used in Vedic texts, right back to
saMhitaas, but it is not absolutely certain that it refers in these to a
canal.  In his comments on Rgveda 3.45.3, which speaks of Soma juice going
to Indra as kulyaaH reach a lake, SaayaNa explicitly interprets 'kulyaaH'
as referring to canals (kRtrimasaritaH), and Gelnder follows suite: 'wie
Kanaele in den See.'  SaayaNa's gloss is doubtless an echo of Amarakosa
1.10.34, where the wording is kulyaa alpaa kRtrimaa sarit.  The commentary
on Atharvaveda 18.3.72 explicitly cites this Amara passage.  However, the
AV passage actually speaks of kulyaaH of ghee (ghRtasya), an image found in
other Vedic passages also (e.g., TaittiriiyaS 1.3.82: ghRtasya kulyaam
anu), where one also finds referernce to kulyaa of fat (medasaH, e.g.,
VaajasaneyiS 35.20).  So kulyaa could also refer to flowing matter. 
Whether the term originally designated the channel in which flowing matter
flowed or the latter, or indeed both, is, I think, not immediately
decidable.  But it may not matter.  What is clear, I think, is that kulyaa
is possibly the earliest Sanskrit term for a canal/trench.  George Cardona 


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