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South India’s earliest Sanskrit Inscription found in AP

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

South India’s earliest Sanskrit Inscription found in AP

What to study?

For Prelims: Latest inscriptions, Saptamatrikas, Satavahanas.

For Mains: Significance of these findings.

Context: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.

  • This is also an earliest epigraphic evidence (Epigraphy is the study of ancient inscriptions) for the Saptamatrika cult.
  • The discovery was made in Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. 

About the inscriptions found:

  • It is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters.
  • It was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D.
  • The inscription records construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa (a pavilion for public rituals) and consecration of images on southern side of temple by a person named Kartika for merit of king at temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape (which is the ancient name of Chebrolou).
  • Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year (207 A.D.) is also the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India so far. Until now the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year (4th century A.D.) was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.

The place also yielded another inscription which is in Prakrit language and of Brahmi characters and belongs to 1st century A.D.

  • This is thus the earliest epigraphic reference to Mutts and records gift of a cloister mandapa and chaitya to bhavatho (Lord) of the Gadasa Mutt by a person hailing from Tabaava.

Who are Saptamatrikas?

They are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts.

They are Brahmani (wife of Brahma), Maheshvari (wife of Shiva), Kaumari (wife of Kumara), Vaishnavi (wife of Vishnu), Varahi (wife of Varaha, or the boar, an avatar [incarnation] of Vishnu), Indrani (wife of Indra), and Chamunda, or Yami (wife of Yama).

There are references of Saptamatrika worship in early Kadamba copper plates as well as early Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukya copper plates.

Satavahanas:

  • They are an ancient Indian dynasty based In the Deccan.
  • They established their independent rule after the decline of the Mauryas.
  • Their rule lasted for about 450 years.
  • They were also known as the Andhras.
  • The Puranas and the Nasik and Nanaghad inscriptions remain important sources for the history of Satavahanas.
  • The Satavahana kingdom mainly comprised the present-day Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. At different times, their rule extended to parts of modern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. The dynasty had different capital cities at different times, including Pratishthana (Paithan) and Amaravati (Dharanikota).
  • The founderof the Satavahana dynasty was Simuka.
  • The greatest ruler of the Satavahana dynasty was Gautamiputra Satakarni.
  • They patronized Buddhism and Brahmanism.

Sources: the Hindu.