Sunday, July 6, 2014


Gautamiputra Satakarni. What a nice name.

What we know of him comes from an inscription that his mother, Gautami Balashree, had composed in about 119 CE/AD.  Gautamiputra Satakarni ruled for about 24 years in the ~450 years of Satavahana rule in South India from 230 BCE/BC to 220 CE/AD. He was famous for being successful in war and righteous in peace. 

The Queen mother Gautami must have been a very remarkable person- to have had the idea of an inscription and to wield enough power and influence to have it done in honor of her son. That too in an age when preserving records for history wasn’t much of a value. Without the inscription we would not have known much about him or her.

She was queen mother and grandmother. She was ruler on the side for a while- she administered alongside her son when he was ill in his last years. There is a mention of her wisdom. Her famous son had her name (Gautamiputra = son of Gautami), which seems to be a custom in the Satavahanas.

I wonder about her life. She must have been a very remarkable person: in those days, in the thick forests of patriarchy, it seems like she drew her life on her own terms.  I wish we knew more about her. 

(This is a first in a series of posts I hope to write about remarkable women who are not famous)

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