Check out everything you wanted to know about Ashoka’s mother Subhadrangi aka Dharma including the details on her life, religion as well as death

Pallavi Subhash as Ashoka’s mother in Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat does incite lot of interest in this historical character of the Mauryan Empire. While, nothing succinct is mentioned in the chronicles about Subhadrangi, here we shall discuss some of the interesting facts about her.

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Was Subhadrangi Bindusar’s Favorite Wife?

After seeing Ashoka serial on Colors TV, many people are asking this question. However, the truth lies in the fact that – Ashoka’s mother Subhadrangi was just another wife of Bindusar. She was neither Bindusar’s favorite wife nor the love of his life, like it has been portrayed. 

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Also, as per legend, Chandragupta Maurya believed that his beloved son Bindusara would never be a great Samrat because he never loved anything passionately – neither the empire, religion nor his wives. This makes it clear that Bindusar had no favorite wife as such.

Was Ashoka’s Mother Brahmin?

According to the Ashokavadana  (translated by John S. Strong), Ashoka’s mother was a Brahmin from the city of Champa. The author of Ashokavadana is unknown. However, it is assumed that it is written by the monks of Mathura. The book mentions that she belonged to Ajvika sect.

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Ajvikas were the heterodox during the Mauryan Empire. They were the wandering ascetics. Though they were atheistic they prayed Shiva and Vishnu. It is interesting to note that Samrat Bindusar did not follow Jainism like his father Chandragupta Maurya, but believed in the Ajvika sect which was followed by his queen Subhadrangi as well. Perhaps this can be the reason why he married her in spite of her low rank.

Did Ashoka’s Mother Stay Away From the Palace for Long?

While the exact story is not known, legend illustrates that Ashoka’s mother was away from the Palace of Pataliaputra because of the scheming that was going in and around the Palace. However, her wait ended after which she gave birth to a son. The moment her son was born she said now I’m shoka mukt (devoid of any sorrow now) – This is how her son was named as Ashoka. Ashoka was born in the palace unlike shown in the serial.

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What is the Various Names of Ashoka’s Mother?

Different text and chronicles call Ashoka’s mother by various names. While, she is mainly known by her name Subhadrangi as per Avadana text, the Divyavadana call her by name Janapadakalyani. In the serial Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, Bindusar is seen addressing her as Dharma which is also one of her names. In addition, she is also known as Queen Aggamahesi.

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How Did Ashoka’s Mother Die?

In the serial Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, it is shown that Devi Dharma died in a brutal attack. Though, everybody knows that she died, Ashoka is not ready to believe. This incident in the serial makes us wonder – when and how did Ashoka’s mother die? However, there is no written or oral record that can give us a brief description of her death.

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But since Vitashoka, Ashoka’s younger brother is highly assumed to be Subhadrangi’s son; one can only assume that the death of Dharma was not as early as this. So, you can expect a twist in the tale that it was Nirjala (Chanakya’s most trusted spy) who died in the attack, and not Ashoka’s mother Dharma.

There is no record of Dharma’s death as such. So, this gives creatives (of novel, TV Serial, Bollywood movie) enough independence to decide her death sequence…

By: Deepti Verma

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