Naganika- The First Queen To Have A Coin Issued In Her Name! While Many Other Queens Have Broken Through Patriarchy To Shine As Power Centres, The Satavahana Queen Naganika Has A Special Place!

In ancient India women held a higher position in the society, ancient texts are full of such references to justify the contribution of women.

In 1st Century BC, there was a queen named Naganika, she is known to be the first Indian queen to issue coins in her name. Queen Naganika was the wife of Satakari I who was a renowned ruler of Satavahana dynasty. She is probably the first person in history to have her name associated with a king on Indian coins. The evidence of such coin is seen in the inscription of Nanaghat near Junnar, it also records different sacrifices celebrated with donation done through coins (Karsapanas).  The Naneghat inscription gives us insights into several facets of life in India during the 2nd and Ist centuries Bc.

The inscription begins with a supplication to Vedic gods ,Dharma (god of all created beings), Indra, Kubera, Vasudeva, Sun, Moon and others. It says Satakarni conquered the Malwa from the Sungas. The inference is that not only did his kingdom extend to large parts of the Deccan, it had also spread to other areas of the mainland.

It goes on to say that after Satakarni died, Naganika ruled the kingdom as regent with the help of her father since her son, and the successor, Vedisri as well as her second son Sakthisri were minors.

Naganika offered sacrifices, a ritual usually not performed by women but allowed to her since she was effectively ruling as her son’s guardian and had a vital role. The work she did as regent has been written about. Regarding her character and personality, the inscription says ‘she lived like an ascetic.’ This is not surprising since by that time her husband Satakarni had died, and it extols her personality and behavior.

The Satavahana dynasty had good trade relations with the Roman Empire, thus base metal for local currency was supplied by the Romans. The inscription also mentions a guild of barriers, it states that King Satakarni had ordered to melt down the silver Roman coin and minted the Kharapanas in Junnar. The silver coins of King Satakarni I and queen Naganika were issued on the occasion of Asvamedha sacrifice.

The Satavahana capital was Pratishthana, modern Paithan in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra in western India. Naganika was consort of Satakarni who ruled over a vast area south of the Narmada, traditionally called the Dakshinapatha region, for about 56 years. She was very deeply involved in the governance of the kingdom. Naganika was born in the powerful Amgiya or Ambhiya family who were called Maharathi, warriors with mastery over all forms of combat and weapons.

Another speciality of the Satavahana Kings is that they used their mother’s name (Matriarchal system) in their initials for e.g.: Gotamiputra Satakari, Vasisthiputra Satakarni, Kochiputra Satakari. These names are found on both coins and inscription, like Kochi, Vasisthi, Gotami are the crowned queens of this dynasty. This practice also shows the status of women during that time.S

Sharanya Alva


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