In News: The Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India has found the earliest epigraphic evidence for the Saptamatrika cult.
- It was recently discovered in Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.
- Saptamatrikas are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts.
- There are references of Saptamatrika worship in the early Kadamba copper plates and the early Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukya copper plates.
- The new discovery predates them by almost 200 years.
Chebrolu Inscription details:
- It is the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India.
- Before this discovery, the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year corresponding to the 4th century A.D. was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.
- The inscription came to light when some local villagers informed the authorities of the presence of a pillar with some engravings when they were restoring and repairing the local Bheemeshwara temple.
- The inscription is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters .
- It was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D.
- It records the construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa and consecration of images on the southern side of the temple by a person named Kartika for the merit of the king at the temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape ( the ancient name of Chebrolou).
- The verification of all the available records proved that the Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year – 207 A.D. — is the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India.
- The place also yielded another inscription in Prakrit language and of Brahmi characters and belongs to the 1st century A.D.