Subhadrangi – Mother of the Great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka


The mother of Ashoka has many names in various sources. She is known as Subhadrangi as per Ashokavadana. She is known as Dharma as per Mahavamsa-tika. As per Divyavadana (a sanskrit anthology of Buddhist texts), she is known by the characterisation of Janapada Kalyani.

Image credit: Pravakta

As per Ashokavadana, Subhadrangi was the daughter of a brahmin from Champapuri village near the Mauryan capital Pataliputra. It is nowadays in Bhagalpur district in Bihar state. But as per Mahavamsa-tika, she belonged to a Kshatriya society. 

Quick Facts

  • Real Name: Subhadrangi
  • Born: 3rd century
  • Died: Not known
  • Dynasty: Maurya
  • Religion: Hindu
  • Spouse: Bindusara
  • Father: A Brahmin from Champa village in Bihar
  • Famous as: Empress Consort of Mauryan Empire | Mother of Ashoka

As per historian greek, Chandragupta (Ashoka’s grandfather) had a marital alliance to a greek ruler Seleucus I Nicator. Due to this Bindusara, Ashoka’s father married a greek princess. Though there is no such proof or evidence which tells the mother of Ashoka was a greek.

After getting married to Bindusara in Pataliputra, she gave birth to a boy. The boy was known by the name of Ashoka meaning “without sorrow” later. She gave birth to another boy after some time. His name was Vitashoka.

As per Mahavamsa-tika, Ashoka’s mother, Dhamma wanted to walk over the moon and play with sun while she was pregnant. Moreover, she was the devotee of a monk who had predicted that she will give birth to a son who will rule the entire India. He will destroy 96 sceptical sects and would be a Buddhism promoter. He also speculated that her son will kill his own brothers because of his anger and irritation from them. Later, Ashoka had killed his 99 brothers out of 100. This prediction of the monk came to true.

Popularity of SUBHADRANGI in today’s culture

  • A tv show named Chandra Nandini started in 2016. Prerna Sharma portrayed the role of Subhadrangi in that show.
  • A tv series Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat aired in 2015 where Pallavi Subhash played the role of Subhadrangi.
  • There was a hindi movie Asoka in 2001 where Subhashini Ali played the role of Subhadrangi.