|Empress of the Maurya Empire|
A c. 1910 painting by Abanindranath Tagore entitled, Ashoka's Queen.
|Born||3rd century BC
Karuvaki, also referred to as Kaurwaki (Oriya: Karubaki, Sanskrit: Charuvaki) was Empress of the Maurya Empire as the consort of Emperor Ashoka. She was the mother of Ashoka's second son, Prince Tivala (also referred to as Tivara).
According to eminent historian, M.N. Das, Karuvaki was a fisherman's daughter who converted to Buddhism and became a sanyasini. Following Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism, he married her and made her his queen. She had guided Ashoka towards his religious leanings. Along with being religious, she took an active part in philanthropy and was famous for her charity, and for her interest in Buddhist teachings.
Karuvaki's religious and charitable donations were greatly admired by her husband, who commanded the Mahamatras (senior officials) that her donations should be regarded by all officials concerned as her act and deed, redounding to her accumulation of merit.
Karuvaki was immortalized in the Queen Edict (one of Ashoka's many edicts carved on pillars throughout his empire), wherein the Mauryan emperor states that he was changing his lifestyle "on the advice of my queen Karuvaki." Ashoka further states that on her advice, he was embarking on a series of welfare measures for the people.
The edict also identifies her as mother to their son, Prince Tivala (also referred to as Tivara), who is the only son of Ashoka mentioned by name in his inscriptions. The inference being that, Karuvaki, was the favourite and the mother of the prince who would've succeeded his father but who probably predeceased him.
In popular culture
In the 2001 Indian drama film, Aśoka, Karuvaki is depicted as being an orphan princess from Kalinga who secretly married Ashoka. In the film, she was portrayed by Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor.
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