|Empress consort of the Maurya Empire|
|Tenure||c. 270 – c. 240 BCE|
|House||House of Maurya|
Rani Asandhimitra (d. 240 BCE) also known as Asandhimittā, was the Chief Queen (Agramahisi) of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, for the majority of his reign. Asandhimitra apparently bore her husband no children and died without leaving any issue. She is greatly spoken of in the Great Chronicle or the Mahavamsa.
Asandhimitra was probably the princess of a little kingdom in what is now East Haryana north of Delhi (India), for it seems more than coincidence that the little town of Asandh boasts what it claims to be the biggest Ashokan stupa in India, 80 ft high and 250 ft in diameter. According to the Mahavamsa, she was called "Asandhimitra" because the joints in her limbs were visible only when she bent or stretched them out. She was also of perfect beauty. However, a more straightforward reading of her name would have been that it means "friend" (mittā) of "detachment" (a-sandhi).
Marriage to Ashoka
Since Asandhimitra belonged to a royal family, she was considered to be a suitable wife for Prince Ashoka. Therefore, upon Ashoka's accession to the throne in 270 BCE, Asandhimitra became his first queen-consort and was additionally given the honourable title of agramahisi (chief queen). As such, she held many exclusive powers, prominent among which was the authority she had over all of Ashoka's lesser queens and concubines. Asandhimitra held the position of being her husband's chief consort for thirty years, from his accession in 270 BCE till her own death in 240 BCE. Furthermore, she was Ashoka's only wife who was of royal birth.
On Ashoka's accession it would be expected that he would marry a princess of an appropriately high rank as his chief queen, which he may well have done when he married Asandhimitra. Thus, while Ashoka's secondary wives, such as Devi and Karuvaki, lived in his harems situated at Vidisha and Kausambi, respectively; Asandhimitra lived with the emperor in the imperial palace at Pataliputra (the capital of the Maurya Empire) throughout her life.
Asandhimitra was a faithful believer in the Sambuddha and was a pious woman. She was Ashoka's devoted helper in his great efforts for the advancement of the Buddhist faith. She is also said to have been a trusted advisor and a faithful companion to her husband and is described as having been his "beloved" and "dear" queen. This is evidenced by the fact that Ashoka was deeply grieved at her death. It appears that Asandhimitra bore Ashoka no children and died without leaving any issue.
Four years after her death, when Ashoka was old, he married a dissolute young woman named Tishyaraksha (who is sometimes referred to as having been Asandhimitra's attendant) and raised her to the rank of chief queen in 236 BCE. It appears that Ashoka (now in his old age) had succumbed to the influence and charm of his young wife, after having lost the possibly more mature companionship of Asandhimitra.
- Mookerji, Radhakumud (1995). Aśoka (3. rev. ed., repr ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 9, 45. ISBN 8120805828.
- Gupta, Subhadra Sen (2009). "Ashoka's family". Ashoka. Penguin UK. ISBN 9788184758078.
- Thapar, Romila (2012). Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas (3rd ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 23, 30, 52. ISBN 0198077246.
- Allen, Charles (2012). "16". Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor. Hachette UK. ISBN 1408703882.
- Malalasekera, G.P. (2007). Dictionary of Pāli proper names (1st Indian ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 205. ISBN 8120830210.
- Holt, John Clifford; Kinnard, Jacob N.; Walters, Jonathan S. (2003). Constituting communities Theravada Buddhism and the religious cultures of South and Southeast Asia. Albany: State University of New York Press. pp. 44, 45. ISBN 9780791456927.
- Mookerji, Radhakumud (1966). Chandragupta Maurya and his times (4th ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 82. ISBN 8120804058.
- Encyclopaedia of Indian rulers. New Delhi, India: Cosmo. 2001. p. 173. ISBN 9788177551723.
- Smith, Vincent A. (2008). Jackson, A. V. Williams (ed.). History of India, in Nine Volumes: Vol. II - From the Sixth Century B.C. to the Mohammedan Conquest, Including the Invasion of Alexander the Great. Cosimo, Inc. p. 175. ISBN 9781605204932.