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Empress consort of the Maurya Empire
Asoka's Queen.jpg
A c. 1910 painting by Abanindranath Tagore entitled, Ashoka's Queen.
Spouse Ashoka
Issue Tivala (son)
House Maurya
Born 3rd century BC
Kalinga, India
(present-day Odisha)
Religion Buddhism

Karuvaki, also referred to as Kaurwaki (Odia: Karubaki,[1] 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.[2] She had guided Ashoka towards his religious leanings.[3] Along with being religious, she took an active part in philanthropy and was famous for her charity, and for her interest in Buddhist teachings.[4]

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.[5]

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."[2] Ashoka further states that on her advice, he was embarking on a series of welfare measures for the people.[2]

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.[4][6][7][8] 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.[9][10]

Karuvaki must have been a powerful woman as she is the only queen of Ashoka, who holds the distinction of being named in his inscriptions and edicts.[11][12]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[13]


  1. ^ "Play to depict Ashoka legend". The Telegraph. September 3, 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Imran Khan (October 27, 2001). "Aśoka stirs up the historians". Rediff. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ Khan, M I (September 26, 2000). "Controversy dogs Shah Rukh Khan!". Rediff. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Mukherjee, Hemchandra Raychaudhuri (2005). Political history of ancient India : from the accession of Parikshit to the extinction of the Gupta dynasty (6. impression. ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 178, 310. 
  5. ^ Romesh Chunder Dutt, Vincent Arthur Smith, Stanley Lane-Poole, Sir Henry Miers Elliot, Sir William Wilson Hunter, Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall (1906). History of India, Volume 2; Volume 6. The Grolier Society. p. 175. 
  6. ^ "The Queen Edict". Buddha's World. 1999. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  7. ^ Thapar, Romila (1973). Aśoka and the decline of the Mauryas. Oxford University Press. p. 30. 
  8. ^ The Cambridge Shorter History of India. Cambridge University Press Archive. p. 53. 
  9. ^ MacPhail, James Merry (1951). Aśoka. Y.M.C.A. Publishing House. p. 71. 
  10. ^ Sen, S. N. (1999). Ancient Indian History And Civilization. New Age International. p. 151. ISBN 8122411983. 
  11. ^ Gupta, Subhadra Sen (2009). "Ashoka's family". Ashoka. Penguin UK. ISBN 9788184758078. 
  12. ^ University of Allahabad. Dept. of Modern Indian History, University of Kerala. Dept. of History, University of Travancore, University of Kerala (1963). "Journal of Indian History" 41. Department of Modern Indian History. p. 155. 
  13. ^ "Ashoka the Great (2001)". IMDB. Retrieved December 15, 2012.