Sanskrit poetess Shilabhattarika

Context: Shilabhattarika, the celebrated Sanskrit poetess of Ancient India, has recently been the subject of new research by researchers at the Pune-based Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), which is home to the largest collection of manuscripts and rare books in South Asia. They claim to have shed new light on her by identifying her as the daughter of the renowned Chalukyan Emperor Pulakeshin II of Badami (in modern Karnataka).

Findings from the copper plates

  • Information about the literary past
  • The copper plate gives critical details to the literary history of the Chalukyas, in addition to providing information on the geography and politics.
  • Marked change in the Historiography of the Badami Chalukyas
    • It had provided earliest concrete historical proof of Shila-Bhattarika’s status as a poetess, who made a name for herself in the historically male-dominated field of classical Sanskrit literature.
    • The new research has put Shilabhattarika’s life in the 7th century CE instead of the prevailing belief that placed her as the wife of the 8th-century Rashtrakuta ruler, Dhruva.
    • Shilabhattarika was a Chalukyan princess who may have been Pulakeshin II’s daughter.
    • Pulakeshin II, who ruled from 610 to 642 CE, is known for having notably defeated Harshavardhan of Kanauj in a battle that took place in close proximity to the Narmada River in 618 CE.

Reconstruction of the Past

  • Archaeologists, linguists, and orientalists employ copper plates, which frequently have inscriptions of hereditary grants made by kings, to recreate the past.
  • A copper-plate charter with five copper plates from the era of Vijayaditya, the Badami Chalukyan king (696-733 CE) has been deciphered.
  • A copper ring with a Varaha (boar) seal serves as the binding element of the charter. The Varaha seal served as the royal seal of Badami Chalukyas. A Sanskrit text written in late-Brahmi script was included in the charter.
  • According to a preliminary interpretation of the plates, Vijayaditya gave the village of Sikkatteru to the Vedic scholar Vishnusharma in the month of Magha, Shaka year 638.
  • The plates also revealed that Mahendravarma, son of Shilabhattarika, the daughter of “Satyashraya,” had asked Vijayaditya to make the grant. Pulakeshin II was the only Badami Chalukyan ruler who was solely known by the title “Satyashraya,” which can be translated as “patron of truth.”
  • Additionally, evidence points to Shilabhattarika’s marriage to Dadiga, a prince from Talakkad’s Ganga lineage.


  • A Sanskrit poetess from the ninth century.
  • In the accounts of Rajashekhara:
    • Shilabhattarika has been lauded for her delicate compositions by the Sanskrit poet-critic Rajashekhara, court poet of the Gurjara-Pratiharas (9th–10th century CE).
    • Rajashekhara claims that the Panchali style (one of the four primary literary styles, the other three are Vaidharbhi, Gaudi, and Lati) can be seen in the writings of Shilabhattarika and perhaps in a few of the works of the poet Bana from the seventh century.
    • The 15th-century anthology Subhashitavali contains a lyric attributed to Rajashekhara that states that Panchali style preserves “a balance between words and meaning.”
    • In Sharngadhara-paddhati, a 14th-century anthology, she and three other female poets are lauded, in the following sentences: Poetesses like Shilabhattarika, Vijja, Marula, and Morika are well-known for their poetic brilliance and erudition. These women are proficient in all academic fields, have engaged in disputes with other academics.
    • Subjects in her poetry: It is known that she wrote at least 46 poems, some of which deal with “love, morality, politics, nature, beauty, the seasons, insects, anger, indignation, codes of conduct, and the characteristic features of various kinds of heroines.”
    • The deciphering of the plates also sheds light on how, Shilabhattarika might have developed the level of poetry-writing expertise that put her on par with the most esteemed male poets of the day.
    • Durvinita, a well-known ruler of the Western Gangas, was Shilabhattarika’s grandfather-in-law. He was also an accomplished composer who had patronised Bharavi, the author of the classical epic Kiratarjuniya.

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