Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions/Names of Women

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Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

Tej Ram Sharma

Concept Publishing Company Delhi, 1978

The full text of this chapter has been converted into Wiki format by Laxman Burdak

Names of Women

Names of Women

We have already discussed the names of queens in another context. Here we confine ourselves to other feminine names.

1. Damasvamini (दामस्वामिनी) (No. 55, LL. 3-4) :

She is said to have raised a pillar in the memory of her dead parents at Rajghat in Varanasi.

The first part of the name, Daman (दामन) , means a 'rope' or 'girdle' 1 (originally 'bond', from 'to bind'). But the Amarakosa gives a better explanation which takes us nearer to the original meaning. It explains 'Daman' as Sandanam i.e., a rope tethered to a cow at the time of milking it. 2 The second part of the name is svamini which means 'a proprietress, mistress' or owner of (gen., loc. or comp.).3

The parents might have given her this name out of affection as she was a helping hand in tethering the rope to the cow while milking it.4 The name indicates affection by the parents.

2. Devaki (देवकी) (No. 13, L. 13) :

The reference comes in the passage which describes how Skandagupta returned victorious to his mother just as Lord Krsna went to Devaki after killing his enemy.5 Sewell suggests that the name of Skandagupta's mother was Devaki and he has been followed by some other scholars. According to D.C. Sircar the simile may further suggest that some maternal uncle of Skandagupta actually fought against him in support of his rival and that his mother, possibly not the chief queen of his father, had to experience difficulties for sometime.6

Devaki is a patronymic formed by adding ī suffix to Devaka, literally meaning 'divine, celestial', who was her father.7 She was the wife of Vasudeva and the mother of Krsna. 8

3. Harisvamini (हरिस्वामिनी) (No. 23, LL. 1, 10) :

104 Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

Upasika (उपासिका) (lay-worshipper) Harisvamini, was the wife of Updsaka Sanasiddha who donated money to the Arya-samgha (community of the faithful) at the great vihara (Buddhist convent) of Kakanadabota (काकनादबोटा) (i.e., the great stupa at Sanchi) for feeding one Bhiksu everyday and maintaining lamps in the shrines of the Buddha.9

The first part of the name, Hari , stands alike for Lord Krsna, Visnu and Siva. The second part is 'Svamini' meaning mistress. Thus the whole literally means 'one who has Hari as her master'.

4. Padmavati (पद्मावती) (No. 22, L. 5) :

She was the mother of Samkara, an ascetic, under whose instructions the image of the Jina-vara-parsvanatha was made.

In the inscription we have the un-Paninian use of the locative 'Padmavatau' in place of 'Padmavatyam' but it seems to have been done to suit the metre.

Padmavati is a synonym far Laksmi. In India it has been a popular name for women.10

5. Rami (रामी) (No. 28, LL. 4, 12, 17) :

She has been mentioned as the wife of a brahmana, named Nathaśarman.

Rami means 'darkness or night'.11 It may mean 'a woman of dark complexion' or it can be a patronymic from Rama.12 Monier Williams mentions the form with short 'i' suffix (Rami) but it can be with long 'ī' as well, as we have 'Devaki' a patronymic from Devaka. 13 Chatterji mentions it to be a feminine form of Rama and considers it a naming pattern prevalent among the lower classes.14

6. Sabhati (साभाटि) (No. 55, L. 3) :

The form of the name should have better been Sabhati (सभाटि). She was the mother of Damasvamini who raised a pillar in her memory.

The name seems to have some relation with the word Sabhā15 It can be an adjective from the word Sabha combined with 'aṭ' to move. Literally it may mean "one who moves in assemblies".

7. Samadhya (शामाध्या) (No. 31, L. 2) :

Samadhya is a Prakritized form of the word 'Syamadhya'. She was the daughter of Bhattibhava and the wife of the ferryman

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 105


The first part 'sama' is a contraction of Sanskrit Literally the name may mean 'Syamena adhya' i.e., having a dark or swarthy complexion which in Sanskrit poetic tradition is considered a mark of beauty.17


  • For references 1 to 17 appearing this chapter see next - Conclusion I

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions End of Chapter Names of Women