Earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India found in A.P-The Hindu-(PG-8)-26-12-2019
In a significant find, the Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India has discovered the earliest epigraphic evidence so far for the Saptamatrika cult.
It is also the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India till date.
Saptamatrikas are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts.
The inscription is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters and was issued by the Satavahana King Vijaya in 207 A.D.
The inscription was discovered in the Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.
The inscription was first copied and studied, and it transpired that it records the construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa and consecration of images on the southern side of the temple by a person named Kartika for the merit of the king at the temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape; Tambrape being the ancient name of Chebrolu.
There are references of Saptamatrika worship in the early Kadamba copper plates and the early Chalukya and Eastern Chalukya copper plates. But the new discovery predates them by almost 200 years.
The verification of all the available records proved that the Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year 207 A.D. It is also the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India so far.
According to Matsya Purana, Vijaya is the 28th king of the Satavahana dynasty and ruled for 6 years. So far the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku King Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year corresponding to the 4th century A.D. was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.