Vasishthiputra Pulumavi is one of the later Satavahana Kings who took over the Kingdom after his illustrious father Gautamiputra Satakarni. Vasishthiputra Pulumavi was supposedly born around 61 AD Pulumavi’s exact period is unclear but he is said to have ruled the Deccan region in 2 century CE, around 130 AD – 159 AD. Unlike his glorious father Gautamiputra Satakarni whose mother has described his achievements as a king in the Nasik edict, we do not have much information about Vasishthiputra Pulumavi as a powerful Satavahana ruler.
Vasishthiputra Pulumavi – Early Life
Many historians believe that Vasishthiputra Pulumavi was crowned as a king while his father was alive. Nasik edicts by Gautami Balashri describe her as jiva-Suta which means the one with a living son. In olden days women were considered lucky to have a healthy and long lived son. This inscription of Gautami Balashri has made many scholars believe that Gautamiputra Satakarni was alive at the time of inscription and the Nasik edict was erected during Vasishthiputra Pulumavi’s reign.
Some of the historians also believe that Vasishthiputra Pulumavi shared his throne with his famous father because in the Nasik edicts, Balashri prides herself for being mother and grandmother of greatest Satavahan rulers indicating the probability of a joint Kingship of father and son.
Vasishthiputra Pulumavi – Nasik edict and threat to Satavahana Kingdom
Nasik edicts by Vasishthiputra Pulumavi’s grandmother describes the glorious milestones achieved by her son Gautamiputra Satakarni in great length however, it does not talk much about Vasishthiputra Pulumavi or his achievements as a king.
Many historians find this unusual because Nasik edict was officially set during Vasishthiputra Pulumavi ruling years (19th year) and there is no mention of his exploits as a great ruler by his grandmother. And this is why some of the scholars believe that Vasishthiputra Pulumavi might have been appointed as a king for Western Deccan area while his father took care of the east. However, there are no inscriptions or evidences for this claim.
One of the edicts in Junagadh area says that Satakarni was beaten to defeat (but spared life) almost twice by the most powerful king – Rudradaman I who belonged to the Kardamakas. Even though the inscription states the name of ‘Satakarni’ it does not specify which king of Satavahana was beaten in the war because all of the Satavahanas are referred as Satakarni.
Vasishthiputra Pulumavi – Other References and Later Years
Ptolemy has referred Vasishthiputra Pulumavi in his work and has called him as a contemporary king of Western Kshatrapas. This is why many historians believe that it was Vasishthiputra Pulumavi who was defeated by Rudradaman I as inscribed in Junaghad. Vasishthiputra Pulumavi is said to have faced a vicious enmity by Kardamakas.
Vasishthiputra Pulumavi could not sustain longer fighting the Kardamakas and hence, he might have married Rudradaman ’s daughter ensuring immunity from Kardamakas’ threat to Satavahana Dynasty. However, some of the historians also opine that it was Vasishtiputra Satakarni who was married to Rudradaman ’s daughter to secure immunity. Vasishthiputra Pulumavi reportedly ruled for 21-24 years and was succeeded by his sibling Vasishtiputra Satakarni.