Ardochsho (Lakshmi) seated facing in lalitasana (with right leg folded under and left leg hanging down), holding diadem in right hand and long-stemmed lotus in left hand, legend at left in Sharada script: Sri- Didda // Highly stylized King standing facing, sacrificing at altar at left, legend at right in Sharada script: Devya. 21mm, 5.90 grams. Mitchiner NIS #177-178. T267-52405
In ancient and medieval Kashmir, a Hindu queen could rule as the regent of an infant king and, sometimes, in her own right. Didda Rani was one of the celebrated queens, more of a strong than a beneficent monarch. Young husband spoke of her "force of character" as well as her "ruthlessness". She carried the latter trait to the extent of tyranny. Her diplomacy and statecraft were coupled with cunning and cruelty. Her 'fits' of religiosity were followed by bouts of an undignified life that knew no restraint. Didda Rani repelled the attacks of invaders and suppressed the strike of Brahmins, revolts of her people, and rebellion of Damaras with a strong hand that knew no mercy to the vanquished. She put to death her own grandsons and, when she died in 1003 A.D., none of her own descendants lived to succeed her. She disregarded her loyal minister, who had saved her life and her kingdom. And yet she built temples and founded cities. The story of this Catherine of Kashmir, a strange mixture of striking contrasts, is indeed absorbing-and romantic.