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Satavahanas were the political successors of the Mauryas
in the Deccan and their rule lasted for four and a half
centuries from about 230 B.C. their empire seems to have
extended from the Konkan Coast in the West to the Godavari
and Krishna Deltas in the East, while to the South it must
have reached as far as Chandravalli.
The Puranas like Matsya, Vayu, Vishnu, Bhagvata and Brahmanda
provide important, if confusing, data for the reconstruction
of the Satavahana history. Literary works like Brihatkatha
of Gunadya, Gathasaptasati of Hala, or Lilavati yield useful
information on the period. Foreign literary sources like
the 'Indica' of Megastanese, Pliny's 'Natural History',
the 'Periplus of the Erythrean Sea' or the 'Geography' of
Ptolemy provide useful sources of information. The study
of the Satavahana coins, particularly the Jogalthambi hoard
of Nahapana's coins, most of them restruck by Gautamiputra
Satakarni, can help the historian of the period. The Satavahana
inscriptions, all of them inscribed on stone, provide valuable
data for the reconstruction of their history.
IDENTITY AND THE ORIGIN:
'Satavahana' and 'Satakarni' are the two standard names
by which the rulers of that dynasty are referred to in their
inscriptions and coins. Various explanations have been given
for these names: Satkarni means " the son of a horse", and
explained in terms of the Aswamedha tradition. Barnett explained
Satkarni as meaning the son of Sata. Sometime it is taken
to mean as one who has a hundred ships, or one whose vehicle
is drawn by hundred bulls or the one with his ears bored.
The Kathasaritsagara mentions the story of a king named
Dipakarni who saw a boy riding a Sata or lion, adopted him
and named him Satavahana or the one who had a lion for his
vehicle. It is also suggested that Satavahana is only a
variant of 'Saptavahana', meaning the sun, and that they
were so called because they were the worshippers of the
sun. these theories, however, have been discarded by Dr.
M. Rama Rao, who has argued that the dynasty has been named
after the founder of the dynasty, who ruled before Simukha.
writers like V.S. Sukthankar, H. C. Raychaudhury and K.
P. Jayaswal have not accepted the identification of Satavahanas
with the Andhras. They have argued that the inscriptions
mention these rulers as Satavahanas and not as Andhras,
and that the language of the inscriptions is Prakrit and
not Andhra. Moreover, the early evidences of the Satavahana
rule are not found in Maharashtra, and they might only have
drifted into Andhradesa towards the end of their rule. But
the modern scholars like Dr. O. Ramachandraiya or Dr. M.
Rama Rao have found compelling reasons for considering the
Satavahanas as belonging to the Andhra people.
Diverse views have also been expressed regarding the original
home of the Satavahanas. Dr. R.G. Bhandarkar, Vincent Smith
and Rapson believed that Andhradesa was the original home
of the Satavahanas. Vincent Smith and Burgess have located
their capital at Srikakulam while Dr. Bhandarkar preferred
to locate it at Dhanyakataka. Sukthankar held the view that
Bellary district was the original home of the Satavahanas.
Dr. Gopalachari has refuted Sukthankar's contention and
has put forth the theory that they might have been nobles
or fortune hunters from Andhra who readily passed into the
service of the Mauryan Suzerains and moved upto western
Deccan. Srinivas Iyengar postulated the theory of the Maharashtra
home of the Satavahanas, and S.A. Joglekar argued that they
were associated with Paithan which is in Maharashtra. Raychaudhury
also advocated the theory of the Maharashtra origin, while
V.V. Mirashi thought that Vidharba was the original home
of the Satavahanas. Sri Vidyasagar Bakhale proposed that
'Satiyaputras' of Asokan edicts were the ancestors of the
Satavahanas. P. V. Ranade prefers to identify them with
a branch of Andhaka-Vrisnis who came to Maharashtra either
from Gujarat or Mathura. The theories of Maharashtra origin,
however seem to be losing ground these days, and it is generally
accepted that the Satavahanas originally lived in Andhradesa.
The Puranic lists suggest that Simukha (C. 221-198 B.C)
was the first ruler of the dynasty, although on the basis
of numismatic evidence some scholars have argued that he
was preceded by Satavahana (C.236-221 B.C) after whom the
dynasty was named. Simukha is said to have entered into
matrimonial alliance with the Pallavas and the Chutus of
Kuntala to consolidate his power. according to Jain traditions,
he grew so wicked towards the end of his rein that he was
dethroned and killed. He was succeeded by his younger brother
Kanha or Krishna, after whom Simukha's son Satakarni I (C.
180-170 B.C) came to the throne. He was one of the successful
rulers of the dynasty. He wrested western Malwa from the
Sungas and clashed with the powerful Kalinga ruler Kharavela.
Twice he proclaimed his suzerainty by performing Aswamedhas.
Besides celebrating a Rajasuya. His queen Naganika was a
distinguished lady of the Maharathi family, and her Naneghat
inscription describes him as " Lord of Dakshinapatha, wielder
of the unchecked wheel of Sovereignty".
sixth ruler of the dynasty Satakarni II (C. 152-96 B.C)
had a long and eventful rule. According to the Yuga-Purana
he annexed Kalinga after the death of Kharavela. He is said
to have extended the Satavahana power over Madhya Pradesh,
drove the intruding Sakas out of Pataliputra, which he held
for ten years. He was succeeded by many rulers like Lambodara,
Apilaka, Meghasvati and Kuntala Satakarni, who is mentioned
in Vatsyayana's Kamasutra. Pulamavi I (C. 30-6 B.C) seems
to have overthrown Susarman and the Kanva dynasty, and annexed
Pataliputra. Hala (C. 19-24 A.D) the seventeenth ruler is
famous in literature as the compiler of Saptasati in Prakrit,
and as a hero of a later day Prakrit work; Lilavati which
describes his marriage with a Ceylonese Princess.
this stage, the expansion of the Satavahana power received
a setback. The Ksaharatas ( Ksatrapas or Sakas) under Bhumaka
and Nahapana occupied Malwa, Gujarat, Kathiawar and Maharashtra.
The Satavahana power seemed to have been practically obliterated
in the Western India. The eclipse of their power was further
aided by the weakness of their rulers.
Satakarni (C. 78-102 A.D.):
Gautamiputra Satakarni, the twenty-third ruler of this family,
is acknowledged as the greatest of the Satavahana sovereigns.
He won great fame as the retriever of the fallen fortunes
of the dynasty. The Nasik inscription describes him as the
destroyer of the Sakas, Yavanas and the Pahlavas. He overthrew
Nahapana and restruck a large number of Ksaharata coins
of the Jogalthembi hoard. The Nasik Prasasti describes Gautamiputra
as the ruler of the Aparanta, Anupa, Saurashtra, Kukura,
Akara and Avanti, and he must have wrested them from Nahapana.
He also seems to have recovered the territories in Central
Deccan, which had been lost to the Satavahanas during the
inept rule of his predecessors. Under him, the Satavahana
arms must have reached as far south as Kanchi. He is also
credited with the conquest of territories in the Kolhapur
area in the Southern Maharashtra, which he seized from the
Ananda rulers. Gautamiputra also annexed the Banavasi area,
thus established his sway over portions of Karnataka.
manifold achievements and accomplishments of Gautamiputra
Satakarni are recorded in glowing terms by his mother, Gautami
Balasri in an inscription at Nasik. He was an unequalled
military leader, a benevolent and diligent ruler. Handsome
in appearance with a radiant face and a well-built body,
he possessed an impressive personality. He evinced keen
interest in the welfare of his subjects and helped them
in their sorrows and difficulties. He is also described
as " The unique Brahmana who crushed the pride and conceit
of the Kshatriyas". He dedicated a cave at Pandulena, near
Nasik, in the 18th year of his reign, and in the 24th year
granted a field to certain ascetics. Indeed, Gautamiputra's
monumental deeds lingered on long in the memory of generations.
Scholars have argued that the last days of Gautamiputra
witnessed the proverbial reversal of fortunes. Dr. D. C.
Sircar is of the opinion that he lost most of his dominions
to the Sakas of Ujjain before his death. But this view is
not accepted by Dr. M. Rama Rao. However, it is possible
that Gautamiputra died at an early age.
Gautamiputra Satakarni was succeeded by his son Vasistiputra
Sri Pulamavi, who assumed the title of ' Daksinapateswara'.
He appears to have lost some of his territories to Nahapana's
son, Mahakshatrapa Rudradaman though he was connected with
him by matrimonial alliance. The last distinguished Monarch
of this dynasty was Sri Yagna Satakarni ( C. 174-203 A.D)
who regained some of the territories from the Sakas. His
rare silver coins imitating the satrap coinage must have
been struck for circulation in the newly conquered territories.
His successors, however, were weaklings, under whom the
Satavahana power rapidly declined. It soon succumbed to
the growing power of the Abhiras who seized Maharashtra
or of the Isksavkus and Pallavas who appropriated the eastern
The Satavahana rulers continued the administrative tradition
of the Mauryas. The King was the pivot of administration
who was expected to protect the people from the enemies,
levy and spend the taxes justly, maintain the social order
and promote the welfare of the poor and rich alike. He was
assisted in administration by a council of ministers, whose
number is not known. Kingship was hereditary in the male
line, though matronymics were freely prefixed to the names
of the Kings and Nobles. One original feature of the Satavahana
administration was the association of Queens like Naganika
and Gautami Balasri in public life.
were three categories of feudatories under the Satavahanas;
Rajas who struck coins in their own names; Mahabhojas and
Maharathis who were blood-relations of the royal family
in the Western Deccan; and relatively late in the history
of the Satavahana rule was created the office of Mahasenapathis,
some of whom were in charge of certain outlying provinces
while others served at the centre.
administrative convenience, the empire was divided into
Aharas, each under an officer known as the Amatya. Aharas
were divided into the Nigamas (towns) and Gramas (villages),
which must have enjoyed much autonomy. The village affairs
must have been looked after by headmen or Gramikas. The
town had an assembly known as the Nigamasabha which voiced
the views of the citizens. Inscriptions refer to officials
like treasurers, stewards, record-keepers and administrators
Varnasramadharma was the bed-rock of social organization,
which the Satavahana rulers sought to maintain with great
care. "………checking the contamination of the four Varnas"
was considered to be one of the primary duties of the ruler.
Brahmins must have achieved considerable ascendancy under
the Satavahana rulers who professed to champion the Vaidika-Dharma.
During this period, many new sub-castes were formed on an
occupational basis such as the Golikas (Shepherds), Halikas
(Ploughmen), Kolikas (Weavers), Swarnakaras (Goldsmiths),
Malakaras (Garland-makers) and others.
Another interesting feature of the Satavahana society was
the total assimilation of foreigners like the Sakas and
the Yavanas either as Buddhists or as degraded Kshatriyas.
Many of them assumed such Indian names as Dharmadeva, Agnivarma
or Rishabhadatta. Some Scholars believe that Graeco-Roman
influences have a great share in fashioning the Stupas at
Amaravati and other places in the Krishna Valley, and Greek
lamps are mentioned in an inscription from Alluru.
Women enjoyed a prominent position in the Satavahana Society.
Intelligent and educated women like Naganika and Gautami
Balasri played important roles in running the administration.
Women held property in their own right. The Amaravati sculptures
depict women offering worship along with men, taking part
in assemblies and entertaining guests. They are even said
to participate in religious disputation. Men vied with women
in the scantiness of their dress and in the profusion of
their ornaments. Music was popular, and people used Vina,
Venu (flute), conch, Mridanga and other musical instruments.
Sculptures also indicate the popularity of dancing. The
Saptasati contains numerous verses depicting rural life
in vivid detail. The people, by and large, led a life of
comfort, and even the cottage had its share of such comparative
luxuries as jugs, jars, chairs, tables, and other household
furnishings of attractive designs.
here if you would like to Contribute or send a feedback.
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