Read this article to learn about the five Post-Maurya dynasties, i.e., (I) Kalinga under Karvela, (II) The Satavahanas, (III) Successors of Pulumayi, (IV) Yajnasri Satakarni, and (V) Satavahana Decline.

I. Kalinga under Kharvela:

In ancient times the country of Kalinga comprised the modern Puri and Ganjam districts as well as parts of Cuttack district of Orissa.

At times it also included the present day Telegu-speaking area of the South. Kalinga was conquered by the Nandas but it threw off the Nanda suzerainty before the Mauryas came to power. Asoka conquered it and probably divided into parts for administrative convenience, one part with its headquarters at Tosali and the other at Samapa.

In the first century B.C. Kalinga became one of the strongest powers in India under Mahameghavahana of the Chedi clan. It is not improbable that some of the Chedi princes migrated from Madhya-desa or Magadha to Kalinga where they carved out a principality, which ultimately became a mighty empire.


But the history of Kalinga after the Mauryas is extremely obscure. It is not known when Kalinga threw off the yoke of Magadha. From an inscription in the Hatigumpha cave in the Udayagiri hill in Orissa, some details of the achievements of the mighty Chedi King Kharvela have been found. Kharvela is described as the third generation of the rajavamsa of Kalinga also described as Chedi-rajavamsa. The descendants of this family also used the epithets Arya and Mahameghavahana.

It is supposed from the use of name of Mahameghavahana as an epithet, that they were descendants of Mahameghavahana. This raises the presumption that Mahameghavahana was the founder of the Chedi royal house of Kalinga. Now when we relate it to the Hatigumpha inscription, we come to the conclusion that Kharvela was third generation of Mahameghavahana, i.e., the latter was the grandfather of Kharvela.

Manchapuri cave of the Udayagiri Hill has two storeys. The lower one was constructed by a King Vakradeva, who belonged to the Arya Mahameghavahana family. The upper storey was constructed by the chief queen of Kharvela. From this, it is supposed that Vakradeva was the second generation of the Kalinga lineage and therefore probably the father of Kharvela.

Kharvela: His Date and Career:

There is a sharp controversy among the schools of historians about the date of Kharvela. K. P. Jayaswal and Sten Konow placed him in the first half of the second century B.C. But R. P. Chanda, H. C. Ray-chaudhuri and B. M. Barua place him near to 25 B.C., i.e., the end of the first century B.C. The Hatigumpha inscription does not mention any date, but on paleographic grounds the inscription cannot be placed earlier than the beginning of the second century nor later than the first century B.C. Although it is not possible to definitely fix the date of Kharvela, it is not impossible to place Kharvela’s time within narrower limit by considering certain historical events.


In the Hatigumpha inscription there is mention of three invasions of Northern India by Kharvela. In one of these, he overran Southern Magadha striking at Barabar hills and Rajagriha and on another (3rd) occasion he compelled the Magadha King Bahasatimita who stands for Sanskrit name Brihatsvatinutra and not Brihaspatimitra as is usually supposed to fall at his feet.

According to Jayaswal and Sten Konow, Bahasatimita was none else than Pushyamitra Sunga. But N. K. Sastri remarks that It is out of the question that these events happened during the heyday of Sunga glory, i.e., 184-123 B.C. N. K. Sastri remarks that the repeated inroads referred to in the Hatigumpha inscription could only have been possible either immediately before the accession of Pushyamitra or after the collapse of the Sunga Power.

There are other evidences which show that Kharvela was not a contemporary of Pushyamitra, and therefore did not belong to the first half of second century B.C.

One decisive piece of evidence is that on hearing of the advance of Kharvela’s armies to Rajgriha, a Greek invader hastily retreated to Mathura. The Greeks once marched into the Ganges valley and proceeded as far as the metropolis of Pataliputra. This invasion is referred to in Mahavasya as an event of recent past.


Further, from the Yugapurana it is learnt that the viciously valiant Greek had to beat a hasty retreat on account of a deadly war that had broken out among themselves. The Greek ruler who had to beat a hasty retreat due to the news of Kharvela’s exploit or due to war breaking out among the Greeks, must have been Demetrius, who has been named Dimita or Dimata.

The war among the Greeks must have been due to the appearance of Demetrius’ rival Eucratides. The invasion of Demetrius has been placed before the accession of Pushyamitra (variously 187, 185, and 184 B.C.). The third and the last invasion of Pushyamitra of Northern India took place in the 12th regional year of Kharvela. This shows that Kharvela must have ascended the throne some time before Pushyamitra. Kharvela certainly did not invade Magadha in the heyday of the Sunga rule. This puts the date of Kharvela little before 200-196 B.C.

Further, reference to Rathikas, Bhojakas as independent ruling power in the Hatigumpha inscription shows the period to be near to Asoka’s time rather than to the later Maurya period, for in Asoka’s inscriptions also these peoples are referred to. This brings the period of Kharvela to the beginning of the second century B.C.

Their arguments are based on the grounds:

(1) That identification of Dimita with Dimetrius, son of Euthydemus, is conjectural, for the part of the inscription where this name occurs is damaged. It is suggested that he might have been an Indo-Greek King other than Demetrius.

(2) Likewise the identification of Bahasatimita (Brihaspatimitra) with Pushyamitra is hopelessly unconvincing.

(3) The most important evidence in respect of Kharvela’s date is supplied by the Hatigumpha inscription where there is the reference to Kharvela’s enlargement of the aqueduct which was excavated by one of the Nanda Kings three centuries earlier, in the fifth regnal year of Kharvela.

This is based on the interpretation of the sentence Nandaraja-tri-varsha-Sat-odghatila (excavated three hundred years before by a Nanda King). If this interpretation is accepted we take it that the aqueduct was excavated near about 324 B.C. when the Nandas were overthrown then the date of Kharvela comes to C. 24 B.C. (324—300 = 24 B.C.). This fits in well with the probable date of Kharvela.

Some scholars take the expression tri-varsha-sat to mean 103 years. This brings the date of Kharvela’s fifth regnal year to 221 B.C. (324—103 = 221 B.C.). Kharvela was the 3rd generation of Chedi family. In that case independent Kalinga must have been founded during the rule of Asoka (273-236 B.C.) which is absurd, for Kalinga was an integral part of the Maurya Empire under Asoka.

(4) From the paleographic point of view the Hatigumpha inscription of Kharvela is definitely later than that of Besnagar inscription of the end of the second century B.C. and must have belonged to first century B.C. This is also borne out by the improved poetic (Kavya) style used in the inscription at Hatigumpha. The scholars of Indian art are of the opinion that the sculptures of the Manchapuri cave excavated during the time of Mahameghavahana are considerably posterior to the sculpture of Bharut belonging to the Sunga rule.

(5) Again Kharvela’s adoption of Maharaja which was like Maharajadhiraja, was used by the Indo-Greek rulers during the first half of the second century B.C. It is suggested that a king of Kalinga living not far away from the Indo-Greek kings, certainly would have come under the influence of the Indo-Greek method of using royal epithet of this kind at a later date.

(6) We also know that Kharvela’s army invaded the city of Krishna within Satakarni’s Kingdom. This Satakarni seems to have been none other than the Satavahana King Satakarni I who belonged to late first century B.C. This also points to the end of first century B.C. to be Kharvela’s date.

Thus we can at best mark the upper and lower limits of Kharvela’s time as first half of the second century B.C. to the last quarter of the first century B.C.

Kharvela’s Career and Achievements:

Kharvela the third ruler of the dynasty of Mahameghavahana of the Chedi clan was a great conqueror and at the same time an efficient and a beneficent ruler. He has been rightly regarded as one of the most remarkable figures of ancient Indian history.

In Hatigumpha Prasasti of Kharvela himself, detailed records of the events of his life and work are preserved. As was customary for a young prince, Kharvela spent the first fifteen years of his life in games befitting princely status but he was one of the very few princes who from his boyhood received thorough instruction in all branches of learning such as Law, Finance, Accounting, Currency, Administration and Royal Correspondence.

At the age of fifteen, according to some writers, sixteen, Kharvela was consecrated as Yuvaraja, i.e., heir apparent or Crown Prince. As the Crown Prince he shared the responsibilities of administration of the kingdom and was anointed king when he was twenty-four. He assumed the titles of Maharaja, Kalingadhipati, Kalinga-Chakravartin which meant he claimed the honour and status of a universal ruler.

As was customary with all powerful kings, Kharvela soon after his accession, launched upon a career of conquest. In the second year of his reign he sent a large army to the west without caring for Satakarni who ruled over the country on the west of Kalinga and carried his arms upto the bank of the river Krishna.

The phraseology that he sent the expedition without caring for Satakarni apparently means that the expedition was in the nature of a challenge to the Satkarni, the Satavahana King. The progress of Kharvela’s army upto the river Krishna (Kannabemna) struck terror into the city Rishikanagara.

The extent of the advance made by Kharvela’s army cannot be definitely determined as the identity of the river Kannabemna with Krishna and city Rishikanagara with Assikanagara and Musikanagara is very much controversial. Rapson and Barua identify the river Kannabemna with the Wainganga with its tributary Kanhan and the city as Assika in the Godavari Valley. K. P. Jayaswal, however, identifies the river Kannabemna referred to in the Hatigumpha inscription as modern river Krishna and the city as Musikanagara. The city is identified by others as Rishikanagara.

There is, however, no reference to any conflict between Kharvela and Satakarni nor is there any reference to Rishikanagara forming a part of the Kingdom of Kalinga. This made some scholars to suggest that Kharvela and Satakarni perhaps were mutually friendly and Kharvela’s army passed through the territories of Satakarni without difficulty. But in the Hatigumpha inscription, the expedition is referred to as one of great successes and the victory was celebrated with elaborate festivities which included dancing, drama, musical concert, etc.

In the fourth year of his reign Kharvela occupied the capital of a prince named Vidyadhara and also subdued the ruling chiefs of Bhojakas of Berar and Rashtrikas of the adjoining regions of East Khandesh and Ahmednagar.

In the eighth year of his reign Kharvela destroyed Govathagiri, a hill fortress, in the Barbar hills and attacked Rajagriha which struck terror into the heart of a Yavana king who retreated to Mathura.

In his eleventh regnal year Kharvela destroyed the city of Pithuda, Sanskrit Prithuda, the capital of the king of Masulipatam. He threatened the rulers of Uttarapatha, in the next year, and defeated the king of Magadha named Bahasatimita. He watered his horses and elephants in the river Ganges. To avenge the humiliation of Kalinga during the time of the Nandas and the Mauryas, Kharvela carried away much booty from Anga and Magadha together with certain Jaina images originally taken away by a Nanda king from Kalinga. In the same year Kharvela proceeded with his army against the Pandya kingdom of Far South and defeated him.

Kharvela was no mere military general of great distinction; he was a great, efficient and benevolent ruler also. His expedition both towards the north and the south made a deep impression upon his contemporaries although we have no clear picture of the extension the kingdom of Kalinga received under him.

That he was a great conqueror is borne out in the inscription of his queen. However, we cannot rule out in some measure exaggeration in the Hatigumpha Prasasti although his ability as a military leader and his carrying Kalinga to the pinnacle of glory cannot be denied.

In his welfare measures for his subjects may be mentioned the extension of the aqueduct originally excavated by a Nanda king three centuries ago. This served as a great irrigation canal. He brought the waters of a canal from Tanasuli to his capital.

He also spent large sums of money for the welfare of his subjects. He himself was a great master of music and he often entertained his people by arranging musical performances, dancing, drama, etc.

Kharvela was a great builder. In the ninth year of his reign he built a Palace of Great Victory (Mahavijaya Prasada) in commemoration of his victories in the north. In the very first year of his reign Kharvela repaired the walls, gates and houses of the capital city of Kalinganagara which had been destroyed by a terrible cyclone. He also restored all the damaged gardens of the city.

He was a devout Jaina. Both he himself and his chief queen patronised the Jaina ascetics making liberal provisions for their maintenance, construction of their dwelling places and also offered them silk clothes. Although an ardent Iain a, Kharvela was not a bigot and he repaired the temples of all gods and what is still more significant, emulated Asoka by showing equal honour to all sects.

The very purpose of the Hatigumpha inscription is to record the construction of residential chambers for the Jainas on the Udayagiri hills and the building of a columned hall for the congregation of the Jaina monks. This grand building was adorned with sixty-four panels of sculptures, and had cost a sum of twenty-five hundred thousands of the current coins.

According to K. P. Jayaswal the last line of the Hatigumpha inscription mentions the convening of a council of Jaina monks by Kharvela, which compiled an authentic version of the Jaina canonical texts—the sevenfold Angas and sixty-four letters. According to Dr. D. C. Sarkar, Kharvela, a devout Jaina, excavated a number of caves in the Kumari Parvata, i.e., Khandagjri hill  and is also supposed to have built a monastery called Pabhara not far removed from the Udayagiri hill caves.

Kharvela’s career appears to have been meteoric. His achievements dazzle us like a flash of lightning, which soon disappears.

End of the Mahameghavahanas:

The end of the Chedi Dynasty of Kalinga, i.e., the Mahameghavahana rulers, is obscure. We have no information about any son or successor of Kharvela. There is, however, reference to a prince named Vadukha who is said to have excavated one or two caves on the Udayagiri hill.

Not long after the rule of Kharvela the kingdom of Kalinga seems to have been split up into small principalities. Despite lack of detailed information about the Kalinga kingdom after Kharvela, the fact remains that the Kalingas played an important role in the diffusion of Indian culture in lands beyond the seas, obviously Suvarnabhumi. Ptolemy refers to the apheterion near a city in Kalinga wherefrom vessels bound for the “Golden Land” sailed for the open sea.

II. The Satavahanas:

Most impressive attempt at political and cultural unity of India in ancient India was made by the Mauryas. Next Great attempt was made by the Satavahanas. In more senses than one, remarks N. K. Sastri, it is the heir to the Maurya empire in the Deccan. But it is also part of the general Jaina and Hindu reaction to the Buddhist state of Asoka. In contradistinction to the dynasties of the North, the Mauryas, the Sungas, the Kanvas and the Kushanas, the Satavahana empire endured for 400 years in unbroken continuity both dynastically and administratively.

The sources of the Satavahana period are much limited. Only seven inscriptions from eastern Deccan and nineteen from western Deccan, mostly non-official and short, for so long a period with thirty ruling monarchs, constitute a very meagre source of information, to say the least.

Again most of these inscriptions are Buddhist inscriptions of a donative nature and do not supply materials for the history of the Dynasty. Considerable part of the Satavahana Empire which covered modern Hyderabad remains unexplored and even excavation of Maski, Paithan and Kondapur has not made any remarkable discovery.

The numismatic evidence, that is, evidence derived from the coins of the period; contribute more information than the epigraphic sources. A very large number of coins have been discovered in western Deccan, eastern Deccan and Madhya Pradesh. Expert numismatists like Cunningham, Rapson, H. R. Scott, Bhagwanlal Indraji, F. W. Thomas, etc. have culled much information from these coins.

The literary evidence is more or less disappointing. Puranas are the only important literary source about the genealogical as also chronological framework of the Satavahanas but as a result of long process of transmission by means of perishable materials has led to interpolations rendering them untrustworthy unless corroborated by epigraphic or numismatic evidence. Gunadya’s Brihatkatha supposed to have been written at the Court of a Satavahana king has not reached us except in very small fragments in later commentaries and versions whose relation to the original is estimated differently by different writers.

The work named Lilavai which purports to be a treatment of the activities of king Hala’s reign is not trustworthy in its major parts. The kings from the 9th to the 16th and from the 18th to 22nd out of thirty kings remain thoroughly obscure due to the missing pieces of the Puranic lists. Thus much of the history of the Satavahanas remain obscure and a matter of imagination.

Satavahana Chronology—A Puzzle:

The chronology of the Satavahana rulers is very much controversial and the starting point of the rule of the dynasty has been variously given by scholars as between 40-30 B.C., that is, the latter part of the first century B.C. and as 235 B.C.

According to the Puranas the founder of the Satavahana dynasty was Simuka, misspelt as Sisuka, Sindhuka and Sipraka in the Purunas. In the Puranas it is mentioned that the Andhra Simuka would assail the Kanvayanas and Susarman, and destroy the remains of the Sunga Power and would obtain the earth. From this statement it is obvious that Simuka was the contemporary of Susarman who flourished in the first century B.C. (40-30 B.C.).

Again in the Puranic lists ten rulers of the Sunga dynasty which came to 137 years after the accession of Chandragupta Maurya, ruled for 112 years and their last king Devabhuti was overthrown by the Kanva dynasty which ruled for a total period of 45 years, and its last king Susarman was overthrown by the Andhra (i.e., Satavahana) Simuka. This also brings the date of Simuka to 30 B.C.

Further, the Nanaghat inscription of Nayanika, Simuka’s daughter-in-law, according to R. P. Chanda is of a time later than the Besnagar inscription of Bhagavata, the last but one king of the line of Pushyamitra. This brings the date of Simuka to the first century B.C.

Again R. D. Banerjee on good grounds takes ti-vasa-sata of Hatigumpha inscription to mean 300 years and not 103 years. This means Kharvela and his contemporary Satakarni I flourished 300 years after Nandaraja which brings the date of Kharvela and his contemporary Satavahana ruler Satakarni I 24 B.C. This contention is also supported by palaeography of the Nasik, Sanchi and Nanaghat inscriptions and is in conformity with the unanimous evidence of the Puranas.

Rapson, Smith, Gopalachari do not subscribe to the above view. They rely on a less unanimous statement in the Puranas that the Satavahana rulers, i.e., the Andhras, ruled for a total period of 460 years. They place Simuka towards the close of the 3rd century B.C. and the Dynasty’s end they place in the 3rd century A.D., i.e., from 235 B.C. to 225 A.D. This brings the starting point of the reign of Simuka very close to the death of Asoka.

It may be pointed out that the Puranas differ in their statements regarding the duration of the Andhra (Satavahana) rule and the names of the kings given by them are not unanimous. The duration of the rule has been variously given as 300, 411, 412, 456 and 460 years and the number of rulers as 19 in some version, 30 in others.

But Dr. Raychaudhuri is of the opinion that the total duration of the Satavahana rule of all the lines is really more than 400 years and if the starting point of the rule of the dynasty is placed towards the end of the first century B.C., the end of the Satavahana rule will come in the fifth century A.D. and remarks that the Puranas are right in assigning to the entire line of 30 kings a period of about four centuries and a half. This brings us to C. 235 B.C. as the starting point of Satavahana rule.

Rise of the Satavahanas:


There is a sharp controversy about the identification of the Satavahanas. In the Puranas the Satavahanas have been mentioned as Andhras or Andhra-bhrityas. Dr. Smith, Rapson, Bhandarkar who based their arguments on the use of the expression Andhra in the Puranas are of the opinion that the Satavahanas were Andhras.

But the term Andhra-bhrityas has led some scholars to mean Andhras who were originally servants of some other power such as the Maurya or the Sunga. Some other scholars are of the opinion that the Satavahanas were not Andhras (Telugu), but the servants of the Andhras were of Kanarese origin, and that they at first owed allegiance to some Andhra kings.

Dr. D. C. Sarkar in The Age of Imperial Unity remarks that Neither of the interpretations appears to be satisfactory, although it is probable that the predecessors of the Satavahana emperors were feudatories of the Kanvas. According to Dr. Sarkar the expression Andhra-bhritya used in the Puranas did not actually mean the Satavahanas who were according to most of them Andharas but dynasties which were subservient to the Satavahanas but became independent after the latter’s downfall.

According to yet another group of scholars, the name Andhra came to be applied to the kings of the Satavahana rulers in later times when they lost their western possessions and became purely Andhra power ruling over the territory at the mouth of the river Krishna.

Mr. O. C. Ganguly points out that in the text of Brihat-desi a clear distinction has been indicated between the Satavahanas and the Andhras.

Dr. Sarkar draws our attention to two expressions used in most of the Puranas, namely, Satavahanakula meaning family, and Andhra-jaitya meaning belonging to Andhra race. The Puranic testimony, temarks Dr. Sarkar, may be reconciled with epigraphic evidence, if it is believed that the members of the Satavahana family, i.e., the descendants of a prince Satavahana, were Andhras by nationality. In support of this contention Dr. Sarkar also refers to the author of Suttanipata commentary where Asmaka and Mulaka—two places in the heart of the Satavahana kingdom who calls them Andhaka (Sanskrit Andhraka) rajjyas.

We cannot, however, avoid the conclusion that Satavahana, Andhra, Andhra-bhritya still remain controversial in regard to their mutual identity.

Original Home:

Dr. Smith, Rapson, and Bhandarkar took the Satavahanas as Andhras and Dr. Smith draws our attention to the reference to the Andhra people to be found in Megasthenes’ account and even earlier in the Aitareya Brahmana as a Dravidian people who occupied the deltas of the Godavari and the Krishna rivers. According to Megasthenes the Andhras had an army only second in strength to that of Chandragupta Maurya. According to Burgess the capital of the state is believed to have been Sri Kakulam on the lower course of the Krishna. The nation was evidently independent.

Dr. Sukthankar depending on epigraphic evidence such as the copper plate inscription of the Pallava king Siva-Skandavarman, suggests that a good portion of the modem Bellary district of the Madras Presidency was the original home of the Satavahana family. Dr. H. C. Raychaudhuri is, however, of the opinion that the Satavahana territory according to the Vinaya Texts was laid on the southern portion of Madhydesa which means northern Deccan and according to Hatigumpha inscription western Deccan.

In later period the Satavahana rule became confined to Andhra or eastern Deccan. This is also borne out by the finds of Satavahana inscriptions of the later period in eastern Deccan although enough of them have been found in western Deccan. According to Raychaudhuri the original capital of the Satavahanas was Pralisthana, i.e., modern Paithan in Hyderabad. H. C. Raychaudhuri’s view is also borne out by the finds of coins.

Dr. D. C. Sarkar remarks, The suggestion that the Andhras originally inhabited the Vindhyan region and the adjoining part of the Deccan is probably supported by their association with the Pulin-das who were another Vindhyan tribe. When the literary, epigraphic and numismatic evidences are considered together we come to the conclusion that the original home of the Satavahanas was in south India, most probably in western Deccan with Pratisthana as their capital.

Political and Administrative History of the Satavahanas:


The Puranas mention Simuka as the founder of the Satavahana Dynasty who ruled for eighteen years. About Simuka’s ancestry nothing definite is known. In the Nanaghat inscription he is named as raja Simuka-Sata-Vahana. The Puranas credit Simuka with having overthrown Susarman of the Kanva Dynasty.

But N. K. Sastri points out that there seems to be some error on the part of the ancient editors of the Purana texts, as the Andhra Dynasty had been founded about two centuries before the overthrow of the Kanvas. Simuka and Susarman could not, therefore, have been contemporaries. According to him as well as Dr. Gopalachari, Simuka was almost contemporaneous with the Mauryas and the ruler who overthrew the Kanva Dynasty in Magadha must have been a Satavahana king of much later time.

A proper chronological scheme would make Andhra Simuka the immediate successor of Asoka. In his coup d’ etat against the Maurya Empire Simuka allied himself with other Andhra-bhrityas as well with the Bhojas and Rathikas, and in the end assumed independent status and regal title.

If we accept the above view, then we cannot but reject the contrary view expressed by Dr. D. C. Sarkar that the region which Simuka conquered from the Sungas and Kanvas may have included the district round Vidisa, which was probably the capital of the later Sungas.

According to the Puranas Simuka ruled for 23 years. The Jaina legends mentioned that Simuka caused Jaina and Buddhist temples to be repaired and patronised these two religions in order to obtain the support of these two powerful communities in the west. He is said to have ‘turned wicked’ in the sense that he began to favour the Buddhists, more than the Jainas. He was dethroned and killed.


According to the Puranas Simuka was succeeded by his brother Krishna and has been identified with Kanha raja of the Satavahana family. The Nasik inscription tells us that a high official of Nasik at the time of Kanha caused a certain cave to be excavated.

Satakarni I:

Krishna or Kanha was succeeded by Satakarni I, who has been variously called a son, a nephew of Krishna. The name of Satakarni appears in the Nanaghat inscription of Nayanika, in the Sanchi inscription as also the Indian literature and on coins inscribed with the legend Sri-Sata. All these names are identified with the name of Satakarni I except that referred to in the Sanchi inscription about which there is a controversy.

Satakarni entered into a matrimonial alliance with Angiya family by which he became the sovereign of the whole of Dakshinapatha. He seems to have controlled eastern Malwa and performed Asvamedha sacrifice. His conquest of eastern Malwa is implied by coins and Sanchi inscription when read with reference to the Puranic statement. From the Mauryas Satakarni I conquered western Malwa and Anupa—the territory immediate south of western Malwa.

In the disintegration of the Maurya Empire and the confusion caused by the Greek conquests Satakarni succeeded in building up an empire which is borne out by the two Asvamedha and one Rajasuya sacrifices that he held. He assumed the title of Dakshinapathapati, i.e., the Lord of Deccan. These sacrifices marked the revival of the Vedic religion in the Deccan after a long spell of Buddhist ascendancy.

In the Hatigumpha inscription there is mention of Kalinga king Kharvela’s defying Satakarni. But N. K. Sastri points out that synchronism of the dates of Kharvela and Satakarni is not so certain as Rapson and some other scholars have supposed it to be. From the same inscription we know that the dominions of Satakarni I abutted on the western border of Kalinga and a different interpretation of the inscription that has been given is that Kharvela and Satakarni were on friendly terms.

However, there is hardly any doubt that Satakarni exercised sway over the regions of the Upper Deccan and parts of Central and Western India. The northern Konkan as also Kathiawar may have been within the Satavahanas Empire of Satakarni I. Dr. H. C. Raychaudhuri Observes that Satakarni seems to have been the first prince to raise the Satavahanas to the position of paramount sovereigns of Trans-Vindhyan India.

Thus arose the first great empire in the Godavari Valley which rivaled in extent the power of the Sunga Empire in the Ganges Valley and the Greek empire in the land of the five rivers. According to the evidence of Indian as well as classical writers the capital of Satavahana Empire was at Pratisthana, the modern Paithan on the north bank of the Godavari in the Aurangabad district of Hyderabad.

Successors of Satakarni I:

The eventful reign of Satakarni I was rather short and he is said to have fallen in battle. He left his two surviving sons, Vedasri and Saktisri, both minors. His queen Nayanika assumed the government of the kingdom as regent. She governed the kingdom with the help of her father Tranakayiro Kalalaya and caused the excavation of the Nanaghat cave to sterve as a rest-house for the caravan merchants from Paithan to Kalyan’and inscribed the long Nanaghat record in the cave. Sculptured rilievo figures of Simuka, Satakarni I, Nayanika, five princes as also of Tranakayiro were there in the cave and perhaps were wrought during Satakarni’s reign.

The period intervening between the regency of Nayanika and the rise of Gautamiputra Satakarni is very obscure and our information is no better than a confused mass of irreconcilable lists of rulers given by the Puranas. Other sources which corroborate the names in Puranic lists are those of Apilaka, Kuntala-Satakarni and Hala. But they do not seem to be the main line of the Satavahana family; they belonged to different branches of the Satavahanas. This obscure period witnessed a temporary eclipse of the Satavahana power due to the encroachment of the Sakas.

Yet the only relief in the otherwise gloomy picture of the period is the career of Hala.


Among the early Satavahana rulers Satakarni I was the greatest in war, Hala was definitely the greatest in peace. He is mentioned not only in the Puranas but in Saptasati, Lilavai, Abhidhana Chintamani and Desinamamala.

Hala’s reign was marked by an exuberance in literary activities. His time saw the raising of the Marathi Prakrit from vulgar provincial dialect to an elegant literary language. The brilliant flowering of literature during Hala’s reign was the result of long years of victory, conquests and commercial prosperity that the early Satavahana rulers accomplished. A splendid Court attracted poets and kept them within its glittering orbit.

The lighter mood of the period is noticed in the production of profane literature. The most celebrated composition of the time is Sattasai or Gathasaptasati which is an anthology of 700 verses in Marathi Prakrit and in Arya metre. It is a collection of witty, frivolous and sentimental verses but some are highly philosophical and some again deal with love affairs.

Hala himself is credited with compilation of the anthology. It is suggested that he worked on a previous anthology compiled by certain Kavivatsala and unified and embellished it. This anthology has undergone many more changes at the hands of subsequent editors and Bana refers to it by saying that, Satavana made an immortal refined treasure (Kosa) of song adorned with fine expression of characters like jewels. The Saptasati had considerably influenced the development of Prakrit language but also that of Sanskrit.

The short reign of Hala was not without its military glory. The military events of his reign constitute the theme of the work called Lilavai. It is stated therein that Commander-in-Chief of Hala, Vyayanamda led a successful campaign in Ceylon and Hala led a military campaign into eastern Deccan. But scholars doubt the historical truth of these legends.

The Satavahana ascendancy came to a halt due to the foreign invasion that convulsed the north-western India. The Satavahana rulers had fight with the Greeks, the Sakas and the Parthians but the details of the struggle are unknown. The Saka chief called the western Satraps of Malwa and Kathiawar peninsula dispossessed the Satavahanas of their dominions in Malwa, the north-western parts of the Deccan and occupied their important city of Nasik.

After about half a century of stress and tribulations and obscure existence under foreign rule the Satavahana power rallied itself and effected a total recovery in the reign of Gautamiputra Sri Satakarni.

The Later Satavahanas:

I. Gautamiputra Satakarni:

Gautamiputra Satakarni was the greatest of the Satavanaha rulers who achievements inaugurated a happy and fruitful century of Satavahana rule after the long spell of obscurity and ignominy due to the foreign invasions. We have a wealth of materials about Gautamiputra Satakarni’s rule in the Nasik Prasasti inscribed by his mother devi Balasri, years after his death which is in the nature of a funeral oration by a disconsolate mother.

Gautamiputra Satakarni restored the fortune of the Satavahana dynasty which seems to have been submerged beneath a wave of Scythian invasion. First sixteen years of Gautamiputra’s reign seem to have been spent in preparation for an all-out attack upon the Kshaharata power, i.e., Sakas of the Kshaharata dynasty. He inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Saka chiefs of Malwa and Kathiawar peninsula. He thereby not only recovered his ancestral dominions in the Deccan, but also conquered large territories in Gujrat and Rajputana.

His military success has been described in Nasik Prasasti of his mother Queen Gautami Balasri or devi Balasri wherein he is described as a unique Brahmana who totally uprooted the Kshaharata dynasty and extirpated the Sakas, Yavanas, that is, the Greeks and the Pahalvas, i.e., the Paithians. He is also described as the lord of many countries including Northern Kankan, Anupa and Kukura. He totally defeated Kshaharata ruler Nahapana and having driven him out of Maharastra struck coins in his own name and put them into circulation.

Under Gautamiputra Satakarni the Satavahana empire became a vast and formidable power. The empire comprised not only the Satavahana provinces of Eastern Malwa, Western Malwa, the Namada Valley, Berar, Northern Maharastra, Northern Konkan but also Western Rajputana, Surashtra.

Gautamiputra has been styled as the Lord of the Vindhyas meaning the central Eastern Vindhyas as well as Satpura hill, Western Vindhyas and the Aravalli, Travancore hills, Eastern and Western Ghats, as well as other mountain ranges encircling the peninsula of South India. Gautamiputra’s epithet tri-Samudra-toya-pita-vahana, i.e., one whose chargers drank waters of the three seas in the east, west and south, that is, the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean shows the vastness of his empire.

Gautamiputra Satakarni is described as a handsome person with a charming and radiant face with beautiful gait and with muscular and long arms. He is described as obedient to his mother, reluctant to hurt even his offending enemy, of good manners, a repository of all virtues and good fortune and fountain of good manners.

As a King he was obeyed by the circle of all Kings. He was solicitous of the welfare of his subjects with whose woes he sympathized, helped all people, high or low, levied taxes justly and prevented intermingling of four castes, in order to prevent the growth of sub-castes. The poor, weak and the suffering came in for his immediate attention.

Gautamiputra was great in war but was greater still in -peace. He combined his military genius with statesmanship and with a resolute sense of public duty. He was instructed in all branches of learning that make an efficient ruler. He based his administration on the twin foundations of Sastric injunctions and humanism. Towards the end of his reign Gautamiputra either due to his military preoccupations or illness shared the responsibility of administration with his mother devi Balasri.

He was the first Satavahana King who adopted the vedic metronymic Gautamiputra which was followed by his successors. There are three Vedic gotras, Vasistha, Gautama and Mathara followed by the Satavahanas. Satakarni’s metronymic was derived from Gautama.

The adoption of metronymics of only three referred to above was the result of cross-cousin marriages among the Satavahanas.

Gautamiputra Satakarni appears to have lost most of the districts he had conquered from the Kshaharatas to the Kardamakas who were another dynasty of the Sakas. The Junagarh inscriptions of Rudra-damana corroborate the loss of territories by Gautamiputra to the Kardamakas. The same inscription shows that most of the territories which Gautamiputra had conquered from Nahapana came under the possession of Rudradamana.

Some scholars suggest that Gautamiputra Satakarni was identical with Vikramaditya of Indian tradition. But this is not acceptable because Gautamiputra Satakarni was of Pratisthana and Vikramaditya of Ujjaini and there is nothing to show that Gautamiputra had assumed the title Vikramaditya, nor had he founded any era known as Vikrama-Samvat.

II. Vasisthiputra Pulumayi II:

Gautamiputra Satakarni bequeathed his empire to his son Vasis-thiputra Pulumayi who ruled for twenty-eight or twenty-nine years. Pulumayi’s inscriptions have been discovered at Nasik, Karle in the Poena district and at Amaravati in the Krishna district.

We have seen that towards the end of his rule Gautamiputra Satakarni had lost the northern provinces of the empire, but Pulumayi compensated the loss by extending the Satavahana Empire in the land upto the mouth of the river Krishna. This is borne out by his Amaravati inscription and a number of coins. During Pulumayi’s reign the Satavahana Empire also extended over the Bellary district and this new conquest was named as Andhrapatha and Satavahaniya districts.

Discovery of Pulumayi’s ship with double mast coins on the Coromondal coast raises the presumption that his empire extended in the south and he paid attention to naval power, maritime trade and colonisation. In commemoration of his conquests Pulumayi founded the new city called Navanagara and assumed the title Nava-nagarasvami. He also assumed the title of Maharaja in Dakshina-pathesvara.

From the Nasik and the Karle inscriptions we come to know of his having made a donation of a village to the monks of the Vahuraka caves.

III. Successors of Pulumayi:

Pulumayi was succeeded by Sivasri—Satakarni who was certainly identical with Vasishtriputra Sivasri-Satakarni of the coins found in the Krishna and Godavari districts. He was probably a brother of Pulumayi II and married the daughter of the Saka Satrap (i.e., Viceroy or Governor) Rudradamana I. Sivashi-Satakarni was succeeded by Siva Skanda Satakarni and Yajnasri Satakarni. We do not know anything about Siva Skanda Satakarni.

IV. Yajnasri Satakarni:

Yajnasri Satakarni was a powerful ruler under whom the Satavahana power revived. From the distribution of his coins in Krishna and Godavari districts of the Madras State, Chanda district of Madhya Pradesh, Berar, Northern Konkan, Baroda, Sopara and Kathiwar as well as from his inscription at Nasik, Kanheri and Chinna-Ganjam in Krishna district, etc. it is concluded that Yajnisri Satakarni was a great king who had ousted the Scythiah rule not only from Aparanta but probably also from parts of Western India and the Narmada Valley.

This must have been facilitated partly due to the struggle between Jivadaman, Rudrasinha I, the rulers of those areas and the rise of Mahakshatrapa Isvaradatta. Yajnasri Satakarni was the last great king of the family and after him the empire began to fall into pieces and the empire gave rise to a number of separate1 principalities under different princes of the royal Mood.

V. Satavahana Decline:

The successors of Yajnasri Satakarni according to some of the Puranas were Vijaya, Chandrasri and Pulumayi IV. Although some coins of these rulers have been discovered yet their identification remains somewhat controversial and the events of their reigns remain controversial.

According to some of the Puranas 19 kings of the dynasty ruled for 500 years, according to others 30 kings ruled for 456 years. Whatever might have been the actual length of the rule, the Satavahanas ruled for an unusually long time. This long rule led to decrepitude of the imperial government. It has not been possible for any imperial house to keep the reins of government together for so long a period by producing capable successors without break.

The Satavahana may be credited with enduring for a usual length of time in the history of India and fall into pieces due to the rise of the different dynasties such as the:

(i) Abhiras, who established a kingdom in the north-western Deccan which perhaps included northern Kankan and Southern Gujarat,

(ii) The Ikshakus who occupied the Andhra proper between the mouths of the Krishna and the Godavari,

(iii) The Bodhis over north-eastern Deccan,

(iv) Chutas over South-Western Deccan,

(v) The Brihatphalayanas in the Masulipatam region, and

(vi) The Pallavas in the reign round Kanchi,

(vii) But the most powerful of the new independent principalities was that of the Vakatakas.

Political, Social, Economic, Religious and Cultural Life under the Satavahanas:

Our information about the political, social, economic and religious life during the Satavahana rule is derived from inscriptions, coins as well as literature of the period. The official records of Gautamiputra Satakarni and Pulumayi and some Buddhist records throw a flood of light on the polity of the vast Satavahana Empire.


The Satavahanas had a monarchical system of administration but the kings did neither assume any honorific indicating divine right of the kingship nor did they exercise absolute authority. Their powers and rights were limited by the laws as embodied in the Hindu Dharmasastras as well as by the long standing customs of the country.

The king was at the top of the administration; he was the Commander-in-Chief of the army and would personally lead the army to the battle field. The monarchy was hereditary and what was very special about the Satavahanas was the absence of any bloody struggle among the successors to the throne. No fratricidal war, no partition of the dominions between the heirs marred the succession to the Satavahana throne.

The eldest son was not necessarily consecrated as heir apparent, i.e., Crown Prince nor was there any instance of association of the Crown Prince in the actual administration with the king. The royal princes were, however, appointed as viceroys. In case of minority of the king, the brother of the deceased king or the queen mother would function as the regent. The regency of the queen mother Nayanika is an instance in point.

The Satavahana Empire comprised feudatory principalities as also areas under the direct control of the king. The latter were divided into Janapadas each of which was divided into Aharas, i.e., districts. Every Ahara was in charge of an Amacha, that is a district officer or governor who would be transferred from one district to another from time to time. The Amachas were appointed by the king.

Each Ahara was divided into several Gamas, i.e., villages and a Gamika, i.e., gramika or village officer was appointed in each village. Other officials besides the viceroys, governors, gramikas, were the Chamberlains (Mahatarakas), Store-Keepers (Bhandargarikas) Treasurers (Heranikas), Registration Officers (Nibamdharakas), Gatekeepers (Pratiharas), Envoys (Dutakas), etc.

Social: The Society under the Satavahanas was divided with reference to the offices held and duties performed by the people. The first class comprised the Mahasenapati, Mahabhojas and Maharathis. This first class of officials comprised the highest class of the society. Thert were also feudatory chieftains in charge of Rastras, i.e., principalities and districts. In north Konkon we come across officers called Mahabhojas and Maharathis in Western Ghats. According to Rapson these officials were connected with the royal family by blood or by caste.

The second social class comprised officials like Amatyas, Mahamatras and Bhandagarikas and non-officials like merchants, head of aravan traders, head of tradeguilds, etc.

The third social class was composed of the physicians, scribes, cultivators, druggists, goldsmiths, etc.

The fourth and the last social class included the carpenters, gardeners, blacksmiths and fishermen.

The mercantile people and the cultivators were divided into Grihas, Kulas or Kutumbas meaning families at the head of each of which there was a Grihapati or Kutambin, i.e., the head of the family who occupied a position of authority in the family.

One speciality of the Satavahana period was craft-guilds. There are references to guilds of the oil-pressers, artisans, potters, corn dealers, weavers, bruisers and bamboo-workers. The existence of guilds indicate corporate life of the time. The Srenis were not simply craft-guilds or trade-guilds but they acted as bankers and accepted deposits for which they paid interests. There are instances of permanent endowments made to the guilds.

Saka governor Usavadatta made two such permanent endowments, i.e., deposits to guilds making provision for his new robes and other for food necessaries. It is interesting to note that a governor of the eminence of Usavadatta deposited his money in permanent endowments in the guilds for he considered that his provision for robe and food would be more secure if he deposited his money with the guilds rather than in the imperial treasure, for empire might be destroyed any time but the guild would continue to function despite political change. Interests on deposits varied from 9% to 12% per annum.


The economic condition of the Satavahana period has to be viewed from two sand-points, namely, the economic condition of the government and of the people. The government lived from hand to month. The Satavahana administration was very simple and did not entail heavy expenditure. True, the constant warfare required considerable spending on the army, yet the expenditure on day to day affairs being not very heavy, the need for taxing people heavily did not arise.

The sources of revenue of the government were the proceeds from the royal domain, salt monopoly, ordinary and extraordinary, taxes on land and income from Court-fees and fines. Many taxes including assignments to soldiers and officials were paid in kind.

On the evidence of Pliny, Ptolemy and the Periplus we come to know that the period from Pulumayi II to the reign of Yajnasri Satakarni saw brisk commercial intercourse with the countries in the South-East Asia and colonisation of those countries. It goes without saying that commerce with the South-East Asian countries preceded Hindu colonisation of Sumatra, Java, Malaya and Indo-China.

The causes behind the twin movement of commerce and colonisation were doubtlessly the peace and progress as also royal encouragement which followed extension of the Satavahana Empire. Commercial relations were not limited to the South-East Asian countries but extended to western countries like Rome.

The Roman need for luxury articles like spices, fragrant wood, sandals, resins, aloes, camphor, benjoin and metal like gold lay behind the brisk commercial relations with the western countries. In the maritime commerce the harbours and ports along the entire coastal tract from Kaveripaddinam in the south to Tamralipti in Bengal took part, although South India had a major share in it.

From the Periplus we know that ships from western countries sailed across the Red Sea and following the Arabian coast reached upto Kane. Thence some ships reached Broach (Barygaza) and Malabar (Lymrika). The most important seaports of the time were Sopara and Kalyan. The ports were both the outlets and inlets for export from inland countries particularly Paithan, Nasik, etc. and distribution of the imports to eastern and western Ocean.

The commercial relations opened the way to cultural relations. The inner impulse of Aryan culture far and wide was a potent factor in the spread of Indian cultural influence to countries of the west’ and particularly those of South-East Asia.

As the Satavahana administration was based on Sastric injunction and humanism, the poor, weak and the suffering received special attention.



The Satavahana period is characterised by a unique spirit of toleration in matters of religious beliefs. The Satavahana rulers were Brahmanical Hindus who relied on the Vedas and Hindu Dharmasastras. They held Asvamedha, Rajasuya and many other sacrifices. But they seem to have been eclectic in their religious beliefs. They tolerated and actively patronised Buddhism which flourished without any hindrance throughout the Satavahana period.

The Satavahana kings worshipped a variety of Hindu gods and goddesses. In the Saptasati of King Hala there is mention of the worship of gods and goddesses like Siva, Krishna, Indra, Gauri. Personal names were also indicative of their worship of different gods and goddesses. For instance, we often come across names like Sivapalita, Sivadatta, etc. which show they were fond of god like Siva.

Vaisnavism was also prevalent as we know from names like Vishnupalit, Venhu, Hari, etc. Siva’s vehicle, the bull, was also adored. This we can gather from the names such as Nandini, Rishavadatta, Rishavanka, etc. Serpent worship may have been in vogue, for there are references to Sarpa Naga, etc.

Under the Satavahanas, Buddhism made a rapid stride. The Buddhist caves and epigraphs at Nasik, Bhoja, Badsa, Kuda in western Deccan, Pitalkhora and Stupas at Bhattiprolu, Aramavati, Goti, Ghanta Sala, etc. testify to the predominance of Buddhism. The Karle Chaitya constructed during the Satavahana period was the most, excellent in Jambudvipa (India).

The Buddhist objects of worship were the sacred tree, empty throne, foot prints of Buddha, the Trisula emblem. Obviously the Hinayana form of Buddhism was prevalent, but towards the end of the Satavahana period Mahayana form of Buddism and worship of the image of Buddha came to replace the Hinayana System.

The Buddhist Church under the Satavahanas had numerous sects chief of which were Bhadayaniyas, Dhammottariyas and Mahasamghikas. There was no rivalry among these sects and one sect is known to have donated a pillar to a different sect.

A large number of Buddhist teachers called Sthaviras, Mahasthaviras, Charakas, etc. moved about in the empire of the Satavahanas enlightening the people in the Law of the Master (Buddha). In eastern Deccan monks, nuns, lay men flocked round the teachers who were well-versed in the Buddhist religious text Vinaya and Dhamma.

All caves so far discovered in the Deccan were dedicated to the Buddhists and were excavated under the Satavahana rule. The Buddhist caves were of two types, the Chaityagrihas, i.e., the temples and Layanas, i.e., residential quarters for the Bhikshus.

It is a matter of great interest to know that a large number of foreigners embraced Buddhism and Brahmanical Hinduism during the rule of the Satavahanas. The Yavanas (Greeks), Pahlavas (Parthians), Sakas, etc. were these foreigners. Rudradamana embraced Brahmanical Hinduism and a Greek ambassador Heliodrous adopted Vaishnavism.

Dr. Bhandarkar mentions that in the cave inscriptions of the time references are there to the gifts made by the Yavanas to the Chaityas. . At Karle cave two such names found are those of Singhdhvaja and Dharma, at the cave at Junar the names of Isila, Chitra and Chandra are found. This shows they turned Buddhists and adopted Hindu names.


If the Satavahana period was great in administration, economy, social life, and religion, it was no less eminent in cultural activities.

Under the Satavahana ruler Hala, the poet-king, there was a literary exuberance. It was during his rule that the Marathi Prakrit was raised from a vulgar dialect to an elegant literary language. The Satavahana Court under him attracted poets and men of letters round it.

The most important work of the time of Hala was the Gathasaptasati, an anthology of 700 verses of diverse nature, from light and profane to most thoughtful and philosophical. Hala himself was a poet and is credited with composition of verses. Hala caused the collection of all great poets and wise men.

Gathasaptasati exercised a deep influence on the development of Prakrit as also Sanskrit languages and literature. Gunadhya’s Brihatkatha seems to have been composed during this period. A Prakrit work Lilavai, a romance, is said to have been the work of the period.

The Satavahana period is remarkable for the excavation of numerous caves and chaityas. The Nasik, Karle, Bhoja, caves and stupas studded with inscriptions while furnishing us with a very important source of information also testify to the development of stone-cutting art.

From the information supplied by foreign sources we know that the merchant marine reached a high pitch of development. The find of a coin with the double mast ship inscribed on it leaves us in no doubt that the skill of ship making had highly developed under the Satavahanas.

Considered from the different aspects of life during the unusually long Satavahana rule we may conclude that the period of peace and prosperity that followed the conquests led to an alround development of the political, social, economic, religious and cultural life under the Satavahanas.

The Deccan after the Satavahanas:

With the dismemberment of the Satavahana empire there arose in the Deccan a number of independent principalities under different branches of the Satavahana imperial line. But they were gradually ousted by other dynasties such as the Vakatakas, Abhiras, Bodhis, Ikshakus and Bhrihatphalayanas.

I. The Vakatakas:

The founder of the Vakataka dynasty was Vindhyasakti about whose ancestry and original home nothing definite is known. From his name it is presumed that he ruled over territories near about the Vindhya region. The Puranas credit Vindhyasakti with a reign of 96 years and his son Pravarasena I with 60 years.

The latter was succeeded by his four sons. The Puranas also associate Vindhyasakti with the Yavanas called the Kilakilas. But the authenticity of the details given in the Puranas has been questioned by scholars but the descriptions given in the Puranas seem to indicate that Vindhyasakti ruled over Eastern Malwa.

It is suggested that Vindhyasakti strengthened his position and extended his power across the Vindhyas at the expense of the latter Satavahanas. But most of the records of the descendants of Vindhyasakti have been found in the Madhya Pradesh and Berar and the adjoining regions of the Deccan while a few records of one of their feudatories have been discovered in Bundelkhand.

All this shows that the Vakataka Kings had their headquarters in the Nagpur District of the Madhya Pradesh and the Akola District of Berar, and Bundelkhand being ruled through a viceroy or a feudatory. It is suggested, therefore, that the Vakatakas were a feudatory dynasty of the latter Satavahanas, who became powerful and independent with the decay of the Satavahana power.

Some scholars suggest that the Vakatakas extended their power over Central India and when the Gupta emperors advanced towards Central India, the Vakatakas transferred their headquarters to the Deccan.

Some other scholars reject this view of Central Indian home of the Vakatakas and hold that their original home was the Deccan, for these is a reference in an early inscription at Amaravati to the name Vakataka. But again there is a controversy and it is said that the reference in the Amaravati inscription is a person named Vakataka and not to the Vakataka Dynasty.

The Puranic account refers to Vindhyasakti, his son and grandson as also the end of the Vakataka rule in Central India before the second quarter of the fourth century A.D. It is also known that Vindhyasakti’s great-grandson. Prithivisena I, was more or less a contemporary of Samudragupta since Prithivisena’s son married the daughter of Chandragupta II.

Then again, the latest reference to the Vakatakas is to be found in the records of the Vishnukundins where it is mentioned that Madhavavarmana I of the Andhra country married a Vakataka Princess. From all this some scholars are of the opinion that the Vakatakas ruled from about the middle of the third to the middle of the sixth century A.D.

The founder of the Vakataka dynasty, Vindhyasakti, was a Brahamana. In the Ajanta inscription he is credited with the conquest of countries and with great liberality as a ruler.

Vindhyasakti was succeeded by his son Maharaja Haritiputra Pravarasena. His achievements are narrated in the records of his family. This is the only Vakataka king who is described in the records as Samrat. From the Puranas it is known that he performed Asvamedha sacrifice.

His performance of Asvamedha as well as Agrtishtoma, Yotishtoma, Brihaspatisava, etc., proves that he was a devout Brahmanical Hindu. From all this, it is supposed that Pravarasena was the founder of the Vakataka empire extending from Bundelkhand in the north to the Hyderabad in the south. Pravarasena probably died about the end of the fourth century A.D.

II. The Abhiras:

The Abhiras are usually supposed to have been a foreign people who entered India along with the Sakas or shortly before them. In the Puranas, the Abhiras are referred to as the successors of the Satavahanas. In Patanjali’s Mahavasya the Abhiras are mentioned as Sudras. As to the location of the Abhira country there is a controversy.

According to the Puranas the Abhira dominions lay in the north-west region of the Deccan and may have included northern Konkan as far north as Broach. Periplus and Ptolemy, however, refer to Abhira country as between the lower Sindhu Valley and Kathiawar.

In early epigraphic records the Abhiras are referred to as generals of the Saka Mahakshatrapas of Western India. An inscription belonging to Rudrasimha I, the Abhira general Rudrabhuti, son of general Bapaka, is credited with the excavation of a tank. One of the Abhira’s sons named Isvaradatta adopted the title Mahakshatrapa and issued coins in his name.

We know of only one Abhira king who may be, in all reasonableness, considered a successor of the Satavahanas in the north-western Deccan. He is Raja Mathariputra Isvarasena, son of Sivadatta. In the Nasik inscription he is referred to have made two investments of 1,000 and 500 Karshapanas in the trade guild for the purpose of providing medicines for the sick monks living in the monasteries of the Nasik hills. King Isvarasena is regarded as the founder of the Abhira Dynasty and doubtlessly, he flourished after death of Yajnasri Satakarni.

Isvarasena’s inscriptions prove that his dominions comprised the Nasik region in northern Maharastra. The exact extent of his kingdom is, however, not known. The Abhiras continued to rule as late as the fourth century A.D. when, according to Chandravalli inscription, they came in conflict with Kadamba King Mayurasarman. In the Allahabad inscription of Samudragupta the Abhiras are mentioned among the list of tribes subdued by the Gupta emperor. The Abhira territories later on passed to the possession of the Traikutakas.

III. The Bodhis:

The Bodhis held sway over some parts of north-western Deccan. Their coins closely resemble those of the Saka satraps of western India and it is presumed by scholars that they were under the Saka sphere of influence. Bodhi or Sribodhi was perhaps the founder of the Bodhi Dynasty. Some of the coins of the Bodhi kings show a tree surrounded by railings.

From this it is supposed by some that the tree was Bodhi tree and the names of the kings Bodhi or ending with Bodhi is because of their Buddhist faith. But this is not accepted by many scholars. From their coins the names of three other kings, are known to us, e.g., Sivabodhi, Chandrabodhi or Srichandrabodhi, and Virabodhi or Virabodhidatta. How these three kings were related or how the rule of the dynasty came to an end is still obscure.

IV. The Ikshvakus:

The territories about the mouths of the Krishna and the Godavari districts which were in possession of the main branch of the Satavahana family seem to have passed to the control of the Ikshvaku family which overthrew the Satavahanas. It is not certain whether the Ikshvakus who overthrew the Satavahana main branch were related to the ancient Ikshvaku family of Ayodhya who might have migrated to the Deccan.

The founder of the Ikshvaku family that had overthrown the main Satavahana rule appears to have been Santamula I. He performed Asvamedha sacrifice, perhaps to celebrate the overthrow of the Satavahanas. The Ikshvakus originally acknowledged the suzerainty of the Satavahanas before overthrowing them.

In the Puranas the Ikshvakus have been referred to as Sripar-vatiya Andhras and they ruled from the city of Vijayapuri situated in the Nagarjunikunda Valley in the Nallamahur range, the ancient name of which was Sriparvata. We have no records of the reign of Santamula I nor have we any idea about the extent of his kingdom.

He was a staunch Brahmanical Hindu and is known to have celebrated Asvamedha as also Vajapeya and some other Vedic sacrifices. It appears that there was a short-lived revival of Brahmanical Hinduism under Santamula I after the Satavahana leanings towards Buddhism. But soon after Santamula’s rule, his successors began to lean towards Buddhism.

There are epigraphic evidence that Santamula’s eldest daughter was married to Mahasenapali-Mahatalevara Pukiya family whose territory comprised parts of Nellore. Another daughter was given in marriage to Mahasenapati-Mahadandanayaka of the Dhanaka family. Another family known as the Hiranyakas was related to the Ikshvakus. This family perhaps dwelt in Hiranyarashtra which comprised parts of Nellore and Cuddapah.

The next king of the Ikshvaku dynasty was Mathuraputra, Vira-purushdatta. The Ikshvakus favoured cross-cousin marriage as appears from the metronym adopted by them. In fact, Virapurushdatta married the daughter of his father’s sister. Three of his queen were daughters of his father s sisters. He seems to have also married Mahadevi Rudradhara Bhattarika, daughter of the king of Ujjaini. He is mentioned to have given his daughter in marriage to Chutu-Satakarni of the Kuntala line of the Satavahanas.

At Amaravati, Jaggayyapeta and Nagarjunikonda records of Virapurushdatta’s reign have been discovered. From these records we know of his donations to some Buddhist establishments. The records of Nagarjunikonda refer to benefactions of some female members of Virapurushadatta’s family.

Virapurushadatta was succeeded by his son Santamula II. An inscription found at Gurzala in the Guntur district mentions the name of Maharaja Ruhipurushadatta connecting him with Virapurushadatta. According to Dr. D. C. Sarkar, it is not unlikely that he was the successor of Santamula II.

The independent rule of the Ikshvakus in the lower Valley of the Krishna seems to have terminated by the end of the third century A.D. But they lingered as a local power even after the Pallava conquest of Andhrapatha.

V. The Brihatphalayanas:

Only one king of Brihatphalayana Dynasty named Jayavarman is known to us. He styles himself as Rajan in his Kondamudi grant but as Maharaja on the seal on the grant. He is described as a devout worshipper of Mahesvara and as belonging to Brihatphalayana gotra. According to some scholars the reference to an order of Jayavarmana from camp of victory at Kudura was the headquarters of the district of that name, but according to others Kudura was the capital of the Brihatphalayana Dynasty.

Nothing is, however, known of the predecessors or successors of the Brihatphalayanas King Jayavarmana or about his relations with the Ikshvakus, Satavahanas of the Pallavas. It is supposed that kings of the Brihatphalayana Dynasty before Jayavarmana acknowledged the supremacy of the Satavahanas and later of the Ikshvakus. The Brihatphalayanas and the Ikshvakus were subdued by the Pallavas of Kanchi.

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