The SATAVAHANAS (IAST : Sātavāhana) were an ancient Indian dynasty
based in the
Deccan region. Most modern scholars believe that the
Satavahana rule began in first century BCE and lasted until the second
century CE, although some assign the beginning of their rule to as
early as the 3rd century BCE. The
Satavahana kingdom mainly comprised
The origin of the dynasty is uncertain, but according to the Puranas , their first king overthrew the Kanva dynasty . In the post-Maurya era, the Satavahanas established peace in the Deccan region, and resisted the onslaught of foreign invaders. In particular their struggles with the Saka Western Satraps went on for a long time. The dynasty reached its zenith under the rule of Gautamiputra Satakarni and his successor Vasisthiputra Pulamavi . The kingdom fragmented into smaller states by the early 3rd century CE.
The Satavahanas were early issuers of Indian state coinage struck
with images of their rulers. They formed a cultural bridge and played
a vital role in trade and the transfer of ideas and culture to and
* 1 Origins
* 1.1 Etymology * 1.2 Original homeland
* 2 History
* 2.1 Foundation
* 2.2 Early expansion
* 2.2.1 Art of
* 3 Territorial extent * 4 Administration * 5 Economy * 6 Religion * 7 Inscriptions * 8 Coinage
* 9 Cultural achievements
* 9.1 Sculptures * 9.2 Bronze * 9.3 Architectures * 9.4 Paintings * 9.5 Art of Amaravati
* 10 List of rulers
* 10.1 Puranic lists * 10.2 Purana-based lists
* 11 References
* 11.1 Bibliography
* 12 External links
The date and place of origin of the Satavahanas, as well as the
meaning of the dynasty's name, are a matter of debate among the
historians. Some of these debates have happened in the context of
regionalism , with the present-day
According to one theory, the word "Satavahana" is a
Another theory connects their name to the earlier Satiyaputa dynasty. Yet another theory derives their name from the Munda words Sadam ("horse") and Harpan ("son"), implying "son of the performer of a horse sacrifice ". Several rulers of the dynasty bear the name or title "Satakarni". Satavahana, Satakarni, Satakani and Shalivahana appear to be variations of the same word. Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi theorized that the word "Satakarni" is derived from the Munda words sada ("horse") and kon ("son").
The Puranas use the name "Andhra" or "Andhra-Bhritya" for the Satavahanas. The term "Andhra" may refer to ethnicity or territory of the dynasty (see Original homeland below). It does not appear in the dynasty's own records.
Cave No.19 of Satavahana king Kanha at the Nasik caves , 1st century BCE. Krishna inscription of king Kanha in cave No.19, Nasik caves. This is the oldest known Satavahana inscription, circa 100-70 BCE.
The use of the name "Andhra" in the
Puranas has led some scholars to
believe that the dynasty originated in the eastern
Deccan region (the
historic Andhra region, present-day
Another section of scholars believe that the Satavahanas originated
Maharashtra ). All of the four extant
inscriptions from the early
Satavahana period (c. 1st century BCE)
have been found in and around this region. The oldest known Satavahana
inscription was found at Cave No.19 of the
Kanha's Pandavleni mentions the term maha-matra (officer-in-charge), which indicates that the early Satavahanas followed the Mauryan administrative model. C. Margabandhu theorized that the Satavahanas were called Andhras because they were natives of eastern Deccan (the Andhra region), although they first established their empire in western Deccan after having served as Mauryan subordinates. Himanshu Prabha Ray (1986) opposes this theory, stating that the Andhra was originally an ethnic term, and did not come to denote the geographical region of eastern Deccan until well after the Satavahana period. According to Vidya Dehejia , the writers of the Puranas (which were compiled after the Satavahana period) mistook the Satavahana presence in eastern Deccan as evidence for their origin in that region, and wrongly labeled them as "Andhra".
Some scholars also suggest that the dynasty originated in present-day
Information about the Satavahanas comes from the Puranas , some Buddhist and Jain texts, the dynasty's inscriptions and coins, and foreign (Greek and Roman) accounts that focus on trade. The information provided by these sources is not sufficient to reconstruct the dynasty's history with absolute certainty. As a result, there are multiple theories about the Satavahana chronology.
* According to the Puranas, the first Andhra king overthrew the
D. C. Sircar dated this event to c. 30 BCE, a theory
supported by many other scholars.
* The Matsya
Purana mentions that the Andhra dynasty ruled for
around 450 years. As the
Satavahana rule ended in the early 3rd
century, the beginning of their rule can be dated to the 3rd century
BCE. The Indica of
Most modern scholars believe that the Satavahana ruler began in first century BCE and lasted until the second century CE. This theory is based on Puranic records as well as archaeological and numismatic evidence. The theory that dates their rule to an earlier period is now largely discredited because the various Puranas contradict each other, and are not fully supported by epigraphic or numismatic evidence.
Art Of Sanchi
In that period, the Satavahanas contributed greatly to the
embellishment of the Buddhist stupa of
Gift of Ananda, the son of Vasithi, the foreman of the artisans of
SANCHI UNDER THE SATAVAHANAS 1st century BCE/CE.
Pillar capital. *
Lion pillar capital.
The Miracle of Walking in the air at Savrasti. *
Pipal tree . *
Bimbisara with his royal cortege issuing from the city of Rajagriha to visit the Buddha. *
Foreigners making a dedication to the Great Stupa at Sanchi. *
Procession of king Suddhodana from Kapilavastu .
FIRST SAKA INVASION
Little is known about Apilaka's successors, except cryptic references to one Kuntala Satakarni. The next well-known ruler of the dynasty was Hāla , who composed Gaha Sattasai in Maharashtri Prakrit. Like Hala, his four successors also ruled for very short periods (a total of 12 years), indicating troubled times for the Satavahanas.
Epigraphic and numismatic evidence suggests that the Satavahanas
earlier controlled the northern
Deccan plateau, the northern Konkan
coastal plains, and the mountain passes connecting these two regions.
During 15-40 CE, their northern neighbours - the
Western Kshatrapas -
extended their influence into these regions. The Western Kshatrapa
A coin of
Satavahana power was revived by Gautamiputra
During the last years of his reign, his administration was apparently handled by his mother, which could have been a result of an illness or military preoccupation. According to the Nasik inscription made by his mother Gautami Balashri, he was the one …
… who crushed down the pride and conceit of the
Kshatriyas ; who
destroyed the Sakas (
Western Satraps ), Yavanas (
Gautamiputra was succeeded by his son Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi (or Pulumayi). According to Sailendra Nath Sen, Pulumavi ruled from 96–119 CE. According to Charles Higham, he ascended the throne around 110 CE. Pulumavi features in a large number of Satavahana inscriptions and his coins have been found distributed over a wide area. This indicates that he maintained Gautamiputra's territory, and ruled a prosperous kingdom. He is believed to have added the Bellary region to Satakarni's kingdom. His coins featuring ships with double mast have been found on the Coromandel Coast , indicating involvement in maritime trade and naval power. The old stupa at Amaravati was renovated during his reign.
SECOND SAKA INVASION
Pulumavi's successor was his brother Vashishtiputra
"Rudradaman (...) who obtained good report because he, in spite of
having twice in fair fight completely defeated Satakarni, the lord of
Dakshinapatha , on account of the nearness of their connection did not
destroy him." —
According to D. R. Bhandarkar and Dineshchandra Sircar , the ruler defeated by Rudradaman was Gautamiputra Satakarni. However, E. J. Rapson believed that the defeated ruler was his son Vasishthiputra Pulumavi . Shailendra Nath Sen and Charles Higham believe that the defeated ruler was Vashishtiputra's successor Shivaskanda or Shiva Sri Pulumayi (or Pulumavi).
As a result of his victories, Rudradaman regained all the former
territories previously held by Nahapana, except for the extreme south
Sri Yajna Sātakarni , the last person belonging to the main Satavahana dynastic line, briefly revived the Satavahana rule. According to S. N. Sen, he ruled during 170–199 CE. Charles Higham dates the end of his reign to 181 CE. His coins feature images of ships, which suggest naval and marine trade success. Wide distribution of his coins, and inscriptions at Nashik, Kanheri and Guntur indicate that his rule extended over both eastern and western parts of Deccan. He recovered much of the territory lost the Western Kshatrapas, and issued silver coinage, imitating them. During the last years of his reign, the Abhiras captured the northern parts of the kingdom, around Nashik region.
After Yajna Satakarni, the dynasty was soon extinguished following
the rise of its feudatories, perhaps on account of a decline in
central power. Yajna Sri was succeeded by Madhariputra Swami
Isvarasena. The next king Vijaya ruled for 6 years. His son
Vasishthiputra Sri Chadha
After the death of Pulumavi IV, the Satavahana empire fragmented into five smaller kingdoms:
* Northern part, ruled by a collateral branch of the Satavahanas (which ended in early 4th century ) * Western part around Nashik , ruled by the Abhiras * Eastern part (Krishna -Guntur region), ruled by the Andhra Ikshvakus * South-western parts (northern Karanataka), ruled by the Chutus of Banavasi * South-eastern part, ruled by the Pallavas
Satavahana territory included northern
Deccan region, spanning
Satavahana capital kept shifting with time. The Nashik
inscription describes Gautamiputra as the lord of Benakataka, suggest
that this was the name of his capital.
Several Satavahana-era inscriptions record grants to religious monasteries. The settlements most frequently mentioned as the residences of donors in these inscriptions include the sea ports of Sopara, Kalyan, Bharucha, Kuda (unidentified), and Chaul. The most frequently mentioned inland settlements include Dhenukakata (unidentified), Junnar, Nashik, Paithan, and Karadh.
The Satavahanas followed the administration guidelines from the Shastras . Their government was less top-heavy than that of the Mauryans, and featured several levels of feudatories:
* Rajan, the hereditary rulers * Rajas, petty princes who stuck coins in their own names * Maharathis, hereditary lords who could grant villages in their own names and maintained matrimonial relations with the ruling family * Mahabhojas * Mahasenapati (civil administrator under Pulumavi II; governor of a janapada under Pulumavi IV) * Mahatalavara ("great watchman")
The royal princes (kumaras) were appointed as viceroys of the provinces.
The ahara appears to have been the largest geographical subdivision of the Satavahana polity. Several inscriptions refer to aharas named after the governors appointed to rule them (e.g. Govardhanahara, Mamalahara, Satavanihara and Kapurahara). This suggests that the Satavahanas attempted to build a formal administrative and revenue collection structure.
The inscriptions of Gautamiputra
The Satavahana-era inscriptions mention three types of settlements: nagara (city), nigama (market town) and gama (village).
Indian ship on lead coin of Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi , testimony to the naval, seafaring and trading capabilities of the Satavahanas during the 1st–2nd century CE.
The Satavahanas participated in (and benefited from) economic expansion through intensification of agriculture, increased production of other commodities, and trade within and beyond the Indian subcontinent.
During the Satavahana period, several large settlements emerged in the fertile areas, especially along the major rivers. The amount of land under agricultural use also expanded significantly, as a result of forest clearance and construction of irrigation reservoirs.
The expolitation of sites with mineral resources may have increased during Satavahana period, leading to the emergence of new settlements in these areas. Such sites facilitated commerce and crafts (such as ceramic ware). The increased craft production during Satavahana period is evident from archaeological discoveries at sites such as Kotalingala , as well as epigraphic references to artisans and guilds .
The Satavahanas controlled the Indian sea coast, and as a result, they dominated the growing Indian trade with the Roman Empire. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions two important Satavahana trade centres: Pratishthana and Tagara. Other important urban centres included Kondapur, Banavasi and Madhavpur. Nanaghat was the site of an important pass that linked the Satavahana capital Pratishthana to the sea.
Pompeii Lakshmi ivory statuette was found in the ruin of
The Satavahanas were Hindus and claimed Brahmanical status, although they also made generous donations to Buddhist monasteries. The lay people in the Satavahana period generally did not exclusively support a particular religious group .
Nashik inscription of Gautami Balashri, her son Gautamiputra
A number of Buddhist monastic sites emerged in the
Satavahana period. However, the exact relations between
these monasteries and the
Satavahana government is not clear. The
However, Carla M. Sinopoli notes that although there are some records of donations to the Buddhist monasteries by the Satavahana royals, the vast majority of the donations were made by the non-royals. The most common among these donors were merchants, and many of the monasteries were located along the important trade routes. The merchants probably donated to the monasteries, because these sites facilitated trade by serving as rest houses, and possibly by directly participating in the trade. The monasteries appear to have been an important venue for displaying charitable donations, including the donations made to non-Buddhists (especially Brahmins).
The inscription on the Southern Gateway at
The next oldest Satavahana-era inscription appears on a sculpted
gateway element of the
Stupa 1 at
The Satavahanas are among the earliest Indian rulers to issue their
own coins with portraits of their rulers, starting with king
Thousands of lead, copper and potin Satavahana coins have been discovered in the Deccan region; a few gold and silver coins are also available. These coins do not feature uniform design or size, and suggest that multiple minting locations existed within the Satavahana territory, leading to regional differences in coinage.
The coin legends of the Satavahanas, in all areas and all periods,
Several coins carry titles or matronyms that were common to multiple rulers (e.g. Satavahana, Satakarni, and Pulumavi), so the number of rulers attested by coinage cannot be determined with certainty. The names of 16 to 20 rulers appear on the various coins. Some of these rulers appear to be local elites rather than the Satavahana monarchs.
The Satavahana coins give unique indications as to their chronology, language, and even facial features (curly hair, long ears and strong lips). They issued mainly lead and copper coins; their portrait-style silver coins were usually struck over coins of the Western Kshatrapa kings. The Satavahana coins also display various traditional symbols, such as elephants, lions, horses and chaityas (stupas ), as well as the " Ujjain symbol", a cross with four circles at the end.
The Satavahanas patronised
Madhukar Keshav Dhavalikar writes that "The
unfortunately has never been recognized as an independent school in
spite of the fact it has its own distinctive characteristic features.
The earliest in point of time is that in the Bhaja Vihara cave which
marks the beginning of sculptural art in the
around 200BC. It is profusely decorated with carvings, and even
pillars have a lotus capital crowned with sphinx-like mythic animals."
Dhavalikar also writes that in Chankama "the panel occurring on the
west pillar of Northern Gateway portrays a very important event in
Buddha's life. It depicts votaries, two each on either side of what
looks like a ladder which actually is the promenade which
Along with some of the above major Satavahana sculptures some more sculptures existed namely Dvarapala, Gajalaksmi, Shalabhanjikas, Royal Procession, Decorative pillar etc.
Several metal figurines are found that could be attributed to the
Satavahanas. A hoard of unique bronze objects were also found from
Sculptures of Amravati represents the architecture development of the Satavahana periods. They built Buddhist stupas in Amravati (95 feet high).They also constructed a large number of stupas at Goli, Jaggiahpeta , Gantasala and Amravati Bhattiprolu and, Shri Parvatam. Caves IX and X of Ajanta paintings were patronized by Satavahana. Ashokan Stupas were enlarged the earlier bricks and wood works were replaced with stone works. In the field of carving and paintings, Satavahanas art was marked, in the caves of Ajanta the paintings was started with the Satavahanas. The most famous of these monuments are the stupas. Among, them the Amravati Stupa and the Nagarjunakonda Stupa are most famous.
The Satavahana paintings are the only earliest surviving specimens-excluding prehistoric in India, and they are to be found only at Ajanta . There were two phases of artistic activity of Ajanta, first in 2nd-1st cent.BC when Hinayana caves were excavated during Satavahana rule, and later in second half of fifth cent. Under the Vakatakas. Vagaries of nature and some vandalism have taken a heavy toll with Ajanta Caves. Only few fragments related to Satavahanas have survived in Cave No.9 and 10 both of which are chaitya-grihas with stupas.
The most important painting of
Satavahana period that has survived at
Ajanta is the Chhadanta Jataka in Cave No.10, but that too is in a few
fragments. It is a painting of an elephant named Bodhisattva with six
tusks. Also a mythological story is related with. The human figures
both male and female are typically Satavahanas, almost identical with
their counterparts on
ART OF AMARAVATI
Satavahana rulers are also remarkable for their contributions to
Amaravati Marbles , fragments of Buddhist stupa *
Fragment of Amaravati stupa *
Mara 's assault on the Buddha, 2nd century, Amaravati *
Ajanta Cave No. 9, possibly of Satavahana era *
Scroll supported by Indian
LIST OF RULERS
Multiple Puranas contain chronology of Satavahana kings. However, there are inconsistencies among the various Puranas over the number of kings in the dynasty, the names of the kings, and the length of their rule. In addition, some of the kings listed in the Puranas are not attested via archaeological and numismatic evidence. Similarly, there are some kings known from coins and inscriptions, whose names are not found in the Puranic lists.
The reconstructions of the Satavahana kings by historians fall into two categories. According to the first one, 30 Satavahana kings ruled for around 450 years, starting from Simuka's rule immediately after the fall of the Mauryan empire. This view relies heavily on the Puranas, and is now largely discredited. According to the second (and more widely accepted) category of reconstructions, the Satavahana rule started in around first century BCE. The chronologies in this category contain a smaller number of kings, and combine Puranic records with archaeological, numismatic and textual evidence.
Because of uncertainty regarding the establishment date of the Satavahana kingdom, it is difficult to give absolute dates for the reigns of the Satavahana kings. Because of insufficient evidence, many modern scholars do not assign absolute dates to the reigns of the historically attested Satavahana kings. Those who do assign absolute dates vary greatly with each other.
Himanshu Prabha Ray provides the following chronology, based on archaeological and numismatic evidence:
* Regional rulers of south-eastern Deccan:
* Chandra Shri * Pulumavi II * Abhira Isvasena * Madhariputra Sakasena * Haritiputra Satakarni
The various Puranas give different lists of the Satavahana rulers. The Matsya Purana states that 30 Andhra kings ruled for 460 years, but some of its manuscripts name only 19 kings whose reigns add up to 448.5 years. The Vayu Purana also mentions that there were 30 Andhra kings, but its various manuscripts name only 17, 18, and 19 kings respectively; the reigns add up to 272.5, 300, and 411 years respectively. Many of thse kings are not attested by historical evidence. On the other hand, some Satavahana kings attested by numismatic evidence (such as Rudra Satakarni) are not mentioned in the Puranas at all.
Different scholars have explained these anamolies in different ways. Scholars such as R. G. Bhandarkar , D. C. Sircar and H. C. Raychaudhuri theorized that the Vayu Purana mentions only the main imperial branch of the dynasty, while the Matsya Purana puts together princes of all its branches.
The names of the Andhra kings (in IAST ), as mentioned in the various Puranas, are given below. These names vary across different manuscripts of the same Puranas, and some names are missing in some of the manuscripts. The list given below for each Purana contains the most exhaustive version. In the Puranas, Krishna (IAST: Kṛṣṇa) is described as brother of the first king, who overthrew the Kanva king Susharman. All other kings are described as sons of their predecessors. The first king of the Andhra-Bhrityas is also known as Shudraka or Suraka in the Kumarika Khanda of Skanda Purana (not present in the table below).
Puranic genealogy of Andhra dynasty # RULER COINS EPIGRAPHY BHAGAVATA BRAHMANDA MATSYA VAYU VISHNU REIGN (YEARS) ALTERNATIVE NAMES AND REIGNS
2 Kṛṣṇa (Kanha) ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 18
3 Śatakarṇi I ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 10 Śantakarṇa (Bhagavata), Mallakarni - 10 or 18 years (Matsya), Śri Śatakarṇi (Vishnu)
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ 18 Paurṇamāsa (Bhagavata)
18 Śrivasvani (Matsya)
6 Śatakarṇi II ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 56
✓ ✓ ✓
8 Āpīlaka ✓
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 12 Apītaka (Matsya), Ivīlaka (Vishnu), Hivilaka (Bhagavata)
9 Meghasvāti ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ 18 Saudāsa (Brahmanda)
10 Svāti (Śatakarṇi)
✓ ✓ ✓
7 Skandasvati - 28 years (Brahmanda)
3 Mahendra Śatakarṇi (Brahmanda)
15 Pulomavi I ✓
✓ ✓ ✓ 24 Pulomavi - 36 years (Matsya), Aṭamāna (Bhagavata), Paṭimavi (Vayu), Paṭumat (Vishnu), Ābhi - Brahmanda
✓ ✓ ✓ 25 Gorakśāśvaśri (Matsya), Nemi Kṛṣṇa (Vayu), Arishṭakarman (Vishnu)
✓ ✓ ✓ 5 Hāleya (Bhagavata); 1 year in one manuscript
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 5 Talaka (Bhagavata), Saptaka (Vayu), Pattalaka (Vishnu), Bhavaka (Brahmanda)
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 5 Purīṣabhiru (Bhagavata), Purikaṣena - 21 years (Vayu), Pravillasena (Vishnu), Pravillasena - 12 years (Brahmanda)
20 Sundara Śatakarṇi
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 1 Sundara Svatikarṇa (Matsya), Sunandana (Bhagavata)
21 Cakora Śatakarṇi (Chakora)
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 0.5
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 28 Svātisena - 1 year (Brahmanda), Śivasvāmi (Vayu)
23 Gautamīputra ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 21 Yantramati - 34 years (Brahmanda), Gotamīputra (Bhagavata and Vishnu); 24 years according to inscriptions
24 Pulomavi II (Vashishtiputra) ✓ ✓ ✓
Purīmān (Bhagavata), Pulomat (Matsya), Pulimat (Vishnu). See
25 Śivaśri ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
✓ 7 Madaśirā (Bhagavata)
26 Śivaskanda Śatakarṇi ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
27 Yajñaśri ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 29 Yajñaśri Śatakarṇi - 19 years (Brahmanda), Yajñaśri - 9, 20 or 29 years (Matsya)
28 Vijaya ✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓ 6
29 Candraśri (Chandrashri) ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 3 Candravijaya (Bhagavata), Daṇḍaśri (Brahmanda and Vayu), Vada-Śri or Candra-Śri-Śatakarṇi - 10 years (Matsya)
30 Pulomavi III ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 7 Sulomadhi (Bhagavata), Pulomavit (Matsya), Pulomarchis (Vishnu)
S. Nagaraju relies on the Puranic lists of 30 kings, and gives the following regnal dates:
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