Satavahanas (2nd B.C. to 3rd A.D.)
They were the subordinate rulers of Ashoka and later on of Sungas. They asserted their independence in the first century B.C. Pulamavi-I, a Satavahana ruler, killed the last Kanva ruler Susarma and ended the Kanva rule by occupying Kanva territories in 28 B.C.
POLITICAL HISTORYSimukha Satavaharja:
Founder of Satavahana dynasty. Emerged as prominent figure in about 271 BC. With Asoka's show of force in Kalinga, Simukha was content with semi-independent status rule. His territories covered present day Maharashtra, Northern Karnataka, and Telangana. Paithan or pratisthana was his capital.
Succeeded by his brother Krishna (also known as kanha) because of minority of his son Sri Satakarni. Krishna came, under the influence of Ashoka's Dhamma. A cave at Nasik for Buddihists was constructed. Consolidated his empire.
Greatest of early Satavahana rulers. Performed two Asvamedha sacrifices, and several vedic sacrifices.
Conquered vast territory according to Nanaghat inscription issued by Naganika, wife of Satakarni. His conquests include Malwa, Anupa (Narmada Valley), Vidarbha, etc. Exercised control over wider regions of upper Deccan, probably Central and Western India.
After conquering Godavari valley, assumed the title 'Daksninapathapathi'. Also possessed the title Prathisthanapathi'. Eastern boundaries abutted boundaries of Kharavela of Kalinga.
The valour of Satakarni was acknowledged by Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela.
Main achievement was his victory over Susarma (28 BC), the last Kanva ruler of Pataliputra, and his execution.
Expanded the empire by conquering Kalinga from weak successors of Kharavela and Vidisha (in MP). The discovery of his inscription at Sanchi testifies the conquest of Vidisha. Foiled the attempt of Sakas to capture Kalinga after their conquest of Ujjain and Pataliputra. Four Toranas of Sanchi Stupa (MP) were constructed during his reign.
Lambodara Last of the early Satavahanas. Lost Northern Maharastra to Nahapana, the Saka ruler.
Hala Known for literary achievements than conquests.
Poet King. Author of two great works in prakrit language 'Gatha Saptasathi' and 'Sattasi'.
An anonymous poet of his period wrote 'Lilavathi parinayam' describing the marriage of Hala with Ceylonese princess Lilavathi.
Gunadya, author of Brihathkatha, was his contemporary. During his rule Satavahanas suffered a setback as they lost some territory to Sakas.
Ruled from about 62 AD to 86 AD. Greatest of Satavahanas. Revived the fortunes of Satavahanas and enhanced the prestige of Satavahanas to its heights.
Expanded the empire to its maximum limits. Won back territories from Saka sucessors of Nahapana on his western borders.
After conquering Saurastra, Malwa and Part of Rajasthan Nahapana's coins were restruck in his name.
He expanded his empire which included the whole of Deccan, Peninsular India upto fungabhadra, some parts of Central India and Gujarat.
According to the Nasik inscription issued by his mother Gauthami Balasri, Gauthamiputra Satakarni destroyed Sakas, Yavanas (Indo Greeks) and Parthians.
Took pride in calling himself 'Varnashrama Dharmodharaka', the protector and upholder of fourfold division of Hindu society. Patron of Brahminism as he himself was an orthodox Brahmin, tolerant of other religions. Gave liberal donations to Buddhists.
Gauthamiputra Satakarni was succeeded by his son, Vasistiputra Pulomavi.
Vasistiputra Pulomavi also known as Pulomavi could not retain the vast empire he inherited because of Saka conquests.
Vasistiputra Pulomavi also known as Pulomavi could not retain the vast empire he inherited because of Saka conquests.
Lost north western provinces of Andhra Empire to Chashtana, the founder of the Western Kshatrapa Kardamaka line.
He seems to have lost even Bellary.
Last great Satavahana ruler. Recovered and reestablished his control over major parts of Western Deccan and Central India-after the death of Rudradaman, though Yajnasri suffered defeats at the hands of Rudradaman.
Responsible for enlarging famous Amaravathi Stupa and for constructing a great railing around Mahachaitya there.
Acharya Nagarjuna a great Buddhist teacher who stayed at Sriparvatha was a contemporary of Yajnasri Satakarni.
Downfall of Satavahana dynasty
Reigns of successors of Yajnasri Vijaya, Chanda Sri and Pulomavi III (last ruler) are not significant. Attacks of Sakas, Kardamakas (a branch of Sakas) of Ujjaini, Abhiras of Nasik area, Ikshvakus of the east, etc. caused the collapse of Satavahanas.
Political unification of Deccan & Andhra is the outstanding contribution of Satavahanas.
The hereditary monarchy based on Military-cum-Feudal Bureaucracy was the political system of Satavahanas.
Military Commanders were made administrators. They were maintaining their own army and they were paid in terms of assignments of land revenue instead of salaries. As a result they had their own sources of income in addition to independent armies.
This proved fatal as it facilitated rebellions of these military commanders. This is the major reason for the down fall of Vishnukundins, etc.
The empire was divided into Rashtra which was subdivided into Aharas, Aharas consisted of villages.
Rashtras were kept under the control of princes or feudatory chiefs like Maharathis, and Mahabhojas. They enjoyed a lot of autonomy. They made grants of lands without the permission of the King.
The Aharas were kept under the control of Amatyas. They had no powers to make grants of lands without the permission of the king.
Other officials were
'Mahamatra' (in charge of religious fares),
'Bhandagarika' (Superintendent of stores),
'Mahasenadipate (Commander-in-chief of forces)
'Lekhaka' (incharge of drafting state records),
'Nibandhakaras' (Officer-in-charge of registering documnet), etc.
The administration was well-organized as various formalities like oral orders of donor, drafting of the orders, registration and deliverance of the documents was followed while giving land grants.
Towns like Dhanyakataka, Python, Broach, Supara, Kanhari, were administered by Nigama Sabha, an assembly of Citizens. In this assembly citizens of the town also aired their own grievances.
Villages were the lowest unit of administration. It was under the control of 'Gramani'.
The king was claiming 1/6th of the produce of tax wage.
Significance of Satavahanas
Satavahanas contributed to the spread of Aryan culture to South India.
They patronized Vedic religion by performing Vedic sacrifices like Asvamedha, Rajasuya and Vajapeya.
They took pride in upholding Vamasrama Dharma.
Gautamiputra Satakami took the title 'Vamasrama Dharmodharaka', the protector and upholder of fourfold division of Hindu society and 'Ekabrahmana', the unique Brahmana.
For spreading Aryan culture, they gave land grants to Brahamins (This practice of giving land grants was started by them for the first time in the history of India).
However they patronized and extended toleration towards Buddhism which spread to Andhra in the 4th century B.C. and flourished during the Satavahana period.
Various Buddhist monuments at Amaravathi, Nagarjunakonda, Chebrolu, Chezerla, Jaggayyapeta etc., that came up in Andhra show the popularity of Buddhism.
The factors that contributed to the popularity of Buddhism are the missionary zeal of Buddhist monks, patronage of people particularly of Sudras and Vaisyas, tolerance and patronage of Satavahanas, specially Royal ladies.
Acharya Nagarjuna (2nd century A.D.) a contemporary of Yajnasri Satakami, who lived in Sriparvata (Nagarjunakonda) contributed a great deal for the spread of Mahayana Madhyamika Buddhism, he was a scholar of many disciplines like religion, philosophy, and science, established a centre for learning at Sri parvatha which attracted students from India and abroad and propounded 'Shunyavada'.
Chaturvama system of division of people into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras was prevalent. This system was supported by Satavahanas.
Varnasankara (marriages outside varna) cropped up as foreigners like Sakas were getting absorbed into social structure through intermarriages and adoption of faith and customs. To check this tendency Gautamiputra Satakami took steps and assumed the title 'Varnashrama Dharmodharaka'. There were also tribes outside Aryan Varma system. People were also known according to their profession Halika (cultivator), Kolika (weaver), Sethi (Merchant)," Gadhika (druggist), etc.
Society was also divided into 4 classes based on official position. First class consisted of high officials like Maharathas, Mahabhojas and Mahasenadipathis, Second class comprised of middle class officials like Mahamatras, Amatyas, Bhandagarikas, Naigamas, etc., Third comprised of small officials like Lekfiakas, professionals like Suvarnakaras and fourth and last class consisted of Lohavanijas. Vardhakis, Dassakas, etc.
Women enjoyed better status as is evident from generous donations given by royal ladies, and inscriptions issued by Naganika and Gautami Balasri. Polygamy was prevalent as princes and kings had matronymic titles (Sons possessing mother's name like Gautamiputra Satakami) Patriarchal Joint family system was prevalent.
Budhist architecture flourished during the Satavahana period. It consisted of Viharas (monasteries or residences of Budhist monks), Chaityas (Buddhist prayer halls where the statues of symbols of Buddhas were worshipped). Stupas (Buddhist tombs where relics' of Buddha or some other Buddhist monks were buried).
Viharas and Ghaityas were generally rock cut cave monuments. However, certain brick-built chaitya gruhas were located at Chejerla and Nagarjunakonda.
Stupas were independent structures as they have to be erected over relics. Amaravati and Bhattiprolu stupas are the oldest brick-built stupas in the South India.
Amaravati is very famous for its massive stupa, which had 162 ft, diameter, 100 ft, height and a railing of 192 ft, in diametre. The unique feature of this stupa was 4 Ayakastambas erected on 4 cardinal points.
The Nagarjunakonda valley had 4 viharas, 6 chaityas and 8 stupas besides a mahachaitya.
The donations of Satavahanas in general and the Satavahana ladies in particular to Buddhists facilitated a great deal in the erection of various Buddhist monuments.
Amaravathi school of Art, a thoroughly indigenous school of sculpture, flourished in the lower valleys of Krishna and Godavari with important centres at Amaravathi, Nagarjunakonda and Jaggayyapeta.
Mainly white marble was used for sculpture. The themes of these sculptural representation on the stupas are incidents from Buddha's life and also from social life.
The figures convey vitality and movement as in the famous medallion showing demigods with slender and long-legged figures carrying Buddhas's begging bowl to heaven.
The sculptural representations were composed in such an integrated manner that they give the impression of painting.
Amaravathi sculptures excelled in the presentation of delicate beauty of human form and in the depiction of subtle human feeling. Slim and curvy female figures with full breasts, heavy egs, etc., in different poses are superb.They speak of naturalism and sensuousness of Amaravathi artist.
Minor arts like terracotta figurines, pottery, jewellery, beads, shell ornaments, etc., flourished during this period as excavations at Paithan, Maski and Kondapur revealed these aspects.
Painting was patronized by Satavahanas. They contributed a few Ajanta paintings. Vakatakas, Guptas and early Chalukyas of Badami also contributed for the development of Ajanta paintings.
Language and Literature
Prakrit was the language of court, inscriptions and literature during this period.
Telugu words find place for the first time in a literary book known as Gadhasapthasati written in Prakrit by Hala.
Brahmi was the script; 'Katantra', Brihatkatha' and GadhaSaptasati are the outstanding literary works of this period.
Katantra, a work on Sanskrit grammar, was written by Sarvavarman who was in the court of Hala.
Brihatkatha written by Gunadya was dedicated to Hala.
Gadha Saptasati, an anthology of 700 Prakrit works of various poets and poetesses, was compiled by Hala.
Lilavathi Parinayam, the marriage of Hala, was written by an unknown author of this period. Sanskrit became predominant in the later part of Satavahana period.
Nagarjuna and other Mahayana Buddhists also wrote in Sanskrit.
Even in the early part of Satavahana period, priests were well versed in Sanskrit as they performed Vedic sacrifices reciting Sanskrit slokas.
Both religious and secular education was imparted in the ashramas of Brahmins and viharas of Buddhists and Jains who received gifts from rulers. Technical education was imparted by guilds.
Agriculture was the main stay of the economy. The kings aided agriculture by providing irrigation facilities like tanks, lakes, etc.,
Industries were organized in the form of guilds.
There was a flourishing foreign trade in this period. Exports consisted of fine cotton and silk textiles, spices, jewellery and Ivory. Imports consisted of gold, silver, glass, wine, etc.
The trade was mainly in luxury items. The balance of trade was in favour of India. Foreign gold flowed into India. Satavahanas promoted trade by developing trade routes.