Wednesday, 17 January 2018



'History as a subject of study is more or less completely at the mercy of its sources'. It is a fact that we have no ancient or medieval literature created in Andhra which can be classified as truly historical. So it is but natural one has to depend heavily on 'Primary source material of incidental nature, created not for the purpose of communicating the history of contemporary times chronologically set forth, but to record events and impressions for political, legal and religious purposes like the epigraphs of medieval times, the quasi historical literary works and so forth'.

Just like ancient Indian history, the history of the Andhras is still in the formative stage. Though the available source material is vast, it is incomplete and at the same time diverse in nature and variety. In the last 70 years, yeomen service was rendered by eminent scholars and organisations in recovering the records of the past with sustained effort and in reconstructing the history of the Andhras with judicious nature. Of course, the work is still going on.

The source material for the writing of ancient and medieval Andhra history can conveniently be classified under (i) archaeology including epigraphs and numismatics apart from monuments and other ancient relics, (ii) literature, native as well as foreign, and (iii) foreign notices.


Among the available archaeological source materials, epigraphs or inscriptions are more copious for the ancient end medieval Andhra history. With Asokan edicts, our authentic history begins. This royal sage's rock edicts in Brahmi script at Erragudi, Rajulamandagiri, Amaravati and Kottam in Andhra reveal the extension of the Mauryan authority and its administrative system over the Andhra area. Bhattiprolu relic casket inscriptions datable to 200 B.C.E reveal the fact that Buddhism spread far and wide in our province in that remote age. The Prakrit inscriptions in the Kanheri, Karle and Nasik caves, Naganika's Nanaghat record, Balasri's Nasik inscription and Kharavela's Guntupalli records help us a lot for the Satavahana history.

Among the post-Satavahana dynasties of Andhradesa, the Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri occupy an important place. Their Nagarjunakonda, Jaggayyapeta, Amaravati and Ramireddipalle Ayaka stone pillar inscriptions constitute the sole source of information for the political, religious and social conditions of the times. The Kondamudi copper plate grant gives information about the Brihatphalayanas. Most of the inscriptions of the early Pallavas, Anandagotras, Salankayanas, Vishnukundins, Matharas, Eastern Gangas and the Eastern Chalukyas are only copper plate grants. These records gave importance to the Sanskrit language. The Brahmi script underwent transformation and the Telugu script emerged. The Telugu language also found a place in the inscriptions. From the time of the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi, the number of stone inscriptions increased.

Inspite of some drawbacks on the part of all these inscriptions, these are the records which form the most authentic sources for the rulers, their dynastic succession, their chronology, extent of their respective kingdoms and the economic, social and cultural conditions more or less till 11th century A.D. The inscriptions in Brahmi and Vengi characters of the Hindu and the Buddhist Andhras who migrated to the South-East Asian regions from the Kalinga and Andhra coasts indicate that they established only our cultural traditions there. For the medieval period of Andhra history, one can conveniently depend upon the inscriptions of the Chalukya-Cholas, Kakatiyas, Musunuris, Reddis and Vijayanagara rulers and their chieftains.

Though not to the extent of epigraphs, numismatics also helps us for our history reconstruction. Coins made of several metals like gold, silver, copper or other baser metals of different periods are available. Of the available coins of almost all the Satavahana rulers, the number of potin (coins of a mixed character) and lead coins is more. These coins bearing the figures of an elephant, a horse, a camel etc. indicate the probable means of conveyance commonly used in that period.

The ship-mast coins of Yajnasri Satakarni reveal the brisk maritime trade of the Satavahana period. From the gold coins of the Roman emperors unearthed in some parts of Andhra datable to the Satavahana-lkshvaku period, it may be concluded that the Romans carried on commerce with Andhra and paid gold dinars. Similarly some gold coins of the Eastern Chalukyan rulers Chalukya Chandra Saktivarma I and Rajaraja Narendra were discovered in Burma. The coins of the Kakatiyas were in Nandi-Nagari script while the Vijayanagara were in Nagari characters. Coins of different metals in different denominations issued in different periods help us only to some extent in knowing about the rulers, about the extent of the kingdom, and about the religious sentiments of the age. The archaeological finds of the past include stone tools, pottery, bricks, megaliths, Buddhist structural remains, Jain relics, constructions of temples, forts and palaces, sculptures and paints. A careful study of these finds throws a flood of light on the religious beliefs, the social life and the artistic excellence attained by the Andhras in the past. They reveal the evolutionary process of the Telugu culture.


The literary sources for ancient and medieval Andhra history may be divided into indigenous and foreign. Early references to the Andhras were found in indigenous literature which includes sriti and smriti works like the Aitareya Brahmana, the Epics, the Puranas, the early Buddhist and Jain works. Gunadhya's Brhatkatha, Hala's Gathasaptasati and Vatsyayana's Kamasutras reflected the social and cultural life of the Satavahana period. Mention was made to the details of the Rashtrakuta-Eastern Chalukya conflicts in poet Pampa's Gadeyuddha and Vikramarjuna Vijaya, both Kannada Kavyas, Historical data relating to the Kakatiya, Reddi and Vijayanagara times was obtained from the Sanskrit and Telugu literary works dedicated by poets and scholars to their royal and princely patrons. Purely literary works and quasi-historical kavyas like Prataparudra, Yasobhushanam, Siddheswara, Chantramu, Somadevarajiyamu, Saluvabhyudayamu, Rayavachakamu, Rangarajacharitra and others, after being purged of all exaggerations, provided some solid historical information relating to the deeds of the kings, princes and potentates. The Kalajnanas and Vamsavalis also rendered help in the reconstruction of history.

Apart from these works, some glorified popular ballads like the 'Siege of Bobbili' and ballads relating to Sarvaya Papadu and others threw light on the courage, heroism and reckless valour of the local heroes of different Andhra regions. Another interesting source of historical information relates to the 'Kaifiyats', These were local revenue records maintained by village karnams during the medieval and later periods relating to details of the village lands, their nature, ownership, and payable tax etc. Changes in the political set up, revenue assessment and life of the village were faithfully recorded in these village annals which are of great value now as sources of historical information. Colonel Colin Mackenzie and subsequently C.P. Brown, the two Britishers, rendered yeomen service in getting these records collected and copied. These local chronicles provided valuable historical material especially from the age of the Vijayanagara Rayas to the British period.

In the Indian Muslim historical writings of the medieval period, only passing references to the events in Andhra were made. For example. Allauddin Khilji's invasions of Andhra were referred as part of his southern conquests in Amir Khusru's Persian works especially in his Tarikh-i-Alai. Isami gave an authentic description in his 'Fatuh-us-salatin' in verse, of the circumstances under which the Andhras revolted against Mahammad Bin Tughlak's authority and established independent kingdoms. Similarly Barani, Nizamuddin and Shams-i-Siraz Afif in their chronicles shed some side light on Andhra developments of the period. Among the Nizam Shahi and Adil Shahi dynastic historical accounts, Mohammed Khasim H. Ferishta's Tarik-i-Ferista, though not devoid of narrow sectarian loyalty and rabidly violent animosity towards the Hindus, deserves mention for its references to his patrons Ahmadnagar and Bijapur sultans with the Vijayanagare and other Andhra rulers.

The earliest reference to the Andhradesa in foreign literature was found in the account of Magasthanes, the Greek ambassador in Maurya Chandragupta's court. Of the Greeco- Roman writings of the early centuries of Christian era, Pliny and Ptolemys' accounts and the ananymous author's the periplus of the Erythrean Sea' shed light on the ports, trade routes, markets and various items of trade, of Andhra during those times.

Among the two Chinese travellers who visited India in the 5th and 7th centuries C.E., Fahien, though did not visit the south, referred in his account to Andhra Parvata Vihara about which he heard. The other Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang came to the South and toured the coastal Andhra as well in the first half of the 7th century C.E. He left us a vivid account of the religious customs and ways of the life of the people.

In 1293 C.E., Marcopolo, an Italian traveller, visited Andhra and wrote an excellent account of what all he saw in Kakatiya kingdom.

Ibn Batuta a Moroccan Muslim traveller (14th century C.E.), Abdur Razzak, the Persian ambassador, Nicolo-De-Conti, the Italian traveller, Nikitin, the Russian merchant (all in the 15th century C.E.), Barbossa, Paes and Nuniz—all Portuguese (16th century) and Barradas, Rubino and other foreigners (17th century) provided much useful information, in their travel accounts, reports and correspondence, about the conditions prevailing here and their experiences.

Aryanization of the Andhra Country and its Condition in the Pre-Mauryan and Mauryan Periods.

The historical period in Andhra starts with the famous Satavahanas. Prior to their emergence into power, during the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.E, northern India was under the settled government of the Sisunaga and Haryanka rulers. The two famous reformist faiths. Buddhism and Jainism came to be founded during the same period. In Andhra, the Nagas who were definitely of a non-Aryan stock were having their republican states. Some other semi-civilized races also inhabited the thick jungle regions to the south of the Vindhyas, known for a long time as Dandakaranya. It was during this period that the Aryans from the north were penetrating into this Dandaka area.

The coming of the Aryans into Deccan was peaceful. The progress of the 'Aryanisation' is reflected in literature and legend. Until about 600 B.C.E, works of North exhibit little knowledge of India, south of the Vindhyas, but acquaintance increased with the progress of the centuries. Legends centering round the name of Agastya found in the Epics and Puranas appear in their own quaintest way to preserve the memory of this vast and important cultural movement. It seems the Vedic Rishis, in quest of peace and loneliness, ventured to enter Dandaka forest to establish hermitages on the banks of rivers in the thick of the forests. The local inhabitants who were described by the Aryans as 'Asuras and Rakshasas' might have raided their settlements, destroying their sacrifices and interrupting their penance. The memory of these episodes is preserved in tradition regarding the advent of Agastya into the South. The Ramayana when purged of all exaggerations, interpolations and anachronisms, proves the central fact that Rama championed the cause of Aryan culture fighting against the Asuras, thus giving an impetus to the spread of Aryan ideals and institutions in the Deccan, Regarding the origin of Andhras, Pundras, Sabaras, Pulindas and Mutibas, the Aitareya Brahmana treats them as descendants of Visvamitra's fifty sons condemned by his curse to live on the borders of the Aryan settlements.

The Mahabharata regards them as created by Vasishtha from his divine cow to be enemies and opponents of Visvamitra. The Sabaras were degenarate people, according to Sankhyayana Srauta Sutra. What lies behind these legends is the separation of a section of the Aryan community from the main stock and their fusion with the non-Aryans, the Dasyus or Rakshasas or Nagas, the early inhabitants of Deccan. The Mahabharata and the Puranas refer to the Andhras, Sabaras and Pulindas as the tribes of Deccan. During the age of the Brahmanas, the Aryans pushed their conquests into the Deccan. Panini and Katyayanas' references point out that they pushed further into, the south and even made contracts with the Pandya, Chola and Kerala peoples of Southern India.

The caste system accompanied the spread of Brahmanism from its stronghold in the Gangetic Doab into the Deccan and South India'. The people, who refused Aryan practices, dwelled in caves and forests where they have kept up their primitive customs, habits and' languages to the present day. Though we do not have definite information regarding the early history of the Aryan states that arose in the Deccan, it is evident that the imperialism of the Nandas and the Mauryas and the missionary activities of the northern Jain and Buddhist followers were the two forces that hastened the pace of the Aryanisation of the Deccan and South. The concept of imperialism in India had its origin in the age of the Brahmanas. It aimed at political integration of the country under ekarat (sole monarch). Celebrating its achievements by rituals like Aswamedha became a custom. The Nandas and the Mauryas from Pataliputra confined the concept first to Northern India but later extended to the Deccan and South India. According to Puranas, Ugrasena Mahapadma Nanda established himself as ekarat by bringing the whole earth under his umbrella.

Inscriptions directly or indirectly point out the Nanda and then the Mauryan rule over the Deccan. The reference to the Nanda king in Kharavela's inscription (Hathi Gumpha) to his carrying away to Magadha a Jaina statue as a trophy from Kalinga and the existence of Nanded (Nau Nanda Dehra) on the Godavari testify that a large portion of the Deccan formed part of the Nanda empire. Commercially also the South began to grow in importance for the sake of its diamond and gold mines, peart and chank fisheries and numerous opulent marts'. (Kautilya).

The low born ( Sudra as per texts ) and unpopular Nandas were overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya with Kautilya's assistance about 322 B.C.E. This founder of the Mauryan rule, who established his sway over the entire north, pushed forward his conquests to the south. "Jaina references in literature and epigraphs associating his name with Sravana Belgola in Mysore (Karnataka) may be accepted as proof of his acquisition of this part of the Peninsula as well'.  During this period, the Kalingas and the Andhras were powerful forces to reckon with.

According to Magasthenes, the Andhras possessed numerous villages, 30 fortified towns and an army of 1,00,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 1,000 elephants. It is well known that Kalinga was conquered by Asoka after a terrible war. No other conquest is attributed to this ruler. However the provenance of his Edicts prove that the country upto the river Pennar in South was included in his empire. So it may be concluded that in all probability the rest of Deccan was earlier conquered by Asoka's grandfather, Chandragupta. "Beyond the Pennar lay the independent Chola, Pandya, Keralaputra and Satiyaputra states. The Nanda and Mauryan imperialism influenced enormously the lives of the Deccan people. A uniform administrative system based upon Aryan polity came into vogue. The ideas of the people were gradually moulded in the cast of Vedic, Jain and Buddhist creeds. Asoka's missionary activities resulted in the establishment of the Chetyavada school of Buddhism at Amaravati. The prevalence of Asoka's edicts in the Deccan and South indicates the widespread literacy among the people.

With Asoka's death, the disruptive forces were let loose The weakness of his successors, the insubordination of vassal states, the disloyalty of ambitious ministers and the aggression of foreign foes led to the loss of overlordship of Magadha on the Deccan, The progress of Aryanization was checked for the time being. The Satavahanas soon appeared on the scene in Deccan.

Identity of the Satavahanas

The Pauranic genealogies refer to the kings of 'Andhra-Jati'. Some Puranas style them as Andhrabhrityas. The Nanaghat and Nasik cave inscriptions and coins discovered in the Deccan mention the names of several kings of 'Satavahana-Kula'. On the basis of certain names, and their order of succession common to various kings mentioned in the two sources, some scholars identified the Satavahanas of the epigraphical records and coins with the Andhras of the Puranas. However the Puranas never use the term 'Satavahana' and the inscriptions and coins do not refer to the Satavahanas as the Andhras.

On the basis of this, some scholars strongly objected to the identification. According to R.G. Bhandarkar, The Andhrabhritya dynasty of the Puranas is the same as the Satavahana dynasty of the inscriptions'. The basis, he relied upon, is that the names occuring in the inscriptions and on the coins as well as the order (of their succession) sufficiently agree with those given in the Purarras under the Andhrabhritya dynasty. He explained the term 'Andhrabhritya' as meaning 'Andhras who were once servants or dependents.' Dr. K. Gopalachari asserted that the Satavahanas were Andhras by tribal connection. He suggested that either they were the scions of the royal family in the Andhradesa or Andhra fortune-hunters who accepted service in the western Deccan under the Mauryan suzerains, thereby getting the Puranic appelation 'Andhrabhritya' and that after Asoka's death their descendants might have struck a blow in their own interests in the land of their adoption.

J. Burgess, V.A. Smith, E.J. Rapson, L.D. Barnett and P.T. Srinivasa Ayyangar held the same opinion as that of Bhandarkar as regards the Andhra-Satavahana identity. However V.S. Suktankar, K.P. Jayaswal, H.C Roychaudhuri and V.S. Bakhle rejected the Andhra-Satavahana equation. Jayaswal regarded the Satavahanas as probable representatives of the Satiyaputras of the Asokan records. All these scholars who denied the identity of the Satavahanas with the Andhras put forth the following arguments :-

1. The Andhras were in the eastern part of Deccan. If the Satavahanas were Andhras, how was then the inscriptions end coins of the early Satavahana rulers were discovered only in Maharashtra but not in Andhra?

2. Many inscriptions and coins of the Satavahanas were found and no ruler is mentioned any where as the Andhra.

3. The language of the Andhras is Telugu. However the Satavahana records are in Prakrit. If the Satavahanas were the Andhras, then their records be issued in Telugu itself but not in Prakrit.

4. The kings mentioned in the Puranas were either Andhras or Andhrabhrityas but not Satavahanas.

5. The Satavahanas established their authority first in Maharastra. After sometime, they conquered the Andhra country. Among these rulers, the last 7 or 8 rulers reigned only Andhra proper. Simply because of this the contemporary Pauranic writers might have mistaken and described the Satavahanas as Andhras.

However the above arguments may be refuted on the following grounds :—

1. The Andhras were not simply confined to the eastern Deccan, They were to be found even in Bastar area of Madhya Pradesh, Northern Karnataka, some parts of Maharashtra and Orissa as well. The Satavahanas, starting from Andhra, conquered Maharashtra and settled there for sometime. Hence records of the early rulers were found there. However the recently discovered coins from Kondapur and Kotilingala (Karimnagar district) in the eastern Deccan refer to Simuka Satavahana, the founder of the Dynasty. In view of this, the argument of the Scholars who denied the identity on the basis that records of early Satavahanas are not found in Andhradesa does not hold good.

2. !t is true that inscriptions and coins do not refer to the Satavahanas as Andhras. Generally rulers give the names of their dynasties and not the racial affinity. For example, the rulers of the Post-Satavahana dynasties like Ikshvaku, Pallava, Salankayana, Vishnukundin and even Reddi, which ruled over Andhra did not claim themselves in their inscriptions as Andhras. But there is no denying the fact that they were Andhras. The Nasik and Karle inscriptions refer to Nahapana's dynastic name (Kshaharata) and not his race (Saka-Pahlava known from other sources). Similarly the Kanheri inscription refers to Rudradaman's dynasty (Kardamaka) and not his race (Saka). Hence Satavahana is the name of the family (Kula). They might have been part and parcel of the Andhra race.

3. No doubt, Telugu is the language of the Andhras and it had its origins probably in the Desi of first century A.D. However the use of Prakrit might be the custom of that period. It was used in inscriptions not simply by the Satavahanas, but also by their predecessor Asoka, their contemporaries Sungas and their successors Ikshvakus and early Pallavas. Even the Buddhists also wrote books in Prakrit which was perhaps the language of the masses.

4. It is true the Puranas refer to them either as Andhras or Andhrabhrityas but not as Satavahanas. The term 'Andhrabhritya' need not be interpreted as 'the servants of the Andhras (as Dr. Suktankar did). It may mean the Andhras that were servants'. Further K.P. Jayaswal suggested that when the centre of political gravity shifted from Magadha, the Puranas describe the imperial dynasties with reference to their place of origin as in the case of Vakatakas who were described in the Puranas as the Vindhyakas. So also the Satavahanas were called Andhras in the Puranas. Moreover Matsya Purana clearly states that Simuka was an 'Andhra Jatiya'.

5. There is evidence to show that the Satavahanas conquered Vidisa, Maharashtra and even Pataliputra. But there is no evidence to their conquest of Andhra area. This is because of the fact that they were Andhras and had their political career started first in the Andhra area and then extended to Maharashtra and other areas. The compilers of some of the Puranas were so near in point of time to the Satavahana kings that they could not have in their ignorance foisted the name Andhra on to the Satavahana princes simply because they found or knew them only as rulers of Andhra. The fact is that the Pauranikas were dealing with them in the larger context of their tribal or communal affinity.

Further, if the Satavahanas and Andhras are not identified as one and the same, then number of difficulties will arise. In view of certain common names and the order of succession, one has to say that two different dynasties with same names of kings ruled over the same area during the same period, which is impossible. Thus it appears most likely that the Satavahanas belonged to the Andhra Community.

Home Land of the Satavahanas

A subject of controversy regarding the Satavahanas is their homeland or origin. There are conflicting theories and contradictory opinions regarding this. Earlier scholars like D.R. Bhandarkar conjectured that the land of the Andhras must have at the early period consisted of certain parts of the Central Provinces together with the Visakhapatnam district and may have also included the Godavari and Krishna districts. The eastern Deccan was not called Andhra after its conquest by the Satavahanas. Andhradesa existed where it is today even before the Satavahanas came into prominence.


Dr. Suktankar viewed that the Satavahanas did not belong to the Andhra area as the field of their early activity was confined to the west of India and Paithan was their capital. He postulated the theory that Bellary was the original home of the Satavahanas. He based his theory on the evidence of Macadoni inscription of Pulomavi (IV), the last of the Andhra Satavahanas and the Hirahadagalli copper plate grant of an early Pallava ruler, wherein references were made to 'Satavahana ahara' and 'Satavahani rashtra' respectively. According to him, both these names might be derivatives from Satavahanas only. The Satavahanas reigned several regions but no other places were known after them. Hence, Suktankar concluded, those two places located in the Bellary region must be the area of original inhabitance of the Satavahanas and the latter subsequently conquered Maharashtra and later Andhra.

However V.S. Bakhle did not accept Suktankar's identification of the original home of the Satavahanas with the Bellary region which they made their home in later times. The two inscriptions prove that the Satavahanas ruled the Bellary region in their last years of rule. But they do not prove that it was their original home. There was a gap of more than 400 years between the time of the issue of the two inscriptions and the founder of the dynasty who had nothing to do with the Bellary region. Moreover there are several hills and villages in different parts of Deccan which were known by the name of the Satavahanas. So the argument of Suktankar that except the two places mentioned in the inscriptions, no other places were known after the Satavahanas is incorrect


Vasudeva Vishnu Mirashi postulated the theory that Vidarbha was the home of the Satavahanas. His argument was on the strength of two other inscriptions. One is the Nasik inscription of Bala Sri, wherein Gautamiputra Satakarni was described as 'the Lord of Bervakata'. Mirashi identified Benakata with the region on either side of the Wainganga. The other inscription is Kharavela's Hathigumpha inscription, wherein mention was made that Kharavela marched westwards, heedless of Satakarni, upto Kannabenna. According to Mirashi, Kannabenna is identical with the Kanner near Nagapur. Since Satakarni's dominions ware mentioned to be in the west of Kalinga, Vidarbha wherein Kanner flows must have been the original home of the Satavahanas.

However the river Krishnaveni and the city of Dhanyakataka have better claims to be identical with Kannabenna and Benakata. Benakata or Benakataka just like Kalyana Kataka, can only be the name of a city but not of a region. With regard to the argument that Satakarni's dominions lay in the west and Andhra lay to the south of Kalinga, is not correct, Satakarni was 'Dakshinapathapati', i.e., the lord of the whole of Deccan. Then it must be understood that his dominions were not confined only to the west of Kalinga and moreover Bastar and the neighbouring regions which lay to the west of Kalinga were portions of Andhradesa from very early times.


There is a strong belief among some scholars that Maharashtra was the original home of the Satavahanas. P.T. Srinivasa Ayyangar, who accepted the Andhra-Satavahana identity, put forth arguments to show that the Andhras were a Vindhyan tribe, that their kings originally ruled over Western India and spoke Prakrit and not Telugu and that the extension of their authority was from the west to the east down the Godavari- Krishna valley. When their power declined in the west, the name Andhramandalam travelled to their eastern districts and became established there. Jogelkar further strengthened this theory. His contention was that the Satavahanas were Andhras, but not Andhras of the east coast. They were known as Andhras because they lived on the banks of a river by name Andhra in Pune district of Maharashtra. These Andhras led a great revolution and drove away the foreigners (Kshaharatas), united the various tribes of Deccan and established a new rashtra. So Maharashtra was known as Navarashtra.

The protagonists of the theory of the Maharashtra origin of the Satavahanas put forth in general the following arguments:-

(1) The Puranas describe Simuka only as Andhrajatiya but not as Andhradesiya; (2) politically Andhra then was not independent but part of Kalinga; (3) The metronymics and the Prakrit language of the Satavahanas indicate their western or Maratha origin; (4) the early Andhra Satavahana rulers were connected with Paithan and their records are found only in the west. On the basis of these arguments, scholars concluded that the Andhras lived with Rathikas etc. in Maharashtra and uniting all of them rose to political prominence. It was either Gautamiputra Satakarni or his son Vasisthiputra Pulomavi that conquered Andhra desa. However the above arguments may ably be controverted.

In the first place, the term Andhrajatiya applied to Simuka does not preclude the possibility of his being Andhradesiya. Secondly, the argument that the then Andhra was not politically independent but part of Kalinga is proved false by the Jatakas and Indica which mention Kalinga and Andhra as two separate and contiguous Janapadas. The Edicts of Asoka place the Andhras in present Andhradesa, and indicate it unreasonable to huddle them together with the others in Maharashtra. Thirdly, the metronymics argument is not strong one as only the later Satavahanas took them. Further Prakrit was inherited by the Satavahanas from the Mauryas along with political power. Fourthly, the early Satavahana connection with Paithan and the provenance of their records in the west only indicate that in view of the threat from the aliens like Yavanas, they bestowed more attention on the north-west.


The theory that the eastern part of Deccan, i.e. Andhradesa was the homeland of the Satavahanas, is championed by scholars like E.J. Rapson, V.A. Smith, R.G. Bhandarkar, J. Burgess and others. Suktankar and others held this opinion that the Satavahanas came to power from Andhradesa as unwarranted mainly on four grounds: (1) Their earliest records, epigraphic and numismatic, have been discovered at Nanaghat and Nasik in the Western Deccan; (2) In Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela, the dominions of the contemporary Satakarm are spoken of as being to the west of Kharavela's own kingdom of Kalinga; (3) Bala Sri's inscription while recounting the territorial possessions of her son, Gautamiputra Satakarni makes no mention of any locality in the Andhra area; and (4) the first available Satavahana records begin to appear in Andhradesa only during the reign of his successor Vasisthiputra Pulomavi. These arguments are the result of inadequate appreciation of the available information. The preconceived notion, that the Satavahanas had nothing to do with Andhradesa until the reign of Pulomavi I, blurred the vision of Suktankar and others in holding the Andhra origin as unwarranted. It is forgotten that Satakarni (II) of the Nanaghat record, who performed two Asvamedhas, one Rajasuya and other sacrifices, bore the title 'Dakshinapathapati', i.e. the lord of Deccan. Deccan naturally includes Andhradesa which is its eastern part. If it is conceded that the Satavahanas were Andhras and that they were masters of the Deccan, then the sentence 'heedless of Satakarni, he sent his forces to west' in Kharavela's inscription does not mean that Satakarni's dominions were confined only to the west of Kalinga and had no connection with the Andhra area.

Further Bala Sri's record has not completely ignored the Andhra area. It refers to Siritana (Srisailam), Mahendra (the Eastern Ghats) and 'Assaka' (the south-east province of Hyderabad state and the Godavari district), as within her son's dominions.

Moreover the earliest coins known hitherto were those of Satakarni I, the third member of the dynasty. Some very important coins have come to light recently. Of such coins the Kondapur coins bear the legend 'Sadvahana'. On palacographical grounds, this Satavahana can be placed in 3rd century B.C.E Dr. P.V. Parabrahma Sastri collected very recently over hundred early coins near the village Kotitingala on the eastern side of the hillock called Munulagutta on the right bank of the river Godavari in the Peddabankur taluk of the Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. These included seven coins belonging to the first Satavahana ruler Simuka. This discovery is of momentous importance for the history of the Satavahanas. It leaves no doubt about the association of the Satavahanas with Andhra from the very start. The legend on these coins strengthens the possibility that king Satavahana of Kondapur coins is none other than Simuka himself who is called Simuka Satavahana in a Nanaghat label inscription also. The Jain sources mention Satavahana as the first Andhra king. The Kathasartsagara contains a story about Satavahana. Therefore Satahana or Simuka Satavahana of the Kondapur and Kotilingala coins respectively is the same Satavahana who founded the imperial Andhra line and his successors called themselves Satavahanas,

With regard to the capitals of the Satavahana kings, unreliable and much later legend points to Srikakulam in the Krishna district, which cannot stand for scrutiny. Dhanyakataka (Dharanikota in the Guntur district) seems to be the eastern capital and when Maharashtra became part of Andhra empire and when the Satavahanas concentrated their more attention on western Deccan because of the Saka-pahlava menace. Paithan became the seat of their government in the west.

Chronology of the Satavahanas

Of the many complicated problems that the Andhras have presented, the most important one is the problem of their chronology. Divergent views have been expressed by different scholars about the beginning of the Andhra Satavahana rule, but so far no unanimous conclusion has yet been arrived at by the historian on this point of issue.

The foundation of the dynasty, which is known by its tribal name Andhra in the Puranas and by its family name Satavahana in the epigraphs, is attributed to one Simuka. The Puranas misspelt the name Simuka as Sisuka (Matsya) Sindnuka (Vayu), and Sipraka (Vishnu). Five out of the 18 Puranas namely the Matsya, the Vayu, the Vishnu, the Bhagavata and the Brahmanda, furnish dynastic lists of rulers who ruled Magadha till the rise of the Guptas. Besides the mention of the dynastic lists, they recorded the reigning period of each dynasty and even tire names of the princes. The Matsya and Vayu shed more light by furnishing in addition the regnal period of each prince. The statements found in the Puranas would have been accepted as the mast authentic but for the glaring discrepancies in their versions, and also for their self-contradictory statements between the general and the specific statements in the same Puranas.

Regarding the Andhra dynastic list, the Matsya mentioned in its general statement 29 kings with a total reign of 460 years and in its particular statement, 30 kings with a total reign of 448 1/2 years. The Vayu's general statement refers to 30 kings with a reign of 441 years, while the particular statement mentions the names of 17 kings with a total reign of 272 1/2 years. Both the Vishnu and the Bhagavata, in their general statements gave the names of 30 kings with a total reign of 456 years. In these contradicting statements, there is at least one point of uniformity in the Puranic tradition, that the Andhra kings were 30 and that they ruled for over four centuries.

There is another unanimous statement in all the Puranas, viz : 'Sisuka (Simuka) of the Andhra race, having destroyed Susarman of the Kanva family with main force, and whatever will have been left of the power of the Sungas, will obtain possession of earth', It has been agreed on all hands that the Kanva Susarman's rule was ended in 28 B.C.E.  If the Puranic statement that Simuka was the Andhra king who slew Susarman of the Kanva family in 28 B.C.E is accepted, then the most complicated problem would arise as to the duration of the reign of the Andhra kings. If the Puranic statement that the Andhras ruled for more than 4 centuries is taken into account, the rule of the Andhra dynasty would come to an end in the 5th century C.E. which is untenable due to the claims of other dynasties which came to dominate over their territories. Therefore of the two statements, the most reasonable one should be taken into consideration, rejecting the other. In view of the fact that the rule of the Andhras cannot be extended beyond 2nd century C.E., the Puranic tradition, that Simuka ended the rule of the Kanvas may be rejected and the other statement that the Andhras enjoyed a reign of more than 4 centuries can be relied upon. V.A. Smith rejected the former tradition with an observation, "the Andhra king who slew Susarman cannot possibly have been Simuka'.

R.G. Bhandarkar accepted the first tradition, i.e., Simuka slew Susarman of the Kanva family. Yet he fixed 73 B.C.E as the initial year of the Satavahana rule. Bhandarkar took Vayu Purana as his authority and relied upon its specific statement of 17 kings and 2721/2 years rule. In his view, the Matsya furnished the names of those princes (who were 13 in number) belonging to the collateral branches of the dynasty in addition to the 17 kings of the main line, given in the Vayu Purana.

By interpreting the clause 'Whatever will have been left of the power of the Sungas' to mean that the Sungas and the Kanvas were simultaneously ruling the territories. Bhandarkar placed the two successive dynasties as contemporary dynasties and came to the conclusion that the 112 year rule of the Sungas also included the 45 year rule of the Kanvas. On the basis of this reasoning, he fixed the initial year of the Satavahana rule at 73 B.C. (137 + 112 = 249; 322 B.C. - 249 = 73 B.C.E). Bhandarkar's reasoning cannot be accepted because his interpretation goes counter to the Puranic testimony which is confirmed by Bana that Devabhuti, the 10th and last Sunga king was slain by Vasudeva, the first Kanva ruler who usurped the throne of Magadha for himself. In such a case it would be impossible to make Susarman, the 4th and last Kanva king, a contemporary of Devabhuti. Another improbabiliy in Bhandarkar's argument is that Matsya mentioned the kings of both main and collateral lines of the Andhra dynasty, while Vayu gave only the kings of the main line, and that Vayu's statement that 17 kings ruled for 300 years. The point to be borne in mind is that Vayu also in its general statement mentioned 30 kings with a total reign of 411 years. If in Bhandarkar's view, Vayu gave only the names of the kings of the main line, it had surprisingly omitted the name of Pulomavi II, who was a king of the main line, succeeded to the throne after Gautamiputra. Therefore, the argument and the view expressed by R.G. Bhandarkar may be rejected and the Matsya Purana may be accepted in preference to the other Puranas as our authority, for it is fuller in details with regard to the number and names of the Andhra kings and also as it is in harmony with the general statements of the other Puranas including the Vayu which allot more than 400 years to the Andhra dynasty.

Dr. Smith accepted the general statement of the Puranas that there were 29 or 30 kings who ruled successively for a period of four and half centuries and placed the beginning of the Andhra rule in the last quarter of the 3rd century B.C.E He observed, "the independent Andhra dynasty must have begun its rule about 240 or 230 B.C.E long before the depression of the Kanvas about 28 B.C.E and the Andhra king who slew Susarman cannot possibly have been Simuka. Rapson, like Smith, held that 'the most complete of the extent lists can only be interpreted as indicating that the founder Simuka began to reign before 200 B.C.E

Prof. G.V. Rao, and Dr. O. Ramachandraiya while rejecting the views of Bhandankar and Roy Choudhury and agreeing with the conclusion of Dr. Smith and Rapson as nearer to truth, placed the beginning of the Andhra Satavahana rule in 271 B.C.E .On the assumption that the 15th king of the Matsya list, Pulomavi I was the slayer of Susarman of the Kanva family and the conqueror of Magadha in 28 B.C.E, the learned professors came to the conclusion that 271 B.C.E was the year in which the foundation of Andhra Satavahana rule was laid.

The reason for bestowing this greatness on Pulomavi may be imagined from two points :

(1) The Vayu while giving only important names of the dynasty, by way of passing reference mentioned the first four rulers by name, kept silent till the advent of Pulomavi, and from him onwards gave a complete and fuller list of kings which fully corresponds with the detailed Matsya list upto Gautamiputra. By the very mention of Pulomavi as the first in the second group of its list, the Vayu indirectly hints the prominence of the ruler who in all probability might be the ruler who slew Susarman in 28 B.C.E

(2) The fondness shown by the Satavahana rulers in bearing that name undoubtedly indicate the importance of the king who first appeared with that name. His successors must have regarded him as a great ruler whose memory must be cherished- We find four rulers, who came after Pulomavi, with that name, and that name was very much coveted next to the name of Satakarni. The importance of the name is further heightened by the statement in the Matsya, viz: "As to the Andhras, they are the Pulomas". To cherish his memory by his successors and descendants, Pulomavi's achievements must have been very great and ever remembering.

This memorable achievement in all probability might be his conquest of Magadha after slaying Susarma in 28 B.C.E On the assumption that Pulomavi I was the conqueror of Magadha and slayer of Susarman in 28 B.C.E, we may determine the initial year of Simuka, the founder of the dynasty. The total reign of the 4 immediate predecessors of Pulomavi, was 19 years. During this period, the dynasty had to face considerable decline in its fortunes. To regain the lost glory and to set the house in order, Pulomavi, must have spent a considerable part of his reign. If we allot a period of 15 years to entrench himself fully in his seat, his attack on Magadha and its conquest must have taken place in 28 B C. + 15= 43 B.C.E

Before him, there were 14 kings whose total reign covered a period of 228 years Hence the first ruler Simuka, the founder of the dynasty must have come to prominence in 228 + 43 B C E=271 BCE

The accuracy of 271 B.C. as the starting point of the Andhra Satavahana 'defacto' rule by Simuka may be verified and found correct by following another independent line of reasoning, outside the equation of Pulomavi I with the slayer of Susarman. The Hatigumpha inscription of Kharavela and the Nanaghat inscription of Naganika help us in this quest.

In the Hatigumpha inscription, the name of one Satakarni was mentioned. King Kharavela (of Kalinga) in his second regnal year, sent his armies west "heedless of Satakarni". The date of the Hatigumpha inscription is not known. But it furnishes the scholars a clue, by mentioning Dimita, the name of a Yavana king who retreated before Kharavela in the later's eigth regnal year. This Dimita has been identified with Demetrius I, the son of Euthydemos, whose invasion against India failed because of Kharavela's opposition and also on account of troubles at home. This fact has been confirmed by Gargi-Samhita of Yugapurana. According to Meyer the return of Demetrius occured in 175 B.C.E This was the 8th regnal year of Kharavela. Six years earlier Kharavela sent his armies against Satakarni. Therefore in 181 B.C.E, 'A Satakarni' was ruling the Andhra kingdom. (175+(8-2) =181 B.C.E) The Nanaghat inscription of Naganika refered to one Satakarni. Both the inscriptions, the Nanaghat and the Hatigumpha, on palaeographical grounds, were accepted by all scholars as contemporary documents for 'the alphabet of the former agrees generally with that of the latter'. Satakarni of Nanaghat record had been styled as Aprathihatacakra, and Dakshinapadhapathi. The 6th ruler of the Matsya and the 3rd ruler of the Vayu was one Satakarni.

Both the Puranas have given him identical reign of 56 years. The name of the third ruler in other Puranas was variously given. Satakarni of the Nanaghat record was a staunch follower of Brahmanism and is said to have performed a number of Vedic sacrifices, including two Aswamedhas and one Rajasuya.

Therefore, Satakarni, who appeared in the Nanaghat and Hatigumpha inscriptions, can be equated with Satakarni, who appeared as the 6th of the Matsya and 3rd of the Vayu lists. On the basis of this identification, we can say that Satakarni of the Satavahana dynasty was the ruling king of the Andhra Kingdom in 181 B.C.E, when Kharavela sent his armies west. with out paying any heed of his existence. To entrench himself in his seat and become a powerful rival to a great king like Kharavete, Satakarni must have come to the throne some 3 or 4 years before the dispatch of the armies by Kharavela against west. The five predecessors (according to Matsya) rules for 87 years. Therefore Simuka must have founded the dynasty in 271 B.C.E (181+3 + 87 = 271 B.C.E) This date is fully in accordance with the calculation made by supposing that Pulomavi I was the king who slew Susarman in 28 B.C.E and that some 15 years before that he must have sit on the throne Of the Andhra country (28 + 15 + 228 = 271 B.C.E).

Later Satavahana Chronology

The correctness of 271 B.C.E as the starting point of the Satavahana rule under Simuka, may be verified and established from the known dates of Kshatrapas and other foreign kings. The foreign powers such as the Sakas and the Pahlavas in the closing years of the 1st Century B.C.E and in the beginning years of the 1st century C.E. became powerful and established their sway in Malwa, Surashtra and other western areas. It was mainly on account of these foreign onslaughts, the power of the Satavahanas for sometime had to register a sharp decline, subsequent to the reign of Pulomavi. The king who once again retrieved the fallen fortunes of the Satavahana dynasty to its former glory was Gautamiputra Sri Satakarni, the 23rd king in the Matsya list. His mother Gautami Bala Sri, registering a gift at Nasik in the 19th regnal year of her grandson Pulomavi II, describes the great qualities of her son Gautamiputra Sri Satakarni as the destroyer of the Sakas, Yavanas and Pahlavas and the annihilator of the line of the Kshaharatas.

Another inscription at Nasik recorded in the 18th regnal year of Gautamiputra furnishes details of a campaign. A large number of Nahapana's coins found in the Jogelthembi hoard were restruck by Gautamiputra. All the regions mentioned in Bala Sri's inscription as belonging to Gautamiputra Satakarni were referred to in the inscriptions of Usavadata, the son-in-law of Nahapana and his minister Ayama, as were in the occupation of Nahapana. These inscriptions were issued in Nahapana's years 41, 42, 45 and 46 at Nasik. Karle and Junnar. Whether the above years refer to Saka era or the regnal years of Nahapana is the problem. Prof. Rapson believing the years to be of Saka era, tried to fix the date of Gautamiputra on the basis of the Gimar record. The Girnar inscription dated 72 Saka, i.e. 150 C.E., shows most of the territories of Gautamiputra as included in the kingdom of Rudradaman, the Kardamaka ruler of Ujjain. Rapson who based his chronological scheme on Nahapana-Gautamiputra synchronism, and on the date of the Girnar record observed that it would not be improbable that Nahapana's reign could not have extended much beyond the last recorded year = 46 = 124 C.E. Gautamiputra's conquests of Nahapana seems undoubtedly have taken place in the 18th year of his reign.

We therefore have the equation : Gautamiputra's years 18 = 124 C.E. or 124 C.E. + x. On this synchronism, on the recorded regnal dates in the inscriptions of Andhra kings, on the known date 72 Saka = 150 C.E. of Rudradamana as Mahakshtrapa rests at present the whole foundation of the later Andhra Satavahana chronology. On the basis of the above observation. Prof. Rapson placed the starting year of Gautamiputra Satakarni's reign in 106 C.E. and as he is said to have ruled for 24 years, the reign, according to him came to an end in 130 C.E. But the discovery of Andhau inscriptions of Chastana and Rudradaman, the Kardamaka rulers proved Rapson's view erroneous. The Andhau inscriptions are dated 20 years earlier than Girnar record, i.e., 72 Saka —20 = 52 Saka = 130 C.E. According to these inscriptions, Chastana was in possession of all lands between Andhau and Ujjain, i.e. from Kutch to Malwa. The Greek Geographer Ptolemy in his account {130 C.E.) referred to one Testenes', identified as Chastana as ruling at Ozene (Ujjain)-

If, according to Rapson, in 124 C.E. Gautamiputra, in his 18th regnal year launched on a career of conquest after the death of Nahapana, we would have to ponder that could he have effected the conquest of so vast a territory, which according to Bala Sri's record of Nasik include Anupa, Aparanta, Akara, Avanti, Suratha and Kukura kingdoms, and extended his sway as far as the Aravalis in the north. To effect conquests of such a vast area in a short period of 6 years is hardly sufficient. Even if we agree with the learned Professor that so great a warrior like Gautamiputra could have effected conquests of such magnitude with such lightening rapidity within a short span of 6 years, we must also agree to the fact that all these magnificent conquests were made only to be lost after 6 years, for the Andhau inscriptions of 130 C.E. tell us that all these lands, said to have been conquered by Gautamiputra, were in the occupation of Chastana and Rudradaman of the Kardamaka dynasty. From this we are to presume that the areas that were conquered by Gautamiputra between 124 C.E.-130 C.E. were occupied by the Kardamakas, immediately after his death. If this supposition is accepted, we must conclude that the glory of the Andhras was short-lived. But a close study of Bala Sri's record of Nasik would not allow us to cling to this supposition.

The Nasik inscription was issued by Bala Sri, the mother of Gautamiputra in the 19th regnal year of her grandson Pulomavi-II, the son and successor of Gautamiputra. In this inscription, she recounted the exploits of her son with pride. If by 130 C.E. Chastana could occupy all these lands between Andhau and Ujjain during the life time of Gautamiputra itself, according to Rapson, his mother would not have sung the glories of her son which were only euphemeral.

Another supporting factor is that there is no scope to take the view that these lands were lost during the time of Pulomavi, for there is nothing in the inscriptions of Pulomavi to suggest any reduction of his dominions during his reign. Therefore it is inconceivable that Gautamiputra must have lost a part of his dominions to Chastana and Rugradaman in 130 C.E.

Like Rapson, R.G. Bhandarkar also thought that the years of Nahapana belong to Saka era and in order to avoid chronological improbabilities, suggested a conjoint rule for Gautamiputra and Pulomavi II. He came to this conclusion on the basis of Bala Sri's statement that she was 'Maharajamata and Maharaja Pithamahi'.

Neither the equation of Nahapana's years with the Saka era nor the conjoint rule of Gautamiputra and his son Pulomavi. as postulated by R.G. Bhandarkar can be accepted. The mere mention of Maharajamatha and Maharajapitamahi, the appearance of Gautamiputra's name in the Nasik inscription of Pulomavi as 'Dhanakatakasami' and the mention of Ptolemy to Polemios (Pulomavi) as the ruler of Paithan cannot establish the fact of a conjoint rule of the father and son. The probable position would be that in the 24th regnal year, Gautamiputra had donated an excavated cave to the Buddhist monks at Nasik. After 19 years of his death, his mother who outlived him for a longtime, during the reign of her grandson Pulomavi II, gifted a cave and in the inscription that was issued on that occasion, praised the great qualities of her son, who was no more by that time. In the Nasik inscription issued in the 24th regnal year of Gautamiputra, Bala Sri referred to him as one living (Jivasuata). In another Nasik inscription, issued by Pulomavi II in his 19th regnal year, it has been stated that the merit of the gift is said to have been made over to his father (Pitupatiyo). Such transfer of the merit of gifts are made only in favour of deceased persons. Another point which disproved the supposition of a conjoint rule of the father and the son is that had Gautamiputra been alive and ruling over the territories as the senior king, the necessity of dating the inscription in the regnal period of Pulomavi II would not have arisen. Therefore the theory of conjoint rule of Gautamiputra and his son Pulomavi, as advocated by R.G. Bhandarkar cannot be accepted.

Regarding the years 41. 42, 45 and 46 of Nahapana, different views have been expressed. Some scholars like Banerji feel that they were the regnal years of Nahapana. Accepting the view of Cunningham, Prof. K.A.N. Sastri held them to be of Vikrama era. Rapson and Bhandarkar feel that they indicate the Saka era. This last supposition has been disproved by the discovery of Andhau inscriptions. If the view that they belong to Vikrama era is taken into consideration, we are forced to place the 41st year of Nahapana in 17 B.C. (58 B.C.—41 = 17 B.C.E) and his last recorded date 46 in 12 B.C.E If we agree with Rapson that Nahapana's reign could not have extended much beyond the last recorded year 46. 12 B.C.E would be the uppermost limit of Nahapana's rule. The interval between Nahapana and Gautamiputra must have been short which could not have permitted the successors of Nahapana to issue new coinage. But, if we accept the view that the years of Nahapana were of Vikrama era, we should place the end of his rule 12 B.C.E in which case there would occur a gap of more than 95 years seperating him from Gautamiputra. Therefore the reckoning of the years of Nahapana in Vikrama era cannot be made.

The mention of 'Nambanus' whom the scholars have identified as Nahapana in the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea would help us to solve the problem of Nahapana's time. Schoff assigns the 'Periplus' to 60 A.D. According to 'Periplus', the kingdom of Nambanus lay on either side of the gulf of Combay.

His power was great ail along the sea board of 'Surastrane' (Saurashtra) and the Greek ships going to Satavahana ports of Kalyan were diverted to Barygaza (Broach). On the authority of 'Periplus', it can be told that Nahapana must be the ruling king of that area by 60 C.E. Besides the mention of Nahapana (Nambanus), a reference has been made to two other kings, Sandanas and Saraganes whom the scholars have identified as Sundara and Chakora (33-35 C.E.) respectively who were of the Satavahana family and whose successive reigns were too insignificant to mention, for their duration was only 11/2 years. Cakora's successor, Sivasvati enjoyed a long reign of 28 years, during whose rule, the Satavahana power regained new strength and was on the road of recovery. According to the chronology adopted by us, Siva Svati's reign must have come to an end by 63 C.E.

That was also the time of Nahapana's end if we agree with the supposition that Nahapana and Nambanus are one, and that the time of the Periplus is about 60 C.E. and that the 46th year of Nahapana was his last year as stated by Prof. Rapson. This supposition may be strengthened on other grounds as well. Gautamiputra is described in the Nasik inscription as the annihilator of the line of Kshaharatas. These Kshaharatas were the Kshatrapas of Saurashtra and Malwa. In the opinion of V.S. Bakhle, the Kshaharatas were Pahlavas, and the Kardamakas were Sakas. The rulers of Kshaharata and Kardamaka families assumed the official titles as Kshatrapas and Mahakshatrapas respectively. Both these rulers were perhaps feudatories of the Saka-Pahlava power of Mathura, to which that great king Rajula belonged. Rajula passed away in 17 C.E. (if we presume Nahapana to be a Kshatraoa of Rajula, he must have become independent after his death and started his rule in his own right as an independent king in Saurashtra. His rule must come to an end by 63 C.E. (17 C.E. + 46 = 63 C.E.). That was the year also in which Gautamiputra Satakarni ascended the throne at Dhanakataka, according to the chronological scheme that we have adopted.

Gautamiputra, the successor of Siva Svati who became ruler in 63 C.E. in his 18th regnal year launched on a career of conquest and occupied all the lands that were once acknowledged the sway of Nahapana between 81 C.E. and 87 C.E and after him his son Pulomavi It. The Kardamakas rose to power and their chief Chastana, with the help of his illustrious grandson Rudradaman succeeded in occupying the lands from Andhau to Ujjain between 115-130 C.E. These conquests must have been effected during the weak rule of Siva Sri and Siva Skanda (115 to 129 C.E.) In 129 C.E. Yajna Sri Saiakarni occupied the throne and came into conflict with the Kardamaka ruler Rudradaman with a view to re-conquer the lost territories. The Girnar inscription describes how Rudradaman defeated one Satakarni king twice and seized him but released him as he was closely related to him.

From the above discussion the following points can be gleaned namely

(1) that Siva Svati and Nahapana were contemporaries and that their respective periods of rule came to an end by 63 C.E.,

(2) that Gautamiputra who succeeded Siva Svati, occupied all lands described in Bate Sri's inscription between 81 C.E. -87 C.E. from the Kshaharatas;

(3) that these lands which were occupied by Gautamiputra were in possession of the Andhras till the end of Pulomavi II's rule;

(4) that the said lands from Andhau to Ujjain were occupied by Chastana and Rudradaman, the Kardamaka rulers after the death of Pulomavi II, and lastly

(5) that Yajna Sri who was a contemporary of Rudradaman tried to regain the lost possessions from the Kardamakas, but was twice defeated.

The contemporaneity of Yajna Sri with Rudradaman has been accepted by Haricharana Ghosh. According to him, Yajna Sri's accession to the throne took place in 127 C.E. He came to this conclusion on the basis of Yajna Sri's Kanheri inscription and Rudradaman's Girnar inscription. According to him Yajna Sri was in possession of Aparanta upto 16th year of his sovereignty as may be inferred from his record at Kanheri. The Girnar inscription dated 72 Saka = 150 C.E. shows that the territory of Aparanta was in the possession of Rudradaman.

Hence an inference can be made that Yajna Sri lost Aparanta some time after his 16th regnal year. This 'sometime' according to Ghosh may not be more than 10 years. He felt that the repairs to the lake were effected in 150 C.E (72 Saka) but the issue of the inscription was made after some time which according to him was 3 years, i.e. in 153 C.E. (75 Saka). Hence Yajna Sri's accession to the throne must have taken place in 153 C.E.-16-10 = 127 C.E.

On the basis of Yajna Sri's year of accession to the throne, the initial year of the Satavahana rule may be fixed. Yajna Sri's rule was preceeded by 26 kings, whose total rule according to Matsya was 396 1/2 years. Therefore the year of Simuka's accession to power would be 396 1/2 -127 = 269 1/2 + y or 271 C.EThis is in accordance with the chronology adopted by us earlier.

Political History of the Satavahanas

The vague, disputed and uncorroborated doubtful evidences form the basis for the history of the Satavahanas. The Jain sources mention Satavahana as the first king in the family. The Kathasaritsagara also contains a story about Satavahana. The Kondapur coins bear the legend 'Sadvahana'. On scriptal grounds this Satavahana is placed close to (either before or contemporaneous with) Simuka, the first ruler of the family mentioned in the Puranas. The latest discovery, Kotilingala coins (from Karimnagar district) included seven coins belonging to this Simuka. The legend on these coins strengthens the possibility that the king Satavahana of Kondapur coins is none other than Simuka himself who is called Simuka Satavahana in a Nanaghat label inscription also. It may be assumed that Simuka Satavahana was the founder of the dynasty and his successors called themselves Satavahanas.

Though Simuka Satavahana was the reputed founder of the Satavahana line of kings, he had not founded an independent state. He was probably the first to bring several Andhra family groups together and to oblige them to recognise him as their mutual and unique leader. He emerged as a prominent figure about 271 B.C.E When the great Asoka Maurya, according to the Buddhist sources, was waging a bitter war of succession against his brothers. With Asoka's show of force in the Kalinga war, Simuka and his associates who held power for 23 years were content with their semi-independent status, Kanha (Krishna), the brother and successor of Simuka, came under the spell of Asoka's increasing zeal for Dharma.

A cave at Nasik for the Sramanas was constructed. Taking advantage of Asoka's death and the disturbed conditions in the Magadhan capital, Kanha probably broke off from the Mauryan yoke and acquired an independent status for the area under his authority.

The earliest of the Satavahana rulers to receive wide recognition was Satakarni-II (184 B.C.—128 B.C.E), the sixth of the Matsya corresponding to the third of the Vayu list and also to Satakarni of both Kharavela's Hathigumpha inscription and Naganika's Nanaghat record. The wide recognition was due to his policy of military expansion in all directions. He defied Kharavela of Kalinga. He was the 'lord of Pratishthana' (modem Paithan in the north-western Deccan. He conquered eastern Malwa which was being threatened by the Sakas and the Greeks. He gained control of the region of Sanchi. After conquering the Godavari valley, Satakarni became the 'lord of the Southern Regions' (Dakshinapathapati). He supported the brahman orthodoxy and performed an Aswamedha to establish his claim to an empire.

The Satavahanas did not hold the western Deccan for long. They were gradually pushed out of the west by the Sakas (Western Khatrapas). The Kshaharata Nahapana's coins in the Nasik area indicate that the Western Kshatrapas controlled this region by the first century C.E. By becoming master of wide regions including Malwa, Southern Gujarat, and Northern Konkan, from Broach to Sopara and the Nasik and Poona districts, Nahapana rose from the status of a mere Kshatrapa in the year 41 (58 C.E.) to that of Mahakshatrapa in the year 46 (63 C.E.).

Gautamiputra Satakarni, the 23rd king of the Matsya list, was one of the most illustrious rulers of ancient India. His reign is placed between 62 C.E. and 86 C.E. Some scholars attribute to him the foundation of the Salivahana era in 78 C.E.

Gautamiputra was credited with the restoration of the fallen prestige of the dynasty. The Nasik inscription of his mother Gautami Bala Sri and his own records at Nasik and Karle furnish us a vivid account of his accomplishments and achievements.

His phenomenal success realized his ambition to recover the imperial position of the Satavahanas. He first won back the territories on his western borders from the Kshaharata successors of Nahapana. Nahapana's coins were restruck in his name. Bala Sri's record credits him with the extirpation of the Kshaharata family. It is solid that he humbled the power and pride of the Kshatriyas and destroyed the Yavanas, Sakas and Pahlavans.

Gautamiputra Satakarni's dominions included the countries of Asika. Asaka, Mulaka, Surashtra, Kakura, Aparanta, Anupa, Vidarbha, Akara and Avanti, the mountainous regions of Virtdhya, Achavata, Pariyatra. Sahya, Kanhagiri, Siritana, Malaya. Mahendra, Seta and Chokora and extended as far as the seas on either side. These details indicate the extent of his empire over the country between Rajasthan and Cuddalore and between the Rishikulya and Vaijayanti. Gautamiputra made his horses drink the waters of the three oceans. He was uniquely skilled as an archer, absolute as a sovereign and a figure of the heroic mould.

Though an absolute monarch, Gautamiputra was kind to his subjects and a father to his people. He tried to fulfil the duties of the Trivarga-Dharma, Artha and Kama. He shared the sorrows and pleasures of his people. He is described as 'the abode of the Vedas'. A pious and orthodox Brahmin, he was meticulous in maintaining caste-purity. Gautamiputra's son and successor Vasisthiputra Pulomavi (86-114 C.E.) could not maintain for long his hold over his vast inheritance. During the last years of his rule, he lost the north-western provinces of the Andhra empire to Chashtana, the founder of the Western Kshatrapa Kardamaka line. His successors, Siva Sri and Sivaskanda each ruled for seven years during which period the house of Chashtana expanded its authority upto Kutch in the west by 130 C.E. Chashtana's  grandson Rudradaman made his substantial contribution in the growth of the Kardamaka power.

Gautamiputra Yajna Sri (128 C.E. - 157 C.E.) was the last of the great Satavahana rulers. He made attempts to recover the western (Aparanta) provinces. His efforts proved futile. Rudradaman won over the disgruntled Vasisthiputra Satakarni, a relation of Yajna Sri, to his side by giving him his daughter in marriage. The two encounters between Yajna Sri and Rudradaman's forces went against the Andhras. The Saka suzerainty was acknowledged. The Satavahana rule was confined to the Andhra area. The reigns of Yajna Sri's successors, Vijaya, Chanda Sri and Pulomavi (III), covering altogether a period of seventeen years, are of little significance historically. The rise of the Chutus in the west and south, the Abhiras in the Nasik area, the Ikshvakus in the east and the relentless pressure of the Kardamakas of Ujjain sounded the death-knell of the Satavahana empire. Thus came to an end the glorious phase of the rule of the Satavahanas who not only gave the area political integrity but protected it from foreign invaders who inundated the North at that time.

The Satavahana - Western Kshtrapa Relations

The Andhra Satavahanas ruled for four centuries and a half in the Deccan. During their rule they came into contact with their neighbouring kingdoms, the prominent of which was that of the Western Kshatrapas. During the Indo-Parthian rule, the Satraps or Governors were appointed to rule over various areas conquered by them. One of those satrapal seats was Malwa and Saurashtra. The chronology of the Satavahanas and the early phase of the Kshatrapa rule have been controversial.

The Kshatrapa rule includes that of the Kshaharatas like Bhumaka and Nahapana and of the Kardamaka family from Chashtana onwards. Of the Kshaharatas, Bhumaka was the first ruler. From the palaeography of his coin legends, he is regarded as the predecessor of Nahapana; but the actual relationship between the two is not known. The coins of Bhumaka mention him as a Kshaharata Kshatrapa. The coins show the symbol of the Lion-capital. These coins were found in Gujarat and rarely in Malwa which might indicate the area of rule of Bhumaka. The figure of the thunder-bolt appearing on Nahapana's coins resembles that of the Mathura Kshatrapas. It is also known that some of the inscriptions of the Mathura Kshatrapas were incised on a lion capital.

These show that the two families were alike. There are scholars who conclude from these resemblances that the Kshatrapa Kshaharatas were originally subordinates of the Mathura Kshatrapas and that they declared themselves independent after the death of the great Mathura Kshatrapa Rajula in 17 C.E.

Nahapana succeeded Bhumaka on the western Kshatrapa throne. During his rule, the kingdom seems to have been extended, as is known from the inscriptions. An inscription at Nasik refers to the gifts given by Ushavadata, the son-in-law of Nahapana at places like Govardhana, Sopara, Dasapura, Prabhasa, and Pushkara. Nahapana's inscriptions were discovered at Nasik, Karle and Junnar. These taken together show that in the north Nahapana's empire extended upto Rajasthan and in the south to Maharashtra.

The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea composed in 60 C.E. records the hegemony of Nahapana in this area and refers to the trade activity of Western India with the Red Sea ports, which was grabbed by Nahapana after defeating the Satavahana rivals probably Sundara Satakarni and Chakora Satakarni, The Satavahana ports like Kalyan and Sopara lost their commercial importance to Barygaza.

In the inscriptions, mention of Nahapana's years 41-46 was made. There has been a controversy with regard to the era to which these years should be assigned. Scholars like R.G. Bhandarkar, D.R. Bhandarkar, Prof. Rapson, Roy Chowdhuri, D.C. Circar and V.D. Mirashi assign them to the Saka era.

Another set of scholars like Cunningham, V.S. Bakhle, K.A.N. Sastry and G.V. Rao think that they were dated in the Vikrama era. But the difficulty in these two propositions is that Nahapana would be placed either in the 2nd century C.E. or in the 1st century B.C.E respectively, both of which are improbable in view of evidence of the Periplus. The evidence of the Periplus leading to a 1st century C.E. date for Nahapana has to be accepted. The difficulties in the assignment of Nahapana's years to one of the two eras have been exposed by scholars like R.D. Banerji, A.S. Altekar etc.

Taking these years as the regnal years of Nahapana, these scholars placed him in the second half of the 1st century C.E. There is also a belief that these years could be the independent years of rule of the Kshaharatas in Malwa and Saurashtra, probably when there was weak succession on the Mathura Kshatrapa throne. Anyway Nahapana's rule cannot be extended beyond 60 or 70 C.E. because at the time when Periplus was writing, Nahapana's power was at its zenith. So it is quite likely that the years referred to in the inscriptions could be equivalent to 60 or 70 C.E.

Nahapana's rule was put to an end by Gautamiputra Satakarni, the first of the later Satavahanas. His main credit was the destruction of Kshaharata power and the restoration of the fortunes of the Satavahana family. The Nasik prasasti issued in his son's reign gives a good description of the achievements of Gautamiputra over the Kshaharatas and the Sakas, Yavanas and the Pahlavas. It is not known as to whether the Scytho-Parthians who ruled until the establishment of Kushana power effectively in northern India, came to the rescue of the Kshaharatas who were definitely defeated by Gautamiputra.

In addition to the achievements recorded by Gautamiputra at a later time, we have a little information from one of the inscriptions. The Nasik inscription dated in the 18th year was issued from the battle field after his success over an unnamed enemy. The same inscription also records the grant of the land to the Buddhist monks and it is stated that the land was in possession of Ushavadata earlier. From this, scholars conclude that the erstwhile Kshaharata possession went into the hands of Gautamiputra by his 18th regnal year. The list of areas mentioned in his son's inscription shows that Saurashtra, Aparanta, Malwa and parts of Rajasthan were occupied by Gautamiputra. After this victory, he seems to have restruck the coins of Nahapana as is known from the Jogelthambi hoard of coins.

Gautamiputra retained all these areas during his life time. He died in circa dated 87 C.E. and was succeeded by his son Vasisthiputra Pulomavi. The latter ruled for 28 years, i.e. from 87 C.E. to 115 C.E. Till his 19th regnal year, the areas of rule under Gautamiputra must have been retained by Pulomavi, because the Nasik inscription of that year refers to Gautamiputra's areas of rule and also styles Pulomavi as 'Dakshinapatheswara'.

During the last 9 years of rule, he must have lost the Malwa region to Chashtana, who was the founder of the Kardamaka line. The Kardamakas were at first subordinates to the Kushanas. Later on they might have become independent.

According to Ptotemy, Chashtana of Ujjain was ruling at the time when Pulomavi was ruling at Paithan. So the seizure of some of the Satavahana possessions must have taken place between 106 C.E. and 114 C.E. The clashes between the Kardamakas and Satavahanas continued during the rule of Siva Sri and Siva Skanda on one side and Chashtana and Jayadaman on the other. During these conflicts must have occured the death of Jayadaman who predeceased his father Chashtana. The latter could have obtained the territory in between Malwa and Kutch including Saurashtra by about 130 C.E. The Andhau inscriptions of Chashtana issued along with his grandson Rudradaman show the western limit of the Kardamaka empire.

Meanwhile by 129 C.E., Yajna Sri Satakarni came to the Satavahana throne. During his rule, he had to contend against the power of Rudradaman who came to the throne in or after 130 C.E. In the Girnar inscription of Rudradaman, dated in the year 72 corresponding to 150 C.E., the king is said to have defeated the 'Dakshinapathapati' Satakarni and liberated because of his non-remote relationship. This ruler could have been Yajna Sri Satakarni. The Aparanta region seems to have been the arena of conflict between the two empires. Yajna Sri's defeat must have occured after his 16th year of rule because his inscription dated in that year comes from Kanheri. The Aparanta territory thenceforth became a Kshatrapa possession.

After the reign of Yajna Sri, the rulers of the Satavahana family could not regain these areas and had to be contended with parts of the Andhra area. While there had been conflicts throughout between the Satavahanas and the Western Kshatrapas, evidence also points to one matrimonial alliance between the two families (Kardamakas and Satavahanas). This is known from an inscription at Kanheri which mentions the daughter of one Mahakshatrapa Rudradaman, who was the queen of one Vasisthiputra Satakarni.

The identity of Vasisthiputra Satakarni and his relationship with Yajna Sri are problematic. Scholars like Rapson and Smith identify him with Vasisthiputra Pulomavi. This is improbable because of the contemporaniety of Vasisthiputra Pulomavi with Chashtana. tt is likely that Vasisthiputra Satakarni was a successor of Pulomavi who must have had some clashes with the other Satavahana rulers for succession to the throne and who thereby must have entered into this matrimonial alliance with the Kshatrapas. This might also explain the absence of reference to his name in the Puranic list of the Andhra kings. He must have been benefitted by this alliance as an inscription at Nanaghat was issued by him in his 13th year which indicates that the Aparanta region went into the hands of Vasisthiputra Satakarni with the consent of his father-in- law Rudradaman.

Thus during the first and second centuries C.E., fortune favoured for a time the Kshaharatas, later the Satavahanas and afterwards the Kardamakas in the possession of Western India. There had been throughout a conflict between the Satavahanas and the Western Kshatrapas. The areas that were conquered by Rudradaman to a large extent retained by his successors The Satavahanas confined themselves to the Andhra region for nearly a quarter of a century more when their power eclipsed finally.

Cultural Condition Under the Satavahanas

The cultural history of the period is the history of Aryanization of the country. 'Administration, social and economic life, religion and philosophy, art and literature—in fact every branch of human activity, was recast in the Aryan mould. The Vedic rishis. Mauryan officers and Buddhist missionaries alike by precept and example hastened the revolutionary change and served to implant Aryan institutions firmly in the Deccan soil.

The Satavahanas accepted them and deliberately and consciously followed the policy laid down in the Sastras available to them.


The extent of the Satavahana empire fluctuated continually according to the political vicissitudes of the times. At its zenith, their empire stretched from the Bay of Bengal in the east to the Arabian sea in the west and embraced the entire region between the Narmada in the north and the Krishna in the south. There is also archaeological evidence regarding the Satavahana conquest of Malwa and the Puranic evidence for their control over the ancient imperial capital of Magadha, i.e. Pataliputra. Being the political successors of the Mauryans, they borrowed much from the Mauryan administrative system.

Their government was based upon hereditary absolute monarchy. They were not content with the simple title of Raja. Gautamiputra Satakarni bore the imperial title 'Rajarano' i.e. of King of Kings. The rulers regarded themselves as the guardians of social and political order and the welfare of their subjects.

For administrative purposes, the empire was divided into a number of Aharas or Rashtras (Govardhana, Sopara. Manrrala, Satavahana etc.), each of which consisted of at least one central town (Nigama) and a number of villages. The Amatyas governed these Aharas. The Maharathis and the Mahabhojas, the feudatory chieftains, were superior in rank and power to the Amatyas. The inscriptions refer to officers like Mahassnapati, Heranika, Bhandagarika, Mahamatra, Lekhaka and Nibandhakaras. Gramas (villages) and Nigamas (towns) were the lowest administrative units. Considerable autonomy was there in managing the affairs of these units. The trade and merchant guilds (srenies) played an important part in this regard.


During this period, the people were familiar with the Aryan fourfold division of society into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Outside the Aryan influence were the indigenous tribes, indifferent to Aryan ways of life and thought. People were known according to their professions such as the Halika (cultivator), the Sethi (merchant), the Kolika (Weaver) and the Gadhika (druggist). The Buddhists and the Saka-Pahlavas shook in social structure considerably. The foreigners were becoming absorbed in the indigenous society by adopting the faith and customs here and through intermarriages with the caste people. It is true Gautamiputra Satakarni attempted in restoring the balance and stopping the contamination of the castes. Yet caste rules were not strictly observed.

Inscriptions and other records indicate the prominence of women in social life. Their lavish charity and assumption of the titles of their husbands like Mahatalavari signify their economic and social status. The sculptures of the period reveal their scanty dress and profuse ornamentation. Joint family system was another normal feature of society in the Aryan patriarchal mould. The prevalence of polygamy among the princes was revealed by the metronymic tithes (calling sons after their mothers), which some of the later Satavahanas bore along with the personal name.


In the economic sphere, agriculture was the mainstay of both the people and the government. The country abounded in agricultural products. The king collected the traditional one-sixth of the produce as the share of the state. Salt was a state monopoly. industry and commerce occupied the next place in the economic life of the state. Various classes of workers such as Kularika (potters), Kolika (weaver), Vasakara (bamboo worker), Dhanntka (com dealer) and ICamara (iron worker) are known from the inscriptions. Most of these crafts and trades were organised into guilds or srenis. These guilds provided banking facilities. There was brisk inland trade and sea-borne commerce. Paithan, Tagara, Karahataka, Nasik, Govardhana Vaijayanti, Dhanyakataka, Vijayapura and Vinukonda were great inland market towns of the period. They were connected with each other and with the important parts by roads. Ptolemy described Barukachcha and Kalyan on the west and Maisolia, Allosygne and Apheterion on the east as greet centres of foreign trade.

The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea notes that Barukachacha imported wines, silver vessels, fine cloth and ornaments white her exports included ivory, agate, silk cloth and pepper. The number and variety of the Satavahana coins also prove this vigorous commercial activity. The Roman gold flowed into the Deccan for articles of luxury. The Satavahana period also witnessed an active maritime activity (as revealed by the ship-marked coins of Pulomavi and Yajnasri Satakarni) with the Far East, Ptolemy and the Periplus give descriptions of the Indian settlements in Burma, Sumatra, Arakan and Champa.


Most of the Satavahana rulers were staunch followers of the Vedic religion with its ritual and caste system. Satakarni II of the Nanaghat record performed a number of Vedic sacrifices including Aswamedhas and Rajasuya. Gautamiputra restored the caste system and protected the Brahmins. Adherence to the Vedic creed is also indicated by the name of King Yajna Sri. The invocations to various gods like Indra, Sankarshana, Vasudeva, Surya, Varuna etc. show the transition from the Vedic to Puranic pantheon. This feature is prominently reflected in Hala's Gatha Saptasati wherein there are references to Pasupali and Gauri, Rudra and Parvati, Lakshmi and Narayana. The Aryanized foreigners and mixed castes had the solace in the Puranas. As PT. Srinivasa lyyangar observed, the two cults- Vedic and Agamic had coalesced completely during this period and modern Hinduism was born.

The Satavahana kings were renowned for their spirit of tolerance They even extended their patronage to the Buddhist ascetics. Buddhism commanded greater influence with the women folk (especially with the royal ladies) and with the masses. It was in fact the heyday of Buddhism in the Deccan. The Buddhist monuments at Nasik, Karie, Bhaja, Bedsa, Ajanta, Amaravati. Jaggayyapeta and Nagarjunakonda show the Chaitya cult predomment in the South. Mehasanghika sects flourished. Acharya Nagarjuna received patronage from the ruler Yajna Sri and from his time Andhra became the stronghold of Mahayanism. Due to the patronage and great services of Kharavela of Kalinga, Jainism made considerable progress in the coastal region to the north of river Krishna.


As regards the contemporary system of education and literary development, it is but natural that the Aryan, teachers and missionaries brought with them, into the Deccan their own literature and methods of instruction. The elaborate sacrifices performed by Satakarni II show how the priests were well-versed in the Vedic literature. The Asokan Edicts in the Deccan prove the familiarity of the people with the Brahmi script and the Prakrit language. Almost all the records of the Satavahana period are in Prakrit. Instruction in secular and sacred learning was imparted in the asramas of the Brahmins or the Viharas of the Buddhists and the Jains, which received liberal grants from the rulers. The craft and trade guilds too might have served the cause of education.

Among the literary works of outstanding merit produced during this period under the patronage of the Satavahana rulers, mention may be made of the Katantra, the Brihatkatha and the Gatha Sattasai. Sarvavarman, probably a minister of Hala composed the Katantra on Sanskrit grammer for the use of the King. Gunadhya made over his Brihatkatha in Paisachi Prakrit to the same king Hala. Hala himself compiled the Gatha Sattasai, an authology of 700 Prakrit verses of various poets and poetesses. This Sattasai contains many Desi terms. An unknown author composed another poem in Prakrit, called Lilavati Parinayam on the marriage of Hala. In the later part of the Satavahana period, with the revival of Brahmanical Hinduism, Sanskrit became predominant. The Mahayana Buddhists including Nagarjuna wrote all their works in Sanskrit.


With religion and that too Buddhism as the source of inspiration, the Satavahana period witnessed great building activity. The ancient monuments that have been brought to light south of the Vindhyas are almost all post-Asokan and Buddhist in inspiration'. They included Stupas, Chaityas, Viharas and Sangharamas discovered both in the Western and in the eastern dominions of the Satavahanas. The Bhattiprolu and Amaravati Stupas were the oldest brick built Stupas in the south. The brick-built Chaityagrihas were located at Chejerla and Nagarjunakonda in the east, whereas the rock-cut grihas were in the west at Karle, Nasik, Bhaja and other places.

The sculptural representations on most of the stupas, of the Jataka tales or the incidents in the life of Buddha and scenes from normal social life, are noteworthy. At Amaravati, the well known South Indian centre of Buddhism, a thoroughly indigenous school of sculpture grew up. For the conception of delicate beauty of human form and the technical skill and efficiency to realise that conception and for the wonderful imagination and sense of symmetry in depicting the most subtle human feelings, the Amaravati artist won universal praise.

With regard to the minor arts, the articles like beads, terracotta figurines, pottery, shell ornaments, precious stones and jewels and coins excavated at Paithan, Maski, Kondapur and other places, indicate their progress during this period.

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