Satavahanas

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The Satavahanas ruled the western Deccan region, the region around Paithan (Pratishthana). They were regarded as the Andhras or Andhrabrityas (Andhra sevants). They were called so because they were of Andhra origin and their dynasty was identical with and confined to the Andhra country. The other name Andhrabritya led to the assumption that the Satavahanas were employed in the service of the Mauryan Empire.

The first Satavahana king was Simuka, who began his reign at about 230 BC. According to Jain accounts, Simuka who ruled for twenty three years was dethroned and killed towards the end of his rule. He was succeeded by his brother Kanha. Kanha extended the Satavahana kingdom upto Nasik. The third of the Satavahana king was Sri Satkarni I, the son of Simuka. He conquered western Malwa and performed rituals of great sacrifices to mark the suzerainty of his rule. He is also claimed to have destroyed the Kshatriyas. He is described as the “Lord of Dakshinapatha” or “Lord of southern Regions”, after having conquered the Godavari valley. Satavahana power rose from Pratisthana to Ujjain and to Vidisa which is evident from the coins and inscriptions.

The sixth Satavahana king was Satkarni II who enjoyed a long reign of 56 years. During his reign he conquered Malwa from the Shungas. It is presumed that is was Satkarni II who was defeated by Kharavela of Kalinga in the second year of his reign. Satkarni II might have extended his empire up to Madhya Pradesh, as a coin of his successor Apilaka has been found in the eastern side of that region.

Hala was the seventeenth Satavahana king, who is known as the compiler of Sattasai. The immediate successors of Hala had short rule of less than twelve years.

The Satavahanas has longa enmity with Shakas of Seistan who occupied the Indus delta. The western possessions of the Satavahanas were annexed by the Shakas.

Coins that were struck by the Shaka satrap Nahapana, the greatest conqueror, were found in Nasik. Nahapana’s rule extended over Gujarat, Kathiawar and northern Maharashtra, Konkan. This indicated that the Shakas were in control of these regions in the first century AD. But the Satavahanas appeared to have regained their possessions under Gautamiputra Satkarni. The Satavahana Empire revived under him. This is evident as the coins of Nahapana found in Nasik are found to be overstruck by the names of Gautamiputra Satkarni. He described as the destroyer of Shakas, Pahlavas and Yavanas. Apart from Malwa, he recovered northern Maharashtra, Konkan, Narmada valley and Saurashtra and western Rajputana. His empire extended to Vidarbha and Banavasi. He was succeeded by his son Pulumayi II also known as Vasisthipura. He ruled for twenty four years. Coins of Pulumayi are found in Godavari and Guntur districts and on Coromandel Coast as far south as Cuddalore.

In an effort to ease the relations between the Shakas and the Satavahanas, Pulumayi’s successor, a Satkarni married the daughter of Mahakshatrapa Rudradaman. However, Rudradaman twice defeated the next Satavahana ruler in a battle and took from him north Konkan and Narmada Valley.

Sri Yajna Satkarni (AD 170-99) renewed the struggle with the Shakasand regained the possessions from them. His successors were Vijaya, Sri Chanda and a Pulumayi. The names of some other Satavahana kings are Karna, Kumbha, Rudra Satkarni who ruled the eastern Deccan and Madhya Pradesh.

Towards the end of the second century, Satavahana stretched from western India to Krishna delta and northern Tamil Nadu, however it could not survive long. The next century saw a downfall of Satavahana.

The Satavahanas did not take up imperial titles. The Satavahana territory was divided into smaller provinces each under civil and military officers. The states are divided into aharas or administrative divisions each under a minister or amatya. Below these came villages under a headman known as gramika.

The polity of Satavahanas was simple. Kingship was hereditary in the male lines i.e it was patriarchial. However some rulers used matronymics which lead to the controversy of whether it was a method of identifying themselves more precisely or it was the influence of a local matrilineal custom. Local administration was left to the feudatories subject to the general court of royal officials. Feudatories were of three grades – Rajas, Mahabhojas and Maharathis. Later, offices of Mahasenapati were created. Other officials are treasurer, stewards, goldsmith, coiners, record keepers, ushers, ambassadors.

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