THE SATAVAHANAS OF THE DECCAN
- Who were the Satavahanas?
- The founder of this dynasty is known as Simuka and he ruled from 235BC to 213 BC.
- The Satavahanas also known as Andhras established a powerful kingdom in Maharashtra as the earliest inscriptions of the Satavahanas belonged to first century BC when they defeated the Kanvas and established their power in Central India and gradually extending their power to Deccan covering parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
- During the Mauryan age they were part of the Mauryan empire but it appears immediately after the fall of the dynasty, the Andhras declared themselves free.
2.Why were they called Andhras?
The Satavahanas were considered identical to the Andhras, who were an ancient group of people mentioned in the Puranas and Aitareya Brahmana. The Puranas speak only of Andhra rule and not of Satavahana rule, and the name Andhra does not occur in Satavahana inscriptions. According to the Puranas altogether the Andhras ruled for 300 years and this period is assigned to the rule of Satavahana dynasty. Yet The Andhras were a local tribe converted to Brahmanism, so they were brought into hindu society as a mixed caste.
- Who were the Powerful Kings of this dynasty ?
- He was the third king who has made extensive conquests of the western Malwa, Vidarbha and Anupa[Narmada Valley] and performed two Ashvamedhayajna
- His achievements are described in detail in the Nanaghat inscription.
- He is reffered to as the lord of Dakshinapatha
- Substantial donations were made by the Satavahanas for the renovation and decoration of Sanchi stupas and Monastries and his name occurs in one of the gateways of Sanchi Stupa
- He was the seventh king and the Satavahanas became powerful again during his reign, as the empire had a setback after Satakarni II
- His achievements are recorded in glowing terms in the Nasik Inscription of Queen –mother Gautami Balasri.
- The Inscription describes him as one who destroyed the Sakas, Yavanas and Pahlavas.
- He also recovered Northern Maharashtra , Konkan, Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Kathrawar and Malwa from the Sakas.
- He dedicated a cave in Nasik in the 18th year of his reign and granted some land to ascetics in the 24th year.
- He was the first king bearing matronym and the practice was followed by his successors.
- He claims himself as the only Brahmana, defeated the Sakas and destroyed the Kshatriya lineage by defeating his adversary Nahapana and restruct large number of his silver coins.
Vasisthiputra Sri Pulmavi [130-150AD]
- He was the immediate successor of Gautamiputra who ruled from Malwa in the North to Karnataka in the South and the coins and inscriptions of him shows that by the middle of the second century this area had become a part of the Satavahana kingdom.
- He set up his capital at Paithan or Pratisthan on the Godaveri in Aurangabad district.
- The Sakas resumed their conflict for the possession of Konkan coast and Malwa
- He married the daughter of Saka ruler Rudradaman to save the Satavahana empire from the onslaught of the Sakas.
- The same Saka ruler defeated the next Satavahana king twice and took from him Konkan and Anupa.
Yajna Sri Satakarni[165-194AD]
- He recovered North Konkan and Malwa from the Saka rulers.
- His coins were found in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
- From the description of his coins it appears that he ruled over a large kingdom extending from the Bay of Bengal in east to Arabian Sea in the west.
- Maritime trade and activities are indicated by depiction of ship with a fish and conch on his coins.
4.Name some tools used by the Satavahanas:
Socketed hoes [implies the better usage of iron when compared to megalith builders who were fairly acquainted with use of iron and agriculture], sickles, spades, ploughshares, axes, adzes, razors, tanged and socketed arrowheads as well as daggers were used.
5.Describe how the Satavahanas exploited the mineral resources of the Deccan:
- The iron workings of Karimnagar and Warangal indicates the usage of iron ores in these areas.
- Gold workings in Kolar fields were found; Gold were used as Bullion for they did not issue gold coins. Coins of lead, potin, copper and bronze money were issued.
6.The Deccan were an advanced rural economy-Explain:
- The Deccan people were familiar with Paddy Transplantation, in the first two centuries the area between Krishna and Godaveri formed a great rice bowl.
- They also produced cotton, Andhra is considered to be famous for its cotton products.
- According to Pliny, the Andhra Kingdom maintained an army of 100,000 infantry 2000 cavalry, and 1000 elephants and in the eastern it included 30 walled towns besides numerous villages.
- Peddabankur in Karimnagar[200BC -200AD] we find regular use of fire-baked bricks and use of flat perforated roof tiles. 22 brick wells have been discovered at that site. Theses facilitated thick habitations and covered drains underground to lead waste water into soakage pits.
- Increasing trade is indicated by Roman and Satavahana coins
7.A few of the Satavahanas considered themselves a superior class-Explain:
This was due to the claim of Gautamiputra Satakarni to have established the four fold varna system and he claimed himself a true Brahmana. He put an end to the inter mixture between the people of different social orders. Kshatriyas was facilitated by intermarriage between the Sakas and the Satavahanas, which was destroyed by him.
8.Give an account of the merchants and artesians of the dynasty:
- Increasing crafts and commerce brought many merchants and artesians to the forefront.
- Merchants took pride in naming themselves after the towns to which they belonged.
- Both made generous donations to the Buddhist cause; they set up memorial tablets
- Among the artesians the Gandhikas or the perfumers are repeatedly mentioned as donors. At a later stage the term became so general as to denote shop keepers.
9.Explain the Matrilineal social structure of the Satavahanas:
- It was customary for the king to be named after his mother- Gautamiputra, Vasisthiputra so mother enjoyed a great deal of importance.
- Queens made important religious gifts in their own might and some of them acted as reagents.
- But when it comes to succession to the throne they followed patriarchal as it was passed to the male member.
10.Explain the pattern of Administration followed by the Satavahanas:
- The king was represented as the upholder of Dharma .
- They attributed divinity to the Satavahana king as few divine attributes of ancient gods [Rama, Bhima, Kesava, Arjuna] were assigned to him. The king is compared in prowess and luster to these legendary figures.
- The district was called Ahara [The name is got from the administrative units of Ashoka]
- The officials were known as Amatyas and Mahamatras[The name is from the Maurya times]
- The Senapati was appointed provincial governor.
- The tribal people in the Deccan were not thoroughly hinduized and reconciled to the new rule and hence it was necessary to keep them under military control.
- Rural areas were administered by Gaulmika who was the head of the military regiment consisting of 9 chariots, 9 elephants, 25 horses and 45 foot-soldiers.
- The head of the army platoon was posted in the countryside to maintain peace and order.
- The military character of the Satavahanas is evident from the common use of terms such as Kataka and Skandhavartas in their inscriptions. These were military camps and settlements which served as administrative centres so long as the king was there. Thus coercion played an important part in the Satavahana administration.
- What were the special benefits enjoyed by the Brahmanas and monks?
- The Satavahanas started the practice of granting tax free villages to Brahmanas and Buddhist monks.
- The cultivated fields and villages granted to them were declared free from molestation by royal policeman, soldiers and all kinds of royal officers.
- These areas therefore became small independent islands within the Satavahana kingdom.
- What were their contributions by the Brahmanas and monks to the kingdom ?
- The Buddhist monks preached peace and rules of good conduct among the people and taught them to respect political authority and social order.
- The Brahmanas helped enforce the rule of the Varna System which made Society stable.
13.Name the feudatories of the Satavahana kingdom?
They had three grades of feudatories:
- The highest grade was called Raja, who had the right to strike coins.
- The second grade was formed by Mahabhoja
- The third grade was formed by the Senapati.
14.Give an account of the religious practice of the Satavahana kingdom:
- The Satavahana rulers claim to have been Brahmanas and performed the Vedic Sacrifices such as Asvamedha and Vajapeya
- They also worshiped a large number of Vaishnava gods such as Krishna, Vasudeva.
- They paid liberal sacrificial fees to the Brahmanas.
- They also promoted Buddhism by granting land to the monks.
- Mahayana form of Buddhism was followed especially in the artesian class.
- Nagarjunakonda and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh became important seats of Buddhist Culture under the Satavahanas and more so by their successors, the Ikshvakus.
- In the western Deccan, Buddhism flourished in the Nasik and Junar areas , where it seems to have been supported by the traders.
15.Give an account of the Architecture of the Satavahana Kingdom?
- Many temples and Monastries were cut out of the Solid rock in the north western deccan or Maharashtra with great skill and patience at about a century earlier than 200 BC. The temple which was called chaitya and the monastery which was called vihara were the common structures.
- The Chaitya was a large hall with a number of columns and the most famous chaitya is that of karle in the western deccan which is about 40m long,15m wide and 15m high. It is the most impressive specimen of massive rock architecture.
- The Viharas consisted of a central hall entered by a doorway from the verandah in front. The Viharas were excavated near the chaityas for the residence of monks in the rainy season. At Nasik, there are 3 Viharas which belong to the first –second centuries AD as they carry the inscriptions of Nahapana and Gautamiputra.
- The Krishna-Godaveri region is famous for independent Buddhist structures and rock cut architecture.
- The stupas[large round structure erected over some relic of Buddha] distributed over an area of 125km all around Ellora among which Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda are the famous.
- The Amaravati Stupa began about 200 BC but was completely reconstructed in the second half of second century AD. It’s dome measured 53m across the base and it seems to have 31m in height. The Amravati Stupa is full of Sculptures depicting the life of Buddha.
- Nagarjunakonda prospered under the Ikshvakus, the successors of the Satavahanas. It contains not only Buddhist monuments but also the earliest brahmanical brick temples.
16.Give an account of the literature of the Satavahanas:
- The official language was Prakrit. All inscriptions were composed in Prakrit and written in Brahmi script as during Ashokan times.
- Some Satavahana kings composed Prakrit books
- One Prakrit text called Gathasaptasati is attributed to a Satavahana king called Hala. It consists of 700 verses all written in Prakrit and retouched after 6th century AD.
17.Important temples of the Satavahana dynasty:
- karle in the western deccan
- Amaravati and Bhatiprolu in Guntur
- Kondepur in Medak
- Nagarjuna Konda of the ‘Chaityas’
- ‘Sankaram’ near Vishakhapatnam
18.Recent Excavations of the Satavahana Dynasty:
- The 2,000-year-old Buddhist rock-cut caves at Seetanagaram on the banks of the Krishna near the capital Amaravati are in shambles.-Deccan Chronicle Feb 8, 2016
- The famous pilgrimage temple at Tripuranthakam in Prakasham district dated 13th century was built on a Buddhist Pavilion. Experts opined that the existing temple was raised over a Buddhist site of Satavahana period.-Deccan Chronicle Jan 18, 2016
- Biggest Buddha ‘foot’ found in Andhra Pradesh, The Buddhist site dates back to Satavahana times of 2nd century AD.-Deccan Chronicle Nov 11, 2015.
- A superintending archaeologist from Chennai who took up fresh excavation, has found that the 2nd century BC site is a Brahminical cult site and not a Buddhist site as believed earlier. Numerous coins including rare black coloured and whitish lead coins pertaining to Gautamiputra Satakarani and Tiberius era, three fire altars, an Apsidal temple site and four plaques of Lajja Gowri used in fertility worship and other material evidences prove that Kondapur is a Hindu cult site and not a Buddhist site as claimed by Yazdani, says Ms G. Maheshwari, superintending archaeologist, ASI here, who had concluded extensive excavation at Kondapur.-Deccan Chronicle Sep13, 2015.
- The Cultural Centre of Vijayawada (CCV), in its survey of archaeological remains, historical sites and monuments, discovered a granite idol of the Buddha in ‘Bhumisparsa Mudra’, also known as ‘Akshobhya’, at Vaikunthapuram village in Amaravati. The entire area is littered with potshreds of black and red ware and red ware of the Satavahana times-The Hindu, July 12,2015.
·A unique Buddhist ‘thoranam’ was unearthed during excavations at Bheemeswara Swamy temple,The discovery of the thoranam, placed in front of the Maha Stupa, and the earlier discovery of several Buddhist artefacts such as white marble pillars, ‘Harmika’, and bases indicate that the Maha Stupa at Chebrolu could have been a major Buddhist site of the Satavahana and Ikvakshu times-The Hindu, Sep 27,2014.
- “Evidence found from Shiur says that the rosy economic status of Satavahanas was confined to only one or two settlements, while the commoners did not have an economically sound basis. New archaeological evidence indicates that the Satavahana kings, the rulers of the region between 3rd century BCE and 3rd century CE, practised Tantric worship.“Even though Satavahana kings were under the control of King Ashoka, who embraced Buddhism, they have also patronised Vedic religion,” said G. Maheswari, the Superintending Archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Chennai Circle.-The Hindu-May13, 2014.
Old NCERT – RS Sharma and Makkham lal.
The Hindu and The Deccan Chronicle