APPSC Group - II Mains

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Subject : Satavahana Religion, Culture, Administration, Rise and Fall, Economy, Art & Architecture. 

The use of the names "Andhra" and "Andhra-Jatiya" in the Puranas has led some scholars, such as E. J. Rapson and R.G Bhandarkar, to believe that the dynasty originated in the eastern Deccan region (the historic Andhra region, present-day Andhra Pradesh and Telangana). The Satavahanas, also referred to as the Andhras in the Puranas, were an ancient Indian Brahmin dynasty based in the Deccan region. Most modern scholars believe that the Satavahana rule began in the late second century BCE and lasted until the early third century CE, although some assign the beginning of their rule to as early as the 3rd century BCE based on the Puranas, but uncorroborated by archaeological evidence. The Satavahana kingdom mainly comprised the present-day Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra. At different times, their rule extended to parts of modern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. The dynasty had different capital cities at different times, including Kotalingala(Telangana), Pratishthana (Paithan) and Amaravati (Dharanikota).

The origin of the dynasty is uncertain, their first king overthrew the Kanva dynasty. In the post-Maurya era, the Satavahanas established peace in the Deccan region and resisted the onslaught of foreign invaders. In particular their struggles with the Saka (Western Satraps) went on for a long time. The dynasty reached its zenith under the rule of Gautamiputra Satakarni and his successor Vasisthiputra Pulamavi. The kingdom had fragmented into smaller states by the early 3rd century CE.

The Satavahanas were early issuers of Indian state coinage struck with images of their rulers. They formed a cultural bridge and played a vital role in trade and the transfer of ideas and culture to and from the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the southern tip of India.

Origins : 

The date and place of origin of the Satavahanas, as well as the meaning of the dynasty's name, are a matter of debate among historians. Some of these debates have happened in the context of regionalism, with the present-day Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana being variously claimed as the original homeland of the Satavahanas.

The Puranas use the name "Andhra" for the Satavahanas. The term "Andhra" may refer to the ethnicity or territory of the dynasty  The Tamil epic Cilappatikaram mentions a "Nurruvar Kannar", who helped Chera king Senguttuvan during his Himalayan campaign. The direct translation of the term Nurruvar Kannar is "the hundred Karnas" or "Satakarni"; Nurruvar Kannar has therefore been identified with the Satavahana dynasty.

At Kotilingala in Telangana, coins bearing the legend "Rano Siri Chimuka Satavahanasa" were found. Epigraphist and numismatist P. V. P. Sastry initially identified Chimuka with the dynasty's founder Simuka, Coins attributed to Simuka's successors Kanha and Satakarni I were also discovered at Kotilingala. Based on these discoveries, historians such as Ajay Mitra Shastri, D. R. Reddy, S. Reddy, and Shankar R. Goyal theorised that Kotlingala was the original home of the Satavahanas. Ajay Mitra Shastri stated that the finding of the coins at Kotilingala give "a clear pointer to the region where we have to locate the original center of the Satavahana political authority." However, the coin samples from Kotlingala are small, and it is not certain if these coins were minted there or reached there from somewhere else. Moreover, the identification of Chimuka of Kotilingala with the dynasty's founder Simuka has been contested by several scholars including P. L. Gupta and I. K. Sarma, who identified Chimuka as a later ruler. P. V. P. Sastry also later changed his view and stated that the two kings were different. In addition to the Kotilinga find, a coin of the Satavahana prince Saktikumara, who was in the fourth generation of the founder, has been reported as a stratified find from the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. As for the Puranas, these texts could have been compiled at a later date and it is not certain if the Satavahanas were referred to as Andhras during their time.

Another section of scholars believe that the Satavahanas originated in western Deccan (present-day Maharashtra). All four extant inscriptions from the early Satavahana period (c. 1st century BCE) have been found in and around this region. One of the earliest known Satavahana inscriptions was that found at Cave No.19 of the Pandavleni Caves in Nashik district, which was issued during the reign of Kanha (100-70 BCE). An inscription found at Naneghat was issued by Nayanika (or Naganika), the widow of Satakarni I; another inscription found at Naneghat has been dated to the same period on a paleographic basis. A slightly later inscription dated to the reign of Satakarni II has been found at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, located to the north of Maharashtra. The majority of the other Satavahana inscriptions have also been found in western Deccan. On the other hand, the epigraphic evidence from eastern Deccan does not mention the Satavahanas before the 4th century CE. At Nevasa, a seal and coins attributed to Kanha have been discovered. Coins attributed to Satakarni I have also been discovered at Nashik, Nevasa, and Pauni in Maharashtra (besides places in eastern Deccan and present-day Madhya Pradesh). Based on this evidence, some historians argue that the Satavahanas initially came to power in the area around their capital Pratishthana (modern Paithan, Maharashtra) and then expanded their territory to eastern Deccan. Carla Sinopoli cautions that the inference about the western Deccan origin of the Satavahanas is "tentative at best" given the small sample of early inscriptions.

Naneghat inscription. Dated to 70-60 BCE, in the reign of Satakarni I.

Kanha's Pandavleni mentions the term maha-matra (officer-in-charge), which indicates that the early Satavahanas followed the Mauryan administrative model. C. Margabandhu theorised that the Satavahanas were called Andhras because they were natives of eastern Deccan (the Andhra region), although they first established their empire in western Deccan after having served as Mauryan subordinates. Himanshu Prabha Ray (1986) opposes this theory, stating that the Andhra was originally an ethnic term, and did not come to denote the geographical region of eastern Deccan until well after the Satavahana period. According to Vidya Dehejia, the writers of the Puranas (which could have been written after the Satavahana period) mistook the Satavahana presence in eastern Deccan as evidence for their origin in that region, and wrongly labelled them as "Andhra".

After the fall of the Mauryan Empire, the history of the Andhras, as a continuous account of political and cultural events, commences with the rise of the Satavahanas as a political power. According to Matsya Purana there were 29 rulers of this dynasty. They ruled over the Andhradesa including Deccan for about 400 years from the 2nd century B.C. to beyond the 2nd century A.D. Satavahanas were also called Salivahanas and Satakarnis. In the 3rd century B.C., Simukha, the founder of the Satavahana dynasty, unified the various Andhra principalities into one kingdom and became its ruler (271 B.C. – 248 B.C.). Dharanikota near Amaravati in Guntur district was the first capital of Simukha, but later he shifted his capital to Pratishtana (Paithan in Aurangabad district).

Satakarni II, the sixth ruler of the dynasty (184 B.C.) was an able ruler who extended his kingdom to the west by conquering Malwa. According to inscriptional evidence, he extended the boundaries of his realm far into central India across the Vindhyas, perhaps up to the river Ganges. He ruled for a long period of 56 years. The long reign of Satakarni II was followed successively by eight rulers of whom none can be credited with any notable achievement. It was the accession of Pulumavi I that brought renewed strength and glory to their kingdom. He struck down the last of the Kanva rulers, Susarman, in 28 B.C. and occupied Magadha. The Satavahanas thus assumed an all-India significance as imperial rulers in succession to the Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas and Kanvas. The kings, who succeeded him, appear to have been driven, by the Sakas, out of Maharashtra back to their home land in Andhra. The only silver lining in that murky atmosphere was the excellent literary work, Gathasaptasati, of Hala, the 17th Satavahana king.

Satavahana Dynasty [Origin & Development] : 

The Sunga dynasty came to an end around 73 BCE when their ruler Devabhuti was killed by Vasudeva Kanva. The Kanva dynasty then ruled over Magadha for about 45 years. Around this time, another powerful dynasty, the Satavahanas came to power in the Deccan area.

The term “Satvahana” originated from the Prakrit which means ” driven by seven” which is an implication of the Sun God’s chariot that is driven by seven horses as per Hindu mythology.

The first king of the Satavahana dynasty was Simuka. Before the emergence of the Satavahana dynasty, a brief history of the other dynasties is mentioned below:

Facts about Satavahana Dynasty : 

In the northern region, the Mauryas were succeeded by the Sungas and the Kanvas. However, the Satavahanas (natives) succeeded the Mauryas in Deccan and in Central India.

It is believed that after the decline of the Mauryas and before the advent of the Satavahans, there must have been numerous small political principalities that were ruling in different parts of the Deccan (for about 100 years).

Probably the Rathikas and the Bhojikas that have been mentioned in the Ashokan inscriptions gradually progressed into the Maharathis and Mahabhojas of pre-Satavahana times.

The Satavahanas are considered to be identical to the Andhras who are mentioned in the Puranas, but neither the name Andhra appears in the Satavahana inscriptions nor do the Puranas mention the Satavahanas.

According to some Puranas, the Andhras ruled for 300 years and this period is assigned to the rule of the Satavahana dynasty, with their capital at Pratishthana (modern Paithan) on the Godavari in Aurangabad district.

The Satavahana kingdom majorly comprised present-day Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana. At times, their rule also included parts of Gujarat, Karnataka as well as Madhya Pradesh.

The kingdom had different capitals at different times. Two of the capitals were Amaravati and Pratishthana (Paithan).

The earliest inscriptions of the Satavahans belong to the first century BCE when they defeated the Kanvas and established their power in parts of Central India.

It is important to mention that the early Satavahana kings appeared not in Andhra but in Maharashtra, where most of their early inscriptions have been found. Gradually they extended their power over Karnataka and Andhra.

Their greatest competitors were the Shaka Kshatrapas of western India, who had established themselves in the upper Deccan and western India.

The Satavahans were Brahmanas and worshipped gods like Vasudeva Krishna.

The Satavahans kings used matronyms like Gautamiputra and Vaishishthiputra, although they were not matriarchal or matrilineal in any sense.

They assumed the title of Dakshinapatha Pati (Lord of Dakshinapatha).

The Satavahanas are known for starting the practice of giving royal grants of land to Brahmans and Buddhist monks.

The Satavahanas were the first native Indian kings to have issued their own coins which had the rulers’ portraits on them. Gautamiputra Satakarni started this practice which he imbibed from the Western Satraps after vanquishing them.

The coin legends were in Prakrit. Some reverse coin legends are in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada also.

Even though the rulers were Hindus and claimed Brahmanical status, they supported Buddhism also.

They were successful in defending their areas from foreign invaders and had many battles with the Sakas.

List of Satavahana dynasty rulers : 

1 Simuka before 100 BCE

2 Kanha c. 100–70 BCE

3 Satakarni I c. 70–60 BCE

4 Satakarni II c. 50–25 BCE

Kshatrapa interregnum rule with vassal Satavahana kings

5 Hāla (vassal under Kshatrapas) c. 20–24 CE

6 Nahapana (Kshatrapas King) c. 54–100 CE

Restored Satavahana dynasty

7 Gautamiputra Satakarni c. 86–110 CE

8 Pulumavi c. 110–138 CE

9 Vashishtiputra Satakarni c. 138–145 CE

10 Shiva Shri Pulumavi c. 145–152 CE

11 Shiva Skanda Satakarni c. 145–152 CE

12 Yajna Shri Satakarni c. 152–181 CE

13 Vijaya Satakarni until c. 200 CE

Regional Satavahana rulers of south-eastern Deccan:[105]

14 Chandra Shri 3rd century CE

15 Pulumavi II 3rd century CE

16 Abhira Isvarasena 3rd century CE

17 Madhariputra Sakasena 3rd century CE

18 Haritiputra Satakarni 3rd century CE

The Matsya Purana states that 30 Andhra kings ruled for 460 years, but some of its manuscripts name only 19 kings whose reigns add up to 448.5 years. The Vayu Purana also mentions that there were 30 Andhra kings, but its various manuscripts name only 17, 18, and 19 kings respectively; the reigns add up to 272.5, 300, and 411 years respectively. Many of these kings are not attested by historical evidence. On the other hand, some Satavahana kings attested by numismatic evidence (such as Rudra Satakarni) are not mentioned in the Puranas at all.

Important Rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty : 

Simuka : 

Considered to be the founder of the Satavahana dynasty and was immediately active after Ashoka’s death.

Built Jain and Buddhist temples.

Satakarni I (70- 60 BC) : 

Satakarni I was the 3rd king of the Satavahanas.

Satakarni I was the first Satavahana king to expand his empire by military conquests.

He conquered Kalinga after the death of Kharavela.

He also pushed back the Sungas in Pataliputra.

He also ruled over Madhya Pradesh.

After annexing the Godavari Valley, he assumed the title of ‘Lord of Dakshinapatha’.

His queen Nayanika wrote the Naneghat inscription which describes the king as Dakshinapathapati.

He performed Ashvamedha and revived Vedic Brahmanism in the Deccan.

Hala : 

King Hala compiled the Gatha Saptashati. Called Gaha Sattasai in Prakrit, it is a collection of poems with mostly love as the theme. Around forty of the poems are attributed to Hala himself.

Hala’s minister Gunadhya composed Brihatkatha.

Gautamiputra Satakarni of Satavahana Dynasty (106 – 130 AD or 86 – 110 AD) : 

He is considered the greatest king of the Satavahana dynasty.

It is believed that at one stage, the Satavahanas were dispossessed of their dominions in the upper Deccan and western India. The fortunes of the Satavahanas were restored by Gautamiputra Satkarni. He called himself the only Brahmana who defeated the Shakas and destroyed many Kshatriya rulers.

He is believed to have destroyed the Kshaharata lineage to which his adversary Nahapana belonged. More than 800 silver coins of Nahapana (found near Nasik) bear marks of being restruck by the Satavahana king. Nahapana was an important king of the Western Satraps.

His kingdom ran from Krishna in the south to Malwa and Saurashtra in the north and from Berar in the east to the Konkan in the west.

In a Nasik inscription of his mother Gautami Balashri, he is described as the destroyer of the Shakas, Pahlavas and the Yavanas (Greeks); as the uprooter of the Kshaharatas and the restorer of the glory of the Satavahanas. He is also described as Ekabrahmana (a peerless Brahmana) and Khatiya-dapa-manamada (destroyer of the pride of Kshatriyas).

He was given the titles of Rajaraja and Maharaja.

He donated land to the Buddhist monks. The Karle inscription mentions the grant of Karajika village, near Pune, Maharashtra.

In the later part of his reign, he probably lost some of the conquered Kshaharata territories to the Kardamaka line of the Shaka Kshatrapas of western India, as is mentioned in the Junagadh inscription of Rudradaman Ⅰ.

His mother was Gautami Balasri and hence his name was Gautamiputra (son of Gautami).

He was succeeded by his son Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi/Pulumavi or Pulamavi II. (Alternatively spelt Pulumayi.)

Vashishthiputra Pulumayi (c. 130 – 154 CE) : 

He was the immediate successor of Gautamiputra. The coins and inscriptions of Vashishthiputra Pulumayi are found in Andhra.

According to Junagadh inscriptions, he was married to the daughter of Rudradaman Ⅰ.

The Shaka-Kshatrapas of western India recovered some of their territories due to his engagements in the east.

Yajna Sri Satakarni (c. 165 – 194 CE) : 

One of the later kings of the Satavahana dynasty. He recovered north Kokan and Malwa from the Shaka rulers.

He was a lover of trade and navigation, as is evident from the motif of a ship on his coins. His coins have been found in Andhra, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

king Kanha (100-70 BCE) : 

Cave No.19 of Satavahana king Kanha at the Nasik Caves, 1st century BCE. This is one of the oldest known Satavahana inscription, circa 100-70 BCE. Brahmi script:

"Under King Kanha of the Satavahana family this cave has been caused to be made by the officer in charge of the Sramanas at Nasik".

Satavahana Dynasty Administration : 

The administration of the Satavahana dynasty was entirely based on the Shastras, and it had the following structure:

Rajan or the king who was the ruler

Princes or Rajas who had their names inscribed on coins

Maharathis, who had the power of granting villages and also had the privilege of maintaining marital relations with the ruling family.

Mahasenapati & Mahatalavara

The inscription of the ruler Guatamipurna Satakarni throws some light on the bureaucratic structure of administration. However, clarity on the detailed structure is still awaited by historians.

Satavahana Administration : 

The king was represented as the upholder of dharma and he strove for the royal ideal set forth in the Dharmashastras. The Satavahana king is represented as possessing the divine qualities of ancient gods such as Rama, Bhima, Arjuna, etc.

The Satavahanas followed the administration guidelines of the Shastras. Their government was less top-heavy than that of the Mauryans, and featured several levels of feudatories: Rajan, the hereditary rulers Rajas, petty princes who struck coins in their own names Maharathis, hereditary lords who could grant villages in their own names and maintained matrimonial relations with the ruling family Mahabhojas Mahasenapati (civil administrator under Pulumavi II; governor of a janapada under Pulumavi IV) Mahatalavara (“great watchman”) The royal princes (kumaras) were appointed as viceroys of the provinces. The ahara appears to have been the largest geographical subdivision of the Satavahana polity. Several inscriptions refer to aharas named after the governors appointed to rule them (e.g. Govardhanahara, Mamalahara, Satavanihara and Kapurahara). 

The Satavahanas retained some of the administrative units of Ashokan times. The kingdom was divided into districts called ahara. Their officials were known as Amatyas and Mahamatras (same as in Mauryan times). But unlike in Mauryan times, certain military and feudal elements are found in the administration of the Satavahanas. For instance, the Senapati was appointed provincial governor. It was probably done to keep the tribal people in the Deccan who were not completely brahmanised under strong military control.

The administration in the rural areas was placed in the hands of the gaulmika (village headman) who was also the head of a military regiment consisting of 9 chariots, 9 elephants, 25 horses and 45 foot soldiers.

The military character of the Satavahana rule is also evident from the common use of terms like kataka and skandhavara in their inscriptions. These were military camps and settlements which served as administrative centres when the king was there. Thus, coercion played an important part in the Satavahana administration.

The Satavahanas started the practice of granting tax-free villages to Brahmanas and Buddhist monks.

The Satavahana kingdom had three grades of feudatories – Raja (who had the right to strike coins), Mahabhoja and Senapati.

The Satavahana-era inscriptions mention three types of settlements: nagara (city), nigama (market town) and gama (village).

Architecture :  Art of Amaravati : 

Main article: Amaravati Stupa

Art of Sanchi

The Satavahanas contributed greatly to the embellishment of the Buddhist stupa of Sanchi. It was heavily repaired under King Satakarni II. The gateways and the balustrade were built after 70 BCE, and appear to have been commissioned by the Satavahanas. An inscription on the Southern Gateway records that it was the work of Satakarni II's royal architect Ananda. An inscription records the gift of one of the top architraves of the Southern Gateway by the artisans of the Satavahana Emperor Satakarni, Gift of Ananda, the son of Vasithi, the foreman of the artisans of rajan Siri Satakarni. 

The Satavahana rulers are also remarkable for their contributions to Buddhist art and architecture. They built great stupas in the Krishna River Valley, including the stupa at Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh. The stupas were decorated in marble slabs and sculpted with subjects including scenes from the life of the Buddha, portrayed in a characteristic slim and elegant style. The regional Amaravati style of sculpture also influenced the sculpture of Southeast Asia.

The sculptures of the Amaravati Stupa and the wider Amaravati style represent the architectural development of the Satavahana periods. They built Buddhist stupas in Amravati (95 feet high). They also constructed a large number of stupas at Goli, Jaggiahpeta, Ghantasala, Amaravati Bhattiprolu, and Shri Parvatam. Caves IX and X, containing Ajanta paintings, were patronised by Satavahana, and the painting throughout the caves appear to have started with them. Ashokan Stupas were enlarged, the earlier bricks and wood works being replaced with stone works. The most famous of these monuments are the stupas, the most famous among them being the Amravati Stupa and the Nagarjunakonda Stupa.

Paintings : 

The Satavahana paintings are the earliest surviving specimens—excluding prehistoric rock art—in India, and they are to be found only at the Ajanta Caves. There were two phases of artistic activity of Ajanta: the first occurring in the 2nd to 1st centuries BC, when Hinayana caves were excavated during Satavahana rule; the later in the second half of the 5th century under the Vakatakas. Vagaries of nature and some vandalism have taken a heavy toll on the Ajanta Caves. Only a few fragments related to the Satavahanas have survived in Caves No. 9 and 10, both of which are chaitya-grihas with stupas.

The most important surviving painting of the Satavahana period at Ajanta is the Chhadanta Jataka in Cave No. 10, but that, too, is only fragmentary. It is a painting of an elephant named Bodhisattva with six tusks, related to a mythological story. The human figures, both male and female, are typically Satavahanas, almost identical with their counterparts on the Sanchi Gateways so far as their physiognomy, costumes, and jewellery are concerned. The only difference is that the Sanchi figures have shed some of their weight.[128]

Economy of Satavahana Empire : 

Agriculture was the backbone of the economy during the rule of the Satavahana kings. They also relied on trade and production of various commodities within and outside India.

Indian ship on lead coin of Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi, testimony to the naval, seafaring and trading capabilities of the Satavahanas during the 1st–2nd century CE.

The Satavahanas participated in economic expansion through intensification of agriculture, increased production of other commodities, and trade within and beyond the Indian subcontinent.

During the Satavahana period, several large settlements emerged in the fertile areas, especially along the major rivers. The amount of land under agricultural use also expanded significantly, as a result of forest clearance and construction of irrigation reservoirs.

The exploitation of sites with mineral resources may have increased during the Satavahana period, leading to the emergence of new settlements in these areas. Such sites facilitated commerce and crafts (such as ceramic ware). The increased craft production during the Satavahana period is evident from archaeological discoveries at sites such as Kotalingala, as well as epigraphic references to artisans and guilds.

The Satavahanas controlled the Indian sea coast, and as a result, they dominated the growing Indian trade with the Roman Empire. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions two important Satavahana trade centres: Pratishthana and Tagara. Other important urban centres included Kondapur, Banavasi and Madhavpur. Nanaghat was the site of an important pass that linked the Satavahana capital Pratishthana to the sea. During the Satavahana period, several large settlements emerged in the fertile areas, especially along the major rivers. The amount of land under agricultural use also expanded significantly, as a result of forest clearance and construction of irrigation reservoirs. 

Satavahana Coins : Etymology : 

Early coin of Satakarni I (70-60 BCE). 

According to one theory, the word "Satavahana" is a Prakrit form of the Sanskrit Sapta-Vahana ("driven by seven"; in Hindu mythology, the chariot of the sun god is drawn by seven horses). This would indicate that the Satavahanas originally claimed association with the legendary solar dynasty, as was common in ancient India. According to Inguva Kartikeya Sarma, the dynasty's name is derived from the words sata ("sharpened", "nimble" or "swift") and vahana ("vehicle"); the expression thus means "one who rides a nimble horse".

Another theory connects their name to the earlier Satiyaputa dynasty. Yet another theory derives their name from the Munda words Sadam ("horse") and Harpan ("son"), implying "son of the performer of a horse sacrifice". Several rulers of the dynasty bear the name or title "Satakarni". Satavahana, Satakarni, Satakani and Shalivahana appear to be variations of the same word. Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi theorised that the word "Satakarni" is derived from the Munda words sada ("horse") and kon ("son").

The coins of the Satavahanas have been excavated from Deccan, western India, Vidarbha, Western and Eastern Ghats, etc. Most of the coins in the Satavahana dynasty were die-struck.

Cast coins too existed in the Satavahana empire and there were multiple combinations of techniques that were used to cast coins.

There were silver, copper, lead and potin coins in the Satavahana empire.

The portrait coins were mostly in silver and some were in lead too. Dravidian language and Brahmi script were used on portrait coins.

There were punch-marked coins too that were circulated alongside the Satavahana dynasty.

The importance of maritime trade was derived from the images of ships present on the Satavahana coins.

Many Satavahana coins bore the names of ‘Satakarni’ and ‘Pulumavi.’

Satavahana coins were of different shapes – round, square, rectangular, etc.

Many symbols have appeared on the Satavahana coins, the major ones of which are:

Chaitya symbol

Chakra symbol

Conch Shell symbol

Lotus symbol

Nandipada symbol

Ship symbol

Swastik symbol

Animal motifs were found on the Satavahana coins.

Religion & Language of Satavahana Kingdom : 

The Satavahanas belonged to the Hindu religion and the Brahmanical caste. But, the interesting fact is their generosity towards other castes and religions which is evident from the donations made by them towards Buddhist monasteries. Many Buddhist monasteries were constructed during the rule of the Satavahana dynasty.

The official language of the Satavahanas was Prakrit, though the script was Brahmi (as was the case in the Ashokan times). Political inscriptions also shed some light on the rare use of Sanskrit Literature.

Satavahanas – Material Culture : 

The material culture of the Deccan under the Satavahanas was a fusion of local elements (Deccan) and northern ingredients.

The people of the Deccan were fairly acquainted with the use of iron and agriculture. The Satavahanas probably exploited the rich mineral resources of the Deccan such as iron ores from Karimnagar and Warangal and gold from Kolar fields. They mostly issued coins of lead, which is found on the Deccan and also coins of copper and bronze.

The paddy transplantation was an art well known to the Satavahanas and the area between the Krishna and Godavari, especially at the mouth of the two rivers, formed a great rice bowl. The people of the Deccan also produced cotton. Thus a good portion of the Deccan developed a very advanced rural economy.

The people of the Deccan learnt the use of coins, burnt bricks, ring wells, etc. through its contacts with the north. There was regular use of fire-baked bricks and use of flat, perforated roof tiles which must have added to the life of the structures. The drains were covered and underground to lead wastewater into soakage pits. The Andhra in the east Deccan included 30 walled towns, besides numerous villages.

Bronze : 

Royal earrings, Andhra Pradesh, 1st century BCE. Several metal figurines are found that could be attributed to the Satavahanas. A hoard of unique bronze objects were also found from Bramhapuri. Numerous articles obtained from there were Indian but also reflected Roman and Italian influence. A small statue of Poseidon, wine jugs, and a plaque depicting Perseus and Andromeda were also obtained from the house from where the objects were found.[125] The fine elephant in the Ashmolean Museum, the Yaksi image in the British Museum,[126] and the cornucopia found in Posheri, kept at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya[127] can also be attributed to the Satavahana period.

Satavahanas – Social Organizations : 

The Satavahanas originally seem to have been a tribe of the Deccan. They, however, were so brahmanized that they claimed to be Brahmanas. The most famous Satavahana king Gautamiputra claimed to be a Brahman and thought it his duty to uphold the four-fold varna system.

The Satavahanas were the first rulers to make land grants to the Brahmans and there are also instances of grants made to Buddhist monks, especially to Mahayana Buddhists.

Nagarjunakonda and Amravati in Andhra Pradesh and Nasik and Junar in Maharashtra became important Buddhist sites under the Satavahanas and their successors, the Ikshvakus.

The artisans and merchants formed an important class of society due to flourishing trade and commerce.

Merchants took pride in naming themselves after the towns to which they belonged.

Among the artisans, the Gandhikas (perfumers) are mentioned as donors and later the term came to be used for all kinds of shopkeepers. The title ‘Gandhi’ is derived from the ancient term Gandhika.

It was customary for their king to be named after his mother, (Gautamiputra and Vashishthiputra) which indicates that the women occupied an important position in the society.

Sculptures : 

Madhukar Keshav Dhavalikar writes that "The Satavahana sculptures unfortunately has never been recognized as an independent school in spite of the fact it has its own distinctive characteristic features. The earliest in point of time is that in the Bhaja Vihara cave which marks the beginning of sculptural art in the Satavahana dominion around 200BC. It is profusely decorated with carvings, and even pillars have a lotus capital crowned with sphinx-like mythic animals." Dhavalikar also writes that in Chankama "the panel occurring on the west pillar of Northern Gateway portrays a very important event in Buddha's life. It depicts votaries, two each on either side of what looks like a ladder which actually is the promenade which Buddha is supposed to have walked. It is said that Buddha, after attaining Enlightment, spent four weeks near the Bodhi tree. Of these, the third week he spent walking along the promenade (chankama) to and fro."

Along with some of the above major Satavahana sculptures some more sculptures existed—namely, Dvarapala, Gajalaksmi, Shalabhanjikas, Royal Procession, Decorative pillar, etc.

Satavahana Architecture : 

Satavahana architecture at Cave No.3 of the Pandavleni Caves in Nashik. This cave was probably started during the reign of Gautamiputra Satakarni, and was finished and dedicated to the Buddhist Samgha during the reign of his son Vasishthiputra Pulumavi, circa 150 CE.

 In the Satavahana phase, many temples called chaityas and monasteries called viharas were cut out of the solid rock in the northwestern Deccan or Maharashtra with great precision and patience.

The Karle chaitya is the most famous in western Deccan.

The three viharas at Nasik carry inscriptions of Nahapana and Gautamiputra.

The most important stupas of this period are Amravati and Nagarjunakonda. The Amaravati stupa is full of sculptures that depict the various scenes from the life of the Buddha. The Nagarjunakonda stupa contains Buddhist monuments and also the earliest Brahmanical brick temples.

The Decline of the Satavahanas : 

Pulamavi IV is considered the last king of the main Satavahana line.

He ruled until 225 AD. After his death, the empire fragmented into five smaller kingdoms.


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