The reign of the Satavahana Dynasty began in the mid-1st century BCE and came to an end in the early 3rd century CE. The area of the Satavahana Dynasty is debated where some historians argue that the Satavahanas initially established their hold over the area around Pratishthana (modern Paithan) in the western Deccan, and expanded from there into the eastern Deccan, Andhra, and the western coast. The topic is important for Ancient History preparation in the IAS Exam. Read on to know about the Satavahana empire, its rulers and coinage for UPSC preparation.

Origin & Development of the Satavahana Dynasty

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 are mentioned below:

Kanva Dynasty:

  • According to the Puranas, there were 4 kings of the Kanva dynasty who were, Vasudeva, Bhumimitra, Narayana and Susarman.
  • The Kanvas were said to be Brahmins.
  • The Magadha Empire had declined by this time to a great extent.
  • The Northwest region was under the Greeks and parts of the Gangetic plains were under various rulers.
  • Susarman, who was the last Kanva king, was killed by a Satavahana (Andhra) king.

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Read in detail about the Kanva Dynasty in the linked article.

Chedi Dynasty:

  • The Chedi/Cheti dynasty rose in Kalinga in the 1st century BCE.
  • The Hathigumpha inscription situated near Bhubaneswar talks about this.
  • This inscription was engraved by king Kharavela who was the third Cheti king.
  • King Kharavela followed Jainism.
  • Chedi dynasty was also known as Cheta or Mahameghavahana or Chetavamsa.

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 with 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 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.
  • Simuka was the founder of the Satavahana Dynasty.
  • 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.
  • They patronised Prakrit more than Sanskrit.
  • 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.

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