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Ancient History / Post-Mauryan Era

Satavahana Dynasty Notes


    The founder of Satavahana dynasty was Simuka. Satavahana period extends for four and half centuries (225 BC - 225 AD). The capital of Satavahanas was Pratistanapura (present Paithan in Aurangabad district) on the banks of river Godavari and later shifted to Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh.

    Satavahana Rulers

    The Satavahana kingdom was spread from one coast in the east to the other coast in the west of the Deccan area. The official language of Satavahana empire was Prakrit. On Satavahana coins, we can find Prakrit and also Pali language. The rulers of this dynasty followed Vedic religion. Around 30 kings ruled from this dynasty. Some of the famous kings from this dynasty are

      3rd king Satakarni I

      He succeeded Kanha, who was the brother of Simuka. Satakarni I was the son of the founder of Satavahana dynasty, Simuka. Naneghat (near Nasik) Prasasti describes the victories of Satakarni I. It was issued by his wife Naganika.

      The inscription says, he performed Rajasuya Yaga and Asvamedha Yaga. According to the inscription, he had two titles named "Apratihatachakra" (the wielder of the unchecked wheel) and "Dakshinapatha pati" (Lord of Southern India).

      11th king Kuntala Satakarni

      Two eminent scholars were present in his court namely, Gunadhya who wrote Brihatkatha in Paisachi Prakrit and Sarvavarman who wrote Katantra Vyakarana (meaning Simple Grammar), a Sanskrit book.

      17th king Hala

      He took the title Kavi-vatsala. He wrote Gatha Saptasati (700 poems dealing with erotic love and romance). A novel Lilavati (written in 800 CE) describes the romance between Hala and a princess of Simhaladvipa.

      23rd king Gautamiputra Satakarni

      He was the first king to take matronymic name because of polygamy. Nasik inscription was issued by his mother Gautami Balasri. It is issued 19 years after the death of Gautamiputra Satakarni. The inscription describes that he defeated the Shakas, the Yavanas and the Pahlavas. He had titles, Ekabrahmana, Dvijakula Vardhana (protector of twice born), Tri-Samudra-ToyaPita-Vahana (one whose subjects drank water of 3 seas).

      24th king Vasishthiputra Pulumavi

      He is one of the sons of Gautamiputra Satakarni. Pulumavi was defeated by Rudradaman I. He shifted his capital from Pratistanapura to Dhanyakataka (or Amaravati) situated on the banks of Krishna river.

      25th king Vasishthiputra Satakarni

      He succeeded his brother Vasishthiputra Pulumavi. He was married to Saka dynasty princess, Rudradamanika, daughter of Rudradaman I. In a cave at Kanheri, an inscription describes about the marriage between Vashishtiputra Satakarni and daughter of Rudradaman I.

      27th king Yajna Sri Satakarni

      Lot of his coins made of Potin (alloy of 4-5 metals), Lead, Copper were found in so many places. Potin coins have the symbol "Ship", which indicates international trade.

      According to one tradition, famous Mahayana Buddhist scholar Acharya Nagarjuna was in the court of Yajna Sri Satakarni. Madhyamaka and Sunyata philosophies were developed by Acharya Nagarjuna, who is known as second "Tathagata" or second Buddha. He is also known as Indian Einstein as he talked about Theory of Relativity. Books written by Nagarjuna are (i) Madhyamaka karika, (ii) Prajnaparamita, (iii) Suhrullekha, (iv) Arogyamanjari (Book on medicine).

      30th and Last king Pulomavi III

      During his period, Satavahana kingdom was divided into Samantas. Maharashtra region was ruled by Abhiras with capital at Nashik. Karnataka region was ruled by Chutus with capital at Banavasi. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana region was ruled by Ikshvaku dynasty with capital at Vijayapuri (Nagarjunakonda).

Extra Information

  • During the rule of Satavahana dynasty, Odisha was ruled by Mahameghavahana Dynasty (or Chedi Dynasty). They ruled from Kalinga Nagari. Hathigumpha (near Bhubaneswar) inscription (Prasasti) in Prakrit language, talks about the king named Kharavela. He followed Jainism. He was the third king of Mahameghavahana dynasty.