Satavahana History

History of Satavahana Dynasty

In the first century B.C. Satavahana dynasty established itself in the north­-western part of the Deccan centered on modern Nasik. There is a controversy about the origin of the Satavahanas. The Satavahanas were called the Andhras in the Puranas and that has led to the assumption that they originated in the Andhra region. A contrary opinion has also been put forward that the family originated in the west and extended its control to the east coast and finally giving its name Andhra, to this region. Also there is a controversy regarding the date of the Satavahanas. Several historians including V. A. Smith believe that the Satavahana ruled in the third century B.C.

Simukha is regarded as the founder of the Satavahana dynasty. He is said to have assailed Kanvayas, and destroyed the remnants of the Sunga power and ‘obtained this earth’.

The next important ruler was Satakarni. He was really the founder of Satavahana supremacy in the Deccan. He followed the policy of expansion through military exploits. The Nanaghat inscription of his queen Nayanika mentions the performance of one Rajasuya and two Asvamedha sacrifices. He probably conquered Eastern Malwa and his authority was acknowledged over vast areas of Upper Deccan, Central and Western India.

After the death of Satkarni and particularly since the beginning of the first century A.D. the power of the Satavahanas was in a state of temporary eclipse. This happened due to continuous incursions of the Sakas as a result of which Satavahanas lost their supremacy over Maharashtra and adjoining areas. Hence the Satavahanas were forced to migrate to Eastern Deccan.

Gautamiputra Satkarni was the greatest of the Satavahanas. In the Nasik Prasasti he is described as the destroyer of the Sakas, Pahlavas and Yavanas. He overthrew Nahapaan and restruct large number of his silver coins. He recovered from the Sakas northern Maharashtra and Konkap, the Narmada Valley, and Saurashtra besides Malwa and Western Rajputana.

Gautamiputra was not only great conqueror; he was also staunch supporter of social divisions on Varna. He took pride it himself as unique ‘Brahamana’ and he is said to have destroyed the pride of the Kshatriyas, stopped the contamination of the four Varnas, and had furthered the interests of twice born.

The next ruler of the dynast) was the son of Gautamiputra called Vasishthaputra Pulumayi. He probably ruled at least for sometimes along with his father. He entered into matrimonial relations with the powerful Sakas by marrying the daughter of Rudradaman. But this did not eliminate hostilities between the two royal families. In fact, Radradaman is said to have twice defeated the Satavahana king but ‘he did not destroy him on account of the nearness of their relations’. In spite of this Vasishthaputra was successful in securing control over the Andhra desha. Hence his territory extended over the region of Krishna, Godavari, and even the state of Maharashtra.

The last notable king of the time was Yajnasri Satakarni. After his death the Satavahana Empire began to decline. The subject people like the Abhiras, the Kadambas, the Gangas, and the Vakatakas rose up in revolt and set up independent kingdoms.