September 12, 2014

Sathavahana Dynasty and political history of ancient Sathavahana Era period

  • I. Simukha:
    • a) Founder of the Sathavahana Empire, which during his life time comprised of Maharashtra, Andhra Desa and northern Karnataka, and which had Pra-tisthana or Paithan (in Maharashtra) as its capital.
    • b) He ruled for about 23 years and was succeeded by his younger brother, Krishna, because of the minority of his own son, Sri Satakarni.
  • II. Krishna: During his reign of 18 years, he not only expanded the empire but also consolidated the rule of the Sathavahanas over the Deccan.
  • III. Sri Satakarni - I:
    • a) He is considered as the greatest of the early Sathavahanas rulers. Because of his military conquests as well as his patronage of Brahmanism.
    • b) Though his reign was a brief one (9 years) it was quite eventful. According to Nanaghat inscription, he conquered western Malwa, Anupa (Narmada valley), Vidarbha (Berar), etc.
    • c) He was a contemporary of Pushyamitra Sunga of Magadha and Kharavela of Kalinga. The latter praises the valour of Satakarni in his Hathigumpha inscription.
    • d) He performed two Aswamedhas, one Rajasuya and several other Vedic sacrifices. He assumed the titles of "Dakshinapathapati" and "Apratihata Chakra".
  • IV. Pulamavi - I:
    • a) He ruled for about 24 years.
    • b) His main military achievement was his victory over and execution of Susarma, the last Kanva ruler of Pataliputra.
  • V. Sri Satakarni - II: 
    • a) Another famous ruler among the early Sathavahanas, he ruled for a long period of 56 years.
    • b) He expanded the empire by conquering Vidisa (in M.P.) and annexing Kalinga which was then ruled by the week successors of Kharavela.
    • c) When the Sakas, after conquering Ujjain and Pataliputra, tried to capture Kalinga, he not only foiled their attempt but also pursued the retreating Sakas upto Pataliputra and occupied it for 10 years.
    • d) The four Toranas of Sanchi Stupa (M.P.) were constructed during his reign. 
  • VI. Lambodara:
    • a) He was the last of the early Sathavahanas.
    • b) He lost northern Maharastra to Saka ruler, Nahapana.
  • VII. Hala:
    • a) He was one of the middle group of Sathavahanas who were mostly weak rulers and during whose period there was a general decline of Sathavahana power and loss of territory.
    • b) He was the 17th ruler of the dynasty and ruled for a short period of 5 years.
    • c) Though he was no great conqueror, his contribution to literature is memorable. He was the author of two great works in Prakit language, namely, "Gatha Saptasathi" (an anthology of 700 years verses) and "Sattasi". Besides, he extended patronage to several poets and scholars of his period. An anonymous poet of his period wrote a poetical composition, called "Lilavathi Parinayam", describing the marriage of Hala with a Ceylonese princess, Lilavathi.
  • VIII. Gautamiputra Satakarni:
    • a) He was the 23rd king of the dynasty and the greatest of all the Sathavahanas. His reign of 25 years was a period of not only the revival of the Sathavahana power but also the peak of its glory.
    • b) The Nasik inscription gives a graphic account of his military conquests. He is described as the destroyed of the Sakas, Yavanas (Indo-Greeks) and Parthians, and his empire came to consist of the whole of the Deccan peninsula, South India upto Tungabhadra river, some parts of Central India, and Gujarat. He infact, assumed the river of "Tri Samudra Loya Pitha Vahana" (The one whose chargers drank the water of the three seas), signifying the fact that the Sathavahana Empire under him was at its largest extent.
    • c) He also praised himself as the "Varnasrama Dharmoddharaka", i.e., the protector and upholder of the four-fold division of the Hindu society. Under the able guidance and inscription of his mother, Gautami Balasri, he is said to have reformed the Hindu society of several of its abuses. Besides, he performed various Vedic sacrifices, including Aswamedha Yagas. Though he himself belonged to a Brahmin dynasty and was a great patron of Brahmanism, he was nevertheless tolerant of other religious and made liberal donations to Buddhists in particular.
  • IX. Vasistiputra Pulamavi:
    • a) He succeeded his father Gautamiputra Satakarni, but could not maintain his control over the vast empire inherited from his father. Known as Pulamavi-II to historians, he was the 24th ruler of the dynasty.
    • b) During his reign of about 23 years, the Sathavahana Empire was subjected to continuous attacks from the north by the Sakas, Yavanas and Parthians who finally succeeded in occupying some portions of the northern part of the Empire.
  • X. Gautamiputra Yajnasri:
    • a) After the death of Pulamavi-II, there was political chaos for about 10 years till Gautamiputra Yajnasri finally usurped the throne from his brother, Sivasri and established law and order. He ruled for about 28 years.
    • b) In order to strengthen his position, he married the daughter of Rudradaman, the famous Saka ruler of Western India. But his matrimonial alliance between the two traditional rivals could not establish long-lasting peace, and in fact did not prevent Rudradaman from defeating Yajnasri twice in successive battles and annexing the whole of the northern part of the empire.
    • c) Yajnasri was, however, successful in recovering and reestablishing his control over major parts of Western Deccan and Central India after the death of Rudradaman and the resultant period of confusion in the Saka territory.
    • d) He is considered as the last great ruler of the Sathavahana dynasty. Though he had to taste the bitter fruits of defeat at the hands of Rudradaman, after the death of the latter he was successful in restoring the last glory of the Sathavahanas at least partly, if not fully.
    • e) He was also responsible for enlarging the famous Amaravati stupa and for constructing the great railing around the Mahachaitya there.
  • XI. Pulamavi-III: Yajnasri was followed by a few weak successors, and Pulamavi-III was the 30th and the last ruler of the Sathavahana dynasty.

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