Satavahana Dynasty: Facts About the Satavahanas, their Founder, Gautamiputra Satakarni for UPSC Exam

By K Balaji|Updated : September 19th, 2022

Satavahana Dynasty belonged to the Andhra jati and was the first Deccanese dynasty to build an empire in the South. The Satavahanas built their reign on the ruins of the Maurya Empire and ruled from Pune in Maharastra to Coastal Andhra Pradesh in the second century BC. In addition, they held distant areas of western and central India. One can get information about the Satavahana Empire from inscriptions and numismatic evidence found in regions like Nasik and Nanaghat.

The Satavahana Dynasty UPSC is an important topic related to the Ancient History part of the UPSC Syllabus. One should cover the topic in detail for the upcoming UPSC Exam, as the Satavahanas hold a high place in the Dynasties of India. The article sheds light upon the various aspects of the Satavahanas, such as their famous leaders, administration, economy, and coinage. It also discusses the founder of Satavahana Dynasty, time period, etc.

Table of Content

Early History of the Satavahanas

The Satavahanas emerged in the Deccan region after the decline of the Sunga empire around 73 BCE, when the Kanva dynasty ruled Magadha. The term “Satavahana” is taken from the Prakrit language, which means “driven by seven.” It is also linked to seven horse driven chariot of lord Sun.

The Maurya Dynasty promptly replace the Shunga powers in northern regions. Devabooti, the Shunga dynasty’s last emperor, was killed by his minister Vasudeva Kanva, thus establishing Kanvas rule in the north (Magadha). At that time, the Deccan and central India were authorized by the Satavahanas.

  • Simuka was the first ruler of the Satavahana dynasty for 23 years. After his exit, Sri Satakrini has taken power into his hands as the third ruler. He conquered the Berar and west Malwa regions. Also, he conducted Asvamedha's sacrifices after his victory in the war.
  • The early Satavahana Period had rulers from Northern Maharashtra; however, their inheritors slowly expanded towards Karnataka and Andhra regions. As mentioned in Puranas, the Andhras are referred to as indistinguishable from Satavahanas. Also, it is believed that Andhras ruled for three hundred years, designated to the Satavahana Dynasty.
  • Gautamiputra Satakarni is the most prominent ruler of the Satavahan Vansh, who ruled for 24 years from (AD. 106 to 130). He overpowered the Shakas and claimed himself as the destroyer of the Kshatriya emperor Nahapna.

Evidence of Gautamiputra Satakarni's claim is his restriction on the Nahapna’s silver coins. Under his rule, the Satavahana Empire expanded to Karnataka from Malwa. His mother, Gautami Balasri, inscribed his accomplishments in the Nasik Inscription. Gautamiputra Satakarni entitled himself as Dakshina Pathapati and referred to himself as only Brahmana.

  • He was succeeded by Vashishtiputra Pulumayi, who ruled for 24 years from AD 130 to 154. He expanded the Satavahana rule to the bench of the Krishan river. His epigraphs and coins found in the Andhra region verify the claim. He made Pratishthan, the Aurangabad district, the Satavahana empire's capital.
  • Later, Vashishtiputra Satakarni and Shivaskabda Satakarni became his successors. Rudradaman I, the Shaka emperor of Saurashtra, overpowered the Satavahanas twice.
  • The last ruler of the Satavahana Dynasty was Yajna Sri Satakarni, who ruled for 29 years from (AD 165 to 194). He won back the regions of Malwa and Konkan from the Shakas.

Satavahana Dynasty Rulers 

Several rulers ruled the Satavahana empire, some ruled for an extended period, and some ruled only for a short period. The famous rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty were:

Simuka

The first ruler or the founder of Satavahana dynasty was Simuka. Simuka was famous for many names like Sushila, Sudhira, and Tirpak, because nobody knew his real name.

Simuka was the ruler who toppled Kanva and made the region expand in many parts of the world. His dynasty and rule continued for 23 years till his successor Kanha took over the region as a ruler.

Kanha

Kanha was the second ruler of the Satavahana empire. He defeated Simuka and became the king of the Satavahanas. He was also succeeded by Shatakarni-I, who was the son of Simuka.

Satakarni-I

Sri Satakarni, or Satakarni-I, was the son of Simuka. He was the third king of the dynasty after the Kanha. He ruled from 70-60 BC and was considered the first ruler who expanded the region with military support. Naganika, the daughter of the Maharathi Trainkairo, was the queen of Satakarni-I. He also performed Ashvamedha Yagya, and he brought Brahmanism back to Deccan.

Satakarni II

Satakarni II was the fourth king of the Satavahan Vansh.

Hala

He is also considered one of the greatest rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty time period. The Maharashtri Prakrit “Lilvati” describes the Hala romance with queen Simhaladvipa. This king is the lover of love who combined a wide variety of poems known as Saptashati, and the poem's theme was based on love.

His minister Gunadhya composed Brihatkatha, a well-known combination of poetic stories.

Gautamiputra Satakarni

Gautamiputra Satakani is regarded as the greatest Satavahana Dynasty king who occupied the dynasty from AD 106 to 130. He is regarded as the greatest king of the dynasty as he restored the Satavahanas' fortunes by defeating shakas. Gautamiputra Satakani's empire was situated in Malwa in North Karnataka. He expanded the kingdom on a massive scale from west to east, north, and south and made the dynasty's presence all over India. Gautamiputra Satakani was given the title of Rajaraja and Maharaja. He was the only king named after his mother, Gautami Putra. He was succeeded by his son Pulumavi,1. 

Vashithiputra Pulumayi

He was the successor of the Gautama Putra, and his coins were found in the region of Andhra. He was married to the daughter of Rudradaman 1.

Yajna Sri Satakarni

He is considered one of the later kings of the Satavahanas dynasty and ruled from 165 to 194 CE. During his reign, he recovered Kokan and Malwa from the Shaka rulers. His coins were found in states like Andhra, Mahar, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.

Satavahana Administration

Satavahana's administration was based on shastra. At the same time, kings were considered gods by people, as they thought the king possessed god-like qualities, so they worshiped them like this and followed them blindly.

Kingdom was divided into subgroups and handled by well-experienced professionals like Amatysa & Mahamatras. Different officials were made to manage the other regions of the kingdom to handle things correctly.

  • Rural area administration was given to the hand of Gaulimika, the village headman. He was the one who took care of all the administrative work in the rural area.
  • The Head of a military regiment consists of a chariot, elephants, horses, and soldiers. Different military camps and settlements are arranged in various parts of the region to protect the country from having protection from enemies. Satavahana started the culture of giving grants.
  • They started providing tax-free villages to brahmans and Buddhist monks.
  • Satavahana kingdom has three grades of feudatories Raja, Maharaja, and Senapati.

Economy During the Satavahan Vansh

The Satavahana Empire was based on farming. Agriculture was the backbone of the dynasty. Agriculture is the primary source of income for the Satavahana empire. The region saw a massive civilization in the fertile area, especially near the fertile area like river ponds or where agriculture is done extensively. Therefore, it increased domestic land trading and income from the region.

Craftsmanship is also a part of the Satavahana economy. Many archaeologists have found many craft artworks created during the period, showing a large production of such crafts for livelihood.

Many natural resources were exploited during their time when resources were used for urbanization and to provide help to people for their craft work. Satavahana has also been active in many trade activities as they control India’s deports, and they have huge seaports named Prathisthna and Satavahanaa.

Satavahana has many regions rich in paddy transplantation and is known for cotton production in various parts. Satavahana dynasty learned to use coins, burst bucks, and ring bells by being in contact with the north side of the region.

Satavahana’s Coins

The Satavahanas were the first dynasty that used coins in the southern region. Coins are excavated from Deccan, western India, and western ghats. These coins are considered to die sticks. Various coins are used in the regions like silver, gold, copper, and lead. All the coins are explicitly used in the area.

They also used punch marked coined, and coins are designed beautifully where pictures of the king are engraved on the coins. Satavahana has unique coins in shape, size, and design, like square, rectangular, etc.

Religion and Language of Satavahanas

Satavahanas are from the Hindu religion. They consider them as a brahmin, and they are also very humble towards other regions. Despite being rulers, they value different castes and do not dominate their religion over the others.

Their kindness and humble nature toward other regions can be seen in their donations to other religions. They provided resources and land to brahmins, monks, and other upper caste religions to maintain their seniority.

Satavahanas Foreign Trade

Super, bracks, and Kalyan are the well-known ports of the Satavahana dynasty. These ports are considered the gateways for their region's foreign trade & business.

Most of the Indian ports are dependent on Egypt, Australia & Rome in the past.

India exports textile, cotton, and spices to the world. In addition, it imports luxury items like wine, glassware, and other pleasures and many prosperous items required to enhance the region's market. Foreign trade is possible in the regions due to various reasons. Still, the most crucial reason for the increasing foreign exchange is that improved road & transportation made trade more accessible in north and south India.

Architecture During the Satavahana Vansh

They are experts in building a stupa. They have created many stupas which are popular and well-known. Their architectural development can be represented in various ways, like the sculpture of Amravati, where they also constructed a Buddhist stupa.

They have also built a stupa in the regions like goli, Amravati, and gaushala. Many bricks and woodwork on the ashram stupa were replaced with stonework. They have built many well-known stupas like Amravati and Nagarjuna Konda stupas.

Satavahana dynasty magnificence can be seen through Karle Chaitya, related to Garbhagriha, Pradakshina Patha, and Mandapa.

Satavahanas Social Organization

Satavahana is considered a tribe of Deccan, and they are pure brahman and follow the four-fold of Varna system. Many active artisans and merchants indulged in trading and commerce; however, as trade and business flourished, the importance of artisans' and merchants’ positions in the market made the merchant's identity very precious.

Satavahana is not only kind enough towards the other religion but also the women of their caste. This can be evidenced by the fact that kings were often named after their mother’s name, which shows that women are respected in society as the first person.

Decline Of Satavahana Empire

Finally, the end of the dynasty comes after Pulamavi IV. He was the last ruler in the dynasty of Satavahana after his kingdom dynasty was segmented into five different smaller parts. And this marks finally decline of the kingdom. He ruled till 225 AD.

Ikshvakus is considered the ruler who succeeded the Satavahana in the eastern region. The best part was taken off by abhors, and Pallavas took off the southeast area.

The Satavahanas were a well-known and established dynasty in the south. The Satavahana dynasty is well available for the feature of the coinage system, which Satavahanas started. Satavahan Vansh also contributed to various trade activities worldwide, which makes it remember its presence in craft and artwork.

Satavahana Dynasty UPSC

Satavahanas finds its relevance in the Ancient Indian History section of the UPSC Syllabus. It is systematically described in History Books for UPSC. UPSC aspirants must have a proper understanding of this topic because questions based on this topic are asked in both UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exams.

Candidates can check out the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to find out the types of questions asked on this topic in the UPSC Exam.

>> Download Short Notes on Satavahana Dynasty UPSC

Satavahana Empire UPSC Question

Question: Which dynasty was the first to grant the land to brahmans?

  1. Satavahana
  2. Sunga
  3. Maurya
  4. Canvas

Answer: Option A

Other Important UPSC Notes
International Labour Organization (ILO)Fiscal Deficit
Salient Features of Indian ConstitutionKothari Commission
EWS CriteriaSources of Indian Constitution
Industrial PolicyStatutory Body

 

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Satavahana Dynasty UPSC FAQs

  • Simuka was the founder of Satavahana Dynasty. The Satavahana inscription of Nanaghat mentions him as the first ruler of the Satavahanas, who reigned for about 23 years.

  • The Satavahanas ruled from 1st to 3rd century, and Gautamiputra Satakarni was the most powerful king of the Satavahana Dynasty. He ruled for 24 years, overpowered the Shakas, and claimed himself as the destroyer of the Kshatriya emperor Nahapna.

  • Satavahana dynasty was defeated by the shaka ruler of Saurashtra Rudradaman 1. Yajna Sri Nadkarni was one such dynasty ruler who recaptured north Konkan and malwa from shakas.

  • The Satavahana Dynasty was built on the ruins of the Maurya Empire and ruled from Pune in Maharastra to Coastal Andhra Pradesh in the second century BC. To download Satavahana Dynasty UPSC Notes PDF, click here.

  • The Satavahan Vansh reign began in the mid-1st century BCE and ended in the early 3rd century CE. Gautamiputra Satakarni was the greatest king of the Satavahana period.

  • The Achievements of Gautamiputra Satakarni, one of the greatest rulers of the Satavahanas, are listed below:

    • He led expeditions against the foreign Saka rulers, thus referred to as the destroyer of the Sakas, Pahlavas, and Yavanas.
    • He expanded his army in a much better and more organized way. 
    • He was a humanitarian ruler and a liberal monarch.

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