Satavahana Dynasty: History, Founder, Achievements | Satavahana Dynasty UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

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, the Satavahana Dynasty 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 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 the Satavahana vansh, the time period, etc.

Satavahana Dynasty

The Satavahana Dynasty emerged in the Deccan region after the decline of the Sunga empire in 73 BCE, when the Kanva dynasty ruled Magadha. The term “Satavahana” is derived from the Prakrit language, meaning “driven by seven,” possibly referring to the seven-horse-driven chariot of the sun god. They ruled over the Deccan and central India while the Kanva dynasty held power in Magadha. Simuka, the first ruler, established the dynasty’s foundation, followed by notable rulers like Sri Satakarni and Gautamiputra Satakarni, who expanded the empire’s territory and made significant achievements.

During the Satavahana period, the empire witnessed the consolidation of power and territorial expansion. They played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of ancient India, with rulers extending their influence from Maharashtra to Karnataka and Andhra regions. Gautamiputra Satakarni, in particular, stands out as a prominent ruler who defeated the Shakas and expanded the empire’s reach. The dynasty’s rule brought notable cultural and political developments, leaving a lasting impact on Indian history.

History of Satavahana Dynasty

Satavahana Dynasty was a significant ancient Indian dynasty that ruled over a large part of the Indian subcontinent from around 230 BCE to 220 CE. They are known for their contributions to trade, administration, and the promotion of Hinduism and Buddhism. The dynasty was founded by Simuka, who overthrew the Kanva Dynasty and established his rule.

Under the Satavahanas, the empire witnessed remarkable political stability and economic prosperity. They controlled extensive trade networks that connected the Deccan region with other parts of India and even reached beyond to the Roman Empire. The Satavahana rulers were known for their patronage of art, literature, and architecture. They constructed numerous Buddhist stupas, monasteries, and other architectural marvels.

The Satavahana Dynasty saw the emergence of important cultural and religious developments. Buddhism flourished during their reign, and they also promoted Brahmanical traditions. Their rule played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of ancient India, and their legacy continues to influence Indian history and culture.

Satavahana Dynasty Rulers

Satavahana Dynasty, a prominent dynasty in ancient India, was ruled by several notable kings who left a lasting impact on the empire’s history. Here are some of the famous rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty:

  • Simuka: He was the founder of the Satavahana Dynasty and expanded the region’s territories during his 23-year rule.
  • Kanha: He succeeded Simuka and became the second ruler of the Satavahana Empire after defeating him in a power struggle.
  • Satakarni-I: Also known as Sri Satakarni, he was the son of Simuka and the third king of the dynasty. He is renowned for his military campaigns and bringing Brahmanism back to Deccan.
  • Satakarni II: He followed in the footsteps of his predecessor and became the fourth ruler of the Satavahana Dynasty.
  • Hala: Considered one of the greatest rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty, Hala is known for his patronage of literature and poetry.
  • Gautamiputra Satakarni: Widely regarded as the greatest king of the Satavahana Dynasty, Gautamiputra Satakarni restored the empire’s fortunes by defeating the Shakas and expanding its territories across India.
  • Vashithiputra Pulumayi: He succeeded Gautamiputra Satakarni and his coins have been found in the Andhra region. He was married to the daughter of Rudradaman I.
  • Yajna Sri Satakarni: He ruled during the later period of the Satavahana Dynasty and is known for recovering territories from the Shaka rulers.

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 worshipped 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 was 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 were designed beautifully, with pictures of the king engraved on them. 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 considered themselves brahmin and were also very humble towards other religions. 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. To maintain their seniority, they provided resources and land to brahmins, monks, and other upper-caste religions.

Foreign Trade During Satavahana Dynasty

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 textiles, 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 roads & 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 were kind enough towards the other religion and 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 the final 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 well-known and established a 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. These books provide comprehensive coverage of the Satavahana Dynasty, offering valuable insights for UPSC exam preparation.

Candidates preparing for the UPSC exam must read in detail about the history, founders, administration, and economy of the Satavahana Dynasty, which is provided above. This knowledge will help them gain a comprehensive understanding of this significant period in Indian history.

Satavahana Empire UPSC Question

Satavahana Dynasty topic is frequently asked in the UPSC Prelims and Mains exams. Candidates can practice solving the provided questions related to this topic to familiarize themselves with the question pattern. By doing so, they can gain a comprehensive understanding of the concept and acquire relevant knowledge.

Question: Which dynasty was the first to grant the land to brahmans? (A) Satavahana (B) Sunga (C) Maurya (D) Canvas

Answer: (A) Satavahana

Question: The Satavahana dynasty was known for its patronage of which art form? (A) Painting (B) Sculpture (C) Architecture (D) Literature

Answer: (B) Sculpture

Question: Discuss the political and administrative structure of the Satavahana dynasty and its impact on the governance of the region. How did the dynasty maintain its authority and control over a vast territory for several centuries?

Question: Analyze the role of the Satavahana Dynasty in promoting cultural and religious developments in ancient India, with a focus on their patronage of Buddhism and other indigenous traditions.

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