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Monday, January 2, 2012



3.1 Introduction
3.2 Post Mauryan Period: Sungas and Kanvas
3.3 Rise of the Power of the Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Parthians and Kushanas
3.3.1 Indo-Greeks
3.3.2 Sakas and Parthians
3.3.3 Kushanas
3.4 Nature of Kushana State
3.5 Peninsular India: The Rise of the Power of the Satavahanas
3.6 Nature of Satavahana State
3.6.1 Socio-economic and Political Background
3.6.2 Administrative Structure of the State
3.7 Summary
3.8 Glossary
3.9 Exercises
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


The period between circa 200 B.C. and A.D. 300 in conventional historical writings is usually perceived as a dark period, largely owing to the absence of territorially extensive political formations. The Kushana imperial project, covering large parts of Northern India, was an exception. However, viewed differently the five centuries between the decline of the Mauryas and coming of the Guptas were important for various reasons. They were characterised not only by extensive economic and cultural contacts within the country and with the West and Central Asia, the beginning of a long-term mutually beneficial networks of exchange with southeast Asia, and the evolution of new art forms at Mathura, Sarnath, Sanchi and Amaravati, but also significant developments in the political sphere. The exalted notion of kingship in ancient India with its pompous titles, as also its identification with divinity gained currency from the post-Mauryan period onwards. The process of state formation manifested itself outside northern India also. The early state in Kalinga under Kharavela and that of the Satavahanas in the Deccan are good examples of it. But these need not detain us here because the nature of Satavahanas state will be discussed subsequently in this Unit.


The death of Ashoka seems to have inaugurated the disintegration of the Mauryan empire. In Kalinga and in the south there is no evidence for the continuation of Mauryan rule after the great emperor. Brihadratha, the last ruler of the dynasty, was murdered by his general, Pushyamitra Sunga, in about 185 B.C. He then founded

Early State Formation the Sunga dynasty which lasted a little more than a hundred years. Pushyamitra was a brahmana and is said to have performed the ashvamedha sacrifice, suggesting its revival for political purposes after a considerable break. This need not necessarily imply a brahmanical resurgence at the cost of Buddhism. The Sunga territories comprised the Ganga valley and northern India, extending up to the Narmada in the south. Pushyamitra had to defend his dominions against the Greek invaders from Bactria who entered the Indian plains. However, he met with little success in his endeavour since area as far as Mathura was lost. At the end of the second century B.C. the Greek ambassador, Heliodorus, erected a Garuda pillar at Besnagar, near Vidisha. The inscription on the pillar besides recording that he was a follower of the Bhagavata religion also mentions the contemporary ruler (Bhagabhadra) who perhaps belonged to the Sunga dynasty. The last king of the dynasty was assassinated around 73 B.C., leading to the foundation of the short-lived Kanva dynasty by Vasudeva, the brahmana minister of the deceased king, who is said to have had a hand in the palace intrigue.

Magadha under the later Sungas and Kanvas was a pale shadow of its former glory. The scene of activity had shifted to the northwest, the Deccan and southern India. In ancient Punjab and the adjoining territories “tribal” or Gana-sangha polities, which had been subsumed under the Mauryan empire, resurfaced. The Audambaras, Arjunayanas, Yaudheyas, Kunindas and Malavas, among others, were some of the important communities who usually issued coins in the name of the Gana, suggesting their largely egalitarian character. Notwithstanding the continuation of the Gana- sangha tradition, these communities experienced internal change. It is borne out by archaeological and numismatic evidence. Some of the late Yaudheya coins were issued in the name of the Gana and Mantradharas i.e. the Executive Council, suggesting the existence of a managerial group or ruling stratum. Similarly, we come across terms such as maharaja and mahasenapati by the end of the period under discussion, pointing probably to the transition to monarchical form. It has been suggested that the trade route from Mathura to Taxila and beyond passed through their territories, which opened them to the movement of goods, ideas and people from the various areas. The polities affected by these influences were transformed.


Nomadic tribal movements occurred in the 2nd Cenury B.C. and acquired a coherent form. The nomadic central Asian tribes pushed westward towards Bactria. It was occupied by the Scythians and later the yueh-chis the two important central Asian tribes.

3.3.1 Indo-Greeks

An equally important political development during this period was the waves of movements from across the northwestern borders. The Seleucids had been thwarted in their efforts to enter the Indian plains. The Greek kings of Bactria succeeded where the Seleucids had failed. Though Diodotus revolted against the Seleucids and founded the Greek kingdom of Bactria in the middle of the third century B.C., it was Euthydemus, the third ruler, who won recognition from the Seleucid king, Antiochos III, in the closing years of the third century B.C. The successors of these Greek kings of Bactria are known as Indo-Greeks who came to occupy large parts

of northwestern India and Afghanistan. About three dozen such kings are known largely from their coins. Indian literary sources refer to them as Yavanas. Demetrius, son of Euthydemus, moved into the Indian plains. He and his successor Menander led several successful campaigns annexing most of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab and perhaps even reaching as far as Pataliputra. The conquest of large parts of northwestern India is attested by Strabo’s Geography and Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Menander is the best known Indo-Greek ruler and his reign is dated to 155-130 B.C. While his coins have been reported from Kabul and Mathura, the Milindapanho records discussions between him and the Buddhist philosopher Nagasena. With the death of Menander the political influence of the Indo-Greeks waned. Besides Gandhara art, which synthesised Greek, Roman and Indian elements, and the Heliodorus pillar, mentioned above, the Indo-Greek coins, which unlike the Indian punch-marked coins, can be identified with individual kings and have been dated are among their important legacy. While the volume of Indo-Greek coins unambiguously point to their role in trade and commerce, the image of the king on the coins had political implications. It was a statement of royal sovereignty.

3.3.2 Sakas and Parthians

Continued manifestation of the process of conquest of northwestern India can be seen in the emergence of the Sakas (people of Central Asian origin who had kin ties with the Scythians) as the new rulers of the region in the first century B.C. Political developments pushed them towards Bactria and Iran and from Bactria they moved into the northwest of India through southern Afghanistan. Maues or Moga was the first Saka king in India. He and his successor Azes I founded a large kingdom by displacing the Indo-Greeks. Their territories extended from the northwest to Mathura and included the whole tract from Ujjain to Saurashtra. Deriving from their familiarity with aspects of Indo-Greek and Iranian culture they issued coins in imitation of the Indo-Greek style and used the Iranian title kings of kings (shahanu shahi), which can be translated into Greek as basileus basileon. The introduction of the impressive title ‘kings of kings’ into India under the above mentioned influences was not without political content. It points to the existence of a number of lesser chieftains or smaller kings. Besides, there were the provincial governors known as Kshatrapas and Mahakshatrapas who were appointed by the king. The political system as it emerges appears to be a confederation of (“tribal”/clan) chieftains headed by the Saka kings. The chieftains and governors seem to have exercised a considerable degree of autonomy or independence within such a system.

The assertion of independence by the local kshatrapas led to the waning of Saka power. Azes II was the last importat Saka king in the northwest. In the early part of the first century A.D. they were replaced by the Indo-Parthians or Pahlavas, whose rule did not last long. Pahlavas originally came from the Iranian province of Parthia. In the 2nd century B.C. they occupied Bactria. Gondopharnes who ruled in the first half of the first century A.D. is the best known among them. The rise of the Kushanas to prominence in India coincided with the decline of the Pahlavas. While the Kushanas dominated the political scene in northern India a branch of the Sakas continued to rule in Kathiawar and Malwa in western India. Rudradaman happens to be the best known of this group. The lengthy inscription at Junagarh dated to the middle of the second century A.D. records his conquests and achievements. The record is important because it is the earliest specimen of Sanskrit as a court language, as also the preferred medium for making statements of power. The fact that it is a public document imbues it with political meaning. The Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela of Kalinga dated in the later part of the first century B.C.
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Early State Formation is another example of a similar document with political overtones. These were perhaps precursors of the prasastis in the land grant charters of the early medieval centuries, and were meant to reassure, impress and win the confidence of the people.

3.3.3 Kushanas

The Kushanas entered the northwest in the early first century A.D. when various powers were contending for supremacy in the region. The Yueh-chi tribe, to which they belonged, had settled down in Bactria by the end of the second century B.C. where they were divided into five units. Each of them had a chief known as yabgu. Kujala Kadphises, chieftain of the Kuei-shang (Kushana), united the five tribal units of the Yueh-chi and proceeded to conquer Kabul and Kashmir. When he died at the age of eighty he was succeeded by his son Wima Kadphises who conquered northern India. The early history of the Kushanas is recorded in the chronicles of the Han dynasty of China which are said to have been compiled around the fifth century A.D. Wima Kadphises was succeeded by Kanishka, but the relationship between the first two kings and Kanishka is far from clear. Some of the early inscriptions of Kanishka have been found at Sarnath, Kausambi and Mathura suggesting that he was initially associated with the eastern part of the empire and from there he moved on to extend his authority over the rest of the Kushana territories. Under him the empire extended from the Oxus in the west to Varanasi in the east and from Kashmir in the north to Sanchi in the south; with Mathura occupying the position of a second capital. Purushapura (Peshawar) was the imperial capital. Kanishka was succeeded by Huvishka and Vasudeva was the last important Kushana ruler. The dynasty continued into the early decades of the third century A.D. However, by then the empire had shrunk and whatever little we know about these later rulers is essentially based on information gathered from their coins.


The geographical spread of the Kushana coins and inscriptions as well as the richness of the Kushana layers in terms of archaeological material found in various sites from Central Asia to Varanasi would on the face of it suggest the existence of a well organised, centralised state. However, the available administrative details appear to be far from satisfactory. It is said that the political organisation did not possess the rigid centralisation of the Mauryas. The inscriptions and coins do not indicate a powerful and large administrative machinery. We however, come across grandiloquent titles of the rulers. They bore titles such as maharaja, ratatiraja (king of kings), devaputra (son of God), etc. Kanishka and his successors used the title shaonano shao (shahanushahi being its Persianized form) as a prefix to their names on the coin legends. Even the epithet Kaiser or Kaisara was used. Kanishka, for example, in an inscription at Mathura represents himself as maharaja rajatiraja devaputra shahi. The Kushana titles on the one hand suggest their superior position in relation to other petty rulers and chieftains and on the other point to the possible influences which went into their making. While maharaja was an old Indian title, encountered as early as the Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela, rajatiraja was of Sanskrit origin and had been used by the Sakas. The term devaputra being close to the Chinese idea of ‘mandate of heaven” may have had something to do with such influences.


The details of provincial and local administration are hazy. It is doubtful if the Kushanas exercised direct administrative control over all parts of their territories. Below the king there seems to have been the kshatrapas at the provincial level. It has been suggested that there were about five to seven satrapies. Contemporary sources do not provide sufficient information about such administrative units or the kshatrapas themselves. The Sarnath Buddhist image inscription of the time of Kanishka refers to the reinstatement of two kshatrapas who were the descendants of a mahakshatrapa. In some cases people erected a stupa and sangharama in honour of the kshatrapa. This was analogous to the system of giving religious donations to ensure the well-being of the Kushana kings. Such evidence points to the autonomous status of the Kshatrapas. There are references to vishayas as administrative units and the grama at the bottom of the hierarchy constituted the basic unit of administration. We come across terms like dandanayaka and mahadandanayaka, offices which combined civil and military functions, and the kshatrapas seem to have exercised their power through these officials. However, as in the case of the kshatrapas here too their territorial jurisdiction and functional aspects are far from clear. There are references to some other officials like bakanpati (incharge of religious affairs), danapati (to do with donations) and the padrapala, who looked after uncultivated land around the villages. In the region of Mathura the gramika as the village headman seems to have looked after the maintenance of local law and order. The importance of the institution is also borne out by other contemporary references. Manusmriti refers to the term gramasyadhipati and in the Shanti parva we come across the expression gramadhipati. The kshatrapas were also known as gramasvami. All these indicate the importance and authority of the village headmen. The guilds similarly may have played an important role in the administration of urban centres.

For analyzing the political system the administrative details are rather insufficient. How the different levels of administration related to one another is not known. Given the small size of the administrative machinery and the abundance of Kushana coins, particularly in gold and copper, it is said that the officials would have been paid in cash. Deriving from the autonomy of the kshatrapa and the use of such terms as rajatiraja, mahakshatrapa and mahadandanayaka, denoting the existence of lesser rulers, there have been efforts to look for feudatory relations in the Kushana polity. It may be mentioned that instead of invoking such parallels (viz. feudatory relations) one may, as in the case of the Sakas, see it as an incorporative political system.

The pre-occupation of the Kushanas with the legitimation of their power and their non-sectarian, broad-based syncretic religious policy in the background of the paucity of information related to administration raises questions which have a bearing on the nature and structure of the Kushana state. To elaborate, the Kushanas used high- sounding titles derived from a variety of cultural contexts. Titles like devaputra unmistakably sought to link them with divinity. This aspect is further elaborated in their coins. The obverse of the Kushana coins shows the king engaged in rituals before a fire altar, his bust emerging from the clouds, flames emanating from his shoulders or a nimbus or halo around his head. The context in each case is clearly supernatural. The evidence for religious donations by people for the well-being of the kings and the institution of devakulas under the Kushanas, involving the housing of the statues of dead rulers in temple like structures, together suggest the efforts towards bestowal of divinity status to the kings or conferring of this status to the kings. The reverse of the Kushana coins bear Indian (Hindu and Buddhist), Greek and Persian symbols and deities, indicating their syncretic religious ideology. It may
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Early State Formation be of interest to note that there is archaeological and epigraphical evidence to show that numerous later day Hindu sects associated with Saivism and Vaishnavism thrived along with Buddhism and Jainism under the Kushanas in northern India. The Kushanas seem to have accepted and reinforced the assimilative nature of Indian socio-religious and political system.

Turning to the socio-cultural situation obtaining within their empire one observes the prevalence of numerous languages, religions and cultures. The population in Bactria was already composite by virtue of having integrated varied influences. North Indian society was characterised by rich diversity, the Upper and Middle Gangetic plains being different from the ancient Punjab. In the Punjab and adjoining regions there were a number of Gana-samghas, which outlived the Kushanas and continued up to the Guptas, suggesting the existence of varied socio-economic and political patterns. The official language of the Kushana state was Bactrian written in Kushanised Greek script. Sanskrit too was in use and records were written in Brahmi and Kharosthi as well. A coin of Kanishka found near Termez on the Oxus bears legends in Bactrian on the obverse and Sanskrit on the reverse. The extensive territory of the Kushanas inhabited by various ethnic groups, speaking different languages and practising diverse religions made it necessary for the state to adopt a liberal and accommodative approach.

The Kushana state characterised by ethnic, linguistic and cultural pluralism tried to integrate varied groups by being non-sectarian accommodating variety and developing a syncretic ideology. Thus, the state tried to sustain and perpetuate itself by being responsive to the aspirations of diverse groups. That explains the adoption of multiple royal titles and the accommodation of numerous deities from various traditions, across the empire. The Kushana titles and motifs on the coins show how zealously they tried to legitimize their rule.

With the establishment of Kushana power in Gandhara and Indus region the land- trade from Ganges to Euphrates and sea trade across Arabian sea and Persian Gulf to Rome flourished and expanded. The silk route passed through Kushana territories in central Asia and it was linked with China and Asian provinces of Roman Empire. Kushanas might have imposed tolls on caravans passing through this route. Kushana gold and copper coins indicate that internal trade flourished under them. Kushana rule let to the establishment of new settlement with an admixture of population. This must have led to mobility in society and with the increase in the number of crafts and guilds and growth of foreign trade the rigidity of the caste system weakened especially in the trading ports and towns. Kushanas had established trade links with the Romans. The adoption of the title Caesar (Kaisarasa) in the Ara (Attock) inscription of the year 47 throws light on Kushana contacts with the Romans. Both the Kushanas and the Romans minted gold coins to be used in trading transactions. Kushanas were the beneficiaries in this trade. They also established trading relations with South East Asia, China and Central Asia in this period. There is no evidence for state monopoly in any sector of the economy nor for that matter state intervention in day-to-day economic transactions. It seems to have been a non-intrusive state allowing for a good measure of autonomy at various levels. However, it did play an important role in encouraging trade and other commercial activites. Under Kanishka and his immediate successors integrative forces seem to have prevailed over tendencies to fission or break away. If the Kushanas borrowed aspects of political ideas and organisation from their predecessors and contemporaries, their coinage, titles and images, sculptures, kingship, including the deification of the ruler, influenced the Guptas and other polities in early medieval India.

Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.

Map 2: Kushanas and Satavahanas (based on K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, A Comprehensive History of
India, Vol.II. The Mauryas and Satavahanas 325BC-AD 300, Calcutta, 1957. 7

Early State Formation


The earliest dynastic rule in peninsular India was that of the Satavahanas. In history dynastic rule or monarchy is generally equated to the state and it is valid so long as the former is found resting on class structured societies. The state is found only in a differentiated economy or stratified society. However, until recent years the term, state was used in Indian historiography without such theoretical presuppositions. Earlier on historians recounted the history of the dynasty with a ruler wise focus on the nature of administration and they debated over the dates of succession. Later when historians tended to be theoretical, the debates revolved round theoretical models. The former viewed the Satavahanas as an independent state while the latter theorised it a Mauryan transplant or a secondary formation. Now the debate is about the degrees of theoretical rigour. In the most rigorous sense of the theory, the origin of the state is not external for it is integral to the society’s internal dynamic. Naturally the state gets neither diffused nor transplanted. It is inevitably sui generis. So the concept of secondary state formation is a misnomer.


The Satavahana state, as in the case of any other state, has to be studied against its socio-economic background and hence at the outset, it is imperative to characterise the social formation and examine the institutional features of the political process therein. Unfortunately, the existing historiography hardly gives enough knowledge about the life of the people in those days to characterise the social formation. However, it is important for a student studying the discipline to know the available knowledge and use it for understanding the process of state formation.

3.6.1 Socio-Economic and Political Background

By third century B.C. the Krishna - Godavari valleys had witnessed the rise of agrarian localities of paddy cultivation as the place name Dhanyakataka or Dhamnakada suggests, presupposing specialisation of arts and crafts, trade networks, urban enclaves, social differentiation and the entailing political processes. However, it was obviously not more than a simple hierarchy of the landed households (gahapati-s) and their servants (dasas and bhrtaka-s) at the level of production relations. The agrarian localities were small compared to the large uplands and forest tracks inhabited by the ‘tribal’ people who constituted the majority. Paithan was the region’s nerve centre of economic activities and its strategic importance in the context of trade and urbanism also accounts for its Buddhist and Jain importance as well as the Mauryan political control. The ports of transmarine commerce, such as Barygaza, Supara and Kalyan added to the region’s significance. The Mauryan control in its turn further enhanced its importance and in the process over the years, gave rise to a local ruling aristocracy transcending the structure of the ‘tribal’ political relations. It is out of this aristocracy that the line of the Satavahana rule began. In short, the historical context of the emergence of the Satavahana state relates to the differentiated economy and stratified societies in the Krishna - Godavari valleys.


From the Jain legend we assume that Paithan was the headquarter. Some twenty- four inscriptions and a few hoards of coins besides literary references mainly including the Jain and Buddhist accounts and puranic genealogies constitute the main sources of Satavahana history. The rule persisted under about 30 kings covering roughly four and half centuries from around 234 B.C. down to c.A.D. 207. Needless to say that there would be gaps and discontinuties in the royal genealogy covering such a long span of centuries. There were interruptions of the Scythians, Greeks and Parthians.

King Simuka, probably also called Satavahana as the Jain tradition shows, was the founder of the dynasty. Like many a dynastic name, Satavahana is variously interpreted and there is no consensus as to how it derives its meaning. The term sata means dana (gift) and vahana, the bearer seem to make better sense than other derivations that scholars have put forward. All the puranas agree on the fact that Simuka’s reign lasted 23 years. He seems to have caused the construction of Jain basati-s and Buddhist Caitya-s. Simuka’s brother Kanha (Krishna) who ascended the throne as the next king, extended the kingdom to Nasik if not beyond. His reign seems to have lasted 18 years. Siri Satakani (Satakarni), son of Krishna was the next king after whose title most of the Satavahana rulers came to be known, as exemplified by Cakora Satakarni, Mrgendra Satakarni, Gautamiputa Sri Yajna Satakarni and so on. Satakarni is another curious name like Kumbhakarna, Jatikarna, Lambodara, and the like that defies easy derivation. Hathigumpha inscription refers to Kharavela of Kalinga to have sent his army to the west disregarding Satakarni. The synchronism of Kharavela with Satakarni has enabled historians to determine the latter to have ruled between 200 and 190 B.C. His successor Satakarni II who according the puranas ruled for 56 years was also a contemporary of Kharavela. Apilaka and Hala are two other important successors in the line. Hala’s reign witnessed the hey day of economic growth, military exploits and cultural achievements.

The Satavahana rulers were patrons of both sramanas and brahmanas. The construction of Jain and Buddhist monuments earned them religious merit and higher status while the conduct of vedic rituals and mahadanas, legitimacy as kshatriyas. It is striking that the Satavahanas maintained gotra names of the Vedic brahmanas. They were followers of matrilineal system or the cross-cousin system of marriage, especially with father’s sister’s daughter. However, their succession followed the system of patriarchal inheritance.

The Satavahana reign got interrupted by the Sakas, Kushanas, Parthians, Yavanas etc. The Kshatrapa Nahapana’s coins as well as the epigraphs at Nasik and Karle show that the Nasik and Pune Districts had become part of Nahapana’s kingdom, obviously captured from the Satavahanas. It appears that during the period of the later Satavahanas, the kingdom shrank itself to the region around Paithan. Soon Gautamiputra Satakarni restored the large extent of the kingdom and enlarged it further up to Vidarbha, Rajaputana, Malwa and northern Konkan. In the south it extended up the Kanarese country. Gautamiputra was succeeded by Vasishtiputra Pulumavi who ruled for 24 years. According to the puranic genealogy, the next Satavahana king was Siva Sri Satakarni followed by Sivamaka Sada, Madhariputra, Sri Yajna Satakarni, Vasishtiputra Cada Sati and Pulumavi III. It is believed that the line of rulers came to an end with Pulumavi III.

3.6.2 Administrative Structure of the State

The Satavahana state was structured by the dominance of the monarch, a miniature variant of the Kautilyan vijigishu assisted by a team of amatyas, senapati-s and
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Early State Formation dandanayaka-s. It seems to have incorporated chieftains of the agrarian localities as samanta-s and of ‘tribal’ zones as rathika-s and bhoja-s. Epigraphs mention mahasamanta, maharathika, mahabhoja, mahasenapati, and mahadandanayaka showing that they worked as higher level constituents of a hierarchical structure. This is not to suggest that it was a well-organised bureaucracy with defined structure and function. Their functions were not just what their name presupposed. For instance, mahasenapati was a provincial ruler too like mahasamanta and for that matter, any high-ranking dignitary was a local ruling authority. The dignitaries, who constituted the nuclei of the king’s power structure, were the most prominent among the gahapati-s (swami-s) of the nagara-s and grama-s. The gahapati-s of the nagara-s were merchants, generally called vanija or negama. They were organised into a corporation called nigama headed by sethi or sreshti.

It needs no special mention of the fact that the structure of the Satavahana state was not of a centralised character in any pure sense, which even the Mauryan was not. We cannot say that the higher functionaries were under the direct control of the king and that all the powers of the state emanated entirely from the capital. It was a strong monarchy at the heart of the kingdom with the provincial or regional rulers and chieftains in the periphery accepting the king’s suzerainty reinforced by the standing army under the mahasenapati stationed at the capital.

The Satavahana state followed by and large the Mauryan revenue system that was based on regular returns from agriculture, trade and industry as well as from a variety of periodically exacted taxes. The Satavahanas had crown lands and the revenue from them was substantial. The state enjoyed monopoly over all the mines of metals and minerals and the salt production. The lands held by the gahapati-s were subjected to more than one tax. An important source of revenue was the tax levied on merchant gahapati-s and merchandises. As it was a money economy, all the dues to the state were appropriated in cash. There seems to have prevailed a high rate of interest, i.e., 12% per month, suggestive of a state of deflation. The variety and distribution of the Satavahana coinage indicates how great was the demand for money as medium of exchange, measure of value and means of payment. The Saka, Kushana, Nahapana Kshatrapa coins co-existed with those of the Satavahanas who struck such coins again as their own. Coins were minted with the name or legend of kings and hence their distribution was symbolic of the king’s identity and the extent of his dominions. This accounts for the Satavahanas’ reproduction of their intruders’ coins, as for example Nahapana’s silver coins restruck by Gautamiputra Satakarni.

Under the Satavahana rule, agriculture, trade, markets and urbanisation made headway. Amaravati, Naneghat, Pune, Bhaja, Karle, Kanheri, and Nasik were the major towns and trade centres developed in the age of the Satavahanas. These were centres of Jainism and Buddhism as the vestiges of several basati-s, caitya-s, vihara-s and stupa-s in the region indicate. The funding and joint patronage of these monuments by the monks, merchants, local chieftains and kings shows the group relations and processes of power that manifested as the Satavahana state.


In the post-Mauryan period several powers dominated the political scene in north
India. These were Kanvas and Sungas who succeeded the Mauryas. Ganasangha

polities also re-emerged in this period. An important feature of this period was the rise of the power of Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Parthians and Kushanas who intruded through the north western frontier into India from central Asia and Iran. The most important among these were the Kushanas. With the establishment of Kushan state trading activities received great impetus. In the social and cultural sphere assismilative and syncretic tendencies emerged and were strengthened. In the Deccan this period was marked by the emergence of the Satavahana state.
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Amatya : Minister

Caitya : Sacred spots or small groves of trees on the outskirts of a village which might also include a stupa.

Dandnayaka : Captain in the Army.

Manu Smriti : Law book of Manu composed in its final form in 2nd and
3rd century A.D.

Nahapana : a great satrap of saka clan (Ksaharata).

Prasasti : Eulogy

Santiparva : 12th book of the Mahabharata which contains passages on state craft and human conduct and was included in the epic in the early centuries of Christian era

Seleucids : Greek rulers of Bactria who derived their dynastic name from the Greek general of Alexander, Seleucus Nikator.

Senapati : General

Stupa : Domes having a central chamber in which the relics of
Buddha were placed Vijigishu : King who desires conquest Vihar : A Buddhist monastery
Vishayas : Districts


1) Explain the chief features of the Kushan state.

2) Analyse the socio-economic and political background which contributed to the rise of Satavahana state.


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