Sunga Dynasty & Satavahana Dynasty

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  • Kalinga declared its independence & in further south Satavahana dynasty declared their independent rule.
  • As a result, the Mauryan empire was confined to Gangetic valley & soon replaced by Sunga dynasty.

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gautamiputra satakarni  satavahana dynasty  sunga dynasty pushyamitra kanva dynasty

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Sunga Dynasty 

Pushyamitra Sunga   (185 –  151 BC)

  • Pushyamitra Sunga was a Brahmin army chief of Brihadratha, the last king of the Mauryas.
  • During a military parade, he killed Brihadratha and established Sunga dynasty in 185 or 186 BC.
  • According to some historians, this was an internal revolt against the last Mauryan king.
  • Some say it was a Brahminical reaction to the Mauryan overwhelming patronage of Buddhism.
  • Pushyamitra Sunga’s capital was at Pataliputra.
  • He successfully countered attacks from two Greek kings namely, Menander and Demetrius.
  • The drama Malavikaagnimitram mentions the victory of Pushyamitra over Yajnasena, the king of Vidarbha
  • He also thwarted an attack from the Kalinga king Kharavela.
  • Pushyamitra sunga built the sculptured stone gateway at Sanchi.
  • He performed two Ashvamedha, Rajasuya and Vajapeya, as mentioned in the Ayodhya stone inscription of King Dhana.
  • Pushyamitra Sunga patronised the Sanskrit grammarian Patanjali, who wrote the Mahabhasya.
  • The Divyavadana gives an account of Pushyamitra’s cruelty towards Buddhists and Buddhism.

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Agnimitra   (149 – 141 BC)

  • Agnimitra is the hero of Kalidasa’s poem, Malavikagnimitram.
  • His son Vasumitra succeeded him as king.

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Bhagabhadra/Bhagavata

  • We can get his account from Besnagar Pillar inscription of Heliodorus.
  • Heliodorus was the Greek Ambassdor of the Indo-Greek ruler Amtalakita/Antialkidas of Taxila
  • He stayed at Sunga dynasty court.

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Devabhuti

  • He also known as Devabhumi and was the last ruler of the Sunga Dynasty.
  • According to the Harschcharita, he was killed by his Brahmana minister Vasudeva Kanva, who founded the Kanva dynasty.

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Effects of Sunga Dynasty Rule

  • Hinduism was revived under the Sunga dynasty.
  • The caste system was also revived with the rise of the Brahmanas.
  • Another important development was emergence of various mixed castes and the integration of foreigners into Indian society.
  • The language of Sanskrit gained more prominence during this time.
  • Even some Buddhist works of this time were composed in Sanskrit.
  • There was an increase in the usage of human figures and symbols in art during the period of Sunga dynasty.

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Kanva Dynasty (73 – 28 BC)

  • Devabhuti was killed by his own minister, Vasudeva Kanva in around 73 BC.
  • Vasudeva Kanva established the Kanva dynasty at Magadha from 73 to 28 BC.
  • Vasudeva Kanva supposed to be a descendent of Rishi Kanva and ruled from Pataliputra.
  • Kanva dynasty ruled for approx. 45 years.
  • According to some scholars, the last Kanva ruler Susharman was overthrown by a successor of Simuka of the Satavahana dynasty.

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Chedi Dynasty of Kalinga

  • The Cheti or Chedi dynasty emerged in Kalinga in the 1st century BC.
  • The Hathigumpha inscription (Udaigiri hills) situated near Bhubaneswar gives information about it.
  • This inscription was engraved by king Kharavela who was the 3rd Cheti king.
  • Kharavela was a follower of Jainism.
  • Other ruler names of this dynasty are Cheta or Chetavamsa, and Mahameghavahana.

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Satavahana dynasty

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Satavahana Dynasty

  • The Satavahana dynasty rules is believed to have started in 235 BC and lasted until the 2nd century AD.
  • The Satavahana dynasty succeeded the Mauryas in the south, though after a gap of almost 100 years.
  • They are referred to as Andhras in the Puranas.
  • Pratishthana (Paithan) and Amaravati were its capitals.
  • The Satavahana kingdom comprised of modern-day Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, parts of Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Their greatest competitors were the Shaka Kshatrapas of Western India
  • They were the first native Indian rulers to issue their own coins with the portraits of the rulers.
  • This practice was started by Gautamiputra Satakarni who derived the practice from the Western Satraps after defeating them.
  • The coin legends were in Prakrit language.
  • Some reverse coin legends are in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada.
  • They patronised Prakrit more than Sanskrit.
  • They used matronyms such as Gautamiputra and Vashishthiputra, although they were not matrilineal or matriarchal in any sense
  • They supported both Buddhism and Brahminism although they were Hindus and claimed Brahminical status.
  • Satavahana formed many Chaityas (Temples – Most famous is Karle in West Deccan)  & Viharas (Residents for monk)
  • They started Practice of giving Tax free Villages to Brahamanas & Buddhist Monks
  • Important Ports
    • West – Kalyana, Calliena, Sopara
    • East -Gandakasela, Ganjam

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Simuka

  • Simuka was the founder of the Satavahana Dynasty
  • He was mentioned in the Nanaghat inscription and Nasik Caves inscription of Kanha
  • He built Jain and Buddhist temples.

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Satakarni I (180 – 124 BC)

  • Sarakarni I was the 3rd Satavahana king.
  • Satakarni I was the first Satavahana king to expand his empire by military conquests.
  • He conquered Kalinga after the death of Kharavela.
  • He also pushed back the Sungas in Pataliputra.
  • Satkarni I also ruled over Madhya Pradesh.
  • After annexing the Godaveri Valley, he assumed the title of ‘Lord of Dakshinapatha’.
  • His queen was Nayanika, wrote Nanaghat inscription which describes the king as Dakshinapathapati.
  • He performed Ashvamedha and revived Vedic Brahminism in the Deccan.

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Hala

  • King Hala compiled the Gatha Saptashati, called Gaha Sattasai in Prakrit
  • It is a collection of poems with mostly love as the theme.
  • Around forty of the poems are attributed to Hala himself.
  • Hala’s minister Gunadhya composed Brihatkatha.

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Gautamiputra Satakarni (106 – 130 AD or 86 – 110 AD)

  • Gautamiputra Satakarni is considered the greatest king of the Satavahana dynasty.
  • He defeated the Greeks, Pahlavas (Indo-Parthians) and the Sakas.
  • Gautamiputra Satakarni defeated Nahapana, an important king of the Western Satraps.
  • He is also called as Ekabrahmana.
  • His mother was Gautami Balasri and hence his name Gautamiputra (son of Gautami).
  • Nashik prashasti inscription of Gautamiputra’s mother calls him as the “king of kings”
  • Gautamiputra Satakarni was succeeded by his son Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi or Pulamavi II
  • Several Buddhist monuments were constructed at Nagarjunakonda and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh by Gautamiputra Satakarni.

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Vashishthiputra Pulumayi  (130 – 154)

  • The Shakas Kshatrapas recovered some of their territories due to his engagements in the east.
  • According to the Junagadh Inscription, he married the daughter of Rudradaman I

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Yajna Sri Satakarni  (165–194)

  • One of the later kings who recovered north Konkan and Malwa from the Shaka rulers.
  • In the mid-3rd century AD, the Satavahana dynasty came to an end.
  • Pulumavi IV, was the last king of Satavahana dynasty.
  • Various forces came into power, the Vakatakas in the Deccan, the Kadambas in Mysore and some other.

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gautamiputra satakarni pushyamitra kanva dynasty
Nasik Caves

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Satavahana Dynasty Administration

  • The Satavahana dynasty kings were represented as the upholder of dharma.
  • In order to attribute divinity to kingship, most kings were represented as possessors of supernatural powers and of qualities of mythical heroes such as Rama, Arjuna, Bhima, and so on.
  • The Satavahana kingdom was divided into subdivisions called aharas or rashtras, meaning districts.
  • There were also officers called amatyas/mahamatras, ministers or advisors of the king.
  • Military and feudal traits are found in the administration of the Satavahana kingdom.
  • For instance the senapati was appointed as provincial governor.
  • The Satavahana kingdom had three grades of feudatories:
    • Raja (who had right to strike coins)
    • Mahabhoja
    • Senapati
  • Revenue was collected both in cash and kind.

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Culture & Economy

  • Contacts with the north, the people of Deccan learnt the use of coins, burnt bricks, ring wells, the art of writing, and so on.
  • They probably exploited the rich mineral resources of Deccan such as iron ores from Karimnagar and Warangal and gold from Kolar fields.
  • Satavahana dynasty mostly issued lead coins (imported from the Romans) apart from copper and bronze coins.
  • The Deccan developed a very advanced rural economy in that time.
  • The area on the confluence of the rivers Krishna and Godavari formed a great rice bowl for south India.
  • Andhra was famous for its cotton products.

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