Wednesday, February 2, 2011

AN INTRODUCTION TO SATVAHANA DYNASTY: FOUNDERS OF MAHARASHTRA

Modern Maharastra as we see today and inherit a rich culture that originates from Satvahana dynasty, is a matter of great proud to all of us Maharashtrian’s. In brief, in this article I would like to throw some light on the history of Satvahana’s and their great contribution towards Agamik (Shaivait) and Buddhist religion, art, literature and culture.


ORIGIN:

We have few sources to determine origin of Satvahana’s. Satvahana's belonged to Oundra (Andhra) clan. Purana’s have referred them as Andhra-bhrutya or just Andhra satvahana’s. The first mention of Oundra along with Pundra, Mutib, Pulind, Shabar etc. as rulers of southern part of Vindhya Mountain appears in "Aitareya Brahmana". Also according to reference from Mahabharata, they were (Oundra, Pundra etc.) sons of Great King Asur Bali. This means that This dynasty belonged to ancient Asura culture and the origins of this culture can be traced back to Sindhu Culture. It is not surprising that name of first satvahana King is named as “Sindhuk”. If this account is taken into consideration, it is clear that Oundra’s known history dates back to at least 3500 BC.

Oundra’s had established kingdoms in Odisa (Odisa name hails from Oundra), Andhara Pradesh (Andhra is corrupted form of Oundra) and some parts of Maharashtra. PUndra’s ruled from Pundrapur (Modern Pandharpur) and Tiruvarur in south, (Tiruvarur originally was known as Pundrapur) and also ruled west Bengal from the capital “Pundrikvardhan.”

SATVAHANA’S:

All Oundra’s, Pundra’s, Shabar and Mutib’s originally belonged to ancient Naga kula, part of Asura culture. Satvahan (Actually sadvahan…Satvahan is corrupt Sanskrit form of original Prakrut.) “Sadvahan” means horse rider. Megasthenese praised Satvahan's for their cavalry. Satvahana’s belonged to Oundra clan those were out of the periphery of Vaidik religion and were called Shudra’s.

Purana’s have given list of 30 Satvahana kings those ruled Maharastra, central India, Andhra, and some part of Odisa from 200 BC till 230 AD, almost 450 years. Prior to establishment of their own empire predecessors of Satvahana’s were feudal lords and ruled under supremacy of Mouryan empire, while their blood relations (Oundra’s) maintained their supremacy in respective regions like Andhra Pradesh.


RELIGION:

Satvahana’s were “abode of Agama’s.” (Ref : Nashik rock inscription by Goutamiputra Satkarni.). This does clearly mean that Satvahana’s were Shaivaits. Veda’s are called as Nigama’s (Later) and Shaiva’s as well Jain scriptures are called as Agama’s. Agama means ancient (previous) and Nigama means followed by…(later) composed in later times.

There has been dispute over the religious faiths of Satvahana’s. But the fact is evident from the names of the Satvahana kings that they followed Shaivait religion. Shivashree, Skand, Chand, Pulumavi (Skand), Shaktishri, Shivswati etc. are the names those clearly belong’s to Shaivait tradition. The name of the founder of Satvahan dynasty is “Shimukh.” (Actually Sindhuk”)…which resembles with Shivmukh or can be related with Sindhu origin. The most revered name is of a woman in Satvahan dynasty and that is “Nagnika”, and all scholars agree that she belonged to Naga kula.

Most importantly Satvahana’s were matriarchal. This is evident from the fact that Satvahan Kings used to bear Mothers name before their own…such as Goutamiputra Satkarni, Vedistree, Vaasishtheeputra Satkarni, Vashishtheeputra Shivasree Pulumavi, kousikiputra satkarni….etc. Needless to say this is clearly Asura tradition, that precedes patriarchal system of family. Jain Acharya Jinprabhu Suri too has stated that Satvahana’s bloodline originated from Naga Vansh.

Still scholar’s like Dr. Ajay Mitra Shastri tries to establish that Satvahana’s were Brahmins.

Satvahana’s were secular in every respect. They have heavily donated to Bouddha vihara’s, Stupa’s and for creation of Buddhist rock-cut caves. They had donated many villages to the Buddhist monks. Many Rock cut caves, from  nashik to Karle-Bhaje were carved during Satvahana period. In fact Cave sculptures were first introduced by Satvahana’s. Also they organized Yadnya’s too for vaidik Brahmins and had donated heavily to them. The inscription at Naneghat shows how heavily they had donated to the Vedic Brahmins for performing Yadnyas.

Satvahana’s married inter-religions, inter-regions…for example Hal Satvahan had married Lilavati, daughter of King of Cylone. (Sri Lanka) and one king married daughter of Rudradaman, a Shaka king.

(Satvahana Empire)

GREAT ACHEIVEMENTS:

Though Satvahana’s were feudal representatives in Maharashtra during Mouryan and Kanva period, bearing titles like Mahabhoj and Maharatthee. Junnar, Paithan and Amaravati were their alternative Capitals. Junnar was capital of Satvahan dynasty for longest period which was later shifted to Paithan.

Shimuk, (Sindhuk) is known as founder of the Satvahan dynasty who ruled the central India for over 23 years. He got this independence from Kanva dynasty of Bihar. Telangana region was his first choice from where he declared his freedom and occupied Vidarbha region in later times.

Satvahana’s in the times of Great of the Greatest king Goutamiputra Satvahana’s protected entire south India from the vicious advent of the Scythians. At that time he was ruling from present Junnar in Pune district. He had to wage wars with Indo-Greeks, Parada’s (Persians?) to bring back the peace in the country. He established his empire not only in present Maharashtra, but some part of Madhya Pradesh, Sourashtra, some part of Rajputana, and even the part of Andhra like Nagarjunkonda. He is credited by Purana’s for ruling all three oceans…he won every war and established his rule. He was almost ruler of entire south India and the situation continued to be same till next 150 years. Goutamiputra was a handsome and valiant man. He died in 90 AD. His victory over Sakas is still celebrated in form of the Gudi Padava. This festival is extant in the parts till date wherever he had ruled.

Last King from this glorious dynasty, noted by Purana’s was Pulomavi…(Skand) who ruled for only 7 years, from 212 to 218 AD.

Satvahana’s had great naval force. There are pictorial designs of then ships on various coins of those times. The sea-trade was with Arab’s, Romans, and Greeks. Their naval power was tremendous and had won over Sri Lanka using their naval fleets. They used to export muslin, cotton, honey etc. and used to import wine, gold, and lead from abroad. They established first sea-ports, almost 22, on both the sea-coasts.

There were almost 30 fortified cities and various forts built by Satvahana’s which is described by Greek Traveller Megasthenese. So, we can credit him with the first dynasty to identify importance of the forts.

ADMINISTRATION AND ORIGIN OF MARATHA’S

Satvahana’s were the kings believing in complete simplicity. The taxation was meager. They didn't built great palaces for themselves, but forts and fortified cities. The administration too was simple. They had divided the empire in provinces and in Rattha's (Modern districts.) The representative of Rattha would be called “Mahaaratthi” and the representative for provinces (group of Rattha’s) would be called as “Mahabhoj”. Maharatthaa post was not made ancestral…it was temporal and Maharatthi’s would be transferred from one Rattha to other. They were allowed to issue their own coins on behalf of the king, but had no role more than administration of respective Ratthas's and participating the wars if King summons them. Maharatthees could be from any caste. For example, legend is,  an ancestor of satvahana’s was potter, by business. So caste system was not rigid in Satvahana period. Even Brahmins had adapted businesses of traders, sea-fare and warriors. Many had converted to Buddhism and Jainism. Maharatthaa’s could be from any class, if proven ability to administrate. would be appointed as Maharaathhaa.

So like Kulkarni, Deshpande, Inamdar…Maharatthaa too was a title and not a caste. But being feudal lords they continued to bear the same title, even after end of Satvahana dynasty. It seems that they adapted the title "Maharatthaa" as a caste in later times. Mahabjoja’s, as they would be far less in numbers, we today do not know, what happened with that high level administrative class.Later rulers like Vakatakas and Rashtrakutas could be the successors Maharatthis of previous era. It is clear from history that Maharatthi, in later times became ancestral. Present Maratha's, in all probabilities, are successors of Maharatthis of those times.

CULTURE

Satvahana’s, as they ruled for over 450 years as kings, have left their inimitable impact on the Marathi people and their language of today. Satvahana King Hala wrote and compiled 700 folk songs those were written mostly by women from 200 BC till 200 AD, written in Prakrut Maharashtree, are even today a matter of inspiration to any modern poets. Not a single inscription out of about 400 is in Sanskrit for Sanskrit was still evolving. We get a specimen of rudimentary Sanskrit from karle-Bhaje Tank inbscription, which was inscribed by order of Saka princes that was married to Satvahana king.  Many literray works, rigght from Gunadhya's Kathasarisagar, Epic Lilavai, Gatha saptashati, Grammar Prakrit Prakash and so many others. Various forts, fortified cities spread all over Maharashtra, Shaivait temples; rock-cut Buddhist caves etc. till this date reminds us of their great legacy.

I have not enough words to express gratitude towards those secular kings of Satvahana dynasty. I shall write in depth on this in Marathi, very soon…a book…



7 comments:

  1. What does 'Andhra bhrutya' mean is not explained.As far my knowledge goes 'bhrutya' means 'servent'An Andhra servant employed by Aryas was mentioned as 'Andhra bhrutya'The ancestors of Andhras are from forests of central Asia as per the history of 'Kamma' cast people I read. They were said to be so much ill treated by their employers that they often ran away towards south India where aborigine Telugu people lived.They had to manage saying that they too belong to aborigine tribe for the sake of settlement.Later on learned Telugu languauge and reformed it to call it 'Andhra bhasha'for their own identity.

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  2. Purana's ( those are mostly composed during 2nd till 8th century) mention Satvahana's as "andhra" andhra brutya's". Andhra's can be directly related with Oundras. Andhrabhrutya's are none but feudal's those worked under Andhra's. If you check out you may find the entire ancestry of sounth India originates from ancient Asura clan, original builders of the culture. However, we need more and more proofs.

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  3. ANDHRA BHRTYA ...IS VERY CLEAR TERM..ANDHRA REFERS TO THERE ORIGIN ...ITS NOT RELATED TO CURRENT ANDHRA AS MANY CONEACT IT IT MAY CONECT TO ANDHRA RIVER IN MAWAL..BHRITY MEANS OFFICERS NOT SERVENTS..ANDHRA GENERLY MEANS SOUT...SO WE CAN SAY SATVAHANAS ARE OFFICERS OF SOUTH AND THEN BECAME KINGS OF THAT AREA WHICH IS CONTROLLED BY THEM..ONE THING AS WE CAN OBSERVED THERE MAY TWO AREAS AT SAME TIME WHICH ARE CONTROLLED BY THEM ONE WAS JUNNAR CAPITALISED AND ANOTHER WAS PRATISHTHAN OR PAITHAN...AND LASTLY PURANAS ARE NOT AUTHENTIC BOOKS FOR REASEARCH AS MANY PATRSIN IT ARE INCLUDED LATE..BCOZ IN PURANAS THERE ARE 32 SATVAHANAS ENLISTED AND WE CAN FIND MORE NAMES ON COINS THAN THA...

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  4. wants to know who use 'maharashtra darm' word firstly?

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  5. नारायण ठोसर नावाच्या माणसाने " महाराष्ट्र धर्म वाढवावा " असे उपदेशात्मक उद्गार काढले
    बहुतेक ते शब्द श्रीक्षत्रीय कुलावतंस राजा शिवछत्रपती या आपल्या राजाला उपदेशात्मक लिहिलेल्या पत्रात लिहिले आहेत असे वाटते.
    तद्न्य मंडळी कुलासा करण्यात तत्परता दाखवतीलच.

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  6. मृत्युपूर्वी काही दिवस आधी इतिहासाचार्य राजवाडे यांच्या हाती - महिकावातीची बखर पडली.१९२४ साली - त्यात " आद्यशक्ती महाराष्ट्र्म रक्शिका तुम्हा प्रसन्न असो."या केशावाचार्यांच्या वाक्यावर राजवाडे स्तिमित झाले.आणि त्यांनी " महाराष्ट्र धर्म " हि संकल्पना समर्थ रामदासांपुर्वी १५ व्या शतकात महाराष्ट्रात प्रचारात होती याचा बोध झाला.केशावाचार्याने प्रवृत्तीप्रधान महाराष्ट्र धर्म सांगितला आहे.याची प्रचीती बखरीतील महाराष्ट्र धर्माचा पृष्ठे ५३ ते ६१ वरील मजकूर ,विवेचन पाहून आपल्याला येऊ शकते.

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  7. संजयजी,अनानिमास्जी,
    आपल्या लेखनात मूळ पाठ महाराष्ट्र धर्म राक्षिका असा असावा असे वाटते.
    महाराष्ट्र चरित्र ग्रंथमाला च्या वी.का.राजवाडे यांच्या वरील सुरेश देशपांडे यांनी लिहिलेल्या पुस्तकात पान १०६ वर हा मजकूर आहे.
    अनानिमास यांनी दाखवलेल्या सक्रीय सहकार्याबद्दल त्यांचे अभिनंदन !
    मृत्युपूर्वी काही दिवस आधी इतिहासाचार्य राजवाडे यांच्या हाती - महिकावातीची बखर पडली.१९२४ साली - त्यात " आद्यशक्ती महाराष्ट्र धर्म राक्षिका तुम्हा प्रसन्न असो."या केशावाचार्यांच्या वाक्यावर राजवाडे स्तिमित झाले.आणि त्यांनी " महाराष्ट्र धर्म " हि संकल्पना समर्थ रामदासांपुर्वी १५ व्या शतकात महाराष्ट्रात प्रचारात होती याचा बोध झाला.केशावाचार्याने प्रवृत्तीप्रधान महाराष्ट्र धर्म सांगितला आहे.याची प्रचीती बखरीतील महाराष्ट्र धर्माचा पृष्ठे ५३ ते ६१ वरील मजकूर ,विवेचन पाहून आपल्याला येऊ शकते.

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