August 10, 2013

Do Satavahanas belonged to the Andhra Community? -Identity of the Satavahanas

  • The Pauranic genealogies refer to the kings of 'Andhra-Jati'.
  • While some Puranas style them as  Andhrabhrityas. 
  • The Nanaghat and Nasik cave inscriptions and coins discovered in the Deccan mention the names of several kings of 'Satavahana-Kula'. 
  • On the basis of names,  some scholars identified the Satavahanas epigraphical records and  coins  with  the  Andhras  of  the  Puranas.  
  • On the contrary, the Puranas never use the term 'Satavahana' and the inscriptions and coins  do  not  refer to  the  Satavahanas as  the Andhras. On the  basis  of this, some scholars strongly objected to  the identification.

Several scholars made their supporting theories regarding the identity of satavahanas:

R.G.  Bhandarkar: The Andhrabhritya dynasty of the Puranas is the same as  the  Satavahana dynasty of the inscriptions'.    He  relied  on  names occurring  in  the inscriptions ,  coins  and the order (of  their  succession)  with  those  given in  the Puranas under the Andhrabhritya dynasty.    He  explained 'Andhrabhritya' as  meaning 'Andhras who were once servants or dependents.'
Dr.  K. Gopalachari : Satavahanas were Andhras by tribals who   accepted service in  the  western  Deccan under the  Mauryans  and  after Asoka's   death  their  descendants   declared independence.

J.  Burgess,  V.A.   Smith,   E.J.   Rapson,   L.D.   Barnett  and P.T. Srinivasa Ayyangar held the same opinion as that of Bhandarkar  as  regards  the  Andhra-Satavahana  identity.
Jayaswal : Satavahanas are  representatives of the  Satiyaputras  of the Asokan records.  
V.S. Suktankar, H.C  Roychaudhuri and   V.S.  Bakhle  rejected the Andhra-Satavahana   equation.  The following arguments were put forth by them:
1.   The Andhras were in the eastern part of  Deccan.   If the Satavahanas  were  Andhras,  how  was  then  the  inscriptions end coins of the early Satavahana rulers were discovered only in Maharashtra but not in Andhra?
2.   On many  inscriptions  and  coins  found no satavahana ruler mentioned anywhere as Andhra.
3.    The  language  of  the Andhras  is  Telugu.    However  the Satavahana  records are  in  Prakrit.
4.   The kings were mentioned in Puranas as either Andhras or Andhra bhrityas but  not Satavahanas.
5.  The  Satavahanas established their authority first in Maharastra.    After  sometime,  they  conquered  the Andhra  country. Among these rulers, the last 7  or 8  rulers reigned only Andhra proper.   

However  the  above  arguments  may  be   refuted  on  the following  grounds :—
1.   The  Andhras  were  not  simply  confined  to  the  eastern Deccan.   They were found even in Bastar area of Madhya Pradesh,   Northern   Kamataka,   some  parts  of  Maharashtra   and Orissa  as  well.    The  Satavahanas,  starting  from  Andhra,  conquered   Maharashtra   and  settled  there  for  some time. Hence records   of  the  early  rulers   were   found  there. Also the recently  discovered  coins from  Kondapur  and Kotilingala  (Karim- nagar  district)   in  the  eastern   Deccan   refer  to  Early Satavahana ruler Simuka,  the founder  of the Dynasty.  So this argument has no merit in it.
2.   It is true that inscriptions and coins do not refer to the Satavahanas  as  Andhras.   Generally  rulers give  the  names  of their  dynasties  and  not  the  racial  affinity.     For  example,  the rulers  of the Post-Satavahana  dynasties  like  Ikshvaku,  Pallava, Salankayana, Vishnukundin and even Reddi, which ruled over Andhra did not claim themselves in their inscriptions  as Andhras. But there  is no denying  the fact that they  were Andhras.    The Nasik and  Karle inscriptions  refer to Nahapana's  dynastic  name (Kshaharata)   and  not  his  race    (Saka-Pahlava  known    from other sources).   Similarly the Kanheri inscription   refers  to Rudradaman's  dynasty  (Kardamaka)  and not his race (Saka). Hence  Satavahana   is  the  name  of  the  family   (Kula).
3.    No  doubt,  Telugu  is the  language  of  the  Andhras  and it had   its   origins   probably   in   the   Desi   of   first   century  A.D. However the  use of Prakrit might  be the  custom  of that  period because of it being language of masses. It was  used  in inscriptions  not simply  by the Satavahanas,  but also  by their  predecessor  Asoka,  their  contemporaries  Sungas and  their  successors  Ikshvakus  and early  Pallavas.    Even  the Buddhists  also wrote  books  in  Prakrit.
4.    It  is true  the  Puranas  refer  to them either as Andhras  or Andhrabhrityas   but  not  as   Satavahanas.     The  term   'Andhra- bhritya'  need  not be interpreted  as 'the servants  of the Andhras (as  Dr.  Suktankar  did).    It  may  mean  the  Andhras  that  were servants.     Further   K.P.  Jayaswal   suggested   that   when   the centre of  political  gravity  shifted  from  Magadha,  the  Puranas describe  the imperial  dynasties  with  reference  to  their place of  origin  as in  the  case of Vakatakas who were  described in the Puranas as the Vindhyakas.   So also the Satavahanas were called  Andhras  in   the   Puranas.    Moreover  Matsya   Purana clearly states that Simuka was an 'Andhra Jatiya'.
5.   There is evidence to show that the Satavahanas conquered Vidisa,  Maharashtra  and  even  Pataliputra.    But  there  is  no evidence to their conquest of Andhra area.   This is because of the fact that they were  Andhras and had their  political career started first  in  the  Andhra  area and  then  extended to Maharashtra and other areas.  The compilers of some of the Puranas were so near in point of time to the Satavahana kings that they could not have in  their ignorance foisted the name Andhra on to the Satavahana princes simply because they found or knew them only as rulers of Andhra.   The fact is that the Pauranikas were  dealing  with  them  in the larger context  of  their  tribal or communal  affinity.

In view  of  certain  common  names  and the  order  of succession, one has  to  say that two  different dynasties with  same names of kings ruled over the same area during the same period, which is impossible.  Thus it appears most likely that the Satavahanas belonged to  the Andhra Community.


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