SUNGAS The Sunga rule, extending a little over a century, is in interlude in the history of India. There is nothing extraordinary about the political events associated with the Sungas. The significance of their history, on the other hand, primarily consists in the place they occupy in the social and cultural history of India. The founder of the dynasty, Pushyamitra Sunga, overthrew the Mauryas; either in 187 B.C. or 184 B.C. After him there were nine other rulers. Among them, Agnimitra, Vasumitra, Bhagvata and Devabhumi were the prominent ones. The names of the first two were associated with some events in political history, whereas the latter two were known for their long rule, they being 32 and 10 years respectively. There is some controversy about the identity of Pushyamitra Sunga. It was stated in a Sutra that he belonged to a family of teachers. Patanjali claims that he was a brahminor the Bhardwaja gotra. Ivyavadana stated that the Sungas were related to the Mauryas. A Malavikagnimitram refers to them as brahmins belonging to Kashyap gotra. After the overthrow of Brihadrata, Pushyamitra Sunga waged a few wars to consolidate his position. Evidence shows that Pushyamitra Sunga defeated the Yavanas. This is confirmed by Patanjali’s Mahabashva. And the claim made in the Hathigumpha inscription that Kharavela of Kalinga defeated Pushyamitra Sunga cannot be sustained because Kharavela ruled in the second half of the first century B.C. Later, Vasumitra, the grandson of Pushyamitra Sunga, defeated the Yavanas. This is confirmed by the Malavikaganimtiram and gargi Samhita. Both Agnimmitra and Veerasena fought against Vidarbha rule of the Sungas ended C. 75 B.C. Some scholars regard that the establishment of Sunga dynasty ws symbolic of the brahminical reaction to the Mauryan bias towards Buddhism. Pushyamitra Sunga performed the vedic sacrifices of asvamedha, and the others like aginstoma, Rajasuya and vajpeiya. But some facts of his region clearly show that he did not persecute Buddhists. The claim of Divyavandana, that Pushyamitra Sunga destroyed 84,000 Buddhist stupas and slaughtered srameans, has no corroborative 15
evidence. Interestingly, the sculptured stone gateway and the massive stone railing aroused Sanchi stupa were executed during the time of Pushyamitra Sunga. Also
the Bharhut stupa and the sculpture relating to Jataka stories around it came into existence during the same period. One of the donors of Bharhut stupa was Champadevi wife of the Idisha King, who was a worshipper of Vishnu. This fact bears testimony to the high degree of tolerance prevailing during the period. (And some minor works of Sunga art are to be found at Mathura, Kausambi and Sarnath). It at all there was anyting like persecution of Buddhists during the days of Pushyamitra Sunga, it could be in the context of Menander’s invasion. May be, the Buddhists of India welcomed the invasion of Menander’ and this might have resulted in Pushyamitra Sunga wrath falling on the Buddhists. Or, may be withdrawal of royal patronage with the coming of the Sungas apparently enraged the Buddhists and thus the Buddhists writers present an exaggerated account of their troubles. The importance of the Sungas, therefore, was primarily in the context of cultural and social development. In the social field, the emergence of Hinduism had a wide impact. The Sungas attempted to revive the caste system with the social supremacy of the brahmins. This is more than evident in the work of Manu (Manusmriti) wherein he reassures the position of the brahmins in the fourfold society. Even then, the most significant development of the Sunga era was marked by various adjustment and adaptations leading to the emergence of mixed castes and the assimilation of the foreigners in India society. Thus we notice that Brahminism gradually transformed itself in a direction towards Hinduism. In the field of literature Sanskrit gradually gained ascendancy and became the language of the court. Patanjali was patronized by Pushyamitra Sunga and he was the second great grammarian of Sanskrit. Patanjali refers to a Sanskrit poet, Varauchi, who wrote in the Kavya style and which was later perfected by Kalidasa. Some Buddhist works of this age were written in Sanskrit. In the field of art, there was immediate reaction against the Buddhist era of the Mauryas. Nevertheless, there were certain differences. The Sunga art reflects more of the mind, culture, tradition and ideology than what the Mauryan art did. During the Sunga period, stone replaced wood in the railings and the gateways of the Buddhist stupas as noticed at Bharhut and Sanchi. Bharhut stupa is replete with sculptures – apart from floral designs, animal, figures, Yakshas and human figures. Even the stone railing around the Sanchi Stupa is in rich belief work. This age definitely witnessed the increasing use of symbols and human figures in architecture. Besides, the Sungas art is a manifestation of popular artistic genious – the artistic activity was because of the initiative of individuals, corporation or villages. A part of the gateway of Sanchi was constructed by the artisans of Vidisha. Even temple building began in this period. A Vishnu temple was build near Vidisha. There was an increase in the construction of rock-cut temple as noticed in the Chaitya Hall. In the temples and household worship we find the idols of Shiva and Vishnu. All told the importance of the sunga dynasty lies in the restoration of Real politik while abandoning the asokan approach. In the cultural field the beginnings as well as accomplishments in sculpture and architecture are of tremendous significance. In the field of religion too they not only revived the earlier tradition but also gave an impetus to new approaches combative towards the heterodox sects the cult of katakana the god of war the resurgence of Bhagvata cult and the supremacy of Vasudeva in the Hindu pantheon. 16
In the post-Mauryan era, central Asia and north-western India witnessed hectic and shifting political scenes. The Great Yuehi-chi driven out of fertile lend in Western china migrated towards the Aral Sea. There they encountered the Sakas near Syr Darya river and evicted them. The Great Yuehi-Chi tribes settled in the valley of Oxus and with the occupation of the Bactrian lands the great hordes were divided into five principalities. A century later the Kushan section or sect of Yuehi-Chi attained predominance over the otheres. Their leader was Kadphises. Thus began the history of Kushans. The unique geographical position of the Kushans empire made it a colossus astride on the spine of Asia uniting the Greco-Roman civilization in the west the Chinese civilization in the east and Indian civilisation in the south-east. The leader of the Kushans was kadphises and his rule probably began in 40 A.D. He attacked the regions south of Hindu Kush, conquered Kabul and annexed Gandhara including the kingdom of Taxila. Kadphises died in 77 A.D. or 78 A.D. By then the Kushans had supplanted the princes belonging to the Indo-Greek saka and Indo-Parthian communities along the frontiers of India. The successor of kadphises was Vima-Kadphses. He conquered large parts of norther India. His coins show that his authority extended as far as Banaras and as well as the Indus basin. In all likelihood his power extended as far as Narbada and the Saka satraps in Malwa and Western India acknowledged his sovereignty. By that time the Chinese reasserted their authority in the north and this led to a collusion with the Kushans. The Chinese general pan-chao conquered Chinese Turkistan and established the Chinese authority in parthia that is on the territory south of the Caspian sea. These advances frightened the Kushans. In 87 AD Kadphises II, claimed the hand of a Chiese princes, an acknowledgement of his equality with the son of Heaven. The proposal was rejected and Kadphises, dispatched a large army, But the army was decimated because of the difficult terrain. And it was easily defeated by the Chinese. The Kushan ruler was compelled to pay tribute the China and the Chinese records so that the Kushans continued to send missions to Cnina till the close of the century. Rossibly the reign of Kadphises II ended C. 110 A.D. The next ruler, Kanishka probably belonged to the little Yuehi-chi section of the horde. His capital was Purushapura and here he erected a large number of Buddhist buildings. In his early years he annexed Kashmir and consolidated his rule in the Indus and the Gangetic basin. His army crossed the Pamirs and inflicted a defeat on the Chinese. The chief of Khotan, Yarkand and the Ksshgar were made to pay tribute. Tradition states that while Kanishka was on his return from the Chinese Turkistan, he was sothered to death by his officers who had got weary of his campaigns. Most of his time was spent on waging wars. A large number of inscriptions were incised during the times of Kanishka and his successor. According to evidence, Kanishka became an active partron of the Buddhist Church during the later part of his reign. Althouth the Buddhist records gloat over this fact and regard him as the second Asoka, his coins prove that he honoured a medley of gods – zoroastrain, Greek, Mitraic, and Indian. The prominent Indian duty on the coins was Shiva. The peculiar assembly of deities by the Kushans offers a great deal of speculation. May be Kansihka follwed a loose from of
Zorostrianism and freely venerated the deities of other greeds. 17
Also, Kanishka covened a council of Buddhist theologians to settle disputes relating to Buddhist faith and practices. The conclusions of this council were engraved on copper sheets and preserved in the stupa of the capital. The delgates to the council primarily belonged to the Hinayana sect. The Buddhism of this period was definitely a lax one. The Mahayana sect was popular. But early Buddhism was an India product and was based on the Indian ideas of rebirth, transmigration of souls and the blessedness of escape from the pains of being. This Buddhism was supported by a practical system of ethics inculcating a stoic devotion to duty for its own sake. Such a teaching needed fundamental changes to attract the sturdy mountaineer, the nomad horseman and the Helloe rized Alexandrian. The veneration for a dead teacher passed into a worship of living seviour. Soon the Kushan power declined. Within the Kingdom, harm was done to the Kushan Empire by the Nagas and Yaudheyas. A Naga ruler probably performed ten ashvamedha sacrifices. Apart from these two communities, a few other tribes also, like the Malavas and the Kunindas, probably regained their importance at the expense of the Kushan empire. Apart from the weaknesses to the successors of Kanishka, developments in the Persia influenced the history of North western India. The Parthians were overthrown byArdashir in 226 A.D. who established theSassanian dynasty. His successors annxed Peshawar and Taxila during the middle of the 3rd century. And Kushan kings in the north-west became the vassals of the Sasssanians. The successors of Kanishka, as established today, are the following : Vashiska (102-106), Hyvishka (106-138), and Vasudeva (c. 152-176). The history after this period is extremely vague. Over the ruins of the empire, in Central Asia and the west, rose the Sassanian empire of Persia and in India. The Gupta empire. Speaking in general about the achievement of the Kushans, the first is the economic prosperity. As the Kushan empire was situated in a crucial geographical region. There was brisk trade. Moreover, the very area covered by the Kushan empire helped the flow of trade between the east and the west. Some trade routes which came into existence in this period continued to serve the future also. Gold coins of great complexity were issued by the Kushans. These coins speak of the prosperity of the people. The coins of Kanishka usually show the figure of Kanishka standing and sacrificing at altar, and on the obverse, deities belonging to various religions. The coins of the Kushans also show that the Kushans were in contact with the Romans – the weight of the Kushan coins has certain similarities with the Roman coins. According to the author of the Periplus god and silver species were imported at Barygaza (Broach). As regards art and literature, we have to state that their greatest contribution was the Gandhara art. It was in this period that the stone images of the Buddha and the Bodhisattavas were craved out. The chief of quality of this art is the blending of Buddhist subjects with Greek forms. Images of the Buddha appear in the likeness of Apollo, and theYakshakubera is posed in the fasino of Zeus. The imprint of this school of art is still to be found in Mathura and Amarvati. Indeed, the carving of images and the building of temples was not neglected in earlier days, but under the Kushans they attained a refinement. The Chaitya built at Peshawar was as high as
four storeys. Fa-Hien, passing through Gandhara, during the fifth century, praised 18
the images of the Buddha, Bodhisattavas and numerous other deities. The early rulers fostered the Hellenistic art of Gandhara and also the Bhikshu Bela, and from this place artistic products were sent to Sarasvati and Sarnath. Kanishka was a great builder – tower at Peshawar, a new city in Taxila, a town in Kashmir and fine buildings and sculptures at Mathura. It was at the last place a portrait stature of Kanishka has been found but its head is not there. Further, the die-engravers employed by the Kushans were far from negligible. A special note is to be taken of coinage. The Kushan coins became the prototypes for many varieities of coins of Yadheyas, the imperial Guptas, some kings of Nepa and several Kings of Chedi. Eminent Buddhist writers – Nagajuna, Asvaghosha and Vasumitra were the names associated with Kanishka. The first was a poet, musician, scholar and a zealous Buddhist monk. Charaka was the court physician of Kanishka. The next thing to be noted about the Kushana is their religion. In all likelihood, missionaries propagated Buddhism in central Asia and China in this period. Possibly, it was during the time of Kanishka that Mahayana Buddhism was sanctified. The fourth Buddhist council that was summoned by Kanishka canonized the doctrines of Hinayana and Mahayana. The deliberations of the conference were engraved on sheets of copper and were sealed and deposited in a stupa, but they have not been found so far. But to regard Kanishka as the founder patron of the Mahayana sect, which came into existence under the Kushans, is a disputable point. Even though many scholars regard Kanishka as the second Asoka some writers do not agree with this view. In addition to these things, we must mention that the Kushana kings patronized all kinds of religions, including Hinduism. Kanishka was definitely and eclectic monarch as he honored a medley of gods belonging to the Greek, Zoroastrian and Hindu faiths. Not only Buddhism flourished under the Kushanas but there were definitely stirrings of Hinduism. Many brahminical sects started merging. Along with religion, Sanskrit language received an impetus. In a way the Kushan age constituted the prelude to the Gupta age. In this ammner, the services rendered by the Kushanas are commendable. A mere evaluation of the personality of Kanishka alone would not help us to estimate the importance of the Kushanas as the empire lasted for three centuries. To a certain extent, the prosperious time of peace during the Gupta period was directly due to the Kushans undertaking the unconscious role of the shield and buckler of Indian civiliszation and culture. The Kushan state was a buffer between the Aryan civilization and the nomadic hordes in central Asia who from time to time, had overrun the civilized worlds with the sweep of avalanches. It was also responsible for the exchange of ideas and goods between different civilization because of the peculiar geographical position occupied by the Kushanas a clearing house for the ideas and goods of different civilization. Answering A Question There are a few ways of setting question on this topic: (a) a brief history of Indo-Greeks and their impact on Indian civilization. (b) History of the foreigners who came in the wake of the fall of the Roman empire and their impact on Indian civilization. (c) A question on Kushans or Kanishka. (d) Out of the southern kingdoms, the likely thins is the history of
Satavahanas and their impact. 19
(e) History of the significance of the Sungas and Kanvas. While attempting questions on the aforesaid topics, candidates have been facing two difficulties – (i) inadequate information because of not memorizing the points, and (ii) and lack of information on special aspects. The candidates must be able to correct the first failing. Regarding the second, the following are the principal heads. “Kanishka – hardly belongs to the history of India”. The questions requires that first of all, you should show how Kanishka cannot be regarded as a true Indian ruler. In the second part of the answer, you should show that it is unfair to estimate him like that. And in the conclusion, you should maintain that there is a considerable, amount of truth in the given statement when you view history from a particular standpoint. Regarding the first part of answer, the following are the points :- (i) his capital was located almost on the outer fringes of the Indian subcontinent, i.e.- Peshawar, (ii) his primary interest was to conquer areas in central Asia and compete with the Chinese for suzerainty over that area – historical evidence shows that the was smothered to death by his soldiers who were tired of his exploits in Central Asia and his battles with the Chinese; (iii) Kanishka did not identify himself with India since he vaguely patronized Buddhism and Buddhism did not stay in India as a religion of any significance; (iv) The Gandhara School of art that came into existence during his period remained an exotic tradition but not an Indian one, since it was the tradition of Mathura school that finally became the tradition of India, It is interesting to observe that a statue of Kanishka has been found in Mathura, but its head is missing. In the second part, mention the following points:– Kanishka was an electic ruler just as Harhsa. Even Akbar’s Din-I-Illahi had electic traits. Aslo, it is interesting to note that some of his flowers were adherents of Vaishnavism, (i) to say that Buddhism has no place in the history of India is too narrow a view. The influence of Buddhism was very wide and very varied – the Buddhist monks created Ajanta frecos, the Buddhist stupas and rock-cut chaityas influenced the later-day Hindu architecture, the Sangha and the Bhikkus of Buddhism later appeared as mutts and Sanyasis of Sankaracharya; Buddhist writers enriched Sanskrit literature, and it was Buddhism that compelled Hinduism to set its house in order. (ii) It is unfair to treat him as a foreign ruler because of Kanishka’s capital being located in Peshawar. During the time of Kanishka, new trade routes were opened towards West Asia and Central Asia. Moreover, you should remember that the happenings in Central Asia very often influenced the history of India as remarked by a writer, a good understanding of Indian history required, an understanding of the history of Central Asia. (iii) Kanishka’s patronage of learning was in tune with the Patronage of learning by rulers of India like Samudragupta, Chandragupta II, Amoghsvarsha and many others. Even the very establishment of Kanishka’s 20
rule forced the Sakas to go south ward which checkmated the amibitions of the Satavahanas. Andhra Satavahanas ORIGIN : (a) Aitrareya Brahmana puts the Adhras beyond the pale of Aryanism. (b) Nasik Prasasti lays claim to Gautmi as a brahamana. (c) Puranas called them their services to Aryanism they were – admitted to the Aryan folk after their services to Arynanism – there is a reference to them in the Asoka inscriptions as well as by Megasthenes. (d) Some call them Brahmins – some, mixed Brahmins of Naga origin, aqnd some, protectors of Brahmins, (e) Numismatic evidence points to the origin in Western Deccan and Madhya Pradesh. Epigraphic and literary evidence points to their western origin – the figure of the founder of the dynasty is found in paition in western Deccan. (f) Epigraphic evidence refers to them as Satavahanas, not as Andhras. (g) Possibly, Andhra is the Tribal name : Satavahana, the dynastic name, and satakarni, the Surname. SOURCES : (a) Puranas – mention 30 kings,. (b) Aitrareya Brahmina. (c) Literary sources — Gunadhya’s Brihatkatha. And Leelavati, which deals with the military exploits of Hala. (d) Nasik inscription of Gautami Balsari. (e) Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela for inferring the date of the first ruler. (f) Sanchi inscription extent of the Satavahanas kingdom till Malwa. CHORONOLOGY: (a) The founder war one Simukha – probably the first century B.C. – supplanted the lingering Sunga and Kanva rulers – rule of the dynasty was for 300 years. Simuka was succeed by Krishna or Kanha. (b) The next known king was Satakarni – the kingdom expanded – probably defeated by Kharavela – performed Ashvamedha Pratishthana was the capital – confusion after him. Kshaharatas or sakas occupied parts of Maharashtra. 21
(c) Hala is the 17th in the list of Puranas – his book is saptasataka – deals with both erortic and philosophical themes. Gundhaya’s Brihatkatha deals with the rivalry between Prikrit and Sanskrit. (d) Beginning from 25 A.D. to 75 A.D. there was confusion – saka eruption.
(e) The greatest ruler was Gautamiputra Satakarni. He was the 23rd according to Pupranas – around 72 A.D. the Nasik inscription of his mother talks of his being the destroyer of Sakas, Yavanas and Kshaharata – also says that he crushed the pride of Kshatrias – overran konan, Saurashtra, Bihar and Malva. A Philanthropist, he maintained Arya Dharma – put an end to Varna – Sankara – some regard him to be Vikramaditya. Built the city of Benakataka and assumed the titles of Raja Raja and Svamin. (f) The next known ruler was Pulumayi II around 96 A.D. – first ruled Andhra country – Vaijyanti and Amaravati famous cities – Satavahanas a naval power – probably overseas colonisation – large number of inscription. (g) The next know ruler was Vasishtiputra Batakarni of sri Pulumayi – married the daughter of Rudradaman, a Saka ruler — however Rudradaman twice defeated him. Also, Sri Pulumayi lost to Chastana, son of Bhosmotika. (h) Next known ruler was Yajna Sri Satakarni – around 160 A.D. – Malva, Kathiawad and North Konkan – inscription found in Konkan and Krishna – coints found in Gujarat and Kathiawad – defeated Kshatapas. (i) After the declined Salankeyanas ruled over the Satavahana territory. IMPORTANCE : (1) The Very area over which they ruled was important connecting link between link between northern and southern India – Andhras were instrumental in spreading Aryan culture to the south. (2) Their colonizing activities spread to South-East Asia – influence of Amaravati sculptures on South-East Asian sculptures. (3) They did maintain contact between India and the Western world in matters of trade. (4) They were instrumental in curbing the penetration of Sakas further into south. (5) Some of the later southern dynastic like Ikshvakus, Kadambas, Tarikutakas and Abhiras continued the Satavahan tradition and the Pallsvas and the Chalukya claimed the tradition of Satavahanas. SATAVAHANA ACHIEVEMENTS The government if the Satavahana kingdom was organized on the traditional lines. The kingdom was divided into Janapadas, which were further sub-divided into aharas. Each 22
ahara was under an Amataya. The basic unit of the ahara was the grama with the village headman called gamika. Central control was maintained over the provices. Princes were generally made viceroys. And the kings did not assume high-sounding titles. They were expected to maintain dharma. Taxation was not burden some. The state derived its income from crown lands, court fees, fines and ordinary taxes on lands. The extraordinary taxes of the Mauryan period were not imposed. In general, Central control was not high because feudal traits emerged in the Satavahana period. The feudal chiefs like maharathas mahasenapatis and mahabhojas issued their own coins. The area under the satavahanas in general witnessed considerable prosperity.
There was brisk trade. Broach was the most important port and it had a vast and rich hinterland. Pratishthana produced cotton cloth. Tagara and Ujjain produced muslin. The chief imports were wines, copper, tin, lead and gold and silver coins. Another important port was kalyan mentioned in the Perilus. The other ports were Sopara, Goa and pigeon islands. Within the kingdom there were important cities like Tagara, Prathishthana, Nasik, Junnar and Dhanyakataka. Koddura and Chinnaganjam were the important ports on the east. The general life led by the people was similar to the one portrayed in Vatsayana’s Kama-Sutra. Evidence also shows that a good number of people emigrated from the Deccan to colonize the regions in South-East Asia The Satavahanas and Shiva were worshiped. Saptasataka reveals the worship of many Hindu deities. Vaishnavasim and Shavism grew popular. Gautamiputra- Satakarni claimed himself to be the protector of brahmins. The Naisk prasasthi states that Varnashrama Dharmawas maintained. Buddhism too was popular. Both the sakas and Satavahanas encouraged Buddhism. Ushavadata mare several grants to Buddhist monks. Some of these grants were renewed by Guatamiputra Satakarni. Buddhist momuments and stupas came into existence at Nasik, Vidisa, Bhattiprolu, Goli, Ghantasala and Amaravati. It was at the last plece that most probably human figures were carved out for the first time. And the stupa at this place had a marble railing with relief sculptures. A vaijayanti merchant was responsible for enriching Karle and Kanheri Buddhist caves. Merchants from Nasik contributed to the caves at Vidisa and Bharhut. In brief cave architecture and building of stupas witnessed certain development under the auspices of the satavahanas; and the donations or the merchants belonging to the guilds prove the commercial prosperity of the area. Emcouraged by wealth the kings patronized literature and architecture. Hala was an authority on the Puranas. He was the author of Sapta-Sataka. It is said that Hala paid as much as 40 million pieces of gold for four kavyas. Leelavati deals with the military campaigns of Hala. The kings encouraged architecture. The five gateways at Sanchi the rock-cut Chaity-halls of Bhaja, Karle, Nasik and Kanheri and the stupas at Amaravati, Bhattiprolu, Goli and Ghantasala were built in this period. The capitals of the pillars in Karle caves are elaborately sculptured. The dome and the base of the Amaravati stupa is elaborately sculptured. Jataka stories were incised on marble slabs. The upper part of the dome is a beautiful floral design. It is generally said that its construction began during the t8ime of Gautamiputra Satakarni and was completed 23
during the time of Yajna Sri Satakarni. Most probably two Ajanta Frescoes (9th and 10th) came into existence during this period. The satavahanas weregreat excavators of cave temples and the magnificent temples of Ellora and Ajanta were the continuation of the Satavahana tradition to which all Middle Indian dynasties in succeeding ages claimed historic relationship. The basic tradition in Middle India is of the Satavahana empire. As in the north it is of the Mauryan. From the point of view of historic continuity it is important to remember this primary fact as up to quite recent times the traditions flowing from the satavahanas were living factors in Indian history. Satavahana Administration The Satavahana administration was very simple and was according to the principle laid
down in Dharmashastras. The king laid no claim of divine right. They had only the most modest title of rajan. They had no absolute power. Their power was checked in practice by customs and shastras. The king was the commander of war and of threw himself into the thickest of the frays. A peculiar feature of the Satavahana administration was the presence of feudatories of different grade. The highest class was that of petty princes bearing the kingly title raja and striking coins in their own names. Next in rank was the maharathi and mahabhoja. Both titles from the beginning were hereditary and restricted to a few families in a few localities. Probably mahabhoja ranked higher than that of maharathi. The mahabhojas were the feudatories of Satavahanas. They were primarily located in western Deccan. They were related by blood to the feudatory maharathi. It is definitely known that the maharathis were the feudatories of Satavahanas. They also granted in their own name villages with physical immunities attached to them. The maharathis of the chitaldrug enjoyed the additional privilege of issuing coins in their own name. Towards the close of the Satavahana period two more feudatories were created Mahasenapathi and them mahataralavara. Barring districts that were controlled by feudatories, the empire was divided into janapadas and aharas, the latter corresponding to modern districts. The division below that of ahara was grama. Non-hereditary governors were subject to periodical transfers. There were other functionaries like great chamberlain store-keepers treasurers and dutakas who carried royal orders. The government lived from hand to mouth. The taxes were neither heavy nor many. The sources of income were proceeds from the royal domain, salt monopoly ordinary and extraordinary taxes both soldiers and officials were paid in kind. The Satavahana administration was very simple and was according to the principle laid down in Dharmashastras. The king laid no claim of divine right. They had only the most modest title of rajan. They had no absolute power. Their power was checked in practice by customs and shastras. The king was the commander of war and of threw himself into the thickest of the frays. A peculiar feature of the Satavahana administration was the presence of feudatories of different grade. The highest class was that of petty princes bearing the kingly title raja and striking coins in their own names. Next in rank was the maharathi and mahabhoja. Both titles from the beginning were hereditary and restricted to a few 24
families in a few localities. Probably mahabhoja ranked higher than that of maharathi. The mahabhojas were the feudatories of Satavahanas. They were primarily located in western Deccan. They were related by blood to the feudatory maharathi. It is definitely known that the maharathis were the feudatories of Satavahanas. They also granted in their own name villages with physical immunities attached to them. The maharathis of the chitaldrug enjoyed the additional privilege of issuing coins in their own name. Towards the close of the Satavahana period two more feudatories were created Mahasenapathi and them mahataralavara.
Barring districts that were controlled by feudatories, the empire was divided into janapadas and aharas, the latter corresponding to modern districts. The division below that of ahara was grama. Non-hereditary governors were subject to periodical transfers. There were other functionaries like great chamberlain store-keepers treasurers and dutakas who carried royal orders. The government lived from hand to mouth. The taxes were neither heavy nor many. The sources of income were proceeds from the royal domain, salt monopoly ordinary and extraordinary taxes both soldiers and officials were paid in kind. Significance Of The Satavahanas (1) It was the emergence of Vakataka power in the Vindhya area some where about the middle of the third century that brought about the downfall of the Satavahanas. But an empire so firely established in its home domains does not break down with the fall of a dynasty. The Rastrakutas and the Chalukyas in the Godavari valley and the Pallavas in the south originally the viceroys of the Satavahanas, claimed successtion to the empire with in their own territorial limits as the Vakatakas claimed it to the north of the Vindhyas. The Gangas and the Kadambas were also the inheritors of the tradition and as the Vijayanagar emperors claimed in time to be Chalukya Chudamanis, or the crest jewels of the Chalukya dynasty and as the great kings of Gujarat equally claimed succession from the Chalukyas, the imperial tradition of the Satavahanas may be said to have been carried forward at least to the beginning of the seventeenth century. (2) The rise of the Satavahanas signified that the economic revolution of the Gangetic region was repeated allover India. Added to this because of the peculiar geographical terrain of the Deccan peninsula a number of small kingdoms came into existence but not any big empire. (3) Since the Satavahanas had controlled part of the Deccan and part of northern India, they acted as the couriers of Aryanism to southern India. (4) It is intriguing to note that the Satavahana inscriptions were primarily in pali but not in Sanskrit indicating it look long time to establish Sanskrit language as the language of the elite although people professed Aryanism much earlier. (5) The administrative structure of the Satavahana is a revealing one because it was not a highly centralized administration and it conceded the emergence of feudalism. Feudal chiefs like Mahara this mahasenapatis and mahabhojas issued their own coins. (6) The artistic excellence that was achieved under the aegis of the Satavahanas had a tremendous significance. Buddhist mouments came into existence at Nasik, 25
Vidisha, Bhattiprolu, Goli, Ghantasala and amaravati. Most probably human figure was first carved out at Amaravati and Amaravati’s sculptures influenced South-east Asian sculptures. (7) Under the aegis of the Satavahanas trade was given a boost. The important pores were Koddura and Chinnaganjam on the east and Kalyan, Sopara, Goa and Pigeon islands on the West coast. And some of the important commercial centers
were Tagara, Pratishthana, Nasik, Junnar and Dhanyakataka. Saka-satavahana Conflict 1. There is controversy about the name ‘Sakas’. Some hold the view that they were probably. One branch of them was known as kshabaratas. Some say Nahapana was a pahlava and Ghasmotika the father of Chashtana was Scythian. It was from the Gupta period that the name ‘saka’ came to be applied to this family of people. 2. The one reason that was responsible for the southward thrust of the sakas was the Kushan pressure from the north. 3. To begin with they established themselves in western Rajputana, Gujarat and Kathiawad. Then they took malva and even northern Maharashtra from the Satavahanas. At one time they even got southern Maharashtra as far as Vijayanti from the Satavahanas. 4. The earliest known king of the Kshaharatas, a branch of the Sakas, was Bhumaka. He ruled over Gujarat, Kathiawad and north Konkancoins belonging to him are found. 5. His successor was Nahapana-title Raja-numerous coins-advanced at the expense of Satavahanas-this advance began five years before the end of Nahapana’s rule. After Nahapana defeated the Satavahana he assumed the title of Maha Kshatrapa. A Jaina work mentions Broach as the capital of Nahapana. 6. Ushavadata was the general and son-in-law of Nahapana and he succeeded him as the Saka ruler. He took western deccan including Malva. It is not known whether Paithan, the capital of Satavahanas was lost or not. He defeated Satavahana rulers were Sundara Satakarni, Chakora Satakarni and Siva sati. It is interesting to note that Ushavadata following Puranic Hinduism gve cows to brahmins – visited Pushiar – gave religious benefactions – also gave viallages to Buddhists – Saka country was divided into districts. 7. It was Gautamiputra Satakarni who revived the glories of Satavahanas. He defeated the successor of Nahapana, Ushavadata was killed. Some say that he defeated Nahapana. Also a Jaina work speaks of Nahapana’s defeat and death at the hands of Satavahanas. The coins of Nahapana were re-issued by Gautamiputra Satakarni. Some land grants also confirm this victory. It is said that the Satavahana king made preparations for 16 years to defeat the Sakas. 8. The coflict was re-opened during the days of Pulumayi II, the king after Gautamiputra Satakarni, as well as, Sri Pulumayi. 9. After this Ghamotika appeared on the stage who ruled over Kathiwad. His successor, Ghashtana also infliceted defeats on the Satavahanas. Rudraman too defeated the Satavahanas. The victory of Rudraman and Ghastana around 150 A.D. (cofirmed by Junagarh inscription) mad the Patavahanas lose all their northern conquests. 26
Significance:- (1) The conflict between the Sakas and Satavahanas was inevitable as such conflicts were natural in feudal times. Probably the Sakas were perforce dieven to expand southward because of the establishment of Kushan empire. The Saka- Satavahana conflict was because of the basic factors working in the political dynamic of the day. (2) The Sakas issued coins of great artistic value. Gatuamiputra Satakarni re-issued the coins of Nahapana. In other words, the Sakas had a better artistic sense.
(3) Evidence shows that the Sakas introduced new ideas and institutions in southsilver coins, free use of Sanskrit and Vigorour patronage of Buddhists and brahmins. Kshaharatas used Khoreshthi – alphabet of extreme north-west. Sanskrit Sanskrit is a remote cousin of all the language of Europe ecepting the Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish and basqe. Around 2000 B.C. an ancestral group of dialects arose among the tribesmen of South Russia. With Panini (probably 4th century B.C.) the Sanskrit language reached its classical form. It developed a little thense forward except in its vocabulary. The grammer of Panini, Asthadhyayi, pre-supposes the work of may earlier grammarians. Latter grammars are mostly commentaries on Panini, the chief being Mahabashya by Patanjali (second century B.C.) and the Banaras-commentary of Jayaditya and Vamana (seventh century A.D.). It was from the time of Panini onwards that the language began to be called Samskarta, perfected or refined, as opposed to Prakras (natural), the popular dialects which had grown over time. In all probability, Panini bsed his work on the languages as it was spoken in the north west. Beginning as the lingua franca of the priestly class, it gradually became that of the governing class also. The first important dynasty to use Sanskrit was that of the Sakas of Ujjain and the inscriptions of Rudraman at Girnar. Otherwise, the Maurya and the other important dynasty till the Guptas used Prakrit for their official pronouncements. The Language of the Rig Veda was already archaic when the hymns were composed and the ordinary Aryan spoke a sompler tongue, moer closely akin to classical Sanskrit. By the time of the Buddha themasses were speaking languages which were much simpler than Sanskrit. These were the prakrits. The ordinary speech of Ancient India has been preserved forus largely throughthe unorthodox religions. Most inscriptions of pre-Gupta time are in Prakrit. The women and humbler characters of the Sanskrit drama are made to speak in formalized prakrit of various dialects. A few of secular literary works were composed in Prakrit. Classical Sanksrit increasing became thelanguage of brahmins and the learned few. Its use was restricted to certainoccasions such as issuing of proclamations and during the performance of Vedic ceremonies. In the towns and villages a popular form of Sanksrit, known as Prakrit, came into the existence. There were a breat number of local variations. The chief western variety was called Shuraseni and the eastern variety, Magadhi, Pali was another popular language based on Sanksrit. It, too, was used in the same religions as Prakrit. The Buddha, to reach more people, taught in Magadhi. 27
Speaking of literature, the four Vedas and the Brahmins and Upnishadas have some literary qualities. Some hymns of the Rig Veda and some parts of the early Upnishadas have some merit. Otherwise, they are mostly dry and monotonous. In the 1028 hymns of the Rig Veda there is a great variety of styled and merit. The hymns contain many repetitions and the majority of them have the sameness of outlook. A number of hymns show deployment feeling for nature, as for example, the hymns to Ushas. A few vedic hymns are primarily secular, as for example the Gamester’s Lament. Very tittle of liverary quality is there in the later Vedic literature the Atherva veda mostly a monotonous collection contains a few poems of great merit. The prose
Brahmanas, though written in simple and straight forward language have little literary merit. Thus the earliest Indian literature is to be found in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The Mahabharata consisting of 90,00 stanzas, is probably the longest single poem in the world’s literature. Ignoring the interpolations, the style of the Mahabharata is direct and vivid though consisting of repeated clinches and stock epithets, typical of epic literature every where. The chief characters are delineated in a very simple outline but with an individuality which makes them real persons. The other epic Ramayana also contains interpolations but they are much briefer and are mostly didactic. The main body of the poem gives the impression of being the work of one author whose style was based on that of the other epic to show some kinship to that of classical Sanskrit poetry. The style of the Ramayana is less rugged than that of the Mahabharata. It is a work of greater art and it contains many dramatic passages and beautiful descriptive writing. The earliect surviving Sanskrit poetry is that of the Buddhist writer Ashvaghosa who probably lived in the Ist century A.D. He composed the Buddha-Charitra in a comparatively simple classical style. The Girnar inscription of Rudradaman, dated 150 A.D. is the earliest surviving example of Sanskrit prose. The earliest surviving prose stories are a few narrative episodes in the Brahmanas followed by the pali Jatakas. It was in the Gupta period that ornate Sanskrit prose was developed. The chief writers in this style were Dandin, Subandhu and Bana. Prakrit Chronologically pali is the first Sanskrit language and various Prakrits oppeared later. Even the meaning of the word ‘Pali’ underwent changes. In the final stages the word “Pali” meant language of the texts of Theravada Buddhism. The Tripitaka meaning three baskets are books which consist of the canons of the Theravada sect. One part of it deals with the monastic discipline. The second part lays down principles of Buddhism. And the last part deals with various subjects like ethics psychology theories of knowledge and metaphysical problems. Besides the canonical literature, there was also non-canomical literature in pali. In pali liberature the earlieat works relate to the Jataka stories. The early poetry consisted of a few verses from the songs of the older monks and Nuns, a collection of poems ascribed wrongly to the great disciples of the Buddha in the early days of the order. The style of these is simpler then Sanskrit literature and suggests influence of popular song. The book milinda panda is the most important one. Its subject matter is the dialogue between Milinda and monk Nagasena over some 28
problems of the Buddhist faith. This particular kind of canonical literature in pali was practised in Ceylon also. The classical works Depavamsa and Mahavamsa, the two great chronicles of Ceylon and also some grammatical metrical and lexicographical texts were written in pali. Now for the word “Prakrit”. It stands for all the middle Indo-Aryan speeches which belong to an era between Sanskrit on the one hand and Aryan languages it has sectarian value since it was exclusively used as the speech of the Hinayana Buddhism. From the earliest times to the first century A.D. inscriptions were composed exclusively in Prakrit. Asoka left behind 30 inscriptions in Prakrit. Even in literature prakrit came to be used particularly in plays. And prakrit itself consists of different
dialects. There were several other prakrits of lesser importance. By the time of the Guptas the prakrits were standardized and had lost their local character. The vernaculars had already developed beyond them. What panini did for Sanskrit others did dor the Prakrits and they began to resemble more the languages actually were based on the conventions of dramatic theory and they never represented popular life. Now did they reflect in any way the linguistic conditions of society. Some plays are composed exclusively in Prakrit and they are technically called sttakas. The Karpuramanjari (about 900 A.D.) Rajasekhara depicting love between man and woman is the most important work of this type. Continuting the secular aspect of Prakrit language a number of stanzas were written both on love and maxims. The most remarkable amongst such texts is the Gatha Saptasati of Hala one of the Satavahana rulers. This book consists of 700 stanzas about love depicting the varied phases of South Indian rural life. The king probably ruled in the Ist century A.D. The poems are notable for their consciseness and for their great economy of words and masterly use of suggestions. Some poems contain simple and natural descriptions and references to the lives of peasants and the lower class. More important is the fact that narrative literature and epic poems are fairly extensive in Prakrit. The most noteworthy among themare the Brihatkatha of Gunadhya composed in Paisachi dialect and Setubandha of Pravarasena. Apart from secular literature prakrit was used for religious literature also like the Jaina canonical works. It was during the 5th century A.D. that most of the Jaina canons were written down. In prakrit literature the Jaina writings have very little literary the poetry of the Jainas is better than prose. Its poetry is written in lively vernacular style. Furthermore it is to be stated here that scholars treated Apabhramas as a kind of Prakrit. It boasts of extensive literature particularly narrative stories. The first writer to make use of it was Asvaghosa. The others who followed the example were Bhasa (3rd century A.D.) and later Visakhadatta and kalidasa. In the Apabhramsa the meter doha was adopted as powerful form of expression of religious and philosophical thoughts. Both Jaina monks and contemporary writers of Tantrik Bhddhism utilized this meter. Incidentally stray poems dealing with morals maxims ethics religious discourses and legenos were commonly written in Apabhramsa. Among the Jains the columinous texts on the life and activities of Jaina heroes were written in Apabhramsa. It may be noted here in the end that Apabhramsa, Sanskrit and Prakrit had a great influence both on Gujarati and Hindi as late as the 16th century. 29
Futhermore Prakrit is of linguistic importance since it is illustrative of the linguistic evolution from Prakrit to Apabhramsa and finally to a new regional language. Apabhramsa meaning falling down was a corrupt form of Prakrit dialect. It is believed to have originated in the north-west and traveled from that region along with the migrant people who scattered and settled incentral and western India after the Huna invasions. The Prakrit as used by Jains was greatly influenced by Apabhramsa. It is here that the link between the older and the new languages of Maharashtri and Gujarati is evident. Tamil Tamil was the oldest spoken literary language of south India that is South of Nilgiris. Evidence as it is shows that there was a body of literature in Tamil which has had
unbroken development over 20 centuries the first period of that literature is associated with the sangam ara. Tamil tradition refers of three literary Academic (Sangams) which met at Madurai. The first was attended by gods and legendary sages but all its works have perished. Of the second only one survives-Tolkappiyam the earliest surviving Tamil grammar. Munch of the literary writings of this period have perished. Legendry and traditional accounts mention the loss of many texts on the occasion of a deluge. Today’s extant body of sangam literature is but a fraction of a vast literature. The book Agattiyam presumed to be written by St. Agattiyar is present in small shreds of sutras here and there as quoted by medieval commentators. The second well-known work was Tolkappiyam. It was written by Tolkappiyar who was supposed to be a disciple of Agattiyar along with eleven other scholars. It is a work on Tamil grammar literature tradition and sociology. Tolkapiyam lays down grammatical rules governing the literary compositions. This book is the fountain of all literary conventions in Tamil literature. All later changes and innovations occurred only under the sanction of permissive clauses incorporated indue places in that work. The poets of the third Sangam worte Ettutogai (eight anthologies). These anthologies contain well over 2,00 poems ascribed to more than 200 authors. The other major collection of the Sangam works is the pattuppattu of Ten dyle. They are long poems. After the period of the eight anthologies Tamil literature reveals the influence of Sanskrit. It also reveals Jaina influence. The classical work revealing these features is Tiru Kurral sometimes called the Bible of Tamil land. It consists of series of metrical proverbs and many aspects of life and religion. And by the 6th century A.D. Aryan influence had penetrated the whole of Tamil land. Her kings and chiefs worshipped and supported the gods of Hinduism Jainism and Buddhism. Tamil poets book to writing long poems which they called by the Silappadikaram (the Jewelled anklet). A little later oppeared Manimekali attributed to the poet sattanar of Madurai. This book reveals Buddhist influence. And the books Silappadikaram and Manimekalai belong to the early centuries of the Christian ere. They were attributed to Ilango adigal and Sat anar. The former book has been referred to by king Gajabahu of Ceylon who ruled in the second half of the second century A.D. 30
Manimekalai abounds in fine poetry and its dramatic element is handled with mastery. Also this book gives us glimpses of the development of fine art in the angam age. Probably sattanar the author of Manimekalai was a Buddhist. A good deal of social and historical information is found in this work just as in silappadikaram. Added to this book has a peculiar grace which makes it unique in the books of Tamil literature. And it is alsoheld by scholars that in the age prior to the imperial pallavas many Tamil works were written like kural. The chief quality of the Sangam works is their adherence to standards and literary conventions. Kural by thirulluvar has been translated into many languages both Indian and foreign. The end of the Sangam era may be said to herald the birth of a new Tamil literature. This new age witnessed devotional poetry on Shiva and Vishnu. The age of the Sangam literature was religious but stranger to the Bhakti cult. The writings of the
Alvars and Nayan are in the later period were quite distinct. Both of them began some where in the 5th or the 6th century A.D. MAHAYANA BUDDHISM According to tradition three Buddhist Councils were held to resolve the doctrinal differences among Buddhist leaders. Only regarding the fourth that was held in Kashmir there is historical evidence. From then nowadays Buddhism came to be divided into the Mahayana and Hinayana schools. The brahmins and their lay supporters had by now largely turned away from the older gods. In north-western India the rule of Greeks. Sakas and Kushans in turn threw open the gates to the west. It was these new elements that sought a new outlook in Buddhism. Thus the claim arose that a new Great Vehicles (Mahayana) was found would carry many souls to salvation. Mahayana soon became popular in many parts of India as it fitted with the mood of the times and the needs of many simple people better than did the lesser Vehicle (Hinayana). The lesser Vehicle remained intact in ceyton and soon in Thailand and other parts of South-East Asia it became the national religion. Mahayana on the other hand it self (soon divided by various schisms) was carried by succession of Indian monks to China and thence to Japan. Regarding Mahayana’s chronological authenticity it is generally held that it originated around the first century B.C. in Andhra. Soon it was expounded by a group of Buddhist philosophers. The outstanding among them was nagarjuna. It was he who conceived the doctrine of the void (Shunyata) meaning that every thing which is around us is emptiness and whatever we perceive is mere illusion. This void is in fact the nirvana or end to the cycle of birth and rebirth which every Buddhist secks. A new feature of the Manayana Buddhism is the concept of the future Buddha. The Buddha himself probably taught that he was the last of the long succession of earlier Buddhas. The carvings on the stupas of Barhut and Sanchi depict crowds of worshippers before the symbols of the Buddha. A little later sculptors began to carve images of the Buddha. A little later sculptors began to carve images of the Buddha himself. Soon the Buddhist sects took to worshipping images. Under the new (foreign) rulers of north-western India. Zoroastrianism and Buddhism came in contact and probably through this the idea of future Buddha became part of the 31
orthodox Buddhists. Thus the cult of Maitreya or the future Buddha was widespread among al Buddhist sects by the time Menander came to Patliputra. Romila Thapar holds the view that this aspect of Maitreya Buddha had its origin out side India. The Maitreya Buddha saves the world. This idea is further linked to the concept of the suffering saviour of the Bodhisattva who redeems humanity through his own suffering. In these twin concepts we clearly see the beliefs that were current in Palestine of the day. These belief reappear in later day Christianity as Jesus Christ the son of God, who was born to redeem the suffering of man and the future promise of second coming. The concept of the Maitreya Buddha came to be linked with the older conception of Buddhism, the previous incarnations of Buddha known as Bodhisattavas. The Bodhisattava concept reached its consummation with the final birth of Gautama in the Sakyas. However as Maitreya and other unnamed Buddhas after him are yet to come there must be Bodhisattavas existing in the universe. These Bodhisattavas
might be adored and prayed with out any misgiving. Thus the Bodhisattava doctrine believed in theheavens filled with mighty forces of goodness and presented Buddhism with a new my theology. It was this development that constituted the hall mark of Mahayana the Great vehicle. The universe of the Great vehicle contains numerous Bodhisattava. The chief of them from the earthly point of view is avalokitesvara padmapani. His special attribute is compassion. Vajrapani a sterner Bodhisattava is the for of sin and evil. The great Maitreya the future Buddha is worshipped as Bodhisattava. Every thing from the humblest worm onwards is in a sense a Bodhisattava since all beings will attain nirvana and become the Buddha. The great Vehicle was not content with creating this pantheon of noble and beneficent Bodhisattavas. It was claimed that Gautam Buddha was not a mere man but the earthly expression of a mighty spiritual being. The Buddha’s Body of bliss is the presiding deity on the most important Mahayana heaven Sukhavati where the are reborn in the buds of lotuses which rise from a lively lake before the Buddha’s throne. This divine Buddha is usually called Amitabha or Amitayus. He too shares the compassion of the Bodhisattava. The Mahayana sect produced soon new versions of the Pitakas of scriptural texts of Buddhism they are all writings in Samskrit which became the official language of Mahayana. Many of these texts are ostensibly sermons of the Buddha. The new Buddhist philosophical school of Mahayana came into existence during the 200 B.C. 300 A.D. period. Asvaghosha’s name is associated with the school. Some of his famous works contain the philosophy of Mahayana. The book called Sraddhotpada-Sastra is attributed to him. Mahayana doctrine has two philosophical schools Madhamika and Yogachara. For quite some time Buddhism began to slowly develop into a theistic religion with the Buddha as the object of the cult. Exponents of the Madhyamika were Nagarjuna and his disciple Aryadeva. It was with Nagarjuna that Mahayana developed its own system of philosophy. Later aryadeva write a commentary on the work. It appears from evidence that the Satavahanas were great patrons of Buddhism. The philosophy of Madhyamika is commonly characterized as Sunyavada-the philosophy of relativism. According to this the phenomenal world is a mere illusion from the view-point of ultimate truth. 32
The second school called Yogachara is of later origin two brothers Asanga and Vasubandhu are generally believed to have been the first exponents of this system. This school also formulates two kinds of Truths-the Ultimate and the Relative and looks upon phenomenal world as an illustion. It asserts however that this illusion is mental illusion and therefore considers consciousness as real. There is nothing strange about the emergence of Mahayana. The earlier form of Buddhism was rather arid unlike the Mahayana. The Mahayana requires us to take part in the world and evolve new social and religious ideals. The Mahayana happens to be more emotional and filling than Hinayana which reduces Nirvana and ethical life to great aridity. The Mahayana Buddhism is theistic similar to the theistic beliefs of Shaivism and Vaishnavism preaching loving devotion to personal God whom the devotee loves with all his heart and easy spontaneous grace. On the metaphysical side it led to a school of thought similar to the conception of an absolute with regard to which all
determination would prove to be negation. Reason and language only applied to finite and nothing can be said of the infinite.