Question 1

Discuss the significance of Satavahana polity and economy.


    Simuka is mentioned as the first king in a list of royals in a Satavahana inscription at Nanaghat. According to Jain legends, he adopted Jainism; but, in the last years of his life, he became a tyrant, for which he was deposed and killed.

    The Puranas state that the first Andhra king ruled for 23 years and mention his name variously as Sishuka, Sindhuka, Chhismaka, Shipraka etc. These are believed to be corrupted spellings of Simuka, resulting from copying and re-copying of manuscripts.

    Simuka cannot be dated with certainty based on available evidence. Based on the following theories, the beginning of the Satavahana rule is dated variously from 271 BCE to 30 BCE.

  • According to archaeologist Charles Higham, the coin-based evidence The Matsya and Vayu Puranas mention that the first Andhra king overthrew the Kanva ruler Susharman (c. 40-c. 30 BCE). Based on
  • identification of Simuka with this king, some scholars believe that Simuka's reign started in 30 BCE. Scholars supporting this theory include D.C. Sircar, H.C. Raychaudhuri and others.
  • The Matsya Purana mentions that the Andhra dynasty ruled for around 450 years. It is known that the Satavahana rule continued till the beginning of the early 3rd century. Therefore, the beginning of the Satavahana rule can be dated to 3rd century BCE. In addition, indica by Megasthenes (350-290 BCE) mentions a powerful tribe named "Andarae", whose king maintained an army of 100,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 1,000 elephants. If Andarae is identified with the Andhras. this can be considered additional evidence of Satavahana rule starting in 3rd century BCE. According to this theory, Simuka was an immediate successor of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (304-232 BCE). Its proponents argue that the Kanvas were interregnal rulers who grabbed power from the Satavahanas. The last Kanva ruler Susharman was overthrown by a Satavahana successor of Simuka. Scholars supporting this theory include A.S. Altekar, K.P. Jayaswal, VA. Smith and others. Sudhakar Chattopadhyava also supports the Kanva interregnum theory, but argues that it was Simuka who overthrew the Kanva rule.

  Chronologies of the Satavahana kings (as "Andhra" dynasty) are mentioned in the following Puranas : Matsya, Vayu, Vish, Brahmanda and Bhaganate. The various Puranas give different chronologies of the Andhra kings. Even among the different manuscripts of the same Purana, there are substantial differences between the number of kings stated, the number of kings actually named the names of the kings and the length of their reigns. In some manuscripts, the number of kings is mentioned as 30 and their total reign is mentioned around 450 years. However, many of these actually name only 17-19 kings and their total reign adds up to around 300. Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya explains these inconsistencies as follows: The original Satavahana rule started somewhere in the second half of the 3rd century BCE. From this point, around 30 Satavahana kings ruled for nearly 450 years until 220-225 CE. During this period, there was a Kanva interregnum. According to Chattopadhyaya, the Brahmanda Purana states: "the four Kanvas will rule the earth for 45 years, then (it) will again go to the Andhras". This indicates that after overthrowing the Kanvas, the Satavahanas regained their power: from this point, around 17-19 kings ruled for nearly 300 years until 220-225 CE. He further argues that Simuka was the person who overthrew Kanvas; the compiler of the Puranas confused him with the founder of the dynasty.

    Simuka was succeeded by his brother Kanha (also known as Krishna), who extended the kingdom up to Nashik in the west. His successor Satakarni conquered western Malwa, Anupa (Narmada valley) and Vidarbha, taking advantage of the turmoil caused by Greek invasions of northern India. He performed Vedic sacrifices including Ashvamedha and Rajasuya. Instead of the Buddhists, he patronised Brahmins and donated a substantial amount of wealth to them. The Hathigumpha inscription of the Kalinga king Kharavela mentions a king named "Satakarni" or "Satakamini", who some identify with Satakarni-I. The inscription describes dispatching of an army and Kharavela's threat to a city. Since the inscription is only partially legible, different scholars interpret the events described in the inscription differently. According to R.D. Banerji and Sailendra Nath Sen, Kharavela sent out an army against Satakarni. According to Bhagwan Lal, Satakarni wanted to avoid an invasion of his kingdom by Kharavela. So, he sent horses, elephants, chariots and men to Kharavela as a tribute. According to Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya, Kharavela's army diverted its course after failing to advance against Satakarni. According to Alain Danielou, Kharavela was friendly with Satakarni and only crossed his kingdom without any clashes.

    Satakarni's successor Satakarni-II ruled for 56 years, during which he captured eastern Malwa from the Shungas. He was succeeded by Lambodara. The coins of Lambodara's son and successor Apilaka have been found in eastern Madhya Pradesh

Question 2

Write an essay on Ashoka's Dhamma.


    Emperor Ashoka's edicts tell of a supposed immense public works programme. He built thousands of Stupas and Viharas for Buddhist followers. The 'Asokavadana' says 84,000 such monuments were built. The stupas of Sanchi are world famous and the stupa named Sanchi Stupa I was built by Emperor Ashoka. During the remaining portion of Ashoka's reign, he pursued an official policy of non-violence or ahimsa. The unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of animals was immediately abolished. Wildlife became protected by the king's law against sport hunting and branding. Limited hunting was permitted for consumption reasons but Ashoka also promoted the concept of vegetarianism. Enormous rest houses were built through the empire to house travellers and pilgrims free of charge. He is acclaimed for constructing hospitals for animals and people alike and renovating major roads throughout India. However, there are historians who dispute the claim that Ashoka built any hospitals at all and argue that it is based on a mistranslation, with references to 'rest houses' being mistaken for hospitals. The error is thought to have occurred because similar edicts and records talk of Ashoka importing medicinal supplies. 'Dharmashoka' also defined the main principles of dharma (dhamma in Pali) as non-violence, tolerance of all sects and opinions, obedience to parents and other religious teachers and priests, liberality towards friends, humane treatment of servants and generosity towards all. These principles suggest a general ethic of behaviour to which no religious or social group could object. In the Maurya Empire, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups also had rights to freedom, tolerance and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the edicts of Ashoka, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. Ashoka was the sponsor of the third Buddhist council. According to Theravada accounts, Ashoka supported the Vibhaiavada sub-school of the Sthaviravada sect which would become known by the Pali Theravada, but historians have concluded "this was clearly not the case," finding instead that the council was convened to expel non- Buddhists from the sangha in Pataliputra. After this council he sent Buddhist monks to spread their religion to other countries.