Satavahana Dynasty


The government of the Satavahana kingdom was organized on the traditional lines. It was divided into Janapadas which were further divided into aharas. Each ahara was under an Amataya. The basic unit of the ahara was the grama with the village headman called gramika. Central control was maintained over the provinces. Princes were generally made viceroys. The kings were expected to maintain dharma. Taxation was not burden as the state derived its income from crown lands, court fees, fines and ordinary taxes of the Mauryan period were not imposed. 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 Satavahana in general witnessed considerable prosperity. Broach was the most important port and it had a vast and rich hinterland. Pratishthana produced cotton, 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 and Goa. Within the kingdom there were important cities like Tagara, Prathishthana, Nasik, Junnar and Dhanyakataka. Koddura and Chinnaganjam were the important ports on the east. Evidence shows that a many people emigrated from the Deccan to colonize the regions in South-East Asia. Encouraged by wealth the kings patronized literature and architecture. Hala was an authority on the Puranas. He was the author of Sapta-Sataka. Leelavati deals with the military campaigns of Hala. The five gateways at Sanchi the rock-cut chaitya 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 were sculptured. Its construction began during the time of Gautamiputra Satakarni and was completed during the time of Yajna Sri Satakarni. Two Ajanta Frescoes came into existence during this period. The Satavahanas were great excavators of cave temples and the magnificent temples of Ellora and Ajanta were the continuation of the Satavahana tradition.
Satavahana Administration
The Satavahana administration was very simple and was according to the principles laid down in Dharmashastras. The king laid no claim of divine right. They had only the modest title of rajan. The king 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 thicket 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 maharathi 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 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.


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