Detailed History

Gautamiputra Satakarni’s History

Who is Gautamiputra Satakarni?

Gautamiputra Satakarni is the most celebrated and successful king of the Satavahana Dynasty. He was the twenty third ruler of the Satavahana Dynasty and ruled for 24 years between 62 – 86 A.D. He was responsible for the rise of Satavahana Dynasty after its downfall in the first half of the 1st century in the Christian era. Born to Gautami Balashri and Sivasvati Satakarni, Gautamiputra Satakarni is described as the destroyer of Shakas, Pahlavas and Yavanas restoring the old prestige of Satavahana Dynasty.

Let’s take a look into the history of this warrior Emperor :

Onset of Satavahana Dynasty – 1st Century BC

Satavahana Dynasty’s first King was Simuka, who conquered a large territory in Southern India and established himself as a successful ruler. Dharanikota near Amaravati in Guntur district was the first capital during Simuka’s reign, but he later shifted the capital to Pratishtana (Paithan in Aurangabad district). After he died, King Krishna ruled over the Satavahana Kingdom for eighteen years. Succeeding him was Sri Satakarni I. He was a powerful king and conquered new territories in the Deccan and succeeded in most of his attempts. Sri Satakarni ruled over many portions of the Godavari Valley and the northern regions of the Deccan.

The Famous Mahachaitya Stupa – 1798

Colonel ‘Mackenzie’ of Trigonometrical survey discovered this stupa in 1798. To this date, the stupa ranks as one of the biggest stupas in Andhra Pradesh, India. It was built in 3 B.C. by the Mauryan Kings and gained a lot of prominence during the Satavahana rule. However, the Satavahanas were defeated by the Shakas and were forced out of their kingdom to remote parts. Gautamiputra Satakarni, who is the 23rd King in Satavahana dynasty, defeated Shakas and reclaimed Satavahana’s former kingdom. The King recorded his victories through inscriptions written in Prakrit and his royal emblem was the sun and the moon which were adjacent to each other. He used to worship this Stupa. The shrine is adorned with artistic sculptures which are, now, housed at various national and international museums.

Invasion of The Shakas – 30 AD

It was around 30 A.D., the Shaka rulers who were based in the central Asia invaded India. During that phase, a major part of India was being ruled by the Satavahanas. The Shakas defeated Satavahanas and established the Kshatrapa Dynasty around 34 A.D. expanding their territory to northern Maharastra and southern Gujrat.

Decline Of The Satavahana Dynasty : 35 AD – 60 AD

The Shakas overthrew King Sri Shatakarni I, shrinking his kingdom which mainly consisted of the Deccan region. As a result, the Satavahana dynasty’s glory was damaged greatly. To the misfortune of King Sri Satakarni, in a battle against the Kalinga Empire, Satavahana Dynasty constantly lost many parts of its territory. After the demise of King Sri Satakarni I, the power which the rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty enjoyed in the 1st century B.C. started to diminish during the first century of the Christian era. However, the Satavahana Dynasty did not disappear from the history and continued to rule over the Andhra region, it had to satisfy itself with a considerably smaller territory in this period.

Arrival Of Gautamiputra Satakarni – 62 A.D

The arrival of Gautamiputra Satakarni was a relief to the Satavahana Dynasty. He first increased the strength of his army force and reconquered the lost territories from the western Kshatrapas.

Gautamiputra’s Silver Coin – 62 AD

After defeating Shakas and gaining control over Deccan region, Gautamiputra Satakarni minted coins, which was the currency in 62 AD. Like many rulers, he imprinted the coins with a impression of his face. Also, his profile and a line in Prakrit is inscribed which reads: ‘Satakarni, son of Gautami’ on one side. The other side has his royal symbol: the sun and the moon.

Nahapana Silver Coin- 70 AD

Nahapana was a ruler arising from Kshatrapas dynasty, who were located in Malwa, India. He vanquished the Satavahanas and expanded his kingdom greatly. During his rule, he minted many coins and embossed them with his facial profile on one side of the coins. On the edges, in Prakrit, it is written: ‘King Kshaharata Nahapana’. On the other, the symbols of his kingdom which are arrow and thunderbolt are imprinted.

Restoring the Former Glory Of Satavahana Dynasty – 72 A.D

After defeating Nahapana, the ruler of the Kshatrapas, Satakarni restored the lost glory and prestige of the Satavahanas. This is one main reason he is regarded as the greatest King of the Satavahana Dynasty ever. He is considered as a King who took care of his subjects with utmost care and responsibility. According to the inscriptions, Gauthamiputra is described as ‘the destroyer of Shakas, Yavanas and Pahalavas’, ‘the restorer of the glory of the Satavahana dynasty’ and ‘ one who crushed the pride of the Kshatrapas’

Gautamiputra-Nahapana Silver Coin – 80 A.D.

After vanquishing Nahapana, Gautamiputra Satakarni took control of Nahapana’s treasury. Instead of having them reprinted, Gautamiputra simply reused them by embossing his desired text over Nahapana’s profile. However, due to the re-embossing, Nahapana’s profile is still visible. A trove of these coins were discovered in 1906 in Jogilthembi, a village in Maharashtra, India. Approximately, the emperor re-struck about 9,000 coins.

End of a Successful reign by ‘Gautamiputra’ Satakarni – 86 A.D.

Gautamiputra Satakarni was mentioned as the ‘Lord of the Western Vindhyas’. Proud of his power, he styled himself as the ‘Raja-Raja’ or the King of Kings, and as the ‘Maharaja’. The Satakarni that is known to us is largely because of the inscriptions recorded at Nasik by his mother Gautama Balasri who ensured all his achievements were documented. He was not just a successful king and warrior, but an excellent administrator and father to his people. According to some historians, the Kings chose to be identified by their mother’s name instead of their father’s name and there by suggesting matriarchy. The explanation behind this is that since the rulers married number of wives from different royal families, a Prince was best identified with reference to his mother’s name.

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