Administrative System, Literature, Art, and Social Life




Administrative System, Literature, Art, and Social Life:

The state under the Satavahanas was divided into small provinces and on every province, civil and military officials were appointed to administer individual provinces over it. These included civil officials, such as ‘Amatya’, ‘Mahabhoj’ and military officials, such as ‘Mahasenapati’ and ‘Maharathi’. Grama (village) was the smallest unit of administration. Grama was a source of revenue and also for the recruitment of soldiers during warlike situations. Thus, Grama was an integral part of the central machinery.

Agrarian System:

  • Agriculture was the main source of the means of subsistence in the Satavahana empire.
  • The Satavahanas participated in (and benefited from) economic expansion through intensification of agriculture, increased production of other commodities, and trade within and beyond the Indian subcontinent.
  • Two inscriptions from Nashik Cave 11 record donations of agricultural land to ascetic communities. They state that the ascetics would enjoy tax exemption and non-interference from the royal officials.

Trade Centres:

  • Various shrenis (guilds) emerged during the Satavahana period, which helped control the industries and trade.
  • Trade centres like Pratishthan (Paithan), Tagar (Ter) developed during this period, of which Pratishthan and Tagar are mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.
  • Various artisans like Kularika (Potter), Tilpishaka (Oil miller), Kolika (Weaver) are mentioned in the inscriptions at Nashik and Junnar.
  • Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions that cotton cloth, muslin and sackcloth (rough jute fabric) among other merchandise from coastal regions being transported from Tagar to Barigaza (Bhadoch).

Naneghat- Trade Route:

  • Naneghat is a mountain pass on the ancient trade route in Maharashtra. The route proceeds in the direction of Junnar and descends into Konkan at Murbad (Thane Dist.).
  • The Satavahanas had excavated a cave on this route; the inscriptions in this cave mention the Satavahana queen Naganika, the achievements of the Satavahana kings and the donations given by them. These inscriptions are in Brahmi script. There were statues of the Satavahana kings.
  • Goods imported from Rome were unloaded at Sopara and from there it was carried over to Paithan and Kolhapur via Kalyan, Naneghat, Junnar, and Nevase. The same route was used to transport the goods to be exported to Rome.

Satavahana Literature:

  • During the Satavahana period, learning and art received royal patronage. Prakrit language and literature flourished during the Satavahana period. Hala, the seventeenth king of the Satavahana dynasty, compiled ‘Gathasaptashati’. Gunadhya, a minister in his court, wrote an incomparable text named ‘Brihatkatha’ in a Prakrit language called Paishachi. Sarvavarma wrote a treatise on Sanskrit Grammer, named ‘Katantra’.

Satavahana Architecture:

  • The caves, monasteries, chaityas and stupas of Orissa, Nashik, Karle and Bhuj are a fine specimen of contemporary architecture and decoration.
  • The most famous of these monuments are the stupas. Among them, the Amravati Stupa and the Nagarjuna Konda Stupa are most famous. The stupa was a large round structure built over some relic of the Buddha.
  • The Amravati Stupa measures 162 metres across the base and its height is 100 feet. Both these stupas are full of sculptures.
  • The Nagarjuna Konda town contains not only the Buddhist monuments but also some ancient Hindu brick temples.

Satavahana Religion:

  • The Satavahanas were Hindus and claimed Brahmanical status, although they also made generous donations to Buddhist monasteries. The laypeople in the Satavahana period generally did not exclusively support a particular religious group.

  • The Naneghat inscription of Nayanika, recorded on the walls of a Buddhist monastic cave, mentions that her husband Satakarni I performed several Vedic sacrifices, including Ahvamedha. The inscription also records substantial fees paid to Brahmin priests and attendees for these sacrifices. For example, 10,001 cows were granted for the Bhagala-Dasaratra sacrifice; and 24,400 coins were granted for another sacrifice, whose name is not clear.
  • Indra, Surya (Sun God), Chandra, (Moon God), Vasudeva, Krishna, Pashupati and Gauri etc. were various Gods and Goddesses worshipped by the people.

  • The Satavahana kings were Brahmanas but they showed tolerance towards other faiths such as to Buddhism as well. They gave similar donations to Buddhism as they did for the Hinduism.

  • In this period, there were several sects of Buddhism in the south and various classes of monks were always busy to preach the Buddhist doctrines.
  • One significant development of this period was the admission of the foreign races of the Shakas, Greeks, Kushanas and Abhiras to the folds of Hinduism or Buddhism.

Satavahana Society:

The society of Satavahana period was organised into four varnas. Similarly during this period the caste system also became deeply rooted. The intermixture of varnas and castes (Varnasankara), closed nature of different guilds, need of including foreigners in the social structure were some of the reasons behind it. Apart from that, there were four classes in the society. The first class consisted of officials such as ‘Maharathi’, ‘Mahabhoja’ and ‘Mahasenapati’. They were appointed on the various ‘Rashtrakas’ (Subhas). ‘Mahabhoja’ was appointed on the Konkan province and Maharathi on the plateau area. The second class consisted of ‘Amatya’, ‘Mahamatra’ and ‘Bhandagarika’, ‘Naigam’ (traders), ‘Sarthavaha’ (chief of caravan merchant), and ‘Shreshthi’ (Head of trade guilds). ‘Lekhanika’ (scribes), ‘Vaidya’ (physicians), ‘Halakiya’ (cultivators), ‘Suvarnakar’ (goldsmith), ‘Gandhika’ (traders of perfumes) were included in the third-social class. Whereas the fourth class included ‘Vardhaki’ (carpenter), ‘Malakara’ (gardeners), ‘Lohavanija’ (blacksmith), and ‘Dasaka’ (fisherman).

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