(Sample Material) IAS Mains History (Optional) Study Kit "Post-Mauryan"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit

Subject: History (Optional)

Topic: Post-Mauryan

One major change in this period was the transition from the proto-historical to the historical over a large part of India. For example, in the south the early megalithic culture representing a tribal stage was succeeded by the early historical which accommodated elements of culture from north India. The provincial governors soon asserted their independence and numerous independent principalities came into existence. There were numerous dynasties established in very short span of time,We can say that this period saw instability.

Sungas (184 – 75 BC)

The Mauryas were succeeded by the Sungas and they ruled for l12 years from 187 B.C. to 75 B.C. The first event of Pushyamitra Sunga’s reign was his war with Vidarbha which was ruled by Yajnasena, a relative of a minister in the Mauryan Court. Agnimitra, son of Pushyamitra defeated Yajnasena and brought Vidarbha back to the fold of empire.Pushyamitra had to face invasion of the Yavanas also. Pushyamitra Sunga performed Ashvamedha after this war. Malvikagnimitram refers to the defeat of Yavanas on the bank of river Sindhu in the hands of Vasumitra. According to Divyavadana, Pushyamitra persecuted Buddhists.But in the light of the fact that stupas at Sanchi and Bharhut were enlarged and provided with gates etc. during the reign of Pushyamitra, this allegation does not seem to be true. The Buddhists’ anger may have been due to the killing of the king by Pushyamitra.

Pushyamitra was succeeded by Agnimitra in about 148 B.C., after a reign of 36 years. Agnimitra had gained experience in statecraft as the governor of Vidisa under his father.

No events of his reign are known, nor are any coin or inscriptions of his reign extant. Agnimitra was succeeded by Jethamitra and after him came on the throne Vasumitra, son of Agnimitra.One of the rulers among the later king was Bhagabhadra in whose court  Heliodorus, the ambassador of Antialkidas, stayed.The last, king was Devabhuti.

Kanvas(75 – 28 BC)

Sunga dynasty was replaced by another Brahmin dynasty. Vasudev, the minister of the last Sunga ruler murdered his king and founded the Kanva dynasty. Patliputra was the capital of this dynasty. The last Kanva king Susarman was killed by the Satavahan ruler Pulamayi I. So, Kanvas dynasty declined due to expansion of Satavahanas in the Deccan, while in north India foreign invaders were the cause of decline of the Kanvas.


We know about these Gansanghas (republics) through their coins on which their names are found. Some of these were Arjunayanas, Malavas, Audumbaras, Kunindas, Yaudheyas etc. Most of these later on became tributaries of the Guptas and vanished altogether after the fourth century A.D.

Satavahanas of Deccan (2nd cent. BC – 2nd cent. AD)

The Satavahanas appeared in the Deccan as the successors of the Mauryas and ruled in unbroken continuity for 460 years. They are mentioned in the Puranas as Andhras. Satavahana is a Prakrit form of saptavahana which means the solar origin of the dynasty. Satakarni is the surname borne by them. The Andhras are an ancient people and are mentioned in the Ailareva Brahmana also. Before the emergence of the Satavahanas in Maharashtra and Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas in southern India, the region was settled by megalithic people. The Greek writer Pilny mentions that the Andhras were powerful people who possessed a large number of villages and thirty towns, an army of one lakh infantry, two thousand cavalry and one thousand elephants.

The founder of this dynasty is known as Simuka and he ruled from 235 B.C. to 213 B.C. He was succeeded by his brother Krishna. The third king Sri Satakarni I was Simuka’s son. He conquered large areas and performed some Vedic sacrifices including two asvamedhayajna and rajasuya. His reign is well known from the Nanaghat inscription of his wife Naganika.It appears that he conquered western Malwa, Vidarbha and Anupa (Narmada Valley). He is also referred to as the lord of Dakshinapatha.His name also occurs on one of the gateways of Sanchi stupa. It is well known that substantial donations were made by the Satavahanas for the renovation and decoration of Sanchi stupas and monasteries.

The next important king was Gautamiputa Satakani. Three kings ruled in beaween of whom Satakarni II ruled for about 56 years. He wrested Malwa from the Sungas. After Satakarni II, the expansion of Satavahana Empire received a set back and Nahapana seems to have conquered part of Satavahana territory.A large number of coins of Nahapana has been found in Nasik area. The Satavahanas became powerful again during the reign of Gautamiputa Satakani. His achievements are recorded in glowing terms in the Nasik inscription of Queen-mother, Gautami Balasri.

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This inscription was engraved after his death and in the nineteenth year of the reign of his son and successor Pulmayi II. In this inscription he has been described as one who destroyed the Shakas, Yavanas and Pahlavas. He overthrew Nahapana and restruck large number of his silver coins. He also recovered northern Maharashtra, Konkan, Vidarbha, Saurashtra and Malwa from the Shakas. Satakarni dedicated a cave in Nasik in the eighteenth year of his reign and granted some land to ascetics in the twenty-fourth year. Gautamiputa Satakani is the first king bearing matronym and this practice was followed by nearly all his successors.

Gautamiputa was succeeded by his son Vasisthiputra Sri Pulmayi in about A.D. 1300 and ruled for about twenty-four years.The coins and inscription of Pulmayi have been found in Andhra Pradesh. This shows that Andhra had become a part of Satavahana Empire in the second century A.D. Pulmayi married the daughter of Shaka ruler Rudradaman. But this Shaka king defeated the next Satavahana ruler twice and took from him Aparant (Konkan) and Anupa (Narmada valley). The old stupa at Amaravati was repaired and enlarged. Sriyajna Satakani (A.D. 165-195) was perhaps the last of the great Satavahana rulers. His inscriptions have been found in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. He regained the land that the Shakas had conquered from his predecessors.

Hala, the seventeenth king, composed Gathasaptasati (also called the Sattasi), an anthology of 700 erotic verses in Maharashtri or Paisachi Prakrit. The Satavahana Empire was partitioned among five minor dynasties. The Northern provinces came under the sway of a collateral branch of the Satavahanas. In the west the Abhiras established themselves around Nasik; The Satavahana empire collapsed when Abhiras seized Maharashtra and Ikshvakus and Pallavas appropriated the eastern provinces.

Meghavahanas of Kalinga

Kalinga rose to power under Kharavela, the third ruler of the Cheta dynasty. The only source of information about this king is the Hathigumpha inscription on the Udaigiri hills near Bhuvaneshwar. The Kharavela inscription is considered to be one of the most unique historical records. It gives a biographical account of the king’s life and his achievements, not in general terms but year-wise. The inscription, for example, says that after having received his training in writing, mathematics, law and finance, necessary for a crown prince, Kharavela ascended the throne in his twenty-fourth year. Kharavela invaded the kingdom of Magadha in the eight and twelfth years of his reign. During the second campaign, Kharavela carried home an image of the Jain tirthankara from Magadha which had been previously taken away from Kalinga to Magadha. The wealth he got during this campaign was used to built a magnificent temple at Bhuvaneshwar.

Foreign Invasions

One of the most important events of the reign of Pushyamitra Sunga was the invasion of Yavanas from the west. Patanjali, a contemporary of Pushyamitra, mentions this invasion.Kalidasa also mentions about Vasumitra’s conflict with Yavanas, in his Malavikagnimitram. Inability of the Central Asian tribes like Sakas and Kushans to sustain themselves in their own lands and their inability to move into China due to the Great Wall built by Shih Huang Ti in 220 B.C. and hence their invasion of Bactria.The Greeks, thus pressed by the Central Asian tribes, were forced to invade India. Inability of the successors of Asoka as well as the Sungas and Kanvas (successors of Mauryas) to offer stiff resistance to the foreign invaders was also a main reason of establishment of these foreign rulle.

Indo-Greeks or Yavanas (2nd cent. BC)

The Indo – Greeks (Yavanas) were the first ones to establish foreign supremacy on Indian soil; they were succeeded by several central Asian tribes who invaded India and established their political authority. About 250 B.C. Diodotus, the governor of Bactria revolted against the Greeks and proclaimed his independence. Some important Indo-Greek kings were Euthydemus, Demetrius, Eucratides and Menander. Among all the Indo-Greek rulers, Menander (165-145 B.C.) was the most illustrious. His capital was Shakala (modern Sialkot) in Pakistan. His territory extended from Afghanistan to Uttar Pradesh in east and Gujarat in the west.

Menander was converted to Buddhism by the Buddhist monk Nagasena. Menander asked Nagasena many questions related to philosophy and Buddhism which together with Nagasena’s answers rare recorded in Milindapanho or the Questions of Milinda. They were the first to issue gold coins in India and also the first to issue coins which can he atributed to the kings with definiteness. Before this the coins in India did not carry names or portraits of the kings. Also they were the first rulers who issued gold coins.Introduction of Hellenistic art features in the north-western India, facilitating the rise of Gandhara Art.

Sakas (1st Cent. BC to 4th Cent. AD)

Sakas also known as Scything, a people of Central Asian origin who established kindgoms in the north-western and western parts of the subcontinent, derived revenues from long-distance trade.They replaced the Indo-Greeks in India. After the construction of the great wall of China in the third century century B.C. the tribes like Hiung-nu, Wu-sun and Yueh-chi had no option but to move towards south and west. The first migrants were Yueh-chi who displaced Shakas who in turn invaded Bactria and Parthia and then entered India through the Bolan Pass.The Sakas were divided in five branches and established themselves in various parts of north-western and northern India.

The earliest of them ruled north western India, with Moga being the first Saka ruler in India. But the most important was the one which ruled in Western India till the 4th century AD. There were two families, the Kshaharatas and the Kardamakas. Bhumaka and Nahapana belonged to the Kshaharatas, while Chashtana started the Kardamaka family. The most prominent ruler of western India was Nahapana whose reference is found in various inscriptions found in Maharashtra and in the records of the Satavahanas.The most famous Saka ruler in India was Chashtana’s grandson, Rudradaman I (130-150 AD), who was famous not only for his military conquests (particularly against the Satavananas) but also for his public works (he repaired the famous Sudarsan lake of the Mauryan period) and his patronage of Sanskrit (he issued the first-ever long inscription in chaste. The dynasty came to an end with the defeat of the last king in the hands of Chandragupta II of the Gupta dynasty, in about A.D. 390.

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