There is a reason why the people of Andhra are cool. A distinct culture, erudition, an inclination towards ‘the spiritual’ and love of art and architecture – all of these are the traits you will find in most people who inhabit the ‘rice bowl’ called Andhra.
Whether it is the overwhelming numbers in top colleges or the love of entertainment through one of the biggest movie industries in the world, Andhra stands out with its love of the refined lifestyle. There is a reason behind it, no coincidence. The dynasties that have ruled the region over the centuries have contributed significantly to this civilisation, this DNA that is so consistent. Satavahanas were one of the most prominent dynasties that emanated from the South but spread their wings north, especially after the decline of the Mauryan Empire.
Historical facts are always argued upon and there is always an absence of accurate conclusions on what a dynasty achieved. But, no matter the fringe doubts, the contributions of Satavahanas to society are irrevocably magnificent.
Here are five main reasons why the Satavahana Kings were actually the ‘Kings of Cool’!
1. True Feminists
The Satavahanas respected their women, something that speaks about Indian culture even as far ahead as in 200 BC. Women were given higher education. They took part in religious functions including Ashwamedha Yagnas.
Some kings followed the tradition of adding their mother’s name to their own, e.g. Gautamiputra and Kaushakiputra. Women formed part of the assemblies, sometimes even acting as guardians to minor sons, mentoring them in ruling the kingdoms.
2. Propelled Currency and Trade
They were one of the earliest rulers to issue their own coins with their rulers’ portraits. Some say, they were the first native Indian rulers, while some disagree. But, it doesn’t beat the fact that the Satavahana rulers who lasted for more than four centuries knew how to stamp their authority. Interestingly, a lot of these coins are now proving to be extremely useful to historians to study which of the kings ruled over bigger empires and how far the actual boundaries of the kingdoms expanded to. With an extensive currency system, Satavahanas proved how they were experts at a good administrative system also helping in Indo-Roman trade.
3. Religious tolerance
The Satavahana kings were extremely tolerant, something we could learn from even in the modern day and age. In fact, even though Buddhism was not exactly a religion their dynasty was associated to, the Satavahana kings helped in spreading it, with the same justness as they favored Hinduism.
This includes special grants to monks along with a special officer called Uparakshita who was designated as main authority to build caves for the monks referred to as Bhikshus. The Monks were revered as much as the Brahmanas, even though the Satavahana Empire was itself a Brahmin dynasty. Talk of religious harmony! Also interestingly, inter-marriages took place bringing in other tribes like the Sakas under the fold of Hinduism and vice-versa.
4. Patronage to Art and Architecture
Satavahana kings encouraged art and architecture in their kingdoms. Symbols of their patronage like Sanchi Stupa and Amaravati Style of Sculpture speak unequivocally of their love for art. One of the kings, Hala is also remembered for his contribution to literature, having compiled a collection of Maharashtri poems. Sarva Varman wrote a treatise on Sanskrit grammar as well.
5. Administrative Efficiency
The Satavahana Kingdom was known for its administrative efficiency. Firstly, the kingdom was divided into smaller parts or Janapadas, under feudal chiefs for efficient administration. With emphasis on trade and irrigation, it was ensured that the common man was well taken care of. There were special officials for town administration, more like modern day independent municipal corporations. The king himself was the commander-in-chief leading his armies into the battle. Interestingly, the post of Amatya who took care of the provinces was not hereditary with merit given a higher preference.
These and many more add up to the fact that the rulers from this descent and their succeeding generations in Andhra continue to demonstrate impeccable qualities of leadership, team work and unending resilience to fight the adversities.