The Shungas:

the founder and the real hero of the dynasty was PMS. He was the commnader-in-chief of the Mauryan army during the reign of king Brihadratha, PMS assassinated him to become the king himself.

His family had held the viceroyship at ujjain or the neighbouring province of vidisa under the Mauryas.

His two military achievements were the repulsing of the greeks twice and conquest over Vidarbha (which kalidasa credits to Agnimitra).

The testimony of his victories over the greeks comes from the Gargi Samhita and Malavikagnamitram.

The first attack of the greeks was under Demetrius and the second one under Menander.

PMS has to contend with the invasion of Kharavela, the king of Kalinga, as well.

The Puranas assign a reign of 36 years to PMS, who was succeeded by his son Agnimitra, the hero of Kalidasa’s Malavikagnimitram.

Agnimitra was succeeded by Sujyestha who in turn succeeded by his son Vasumitra.

The next king was Vajramitra who was succeeded by Bhagavata.

Bhagavata is also sometimes identified with Kasiputra Bhagabhadra of Vidisa in whose court Heliodorus, the ambassador of Antialkidas stayed.

Muladeva, another king of this dynasty whose place in the genealogical list cannot be established, has been identified as the king whose coins have been found at Ayodhya. This king may be regarded as a predecessor of Dhanadeva described as ‘Lord of Kosala’ in the Ayodhya Inscription.

Muladeva and Dhanadeva were perhaps not the rulers belonging to the main Shunga line.

Devabuthi was the last Shunga king, who, it is believed on the authority of Banabhatta, fell prey to the conspiracy hatched by his Brahman minister vasudeva.

The shunga dynasty came to an end around 75 BC.

The Ayodhya inscription of Dhanadeva states that PMS performed Ashwametha sacrifices twice.

The first sacrifice was performed immediately after his ascending to the throne and the second, to mark his victory over the greeks.

Thus the shungas tried to restore a dead vedic rite.


A2 the Harshacharitha, Devabuthi, the last king of the shunga dynasty was slain by his minister vasudeva, who established a new line in 75 (or 73) BC.

Only four kings of kanva dynasty ruling from pataliputra. They all together ruled for 30 years.

The four kings were: vasudeva, bhumimitra, narayana and susharman.

A2 puranas this dynasty was overthrown by the andhrabhrityas (Pulumavi I).

However, there is no evidence of magadhas occupation of shatavahanas, who were satisfied with the title ‘lord of the deccan’ (dakshinapathapati).

We have evidence of the reign of mitra dynasty ruling in magadha.

The name mitra occurs on many coins that were issued by the kings of magadhas.

Meghavahanas of Kalinga:

Kaligna rose to power in the middle of the first century BC under king kharavela of the cheta dynasty.

His capital was kalingnagara.

The only source of information about this king is the Hathigumpha inscription.

This inscription includes a biographical sketch of the king.

I Year: he rebuilt the capital of kalinga.

II Year: he destroyed the capital of the mushikas.

IV Year: he subdued the rashtrikas and bhojakas of modern berar.

V Year: he extended the old canal constructed by the nandas 300 years ago.

VI Year: he granted some privileges to the Paura-janapada corporations.

VIII Year : he advanced as far as barabara hills and defeated the king of Rajagriha.

XII Year: led a strong army into the northern plains and compelled brihaspathi mithra of magadha to
Submit. During this campaign he carried home an image of a jaina saint from magadha which had been previously carted away from kalinga to magadha. With the wealth that he carried away he built up a magnificient temple bhuvaneshwara.

XIII Year: he undertook many welfare schemes like building caves for the monks in the udaigiri hills.
Inspite of being a jain, he didn’t hesitate to undulge in conquest by military campaigns. Thus he defeated the kings of western deccan, occupied rajagriha, conquered magadha, attacked greeks and overran pandya kingdom.

He, finally had the pandya land ploughed with an ass as a mark of contempt.

This dynasty of ‘cloud bearers’ seems to have disappeared after karavela.

Small kingdoms of north India:

A number of dynasties ruling in many smaller localitites who issued different kinds of coins which form a major source of information regarding their existence.

Puranas and the mahabharatha often call them kshtriyas.

Some of the important kshtriya tribes were Audumbaras, Kunindas, Trigartas, Yaudheyas, Arjunayanas, Malawas, and sibis.

Audumbaras ruled the land between Ravi and Beas.

Kunindas ruled the area between the area between beas and the yamuna, presently the area covered by parts of HP and uttarachal.

Trigarthas occupied the region between ravi and sutlej in HP.

Yaudheyas were located in the territory between sutlej and yamuna.

Arjunayanas, malawas and sibis were occupied different localitites of rajastan .

The Mahabharata mentions many of these republican tribes, of which the most important were the Yaudheyas in northern rajastan.

The inscription ‘victory to the yaudheya tribe’ appears on the numerous coins issued by them.

One of their official seems has the legand, “of the yaudheyas who possess the magic spell of victory”.

The malawa tribe (malloi of greek historians) lived in Punjab, but moved south in the early historical period.

It is also believed that the malavas founded later known as the era of vikrama for several early inscriptions refer to it as “the era handed down by the malawa tribe”.

Satavahanas and the state formation in the deccan:

The deccan before the emergence of the satavahanas was settled by the iron-using megalith builders, a characteristic feature of the entire peninsula.

The settlements of the period are mainly associated with red ware, black-and-red ware and russet-coated painted ware.

Wheeler for the first time stated that the material culture of the middle gangetic plains spread to the satavahana dominion, through the agency of the mauryan empire.

This influence is demonstrated by the asokan inscriptions found at two places in kurnool district, adjacent to the borders of Karnataka where the edicts of asoka have been found at nine places. This suggests the prevalence of brahmi script and prakrit language in which the northerners communicated with the southerners.

The elements of asokan territorial administration and the use of prakrit have spread the mediation of the pre-satavahana chiefs.

The existence of such chiefs is shown by a good number of punch-marked coins and uninscribed cast coins in pre-satavahana layers at adam in nagpur dist.
This class evidently consisted of the rathikas/rathis/chariot-users, out of whom grew the maharathis or maharathas.

The local elements were so powerful that the satavahanas had established matrimonial alliances with maharathis.

The satavahana dynasty:

in the deccan, the satavahanas followed the maurayan rule.

The satavahanas were also known as satakanis, sanskritised as satavahana, salivahana and satakarni.

They ruled from the first century BC to the third century AD and by the beginning of the third century AD they yielded place to a number of independent dynasties.

The meaning of the term ‘satavahana’ is not definitely known.

Further, they were also known as andhras and andhrabrityas in the puranic lists.

A2 K.Gopalachari, “Andhra is a tribal name, satavahana is a dynastic name and satakarni is a surname”.

A2 K.A.Nilakantashastri, “they were called andhras because they were of andhra origin (jati) and their rule was probably confined to the Andhra country at the time the puranic lists were compiled”.

D.D. Kosambi, following M.Przylusky, opines “the name satakarni appears to be aboriginal. The factors are two indo-austric words, sada = horse and kon = son, which would indicate a horse-totem of the non-aryans”.

Kosmabi further identified this dynasty with the assaka of the suttanipata, which is the most archaic pali Buddhist canonical work.

“the proper sanskritisation of sata is sapti (horse), which actually appears in a late purana. Saptikarna would
indicate a split-totem, ‘horse-ear’ ”.

Though the puranas list 30 kings of the dynasty ruling for over 460 years.

The name of the earliest kings in the puranic lists figure also in inscriptions and on coins found in the western deccan at nasik, carle and nanaghat.

The satavahanas rose to power in the western deccan around paithan or prathisthana and from their spread towards MH, malwa and other regions.

Satavahana chronology:

First king, simuka, probably began to rule about 230 BC. This is confirmed by the script of the nasik inscription of kanha assigned by buhler to the belonging of the second century BC.

Jain accounts state that simuka grew utterly wicked in the end was, therefore, assassinated and succeeded by his brother Kanha (207-189 BC).

Kanha was succeeded by sri satakarni I, whose figure was sculptured in rilievo at nanagat along with the figure of his father simukha, his queen naganika, a maharathi, and three princes.
He conquered western malwa, anupa and vidharba.

He registered his imperial sway by performing two ashwamedha sacrifices and one rajasuya sacrifice.

Apart from the performance of the three sacrifices, an inscription of his queen records the fees paid to the afficiating preists including tens of thousands of cows, thousands of horses, a number of elephants, whole villages and huge sums of money (karshapanas).

Sri satakarni I is described in the inscription of naganika as dakshinapadapati (the lord of dakshinapata) and as a apratiharachakra (the wielder of the unchecked wheel).

The same inscription incised during the minority vedisiri mentions other minor sacrifices such as agnyadheya, anvarambhaniya, gavamayana, bhagaladasaratra, aptoryama, angirasamayana, gargatriratra, angirasatriratra, chandogapavamanatriratra, trayodasaratra.

Satakarni II (accession. 166 BC), the sixth king ruled for 56 years and wrested malwa from the shungas.

He had to contend with the invasion of kharavela.

This king extended his empire to MP, as a coin of his successor apilaka have been found in the eastern part of that state.

These square coins bear the legands rano satakannisa.

Apilaka is the eight king in the puranic list and his authenticity is proved by discovery of a large copper coin from the central provinces with the legand ‘rano siva sirisa-apilakasa’.

Eight kings between apilaka (8th ) and hala (17th) in puranic lists are of no significance.

Hala seems to have ruled for four years from C.AD 20-24 and he is famous in literature as the compiler of sattasai or gathasapthasati (700 verses in seven chapters), an anthology of erotic verses in arya metre and in maharastri prakrit.

Hala worked on the basis an earlier anthology by a certain kavivatsala.

The commentator’s notes mention the following poets as contributors to the work: bodissa, culluha, amaraja, kumarila, makarandasena, and sri raja.

The possession of western deccan by shaka satrap nahapana is proved by the presence of a number of coins in the nasik area belonging to the first century AD.

The satavahana power was revived by gautamiputra sri shatakarni (AD 80-104).

He is described as the destroyer of shakas, pahlavas and yavanas.

He overthrew nahapana and restruck large number of his siver coins.

Jogal thambi hoard in nasik district contains a large number of such restruck coins.

He recovered northern MH, konkhan, narmada valley, saurastra, malwa and western rajputana from the sakas.

His empire probably extended from malwa in the north to banavasi in the south.

Gautamiputra sri shatakarni is the first satavahana king bearing metronym.

Nearly all the successor of GPSK bear metronym except rajan sivamaka sada of an amaravathi inscription and pulomavi of the myacodoni inscription.

This king had titles such as ekabrahmanasya and khatiyadapa madanasa.

In nasik inscription-2 GPSK is spoken of as the exterminator of the khakharata-vasa.

These achievements are recorded in glowing terms by his mother, gautami balasri in an inscription at nasik engraved after his death and in the 19th year of his son and successor pulumavi II.

It also mentions that his son’s horses drank water from three oceans.
Pulumavi II ruled for 24 years and his coins are found in godavari and guntur districts and on the coromandel coast as far south as cuddalore.

The puranas mention siva sri – satakarni as the successor of pulumovi II. He is also known as vasistiputra siva sri-satakarni (known from the coins), and vasistiputra sri-satakarni in the kanheri inscription and vasistiputra chatarpana sri-satakarni in nanaghat ins.

Some scholars believe that this king was married to the daughter of maha kshatrapa rudradaman.

The girnar inscription of rudradaman mentions that he defeated dakshanapatapati satakarni twice but didn’t kill him because of a close relationship between them.

This defeated king could also be sivamaka sada satakarni or madhariputra sakasena satakarni.

The best known satavahana ruler is sri yajna satakarni (AD 170-199).

After the death of rudradaman he renewed the struggle with the sakas and recovered some of the provinces lost earlier.

His ins’s at kanheri, nasik, china ganjam, his rare silver coins of sopara fabric (immitaion of satrap coinage), his numerous coins from Krishna and godavari districts and potin coins from the chanda dist show that he not only maintained the eastern possessions but also wrested aparanta and north MH from the western satrapas, and his rare silver coins were struck for circulation in the newly conquered western dists.

Many of his bronze and lead coins have been recovered from the eastern provinces.

Sri yazna satakarni was the last king to retain control of both the western and the eastern provinces.

King vijaya’s coins have been found in akola in MH, sri chandras coins have been found in the godavari and krishan dists and one of his inscription has been found in the kalinga.

Pulomavi III’s ins’s has been found in ballery dist.

The names of other satavahana kings – karna, kumba and rudra satakarni, who ruled over the eastern deccan and MP – are known from their coins but are not included in the purnanic lists.



Yavanas were the first of the invading people in the post-mauryan period.

About 250 BC Diodotus, the selecuid governor of Bactria, proclaimed his independence.

Antiochus II, the Seleucid king then marched towards India, and defeated an obscure Indian king subhagasena in the valley of the Kabul in 206 BC. He hurried back to Mesopotamia after taking many elephants and booty from him. On his return, Euthydemus I (one of the successors of Diodotus) became the first sovereign king.

When his son Demetrius I came to the throne, the greek impact on India became pronounced.
Greek expansion in India was definitely the work of Demetrius I.

He was remembered as late as the days of the medieval English poet Chaucer who called him ‘the grete emetreus, the king of inde’.

His coins bear legands in greek and prakrit written in greek and kharoshthi.

He made sakala his capital, which he named Euthydemia in memory of his father.

His title aniketus (invincible) is etched on his coins.

A city in sauvira was named Dattamitri after him.

A this time Eucratides rebelled in Bactria. Consequently, Demetrius I lost Bactria.

Eucratides advanced towards India and made taxila his capital after conquering some part of the north-western region. His coins have been found in Bactria, Siestan, Kabul valley, Kapisa and Gandhar.

However, he could not cross jhelum. Demetrius I, on the other hand, ruled eastern Punjab and sind.
Greek rule in India finally got divided into two parts: dynasties of Demetrius and Eucratides.

It was Demetrius II who was able to establish greek control over Punjab, whole of sind and Cutch.
Strabo says that the greeks trampled the ganges and palibothra (pataliputra).

Patanjali states that the yavanas besieged saketa and madhyamika (nagari near chittor).

Gargi samhita mentions that the greeks after reducing saket, the panchala region and mathura, reached pataliputra (kusumadhwaja). But they returned soon thereafter because of internal problems.

All these conquests were most probably directed by Demetrius II assisted by Apollodotus and Menander.
Amongst all the indo-greek kings menander was the most illustrious.

His capital was sagala.

His coins represent him in all stages of his life, from youth to old age. His kingdom from Kabul to mathura.

He is famous in literature from Milindapnaho (the questions of Milind) in which he is represented as having held conversations with Buddhist philosopher nagasena.
When he died, many cities desired to get a share of his ashes, as they had done at the death of the Buddha.
Indo-greek apollodotus, probably the same as the bhagadatta of Mahabharata conquered Indus valley and Gujarat.

His territory extended from Eucratides removed Apollodotus from kapisa and restruck his coins.

Eucratides was assassinated by his son heliocles, whose successors ruled the region from pushkalavati (charsada) to takshahila till 25 BC, when the pahlavas displaced them.

To this house of eucratides belonged Antialkidas, who is famous as the king who sent heliodorus to the court of the king of besnagar.

Heliodorus erected a garuda pillar at besanagar and etched an inscription in which he professes to be a follower of vasudeva.

In the Punjab, the rulers of the euthydemus line continued till they were overthrown by the shakas in the first century BC.

Strabo was one of the kings known to us.

The Shakas:

The Bactrian or indo-greek rule in India was primarily destroyed by the shakas, also known as Scythians.

The Chinese emperor shi huang ti’s construction of the great wall in the third century BC forced hiung-nu, wu-sun and yueh-chi tribes to migrate towards south and west.

The first to migrate were yueh-chi, who displaced the Scythians who, in turn, invaded bactria and parthia.

From there they entered the Indian subcontinent using bolan pass, establishing themselves in western India.

The earliest shaka ruler of India was maues or moga who established shaka power in gandhara.

Maues is identified with moa of the maira well inscription and with moga of the taxila copper plate of kshatrap patika.

He issued a large number of copper coins and a few silver coins.

He had the title of maharaja mahatma.

On the obverse of his coins appear many greek deities, shiva and the Buddha.

Maues was succeeded by Azes I, who put an end to the remnant of greek rule by annexing the kingdom of hippostrators in the eastern Punjab.

Azes I issued some coins jointly with Azilises, and Azilises later jointly issued coins with Azes II.

Thus Azes I and Azilises ruled jointly for first and later Azilises and Azes II ruled jointly.

On one of Azilises’s coins appear a typical Indian diety – Abhishekha Lakshmi.
It was during the time of Azes II that the shaka occupation of the western frontiers of India passed into the hands of the pahlavas.

The shakas got divided into five branches.

The rulers belonging to all these branches were now known as kshatrapas or mahaksatraps, which title was influenced by the kshatrapal system of provincial administration of the shakas, an achawmenid and Seleucid replica.

One of these kshatrapal families ruled in kapisa in Afghanistan, another near taxila in the western Punjab, a third at mathura, a fourth in the upper deccan and a fifth at ujjain in malwa.

In the taxial copper plate inscription we find the mention of the name laika kusula, who is described as the king
of gandhara.

His son mahadanapati patiaka assumed the title of mahakshatrapa.

Ranjuvulu was the first ruler of the line of kshatrapas of mathura who assumed the title of aprathiharachakra.

He was succeeded by sodasa who, in turn, was succeeded by hagamasha and hagana.

This family was finally overthrown by kanishka I.

The kshatrapas of western India initially ruled as the vassals of the kushana kings.

In this region there were two kshatrapa families – one in MH and the other in Ujjaini.

The earliest known kshatrap of MH was Bhumaka, who belonged to Kshaharata family.

His coins have been found in the coastal regions of Gujarat, saurashtra, both malwa and ajmer.

Both kharoshthi and brahmi scripts were used on his coins.

Bhumaka’s successor and most illustrious king of the kshaharata family was nahapana, known from his silver and copper coins as well as from several inscriptions.

He has been identified with Mambarus of the periplus, whose capital ws minnagara (mandasor) in ariake (aparanta).

Nahapana had a long reign which probably commenced in the last quarter of the first century AD and ended in AD 124.

On many coins Nahapana is mentioned as rajan which shows his independence.

The ins’s of his son-in-law and general ushavadata show that he controlled a large part of MH, S.Guj, n.konkan, kukura, e.malwa, w.malwa and ajmer.

In the end, nahapana was defeated by gautamiputra sri-satakarni.

The kshaharata family disappeared after nahapana and in the south-western kshatrapi of the kushana empire the kshatrapi of the kushana empire the kshaharatas were succeeded by the shaka family of the kardamakas with its centre at ujjaini.

The first ruler of this line of kings was chastana.

He used three scripts, viz. greek, kharoshthi and brahmi, in his coin legands.

This line ruled from AD 130 to AD 388.

Chastana is mentioned as Tiastenes and Ujaini, as Ozene in Ptolemy’s Geography.

The Andau ins of AD 130 shows that chastana had been ruling conjointly with his grandson rudradaman.

Rudradaman’s father jayadaman was dead by this time.

A2 the junagarh rock ins, men of all castes chose him as protector and that he won for himself the title of mahaksatrap.

Rudradaman twice defeated a satavahana king named satakarni, the lord of the deccan, but spared his life because of his family relations.

He conquered malwa, saurashtra, guj, n.konkan and mahishmati.

He also humbled the yaudheyas of raj.

Rudradaman was successed by damaghsada I, jivadaman, rudrasimha I, jivadaman (second term), rudrasena I, sanghadaman, damasena, yashodamn, vijayasena, damajadasri III, rudrasena II, visvasimha, bhartridaman and finally visvasena ruling till the closing years of the fourth century AD.

The sakha power gradually fell into the hands of the Abhira chieftans.

The parthians (Pahlavas)

Iranian people, who for sometime lived with the Scythians. Therefore many characteristics were common to both, towards the middle of the first century AD, shaka rule in parts of Gandhara was supplanted by that of the parthians.

When Apollonius of tyana visited taxila in AD 43-44, the region was being ruled by one Phrotes.

Gondophernes was the greatest indo-parthian ruler.

He ruled from AD 19 to AD 45 (based on takht-i-bahi ins).

He overthrew hermaeus, the last greek king of the upper Kabul valley.

On all his coins, gondophernes appears as a beared, middle-aged man.

A tradition associates gondophernes with st. Thomas, the apostle. This tradition appears for the first time in the Syrian text of the acts of judas Thomas, the apostle.
This contains the story of the conversion of gondophernes into Christianity and the subsequent martyrdom of st.
Thomas. Marco polo, who died in AD 1324 wrote that st. Thomas was buried in s.india.
Soon after gondophernes, the pahlava ruler in India ended and a new nomadic tribe called kushanas occupied the region.

Excavations at begram have unearthed a large number of coins of the Parthian king gondophernes, but none of his successors.


Around 165 BC the western china was inhabitated by many tribes.

Yueh-chi were one amongst them.

In this year their neighbours hiung-nu, under the leadership of chi-yu, attacked and forced them to leave w.china.

They could nt move towards east since the great wall of china was a formidable barrier.

Left with little choice they moved further west.

In the process they got divided into two main groups: little Yueh-chi which migrated towards Tibet, and great yueh-chi.

The great yueh-chi, trekking westward, displaced wu-sun tribe and later shakas near syr darya or jaxartes.

After a few decades they in turn displaced the shakas or ta-hia or bactria.

A2 the classical writers, ta-hia was conquered by the Tocharian, identical with the yueh-chi of the Chinese annals.

By this time the great yueh-chi, were divided into five groups: hieu-mi, shuang-mi, kuei-shung, hi-tun and tu-mi.

A2 a Chinese source, the chief of the kuei-shung group keeou-tsieu-kio, organized the other four groups under his ledership into one compact group and marched towards India.

This king has been identified with kujala kadphises, kujul kasa or kadphises I.

He had established his authority in Kabul and Kashmir.

Kadphises I probably issued no gold coin but only copper coins which bear remarkable resemblance to roman dinarii, particularly to those of Claudius.

The two epithets dhramathida and sachadhramathida (steadfast in the truth faith) suggest that kadphises I was either a Buddhist or a shiava.

On the obverse of his early coins there appears the image of hermauces and, on the reverse, that of his own.

This means that initially he was under the roman king but on hislater coins he calls himself maharajadhiraja.

He probably died in AD 64.
Kadphises I was succeeded by his son vima kadphises II (yen-kao-chen).

A2 the Chinese sources Kadphises II was responsible for the conquests of the Indian interior where he set up a governor to rule in his name.

The nameless king of “soter megas” coins was most probably the said governor.

Kadphises II became a convert to shaivism and proclaimed himself as mahishvara on his coins.

He was probably the first king to introduce coins of gold in India.

All his coins, whether in gold or copper, show unmistakable signs (shiva with trident bull) of his shaiva affliation.

The obverse sacrificing at an alter, or even riding a chariot drawn by two horses.

Kadaphises II was succeeded by kanishaka, the greatness of all the kushana rulers.

Kanishka was the founder of the shaka era of AD 78. this era is came to be described as saka-kala or saka-nripa-kala.

He incorporated UP, Punjab, rajastan, malwa and saurastra into his kingdom.

His conflict with the rulers of saket and pataliputra from where he took the celebrated Buddhist monk asvaghosa to his capital purushapura.

The sarnath ins mentions mahakshatrapa kharapallana and kshatrapa vanaspara as governors of the eastern regions whereas general lalla and kshtrapas vespasi and laika were appointed in the northern part.

He established a city named kanishkapur in Kashmir.

His most famous battle was with the king of china.

He was defeated the first time but came out victorious the second time. He was defeated by pan-chao, the famous general of Chinese king ho-ti.

He also took a Chinese prince as a hostage.

Kanishka subjugated the rulers of khotan, yarkand and kashagar who had been tributaries to china.

After the maurayas, a great empire was established for the first time under kanishka in which ganga plains and valleys of sindhu and oxus were included.

The kushana empire was strategically located between the Chinese kingdom of heaven in the east, Parthian empire in the west and the rising roman empire in the far north.

Kushanas controlled all the three main branches of the famous silk route.

On the advise of parsva, kanishka convened the fourth council of the Buddhists in the kundalavana-vihara in Kashmir.

Vasumitra was elected president and asvaghosha vice-president.

According to another the council was convened at jalandhar.

The council collected the texts of the Buddhist canon and prepared commentaries on it, which were engraved on sheets of copper, enclosed in a stone coffer and deposited in a stupa specially erected for the purpose.

The council also prepared an encyclopaedia of Buddhist philosophy called mahavibhasa.

Kanishka also got a stupa, a matha, and a town constructed at Peshawar in which relics of Buddha were kept.

This stupa was consturced under the guidance of a greek engineer named agesilaos.
In the royal court of kanishka a host of scholars found patronage. Parsva, vasumitra, asvagosha, nagarjuna, charaka and mathara were some of them.

During his reign, the images of bodhisattvas began to be erected in gandhara style under the influence of Mahayana Buddhism.

At mathura, we have an image of (headless) of kanishka in which he is represented in the uniform of a warrior.
Kanishka mainly issed two types of coins: on one type, the legends are in Iranian. On his copper coins, he is shown as sacrificing on an alter.

On his gold coins, issued in imitation of the roman coins, kanishka’s image appear on one side and on the other side a diety’s image is engraved. These deities are of brahmanical, Persian, greek and elamite origin.
Kanishka’s successor vasishka (AD 101-105) probably identical with vaskushana, vajheska (father of kanishka II of the Ara ins) and jushka of the rajatharangini.

He was the founder of the jushkapura identified with the modern zukar near srinagar and the township of jayasvamipura.

Vasishka was succeeded by huvishka.

A2 rajatharangini huvishka rulerd simultaneously with vasihka and later with kanishka II (son of vasishka).
Kanishka II assumed the title Kaisar.

Hivishka founded the town of hushkapura in Kashmir (near baramulla pass).

Huvishka was succeeded by vasudeva (AD 138-176).

He took the title shaono shao vasudevo koshano.

He was worshipped of shiva, as is evident from the figure of shiva and a bull on his coins.

After vasudeva, kushana history is not very clear.

We find kanishka III and vasudeva II from the coins issued by them.

A2 the Chinese sources, a king named po-tiao, identified with vasudeva II, is believed to have sent an ambassador to the Chinese emperor in AD 230.

In the latter part of the fourth century or early fifth century AD the kushanas came to acquire a new designation – kidara – and these kida-kushanas ruled in parts of Punjab, north-west frontier province and Kashmir.

Post-Mauryan administration:

The satavahanas had maharathis and iksvaku as feudatories and the kushanas had sahis as tribute paying kingdoms.

Satavahana administration:

The ashokan system of dividing the kingdom into aharas continued under the satavahanas.

We get the names of at least five aharas in the ins’s:

Govardhana-ahara (nasik),

Soparaka-ahara (west coast),

Mamala-ahara (pune and satara),

Satavahanihara (bellary) and

Kapurachara-ahara (Gujarat).

These aharas also called rastras.

The official called amatyas is mentioned for the first time in satavahana ins’s.

These amatyas functioned as governors, treasurers and executors of land grants.

The rajukas functioned as judges and magistrates.

The office of pratihara is mentioned for the first time in the satavahana ins.

Other officials are bhoja, mahabhoja (wife mahabhoji), maharathi (they had marriage relations with the satavahanas), mahasenapat, gamika (village official), mahatakas (great chamberlain), mahaaryakas (religious functionary), bhandagarikas (store-keepers), heranikas (treasurer), nibamdhakaras (registrars of documents), dutakas, pattika-palakas (keepers of land charters), navakarmikas, upraksitas (overseers).

The towns are administered by a nigama through nigamasabha.

Nanaghat cave ins gives a long list of various figures of karsapanas.

The royal share of the produce is represented by such terms as deyameya, bhoga and karukara.

Shaka-Parthian administration:

The shakas and the pahlavas introduced the kshatrapa system of administration which was borrowed from the achaemenid and Seleucid rulers of iran.

The provinces were put under a military governor known as mahakshatrapa.
Kshatrapa was placed under a mahakshatrapa.

They were allowed to issue ins’s and coins in their own name.

The shaka kings used titles like rajadhiraja and maharaja which were borrowed from the indo-greek kings.

The shakas and parthians introduced the practice of joint rule, the heir apparent sharing powers equally with the reigning king.

The kshatrapal system is considered as a system akin to the kings entering into feudatory relations with smaller kings.

This was necessary for the kingdoms established by foreigners who had no socio-political base.

The indo-greek admn:

They introduced the practice of military governorship.

They appointed their governors called strategos.

Kushana admn:

The kushana kings used grand eloquent titles such as maharaj, rajatiraja.

Kujula kadphises, the founder of the kushana kingdom in India, is described as a small chief (yavuga), but later kings adopted bigger titles.

The title rajatiraja was derived from their Parthian predecessors.

The kanishka group of rulers generally prefixed the title sahi to their names which appears as shaoonano shao on their coin legends.

The kushanas adopted this title from their shaka predecessors.

This title appeared later in the Allahabad prasasti in the sanskritised form as sahanushahi.

The kushanas were also influenced by the roman system.

Kanishka adopted the title Kaiser.

But the imitation was restricted to the title only.

In the field of provincial admn the kushan followed the kshtrapal system.

The sarnatha Buddhist image ins of kanishka refers to the rule of two kshtrapas: vanaspara and kharapallana.

Although the system dual kingship prevailed before the kushans, they introduced the practice of dual governorship in a province, so that one could act as a check on the other.

The kshatrapas exercised their powers through semi-military officers known as dandanayaka and mahadandanayaka.
The lowest territorial unit was the village under the gramika and the towns were supervised by the nigama officials.

They tried to deify themselves by adopting the title of devaputra and instituting the dead king’s cult (devakula).
Before kushans, the Parthian king adopted the title devavrata i.e., devoted to god.
Since the concept of deifyied king was alien to Buddhism (kanishka’s professed faith), its theroretical
justification came immediately in the near contemporary Mahayanist Buddhist text, suvarnaprabhasuttomasutra.

The kushans derieved the practice of setting of devakulas from the romans, who in turn had borrowed this idea from the Egyptians.

The kushan kings were also represented on other coins with the nimbus, aureole, clouds or flames.
The idea of devaputra was adopted by the kushans from the Chinese who called their king the “son of the heaven”.

Contacts with the outside world:

There were many factors responsible for increase in trading and commercial activities.

The first and the foremost was the great unification under the mauryas and the measures taken by them.

These measures included the concept of janapadanivesa through which a large mass of uncultivated land was brought under the cultivation.

The result was the generation of a large surplus which could now be traded for those living in the urban centres.

Another measure was the development of roads and transport system.

The trunk route joining pataliputra to taxila was constructed by the mauryas.

Pataliputra was joined to tamralipti by land route as well as by river route.

Another development was the growth of Jainism and buddhism which encouraged the trading activities in the light of the fact that they favoured accumulation and reinvestment of wealth.

A large number of viharas were located on the intersections of the trade routes.

Land and sea routes:

Internal routes:

apart from the royal highway running from tamralipti to taxila, there were many routes which connected other
parts of India.

A2 the Buddhist sources, the more frequented routes were: the north to southwest from sravasti to prathistana, the north to south-east from sravasti to rajagriha and east to west route following the river valleys.

This shows the importance of shravasti as the major junction.

Another major junction was mathura which had the status of a second capital of the kushans.

From mathura a route went to westward to sind.

Along this route, horses were brought to the north India.

Another route from mathura went to ujjaini ultimately leading to the bharauch.

Bharauch continued to be the main port for the western sea trade.

Bharauch was also connected with tagara and pratistana.

Srughna in the north was an important transit place.

From tamralipti a route went down south connecting kalinganagar, amaravati, kanchipuram and uraiyur.

Uraiyur was connected by a route to musiris.

The land routes of s.india mostly developed during the post-mauryan period.

All the above mentioned routes are traditionally grouped into two main groups i.e., uttarapatha and dakshanapata.

Internal trade:

The milindapanho, the jatakas, coins, seals, ceiling and the existence of a large number of monastric establishments provide a great deal of evidence regarding the internal trade and its conditions during the post mauryan period.

External land routes:

bactria was an important centre of transit trade between India, china, central asia and the Mediterranean world.
From bactria, the route proceeded westward to the northern part of Persian desert covering places such as aria (herat), margiana (merv), the zagros valley across the tigirs and the euprates to Antioch in Syria.

There were two other outlets to western asia from the Indus valley.
One of them passed through bolan or the mulla pass and opened into the vast plateau between herat and kandahar.

The other route passed through the narrow makaran coast of baluchistan, which joined the lower Indus plain with southern Persia.

The most important of these routes, i.e., the one passing through khyber pass, was generally preferred by the traders because it was less hazardous and nearer to the international trade route.

This route, passing through kandahar, herat and ecbatana (hamadan) was linked to seleusia and the ports on the eastern medietierrianean.

One route branched off from kandahar linking it with perseipolis and susa.

Sea routes:

Discovery of mansoons by hippalus in AD 46.
Ships traveling to western ports generally took two routes: they either followed the coast up the Persian gulf to
Babylon or travelled across the Arabian sea to aden or socotra and from there they went to the red sea.

Goods were landed at suez and from there sent overland to Alexandria, which was an enterpot of the Mediterranean region.

The periplus refers to Indian settlements in dioscorida (socotra) along with those of arabs and greeks.
This island served as the half-way station in the commerce between India and east Africa, as eudaemon Arabia
(aden) did in the case of indo-egyptian trade.


Nature of inland trade:

Cotton cloth was brought from the eastern region and aparantha (south west region), silk from china and bahlika, blankets from kamboja, weapons of iron from the eastern region and aparantha, horses and camels from the north west region, elephants from the eastern and southern regions.

Magadha and avanti continued to supply iron.

Copper was available in rajastan, the deccan, and the foothills of the Himalayas, musk and saffron came from
Kashmir and the slopes of Himalayan region.

Salt range of the Punjab was known for salt.

South India region supplied spices, gold, precious stones and sandalwood.

Mathura (famous for sataka), varanasi and uraiyur were centres of textile production.

Ujjaini was an important bead-making centre where beads of semi-precious stones, glass, ivory and terracotta
were made.

Foreign trade

Indus valley had trade relations with sumer, elam, and tylos and perhaps an indirect contact with Egypt.
“the theories that the ancient Egyptians used Indian muslin to wrap their mummies or that the queen in hat-shepsut (1481 BC) imported sonter incense from India or that the ophir to which king solaman (800 BC) sent an expedition for gold was in India, cannot be confirmed. But there is little reason to doubt that the elephants that are found on the black obelisk of shalmaneser (858-824 BC) along with apes and Bactrian camels had crossed the hindukush and that the teak wood used furnishing the temple of the moon at Ur and the palace of nebuchadnazzer (604-562 BC) was sent to India by the Persian gulf”.

Trade with sri lanka and south east asia:

Ceylon was famous for production of gems and pearls.

Pearls, transparent stones, muslin and tortoise shells are mentioned as products of the island in the periplus.

From pliny we get the information that rice, ginger, beryl and hyacinth were produced and it had mines of gold, silver and other minerals.

Some of these items (pearls and sapphires) exported from the Malabar ports were derived from Ceylon.

The SE asian region had two fold utility for India.

Apart from providing important halting stations, the region was rich in mineral and agricultural products.

That is why this region came to be called suvarnabhumi or suvarnadwipa in Indian literature.

This roughly comprised lower burma, the Malaya penunusla and the Indonesia archipelago.

These regions are known as chryse (soil of gold) and argyre (soil of silver) in the classical literature.

Malaya is rich in tin and iron as well.

Burma was situated on the trade route connecting NE India and yunnan province of china.

But direct trade between India and burma was very ieagre in the post-mauryan period.

Malaya (golden khersonese of Ptolemy) was also situated between Indian and south china sea.

The traders were using the Isthmus of kra in Malaya as the shortest passage between the Indian ocean indo-
chinese mainland and the south china sea.

There are many legends about trade with Indonesian archipelago.

Of these, the one relating to the king aji shaka is widely known.

The Ramayana refers to sandalwood coming from rishabha mountain located in timor or Celebes in eastern
Indonesia. This region is famous as a spice growing area.

Kalidasa refers to lavanga (clove) from dvipantara identified with Sumatra.

The reputation of Indonesia as a pepper producing area is evident from several Chinese texts.
Fu-nan and champa, roughly comprising Cambodia and Vietnam, preserve an old Indian tradition according to which a Brahman called hun-t’ien (kaundinya) of mo-fu (Malaya) reached fu-nan by chance in a trading vessel.

He won over this country and its female ruler Lin-yeh sometime in the first century AD.

We also learn that a diplomatic exchange took place between fu-nan and the menluen (murunda) ruler of north India who was possibly of the later kushana dynasty.

The Indian rulers sent four yueh-chi horses as present to fan-chen, the ruler of fu-nan.

Large number of semi-preciou stones which were exported to the west from India, have been found at maritime town of Oc-Eo.

Jewellery shows Indian and roman influence.

Script on some items also show Indian influence, particularly of the nasik ins of usavadata and vasisthiputra pulamavi.
Two Buddhist bronze images in the style of the gandhara and a copper image in the style of amaravati have been found.

In pong tuk in siam a Buddha image in amaravati style and a roman lamp have been unearthed.

The famous ins of vo-canh in Vietnam belonging to 3rd or 4th century AD refers to a dynasty founded by king

He was a Buddhist and Sanskrit was his court language.

Arikamedu, it seems, was an entrepot for trade between roman empire, Thailand, champa and china.

Trade with central asia and china:

The trade routes coming from north-western India and western china met in bactria.

India’s better acquaintance with the peoples of central asia is evident from the epics, which refers to sulika (sogdiana), kusika (kucha), charmakhandika (samarkand), bahlika (Bactrian) etc.

From north-western India, the main route to the oxus region proceeded along the Kabul valley through hidda and nagarahara, from where it passed through the valley of bamiyan.

Oases of Yarkand and kashgar (hiuen tsang’s amd marco polo’s route)

Silk could be taken to bactria through it as well as via samarkhand to mery.

Exploration in different places on the tarim basin, such as kashgar, yarkand, khotan, niya, endere, lou-lan, miran, kucha, quara shahr and turfan show that in these places Indian influence was very strong.

The earliest reference to India’s early trade with china in Indian literature comes from the arthashastra which mentions chinamsuka literally: cloth made in china.

The Chinese traders introduced vermillion (sindura from ts’in tung) and bamboo (kichaka from ki’chok)

The maritime contact in the 2nd century BC is proved by the evidence of a Chinese coin belonging to 138 BC found at Mysore.

The Chinese emperor wu-ti (140-86 BC) started establishing diplomatic relations with the countries through which the silk route passed.

Wu-ti finally established relations with chi-pin i.e., the shaka country, which later denoted kushana region.

The periplus states that from china (thinae) raw silk, silk thread and silk goods were brought overland through bactria to baryygaza and by way of the ganges to the coromandel coast.

The wei shu gives a long list of articles brought to china by the Persians.

Ptolemy refers to a road from china to India going through palimbothra (pataliputra), which suggests that which suggests that there were two routes between china and India, 1. via Yunnan, burma and assam, and 2. via Tibet and sikkim.
A work of the Chinese historian pan-ku (1st century AD) mentions the kingdom of huang-che beyond Tonkin, to which Chinese trades travelled in foreign ships for buying pearls, glass, and rare stones in exchange for gold and silk.

Huang-che has been identified with kanchi.

South India has trading relations with china in the later half of the 1st century BC.

Roman trade

From the first century AD the trade was carried on mainly by sea.

The sailors from the Mediterranean region came regularly to the Indian ports of bhrigukachcha, arkamedu and tamralipti.

Sangam literature describes yavana ships arrving with their cargoes at the city of kaveripattinam.

The romans mainly imported spices for which south India was famous.

They also imported muslin, pearls and jewel-stones from central and southern India.

Some transit trade, especially in silk.

In return, the roman exported wine-amphoraw and red-glazed arretine ware to India discovered at arikamedu and at muziris (evidence of the Vienna papyrus).

Romans exported to India, a large number of coins of gold and silver.

Wheeler reported in the fifties, sixty-eight hoards of roman coins of the first century AD.

By now 129 finds of roman coins have been reported.

This justifies the complaint of pliny that rome was being drained of gold on account of her trade with India.

The Vienna papyrus contains the text of an agreement between two shippers, whereby one contracts to serve as an agent for a cargo belonging to the other and to oversee its transportation to Alexandria.

It comprised of nard, ivory and textiles of the total value of 131 talents, which according to L.casson could have purchased almost 2,400 acres of egypt’s farmland.

The total weight of the consignment was no more that 7,190 pounds or three and a half tons.

Commodities of export:

Cardamom, cassiacinnamon, nard, pepper, ginger-gress, citron, rice, lentil, cotton, abony, seasame, oil and seeds, sugur, ingido, lycium, bdellium, woods, cotton products, roots of costus, gum, aloes, coconut, menlon, peach, apricot, millet, frankincense, gum resins, myrrh, elephant, rhinoceros, lion, tiger, hound, monkey, python, parrot, peacock, fowl, ivory, wool, woolen products, hyde, fur, silk, lac, pearl, oysters, onyxshell, conchshell, tortoise shell, ghi, musk, agate, carnelian, onyx, sard, nicolo, amethyst, rock crystal, opal, ruby, sapphire, garnet, emerald, lapis lazuli, zircon, tourmalines, jade, turquoise, iron, steel, copper, and Indian girls.

Commodities of import:

Damask, girdle of damask (Alexandria), wine (italy, laodice and Arabia), storax (Egypt and Syria), sweet clover (crete, Greece, and italy), frankincense (Arabia and east Africa), papyrus (egpyt), red coral (sicili, Sardinia, Corsica, italy, spain and north Africa), copper, tin, lead (western provinces of the roman empire), realgar, a red sulphide of arsenic and sulphide of antimony (carmania and Arabia), chrysolithos (isle of st. john), and yavana girls.


Apart from flourishing trade, other significant features of this period are: monetization of economy, development of crafts, growth of urban centres, and weakening of state control over the forming operations.

The indo-greek rulers were the first to issue gold coins.

Minander was perhaps the last of the indo-greek rulers to issue gold coins.

After them the kushans issued them in considerable numbers.

All kushana gold coins were minted out of roman gold.

Gold mines existed in sind in the time of alaxander and the gold mines of Dhalbhum lay under the sway of the kushana.

The satavahanas issued coins in metals of low value i.e., lead, potin and copper.

The kushans perhaps issued the largest number of copper coins.

The smaller republican dynasties issued silver and copper coins. The nagas, yaudheyas, kunindhas, mitra rulers
of kaushambi, mathura, avanti and ahichhatra etc. All issued their own coins.

Many nigamas also issued coins of copper and bronze.

The silver coin of 32 ratis was known to manu as purana and dharana.

The copper coin of 8 ratis was known as karshapana.

Smaller copper coins known as kakani were also in circulation.

Till now only one gold punch marked coin is known.

The indo-greeks mainly issued silver and copper coins and very rarely gold coins.

Shaka and pahlava coins in silver and copper usually followed the reduced indo-greek standard.

The gold dinaras and suvarnas of the kushans were based on the roman denarius and were of 124 grains.

Double and quarter dinaras were also issued.

Urbanization in this period has been termed as the third phase of early historic urban growth. (1st: 7 – 6 Cen BC; 2nd: Mauryan period).
Mortimer Wheeler described both Charsade and taxila, the two most notable urban centres, as ‘caravan cities’.

The modern city of charsada is known as pushkalavati in indian sources and peucelaotis and proclais in classical sources.

Its importance decline slightly with the growth of purushapura under the kushans.

A2 A.H.Daney the city, was founded by Minander. Here, a house of the kushana period is associated with a Buddhist teacher, naradakha.

Archaeologically, taxila is the most extensively excavated city site of the sub-continent.

The three successive urban settlements of taxila, the bhir mourd, sirkap, and sirsukh have been excavated.
Sirsukh was laid out by the kushans.

In the Punjab plains, tulamba could be a city of malloi.

Sakala or segal, the capital of minander, has been described as a rich and prosperous city laid out on the typical chess board pattern in the minlindapanho.

In the Mahabharata this was the capital of madra kingdom.

The sakala was an important historical trade centre having connections with both the west and the gangetic valley.

Khokra kot near rohtak and sunet near ludhiana, both associated with the yaudheyas, a series of mounds in kurukshethra, agroha and sirsa near hissar all show prosperity during the post-mauryan phase.

Rupar, sugh (ancient shrughna) etc belonging to kushan period are very significant.

In the upper gangetic valley, places like hastinapur, indraprasta (purana Qila in delhi), mathura, sankisal, ahichchatra, saketa-ayodhya, kaushambi, and bhita were important urban centres.

The numerous ins’s and ayagapatas recovered from the kankali tila mound testify that it was an imp centre of Jainism.

Mathura was also a noted centre of the bagavata and the naga cults.

Mathura was both a religious centre and imp entrepot of the trade and commerce.
Ahichchatra, the capital of north panchala, is known as parichakra in the satapatha brahmana, while Ptolemy knows this as adisadra.

Kausambi was first the capital of mitra kings and latter, in the second century AD that of the maghas.
Ghoshitarama monastery flourished in koushambi.

Bhita near koushambi was a propherous trade center. It was known as vicchi or vicchigrama in ancient period.
Varanasi (modern rajghat) was the meeting point of atleast three trade-routes.

Sravasti, identified with sahet-mahet, was a nerve centre of commerce and a number of routes emerged from here. It had routes for saketa, rajagriha, koushambi, varanasi, alavi, samkasya and taxila. It had direct trade routes for ujjaini, mahishmathi, pratishtana, bharukachchha, and surparaka.

The ancient monastery site of jetavana is located nearby.

In the nepalease tarai region, we have piprahwa.
Ganwaria, tilaura-kot and in north bihar katragarh, balirajgarh and vaisali (raja-vishal-kagarh) were imp townships.

In the lower gangetic valley (Bengal) we have kotasur, tamluk, pushkarana, chadraketugarh, mahasthanagarh and wari-bateshwar as important trade centres.

Shisupalgarh and jaugada are the two early historical cities of costal orissa.

In eastern rajastan, we have bairat, rairh, sambhar and nagari.

In MP, vidisa was the western capital of the shungas.
Vidisha also seems to have been an important craft centre paricualarly noted for ivory, weaving and sharp swords.

Pawaya or ancient padmavati and ujjaini were other imp cities in c.india.

The route from the gangetic valley bifurcated at ujjaini for the deccan and w.india.

The most imp city in Gujarat was ancient bharukachchha or bhrigukachchha of the Indian sources and bharyaza of the classical sources. It was a port par excellence.

Not only was its immediate hinterland fertile, producing wheat, rice and cotton, but its connection stretched to ujjaini and pratishtana.

It is not only Catered to the Mediterranean trade it had connections with sri lanka and SE asia.

In the deccan region we have bhokarban (ancient bhogavardana), paithan (pratistan), tagara, brahmapuri, adam and kaundinyapur in MH; banavasi, isila and sannati in Knk; and nagarjunikonda (vijayapuri), satanikota, dhanyakataka, kondapur and pedavegi (ancient vengi) in Andhra.

The TN, arikamedu, kaveripattinam, uraiyura and muziris in kerala.

Diganikaya belonging to pre-mauryan age mentions about two dozen occupations where as the mahavastu belonging to the post-mauryan period mentions 36 kinds of workers living in the town of rajagriha.

The milindapanho lists nearly 75 occupations of which nearly 60 are connected with crafts. Of these, eight crafts were associated with the working of mineral products: gold, silver, lead, tin, copper, brass, iron and precious stones or jewels.

A variety brass (arakuta), zinc, antimony and red arsenic also find mention.

Cloth making, silk weaving, and arms making made progress during this period.

Salmasius informs us of a greek monograph on Indian steel.

Under marcus aurelius, there was an import tax on ferrum indicum.
In the sirkap, city of taxila, a large number and variety of iron objects have been unearthed.
The periplus mentions exports of Indian iron and steel from ariaca (around the gulf of cambay) to African ports.

The telangana region of AP seems to have been the richest, so far as the finds of iron objects are concerned.

In addition to weapons, balance rods, socketed axes and hoes, sickles, ploughshears, razors and ladles have been unearthed in karimnagar and nalagonda districts.

Interestingly, the site in karimnagar was a rural settlement where carpenters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, potters etc lived in separate quarters.

It is rather surprising that cotton (karpasa), out of which most of the clothes were made, is not mentioned in the indigenous literature till the 5th century BC.

From the arthashastra we know that the seats of cottons industry were in aparanta (konkan), kalinga, vaga, vatsa and mahisa (jabalpur).

Manu attributes a special purity to cotton. It prescribes that a brahman’s sacrificial thread should be made of cotton, that of a kshatriya of flax and that of a vaishya of wool.

Acharanga sutra (1st cen AD) mentions various types of cotton: blue cotton, common cotton, Bengal cotton etc.

The most imp centres of cotton production were Bengal, varanasi, Gujarat and gandhara.

From ujjaini and tagara, considerable quantities of cotton were exported to Arabia, socotra and Egypt.
Roman empire was the biggest market of Indian cotton.

Wool (urna) was produced in the north-western frontier areas, Punjab and present day uttaranchal.

Uddiyan (swat) was an imp wool making centre.

Manu refers to kara and pratibhaga among other kinds of levies.

Kara was probably a periodical tax, primarily imposed on agricultural land, over and above the king’s normal
grain share.

Pratibhaga was a daily present consisting of fruits, flowers, roots and the like.

In the junagarh rock ins we find such terms as kara, visti and pranaya.

Visti was unpaid labour and pranaya, according to the arthashastra, is an emergency tax when the state suddenly runs into financial stringency.


Evolution of jatis:

the earliest use of jati in connection with a varna is found in the nirukta which speaks of a woman of a shudra jati.

By the time of panini, the shudra varna was divided into aninvasita and nirvasita.

The second category included chandalas and mritapas.

Around second century BC concepts of vratya and varnasamkara were invented.

The jati hierarchy is organized on the principle of the absolute purity of the brahmana caste and the relative impurity of all other castes.

Varnas are broad categories subsuming within them a large number of jatis in a rather loose fashion.

The vratya and varnasamkara concepts seems to have led to a dilution or modification of the varna concepts particularly in the early historical period.

The yuga purana informs us that during distress (apad-dharma) period, even women took to ploughing.

Satavahanas declared themselves to have been the restorer of varnashramadharma.

Proliferation of jatis

During the post-mauryan period, a large number of jatis came into existence because of varnasamkara or mixing of varnas.

This mixing was the result of two types of marriages i.e., anuloma i.e., proper and pralimoma i.e., improper.

Manu says that anumloma castes are slightly inferior to their fathers but are entitled to all the rights.

A2 all the accounts, the pratiloma castes have the status of shudras.

Manu mentions the old mixed castes such as nisada, the parasava, the ugra, the ayogava, the ksattr, the chandala, the pukkasa, the kukkutaka, the svapaka and the vena who are said to have originated from the intermixture of the varnas.

Manu’s list counts as many as 61 castes, their consolidation in chapter ten seems to have been the work of about the fifth century AD.

Some of these castes are avrta, ambastha, abhira, dhigvana, sairandhra, maitreyaka, margava, kaivarta, pandusopaka, ahindaka, karavara, Andhra, meda, antyavasin etc.

Manu further adds that bahyas (outside the varna) and hinas (low people) produced fifteen kinds of low castes, on women of higher castes.

The paundrakas, the codas, the dravidas, the kambojas, the kiratas, the kalingas, the pulindas, the usinaras, the mekalas, the latas, the pundras, the daradas, we are told, were originally kshatriyas, but they sank to the level of shudras by failing to perform sacred rites and to consult the brahmans.


Slavery or sasatva in India was different in form from the slavery in ancient greaco-roman world.

Manu distinguishes seven kinds of slaves, viz. one captured in war, one accepting slavery for food, one born in master’s household, one purchased, one given, one acquired by inheritance from ancestors, and one enslaved by way of punishment.

As regards personal rights, yajnavalka lays down that slavery (dasya) shall be in the descending order of varnas and not in the ascending order.

As regards the right of emancipation, yajnavalka declares the forcible reduction of slavery to be void.
We learn from divyavadana that a female slave bearing a child to her master was at once freed with her offspring.

Sometimes the shudras themselves owned slaves.

On failure of competent witness even slaves and servants could give evidence.

Post-Mauryan culture

The general characteristics of this period are: substantial reduction in state patronage; increase in patronage by diverse social groups and consequent spreat of art activities all over India; use of non-perishable material; constant integration with foreign art forms and consequent emergence of various schools of art; dominant inspiration from Buddhism and Jainism; emergence of regional patterns of script; widespread carving of images of worship in place of symbols.


Secular architecture

The mahajanaka jataka refers to the gate, watch tower and the walls of the city of the champa.

The city of girivraja has been described as an impregnable city in the Mahabharata, being surrounded by five hills, namely vaihara, varaha, vrisabha, risigiri and chaityaka.

The milindapanho offers us a graphic picture of the top of sagala.

The houses were constructed of wooden technique is scrupulously imitated in these style presumes the existence of an age of wood in the history of Indian architecture.

Religious architecture

At sanchi and bharhut (ashokan) the main stupas were enlarged and stone railings and gateways were added to them.

Soon thereafter both of them were adorned with relief carvings and ins’s.

At bodh gaya the mahabodhi temple was rebuilt many times.

Around 100 BC it was surrounded by an elaborate and beautifully carved railing, dated by a Shunga period ins.

In the first or second century AD it was completely rebuilt.

At amaravati (ashokan foundation) the main stupa was given a distinctive railing and gateway complex in the first two centuries AD.

At Pauni a great stupa was adorned with stone relief carvings and ins’s in the second century BC.
The dharmarajika stupa at Taxila (ashokan) underwent several reconstructions at different times.

Around second century AD this was ornamented with the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

An extensive renovation of the original monument took place in the shaka-kushana period when many of the surrounding structures were erected.

The great stupa at manikyala in Punjab was erected around the beginning of the Christian era.

The stupas at taxila, chakpat and manikyala show that the characteristic tendency in post-mauryan period was the elongation of the stupa.

The kunal stupa at taxila represents a monumental style that is particularly associated with the shaka-kushana period.

At jhandial a stupa built in scytho-parthian style was found.

Fa-hien, a Chinese piligirm furnishes us with graphic accounts of the great stupa erected at purushapura by kanishka.

It had ‘a basement in five stages (150 feet), a superstructure (stupa) of carved wood in thirteen stories (400 Feet) – surmounted by an iron column with thirteen to twenty – five gilt copper umbrellas (88 feet), making a total height of 638 feet’.

“tradition says that this was the highest tower in Jambudvipa”.

Identified with shah-ji-ki-dheri where a basement of 286 feet in diameter has been found, may have been the largest of its kind in india.

The earliest caves in the west, for example at bhaja, are all Buddhist and include chaitya halls, some containing stupas and monastic complexes.

The height of the early rock-cut architecture may be seen in halls at karle and kanheri (AD 75-150).

The karle cave is regarded as the first specimen.

There were cut out during the satavahana phase.

The nagarjunikonda prospered most under the patronage of the ikshvakus. It contains, apart from the Buddhist monuments, the earliest brahmanical brick temples.

This place appears to be the richest in structure in the early centuries of the Christian era where hinayana rock-architecture reached its culmination.

Other imp stupa structures now known are those at bhattiprolu, gudivada, amaravati, ghantasala, jagayyapeta, goli, pedda ganjam etc.

Development of monumental architecture belonging to the vaishnava and shaiva movements.
The excavations at vidisa revealed that the inscribed pillar of heliodorus was the sole survivor of an original row of eight which were contemporary with the later period of construction of what was evidently a shrine of

A similar temple with a massive stone railing bearing several copies of an ins was discovered at nagari near chittor.

The ins belongs to a king called bagavata and claims to have made a stone wall around the narayana enclosure, dedicated to vasudeva and samkarsana.

In south India, the shrine at gudimallam was probably built during the second-first century BC, and provides the earliest evidence to date of an actual shaiva shrine.


The post-mauryan period is an age of great sculptural achievements.

In the north the main activity is recognized in the madhyadesh at bharhur, sanchi, bodh gaya, mathura etc. In
the east there was a regional pattern in kalinga.

Very often this movement has been called ‘the classical movement’.

The beginning of this movement can be traced back to the declining phase of the mauryan empire.

A fragmentary relief, dug up at sarnath, shows a female figure with head bent down over the gathered-up knees and hands, an attitude that indicates utmost dejection.

During the post-mauryan period three schools of sculptural art developed. These are gandhara school, mathura and amaravati school.

Gandhara school of art:

The sculpture of the gandhara region, embracing the north-west provinces and part of Afghanistan.

This region was under the sway of achaemenids of iran in the sixth-fifth centuries BC.

Subsequently, the greeks, the shakas, the parthians and the kushanas ruled over it and the result was the birth of a hybrid culture that found expression in an eclectic school of art, prolific in output and contemporary with the flourishing period of the indigenous art movement at mathura.

The gandhara school is usually described as graeco-buddhist.

The principal patrons of this art movement were the shakas and the kushans.

The technique employed is undoubtedly Hellenistic, though modified by Iranian and Scythian contacts; but the themes depicted are Indian and almost exclusively Buddhist.

Main centres belonging to the gandhara school have been found are: jalalabad, hadda, and bamiyan in Afghanistan, the swat valley (udyana), taxila, takht-i-bahi, bala hisar, charsada, palatu-dheri, ghaz dheri, begram, bamaran etc.

The material employed is usually a dark grey slate in the beginning,stucco and terra-cotta becoming the dominant medium later.

The importance of this school consists in the revolutionary procedure of representing, for the first time, the image of the buddha in anthropomorphic shape.

Independent images, seated or standing occur very frequently.

Though bearing all the iconographic marks and traits of the Indian tradition, the gandhara Buddha is rendered in the manner of the divine figures of the graeco-roman pantheon.

Robed in a thick garment arranged in the fashion of a roman toga, with hair arranged in wavy curls, with a physiognomy and expression foreign to Indian notions, and sometimes with a moustache or turban, the Buddha of the gandhara artists resembles the greek god Apollo.

This style of sculpture is lacking all the spontaneity and emotional warmth.

The earliest specimen of gandhara art so far discovered is the bimaran reliquary dated to the reign of Aizes I.

The free-standing Buddha from lorya tangai (AD 6), the well known Buddha from takht-i-bahi, the Buddha from charsada (AD 72), standing Buddha from takht and the seated Buddha from sahri-bahlot are famous for their pronounced transparent drapery.

In the image of hariti from skarah-dheri (AD 87), the drapery clings to the body closely with small parallel folds which suppress the transparency to a certain extent.

From the 3rd century AD, stone sculpture became rare, stucco and terra-cotta of easier tractability became the dominant medium.

The two significant centres of this late gandhara art are mohara moradu and jaulian.

Mathura school

Mathura was a great centre of art.

The great period begins with the Christian era and its most prolific output coincided with the kushanas.

The main interest centered upon the human figure boldly carved and set against the plain surface of the ground.

The image proper is shaped in the form and content of yaksha and is characterized by massive earthliness and robustness of form and volume.

One example comes from kosam (kaushambi) installed in the second year of kanishka’s reign.

Two such images dedicated by friar bala in the third year of kanishka’s reign come from sarnath and sahet-mahet (shravasti).

All these images are executed in the mottled red sandstone of sikri and were of mathura origin.

Each of them represents the Buddha in a standing pose with the left hand held near the hip and the right hand raised upto the shoulder in abhaya-mudra.

The upper part of the body is only half-covered.

All these images are conceived in strictly frontal aspect.

The features are expressive of enormous energy and mundane force belonging to this world and not of transcendental nature.

In certain aspects the mathura artists show awareness of the gandharan art tradition.

This awareness is evidenced by the drapery, curls on the head (mathura heads are shaved), full eyes and lips with sharp cut and heavy upper eye-lid.

However, the influence is restricted to motifs only and practically nothing of technique and style.
Certain groups of mathura sculptures, all dealing with stong drinks and inebriation, have been classed as bacchanalian.

These seems to have been inspired by foreign subjects.

An example is the so called ‘Heralces and the lion’ compositon.

We have a few large-size portrait status of kanishka, vima kadphises, and chastana.

The composition shows centrial asian or Scythian inspiration and remains a transient phase in the history of mathura art form.

A particular kind of mathura sculpture is represented by votive slabs known as ayagapatas, which were erected in Jaina shrines for the adoration of the arhats.

The so-called ‘holi’ reliefs are the representative example of this form.

Amohini relief and the ayagapata from kankali tila belong to this group.

Kankali tila was a predominantly jain site at mathura.

It has yielded a few representations of the Trithankaras.

Of them parshvanatha is recognizable from his canopy of snake hoods and rishabhanatha from locks of hair falling on his shoulders.

Apart from Buddhist and jain representations we have a few brahmanical images belonging to mathura school.

The earliest representations are of shiva, lakhmi, surya and samkarshana or balaram.

During the kushana period, karttikeya, Vishnu, saraswati, kuber, parvati, ganesh, skanda and naga images were carved.

Shiva is usually represented in the form of chaturmukha linga.

Gaja-lakshmi with kuber, vasundhara, katyayani, mahishasur-mardini, the sapt-matrikas.

Brahma, surya, agni and ayudhapurushas are also depicted.

Amaravati school
Patronized first by the satavahanas and later by the ikshvakus and also by other groups (feudatories, officials, and merchants), four periods of activity are easily disernible.

The first period dating from 200-100 BC, is evidenced at jagayyapeta, where a few slabs on decorative pieces at the base of the stupa have been found.

These slabs depict pilasters at intervals with animals above bell-shaped capitals and devotees adoring the
Buddha, who is symbolically represented.

The casing slabs above the platform are to be attributed to the second period.

Dating from 100 BC to AD 100, these slabs contain superposed panels depicting the Buddha in preaching form.

They depict the principal scenes of buddha’s life, the Buddha almost always being represented by a symbol, though in two or three places he is personified, the earliest cases of his personification on record.

The important remains include the much weathered panel showing ashoka watering the bodhi tree and the attempts of mara’s daughters and the gnomes to entice the Buddha.

The railings round the stupa belonging to the third period (AD 150 was carved carefully) on either face.

An ins informs that in vasisthiputra sri pulamavi’s reign, additions were made to the stupa and the Tibetan tradition associated the Buddhist acharya nagarjuna with the construction of the rail.

A new feature, absent in the earlier structures of amaravati, is the delineation of different planes.
The figures of the first plane are carved in deep relief, and the depth of cutting gradually diminishes with the successive planes.

Most remarkable of all is the skill displayed in representation of scenes of action.

This is clear from the story of udayana, the story of the subjugation of the elephant nalagiri by the Buddha, portraying the confusion created by the elephant running amock in the streets of rajagriha and the lively battle scene from the coping.

The casing slabs of the fourth period, AD 200-250 show more rich and elaborate carvings than the rail.

Finest miniature sculptures on the small circular bosses, in the frizes and on the casing slabs.

The sculptures of nagarjunakonda on the light green lime stone were a sequel to the amaravati school.

Among the events of buddha’s life, the most popular to be depicted, are his discent from hevean in the form of a white elephant, queen maya’s conception, the casting of his horoscope after his birth, the great renunciation, the transportation of gautam’s head-dress to heaven, the scene of temptation, the nagamuchalinda protecting the
Buddha from rain with broad hood, the first sermon and the mahaparinirvana represented by the Buddha.

Terra-cotta Art:

terra-cotta was the medium of expression for the common people.

The most prolific centres of its production were ahichchhatra, mathura, koushambi, bhita, and rajghat in UP, pataliputra, buxar and vaisali in bihar, bangarh, mahasthan and tamralipti in Bengal, taxila in north-west, kondapur in AP.

The typical Sunga terra-cottas were made from single moulds, and probably such moulds were carried and dispersed widely between the ganges delta in the east and north-west.

Here too in the north west some typical greek features occur, with the introduction of double moulding and several typical Hellenistic types.


Evidence of the development of wall painting.

The specimens of the art revieveled by the extant fragments in joghimara cave in ramgarh hills near sirguja, dated about the 2nd century BC, is one of the earliest examples.

The earliest painting extant in ajanta, assigned to the same period as jogimara, show the rich character of the paintings.

These early paintings are confined to caves X and XI.

The palette is restricted to a few colours – red and yellow, ochre, terre-verte, lamp black and white of leme.

Some of the scenes depicted are – arrival of a king with his ladies and a child, and his worship of the bodhi tree; naga king with his attendants; a group of 16 votaries approaching a stupa etc.

During this period there is no attempt to show light and shade effect as in the later ajanta paintings.

Language and literature

The earliest commenced before the mauryans and continued upto 200.

It is represented in the ins’s of maurya and kushana periods, early Buddhist and jain canonical works and the dialects used in sariputra prakarana of ahvagosha and the place of bhasa.

The second stage commenced from about the 3rd century and is represented by the literary prakrits used in the place by the grammarians of the later times.

These prakrits were: magadhi, sauraseni, maharatri, avanti and pisachi, the first three being the most imp.

The early Buddhist texts were written in magadhi where as the early jain texts were written in ardha-magadhi.

In the post ashokan period, pali came to be used as an imp literary language (ceylonese tradition identify it with magadhi).

When the centre of Jainism shifted to the west, the language came to be regarded as a form of maharastri.

In some Buddhist texts such as the mahavastu and the lalitha vistara, mixed Sanskrit is used.

The brihatkatha of gunadya has been written in a dialect called pisachi.

Classical sansktirt was also establishing itself slowly in some regions.

Katyayana (mauryan) and patanjali (Shunga) tried to maintain the high standard set by panini.

Ashvagosha was probably the first to use Sanskrit for the composition of place and a new type of epic.

Sarvastavadin and mula-sarvastavada schools of Buddhist philosophy adopted it and wrote their canonical literature in it.

From the middle of the 2nd century AD, the shakas of w.india became great patrons of this language.

They were the first to introduce Sanskrit in ins’s.

The rulers of this dynansty used titles like svamin, bhadramukha, sugrihitanaman and rastriya for the first time.

The shakas were the first sanskritic colonists in indo-china and Indonesia where Sanskrit was adopted in the initial charters.

The Buddhist scholars and monks carried Sanskrit to east Turkestan (khotan, kucha etc).


From the second century onwards writing becomes more and diversified.

The brahmi script continued to occupy a dominant position.

We find its increasing use in records of religious donations at barhut, sanchi, amaravati and bodhgaya.

From the early 2nd century BC brahmi ins’s are found on coins. Among the earliest examples are the copper pancha nigama coins from taxila.

When the indo-greeks appeared, they issued bilingual coins in greek and brahmi.

In the southern coastal region a remarkable development of brahmi, adopting it to the special phonetic requirements of tamil, is found from the second-first centuries BC.

In the north-west kharosthi continued to flourish and most of the known ins’s in that area were written in this script between 200 BC and AD 200.



After panini, we have many grammarians who lived in the post-mauryan period.

Among them patanjali was the most outstanding who wrote the magnificent commantry, the mahabhasya.

After patanjali, the centre of Sanskrit grammar learning shifted to deccan were katantra school flourished in the first century AD.

Sarvavarman, probably a courtier of king hala, produced the grammar katantra, meaning ‘short or handy work’.
It is also known as kalapa after the peacock vehicle of god kumara.

The twin epics the Mahabharata and Ramayana were enlarged during this period.

Ramayana took it present form between 400 BC and 200 AD, Mahabharata between 400 BC and 400 AD.
Ashvagosha, playwriter and poet. He wrote saundaranandana, buddhacharita, vajrasuchi and gandeestotra.

The buddhacharitha is a hagiographical nature, and the saundaranandana relates how the Buddha converted his cousin nanda.

Contemporary with asvagosha, patronized by the same king and at times identified with him was matricheta who wrote the chatussataka-stotra (or varnarhavarna-stotra) and the sata-panchashataka stotra ( or adhyardha-shataka-stotra) recovered from central asia and Tibet.

Slightly later than asvagosha and influenced by him was kumaralata of taxila whose sutralankara or kalpanamandtika are quite famous.

Avadanasalaka (AD 100) and the divyavadana (2nd Cen. AD) were translated in chinese in the 3rd century AD.
The lalithavistara mentions a treatise on the art of poetry called kavyakaragrandha.


The art of acting had already been codified by panini’s time in the nata sutras of shilalin and krisasva.
Subandu flourished during the age of the nandas and mauryas.

Kautilya mentions natas, nartakas, natyarango-pajivin and preksha.

Nata occurs frequently in the mahabhashya.

All these early forms contributed to the development of bharata’s natyashastra belonging to the period between
200 BC and AD 200.

Representations of some dance poses (mudra) of the natyashastra are to be seen in the amaravati sculptures.
The tragedies in the greek manner, chorus and the unities of time and place, which use hallmarks of greek drama are absent in Indian drama.

Asvagosha, son of suvarnaksi of saket, became a convert to Buddhism and wrote many Sanskrit plays. Fragments of his plays, a prakarana and a proto-type of the latter allegorical probodha chandrodaya have been recovered from turfan.

The former, in 9 acts called sariputraprakarana, or saradvatiputraprakarana, deals with the conversion of sariputra and maugalyayana by the Buddha.

It is also believed that asvagosha composed a musical play on the story of the conversion of rastrapala by the Buddha.

Bhasa was another dramatist of the period, manuscripts of whose plays had been recovered by T.Ganapati shastri from trivandrum.

He wrote, in all, 13 plays including.
Svapnavasadattam, charudattam (original of mrichchhakatikam of shudraka), pratignayogandharayana, ravanabadha, and urubhanga.

Many Buddhist and jain texts were also written during this period in pali, ardha-magadhi and prakrit languages.

The non-cannonical pali literature of this period comprises the netti-prakarana (book of guidance), the petakopadesha and the milindapanho also called nagasena bhikshu-sutra.

Winternitz says that the milindapanho was composed in the north-west and the rest in Ceylon.

Atakathas used by buddhagosha was also composed during this period.

Jain cannons used the language known as ardha-magadhi.

The jain adaptation of the Ramayana story in the paumachariya of vimalasuri was a poetical work of this period.

Prakrit as a literary language was used extensively in central deccan.

Hala, a satavahana ruler, is famous for his work gathasaptasati, which he wrote in prakrit.

The shaptasati refers to the royal compiler as kavi-vatsala i.e., ‘fond of the poets’.

Lilavati, the prakrit romance of hala, abhinanda’s ramacharita and katha-tarangini of palita may be ascribed to this period and they are supposed to have lived in hala’s court.

Gunadhya, whom govardhana calls an incarnation of vyasa produced his brihatkatha, a storehouse of the country’s stories and fables. This was written in paisachi or bhutabhasa.

Some puranas and dharmashastras may have been compiled during this period.

Manu’s dharmashastra is usually attributed to a period between 200 BC to AD 200. however, the tenth chapter of this text may belong to the gupta age.

Narada smriti may be referred to the period AD 100-300.

Brihaspati smriti is placed between AD 200 and 400.

Science and Technology:

The machines of early historical India were simple devices such as the variyantra, a kind of water spray for cooling the air.

The presence of yavana engineers in kushana court and in the tamil literature shows interaction in this field.

Geometry seems to have developed and was increasingly being used in erecting fire alters.

In the field of astronomy, the greek influence is evident from the text romaka siddhanta.

The seven days division of a week and the names of satellites are roman borrowings.

The indo-greeks seem to have introduced the tradition of putting the images of kings and engraving legends on the coins.

Indian medicine made remarkable progress during this period.

The surgical equipments in common consisted of 25 types of knives and needles, 30 probes, 20 tabular instruments and 26 articles of dressing.

Charaka wrote charakasamhita. He stayed at the court of kanishka.

The greek botanist Theophrastus gives details of the medicinal plants and herbs from India in his history of plants.


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