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Nahapana (Greek: ΝΑΗΑΠΑΝΑ, Kharosthi: 𐨣𐨱𐨤𐨣, Brahmi: Gupta ashoka n.svgGupta ashoka h.svgGupta ashoka paa.jpgGupta ashoka n.svg Na-ha-pā-na,[6] ruled 1st or 2nd century CE) was an important ruler of the Western Kshatrapas, descendant of the Indo-Scythians, in northwestern India. According to one of his coins, he was the son of Bhumaka.

Western Satrap
Silver coin of Nahapana British Museum.jpg
Silver coin of Nahapana, with ruler profile and pseudo-Greek legend "ΡΑΝΝΙΩ ΞΑΗΑΡΑΤΑϹ ΝΑΗΑΠΑΝΑϹ", transliteration of the Prakrit "Raño Kshaharatasa Nahapanasa" (or "King Kshaharata Nahapana"). British Museum.[1]
Reign1st or 2nd century CE
The Greco-Prakrit title "RANNIO KSAHARATA" ("ΡΑΝΝΙω ΞΑΗΑΡΑΤΑ(Ϲ)", Prakrit for "King Kshaharata" rendered in corrupted Greek letters) on the obverse of the coinage of Nahapana.[2][3]
Nahapana Brahmi and Kharoshthi legends on his coinage "RAJNO KSHAHARATASA NAHAPANASA “Of the Rajah Nahapana, the Kshaharata”.[4][5]


The exact period of Nahapana is not certain. A group of his inscriptions are dated to the years 41-46 of an unspecified era. Assuming that this era is the Shaka era (which starts in 78 CE), some scholars have assigned his reign to 119-124 CE.[7] Others believe that the years 41-46 are his regnal years, and assign his rule to a different period. For example, Krishna Chandra Sagar assigns his reign to 24-70 CE,[8] while R.C.C. Fynes dates it to c. 66-71 CE.[9]


A coin of a silver drachma from Nahapana. Obv: Bust of the king crowned with a diadem on the right. Legend in Greek: ΡΑΝΝΙ (ω ΙΑΗΑΡΑΤΑϹ) ΝΑΗΑΠΑ (ΝΑϹ) Rev: An arrow to the left and a lightning to the right. Legend in kharoshthi on the left: Rano Chaharatasa Nahapanasa. Brahmi legend on the right: Rajna Kshaha (ratasa Nahapanasa).

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions one Nambanus as the ruler of the area around Barigaza. This person has been identified as Nahapana by modern scholars. The text describes Nambanus as follows:[10]

A coin of Nahapana restruck by the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni. Nahapana's profile and coin legend are still clearly visible.
Coin of Gautamiputra Yajna Satakarni struck over a drachm of Nahapana. Circa 167-196 CE. Ujjain symbol and three arched mountain symbol struck respectively on the obverse and reverse of a drachm of Nahapana.

He also established the Kshatrapa coinage, in a style derived from Indo-Greek coinage. The obverse of the coins consists of the profile of the ruler, within a legend in Greek. The reverse represents a thunderbolt and an arrow, within Brahmi and Kharoshthi legends.

Nahapana is mentioned as a donator in inscriptions of numerous Buddhist caves in northern India. The Nasik and Karle inscriptions refer to Nahapana's dynastic name (Kshaharata, for "Kshatrapa") but not to his ethnicity (Saka-Pahlava), which is known from other sources.[12]

Nahapana had a son-in-law named Ushavadata (Sanskrit: Rishabhadatta), whose inscriptions were incised in the Pandavleni Caves near Nasik. Ushavadata was son of Dinika and had married Dakshamitra, daughter of Nahapana. According to the inscriptions, Ushavadata accomplished various charities and conquests on behalf of his father-in-law. He constructed rest-houses, gardens and tanks at Bharukachchha (Bharuch), Dashapura (Mandasor in Malva), Govardhana (near Nasik) and Shorparaga (Sopara in the Thana district). He also campaigned in the north under the orders of Nahapana to rescue the Uttamabhadras who had been attacked by the Malayas (Malavas). He excavated a cave (one of the Pandavleni Caves) in the Trirashmi hill near Nasik and offered it to the Buddhist monks.[13]

Gautamiputra SatakarniEdit

Nahapana coin hoard.
Nahapana coin.

Overstrikes of Nahapana's coins by the powerful Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni have been found in a hoard at Jogalthambi, Nashik District.[14] This suggests that Gautamiputra defeated Nahapana.[9]

Earlier scholars such as James Burgess have pointed out that Gautamiputra Satakarni and Nahapana were not necessarily contemporaries, since Satakarni mentions that the areas conquered by him were ruled by Ushavadata, rather than Nahapana. According to Burgess, there might have been an interval of as much as a century between the reigns of these two kings.[15][16] However, most historians now agree that Gautamiputra and Nahapana were contemporaries, and that Gautamiputra defeated Nahapana.[17] M. K. Dhavalikar dates this event to c. 124 CE, which according to him, was the 18th regnal year of Gautamiputra.[17] R.C.C. Fynes dates event to sometime after 71 CE.[9]

Nahapana was founder of one of the two major Saka Satrap dynasties in north-western India, the Kshaharatas ("Satraps"); the other dynasty included the one founded by Chashtana.[18]

Construction of Buddhist cavesEdit

The Chaitya cave complex at Karla Caves was built and dedicated by Nahapana in 120 CE.[19]
Karla Caves, inscription 13 of Nahapana.

The Western Satraps are known for the construction and dedication of numerous Buddhist caves in Central India, particularly in the areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat.[19][20]

In particular, the chaitya cave complex of the Karla Caves, the largest in South Asia, was constructed and dedicated in 120 CE by Nahapana, according to several inscriptions in the cave.[19][21][22]

An important inscription relates to Nahapana in the Great Chaitya at Karla Caves (Valukura is thought to be an ancient name for Karla Caves):

Success!! By Usabhadata, the son of Dinaka and the son-in-law of the king, the Khaharata, the Kshatrapa Nahapana, who gave three hundred thousand cows, who made gifts of gold and a tirtha on the river Banasa, who gave to the Devas and Bramhanas sixteen villages, who at the pure tirtha Prabhasa gave eight wives to the Brahmanas, and who also fed annually a hundred thousand Brahmanas- there has been given the village of Karajika for the support of the ascetics living in the caves at Valuraka without any distinction of sect or origin, for all who would keep the varsha.

— Inscription of Nahapana, Karla Caves.[23]

Parts of the Nasik Caves also were carved during the time of Nahapana,[20] and the Junnar caves also have inscriptions of Nahapana,[24] as well as the Manmodi Caves.

Cave No.10 "Nahapana Vihara" at the Nasik Caves

Success ! Ushavadata, son of Dinika, son-in- law of king Nahapana, the Kshaharata Kshatrapa, (...) inspired by (true) religion, in the Trirasmi hills at Govardhana, has caused this cave to be made and these cisterns.

— Part of inscription No.10 of Nahapana, Cave No.10, Nasik[25]


  1. ^ Cribb, Joe (2013). Indian Ocean In Antiquity. Routledge. p. 310. ISBN 9781136155314.
  2. ^ Cribb, Joe (2013). Indian Ocean In Antiquity. Routledge. p. 310. ISBN 9781136155314.
  3. ^ Alpers, Edward A.; Goswami, Chhaya (2019). Transregional Trade and Traders: Situating Gujarat in the Indian Ocean from Early Times to 1900. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 9780199096138.
  4. ^ Seaby's Coin and Medal Bulletin: July 1980. Seaby Publications Ltd. 1980. p. 219.
  5. ^ Rapson, E. J. (Edward James) (1908). Catalogue of the coins of the Andhra dynasty, the Western Ksatrapas, the Traikutaka dynasty, and the "Bodhi" dynasty. London : Printed by order of the Trustees.
  6. ^ Rapson, E. J. (Edward James) (1908). Catalogue of the coins of the Andhra dynasty, the Western Ksatrapas, the Traikutaka dynasty, and the "Bodhi" dynasty. London : Printed by order of the Trustees.
  7. ^ Buddhist Reliquaries from Ancient India. British Museum Press. 2000. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7141-1492-7.
  8. ^ Krishna Chandra Sagar (1992). Foreign Influence on Ancient India. Northern Book Centre. p. 133. ISBN 978-81-7211-028-4.
  9. ^ a b c R.C.C. Fynes 1995, p. 44.
  10. ^ "The mention of 'Nambanus' whom the scholars have identified as Nahapana in the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea would help us to solve the problem of Nahapana's time.", in "History of the Andhras" Archived March 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ quoted in "The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century". Fordham University. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Ancient Period Archived March 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. p. 383. ISBN 9788131711200.
  15. ^ Burgess, James (1880). The Cave Temples of India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 266–268. ISBN 978-1-108-05552-9.
  16. ^ Chattopadhyaya, Sudhakar (1974). Some Early Dynasties of South India. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 77. ISBN 978-81-208-2941-1.
  17. ^ a b M. K. Dhavalikar 1996, p. 135.
  18. ^ Students' Britannica India. 4. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2000. p. 375. ISBN 9780852297605.
  19. ^ a b c World Heritage Monuments and Related Edifices in India, Volume 1 ʻAlī Jāvīd, Tabassum Javeed, Algora Publishing, 2008 p.42
  20. ^ a b Foreign Influence on Ancient India, Krishna Chandra Sagar, Northern Book Centre, 1992 p.150
  21. ^ Southern India: A Guide to Monuments Sites & Museums, by George Michell, Roli Books Private Limited, 1 mai 2013 p.72
  22. ^ "This hall is assigned to the brief period of Kshatrapas rule in the western Deccan during the 1st century." in Guide to Monuments of India 1: Buddhist, Jain, Hindu - by George Michell, Philip H. Davies, Viking - 1989 Page 374
  23. ^ Epigraphia Indica Vol.7, Hultzsch, E. p.58
  24. ^ Buddhist Critical Spirituality: Prajñā and Śūnyatā, by Shōhei Ichimura p.40
  25. ^ Epigraphia Indica p.78-79


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