Saka-Satavahana Wars

The Saka-Satavahana Wars were a series of conflicts fought between the Saka ksatraps and the Satavahanas during the 1st-2nd century CE. Both sides achieved success at varying points of the conflict, but in the end, it was the Satvahanas who prevailed. However, constant wars with the Sakas severely weakened them and was a major contributor in their fall.

Saka-Satavahana Wars
Saka-satavahana wars.jpg
The territory of the Sakas and Andhras at one point during the wars.
Date1st-2nd CE

Status quo ante bellum (short-term change)

  • Satvahanas split into smaller kingdoms (long-term change)
Satavahana dynasty Saka ksatraps
Commanders and leaders
  • Nahapana ?
  • Ushavadata / (POW)
  • Rudradaman I
  • Rudrasimha I
  • Casualties and losses
    Heavy Heavy


    First PhaseEdit

    The Saka ruler Bhumaka was succeeded by his son Nahapana, and became a very powerful ruler. During 15-40 CE, he occupied portions of the Satavahana empire in western and central India. He is known to have ruled the former Satavahana territory, as attested by the inscriptions of his governor and son-in-law, Rishabhadatta.[2] Nahapana Nahapana held sway over Malwa, Southern Gujarat, and Northern Konkan, from Bharuch to Sopara and the Nasik and Poona districts.[3]

    It was probably during the reign of Satavahana king Sivasvati that the Kshaharatas invaded Northern Maharastra and Vidarbha and occupied the districts of Pune and Nashik, forcing the Satavahanas to abandon their capital Junnar and to move to Prastisthana (modern Paithan) in the vicinity of Aurangabad.[4][5]

    Second PhaseEdit

    A coin of Nahapana restruck by the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni. Nahapana's profile and coin legend are still clearly visible.
    The defeated "Saka-Yavana-Palhava" (Brahmi script: 𑀲𑀓 𑀬𑀯𑀦 𑀧𑀮𑁆𑀳𑀯) mentioned in the Nasik cave 3 inscription of Queen Gotami Balasiri (end of line 5 of the inscription).[6]

    The Satavahana power was revived by Gautamiputra Satakarni, who is considered the greatest of the Satavahana rulers.[7] The king defeated by him appears to have been the Western Kshatrapa ruler Nahapana, as suggested by Nahapana's coins overstruck with names and titles of Gautamiputra.[2] The Nashik prashasti inscription of Gautamiputra's mother Gautami Balashri, dated to the 20th year after his death, records his achievements. The Nashik prashasti inscription states that Gautamiputra uprooted the Kshaharata (or Khagarata) family, to which Nahapana belonged. The Nashik inscription dated to the 18th year of Gautamiputra's reign states that he reaffirmed a grant of land to Buddhist monks living at the Triraśmi peak. This land was earlier in the possession of Nahapana's son-in-law Rishabhadatta (also known as Ushavadata), who had donated it to the monks.[8] He (Gautamiputra Satkarni) claimed victory on them in an inscription at Cave No. 3 of the Pandavleni Caves in Nashik:

    Gautamiputra Satakarni (…) who crushed down the pride and conceit of the Kshatriyas; who destroyed the Sakas (Western Satraps), Yavanas (Indo-Greeks) and Pahlavas (Indo-Parthians),[9] who rooted out the Khakharata family (the Kshaharata family of Nahapana); who restored the glory of the Satavahana race.

    — Inscription of Queen Mother Gautami Balashri at Cave No. 3 of the Pandavleni Caves in Nashik.

    Third PhaseEdit

    A satrap named Chastana founded the Kardamaka dynasty after Nahapana's death. His successor was probably his grandson, Rudradaman I. The Satavahanas were the aggressors of the next war. The conflict between Rudradaman I and Satavahanas became so gruelling, that in order to contain the conflict, a matrimonial relationship was concluded by giving Rudradaman's daughter to the Satavahana king Vashishtiputra Satakarni. The inscription relating the marriage between Rudradaman's daughter and Vashishtiputra Satakarni appears in a cave at Kanheri:

    Of the queen ... of the illustrious Satakarni Vasishthiputra, descended from the race of Karddamaka kings, (and) daughter of the Mahakshatrapa Ru(dra)....... .........of the confidential minister Sateraka, a water-cistern, the meritorious gift.

    — Kanheri inscription of Rudradaman I's daughter.[10]

    The Satavahanas and the Western Satraps remained at war however, and Rudradaman I defeated the Satavahanas twice in these conflicts, only sparing the life of Vashishtiputra Satakarni due to their family alliance:

    Rudradaman (...) who obtained good report because he, in spite of having twice in fair fight completely defeated Satakarni, the lord of Dakshinapatha, on account of the nearness of their connection did not destroy him.

    Rudradaman regained all the previous territories held by Nahapana, probably with the exception of the southern areas of Poona and Nasik (epigraphical remains in these two areas at that time are exclusively Satavahana):[12]

    Fourth (last phase)Edit

    During the reign of satrap Rudrasimha I, Satavahana emperor Sri Yajna Sātakarni defeated the Western Satraps in the late 2nd century CE, thereby reconquering their southern regions in western and central India, which led to the temporary decline of the Western Satraps.[13]


    The wars exhausted the resources of both kingdoms, especially the Satavahanas, which was a major factor in their decline. On the other hand, the Saka satraps would continue to prosper for the next two centuries, until their extinction by the Gupta Empire.[14]

    See alsoEdit


    1. ^ a b Sen, Sailendra Nath (1999). Ancient Indian History and Civilization. New Age International, 1999. p. 170. ISBN 978-8-12241-198-0.
    2. ^ a b R.C.C. Fynes 1995, p. 44.
    3. ^ "The Satavahanas did not hold the western Deccan for long. They were gradually pushed out of the west by the Sakas (Western Khatrapas). The Kshaharata Nahapana's coins in the Nasik area indicate that the Western Kshatrapas controlled this region by the 1st century CE. By becoming master of wide regions including Malwa, Southern Gujarat, and Northern Konkan, from Broach to Sopara and the Nasik and Poona districts, Nahapana rose from the status of a mere Kshatrapa in the year 41 (58 AD) to that of Mahakshatrapa in the year 46 (63 AD)." in "History of the Andhras"
    4. ^ Tripurī, history and culture - M. C. Choubey - 2006 page 168
    5. ^ Coinage of the Satavahana Empire - Inguva Karthikeya Sarma - 1980 page 132
    6. ^ Hultzsch, E. (1906). Epigraphia Indica Vol.8. p. 60.
    7. ^ Charles Higham 2009, p. 299.
    8. ^ Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya 1974, p. 77.
    9. ^ V.D, Mahajan (2016). Ancient India. S. Chand Publishing. ISBN 9789352531325.
    10. ^ Burgess, James; Bühler, Georg (1883). Report on the Elura cave temples and the Brahmanical and Jaina caves in western India; completing the results of the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons' operations of the Archaeological survey, 1877-78, 1878-79, 1879-80. Supplementary to the volume on "The cave temples of India.". London, Trübner & Co. p. 78.
    11. ^ Source Archived 23 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
    12. ^ Sircar, D. C. (2005). Studies in Indian Coins. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 118. ISBN 9788120829732.
    13. ^ "later Satavahana named Yajna Satakarni seems to have conquered the Southern Dominions of the Western Satraps. His coins contain figures of ships, probably indicating the naval power of the Andras. He not only ruled Aparanta, but probably also the eastern part of the Central Provinces". Majumdar, p. 135
    14. ^ Marshall, The Monuments of India p.388