Introduction: The fall of the Mauryas gave rise to a number of Brahmin dynasties and Satavahanas are one of them.
Origin of Satavahanas: There are differences in opinion among historians. Some think that they are the same as the Satya-putas of Ashokan inscription. They are also known by yet another name called Satakarnis.
The only thing that we say with confidence about the Satavahanas is that they had their origin in the South and were Brahmins. They might have probably their first appearance in Maharashtra and from there they might have emerged as a political power in the first century. By the second century, they might have conquered the Andhra Desha and at the close of their reign, they might have again confined themselves to the area of the Andhra Desha and thus were described as Andhras by some historians.
According to Matsya Purana, the Satavahanas ruled for about 400 years and the dynasty had as many as 30 rulers. But, in the Vayu Purana, they are said to have ruled for 300 years having only 19 rulers.
Simuka: The first ruler of this dynasty was Simuka who established himself supreme in Maharashtra and from there added to his political power. He defeated the Kanvas and thus established his rule over Magadha. He was also responsible for the defeat of these Sunga rulers.
Satkarni: The third ruler of this dynasty, Satakarni, married the princess of Anga dynasty of the South. This must have strengthened his position and perhaps it was with the help of this dynasty that he extended his empire up to Eastern Malwa as is described in the Sanchi inscription. He is, however, said to have been defeated by another ambitious ruler of Kalinga, Kharavela by name. At the close of the first century A.D., the Saka Satraps annexed the whole of Maharashtra and this gave a blow to the prestige of the Satavahanas.
Gautami Putra Satakarni is known to be one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty. His achievements find a place in the Nasik inscription. He defeated the Sakas and the Yavanas and thus he became the supreme power in the South.
His 18th year of rule is commemorated in the Brahmin literature as he gave as an endowment a cave near Nasik to the Brahmins to make it their centre of learning and literary activities.
Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi: Gautamiputra Satkarni was followed by his son, Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi. He was equally strong and courageous as his father. He defeated and conquered Andhra Desha and transferred his capital to Prapisthana in order to make it convenient to rule the empire from a central place. During his 24 years of rule, he tried his best to maintain in the prestige established by his predecessors and left no occasion to make his own additions.
Yajnashri Satakarni was the last important ruler of the dynasty. He defeated the successors of Rudradaman and annexed North of Konkan. The inscription describing the boundary of his empire point out that it was extended from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. His emblem on a coin was the image of a ship which indicates that he must have had a strong navy. His followers were, however, weaklings and we do not find anything important about their achievements. The dynasty came to a close after ruling for about 250 years.
The Satavahanas ruled in the Dakshina Patha at the time when there was unified empire in the North. The Satavahanas gave a type of political stability to the region they held under their mighty rulers and, thus, the cultural progress of this area is important for our purposes of study.
The Satavahanas rulers had accepted Brahmanism as their creed but they were tolerant to such an extent that they had bestowed upon the Buddhists villages and other landed property. The followers of all the religions lived peacefully together. The rulers were magnanimous enough to have constructed caves for the Buddhist Bhikshus and endowed land for their maintenance, fooding and lodging. Shiva, Krishna and Vishnu were the three main deities of the worshipped.
Conclusion: During the rule of the Satavahanas, the economic, social and political condition of the people had improved a lot, as is evident from the references contained in the inscriptions regarding the establishment of trade guilds and trade union. People were happy, rich and prosperous and the industry was rewarding and a source of profit-making. Thus, the society flourished under the Satavahanas and the people lived a peaceful and happy life.