[Architecture] Satvahan Kings- Empire, Architecture, Scupltures and Tantric worshipping

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  1. Brief Profile of Satvahan dynasty
  2. Tantric Worshipper Satvahan Kings
  3. Satvahan Architecture
  4. Sculpture @Sarnath
  5. CSAT Sample MCQs

Satvahana Dynasty: Brief Introduction

  • Puranic literature calls them “Andhra-jati”.
  • Greek Ambassador Megasthenes’ book “Indica” says- Satvahan had a might army and 30 forts.
  • Ptolemy’s book also mentions Satvahan ports in Deccan.
  • Satvahan coins have ship images, showing their maritime prowess.
  • In Satvahan sites, we find coins of Roman king Tiberius. Meaning Satvahan traded with Romans.
  • Founder king: Simuka
  • Most famous King: Gautamiputra Satakarni, he defeated following armies (or at least bragged so in his facebook profile).
English Indian name
Scythian Saka (Rudradaman 1 was main king)
Greek Yavan
Parthian Pallav
  • He did not consider women inferior to man. Infact he calls himself “son of Gautami Balasri” (similar to Sanjay Leela Bhansali)
  • Notable cities: Capital Amaravati (Guntur district), Paithan (Aurungabad district), Vaijayanthi (N.Kanara)
  • Satvahana kings enforced 4 fold caste system. They were Brahmins and hated Kshatriyas, because they considered Saka, Yavan and Pallav as “degraded Kshatriya clans“. (Ref. RC Majmudar’s book)
  • Fall of empire: Successors of Gautamiputra Satakarni were weak. So, the Abihar and Vakatak kings took away their territories, just like SP and BSP took away Uttar Pradesh from Congress.

Tantric Worshipper Satvahan Kings

  • Emperor Ashok (Buddhist) controlled Satvahan kings (Brahmin).
  • Satvahan Kings ruled Kondapur region between 3rd BCE to 3rd CE (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) gathered new evidences, which shows Satvahan kings were followers of Tantric cult.
ASI’s Kondapur excavations
ASI, 2009-11 ASI, 2014
  • Found Stupa & other Buddhist structures
  • Hence believed Kondapur is a Buddhist site.
  • Found images of Lajja Gowri – the Fertility Goddess for Tantric worshippers. Meaning Satvahan kings followed Tantric Cult.
  • Alters & animal bones. Meaning Satvahan kings scarified animals to seek male child.
  • Kaolin (lime+clay) image of a Brahmin priest embracing the king

Satvahan Architecture

  • They patronized both Hinduism & (Mahayan) Buddhism. Now, ASI confirms they also patronized Tantricism as well.
  • Patronized both Prakrit and Sanskrit Literature. King Hala himself wrote a Prakrit poem book “Sattasai”.
  • ok but if Satvahan kings were Brahmins, then why did they patronize Buddhism and Prakrit?
  1. Political Expediency: After all, they were under control of Buddhist Emperor Ashok!
  2. Because they were secular.

Anyways, Satvahan kings constructed all types of Buddhist monuments in Andhra and Maharashtra region.

Sculpture @Sarnath

  • Sarnath is located at Varansi, UP. Place is also called Rishipatna and Mrigdava or Mrigadaya.
  • Lord Buddha gave his first semon here.
  • 11th Tirthankar died here, hence the place is sacred for Jains as well
  • Sarnath reached zenith during Gupta period (4 to 6th AD)
Foreign travellers to Sarnath
Traveller Came during the reign of
Fa-Hien Chandragupta-I
Hiuen Tsang Harshavardhan

Ya, but why in News?

  • Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was doing excavation in Feb 2014 and Found sculptures in Sarnath.
  • Art form: Gupta art of Sarnath school.
  • This sculpture depicts the scene of Buddha’s descent from Tusita heaven, where he believed to have given sermon to his mother Mayadevi. From heaven he descended to Sankassa (modern day city of Sankisa,UP)

CSAT Sample MCQs

  • WARNING: Donot try these questions without mugging up Tamilnadu Class11 and 12 History textbook (click me for free download).
  • Otherwise, you might get demoralized for getting too many wrong answers.
Q1. In his rock edicts, Asoka talks about ___.

  1. The effects of Kalinga war but doesn’t tell the reasons why he waged that war.
  2. Recommends human treatment only for slaves but not prisoners of heinous crimes.
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q2. Which of the following contributed to decline of Buddhism in India

  1. Buddhist monks and scholars adopted Sanskrit from 1st AD onwards.
  2. Intermarriage among Brahmin and Buddhist royal families.
  3. Rise of Shankaracharya

Correct choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

Q3. Who followed Mahayan sect?

  1. Harsha
  2. Hiuen Tsang
  3. Kanishka

Correct choice

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

Q4. Correct pairs

  1. Nalanda University: Mahayana
  2. Valabhi University: Hinyana
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q5. Satvahana kings patronized ___.

  1. Prakrit
  2. Sanskrit
  3. Hinduism
  4. Buddhism
  5. Tantricism

Answer choice

  1. only 1 and 4
  2. only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1, 4 and 5
  4. All of them

Q6. From Hiuen Tsang’s travelogues, we find that

  1. Satvahan kings had a mighty army and 30 forts.
  2. Kanshika had banned non-vegetarian food in his kingdom.
  3. Under the influence of Buddhism, Harsha has banned the cruel and barbaric punishments to prisoners.

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q7. Which of the following can be found in a rock cut cave?

  1. Vihara
  2. Stupa
  3. Chaityagriha

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. all of them

Q8. Which of the following contributed to building of Buddhist rock cut caves?

  1. Satvahan Kings
  2. Chalukya Kings
  3. Pallava Kings

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. all of them

Q9. Which of the following cave contains largest Chaitya-griha?

  1. Ajivika
  2. Kenheri
  3. Pandalena
  4. Karle

Q10. Feature of Karle caves?

  1. wooden ceiling over Stupa
  2. Lion pillars at the entrance
  3. Largest Chaitya-griha

Correct statements

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. only 3

Q11. What is/are the historic importance of Karle and Kanheri?

  1. Both have mountain passes that connected Deccan plateau to Western ports.
  2. Both have Rock cut caves with large Chairya-griha and Lion pillars.
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q12. Correct statements about Nagapattinam Vihara in Tamilnadu

  1. It was built by Chola emperor Rajaraja 1
  2. Sailendra Kings of Sumatra had made an official charter to pay for the expenses of running this Vihara.
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Mains and interview

  1. Write a note on the Satvahan Rock cut caves (200 words)
  2. Write a short note on Buddhist Rock cut caves in India (200 words)

Answers to mock MCQs

  1. Only A correct. (Tamilnadu History book class 11, page 64.)
  2. D- all of them. Statement 1 is right. (ref. Tamilnadu class11, page77). 2 and 3 correct as per RC Majmudar because intermarriage= Brahmin scholars entered royal courts of Buddhist kings and preached that Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. Shankaracharya’s efforts led to monasteries in Mysore, Dwaraka, Puri and Badrinath.
  3. D-All of them. Kanishka actively propagated Mahayana. (TN Class11, Page82). Hiuen Tsang converted Harsha to Mahayana. (same book, page 115.)
  4. C both right. (TN Class11, Page 118)
  5. D-All of them.
  6. D-None of them. (same TN book, page 115, 116)
  7. D-all of them (Read the Buddhist cave topic again).
  8. A- 1 and 2 only. Pallava Kings (Mahendravarma et al built Jain cave temples. Ref TN class 11, Page 124)
  9. D-Karle
  10. B 2 and 3. Karle = Lion + largest griha
  11. C- Both A and B. A statement is right as per TN Class11, Page5. And statement B right, as we saw this the article.
  12. D Both wrong. Sailendra built and Chola shared taxes

Visit Mrunal.org/HISTORY for entire Archive of History-Culture related articles published so far.

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127 Comments on “[Architecture] Satvahan Kings- Empire, Architecture, Scupltures and Tantric worshipping”

  1. Thanks a lot, for all that you provide.
    can you please provide TN books in English?

  2. thank you sir

  3. Sir mai es field me nai hu kya ap muze bata sakte hai mai shuruvat kaise karu??????????????

  4. Thank u

  5. Catholic in religious outlook means having ‘Universal’ outlook.a secular one.

  6. Thanx a lot sir

  7. i follow murnal is excellent for UPSC preparation

  8. sir please upload the remaining current notes for months of may , june ,july and august….sir it helps us revise and know v r on right track of current news…please do upload it as soon as possible…..

  9. sir please teach indian culture

  10. please show current geography and culture

  11. Very useful questions for practicing…

  12. good and elobrate explanation

  13. Sir, how is Physics for optional, compared to the likes of ‘bulky-but-doable’ Geography and ‘quickly-completed’ philosophy/ sociology? (Engineering background).
    Thank You

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