Castes and sub-castes characterised the society

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Castes and sub-castes characterised the society. In the north-western part of the kingdom where the Sakas and the Yavanas ruled there was considerable assimilation of the foreigners in the Hindu fold. For example, a Saka assumed the typically Hindu name Rishabadatta.

The influence of the Greeks was notable especially in the filed of art, e.g., the stupas at Amaravati. The prominent position of women among the Satavahans has been exaggerated by most historians. No doubt inscriptions do mention philanthropists among women but these women belonged to royal or aristocratic families and it was not unusual or surprising that women of that layer of society should have been permitted by their mensfolk to indulge in some charity especially when it was religious. If contemporary sculpture realistically portrays social customs it will be seen that they dressed themselves as sparingly as they loaded themselves with ornaments.

It is not surprising that Buddhism which was spread by Asoka in the Deccan played a significant role in the religious history of that period. The stupa at Amaravati is but a major instance of sophisticated Buddhist art; it might perhaps be truer to call it merely ‘art based on Buddhist themes’. The caves at Nasik, Karle and Kanheri were religious benefactions providing shelter to ascetics.

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We hear of a number of Buddhist ascetics of that period. The brahmanical religion was, however, dominant and most of the Satavahana kings were brahmanical. One of them performed Vedic sacrifices. Hala was a devotee of Siva.

The Hindu pantheon included besides the Vedic Indra, the Sun and the Moon gods, Vishnu, Pasupati and Krishna. It is interesting to note that Ganesa has come to be worshipped in the western Deccan even in the days of the Satavahanas though in the Tamil country, he was introduced in his present form only after AD 600.

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