Short notes on Polity and Administration of Satavahanas


In the Satavahana dynasty, kingship was hereditary, and the king was regarded as the guardian of the established social order.

The Satavahana feudatories were of three types: rajas who struck coins in their own names; mahabhojas and maharathis, confined to a few families in the western Deccan with the latter having matrimonial alliances with the Satavahanas, and the third type, a later development, known as the mahasenapati. Local administration was left to the feudatories under the general control of royal offic­ers.

Some mahasenapatis were in charge of depart­ments at the centre, while others controlled the outlying provinces. The state was divided into administrative divisions called aharas; each one looked after by a minister called amatya.


The villages were administered by village headmen known as gramikas. Other Satahavana officials mentioned in the inscrip­tions include stewards and treasurers (heranikas), coiners and goldsmiths, ushers, record keepers, administrators (mahamatras) and ambassadors.

Some other functionaries included mahatarakas (great cham­berlains) mahaaryakas, bhandagarikas (storekeepers), nibambhakaras (officers in charge of registration of documents), dutakas (who carried royal orders) and pratiharus.

The empire was divided into janapadas and aharas. Gama was the division below that of ahara. The taxes of the state were neither burdensome nor many.

The sources of income were proceeds from the royal domain, the salt monopoly, taxes on land and income from court fees and fines. The Satavahanas acted as a link between north and south India, especially in trade and exchange of ideas.


The cities were protected by high walls, ram­parts and gates. The gates were usually built of mortar and brick with a pavillion (torana) covering the passage.

The army consisted of infantry, cavalry and elephants. The foot soldiers had short swords for attacking, and for defending themselves, they wrapped strips of cloth around their stomachs and carried circular shields.

There were also bowmen in the army. Weapons included battle-axes, long spears and mallets. Only the elephant drivers and cavalry men wore turbans.

The military character of the Satavahana rule is evident from the common use of such terms as kataka and skandhavaras in their inscriptions. These were military camps and settlements which served as administrative centres so long as the king was there.

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