Short notes on the Government & Trade during Satavahanas Ruling Period


Consistent with what has been said above we find the Satavahana rulers adopting a political system and local administrative pattern based on Mauryan examples.

The Satavahana government was a monarchy. Succession was hereditary and passed through males. The king was a despot. His government was supplemented by feudatories, Bhojas, Mahabhojas and Maharathis.

The office of Mahasenapati was politico-military and confined to the peripheral provinces. Aharas were administrative divisions governed by Amatyas, literally ‘ministers’. The village was, as usual in Indian polity, the basic administrative unit and was looked after by a headman called Gramika. Maharastra was a general administrator enjoying wide powers: This institution was clearly borrowed from the Mauryan system.


There were a few urban centre and they were walled towns provided with gateways. A major activity of the Satavahana rulers was military and their armies consisting of the infantry, cavalry, elephants and archers was stationed in cities. Their warriors fighting on foot attacked with swords and were protected by circular shields.

The Satavahana country developed brisk trade not only along internal trade routes but also through overseas mercantile shipping. Maisolia (the modern Masulipatam) on the east, Barygaza (Broach), Sopara and Kalyan on the west were the most important ports through which overseas trade was operated. Paithan, the capital and possibly Nasik and Vijayanthi were important market towns.

Even in those days there were trade guilds managed by sethis (the same as Chettis) and being located in offices called Nigamasabhas. These guilds not only traded but also functioned as banks. The ship coins are an indication of Satavahana interest in overseas trade.

The numerous coins associated with them prove that coinage was very current and merchants and the public used them freely. But commercial activity in the interior was very much hindered by lack of roads and other means of communication. The eastern Andhra coast developed brisk trade and commerce, however, by the first century AD.

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