Religion of Satavahanas

The Satavahanas established their supremacy in parts of central and south India in the post-Mauryan era. When they began their power consolidation, the religions such as Jainism and Buddhism already are being followed by the people in the south and central parts of India. The kingdoms of Kalinga and Karnataka have Buddhism flourishing in their territories. The Buddhism stabilized in Andhra region also at the same time. Satavahanas patronized Vedic Religion during their reign and the same resulted in the spread of this religion in South India. Apart from patronizing Vedic Religion primarily, the Satavahanas also equally or next to the Vedic Religion gave importance to the Jainism and Buddhism.

Vedic Religion during Satavahanas

The history speaks, the Satavahanas were Brahmans and they patronized Vedic Religion. Basis for Vedic Religion is performing yagas and yagnas. Satakarni I, Satakarni II, Gautamiputra Satakarni and Yagnasri Satakarni performed many yagas and yagnas. Gautamiputra Satakarni followed Varna Ashrama Dharmas and gave a prominent position to many Brahmans in his kingdom. He was hence honored with the title Eka Brahmana.

According to Nanaghat inscription, Satakarni I donated cows, lands, and gold to Brahmans. In the same inscription, prayers to Vedic deities such as Indra, Vasudeva, Surya, Chandra, Yama, and Varuna were evidenced. According to Nasik inscription, Gautamiputra Satakarni recognized, learned and followed Vedic traditions.

Bhagavatism during Satavahanas

This religion was first evidenced in Andhra during the reign of Krishna. It was during the reign of Hala, this religion developed as Vasudeva Religion. The inscriptions of Gautamiputra Satakarni do have the signs of this religion.

In Gatha Saptashati of Hala, there are stories of Radha Krishna and Vishnu which belong to Bhagavata Religion. In the same book, Sri Krishna was mentioned with different names; Madhu Vadhana, Damodara and Lakshmi Narayana. The name Radha was first introduced into the literature by Hala through his work Gatha Saptashati.

Saivism during Satavahanas

Pasupatha Sect of Saivism was in prominence in Andhra during Satavahanas. Lakulisa was the one who started Pasupatha Sect of Saivism. Animal sacrifice is not allowed in this sect of saivism. Pasupata sect of Lakulisa was known for non-violence. Most ancient shiva temple in Andhra region is at Gudimallam which is currently in Chittoor of Andhra Pradesh.

According to Gatha Saptashati of Hala, the deities of Saiva Religion are Pasupathi, Rudra, Gauri, Ganapathi and Parvathi. There are many stories in Gatha Saptashati about the deities Shiva and Vishnu. The names of the kings Siva Skanda and Sivasri and the coins issued with Swastik sign on them denote the significance of Saivism during Satavahanas. 

Jainism during Satavahanas

Jain religion was evidenced during the reign of Satavahanas. According to Jain records, Srimukha was a Jain and the same king built many Jain temples. The commanders of the king Srimukha also followed Jain religion. They all built a Jain temple each according to Kalpa Pradipa of Jina Prabha Suri, a Jain text. Konda Kunda Acharya was the one who promoted Jain Religion primarily in Andhra region.

Buddhism during Satavahanas

Satavahanas gave importance to Buddhism next to Vedic religion and made several donations to the monks of Buddhism. Queens, several merchants and many commoners followed Buddhism. The merchants who followed Buddhism brought much significance to this religion during this period.

First Buddhist preacher in Andhra was Mahadeva. Mahadeva introduced Chaitya tradition. Mahasanghika sect flourished in Andhra region during this period. Mahasanghikas were also called Mahanayanists. Mahayana sect in Andhra was popularized by Acharya Nagarjuna.

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