Kanha Satavahana was the successor and younger brother of Simuka and ruled the Satavahana Dynasty from 198 BC -180 BC. He may have betrayed his elder brother Simuka for the accession to the thrown. Kanha Satavahana was succeeded by Satakarni.
There are many heroic figures in Satavahana Dynasty who ruled the Deccan for more than 300 years and historians are able to find some information about most of the Satavahana Kings except for Kanha Satavahana or Krishna who might have held the reigns of the dynasty for approximately 18-19 years after Simuka. Kanha was born around 252 BC and died around 180 BC.
Unlike many other empires in Indian history, Satavahana Empire’s historical details are not clearly known. So far historians have relied upon Puranas (like Vayu Purana, Matsya Purana, Aithereya Brahmana and Bhagavatam), Inscriptions of Naneghat in Nasik Maharastra and many excavated coins with Satavahana Kings’ symbols for evidence.
Kanha Satavahana Satavahana – Early Life
Majority of the scholars believe that Kanha Satavahana (Krishna) was the younger brother of Simuka who founded the mighty kingdom of Satavahana or Andhras. Most of the evidences that are found so far project Kanha Satavahana as a second fiddle to his elder brother Simuka Satavahana or Sisuka. Many sources point to the fact that Kanha Satavahana was instrumental in expanding the Satavahana power to far-off corners and helped Simuka to strengthen the dynasty. It was because of Kanha Satavahana that Simuka was able to expand the territories of his Kingdom up until Nasik.
Few historians believe that Kanha Satavahana was close to Mauryan ruler Asoka and he was looking after a territory under Mauryan rule. But, once the Maurya Empire started collapsing Kanha Satavahana decided to become an independent ruler and cut his ties off with Mauryan Dynasty. As per these claims Satavahana had already arrived under Mauryan power thanks to Kanha Satavahana’s independent state.
Jain records refer Kanha Satavahana as one of the wisest rulers after his elder brother Simuka in Satavahana Empire who might have built a cave for Buddhist monks at Nasik during Asoka’s reign.
Kanha Satavahana in Satavahana History
Even though Kanha Satavahana’s historical details are scarce, his name has been inscribed on the Buddhist Vihara/cave (XIX). The inscriptions refer Kanha Satavahana as ‘Satavahana-Kula’ (of Satavahana family). Puranas also refer the first three kings of the great Satavahana Empire- Simuka, Kanha Satavahana(Krshna) and Sri Satakarni.
From these inscriptions and references one can decipher that Kanha Satavahana shared the blood line of Simuka of Satavahana Dynasty. Historians have also discovered several coins from Kanha Satavahana’s period which were excavated from the present day Telegana state.
Why Kanha Satavahana’s history is not known?
When compared to many Satavahana rulers Kanha Satavahana’s historical details are unclear. Even in Naneghat inscription by queen Naganika-wife of Simuka’s son Satakarni, Kanha Satavahana’s figure is not to be seen whereas Naneghat relieves contain figures of Satavahan rulers and their clan.
The absence of Kanha Satavahana’s figure from the relievos has been considered unusual by the historians and many of the scholars believe that Kanha Satavahana might have forcefully acquired his elder brother’s throne depriving Satakarni of his rights to become the king and hence, Naganika would have omitted Kanha Satavahana’s figure from the Naneghat relievos.
However, few other historians argue that since Kanha Satavahana did not share the direct bloodline of Simuka he has not been included in the family tree inscribed at the Naneghat. Whatever might be the reason, the story of Kanha Satavahana who founded one of the greatest empires along with his brother remains untold in Indian history.