Simuka Satavahana was the founder of the Great Satavahana Dynasty around 271 BC. Satavahana Dynasty was the first South Indian Dynasty to have ruled over most of India under the leadership of Great Gautamiputra Satakarni.
Simuka Satavahana was a Jain Emperor.
As they say ‘Someone’s loss is someone’s gain’ Maurya Empire’s political instability and chaos paved way for one of the greatest empires in Indian History called Satavahana Dynasty.
Satavahana Empire was built bravely and shrewdly by a visionary leader called ‘Simuka Satavahana’ who went on to become the founding father of the most powerful dynasty that ruled the Deccan Plateau and many pieces of surrounding lands for the next 300 or 450 years(after 1st century BCE).
Simuka Satavahana – Early Life
The origin or early history of Simuka Satavahana is not clearly known. In fact, many historians rely on facts drawn from Puranas (Vayu Purana, Vishnu Purana, Aithereya Brahmana etc), inscriptions (Naneghat) and coins to decode the lives of Satavahana Kings and society.
Historians are divided in their opinion about King Simuka Satavahana’s period. Some argue that Simuka Satavahana laid foundations to his dynasty soon after Emperor Asoka’s demise in 220 BC (as per an account in Vayu Purana) and few others feel that Simuka Satavahana erected Satavahana Dynasty in the later part of the century BC after defeating Kanva King Susharman.
Puranas call Simuka Satavahana as Sisuka who reportedly ruled the Deccan Plateau for 23 years. Simuka Satavahana is thought to be one of the Chieftains of Maurya Dynasty who upon Asoka’s end formed his own Empire which is alluded as ‘Andhras or Satavahana’ in the Puranas.
Simuka Satavahana – The Rise of Satavahana Empire and Expansion of Territories
There are two schools of belief as to how Simuka Satavahana founded his empire. Few experts feel that ‘Andhras or Satavahana’s’ were already present alongside Maurya Empire and Simuka Satavahana might have invaded more territories after Mauryans’ fall by fighting for independence from the Mauryans.
However, the popular belief among the historians is that Simuka Satavahana along with his brother Kanha Satavahana or Krishna fought the Kanva Empire, Magadha Empire and Sunga armies to conquer many pieces of land and built a formidable kingdom with a powerful army consisting of 100,000 infantry, thousands of elephants and around 2,000 cavalry.
Pliny the Younger has quoted Simuka Satavahana’s achievements as a powerful King who possessed many villages and had cleverly constructed walls, towers and mighty army in ‘Indica’- Megasthenes accounts of Mauryan India. Simuka Satavahana has been referred as a leader belonging to Andarae royal clan which is described as one of the powerful tribes between 350-290 BCE in Megastenes Indica. Historians feel that Andarae clan is nothing but the Andhras or Satavahanas.
Simuka Satavahana along with his younger brother Kanha Satavahana also known as Krishna set out to expand empire’s territories. Many scholars believe that it was Simuka Satavahana who acquired a large part of central India during his 23 years of Kingship. Simuka Satavahana acquired Vidisha with ease but many accounts suggest that the brave king had his eyes set on Magadha which he could not achieve in his lifetime.
Simuka Satavahana – Later life, Religious Inclination and Death
Unfortunately apart from few coin-based evidences, inscriptions and Puranas there is no other authentic source that tell us more about Simuka Satavahana and his life. Certain Jainism legends suggest that Simuka Satavahana showed keen interest in Jainism (Simuka Satavahana was a Brahmin King who supported Brahmanical Hinduism and Buddhism) in his later years and choose to live as a Jain by converting into Jainism.
However, the ambitious King who embraced Jainism is said to have become a tormentor and saw an untimely end as he was forced to leave his throne and Simuka eventually, got killed.
Few historians opine that it was Simuka Satavahana’s brother Kanha Satavahana who deposed and assassinated his brother Simuka Satavahana and usurped the throne but there is no accurate account of the events that led to Simuka Satavahana’s death. Simuka Satavahana was survived by his son Satakarni Satavahana, who fought or Succeeded Kanha Satavahana, to take over the throne later on.