Vasishtiputra Satakarni is one of the kings in later Satavahana Empire who ruled the Deccan soil for about 7 years. Vasishtiputra Satakarni belonged to an era of weakened Satavahana power when Saka and Kushana were eying the Deccan region by waging wars. The glorious period of powerful Satavahanas saw a steady decline during later Satavahana and during Vasishtiputra Satakarni reign the Satavahana dynasty was under threat from foreign invasions.
Vasishtiputra Satakarni – Early Life
Vasishtiputra Satakarni’s reign was in 2nd Century CE and he could have ruled between 158 AD – 165 AD. Although not much is known about Vasishtiputra Satakarni early life as a king he is said to have succeeded the throne after his elder sibling Vasishtiputra Sri Pulumavi amidst of a political tension and threat of foreign invasion.
Vasishtiputra Satakarni Kingship is further confirmed by a couple of excavated silver coins with Vasishtiputra Satakarni face on it. The coins are in Prakrit-Brahmi script that shows Vasishtiputra Satakarni as having curly hair, long nose and ornamented ears with big lips. It was a norm in Satavahana that the King was the final authority who issued coins and hence, coin evidence is very significant in decoding Vasishtiputra Satakarni life as a king.
Vasishtiputra Satakarni – Foreign Invasion and defeat
Vasishtiputra Satakarni father Gautamiputra Satakarni had a crushing victory on Nahapana and had destroyed Saka at his time. Later on Shakhas were succeeded by Kardamakas and Vasishtiputra Satakarni had to face fury of Kardamaka Dynasty (Western Satarps) as Rudradaman I was very anxious to acquire back the lost lands by his ancestors.
Vasishtiputra Satakarni’s name is significant in later Satavahana’s history as historians cite the probability of marriage alliance to gain political immunity. The Junaghad edict mentions the two glorious victories of Rudradaman I against certain Satakarni. The inscription further reveals that ‘Satakamini or Satakarni’s life was spared by the furious king Rudradaman due to family alliance as his daughter had married Vasishtiputra Satakarni.
Even though some historians largely disagree about the identification of Satakamini mentioned in Junaghad edict with Vasishtiputra Satakarni, Scholars have assessed Rudradaman I’s period with Vasishtiputra Satakarni to arrive at the conclusion. They feel that Vasishtiputra Satakarni had to enter into a marriage alliance with the invaders to restore Satavahana pride and prestige.
Junaghad edict shows how Rudradaman I won back all the lands that his ancestor Nahapana had lost to Gautamiputra Satakarni. However, Vasishtiputra Satakarni still held the control over his ancestral capital of present day Nasik and central part of India.
Vasishtiputra Satakarni – Later years
Vasishtiputra Satakarni’s period was evidently hard on Satavahana Time. With limited territories under their control Vasishtiputra Satakarni had looming challenges of keepings Kardamaka Dynasty (Western Satarps) and other foreign invaders away while trying to re-conquest the lost Satavahana lands.
Vasishtiputra Satakarni was succeeded by his son Shivaskanda Satakarni who became one of the last rulers of the illustrious Satavahana Dynasty.