There is a keen controversy among the scholars regarding the point about who was the earliest satrap of Western India. According to Bhagawan Lal Indraji, Bhumaka was the earliest known satrap of Western India. Historian Bhagawan Lal Indraji has also pointed out that most of the coins of Bhumaka have been found in the coastal regions of Gujarat, Kathiawar and Malwa. From the spots where the coins were excavated, and from the use of the Brahmi and the Kharosti scripts in those coins, it has been presumed by the scholars that he ruled over the regions of Malwa, Gujarat, Kathiawar, western Rajputana and Sind. However the other groups of historians have pointed out that Bhumaka's sway on Sind is under doubts. They have stated that Bhumaka might also have acknowledged the dominance of Kanishka.
Nahapana, the Maha Kshatrapa succeeded the Satrapal throne, inaugurated by Bhumaka in Western India. Though the relation of Nahapana with Bhumaka is yet unknown, historians have opined that Nahapana, the satrap of the Kshaharata race flourished during the period between 119 to 124 A.D. Nahapana assumed the title 'Rajan'. He was almost contemporary to the Sattavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni and was also defeated by the Sattavahana ruler. Nahapana issued several silver and gold coins but there is no chronological evidence about his reign. However some inscriptions engraved by his son-in-law and general Rishavadatta and by his minister Ayama, throw some light on his reign.
The spots where Nahapana's coins were discovered, indicate that he ruled over an extensive area, including the entire territory of Ajmer in Rajputana to Nasik in Maharashtra. His sway over these areas and also in Kathiawar, Broach, South Gujarat, Western Malwa, North Konkan and Nasik are also proved by the inscription. Nahapana and his predecessor Bhumaka were hostile towards the Sattavahanas of the Deccan. The Satraps wrested a part of Maharashtra from the dominion of the Sattavahanas. However the Sakas were engaged in a continuous strife with the Sattavahanas. Finally the Sattavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni defeated Nahapana and restored the part of Maharashtra, which was captured by the Sakas from the Sattavahanas. Rishavadatta, Nahapana's son-in-law, was his trusted governor in this region. He also extended the boundary of his father-in-law by conquering the Malava country, which was mentioned in the Nasik Cave inscription. Nahapana was tolerant to all religious creeds and made benefactions to the Hindus and the Buddhists. The prosperity of Nahapana's reign was confirmed by his silver coins and the discovery of the hoard of his coins from the Jagalthumbi village. According to the classical historians, Aparanta was a part of Nahapana's territory and he had trade relations with the Greeks. According to Jain tradition, Broach was the capital of Nahapana.
Towards the closing of his reign Nahapana suffered overthrows in the hands of Sattavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni. He killed Nahapana in a pitched battle at Broach and eradicated the Saka rule in Western Deccan. Gautamiputra annexed most of the southern kingdoms of Nahapana by ousting Rishavadatta. The Kshaharata authority became almost extinct after Nahapana's death.
The victory of Gautamiputra Satakarni temporarily obscured the Satrapal power in Western India. But the Kushana suzerain soon appointed Chastana as the successor of Nahapana in the Satrapal chair of southwestern India. He was entrusted with the charge of recovering the lost territories of Nahapana. Thus began the era of the western satrapy of Ujjaini under the Kardamakas, which lasted for about 300 years till 388 A.D.
Chastana was the son of Yasomotika and belonged to the Kardamaka clan of the Sakas. In the beginning of his career, Chastana served as the vassal chief of the Kushanas in Sind. After the death of Satrapa Nahapana and the decline of the Western satrapy, his Kushana lord appointed Chastana as the Satrapa of western India. From the Andhaw inscription it is known that Chastana ascended the throne as the Satrap of Western India in 130 A.D.
Chastana according to the historians probably ruled jointly for a period of time with his son Jayadamana and grandson Rudramana. Jayadamana succeeded his father Chastana and conquered almost all the territories lost by Nahapana, by defeating his Sattavahana adversary. Chastana and his son Jayadamana thus became the second founder of the Saka satrapy in western India. According to Ptolemy, Chastana also recovered the city of Ujjaini from the folds of the Sattavahana, which in the later years became his capital. Chastana celebrated the title of Mahakshatrapa and his son and grandson Jayadamana and Rudramana served as the Kshatrapa under him. After Chastana, his able successor was Rudramana. It has been suggested by the historians that Rudramana was one of the outstanding personalities of ancient India. He was undoubtedly the greatest among the Saka satraps of ancient India. The Girnar Rock inscription at Junagarh inscribed by Rudramana himself is the principal source, which throws light on the facts about the reign of Rudramana. Prasasti was inscribed in Sanskrit lyrical prose. The Junagarh inscription referred to the election of Rudramana as the Satrap.
Since the reign of Chastana the western Satraps maintained a hostile relationship with the Sattavahanas and Rudramana was no exception. Rudramana conquered the vast territory of the Sattavahanas and defeated the lord of Deccan- Gautamiputra Satakarni twice. The Junagarh inscription mentioned that the vast territory including Akara, Anupa, Saurashtra, Kukura, Aparanta, Anaratta, Svavra, Maru, Kaccheha, Sindhu-saubira, Nisada, and Western Vindhya were under the sway of Rudramana. Not only the Sattavahanas, Rudramana also defeated the Yaudheyas, one of the valiant tribes in ancient India. According to some historians Rudramana also subdued the overlordship of the Kushana ruler.
Not merely a mighty conqueror, Rudramana was also a just and benevolent king. He was a ruler who was forever eager for the well being of his subjects. The Girnar inscription mentions that Rudramana reconstructed the dam on the Lake Sudarshana. Rudramana was the protector of all the religious creeds and he levied just and proportional taxes on the subjects and hence earned popularity amongst them.
A grand conqueror and ruler, Rudramana was endowed with many personal virtues. He was a patron of classical music and composed verses in language. He earned great fame for his knowledge of various sciences, grammar, polity, music and logic. The city of Ujjaini became a core of learning during his time and later Rudramana was elevated to the status of Mahakshatrapa. Rudramana ruled even after 150 A.D. His son Damaysada succeeded him. But Damaysada could not maintain the stronghold of his father's Empire. After the death of Rudramana, forces of disintegration began to surface in the Satrapa Empire of West. Finally the conquest of Saurashtra by Chandragupta II extinguished the last flicker of the Kardamaka line or the Western Satraps at Ujjaini.
(Last Updated on : 20-04-2012)
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