Four epigraphs from Amaravati mentions that's the earliest among the prosperous religious sects were Chaityavamda (Chaityavada), or Chetika, or Chetikiya. This is the only sect mentioned both in eastern and western inscriptions. Since an Amaravati epigraph speaks of Chetikas at Rajagiri, and as the commentary on the Kathavatthu mentions Rajagirika as one the Andhaka sects, it is probable that this sect was an offshoot of the Chetika nikaya, whilst the Pubbasela (mentioned in the Alluru inscription), and Avarasela schools, (Andhaka schools) are mentioned by Kathavatta. As another but smaller stupa in the same place was dedicated to the Utayipabhahis - they were perhaps an offshoot of the Chaitikas. Rajagiri would also seem to have been a stronghold of the Chaitikas. Each sect had its mahanava-kammas and navakammas, monks some of whom were Sthaviras, Mahasthaviras and Bhadantas.
Monks and Nuns
Monks are called bhikhs, pavajitas, samanas, and pemdapatikas, nuns are called samanikas, pavajitikas, and bhikkhunis. It is no wonder that the flourishing Buddhist communities in western and eastern Deccan abounded with great teachers. In the western Deccan, mahasthaviras, sthaviras, bhanakas, and tevijas stepped on to the land, enlightening the faithful on the law of the Master. In eastern Deccan, monks, nuns and laymen flocked to teachers well versed in the Vinaya and Dhamma (Dhammakathikkas) and had bhana under them. Even nuns were teachers (upajhiyayini), and had scores of female pupils (atevasini) under them. Some monks and nuns were persons who had led the life of grihasthas (married persons). Monks and nuns were recruited from the lowest classes also.
The monks spent the rainy season (kept their vassa) in the caves scooped out on prominent rocks or in monasteries built by the faithful. The remaining part of the year was spent in religious tours. That is why most of the Buddhist monuments were erected in trade centres like Dhannakataka, Kalyan, Paithan and Nasik, and at Karla and Junnar which are situated in the passes leading from Konkan to the Ghats. The caves at Kanheri, which is near the sea and the sea-port of Kalyan, and Kuda, Mahad, and Chiplun situated on creeks, show that monks and nuns travelled by sea also.
Brahmanism was also in a flourishing condition. Most of the Satavahana kings were followers of the Brahmanical religion. The third king of the line performed a number of Vedic sacrifices and named one of his sons Vedisiri. Later Satavahanas were also followers of Brahmanism - Gotami Putra Satakari was a supporter of the Brahmins. He was not only learned in the traditional wisdom, but imitated epic heroes like Rama, Kesava, Arjuna, Bhimasena, and Puranic figures like Nabhaga, Nahusa, Janamejaya, Sagara, Yayati, and Ambarisa. Since Gotami speaks of Kailasa, he and his follows were devotees of Siva. Inscriptions found speaks that Brahmanism was flourishing more outside Satavahana dominions viz., in Gujarat, Kathiawad, Rajaputana, and Ujjain. The Naneghat record begins with adoration to Dharma, Samkarsana, Vasudeva, Indra, the Sun and the Moon, the guardians of the four quarters of the world viz., Vasava, Kubera, Varuna and Yama. The Saptasatakam mentions wooden images of Indra which were worshipped. Worship of Krishna is indicated by the names like Govardhana, Krishna, and Gopala. In the Saptasatakam we find the Krishna legends fully developed. Krisna is called Madhumathana and Damodara. Gopis and Yasoda are also mentioned and also the jealousy of shepherdesses against Radha.
The earliest recorded reference to the Srisailam occurs in a Satavahana inscription in an excavated shrine in Nasik belonging to 2nd century A.D. Lord Mallikarjuna (Siva) and Devi Bhramaramba presides in the Saivaite temple of Srisailam (on the top of a hill named Sriparvata in Kurnool district). The Vakatas, the Kakatiyas and the Vijayanagar rulers held this temple in great veneration. In 1674, Shivaji who visited this temple was overcome with emotion. He built one of the gopuras and left behind Maratha soldiers to defend the same. To this day, their descendants come to Srisailam once a year to celebrate a festival in their honour.
Names like Vishupalita, Venhu, and Lachnika point in the same way to the worship of Vishnu. In the Saptasatakam, Hari or Trivi-krama is said to be superior to other Gods. The birth of Lakshmi from the Ocean of Milk is also mentioned.
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