From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Western Satrap
Silver coin of Nahapana, with ruler profile and pseudo-Greek legend "ΡΑΝΝΙΩ ΞΑΗΑΡΑΤΑϹ ΝΑΗΑΠΑΝΑϹ", transliteration of the Prakrit "Raño Kshaharatasa Nahapanasa" (or "King Kshaharata Nahapana"). British Museum.[1]
Reign1st or 2nd century CE
The Greco-Prakrit title "RANNIO KSAHARATA" ("ΡΑΝΝΙω ΞΑΗΑΡΑΤΑ(Ϲ)", Prakrit for "King Kshaharata" rendered in corrupted Greek letters) on the obverse of the coinage of Nahapana.[1][2]
Nahapana Brahmi and Kharoshthi legends on his coinage "RAJNO KSHAHARATASA NAHAPANASA "Of the Rajah Nahapana, the Kshaharata".[3][4]

Nahapana (Ancient Greek: Ναηαπάνα Nahapána; Kharosthi: 𐨣𐨱𐨤𐨣 Na-ha-pa-na, Nahapana;[4] Brahmi: Na-ha-pā-na, Nahapāna;[4]), was an important ruler of the Western Kshatrapas, descendant of the Indo-Scythians, in northwestern India, who ruled during the 1st or 2nd century CE. According to one of his coins, he was the son of Bhumaka.


Nahapana's name appears on his coins in the Kharosthi form Nahapana (𐨣𐨱𐨤𐨣), the Brahmi form Nahapāna (), and the Greek form Nahapána (Ναηαπάνα),[4] which are derived from the Saka name *Nāhapānä, which means "protector of the clan".[5]


The exact period of Nahapana is not certain. A group of his inscriptions are dated to the years 41-46 of an unspecified era. Assuming that this era is the Shaka era (which starts in 78 CE), some scholars have assigned his reign to 119-124 CE.[6] Others believe that the years 41-46 are his regnal years, and assign his rule to a different period. For example, Krishna Chandra Sagar assigns his reign to 24-70 CE,[7] while R.C.C. Fynes dates it to c. 66-71 CE,[8] and Shailendra Bhandare regards 78 CE as the last year of his reign.[9]


The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions one Nambanus as the ruler of the area around Barigaza. This person has been identified as Nahapana by modern scholars. The text describes Nambanus as follows:[10]

Beyond the gulf of Baraca is that of Barygaza and the coast of the country of Ariaca, which is the beginning of the Kingdom of Nambanus and of all India. That part of it lying inland and adjoining Scythia is called Abiria, but the coast is called Syrastrene. It is a fertile country, yielding wheat and rice and sesame oil and clarified butter, cotton and the Indian cloths made therefrom, of the coarser sorts. Very many cattle are pastured there, and the men are of great stature and black in color. The metropolis of this country is Minnagara, from which much cotton cloth is brought down to Barygaza.

— Periplus 41[11]

He also established the Kshatrapa coinage, in a style derived from Indo-Greek coinage. The obverse of the coins consists of the profile of the ruler, within a legend in Greek. The reverse represents a thunderbolt and an arrow, within Brahmi and Kharoshthi legends.

Nahapana is mentioned as a donator in inscriptions of numerous Buddhist caves in northern India. The Nasik and Karle inscriptions refer to Nahapana's dynastic name (Kshaharata, for "Kshatrapa") but not to his ethnicity (Saka-Pahlava), which is known from other sources.[12]

Nahapana had a son-in-law named Ushavadata (Sanskrit: Rishabhadatta), whose inscriptions were incised in the Pandavleni Caves near Nasik. Ushavadata was son of Dinika and had married Dakshamitra, daughter of Nahapana. According to the inscriptions, Ushavadata accomplished various charities and conquests on behalf of his father-in-law. He constructed rest-houses, gardens and tanks at Bharukachchha (Bharuch), Dashapura (Mandasor in Malva), Govardhana (near Nasik) and Shorparaga (Sopara in the Thana district). He also campaigned in the north under the orders of Nahapana to rescue the Uttamabhadras who had been attacked by the Malayas (Malavas). He excavated a cave (one of the Pandavleni Caves) in the Trirashmi hill near Nasik and offered it to the Buddhist monks.[13]

Defeat by Gautamiputra Satakarni[edit]

A coin of Nahapana restruck by the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni. Nahapana's profile and coin legend are still clearly visible.

Overstrikes of Nahapana's coins by the powerful Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni have been found in a hoard at Jogalthambi, Nashik District.[14] This suggests that Gautamiputra defeated Nahapana.[8]The Nasik Cave No.3, inscription No.2 insription notes that Nahapana's 'Khakharata race' was rooted out, which means all his possible heirs might have been killed.

Earlier scholars such as James Burgess have pointed out that Gautamiputra Satakarni and Nahapana were not necessarily contemporaries, since Satakarni mentions that the areas conquered by him were ruled by Ushavadata, rather than Nahapana. According to Burgess, there might have been an interval of as much as a century between the reigns of these two kings.[15][16] However, most historians now agree that Gautamiputra and Nahapana were contemporaries, and that Gautamiputra defeated Nahapana.[17] M. K. Dhavalikar dates this event to c. 124 CE, which according to him, was the 18th regnal year of Gautamiputra.[17] R.C.C. Fynes dates the event to sometime after 71 CE,[8] in the same line, Shailendra Bhandare places the victory of Gautamiputra and the end of Nahapana's reign to the start of Saka era, 78 CE, in the year of Chashtana's ascension to the throne,[18] and considers Gautamiputra's whole reign to ca. 60-85 CE.[19]

Nahapana was founder of one of the two major Saka Satrap dynasties in north-western India, the Kshaharatas ("Satraps"); the other dynasty included the one founded by Chashtana.[20]

Construction and dedication of Buddhist caves[edit]

The Chaitya cave complex at Karla Caves was built and dedicated by Nahapana in 120 CE.[21]

The Western Satraps are known for the construction and dedication of numerous Buddhist caves in Central India, particularly in the areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat.[21][22]

Karla caves[edit]

In particular, the chaitya cave complex of the Karla Caves, the largest in South Asia, was constructed and dedicated in 120 CE by Nahapana, according to several inscriptions in the cave.[21][23][24]

An important inscription relates to Nahapana in the Great Chaitya at Karla Caves (Valukura is thought to be an ancient name for Karla Caves):

Success!! By Usabhadata, the son of Dinaka and the son-in-law of the king, the Khaharata, the Kshatrapa Nahapana, who gave three hundred thousand cows, who made gifts of gold and a tirtha on the river Banasa, who gave to the Devas and Bramhanas sixteen villages, who at the pure tirtha Prabhasa gave eight wives to the Brahmanas, and who also fed annually a hundred thousand Brahmanas- there has been given the village of Karajika for the support of the ascetics living in the caves at Valuraka without any distinction of sect or origin, for all who would keep the varsha.

— Inscription of Nahapana, Karla Caves.[25]
Nahapana inscription
Great Chaitya inscription 13 of Nahapana, at the right of the main entrance.

Nahapana vihara at Nasik[edit]

Parts of the Nasik Caves also were carved during the time of Nahapana,[22] and the Junnar caves also have inscriptions of Nahapana,[26] as well as the Manmodi Caves.

Cave No.10 "Nahapana Vihara" at the Nasik Caves

"Success ! Ushavadata, son of Dinika, son-in- law of king Nahapana, the Kshaharata Kshatrapa, (...) inspired by (true) religion, in the Trirasmi hills at Govardhana, has caused this cave to be made and these cisterns...."

— Part of inscription No.10 of Nahapana, Cave No.10, Nasik[27]

Nahapana cave in Junnar[edit]

In a Buddhist cave of the Bhimasankar group of the Manmodi Caves in Junnar, there is an inscription in three lines, of which, however, the first letters are obliterated; still it is possible make out that it was [constructed by] "Ayama, the minister of Mahakshatrapa Svami Nahapana."[28] This inscription bears a Saka era date of year 46, which is 124 CE.[29] The inscription is located in the fourth excavation on the eastern side of Manmodi Hill, in Cave 7.[30] It reads:[31]

[Raño]jmahākhatapasa sāminahapānasa

[Ā]mātyasa Vachhasagotasa Ayamasa
[de]yadhama cha [po?] ḍhi maṭapo cha puñathaya vase 46 kato[32][31]

"The meritorious gift of a mandapa and cistern by Ayama of the Vatsa-gotra,
Prime Minister to the king, the great Satrap, the Lord Nahapana, made for merit, in the year 46."

— Inscription of Nahapana, Manmodi Caves.[31]


  1. ^ a b Cribb, Joe (2013). Indian Ocean In Antiquity. Routledge. p. 310. ISBN 9781136155314.
  2. ^ Alpers, Edward A.; Goswami, Chhaya (2019). Transregional Trade and Traders: Situating Gujarat in the Indian Ocean from Early Times to 1900. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 9780199096138.
  3. ^ Seaby's Coin and Medal Bulletin: July 1980. Seaby Publications Ltd. 1980. p. 219.
  4. ^ a b c d Rapson, E. J. (1908). Catalogue of the Coins of the Andhra Dynasty, the Western Kṣatrapas, the Traikūṭaka Dynasty, and the "Bodhi" Dynasty. London: Longman & Co. p. 65-67. ISBN 978-1-332-41465-9.
  5. ^ Harmatta, János (1999). "Languages and scripts in Graeco-Bactria and the Saka Kingdoms". In Harmatta, János; Puri, B. N.; Etemadi, G. F. (eds.). History of civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. 2. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House. p. 413. ISBN 978-8-120-81408-0.
  6. ^ Buddhist Reliquaries from Ancient India. British Museum Press. 2000. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7141-1492-7.
  7. ^ Krishna Chandra Sagar (1992). Foreign Influence on Ancient India. Northern Book Centre. p. 133. ISBN 978-81-7211-028-4.
  8. ^ a b c R.C.C. Fynes 1995, p. 44.
  9. ^ Bhandare, Shailendra, (1999). Historical Analysis, pp. 168-178; Shimada, Akira, (2012). Early Buddhist Architecture in Context: The Great Stupa at Amaravati (ca 300 BCE - 300 CE), Brill, p. 51.
  10. ^ "The mention of 'Nambanus' whom the scholars have identified as Nahapana in the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea would help us to solve the problem of Nahapana's time.", in "History of the Andhras" Archived March 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ quoted in "The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century". Fordham University. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  12. ^ Prasad, Durga. History of the Andrhas: Up to 1565 AD (PDF). P. G. Publishers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2015.
  13. ^ Ancient Period Archived March 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. p. 383. ISBN 9788131711200.
  15. ^ Burgess, James (1880). The Cave Temples of India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 266–268. ISBN 978-1-108-05552-9.
  16. ^ Chattopadhyaya, Sudhakar (1974). Some Early Dynasties of South India. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 77. ISBN 978-81-208-2941-1.
  17. ^ a b M. K. Dhavalikar 1996, p. 135.
  18. ^ Bhandare, Shailendra, (1999). Historical Analysis, pp. 168-178; Shimada, Akira, (2012). Early Buddhist Architecture in Context: The Great Stupa at Amaravati (ca 300 BCE - 300 CE), Brill, p.51.
  19. ^ Bhandare, Shailendra, (1999). Historical Analysis, pp. 168-178
  20. ^ Students' Britannica India. Vol. 4. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2000. p. 375. ISBN 9780852297605.
  21. ^ a b c World Heritage Monuments and Related Edifices in India, Volume 1 ʻAlī Jāvīd, Tabassum Javeed, Algora Publishing, 2008 p.42
  22. ^ a b Foreign Influence on Ancient India, Krishna Chandra Sagar, Northern Book Centre, 1992 p.150
  23. ^ Southern India: A Guide to Monuments Sites & Museums, by George Michell, Roli Books Private Limited, 1 mai 2013 p.72
  24. ^ "This hall is assigned to the brief period of Kshatrapas rule in the western Deccan during the 1st century." in Guide to Monuments of India 1: Buddhist, Jain, Hindu - by George Michell, Philip H. Davies, Viking - 1989 Page 374
  25. ^ Senart, E. (1902–1903). Hultzsch, E. (ed.). Epigraphia Indica. Vol. 7. Kolkata: Government of India Central Printing Office. p. 58.
  26. ^ Buddhist Critical Spirituality: Prajñā and Śūnyatā, by Shōhei Ichimura p.40
  27. ^ Senart, E. (1906). Hultzsch, R. (ed.). Epigraphia Indica. Vol. 8. Kolkata: Government of India Central Printing Office. p. 78-79. ISBN 978-1-246-36021-9.
  28. ^ Fergusson, James; Burgess, James (1880). The cave temples of India. London : Allen. p. 261.
  29. ^ Mirashi, Vasudev Vishnu (1981). The history and inscriptions of the Sātavāhanas and the Western Kshatrapas. Maharashtra State Board for Literature and Culture. p. 113.
  30. ^ Archaeological Survey of Western India. Government Central Press. 1879.
  31. ^ a b c Burgess, Jas (1883). Archaeological Survey Of Western India. p. 103.
  32. ^ Burgess, Jas (1883). Archaeological Survey Of Western India. p. Plate LIV No.11 (Junnar No.32).


External links[edit]