From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Western Satrap
Silver coin of Nahapana British Museum.jpg
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.
Reign 1st or 2nd century CE
Predecessor Bhumaka

Nahapana (r. 1st or 2nd century CE) was an important ruler of the Western Kshatrapas, descendant of the Indo-Scythians, in northwestern India. According to one of his coins, he was the son of Bhumaka.


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.[1] 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,[2] while R.C.C. Fynes dates it to c. 66-71 CE.[3]


A coin of a silver drachma from Nahapana. Obv: Bust of the king crowned with a diadem on the right. Legend in Greek: ΡΑΝΝΙ (ω ΙΑΗΑΡΑΤΑϹ) ΝΑΗΑΠΑ (ΝΑϹ) Rev: An arrow to the left and a lightning to the right. Legend in kharoshthi on the left: Rano Chaharatasa Nahapanasa. Brahmi legend on the right: Rajna Kshaha (ratasa Nahapanasa).

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:[4]

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

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.[6]

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.[7]

Gautamiputra Satakarni[edit]

Nahapana coin hoard.
Nahapana coin.

Overstrikes of Nahapana's coins by the powerful Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni have been found in a Southern Gujarat hoard at Jogalthambi. This suggests that Gautamiputra defeated Nahapana.[3]

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.[8][9] However, most historians now agree that Gautamiputra and Nahapana were contemporaries, and that Gautamiputra defeated Nahapana.[10] M. K. Dhavalikar dates this event to c. 124 CE, which according to him, was the 18th regnal year of Gautamiputra.[10] R.C.C. Fynes dates event to sometime after 71 CE.[3]

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.[11]

Construction of Buddhist caves[edit]

The Chaitya cave complex at Karla Caves was built and dedicated by Nahapana in 120 CE.[12]
Karla Caves, inscription 13 of Nahapana.

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.[12][13]

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.[12][14][15]

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.[16]

Parts of the Nasik caves also were carved during the time of Nahapana,[13] and the Junnar caves also have inscriptions of Nahapana,[17] 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[18]


  1. ^ Buddhist Reliquaries from Ancient India. British Museum Press. 2000. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7141-1492-7. 
  2. ^ Krishna Chandra Sagar (1992). Foreign Influence on Ancient India. Northern Book Centre. p. 133. ISBN 978-81-7211-028-4. 
  3. ^ a b c R.C.C. Fynes 1995, p. 44.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Ancient Period Archived March 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Burgess, James (1880). The Cave Temples of India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 266–268. ISBN 978-1-108-05552-9. 
  9. ^ Chattopadhyaya, Sudhakar (1974). Some Early Dynasties of South India. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 77. ISBN 978-81-208-2941-1. 
  10. ^ a b M. K. Dhavalikar 1996, p. 135.
  11. ^ Students' Britannica India. 4. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2000. p. 375. 
  12. ^ a b c World Heritage Monuments and Related Edifices in India, Volume 1 ʻAlī Jāvīd, Tabassum Javeed, Algora Publishing, 2008 p.42
  13. ^ a b Foreign Influence on Ancient India, Krishna Chandra Sagar, Northern Book Centre, 1992 p.150
  14. ^ Southern India: A Guide to Monuments Sites & Museums, by George Michell, Roli Books Private Limited, 1 mai 2013 p.72
  15. ^ "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
  16. ^ Epigraphia Indica Vol.7, Hultzsch, E. p.58
  17. ^ Buddhist Critical Spirituality: Prajñā and Śūnyatā, by Shōhei Ichimura p.40
  18. ^ Epigraphia Indica p.78-79


External links[edit]

Indo-Scythian kings, territories and chronology
Western India Western Pakistan
Bajaur Gandhara Western Punjab Eastern Punjab Mathura
90–85 BCE Nicias Menander II Artemidoros
90–70 BCE Hermaeus Archebius
75–70 BCE Vonones
Telephos Apollodotus II
65–55 BCE Spalirises
Hippostratos Dionysios
55–35 BCE Azes I Zoilos II
55–35 BCE Azilises
Azes II
Apollophanes Indo-Scythian dynasty of the
25 BCE – 10 CE Indo-Scythian dynasty of the
(ruled 12 BCE - 15 CE)[1]
Liaka Kusulaka
Patika Kusulaka
(ruled 10 BCE– 10 CE)[2]
Strato II and Strato III Hagana
20-30 CE Ubouzanes
(ruled c.0-20 CE)[3]
Sarpedones Bhadayasa Sodasa
Kujula Kadphises
Indravarma Abdagases ... ...
40-45 CE Aspavarma Gadana ... ...
45-50 CE Sasan Sases ... ...
50-75 CE ... ...
75-100 CE Indo-Scythian dynasty of the
Vima Takto ... ...
100-120 CE Abhiraka Vima Kadphises ... ...
120 CE Bhumaka
Kanishka I Great Satrap Kharapallana
and Satrap Vanaspara
Kanishka I
130-230 CE

Rudradaman I
Damajadasri I
Rudrasimha I
Rudrasimha I
Rudrasena I


Vāsishka (c. 140 – c. 160)
Huvishka (c. 160 – c. 190)
Vasudeva I (c. 190 – to at least 230)

230-280 CE

Damajadasri II
Yasodaman I
Damajadasri III
Rudrasena II


Ardashir I, Sassanid king and "Kushanshah" (c. 230 – 250)
Peroz I, "Kushanshah" (c. 250 – 265)
Hormizd I, "Kushanshah" (c. 265 – 295)

Kanishka II (c. 230 – 240)
Vashishka (c. 240 – 250)
Kanishka III (c. 250 – 275)

280-300 Bhratadarman Datayola II

Hormizd II, "Kushanshah" (c. 295 – 300)

Vasudeva II (c. 275 – 310)
300-320 CE

Rudrasimha II

Peroz II, "Kushanshah" (c. 300 – 325)

Vasudeva III
Vasudeva IV
Vasudeva V
Chhu (c. 310? – 325)

320-388 CE

Yasodaman II
Rudradaman II
Rudrasena III
Rudrasena IV

Shapur II Sassanid king and "Kushanshah" (c. 325)
Varhran I, Varhran II, Varhran III "Kushanshahs" (c. 325 – 350)
Peroz III "Kushanshah" (c. 350 –360)

Shaka I (c. 325 – 345)
Kipunada (c. 345 – 375)

Chandragupta I Samudragupta

388-396 CE Rudrasimha III Chandragupta II
  1. ^ From the dated inscription on the Rukhana reliquary
  2. ^ An Inscribed Silver Buddhist Reliquary of the Time of King Kharaosta and Prince Indravarman, Richard Salomon, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 116, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1996), pp. 442 [3]
  3. ^ A Kharosthī Reliquary Inscription of the Time of the Apraca Prince Visnuvarma, by Richard Salomon, South Asian Studies 11 1995, Pages 27-32, Published online: 09 Aug 2010 [4]