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Western Satrap
Silver coin of Nahapana British Museum.jpg
Silver coin of Nahapana, with ruler profile and pseudo-Greek legend "PANNIΩ ΞAHAPATAC NAHAΠANAC", transliteration of the Prakrit "Raño Kshaharatasa Nahapanasa" (or "King Kshaharata Nahapana"). British Museum.
Reign c.119–124 CE
Predecessor Bhumaka

Nahapana (r. 119–124 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 Kshatrapa dynasty became very powerful with the accession of Nahapana to the throne. Ksatrapa Bhumaka was succeeded by him who flourished about the period 60 CE. Jain Works are unanimous in that Nahapana ruled Ujjain for 40 years while the inscriptions made by Ushavadata evince that Nahapana ruled for 46 years. Thus, Nahapana must have captured Ujjain in his 6th regnal year. Periplus of 60 CE evince that Nahapana was ruling Ujjain, thus fixing his regnal period from around 119 CE to 124 CE. Nahapana managed however to build a strong power base in the west, occupying the traditional base of Satavahanas in Western Maharasthra.

Nahapana is mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea under the name Nambanus,[1] as ruler of the area around Barigaza:

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

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.[3]

Nahapana had a son-in-law named Ushavadata (Sanskrit: Rishabhadatta), whose inscriptions were incised in the Pandu-lena 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 (Broach), 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 Pandavleni Caves) in the Trirashmi hill near Nasik and offered it to the Buddhist monks.[4]

Overstrikes of Nahapana's coins by the powerful Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni have been found in a Southern Gujarat hoard at Jogalthambi. However, it is not necessary that Gautamiputra Satakarni and Nahapana to be contemporaries since Satakarni mentions that the areas he has conquered were ruled by Ushavadata, rather than Nahapana. According to archaeologist James Burgess, there might have been an interval of as much as a century between the reigns of these two kings.[5][6]

Nahapana was founder of one of the two major Saka Satrap dynasties in north-western India; the other dynasty included the one founded by Chashtana.[7]

Preceded by
Succeeded by


  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Ancient Period Archived March 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Burgess, James (1880). The Cave Temples of India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 266–268. ISBN 978-1-108-05552-9. 
  6. ^ Chattopadhyaya, Sudhakar (1974). Some Early Dynasties of South India. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 77. ISBN 978-81-208-2941-1. 
  7. ^ Students' Britannica India. 4. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2000. p. 375. 


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