Ikshvakus (2nd - 1st CEN. B.C.)
After the downfall of the Satavahana power, the feudatory rulers declared their independence an established their own kingdoms in parts of the erstwhile empire. One among such new Kingdoms belonged to the Ikshvakus who ruled the eastern Andhra country from the last quarter of the second century A.D. The Puranas called them 'Sri Parvatiya Andhras' and 'Andhra Bhrityas'. From an inscription found at Nagarjunakonda. it has been made clear that in the beginnings of the Christian era, the mountain was called Sriparvata. But some scholars apply the term Sriparvata to the whole range of the Nallamala hills which stretch along the Krishna into Kurnool district. The number of the Ikshvaku Kings and the total duration of their reign as mentioned in the Puranas were contradictory to scholars On the whole, the Puranas gave a hundred year rule to the Ikshvaku line (with seven rulers). It is uncertain whether these Ikshvakus of the Andhra country represented a branch of the ancient Ikshvaku family of Ayodhya that might have migrated to the Deccan and settled down on the lower
Krishna or not. The oriental scholars like Buhler and Rapson expressed the view that the former were the descendants of the latter. The excavation of the site Nagarjunakonda from time to
time resulted in the discovery of many Buddhistic edifices containing numerous sculptures and inscriptions. To know the history of the Ikshvaku Kingdom which flourished in the
Andhra country along the Krishna river, the Prakrit inscriptions incised in Brahmi script found at Nagarjunakonda and at Jaggayyapeta serve as the important authorities. The sporadic distribution of the lead coins of Yajnasri Satakarni and of the last Satavahana king Pulomavi IV in the early Ikshvaku layers, the designations like Mahatatavara etc. of officials under both the Satavahanas and the Ikshvakus and the matronymies, the practice prevalent in the later Satavahana period and among the Ikshvaku rulers, sufficiently testify to the fact that the Ikshvakus of Nagarjunakonda were the immediate successors of the Andhra-Satavahanas in the Krishna valley. The Ikshvakus, eventually the feudatory nobility 'Mahatalavaras'. became heirs to the political and religious traditions of the imperial Satavahana power.
THE GENEALOGY AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE IKSHVAKUS
From the inscriptions, the names of four rulers of the Ikshvaku race have been traced. Not only this, even some of the regnal years of these rulers are also known. The information is as follows :-
a) Santamula I — 13th regnal year son
b) Virapurushadatta — 20th regnal year son
c) Santamula It — 24th regnal year son
d) Rudrapurshudatta — 11th regnal year brother
Virapurushadatta as prince
Thus according to epjgraphic evidence, the total years of the four known rulers come to not less than 69, whereas the Puranas give hundred years of rule to the seven Ikshvaku rulers. in deciding the chronology of the Ikshvaku rulers, two things are to be kept in mind:— (1) The Nagarjunakonda inscription of the Abhira Vasusena dated in the 30th year of the Chedi era which might have begun in 248-49 A.D. refers to the installation of the image of Ashtabhuja Swamy in
the presence of Saka Rudradaman of Avanti, the Yavana princess of Sanjayapuri and Vishnurudrasivalananda Satakami of Vanavasi. (2) The two inscriptions of Nagarjunakonda, one issued in the reign of Virapurushadatta and the other in the reign of Santamula II, refer to the Cyclic year 'Vijaya'.
D.C. SIRCAR'S SCHEME OF CHRONOLOGY
He proposed the Abhira presence in the Ikshvaku territory in between 275 A.D. and 285 A.D. He also thinks that the two Cyclic years (Vijaya) referred to in the two inscriptions were different. He equates them with 273-74 A.D. and 333-34 A.D. respectively. Accordingly he gives the following scheme of Chronology —
1. Santamula I — 225-50 A.D.
2. Virapurushadatta — 250-75 A.D.
Abhirama interregunum — 275-85 A.D.
3. Santamula II — 285-333-34 A.D.
4. Rudrapurushadatte — 334-45 A.D.
However there are certain difficulties in accepting this theory. Sircar gives the years of rule assigned to kings differently which are not in consonance with the latest regnal years mentioned in the inscriptions of the concerned kings. He unnecessarily extends the rule of Santamula II to 49 years. This is because of the supposition that the cyclic years of the two inscriptions were different. Moreover, Sircar places the Ahira attack in between the reigns of Virapurushadatta and
Santamula II. But the available evidence of the continuous building activity in the reigns of Virapurushadatta and Santamula II at Nagarjunakonda points to the contrary. The Abhira
The Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri 49 attack thus can not be placed in between these reigns. It can only be placed in the last years of the Ikshwaku rule.
THE CHRONOLOGICAL SCHEME OF DR. RAMARAO
Dr. Ramarao on the other hand takes into consideration the presence of Abhira Vasusena at Nagarjunakonda as a friendly visit. Regarding the cyclic years referred to in the inscriptions, he says it was not the practice to mention the cyclic years in the early inscriptions. Accordingly he suggests the following scheme of chronology :
1 Santamula I — 220-240 A.D.
2. Virapurushadatta — 240-60 A.D.
3. Santamula II — 250-84 A.D.
4. Rudrapurushadatta — 284-95 A.D.
However Dr. Ramarao's supposition of a friendly visit by Abhira Vasusena cannot be taken for granted. The Abhira inscription, which mentions some rulers who were present at the time of the installation of the image, does not mention the name of the Ikshvaku ruler and hence the hostile nature of the presence of the Abhiras in Nagarjunakonda must beaccepted.
SCHEME OF CHRONOLOGY AS SUGGESTED BY DR. O. RAMACHANDRAIYA
Dr. Ramachandraiya suggests the following scheme :—
1. Santamula I — 180-193 A.D.
2. Virapurushadatta — 193-213 A.D.
3. Santamula II — 213-37 A.D.
4 Rudrapurushadatta — 237-48 A.D.
5. Three unknown rulers (on the basis of Puranic evidence)— 248-78 A.D.
The basts for his chronology is as follows : (1) The Puranic evidence that the seven kings ruled for 100 years has been accepted and the corroboration from the inscriptions has been sought for four kings with a minimum total period of rule for 68 years. (2) The Abhira inscription is regarded as indicative of the victory of the Abhiras over the Ikshvakus and the event be placed in 278 A.D., which should also be the end of the Ikshvaku rule. (3) The cyclic years mentioned in the two inscriptions of Virapurushadatta and Santamuha II need not be different but could be one cyclic year. It must have witnessed the end of Virapurushadatta's rule and the accession of the
Santamula II, Since 278 A.D. is accepted as the last date of the Ikshwaku power, the cyclic year would be the year
corresponding to 213 A.D. (4) The rule of the four kings known from inscriptions should be placed in between 180 and 248 A.D. From that date upto 278 A.D., when the Abhiras conquered the Ikshvaku territory, the three unknown Ikshvakus must have ruled in their own right.
POLITICAL FORTUNES AND THE CULTURAL DESTINIES OF THE DYNASTY
The Ikshvakus, who were the immediate successors of the Satavahanas, had performed the Asvamedha sacrifices with a view to proclaiming their independent and imperial status. It had become a common practice among the rulers of the subsequent dynasties to perform the Asvamedha sacrifice in token of their declaration of independent status From this fact, it can be inferred that it was Santamula I who first declared his independence and established the Ikshvaku dynasty. So far not even a single inscription of Santamula I had been traced. The scanty information about him was gathered from the inscriptions of the reign period of his son Virapurushadatta. SANTAMULA I : In the inscriptions, Santamula I was named as Vasistiputra Santamula. This is in accordance with the prevalent practice of the adoption of metronymy. This practice undoubtedly indicates the high social status accorded to women in those days. The numerous extolling epithets attached to the name of Santamula I indicates that he was the
The Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri 51 most powerful monarch of the day in Dakshinapatha and he was regarded as Samrat in Dakshinapatha, both by his contemporaries and the descendants. He was a follower of Brahmanism. He is said to have performed besides the Asvamedha, Agnistoma, Agnihotra and Vajapeya sacrifices. He was 3 devotee of God Mahasena (Kartikeya). He was a great donor. He gifted away crores of gold coins, lakhs of cows and lakhs of ploughs to the donees. By donating vast tracts of land and ploughs, he encouraged agriculture in his Kingdom. Santamula 1 had two sisters (his father's name was not given), Hammash and Chantisri. Crrantisri was the wife of Vasishtiputra Skandasri of the Pugiya family. Chantisri had also borne Mahatalavari and Mahasenapatni, the titles of her husband. This Chantisri had a son named Skandasagara and a daughter who was given in marriage to her nephew Virapurushadatta. The second sister, Hammasri of Santamula I, had two daughters namely Bapisri and Chatisri. Both these daughters were given in marriage to Santamula's son Virapurushadatta. VIRAPURUSHADATTA: Virapurushadatta was the son and successor of Santamula I through his wife Madhari. He had a sister named Adavi Santisri. She was the wife of Mahasenapati and Mahadandanayaka. Skandavisakha of the Dhanaka family. From the Ikshvaku inscriptions the names of different families such as Pugiyas, Dhanakas, Hiranyakas and Kulahakas can be traced. The territories that were colonized by these people were named after their family names. For example, the colony of the Pugiyas was called Pugiya rashtra; this incourse
of time came to be known as Pungi rashtra or Pakanadu. The inscriptions found at Nagarjunakonda and at Jaggayyapeta give the 20th regnal year of Virapurushadatta. The marriages of Virapurushadatta with his paternal aunts' daughters prove that there was the custom of cross-cousin marriages in the Andhra country. Among the queens of Virapurushadatta,. Three were the daughters of his paternal aunts. He entered into matrimonial alliances with the neighbouring kings and strengthened his position. One such alliance was made with the rulers of
Ujjain. He married Ujjainee Maharajabalika, Mahadevi Rudradhara Bhattarika, probably a near relative of Saka Rudrasena I. EHUVALU SANTAMULA: Santamula II was the son and successor of Virapurushadatta. He had a sister by name Kodavalisri. She was the queen of the ruler of Vanavasi (Kamataka). Through this matrimonial alliance, Virupurushadatta strengthened his position. In the 24th year of the reign of Santamula II, his sister Kodavalisri erected a Vihara at Nagarjunakonda; the inference is that the reign of Santamula II must have lasted at least for 24 years,
RUORAPURUSHADATTA: An inscription found at Gurajala in Guntur district has revealed the name of another Ikshvaku ruler Rudrapurushadatta. This has been confirmed by another inscription which proved that he was a son of Santamula II. During his 4th regnal year, one Nudukasiri donated a piece of land to God Halampura Swamy. Some scholars identify this Halampura with Alampur in Kurnool district. But this conjecture is open to doubt. Halampura Swamy was no other than the Buddha himself. Halampura may be identified with the present Nagalapuram. Rudrapurushadatta must have ruled for more than 11 years. He was probably the last important ruler of the Ikshvaku family. After him there were three more unknown rulers according to the Puranas. In or about 278 A.D., the Abhiras might have put an end to the Ikshvakus. Most of the inscriptions of the Ikshvaku period record either the construction of the Buddhist viharas or the gifts made to them. All the donors and builders of the Viharas were the female members of the Ikshvaku royal family. Though Santamuta I is reported to have performed the Vedic sacrifices, nothing is stated about his son regarding his religious leanings.
Not only that, neither he nor his son is said to hove donated to the Buddhist establishments. From this it is inferred that Virapurushadatta and his successors were not Buddhists, but this was the period from which Andhra became a flourishing centre of Buddhism and a place of pilgrimage for the Buddhists all over the world. The patrons were ladies, many of them
The Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri 53 being royal ladies, the merchants and artisans and the people
at large. A new era began with the Buddhists of Krishna-Guntur region. The great stupas of Jaggayyapeta, IMagarjunakonda and Ramireddipalle were built, repaired or extended and Buddhist monks were coming for pilgrimage from all the Buddhist countries of the world to Nagarjunakonda, the celebrated- religious centre. In short, it may be said that Buddhism was in its hey day here at the time of the later Ikshvakus. The chief object of attraction was the Mahachaitya raised over a dhatu of the Buddha on Sriparvata. Monks of many Buddhist sects
like Aparamahavinasailiyas. Bahusutiyas and Mahisasakas were residing at this centre. The attraction for this Buddhist centre can be accounted for from the sea trade which was carried on between Ceylon and the ports of other countries on one hand and those situated on the mouths of the Krishna and the Godavari on the other hand. During these days Nagarjunakonda was a renowned centre of higher education. What Dhanakataka was during the days of Satavahanas,
Nagarjunakonda was the same during the days of the Ikshvakus. Students from different parts of Asia flocked around this great centre of higher learning to prosecute their higher studies in the Buddhist lore.
The Andhra Ikshvakus (were one of the earliest dynasties of Andhra Pradesh. They ruled the eastern Andhra country along the Krishna river during the later half of the second century CE. Their capital was Vijayapuri (Nagarjunakonda). Some scholars have suggested that this dynasty was related to the ancient Ikshvakus of Hindu epics. Rama of Ramayana, who is considered as the incarnation of Vishnu belonged to the line of Ikshvaku. According to Hindu epics, Ikshvaku, who was the Manu and father of Kukshi, was the founder of the Suryavanshi dynasty, reigning from Ayodhya at the commencement of the Treta Yuga. There is however no direct evidence to suggest that the Andhra Ikshvakus were related to the Epic Ikshvakus. Archaeological evidence has suggested that the Andhra Ikshvakus immediately succeeded the Satavahanas in the Krishna river valley. Andhra Ikshvakus have left inscriptions at Nagarjunakonda, Jaggayyapeta, Amaravati and Bhattiprolu. Although the Ikshvaku rulers practiced the Vedic religion, they were also great sponsors of Buddhism. Buddhism was at its height in the Andhra country during their reign. The oriental scholars like Buhler and Rapson expressed the view that the northern Ikshvakus might have migrated south. According to the Vayu Purana, Manu, the great patriarch of ancient India had nine sons of whom Ikshvaku was the eldest. His capital was Ayodhya. He had one hundred sons, and the eldest Vikushi succeeded his father as the ruler of Ayodhya. Of the rest, fifty sons founded small principalities in Northern India. Forty eight of his sons migrated to the south and carved out kingdoms for themselves. Buddhist literature refers to the penetration of the Ikshvakus into South India and declares that they founded the Asmaka, Mulaka and other principalities. These Kshatriyas settled down in the south and merged with the races there. Jain literature also refers to the exodus of northern Indian princes to the south. In Dharmamrita a reference was made that during the lifetime of the 12th Tirthankara, a prince named Yasodhara hailing from the Ikshvaku family came from the Anga kingdom to Vengi in the south. We are informed that the prince was so impressed with beauty of the region and the fertility of the soil that he made it his permanent home and founded a city called Pratipalapura (Bhattiprolu). Inscriptions have also been discovered in the Nagarjunakonda valley, Jaggayyapeta and Ramireddipalli attesting this fact. The Puranas (epics) mention Andhra Ikshvakus as the Sriparvatiyas, Rulers of Sriparvata and Andhrabhrityas (Servants of the Andhras).  HistoryAndhra Ikshvakus were originally feudatories of the Satavahanas and bore the title Mahatalavara. Although the Puranas state that seven kings ruled for 100 years in total, the names of only four of them are known from inscriptions. Vasishthiputra Sri Santamula (Santamula I), the founder of the line, performed the Asvamedha, Agnihotra, Agnistoma and Vajapeya sacrifices. Santamula performed the Asvamedha sacrifices with a view to proclaim his independent and imperial status. It had become a common practice among the rulers of the subsequent dynasties to perform the Asvamedha sacrifice in token of their declaration of independent status. From this fact, it can be inferred that it was Santamula I who first declared his independence and established the Ikshvaku dynasty. Santamula's mother was Vasishti, as evident from his name. Virapurushadatta was the son and successor of Santamula through his wife Madhari. He had a sister named Adavi Santisri. He took a queen from the Saka family of Ujjain and gave his daughter in marriage to a Chutu prince. Almost all the royal ladies were Buddhists. An aunt of Virapurisadata built a big Stupa at Nagarjunakonda. Virapurushadata's son Ehuvula Santamula (Santamula II) ruled after a short Abhira interregnum. His reign witnessed the completion of a Devi Vihara, the Sinhala Vihara, a convent founded for the accommodation of Sinhalese monks, and the Chaitya-griha (Chaitya hall) dedicated to the fraternities (Theriyas) of Tamraparni (Sri Lanka). Ceylonese Buddhism was in close touch with Andhra. The sculptures of Nagarjunakonda, which include large figures of Buddha, show decided traces of Greek influence and Mahayana tendencies. Rudrapurushadatta was the name of an Ikshvaku ruler found in inscriptions from Gurajala in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. He could have been a son of Ehuvula Santamula. Rudrapurushadatta ruled for more than 11 years. He was probably the last important ruler of the Ikshvaku family. After him there were three more unknown rulers according to the Puranas. Around 278 CE, the Abhiras might have put an end to the Ikshvakus.  Patrons of BuddhismMost of the inscriptions of the Andhra Ikshvaku period record either the construction of the Buddhist Viharas or the gifts made to them. All the donors and builders of the Viharas were the female members of the Ikshvaku royal family. Although Santamula I is reported to have performed the Vedic sacrifices, nothing is known about the religious leanings of his successors. This was the period during which Andhra became a flourishing centre of Buddhism and a place of pilgrimage for the Buddhists. The patrons were ladies from the royal household, the merchants and artisans and the people at large. The great stupas of Jaggayyapeta, Nagarjunakonda and Ramireddipalle were built, repaired or extended during their reign. Buddhist pilgrims and scholars visited the Buddhist centre at Nagarjunakonda. The attraction for this Buddhist centre can be accounted for from the sea trade which was carried on between Lanka and the Ikshvakus though the ports situated on the mouths of the Krishna and the Godavari. gopdavari is the eiver joins to the ganga