•         This period witnessed the clash, the rise and fall of a number of smaller kingdoms.
  •          The native dynasties like Shungas, Satavahanas, and the Kanvas ruled in eastern India, central India and the Deccan region.
  •          Foreigners like Indo-Greeks or Bactrians, Sakas, the Parthians and the Kushanas ruled in north-western India.








  •          Corroborated by inscriptions and coins bearing the names of rulers, following literary texts act as sources of information about this period:
  •   Puranas,
  •   Dharmashastra; Manusmriti also known as ‘Manavdharmashastra’ is composed by Sage Manu and is first detailed lawbook available.
  •   Gargi Samhita and the Mahabhashya of Patanjali (which is commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi).
  •   The Buddhist Jatakas, Divyavadana, Mahavastu and the Milindpanho (Sanskrit, Milindaprashna)
  •   Malavikagnimitra of Kalidasa and the Harshacharita of Banabhatta.
  •   Periplus of the Erythraean Sea written by an anonymous Greek seafarer (pattern of trade between India and the Western world).
  •          Also, the epigraphic records in Kharoshthi found in large numbers in Gandhara and Central Asia refer to different facets of India’s regular contacts with these regions.


SHUNGAS (187 BC – 78 BC)
  • Capital at Patliputra and a second capital at Vidisha (under son Agnimitra’s viceroy).
  • Pushyamitra Shunga defended the country (the Gangetic valley) and its culture against foreign invasions (Greeks). Pushyamitra shunga erected Bharhut stupa.
  • After Pushyamitra, his son Agnimitra ruled.
  • Kalidasa’s play ‘Malvikagnimitra’ is a love story of the King Agnimitra and a handmaiden Malvika.
  • A significant attempt at penetrating into India by Demetrius I of Bactria was countered successfully by Vasumitra, son of Agnimitra.
  • Performed ‘Ashwamedh’ sacrifice for revival of Brahmanical order and patronised scholars like Patanjali and Manu.
  • After Agnimitra, Vasumitra became the King and was succeeded by 7 more kings of the same dynasty.
  • Shunga’s empire covered regions of Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and northern Madhya Pradesh.
  • The last ruler of the Shunga dynasty was Devabhuti, he was killed by Vasudeva who established Kanva Dynasty which ruled in eastern and central India.
  • Shungas issued gold and silver coins and they inherited and continued with Mauryan structure of administration.
  • They patronised Brahmanical order, yet, there was no antagonism towards Buddhism.
  • Art and literature received due patronage under Shungas. Mathura school of art achieved new heights, especially in realistic human depiction. Accessories like gateways and stone railings were added to a number of
  • Manu’s ‘Manavdharmashastra’ or ‘Manusmriti’ and ‘Kalidasa’s Malvikagnimitram’ are said to have been composed during this period.
  • Yavanarajya inscription, Dhanadeva-Ayodhaya inscription mentions about Shungas.
  • Pushyamitra shunga erected Bharhut stupa.





(73 BC – 28 BC)


  •         Vasudeva Kanva killed his king Devabhuti of Shunga and founded Kanva rule with Vidisha and Patliputra as their capital.
  •          Next came Bhumimitra, Vasudeva’s son and Narayan son of Bhumimitra, together they ruled for 26 years.
  •         The last Kanva king Susarman was killed by the Satavahana (Andhra) king and Kanva dynasty of Brahmins ended with him.




  •          Around 1st century BC, Kingdom of Chedis or Chetis was founded in Kalinga.
  •          The politics of this period is known for the 3rd Chedi king of kalinga known as Kharvela.
  •          Hathgumpha inscription of Udaigiri hills of Orissa describe him as great conqueror who Magadh, Satvahanas and Pandyas of Madurai.
  •          Kharvela was a Jaina follower who donated caves to Jaina Monks in Udaigiri Hills.
  •         Chedis are also referred to as Cheta or Chetavamsa, and Mahameghavahana.
















  •          Satvahana are referred as “Andhras” in the Puranas. Simuka was the founder of the Satvahana dynasty.
  •          The Satavahanas are reported from the north- western region of the Deccan in the first century BC, with their primary capital at Pratishthana (modern Paithan in Maharashtra) on Godavari river & second Capital was Amravati.
  •          Information about history of Satvahanas are obtained from Aitreya Brahmana, Puranas, epics, Brihat Katha of Gunadya, Kamasutra of Vatasayana.
  •          Nanaghat inscription, Nasik Inscription, Hatigumpa inscription of Kharavela, Erragudi inscription of Ashoka provide important information about Shungas.
  •         The Satvahana graves are reported to be encircled by big pieces of stone and therefore they are known also as megalithic people.
  •         Gujrata and Malawa were conquered as per the Nasik inscription of Nainikat, his wife.
  •        Next important king was Gautamiputra Satkarni whose achievements are recorded in Nasik inscription of Gautami Balashri, his mother.
  •         Gautamiputra Satkarni (also known as Ekabrahmana) defeated Sakas, Greeks, Parthians and Nahapana (king of western Satrapa)
  •         Around 150 CE, Rudradaman took advantage of weak successors of Gautamiputra Satkarni and defeated them.
  •         At the end of 2nd CE, another important ruler Yajnasut Alakrni came to throne who conquered back the areas of Gujrat, Malawa and Andhra.
  •          After Alakarni, Satvahana power declined and they were replaced by Vakataka Dynasty in the same regions; they too were Brahmins.




  •        ‘Amatyas’ and ‘Mahamatras’ were district officers at the during Satvahana rule which was called as ‘Ahara’.
  •        Kings donated land in favour of Brahmins and administrative officers who over time became very powerful and led to rise of feudalism.
  •        Gaulmika administered the rural areas; Katakas and Skandhvaras military camps.
  •          King during Satvbahanas’ reign was supposed to be the upholder of the Dharma.
  •          Dharmshastras not only set ideals for the people but also for the King.






  •         Satvahanas promoted development of architecture in hills of the Western Ghats where caves were cut in Ajanta, Nasik, Kaule, Bhaja, Kondain, Kanheri.
  •          These caves were cut in to make Chaityas (Buddhist cave-temple) and Viharas (Buddhist rest houses).
  •          Kaule Chaitya is the largest cave temple.
  •          Nagarjunkonda and Amravati were important centres of trade and art. Stupas were constructed here, use of white marble too is reported for the first time.
  •         Satvahanas also contributed to the development of Ajanta school of painting which is known for beautiful colour combinations, drawings, expression of emotions, and spirtuality.
  •         Buddha’s entire life is pictured – Saptashati.




  •          Satvahanas issued coins (Karshapanas) in a number of metals like Silver, Gold, Copper, Lead and Potin.
  •          They were first native rulers to issue own coins with the portraits of the rulers.
  •         Paddy transplantation, cotton production and exploitation of iron ores (Karimnagar and Warangal) was commonly practiced.



  •          Satvahana revived Brahmanism.
  •          Being matrilineal most of the kings are named after their mother- Gautamiputra Satakarni, Vasisthiputra Pulumayi, Yagnasri Satakarni.
  •          With flourishing of Mahayan Buddhism worship of Krishna and Vasudeva was also common.



  •         Most of the inscriptions of the Satvahana rulers are in Prakrit Language as it was their official language.
  •          Satvahana ruler Hala, himself great scholar, composed Gathasaptasati.


INDO-GREEKS (200 BC – 100 CE)
  • Indo-Greeks were the Greek people who got settled in India and became localised over a period of time.
  • Indo- Greek rule in India had 3 branches, namely, Bactria i.e., North Afghanistan, Taxila (Takshashila) and Sakal or Sialkot which is now in Pakistan.
  • An ambassador from the Taxila branch, Heliodorus was sent to court of King of Vidisha.
  • Heliodorus got a stone pillar constructed in Greek style (different from Asokan style) which was dedicated to Lord Vasudeva.
  • Demetrious and Menander or Milind are two significant rulers mentioned from Sakal or Sialkot branch of Indo-Greek.
  • Menander or Milind (165 BC – 145 BC) adopted Buddhism under Nagasen who wrote “MILINDPANHO” in Sanskrit. This book is a great source of history of this age.
  • This branch also caused a lot of trouble to the kings of Ganga Valley i.e., Mauryans and Shungas.
  • Indo-Greeks were the first to issue gold coins bearing inscriptions of images of Kings and Gods. India learned Use of curtain (yavan) from Greeks. Greek term horoscope was derived from the term horasastra.  They introduced practice of governorship.
  • Adopting Indian social and religious way of life they got indigenised.
  • Growth of metallurgy, medicine, astronomy, stone-cutting, perfume-making are evidences of technical advancements under Indo-Greeks.
  • Patronising both Buddhism and Hinduism, the greatest contribution of Indo-Greeks is witnessed in development of Gandhara School of Art.
    • In this, Greek techniques are applied over Buddhist themes and it is also known as Greeko-Buddhist Art.
    • Taxila, Peshawar, Bactria, Bamiyan, Hadda; in Afghanistan; Baigram (Kashmir) were important sites of development of this school of art.
    • Muscular body, beard and moustache are seen in the images of Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Images of Greek Gods and Kings too are reported.
    • Use of grey sandstone, outer robe (Roman influence), facial images and andromorphic (human form) God (Greek influence) is evident in the Gandhara School of Art.


  •          At the end of 100 BC few kings with Iranian names like Pahlavas of Indo-Parthians, captured north-western India.
  •         In the reign of Gondophernes (the most significant of the Indo-Parthians) St. Thomas is said to have come to India for the propagation of Christianity.









(100 BC – 150 CE)


  •         Sakas who were also known as Scythians, were from Western China.
  •         The first Shaka king was Maues or Moga (approx 80 BC) who is known from inscriptions and a series of coins.
  •          Mathura, Ujjain and Girnar were centres of Saka rulers in north India.
  •   They ruled in capacity of ‘Satrapas’ i.e., governors and Mahasatrapas.
  •   With control over western Ganga valley, parts of central India and Gujrat, Sakas were almost always at war with Satvahanas and put pressure over Deccan region.
  •         Rudradaman (130 CE – 150 CE) of Ujjain centre of Sakas is of significance as he finds mention in Junagarh inscription.
  •   This inscription is in Sanskrit unlike previous Prakrit inscriptions.
  •   Rudradaman got the lake Sudarshan repaired for better irrigation (constructed during the time of Chandragupta Maurya).
  •          Bhumak and Nahapan of Girnar centre of Sakas, had their coins spread over many places in western India.
  •          Huge number and great variety of silver coins are reported from western India that are attributed to the Sakas.
  •         Patronising Indian art and culture many of the Saka rulers got themselves Indianized.
  •         Important centre of development of art were Sanchi, Mathura and Gandhar.
  •          The King of Ujjain defeated Sakas and assumed the title of ‘Vikramaditya’ and estd. the Vikram Samvat or era in 58 CE.





(50 CE – 230 CE)


  •          Kushanas (or Yueh-Chis) too were from China, they ruled in North-West India with Purushpur (Peshawar) as their capital.
  •         Kanishka, a Mahayan Buddhist, was the most important Kushana ruler.
  •   Wem Kadphises, Huviska and Vasiska were other important Kushana rulers in India.
  •   The 4th Buddhist council at Kundalvan Vihar (Kashmir) with Vasumitra as president was held during Kanishka’s reign.
  •   Ashwaghosh was vice-president of this Mahayan Buddhist council.
  •   “Buddha Charita” i.e., biography of Buddha, was composed by Ashwaghosh of Patliputra.
  •   Nagarjuna propounded the Madhyamika Philosophy of Mahayan Buddhism.
  •   Nagarjuna also discussed the idea of relativity and hence, is sometimes called as Einstein of India.
  •          In 78 CE, the Saka era was founded by Kanishka.
  •          Ruling over the regions of Silk route, Kushanas greatly benefitted from it.
  •          They issued gold standard coins (22 or 23 carats).
  •         Processing of the imported Chinese raw silk at Bharoch in Gujrat helped it in becoming an important trading centre.
  •          Greater use saddle in horse riding, armour, turbans, trouser, helmets, long coats and better cavalry are Kushana’s contributions.
  •          Introduced Satrap system – Empire was divided into Satrapies under the Satrap.