Satrap System of Ancient Sakas in India

The pressure from the Parthians (Iranians) and later from Kushanas, the Shakas got divided into 5 branches with their different seats of power at different places in modern Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. These rulers were known as satraps and Mahasatraps. Thus Shakas are known to have proliferated the Satrpa system, which was directly influenced by the Achaemenid and Seleucid administrations. The satraps were in Kapisa in Afghanistan. Taxila in western Punjab, Mathura, Ujjaini and upper deccan.

Kapisa satraps

  • The Moga inscription or copper plate mentions two names Liaka Kusulaka and his son Patika Kusulaka.
  • They ruled Chuksha and Pusha Pura.
  • Patika Kusulaka had adopted the title of “Mahadandapati“.
  • Both of them were straps under Moga.

Mathura satraps

  • First known satraps of Mathura are Hagana and Hagamasa.
  • One of their successor named “Rajuvula” has been mentioned as Mahasatrapa in the Mora inscription , that was found near Mathura.
  • Other satrapas are Sodasha, Sivadatta, Sivaghosha.
  • Please note that it were the coins of the Mathura Satraps which have been engraved with Standing image which resembled Laxmi and Three Elephants.

Satrapas of Western India

  • First known satrapa in the Western India was Bhumaka, who ruled in Saurastra.
  • Bhumaka’s successor Nahapana was an important ruler of the Western satrapas. Some sources say that Nahapana was son of Bhumaka, yet the actual relationship between two is not verified.
  • The coins of Bhumka mention him as a Kshakarata Kshatrapa.
  • The coins shows the symbol of the lion-capital.
  • These coins were found in Gujarat and rarely in Malwa which might indicate the area of rule of the Mathura kashtrapas. It is also known that some of the inscriptions of the Mathura.
  • Kshatrapas were incised on a lion capital. These show that the two families were alike.
  • Please note that it was Bhumaka, who has been discussed in the Periplus of Erythrean Sea.

Ujjain Satrapas

  • Founder of the Ujjaini Satrapa is considered Castana or Shastana or Chastana.
  • Chastana is considered to have won a battle against Saatvahanas.
  • Chastana used 3 scripts viz. Greek, Kharoshthi and Brahami, in his coin legends.
  • He has been mentioned as Tiastenes of Ozene (Chastana of Ujjain) in Ptolemy’s Geography.


Chastana’s son was Jayadaman and grandson was Rudradaman, who was a real hero.

  • Rudradaman was a great figure.
  • His exploits are described in the Junagarh Rock inscription dated Shaka Year 72, which means 72+78 = 150 AD. (Christian era +78 = Shaka Era).
  • He represents himself as a Mahasatrapa. The Junagarh rock inscription says that he was chosen as a protector by all castes and thus adopted the ”Mahasatrapa” title.
  • He defeated Satvahana king “Saatkarni” for two times and thus is considered to be the greatest of the Shaka rulers.
  • The long rivalry between Rudradaman and Saatkarni was tried to be done away with the family relations (probably rudraman’s daughter was given in marriage to the Satavahanas), but this could not stop the enmity between them.
  • In one of the wars, Saatkarni’s life was spared because of the family relations.
  • Rudradaman conquered Malwa, Saurastra, Gujarat, Konkan end Yudehas of Rajputana.
  • Rudradamana is known to be good in knowledge of Grammar.
  • The successors of Rudradaman ruled till the end of the 4th century AD and finally lost their power to the Arab Chieftains.
  • Yavanesvara was a Greek writer who translated the Yavanajataka from Greek to Sanskrit. It had influenced astrology in India. This work was done in the times of Rudradaman.
  • Junagarh Rock Inscription
  • The Junagarh rock inscription is in Sanskrit. It is dated 72 Shaka Era or 150 AD. It credits Rudradaman I with supporting the cultural arts and Sanskrit literature and repairing the dam built by the Mauryans. This refers to the repair of Lake Sudarshana, which was constructed by Mauryas probably to contain the floods.
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