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Saka Dynasty [ 100 B.C to 400 C.E] | Shaka Ruler | Shakas Era | Indo-Scythians | Notes | Post Mauryan Rulers | Ancient Indian History UPSC

Table of Contents: 

  • About Saka Dynasty 
  • Rulers list of Saka Dynasty 
  • The decline of Shakas 

Notes on Saka Dynasty | Indo-Scythians  [ 100 B.C to 400 C.E];

Saka belonged to the Scythian ethnic nomadic tribe of Central Asia and Iran. He was mainly skilled in archery and innovated poisonous arrows. They used horses as the main means of transportation.

Around 200 B.C., the Central Asian nomadic tribe "Yueh-chi" pushed the Saka out of central Asia, which forced them ( Saka) to invade India.

Initially, Saka invaded Parthia ( Iran) and Bactria ( Afghanistan), and after victory in these areas, they moved further to India.

Sakas are also called known as golden warriors.

The Shaka dynasty maintained its dominance between 100 BC to 400 CE in part of the northwest frontier in the Indian subcontinent. They coexisted with other contemporary dynasties such as the Kushanas and Satavahanas.

Their kingdom was divided into five smaller branches. Each of these branches was ruled by a governor called "Kshatrapas (satraps, governors)". The following were five main branches of the Saka kingdoms-

  • Afghanistan
  • Punjab [Capital- Taxila ]
  • Western India comprises Rajasthan and Pakistan
  • Mathura region
  • Upper Deccan, mostly Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh region[  Capital- Ujjain ]

Saka rulers: 

Important Saka rulers are;

  • Maues or Moga ( 80 to 64 BC)
  • Azes I
  • Azes II
  • Nahapana
  • Chashtana ( 79 CE to 139 CE): 
  • Rudradaman I 
  • Rudrasimha III

Maues or Moga :

Mause ort Moga was the founder of Saka rule in India.

He issued a large number of copper coins and a few silver coins in India.

He used Greek and Kharoshti script in their coins.

His capital was at Sirkap, which comes to the present day in Punjab, Pakistan.

Mathura lion capital was built by Indo-Sythians [ Saka ruler] Mause or Moga. 

Azes I:

He started the Azes era in 58 BC,'


Nahapana was defeated by King Gautamiputra Satakarni ( he was also known as the Shalivahana ) of the  Satavahana dynasty. Gautamiputra Satakarni defeated the Nahapana ( Saka ruler) in 78 CE, therefore this year was marked as the beginning of the Saka Era( 78 CE). It is also known as the Shalivahana era. In the Saka era, the year is divided into 12 lunar months. It is also a national calendar of India. Chaitra 1 of the national calendar based on the Saka Era comes on 22nd March ( or 21st March) on the Gregorian calendar.

Rudradaman I : (130 CE to 150 CE) :

He was the grandson of Chastana, and he is considered the greatest and most famous Saka ruler.

Rudradaman is known for the rejuvenation of Sudarshan Lake of Gujarat which was built by Chandragupta Maurya viceroy Pushpgupta. 

Junagarh rock inscription dated 150 CE, provides information about the maintenance work of Sudarshan Lake done by Rudradaman, which was created by Chandragupta Maurya viceroy Pushpgupta. This inscription also tells us that the maintenance of Sudarshan Lake was done without the use of forced labor. This inscription also mentioned the names of Chandra Gupta Maurya and Ashoka.

He made his capital Ujjain a great cultural and educational center.

He assumed the title " Mahakshatrapa".

Rudrasimha III:

The last ruler of the Saka dynasty, who ruled in the 4th century AD.

The decline of Shakas;

The downfall of Saka started after the defeat of Azes II at the hand of the Kushana king in the Gandhara region.

Satavahana ruler ( Gautamiputra Satkarni also known as Shalivahana) defeated the Nahapana king of Shaka in 78 CE. From this year, the Saka era started. This is also a national calendar of India. Chaitra 1 of the national calendar based on the Saka Era comes on 22nd March ( or 21st March) on the Gregorian calendar.

Gupta ruler Chandragupta II defeated the last Shaka ruler ( Rudrasimha III ) in the 4th Century AD. Chandragupta II assumed the title of Vikramaditya. 

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