Andhra Ikshvaku

Andhra Ikshvaku

The Andhra Ikshvakus (Sanskrit इक्श्वाकू Telugu ఇక్ష్వాకులు) were one of the earliest ruling 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 mythology. Rama of Ramayana, who is considered as the incarnation of Vishnu belonged to the line of Ikshvaku. According to Hindu mythology, 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 mythological Ikshvakus.

Archaeological evidence has suggested that the Andhra Ikshvakus immediately succeeded the Satavahanas in the Krishna river valley. 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. Most of the kings and their household donated to the Buddhist cause. Buddhism was at its height in the Andhra country during their reign.

Literary evidence

A Kannada poem "Dharmamrita" states that the Ikshvakus of Andhra were the descendents of the renowned Ikshvakus of northern India. 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 established small kingdoms 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 "Pratipalpura". It is believed that Pratipalapura is the modern Bhattiprolu, a town in Guntur District.Fact|date=February 2007 Inscriptions have also been discovered in the Nagarjunakonda valley and at Jaggayyapeta and Bhattiprolu alluding to this.

The Puranas mention them as the "Sriparvatiyas" (Foresters), Rulers of Sriparvata (Forests) and "Andhrabhrityas" (Servants of the Andhras). The Satavahanas were also known as Andhras.


Andhra 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.

*Vasithiputa 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 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. Santamula's mother was Vasisti, 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 Nagarjunikonda. Her example was followed by other women of the royal family.

*Virapurisadata's son Ehuvula Santamula (Santamula II) ruled after a short Abhira interregnum. His reign witnessed the completion of a Devi Vihara, the Sihala Vihara, a convent founded for the accommodation of Sinhalese monks, and the Chaitya-ghara (Chaitya hall) dedicated to the fraternities (Theriyas) of Tambapanni (Ceylon). 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.

* Ruorapurushadatta was the name of an Ikshvaku ruler found in inscriptions from Gurajala in Guntur districts 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 Andhra 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.

upport for Buddhism

Most 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 Andhra 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 Andhra Ikshvakus though the ports situated on the mouths of the Krishna and the Godavari.


*The Andhras Through the Ages by Kandavalli Balendu Sekharam


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