It is possible to trace the history of the fall of the Satavahana empire on the
basis of their coins and inscriptions. The empire was partitioned among five
minor dynasties. The northern provinces came under the sway of a collateral
branch of the Satavahanas. In the west the Abhiras established themselves
around Nasik; the Ikshvakus carved out for themselves a kingdom in the
eastern (Krishna-Guntur) region; the Chutus controlled the far-flung areas of
the south-western parts and extended their power in the north and east, and
the Pallavas filled the political vacuum in the south-eastern tracts.
Polity and Administration
The official records along with a few Buddhist records afford an interesting
glimpse of Satavahana polity. Monarchy was throughout hereditary. Without
asserting their Divine Right, the Satavahanas were content with the simple
title of rajan. Wielding unlimited power in theory, the administration of the
Satavahana kings, in practice, was checked by custom and the Sastric
injunctions. The princes were styled kumaras and appointed as provincial
viceroys.
     Feudatories of different grades were the pivot in the administrative
machinery of the Satavahanas. The highest class consisted of petty princes
styled as raja who struck coins in their own names. Next in rank came the
maharathis and mahabhojas, titles which were hereditary and restricted to a
few families in Thane and Kolaba districts of Maharashtra and north Mysore.
The maharathis enjoyed certain privileges and could grant in their own
names villages with fiscal immunities attached to them. According to
Nanaghat and Kanheri inscriptions, the maharathis had matrimonial relations
with the ruling family. Two more feudatory titles—mahase-napati and
mahatalavara were created to meet the growing demands of an extended
empire.
     The empire was divided into janapadas and aharas. An ahara
corresponds to a vishaya (district). Gama was the division below that of
ahara. The aharas were put in charge of amachas. Gamika supervised the
gama. The other functionaries were mahatarakas (Great chamberlains),
bhandagarikas (Storekeepers), heranikas (Treasurers), nibamd-hakaras
(Officers in charge of registration of documents), dutakas and pratiharas.