After the Mauryan rule Pushyamitra, the founder of the Sunga dynasty established his rule. The Sungas ruled for over a hundred years. The extent of the Sunga kingdom under Pushyamitra extended from Punjab and extended to the southern regions of the Narmada. The Sunga dynasty had a line of ten rulers. The last of the Sunga king was Devabhuti
The Sunga period though is less reflected as a great role in Indian history yet it significant in the matter of its administration, religion, art and literature.
The Sungas administrated the kingdom with the help of a mantriparishad. This council existed in the centre and the provinces. The provinces were governed by viceroys. During the Sunga rule Brahmanism revived its vigour. The Bhagavata form of religion was prevalent. The Bharbat stupa and the ivory works in its exquisite manner proves the promotion of art. Patanjali's Mahabhashya is an example of the flourishing literature of the Sunga.
The Kanva dynasty was a Brahman dynasty founded by Vasudeva Kanva, the minister if Devabhuti, the last Sunga king. This period is said to have witnessed the rule of four kings extending to a period about 45 years. The extent of Kanva territory was confined to the areas of Sunga rule. Susarman was the last ruler of the Kanva dynasty. The Kanvas were over thrown by the Satavahanas.
The Satavahanas were also called Andhras. The Aitareya Brahmana claims the Andhras as, the exiled and degenerate sons of Viswamitra. Ashoka inscriptions mentions the Andhras as border people. They were Dravidian people who lived between the Godavari and the Krishna. Simuka was the founder of the Satavahana dynasty. He was succeeded by his brother Krishna.
Scholars are of the opinion that the original home of the Andhras - Andhra bhrityas was the Bellary district. Others claim their records to be found in the Northern Deccan and central India. Satakarni was the successor after Simuka, and is a considerable figure, known for his performance of two aswamedha sacrifices. His reign was followed by the rule of Gautamiputra satakarni. He is said to have defeated the Yavanas, Sakas and Phalanas and re-established the ancient glory of the Satavahanas. Gautamiputra satkarni was succeeded by his son Vasisthiputra Sri Pulamavi in about 130 AD. He extended his rule towards the Andhra country. Yajna Sri Satakarni was the last great ruler of the Satavahanas. After him the weak successors resulted in the contraction of the territory of the Satavahanas. Hostility with the Saka rulers also led to the ultimate parceling of its territories and decleration of independence .
The Satavahana society reflected the existence of four classes. The persons who controlled and administered the districts, followed by the officials. They were followed by the Vaidhya, cultivators. The fourth class were common citizen. The head of the family was the Grihapati.
Both Buddhism and Brahmanism was practiced during the Satavahana rule. A state of religions tolerance existed among of various sects of people following varied faiths.
Trade flourished and there existed organisation of workers doing various trades. Broach, Sopara and Kalyan were important trade points. The Satavahana rulers patronised Prakrit which was the common language used on documents.
The Satavahana empire is said to be partitioned into five provinces. The western territory of Nasik was possessed by the Abhiras. The Ikshavakus dominated over the eastern part in the Krishna -Guntur region.
The Chutus possessed the southwestern parts extended their territory to the north and east. The south eastern parts were under the Pahalvas.
The Hathigumpha inscription at Udayagiri near Cuttack speaks of a remarkable rule of a contemporary of the Sungas known as Kharavela of Kalinga. He ruled from about 176Bc to 164 BC. He is said to be the third ruler of the Cheta dynasty.
In the first year of his rule he is said to be have furnished and improved his capital Kalinga. In the second year he subdued and destroyed the capital of the Mushikas disregarding the rule of Satakarni.
In his eighth year he destroyed the fortification of Gordha and entered as far as Rajagriha in the Gaya district. He also conquered king Brihaspatimittra of the Magadha. He also built the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves to provide shelter to the Jain monks.
It can be concluded that he was as accomplished ruler and a generous guardian of the people.