doubt on this point, her Ṛiddhapur copper-plate inscription1 not only mentions her mother
as Kubēra-Nāgā but also describes her as Nāga-kul-ōtpannā, ‘sprung from the Nāga clan.’ It is
quite evident from the evidence just set forth that though the ruling families of the Gupta
period assumed Brāhmaṇa gōtras, the female members thereof struck to the clan names of their
The facts mentioned above give rise to two or three questions which we have now to
consider. The first is: how far and where the custom of adopting Brāhmaṇa gōtra was prevalent
among the ruling families? The most noteworthy of these is the Śātavāhana family, whose
inscriptions have been found in the Nasik, Kārlē and Kaṇhērī caves. The earliest of them was
Gautamīputra; his son, Vāsishṭhīputra; and one successor of theirs, Māḍharīputra. These
metronymics are doubtless formed out of Brāhmaṇa gōtras. But why should they be found in
a ruling family at all? In explanation thereof, it is argued by some that the Śātavāhanas
were of the Brāhmaṇa caste.2 This conclusion, they say, is supported by two passages in Nasik
cave inscription No. 2.3 The first, which is in line 5, is Khatiya-dapa-māna-madanasa, “of
(Gautamīputra), who humbled the pride and arrogance of the Kshatriyas.” From this it is
inferred that Gautamīputra was not a Kashatriya. For, if he were a Kshatriya, what is the
good of his saying that he put down the pride and conceit of the Kshatriyas ? What was he
then by caste ? In reply thereto, they rely on the second passage of the inscription, in line 7,
namely ēkabamhaṇasa, which has been translated by Senart as “the unique Brāhmaṇa.”4 But
bamhaṇa can stand as much for brahmaṇya as for Brāhmaṇa. In fact, the first equation was
suggested by R. G. Bhandarkar long ago, who rendered it by “the only supporter of Brāhmaṇas.”5 The other translation makes Gautamīputra Śātakarṇi “the unique Brāhmaṇa”, implying that in his time there was no Brāhmaṇa in the whole of India who could equal him in the
sacred knowledge and duties of the Brāhmaṇa class in spite of the fact that he had already
impaired the status of the first order by carrying on fights like a Kshatriya with hostile princes
and lowering his family to that of the second or Kshatriya order.
In these circumstances it is
inconceivable how he could be styled “the unique Brāhmaṇa.” It is more reasonable to take
ēka-Bamhaṇasa as equivalent to ēka-Brāhmaṇasya, “of (Gautamīputra) the unique friend of the
Brāhmaṇas.” The expression is not unlike atyanta-(dēva)-Brāhmaṇa-bhakta which we find applied
to the mahārāja Hastin in the copper-plate inscriptions6 of the Nṛipati-Parivrājaka family. What
then becomes, it may be asked, of Khatiya-dapa-māna-madana which is used with reference to
Gautamīputra ? Khatiya of this expression has obviously to be equated with Kshatriya or
Kshattri, the name of a tribe mentioned both by foreign writers and in Sanskrit literature.
Thus Arrian who wrote an account of Alexander’s invasion of India says that when this
Macedonian emperor was in camp on the confluence of the Chenāb and the Indus, he received
deputies and presents from Xathroi (=Khatroi), an independent tribe of Indians.7 The same
tribe has been referred to as Khatriaioi by Ptolemy.8 Both seem identical with Kshatriya.
That there was a tribe of the name of Kshatriya is clear from Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra which
mentions it along with Kāmbhōjas and Surāshṭras as a corporate tribe (śrēṇi) subsisting both
1 CII., Vol. V, No. 8, pp. 33 ff.
2 K. P. Jayaswal in JBORS., Vol. XVI, pp. 365-66; H.C. Rayachaudhuri’s Political History of Ancient India (3rd edn., 1932), pp. 280-281. This matter has been discussed in Ep. Ind., Vol. XXII, pp. 32 and ff.
3 Ep. Ind., Vol. VIII, p. 60.
4 Ibid., p. 61; Senart practically follows Bühler, who renders it by “of him who alone (was worthy of the name of)
a Brāhmaṇa” (ASWI., Vol. IV, p. 110).
5 Trans. Inter. Cong. Ori., London, 1874, pp. 310-11; Coll. Works of Sir R. G. Bhandarkar, Vol. I, p. 236.
6 CII., Vol. III, 1888, Nos. 21, 22 and 23.
7 McCrindle’s Ancient India: Its Invasion by Alexander the Great, p. 156.
8 Ind. Ant., Vol. XIII, p. 360.