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Dakshinapatha In Hinduism

Dakshinapatha, literally means ‘the way to the south.’ As per Hinduism, originally this was the name of the highway that linked South India with the North then known as Aryavarta or Madhyadesha. Eventually, the region through which it passed itself came to be known as Dakshinapatha. That it had already become a regional designation by the 6th century BCE is evidenced by the Buddhist Pali text Suta Nipata describing how Bhavari’s disciples went from Alaka or Mulaka on the Godavari river in Dakshinapatha to Aravasti.

The kings of the Satavahana dynasty (founded by Simuka in about 60 BCE) are described in their inscriptions as the Dakshinapatheshvara or Dakshinapatha pati (lords of Dakshinapatha).

Gautama Putra Satakarni’s (Satavahana king no:23) chargers are said to have drunk the waters of the three oceans, thereby implying that the Dakshinapatha denoted the whole of the southern peninsula.

The Allahabad pillar inscription of the Gupta emperor Samudragupta uses the term in its widest sense of the whole of South India extending at least to the northern districts of Tamil Nadu, including Chengalpet and north Arcto, and distinguishes it only from Aryavarata which had, by now, come to denote the whole of North India. It would thus follow that the Satavahana and Gupta inscriptions use the word Dakshinapatha in the sense of the whole of the southern peninsula.

The semantic history of the term Dakshinapatha is thus comparable to that of Uttarapatha which, too, originally signified a highway, and later came to be used for the country it passed through.

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