Introduction to Pallavas Chalukyas etc. The history of the region south of the Vindhyas between 300 and 750 A.D. constitutes a water-shed. After the collapse of the Satavahanas, Ikshvakus rose to power in the Krishna-Guntur region. They were supplanted by the pallavas. In northern Maharashtra and Vidharba the Satavahanas were succeeded by the Vakatakas. They in turn, were followed by the Chalukyas of Badami. After two centuries they were overthrown by their feudatories, the Rashtrakutas in 757 A.D.

During the period review, the region south of the Vindhyas witnessed the march of Brahmanism. In early stages, extensive Buddhist monuments came into existence. A little later Jainism came to prevail in Karnataka. And the peninsula, as a whole saw the emergence of a stone temple for Shiva and Vishnu in Tamilnadu under the Pallavas, and in Karnataka under the chalukyas of Badami. In a way, south India ceased to be the land of megaliths inearly 4th century A.D.

Along with religion, the language of the rulers and the literate class witnessed a transformation. From about 400 A.D. Sanskrit became the official language of the peninsula.

The history of the pallavas illustrate three characteristics the L.C.Ms. of Indian history till the 17th century: wars with neighbouring States, controversial neature of historical material, and royal patronage of literature and arts.


Very little reliable information on the origin of the Pallavas is available. They appear to have intruded into the south. Katyayana (fourth century B.C.) mentions the Pandyas and the Cholas, but not the Pallavas, Ashoka (third century B.C.) refers to the Cholas, the Pandyas and Keralas, but not the Pallavas.

The Pallavas were a branch of the Pahleves of Parthians is the opinion of some scholars, like father Heras; but there is no positive evidence for the Phalava migration into the south.

That Pallavas were an indigenous dynasty which rose to power after the dismemberment of the Andhra empire, is another thesis. Probably their leaders gathered around them selves the Kurumbas, the Moravars, the killers and other predatory tribes in order to form one great community. According to srinivas Aiyangar, the Pallavas belonged to the anciert Naga people who them selves were composed of a primitive Negri, an element of Australisian and the later mixed race. To start with they lived in the Tondaimandalam districts around Madras. Later, they conquered Tanjore and Trichinopoly districts. The Pallavas recruited their troops from the martial tribute of pallis of Kurumbas. The Pallavas were the hereditary enemies of Tamil Kings. Even now the term palava means a rogue in Tamil language; and a section of the Pallavas who settled in the Chola and pandya countries came to be known as kallar or thieves. All these people doubtless belong to a Naga race.

The third is that the Pallava dynasty emerged and owed its origin to a Chola prince and the Naga princess of Manipallavam an is land near Ceylon. According to this theory, the son born out of the wedlock was made the king of Tondaimandalam by his father, and the dynasty was so named after his mother's home land. Dr. Krishnaswamy Aiyangar argues that the Pallavas are mentioned as Tondaiyar in the literature of the Sangam era and that they were descended from the Naga chieftains but owed allegiance to the Satavahana kings. But this theory, too, is doubtful because of their continual fight with the cholas and their striking northern character as compared to the Cholas.

Dr. K.P.Jayaswal argues that the pallavas were a branch of the Brahmin dynasty of the Vekatakas. Except for their early copperplate charters which are in Prakrit. All the other epigraphich records are in Sanskrit. Hiuen-Tsang says that their language and literature differed very slightly from that of northern India. The Talagunda inscription, however. States that the Pallavas were Kshatriyas.


The first important ruler was Siva Skandavarman who performed an Aswamedha and other Vedic sacrifices. His capital was kanchi. Samudragupta forced the pallava king, Vishnugopa, to acknowledge the Gupta suzerainty. And the story of the Pallavas in the 5th and 6th centuries is very sketchy.

By end of the sixth century the Pallavas re-emerged on the scene. Simhavishnu (575 to 600 A.D.) captured the territory of the Cholas and humbled the pride of his neighbours including Ceylon. He was ovavaishnava faith as borne out by the magnificent reliefs representing Simhavishnu and two of his consorts in the Varsha cave at Mamallpuram.

With Mahendravarman I, the son and successor of Simhavishnu, began thetitanic tripartite struggle with the Chalukyas of Vatapi and the Cholas. The Chalukya king, Pulakesin II, captured Kanchi. Pulakesin II won the pitched battle fought at Pullalur, fifteen miles north of Kanchi.

However, Narsimhavaram I, the son and successor of Mahendravarman I, defeated pulskesin II in many battles and probably killed pulakesin himself. He also defeated the Cholas, the Cheras and the pandyas. He even sent two naval expeditions to Ceylon and placed his protégé on the throne of Ceylon. Narasimhavarman I was a great builder too. Mamallapuram was embellished during his time. Hiuen-Tsand visited his kingdom. He states that the soil was fertile and produced abundance of grain; flowers and fruits were many precious gems and other luxury articles were known; and the people were courageous and greatly attached to learning, honestry and truth.

Narasimhavarman II. He too, fought with the chalukyas. He was succeeded by Paramesvaravarman I in whose reign Vikramadhitya I of the Chalukyas, in alliance with the Pandyas, renewed the hostilities. He probably captured the city of Kanchi. Later, Paramesvarvarman I defeated Vikramadhity II. The Pallava records claim that the Chalukya pattack was hurled back.

Yet, as we know, the Chalukyas once again swept through the Pallava dominions under the captainship of Vikramaditya II in the 8th century, A.D. Nandivarman was defeated and Kanchi was captured. By then, the Pallavas faced a serious challenge from the rising dynasties of the south. The Pandyas advanced along the banks of Kanchi. The last nail in the coffin was driven by Aditya Chola who defeated Aparajita Pallava and took possession of his kingdom towards the end of the 9th century A.D.

The Chalukya victory over the Pallavas in 740 A.D. was the beginning of the end of the Pallavas supremacy. The Cholas, in alliance with the Pandyas, defeated the Pallavas by the close of the 9th century. Very soon even the Chalukyas collapses but the Pallavas: chiefs continued to exist till the end of the 13th century. After the 17th century. All traces of the Pallavas as a distinct community of clan disappeared; but the Kallar, Palli and Vellala castes trace their origir origin from them.

The Chalukya-Pallava war began with Pulkasin II and ended with the collapse of both the dynasties singnificantly, the power that rose thereafter, the Rushtrakutas and the cholas, continued the same sort of struggle. This was because the Chalukya-Pallava struggled was to a great extent determined by the geographical loation of the Chalukya and Pallava kingdoms.

After the first bout was over, the Pallavas agenged their defeat during the days of Narasimhavarman I. He captured the lost territories. In thie he was assisted by the king of Ceylon. He entered the capital of Bademi in 642 A.D. and assumed the title of Vatapikonda, that is, the conqueror or Vatapi.

After that, for the next tweleve years there was a respite; the Pallavas were involved in naval wars while supporting the Ceylonese kings, and the Chalukyas were troubledby their feudatories, Afther the Chalukyan house was set in order in 655, they re-occupied the terrirtories lost to the Pallavas. This was the third phase. Soon thej tables were reversed. There was a rift in the Chalukyan royal family. Taking advantage of this, the Pallavas once again entered Badami. Details of relating to this compaign are to be found in the Pallava grant found near Kanchi. This was th fourth phase.

The fifth phase started when the Chalukyas and the Gangas united in 731 to attack the Pallavas. The reigning Pallava king was killed and Kanchi was occupied. Later, the council of ministers chose Nandivarman II.

In the last phase the ball was in the the court of Pallavas. At this time, the neighbours of the Pallavas in the south, that is, the Pandays, Joined the conflict. The Pandyas of Madura were not well disposed towards the Pallavas. In the meantime the Chalukyas wre threatened by the Arabs, the latter already being in occupation of Sing. While the Chalukyas were engrossed in the threat from the north, one of their feudatories Dantidurga, broke away from the but they, too, within a century ment their end, the last of the Pallavas was assassinated by the son of a feudatory.


The Pallavas political history covering four centuries is tortous and complex but their contribution to society is singnificant in two ways - comletion of Aryanisation of southern India, and consmation of traditional or indigenous art.

The Aryanisation of south India as completed during the period of the Pallavas. Their grants show that the Aryan structure of society has gained frim hold on the south by the sixth century. Grants to brahmins are specifically mentioned which show that the north Indian Dharma Sastras had acquired authority in the Pallava kingdom. Sanskrit had established its sway. The university of Kanchi played to doubt a great part in India, and we know from Hiuen-Tsang that it was the greatest center of education in the south. Vatsyayana, the logician, the author of Nyaya Bhashya who lived in the fourth century. A.D, seems tohave been Pandit of Kanchi. Denage the famous Buddhist dialectian is also said to have had his training in the souther capital. In the fifth century we have epigraphic record of Nayurrasarman of the Kadamba family going for higher studies to Kanchi. In fact it can ligtimately be calimed that Kanchi of the Paalvas was the great center from which the Sanksritisation of the south as well as the Indian colonies in the far-east proceeded.

Pallavas were orthdox Hindus and they patronized the great reformation of the medival ages. Most of the kings ere brahminical Hindus devoted to the worship of Shiva. Mahendravarman was the first, who about the middle of his reign, adopted the worship of Siva and he was influenced by the famous saints of the age. He showed reverence to other Hindu gods also. But, he was intolerant of Jainism and destroyed some Jain monastries. Some Vaishnava and Saiva saints lived during his time. In general, the Pallavas were tolerant to other sects. Buddhism and Jainism lost their appeal. Indeed Hiuen-Tsang saw at Kanchi one hundred Buddhist monastries and 10,000 priests belonging to the Mahayana school but this has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

In general, the vedic tradition was super imposed on the local traditions, As brahmins were custodians of Vedic tradition, they automaticalldy enjoyed privillages. The Vedic tradition, a little later, received stimulus because of Sankarcharya. The Temples were the focal points. The out-castes were not permitted to enter the precincts of the temple.

Even then, Tamil saints of the 6th and 7th centuries, who were the progenitors of the bhakti movement, mostly belonged to the lower castes. The hymns and sermonsof the nayanaras (Shaivism) and the slvars (vaishnavism) continued the tradition. Amongst the Shaiva saints the important were Appar (supposed to have converted Mahendravarman) Sambandar, Manikkawasagar, and Sundarar. The most ………………………….. about them was the presence of women, Saints, such as Andal. This Bhakti cult was derived from the ideas in the Upanishads and also from the heterodox doctrines. Dr. Thapar opines that the concepts of comapassonate God was a resultant of the impact of Buddhist ideas particularly the bodhisttava concept, although the chirstians in malabar might have provided a new perception of religion. What the bhakti movement contributed was great. The religious hymns and music as popularized by Tamil saints were sung during temple rituals. Dancing was also included. From the Pallavi period onwards dancers were maintained by all the prosperous temples.

Regarding education, in the early days, education was imparted by Jains and Buddhists. The Jaina institutions were located at Madurai and Kanchi. Soon brahminical institutions superseded them. Ghatkias or Hindu colleges were attached to the temples. They were primarily Brahmin institutions are mostly confined themselves to advanced studies. And in the 8th century the maths also became popular, which was an ominous institutions because of its being a rest-house, a feeding center and an education center. In all these colleges Sanskrit was the medium of instruction which was also the official language. Kanchi, the capital, was a great cencentre of Sanskrit learning. The scientific works of Varahmihira and the poetry of Kalidasa and Bhairvi were-known in the Pallava country. And Parameshvaravarman I granted the Kurran copper-plate that was made for the recitation of the Mahabharata in a mandapa at the village of Kurram, near Conjeevaram.

By the beginning of the 7th century the Pallavas of Kanchi, the Chalukyas of Badami and the Pandyas of Madurai emerged as the three major states. By the time the political rule of these dynasties came to an end, an event known as the revolt of the Kalabharas took place. The Pallavas, the Kadambas (North Canara in Karnataka) and the Chalukyas of Badami along with along with a large number of their contemporaries were the protage of vedic sacrifices. Logically, the brahmins emerged as an important segment of society but at the expense of the peasantry. Possibly, this predominance was oppressive leading to the revoltof the kalabhars in the 6th century. A.D. It is also said that they overthrew in numberable kings and established their old inTamilnadu. They ended the Brahmadeva rights earlier granted to brahmins in numerous villages. It is also said that the Kalabhras patronized Buddhism. In the end, the revolt of the kalabhras could be ended only by the Joint efforts of the Pandays, the Pallavas and the Chalukays.


Kingship was attributed to define origin. The kings claimed their descent from the God Brahma. It has hereditary. Yet, on one occasion a king was elected. Most of the kings were accomplished scholars. Mahendravarman I wrote the famous burlesque, Masttavilasa Prahsana. Many of the vaishnava alvars and saiva nayanars flourished during their rule.

The kings adopted high-sounding titles like maharajadhiraja, dharma-maharjadhiraja (great king of kings rulling in accordance with the dharma), agnistomavajpeya, asvamedha-yaji (he who has performed the agnithtoma-vajapeya and asvamedha sacrifices) They were assisted by ministers. History shows that the ministerial council played a great part in the state policy in the later period.

A hierarchy of officials in provincial administration, the governor ofa province was assisted by district officers, who in turn worked in collaboration with automous local bodies. In local administration the meeting of assembles were frequent, and the administration the meeting of assemblies were frequent, and the assemblies were of many varieities and of many levels. Often special meetings were held. As the village levelthe assembly was the sabha which looked after almost all the matters of the village, along with endowments, irrigation, crime, maintaining census and other necessary records, Courts at villages level dealt with minor criminal cases. The judicial courts of the town and districts were presided over by government officials, climaxing with the king as the supreme arbiter of justice. The sabha worked in close association with the urar, and informal gathering of the entire village. Above this unit was a district administration. Finally, the head man of the villages was the link between the village assembly and the official administration.

Theoretically the king owned the land. The status of a village depended on the prevalent land tenure. The fist variety was the village with inter-caste population where in the people paid taxes to the king. The second was the brahmadeya village in which the entire land was donated to a single Brahmin or a group of brahmins. A variation of this village was the agrahars grant which, was an entire village settlement of brahmins. Both these forms were exempt from royal taxes. In the devadana village the revenue was donated to a temple, and the temple authorities in turn provided employment for the villagers in the temple whenever possible. In the Pallava period the first two categories of villages were in vogue.

Apart from these major points relating to land there was a special category of land, the sripatti or tank land. The revenue from such a land was sent apart for the maintenance of the village tank. The tank itself was built by the efforts of the entire village. All shared the water stored in the tank. Very many inscriptions of the Pallavas refer to the up-keep of tanks.

There are two Points about taxes. The land revenue varied from one-sixth to one tenth of the produce of the land. This was paid to the State. The local taxes that were collected in a village were spent for the needs of the village. As land revenue was necessarily small, the State revenue was supplemented by additional taxes on draught cattle, marriage-parties, potters, makers of clarified butter, textile manufacturers, washermen and weavers. The major source of revenue was from land, since the revenue from mercantile activity was not fully exploited.

Regarding expenditure, most to the revenue want for the maintenance of army. The king preferred a standing army instead of feudal levie. The army primarily consisting of food soldiers and cavalry along with a sprinkling of elephants. Indeed the Pallavas developed a navy although the mercantile activity was not great. Two dockyards were built at Mahablipuram and Nagabatnam. This pioneeringh effort of the Pallavas reached its climax during the days of cholas. The navy served a double purpose. It was meant for defence and also assisted the maritime trade with sout-east Asia, particularly with the three kingdoms of Kambuja (Cambodia) Champa (Annam) and Shrivijaya (Malayan peninsula and Sumatra).


Four distinct stages of architecture can be gleaned from the Pallava temples. The first is the Mahendra style. The influence of the cave style of architecture is to be seen in an ancient pillar engraved in the Ekambaranatha (Kanchipuram) temple. The second is the Mamalla style. The seven Pagodas are small temples, each of which is hewn out of a single rock boulder. They lie near Mahabalipura Mahabalipuram, founded by Narasimhavarman. These monolithic temples are complete with all the details of an ordinary temples and stand as an undying testimony to the superb quality of the Pallava art. The third is the Rajasimha style. The most famous temple of this style is the kailasha style. The most famous temple of this style is the Kailasha temple of kanchi. It has a pyramidal tower, a flat-roofed mandapam and a series of cells surround it resembling rathas. This style is a very elaborate one foreshadowing the ornate Chola architecuture. The fourth is the Aparajita style. This is more ornate resembling the Chola architecture. A few temples built in the style are found at Dalavanur. The note worthy feature of some shrines is that they are aborned by beautiful life-like images of Pallava kings and their queens. All told they are unique in the history of temple architecture.

Pallava sculpture owed more to the Buddhist tradition. On the whole it is more monumental and linear in form, thus avoiding the typical ornamentation of the Deccan sculpture. The free standing temples at Aithole and Badami in the Deccan and the Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram in the Tamil country, provided a better background for sculpture than the rock-cut temples. And the Pallava sculpture was monumental and linear in form resembling the Gupta sculpture. Although the basic form was derived from the older tradition, the end result clearly reflected its local genius.

Now for literature it has been recently proved that Bharavi and Dandinlived in the Pallava court. Bharavi's Kiratarjuniyam and Dandin's Dashakumaracharita were the two masterpieces. One of Dandin's poems was written with such skill that when read normally it gives the story of the Ramayana; and whe read in reverse, the study of Mahabharata. Dandin was the author of a standard work on poetics. Till the eight century Pallava influence was predominant in Cambodia. Saivism was the of ficial form of worship. And the Pallava type of sikhara is to be found in the temples of Java, Cambodia and Annam. This dissemination of Hindu culture proves that it was dynamic till 1,000 A.D. in southern India.

Thus, the Pallavas rendered invaluable service to the country both within and without as they were one of the torch bearers of Hindu civilization to south-east Asia. Far more singular is their contribution to architecture-transforming the architecture and suculpture from wood to stone. Smith opines that this grat disparimmense length of the course of Indian history, and the extreme slowness with which changes have been effeated.


The temples of the Pallavas bear resemblance to the Buddhsit cave shrines. The temples of Mahabalipuram reveal traces of barrel-vaults and archways associated with Buddhist cave shrines.

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