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Pallava Dynasty

Introduction:

                  The Pallava dynasty, an ancient and influential South Indian dynasty, played an important role in shaping the cultural, political and architectural landscape of the region. Originating in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu in the 3rd century AD, the Pallavas ruled for centuries and left an indelible mark on the history of the Indian subcontinent. Known for their contributions to art, literature and temple architecture, the Pallavas were instrumental in developing a distinct cultural identity in the southern region of India.

                         The Pallava rulers were patrons of the arts, and their era is often celebrated as the golden age of Tamil literature. Notable contributions include intricate sculptures, vibrant paintings and the development of a traditional dance form known as Bharatanatyam. The dynasty also excelled in temple construction, with iconic structures such as the Beach Temple at Mahabalipuram and the Kailasanathar Temple at Kanchipuram.

Creation of the Pallava dynasty:

                     The origins of the Pallavas are shrouded in some mystery, with various theories proposing their possible origins:This suggests that they were of a native South Indian descent, perhaps from the Thondaimandalam region around Chennai. This theory finds support from familiarity with the language of the Pallavas and the traditions of the region.Some historians believe that they originated from the Parthians, an Iranian people who migrated to South India and merged with the local population. This theory is based on similarities in the names and titles used by both groups.

               Another proposal suggests that they belong to the Naga tribe, known for their snake worship and association with Southeast Asia.This less prominent theory states that the Pallavas were descendants of a Chola prince and a Naga princess.Inscriptions from the 3rd century AD indicate that Pallava chieftains served under the Satavagana dynasty.As the Satavahana Empire declined, the Pallavas rose to prominence under powerful rulers like Simmavarman I and Mahendravarman I.

Early Pallava dynasty (250 AD to 550 AD)

  1. Siviskandavarman
  2. Vijayakant Varman
  3. Vishnu Gopan

Vishnukopan published vernacular charters.Defeated in Samudragupta’s invasion.

Later Pallava dynasty(570 AD to 930AD)

 Simvishnu: (570 AD to 600AD)

               He revived a Pallava dynasty.He published charters in Tamil and northern languages.He was hailed as the lion of the world.He created the formal landscape of the Pallavas from North Pennaru to North Vellaru.He was called Avanisimha. Simvishnu ruled the Pallava kingdom from 575 to 600.He was instrumental in reviving the Pallavas after a period of decline under the Kalapras.His reign marked a turning point, laying the foundation for the “Great Pallavar” period that flourished under his successors.

                    He defeated the Kalapras and recaptured the Pallava territories.The Pallava Empire expanded southwards and reached the Kaveri river.He engaged in successful campaigns against the Cholas and Pandyas.He supported Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.He is considered the “real founder” of the later Pallavas.His reign laid the foundation for the cultural and artistic golden age of the Pallavas.His contributions in administration, military and arts ensured the continued prosperity and influence of the Pallava dynasty.

Mahendravarman I : (600AD to 630AD)

                            Mahendravarman I (600-630 CE) ruled over the Pallava dynasty during a pivotal period,He consolidated and expanded the Pallava kingdom after his father Simvishnu.Kanchipuram was established as an important cultural and political center.He was in constant competition with the Chalukya dynasty, especially Pulikesin II.Masterpieces like the Mandakapattu Temples and Pancha Rathas at Mahabalipuram laid the foundation for a unique artistic style.Initially a Jain, later converted to Saivism.Author of the satirical drama Madhavilasa Prahasanam, composed poems in Sanskrit and Tamil.He founded the Kanchipuram University, a renowned center of learning in various disciplines including the Vedas, Buddhism, Jainism and the arts.Introduced innovations such as monolithic cave temples and carved rathas (chariots) exhibiting a unique blend of artistry and engineering.Kudumyan founded the Hill Music Inscription

Narasimhavarman I: (630AD to 668AD)

  • Reign: 630-668 CE.
  • Succession: Son of Mahendravarman I.

             He was called Mamallan (“Great Wrestler”) and Vadapikonda (“Slayer of Vadaphi”).Defeating the Chalukya king Pulakesin II (Battle of Manimangalam, AD 642), avenging his father’s defeat, he captured their capital Vadabi.Paranjodi was the commander in this war, because of this war he became a devotee of Shiva and joined the Abhavadis under the name of Siru Thandar.He subjugated the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas and established Pallava rule in South India.He reinstated the Sinhalese prince Manavarma and sent a fleet to Sri Lanka.He completed the Pancha Ratha monument started by his father at Mamallapuram, showcasing intricate rock-cut temples carved out of single rocks.A Chinese ambassador named Yuan Chuang came to his palace.

Mahendravarman II: (668AD to 670AD)

  • Reign: 668-670 CE
  • Succession: Son of Narasimhavarman I
  • It is mentioned that lives may have been lost due to the invasion of Chalukyas.

Parameswaravarman I: (670 AD to 691AD)

  • Reign: 670-700 CE
  • Succession: Son of Mahendravarman II
  • Also known as Pallava Maharaja (“Great King of the Pallavas”) and Pallavesvara (“Lord of the Pallavas”).He defeated the Chalukyas in the Battle of Balur (671 AD), recovered the lost territory and re-established Pallava supremacy.He campaigned successfully against the Pandyas and the Cholas, maintaining regional stability.He commissioned the beautiful Pallavan rock-cut temples at Panamalai and Tiruparangunram.He further developed the Pallava art style by patronizing skilled sculptors and artisans.Nayanar continued to develop the Bhakti movement in favor of saints.He issued gold coins bearing his emblem to show the prosperity of the kingdom.Considered one of the most powerful Pallava kings, he restored glory after his father’s short reign.He supported the Bhakti movement and established Saivism in South India.

Narasimhavarman II: (695AD to 722 AD)

                                  Narasimhavarman II was a prominent ruler of the Pallava dynasty in South India.He ascended the throne in the late 7th century AD, succeeding his father Mahendravarman I. He is particularly famous for defeating the Chalukya ruler Pulikesin II in the famous Battle of Manimangalam .This victory cemented Pallava influence in the region and marked a significant event in South Indian history. Narasimhavarman II was instrumental in completing many rock-cut monuments at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.A famous monolithic structure known as “Ratha” or “Five Rathas” is attributed to his patronage, displaying intricate carvings and architectural intricacies.Another example of his patronage to temple architecture is the Kailasanathar Temple at Kanchipuram, built during his reign.Narasimhavarman II is credited with organizing successful naval expeditions, contributing to the naval strength of the Pallava kingdom.It was a time of peace.Ambassador to China.He built Buddhist monasteries.

Paramesvarman II: (728AD to 731 AD)

                            Narasimhavarman II’s son (Mahendravasidhi) was Paramesvarman II.He ruled from 728 AD to 731 AD.Short reign – may have ascended the throne at a young age.The Pallava Maharaja was known as Tribhuvana Chakravarthy (Emperor of the Three Worlds). He maintained peaceful relations with his neighbors including the Chalukyas and Pandyas.He was defeated by Vikramaditya II and died in a battle with the Gangars.

Nandivarman II: (731AD to 796 AD)

  • Nandivarman II was a prominent ruler of the Pallava dynasty, succeeding his father Paramesvaravarman I in the 8th century AD.
  • Tirumangai supported Azhwar and thus he became a Vishnu devotee.Vaikunda Perumal built the temple.

Aparajithan: (885 AD to 903 AD)

The Tirupurambi War in the ninth century ended the rule of the Pallavas.He was defeated by Aditha Chola.

Example Evidence of Pallava dynasty:

Inscriptions;

Mandakapattu inscription:

                           The Mandakapattu inscription, located at the Tirumurthy temple in a small village in Tamil Nadu, India, holds enormous significance for our understanding of the Pallava dynasty.The early 7th century AD inscription in the Granth script dates to the reign of the Pallava king Mahendravarman I (571-630 CE).It is found on a pilaster near the western dvarapala (door keeper) of a temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.This inscription has unique value as it describes the temple as “the first cave temple made without wood, brick, metal or mortar”.

Ayehole inscription:

  • The Aihole Inscription, also known as the Aihole Prashasti, is a 19-line Sanskrit inscription inscribed on the east wall of the Megudi Jain temple in Aihole, Karnataka.Dated 634-635 CE, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the early reign of Pulikesin II, one of the most famous rulers of the Badami Chalukya dynasty. Here’s a breakdown of its key features:
  • Author: Composed by Ravi Kirti, a Jain poet who was an orator of Sanskrit and versed in Sanskrit metrics.This inscription mentions the warfare methods of the Pallavas.

Pallava dynasty Seppedu:

  • Mayitavoru Seppedu: It is dated to AD. 3rd century bronze. It contains the names of the ancestors of the Pallavas and their reigns.
  • Hirahadakalli Seppedu: It was built in AD. 4th century copper. It contains information about many land grants issued during the reign of the Pallava king Simvishnu.
  • Seppedu Gunapatheyam: It was built in AD. 5th century copper. It contains information about several land grants issued during the reign of the Pallava king Nandivarman I.
  • Vikramaranga Pillar Copper: It was built in AD. It is a copper dating back to the 7th century. It contains information about several land grants issued during the reign of the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I.
  • Uttara Merur Seppedus: It is dated to AD. 8th century bronze. It contains information about several land grants issued during the reign of the Pallava king Nandivarman II.
  • Kooram Seppedu: Tells about the warfare methods of the Pallavas.
  • Kasakkudi Sepedu; Tells about the war implements of the Pallavas.

 Literature of Pallava dynasty :

  1. Devaram: A book written by Tirunnasambandar, Appar and Sundar who adorned the Pallava council.
  2. Periyapurana: It was written by Paranjothi (Chiruthondar) who was the commander of the Pallava army.
  3. Nalayarativya Prabandham: Tirumangai Alwar mentions about the return of Narasimha II.
  4. Nandikalambagam
  5. Proclamation of Depression

Pallava dynasty Architecture:

  1. Gudavari Temple – mentions Mahendravarman I.
  2. One-legged chariots- Narasimhavarman is mentioned.
  3. Panchapandavar Rath
  4. The penitent cat
  5. Louse-seeing monkey
  6. Mahesh Sini, Thirumurthy, Wararkar
  7. Construction Temple – Nandivarman II, Rajasimman.

Say music:

  • Kudumyan Hill: It is believed to have been a flourishing Buddhist center during the Pallava period (3rd to 9th century AD).
  • Pallava Cave Temples: These rock-cut caves, such as the Dharmaraja Mandapam and the Yoganandeshwara Temple, have sculptures depicting various musical instruments such as the veena, flute and jaltharang.
  • Beach Temple: The majestic temple complex has intricately carved pillars and mandapams, suggesting consideration of acoustics for possible musical performances.

Pallava dynasty Administration:

                                   The Pallava Empire was a hereditary monarchy, with the king holding supreme power. He was the chief administrator, military leader and religious leader.The king was assisted by a council of ministers known as the Mantriparishad, who advised him on matters of governance, war and finance.The central government had various departments dealing with specific functions such as revenue collection, justice, defense and public works.The kingdom was divided into large provinces called mandals, each governed by a viceroy or governor appointed by the king. The crown prince usually held the post of governor of the most important zone.Each mandal was divided into smaller units called kottam headed by officers called kotal officers. They were responsible for maintaining law and order, collecting taxes and supervising local administration.The divisions were further divided into nadis (rural) and good nadis (urban). These units had their own chiefs and councils responsible for local affairs.The primary source of income for the Pallava treasury was land revenue known as Bali. Collected from agricultural lands based on crop type and soil quality.

    1. Amartya – Consultant
    2. Raksyadhigratha – Private Secretary
    3. Manikka Bandaram – Custodian of the Treasury Duda Pillai – Donation officer
    4. Dharmathikari – Judge
    5. Adhikaranana – Court

Conclusion of Pallava dynasty :

                      The Pallava dynasty is a significant chapter in the rich tapestry of Indian history, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural, architectural and political landscape of South India. Through their patronage of art and literature, the Pallavas played an important role in developing a distinct Dravidian culture. Their architectural marvels, exemplified by the iconic Beach Temple and Mahabalipuram monuments, continue to be celebrated for their intricate craftsmanship and aesthetic brilliance. Although their political influence has waned over time, the legacy of the Pallavas endures as a testament to their contributions in shaping the cultural heritage of the region.

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