Pallava period (Social and Cultural History)

by S. Krishnamurthy | 2017 | 143,765 words

This study examines the Social and Cultural History of the Pallava period (as gleaned through the Sculptural Art). The Pallavas (6th-9th century A.D.) mainly ruled over the Tondaimandalam (Tondai Nadu) region in the Northern part of Tamil Nadu (South-India). The Pallava dynasty ensured a golden age of architecture, arts, and spirituality and while ...

[Full title: Socio-Religious Life of the Pallava Period: Royal Courtiers]

From epigraphical evidences, mentioned infra it is known that there existed a royal court consisting of important functionaries of the king’s government, his advisers, priests, those who were close to the king as the captain of body-guards and perhaps even ministers. The Hirahadagalli plates of Sivaskandavarman (circa 338 A.D.)[1], speaks of officers like Madhuvika (custom house officer), Amachcha (minister), senapati (chief of army) and tuthika (spy). From the Pikira plates (circa 5th century A.D.)[2], it is known that there existed an official messenger (sasanasamcharin), whose responsibility is to supervise that, the king’s official charters were issued. The historical panels in the Vaikunthaperumal temple at Kanchipuram give to some extent, details of the various members in the Pallava court. The inscriptions (8th century A.D.)[3] here speaks about the mantrimandala, mahasamanta, mulaprakritis, ghatikaiyar and ubhayaganattar as constituting the delegation to Hiranyavarman for requesting a worthy incumbent to the Pallava throne. The Kasakkudi plates of Nandivarman II Pallavamalla[4] further mentions, group of officials like nilaikkalattar (survey officials related to land department), vayikketpar (royal scribe and keeper of records and orders) and adhikarar (officers having authority). Similarly the Tandantottam plates (circa 789 A.D.)[5] mention a keeper of the treasury, known in the former as the kosadhyaksa and as manikka-pandaram-kappan in the latter. However, from sculptures it is impossible to precisely identify the official designation of any individual in the king’s court. They can only be grouped in general as courtiers, who gathered in the court either to witness the coronation ceremony or to discuss matters on administration and warfare or simply to enjoy the cultural aspects like music, dance and festivities. In several of the panels depicting coronation scene (ex. north-western wall), C. Minakshi[6] has identified group of men as brahmanas and others as officials or ministers or chieftains or feudatories attending upon the king and witnessing his coronation. In one of the panel (fig. 17), a group of three men were seen coming on an elephant to witness the coronation ceremony of a king. All the three were carrying in their hands a pot, which may contain some presents they brought to give to the newly initiated king. They could be identified as the feudatory chieftains.

Footnotes and references:


Epigraphia Indica, Vol. I, pp. 1 ff.


Ibid., Vol. VIII, pp. 159–163.


South Indian Inscriptions, vol. IV, no. 135.


N. Subrahmanyan, op.cit., p. 168.


Ibid., p. 208.


C. Minakshi, op.cit, 1941, p. 8.

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