The Pallava kingdom Tamil: பல்லவர்) was an ancient
South Indiankingdom. The Pallavas who were feudatories of Andhra Satavahanas, became independent after the decline of that dynastyin Amaravati. Initially they ruled southern Palnadu( Gunturdistrict in South India. Later they extended their rule to further south and established their capital at Kanchipuramaround the 4th century CE. They rose in power during the reign of Mahendravarman I( 571– 630CE) and Narasimhavarman I(630 – 668CE) and dominated the Telugu and northern parts of Tamil region for about six hundred years until the end of the 9th century.
Throughout their reign they were in constant conflict with both
Chalukyasof Badamiin the north and the Tamil kingdoms of Chola and Pandyasin the south and were finally defeated by the Cholakings in the 8th century CE.
Pallavas are most noted for their patronage of
Dravidian architecture, still seen today in Mahabalipuram. The Pallavas, who left behind magnificent sculptures and temples, established the foundations of classical Dravidian architecture. Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsangvisited Kanchipuramduring Pallava rule and extolled their benign rule.
Some sources [Other sources describe him as a Persian, see
Bodhidharmaarticle] describe Bodhidharma, the founder of the Chan (Zen) school of Buddhismin China, as a prince of the Pallava dynasty, a contemporary of Skandavarman IV and Nandivarman I, [Kamil V. Zvelebil (1987). "The Sound of the One Hand", "Journal of the American Oriental Society", Vol. 107, No. 1, p. 125-126.] and the son of Simhavarman II. [Graeme Lyall. " [http://www.zipworld.com.au/~lyallg/Seon.htm Seon - The Buddhism of Korea] ".]
The exact origin of the Pallavas is shrouded in mystery. Many theories have been put forward to trace their roots.
Indigenous Origin Theories
One theory proposed that they were an offshoot of the
Cholas.History of Tirupati: The Tiruvengadam Temple By T. K. T. Viraraghavacharya] The word "Pallava" means "bud" or "branch" in Sanskritwhich is equivalent to Tamil "Tondaiyar".Kulke and Rothermund, p120] The Pallava kings at several places are called "Thondamans" or "Thondaiyarkon".
There are other opinions supporting their indigenous origins state that they were hereditary feudatory rulers under the
Vakatakas. [Durga Prasad] Nilakanta Sastri states that "they appear.. to have been a dynasty of North Indian origin that moved to the South and there adapted local traditions to their own use."
Foreign Origin Theories
Several scholars believe that the
Pahlavas migrated from Persiato India and founded the Pallava dynasty of Kanchi.Nilakanta Sastri, "A History of South India", p91] According to Dr Jouveau Dubreuil,
Dr V. A. Smith says:
Yet another link between the Pahlavas of the North and the Pallava rulers of Kanchi may be found in a
legendwhich, according to Victor Goloubew, [Les legendes de le Nagi et de l'Apsaras, Bulletin de l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, Victor Goloubew] takes its origin from the Scythians and plays a paramount part in the lands penetrated by the Pallavas and their culture. The Nagi legend of the Scythians which is connected with legends in Tamil literatureand Pallava copper-plates as well as the annals of Cambodiacarries a special significance here. [Cadambi Minakshi, pp 20, 25, 39]
The rule of the Pallavas apparently starts as early as 275 CE, but their greatest epoch corresponds to the 7th and 8th century. [Avari, p186]
The history of the early Pallavas has not yet been satisfactorily settled. The earliest documentation on the Pallavas is the three copper-plate grants,Now referred to as the "Mayidavolu", "Hirahadagalli" and the "British Museum" plates - Durga Prasad (1988)] belonging to
Skandavarman Iand written in Prakrit. Skandavarman appears to have been the first great ruler of the early Pallavas, though there are references to other early Pallavas who were probably predecessors of Skandavarman. [Nilakanta Sastri, "A History of South India", pp91–92]
Skandavarman extended his dominions from the Krishna in the north to the
Pennarin the south and to the Bellarydistrict in the West. He performed the "Aswametha" and other Vedic sacrifices and bore the title of 'Supreme King of Kings devoted to "dharma"'.
An absence of documentation about the Pallavas following Skandavarman is broken by the Allahabad pillar inscription of
Samudragupta, which indicates that he defeated the Pallava Vishnugopa(350–355 CE). With Samudragupta's expedition the Pallava eclipse set in.Nilakanta Sastri, "A History of South India", p92]
In the reign of
Simhavarman IV, who ascended the throne in 436 CE, the fallen prestige of the Pallavas was restored. He recovered the territories lost to the Vishnukundins in the north up to the mouth of the Krishna. The early Pallava history from this period onwards is furnished by a dozen or so copper-plate grants in Sanskrit. They are all dated in the regnal years of the kings.Nilakanta Sastri, "A History of South India", p92]
With the accession of
Nandivarman I(480-500 CE), the decline of the early Pallava family was seen. The Kadambashad their aggressions and even the headquarters of the Pallavas was occupied by them. In coastal Andhrathe Vishnukundins established their ascendency. The Pallava authority was confined to Tondaimandalam.
With the accession of
Simhavishnu, father of Mahendravarman I, c. 575 CE, the Pallava revival began in the south.
The incursion of the
Kalabhrasand the confusion in the Tamil country was broken by the Pandya Kadungonand the Pallava Simhavishnu. [Kulke and Rothermund, p105] [Kulke and Rothermund, p120] The Pallava kingdom began to gain both in territory and influence over the South Indian peninsula and were a regional power by the end of the 6th century.Kulke and Rothermund, p111] The Pallavas exercised control over their southern neighbours of Cholas and Pandyas. But their history is marked by the continuous conflict with the Badami Chalukyas. Narasimhavarman Iand Paramesvaravarman Iwere the kings who stand out with glorious achievements in both military and architectural spheres. Nandivarman IIbuilt the Shore Temple.
During the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries CE, a small principality of the
Kadavadynasty came into brief prominence. These rulers claimed descent from the Pallavas. The notable rulers of this dynasty are Kopperunchinga I(reigned c.1216 - 1242 CE), and his son and successor Kopperunchinga II(c.1243 - 1279 CE). Together they extended the influence of their kingdom and played a major part in the ultimate demise of the Chola dynasty.
Pallavas were followers of Hinduism and made gifts of land to gods and brahmins. In line with the prevalent customs, some of the rulers performed the "
Aswamedha" and other Vedic sacrifices.
They were, however, tolerant of other faiths. The Chinese monk
Xuanzangwho visited Kanchipuramduring the reign of Narasimhavarman I reported that there were 100 Buddhist monasteries, and 80 temples in Kanchipuram. [Kulke and Rothermund, pp121–122]
Mahendravarman I was initially a patron of the
Jainfaith. He later re-converted to Hinduismunder the influence of the Saiva saint Apparwith the revival of Hinduism during the Bhakti movement in South India. [ [http://www.tamilnation.org/sathyam/east/saivaism/63nayanmars.htm#_VPID_31 Appar] ]
The Pallavas were instrumental in the transition from rock-cut architecture to stone temples. The earliest examples of Pallava constructions are rock-cut temples dating from 610–690 CE and structural temples between 690–900 CE. A number of rock-cut cave temples bear the inscription of the Pallava king, Mahendravarman I and his successors. [Nilakanta Sastri, pp412–413]
The greatest accomplishments of the Pallava architecture are the rock-cut temples at
Mahabalipuram. There are excavated pillared halls and monolithic shrines known as "rathas" in Mahabalipuram. Early temples were mostly dedicated to Shiva. The Kailasanatha templein Kanchipuramand the Shore Templebuilt by Narasimhavarman IIare fine examples of the Pallava style temples. [Nilakanta Sastri, p139]
* [http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/deccan/pallavas.htm Pallavas of Kanchi] by Jyotsna Kamat
* [http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/deccan/pallava_arts.htm Pallava Art and Architecture]
* [http://www.varalaaru.com/Default.asp?articleid=57 Pallava Architecture : Shore temple monuments at Mamallapuram]
* [http://www.hindu.com/mag/2006/06/04/stories/2006060400230800.htm Pallava settlements in Kedah]
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