Sunday, January 22, 2017

Pallavar Varalaru - Book

I always had a second-thought to read about the history of Tamil kings and kingdoms, because the very first chapter will be filled with bragging words, chest thumping and some unverified information like Kumarikandam or Lemuria kandam. I had to get past through all these to find an interesting reading.

In this book, Pallavar Varalaru, R. Mannar Mannan starts with the introduction of three great kingdoms of Tamilagam (Note, I’m not using Tamil Nadu which will confuse you to the modern Indian state). The book divides Pallavas into three era- Early Pallavas, Medieval and Later (or last), their periods are respectively, 250-340 CE, 340-515 CE and 515 CE-9th century. (The famous shore temple was built at the last Pallava era).

The book briefly talks about various Pallavan kings, like Mahendravarman, Nandhivarman..

A fascinating story about the Pallava king named Nandhivarman III. After his father death Nandhivaraman came to power. His father had another wife and a son named Gunamagan. At first, Gunamagan was not interested to rule, later he got the desire to rule. He fought with Nandhivaraman and lost. Gunamagan had poetic skills and Nandhivaraman had an ear to hear good literary work. So Gunamagan wrote verses praising about Nandhivarman. He didn’t directly send it to Nandhivarman, but made sure few verses reached him indirectly. The ministers later informed these verses are written by his rival Gunamagan and the composition is named as Nandhi Kalambagam. Nandhivaraman became curious and want to hear full work from Gunamagan itself, for which Gunamagan put some condition. Nandhivaraman had to be seated on the grave in graveyard. In spite of the advice from the ministers he proceeded. Gunamagan on his end of his recital sang Kaiyurunilai, which is sung after kings death. Nandhivaraman after hearing it became so excited and ordered his minsters to immolate him in fire. They did so and he died. But Gunamagan effort went in vain, the kingship was not given to him.

Al though the book is about Pallavar history, it also talks about Cholas. The author puts Cholas and Pallavas had close relationship. In fact Pallavas had hereditary ties with Cholas. Pallavas then moved north of Tamilagam and established their kingdom from south of Andhra. Reading this book or any Sangam literature related books one will get confused, as all four kingdoms (Chera, Cholla, Pandiyas, and Pallavas) had fought amongst them and one king had won other three at different times.

To write all these, the author quotes various copper-plates (Seppedu), pattayam, Sangam literature and bhakthi literature. He also writes how difficult it is to prove the events in Sangam literature without proper archeological evidences. The author also acknowledges that the British first started their archeological excavations in Madras presidency, but in later independence India, Tamil Nadu was the most neglected state.

Cholas were influenced by Pallavas when it came to rock architecture (Temples). Thanjavur Brahadeeswarar temple was built with same architectural plan of Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, which in turn is based on the Kanchipuram Kailasanathar temple.

There is an interesting chapter which connects with Pallavas with Cambodia. Different tax systems in Pallava era is discussed, ஊடுபோக்கு (Oodupooku)- This is like the modern day road toll. They also had taxes for water usage for agriculture and sales tax. The other topics discussed are religion (Indra vizha and how Vaishnavam hijacked Indira and placed Krishna), language (Grantham) usage during the Pallava period.


  1. avala thoonditeenga...vangi padikanum pola eruku

    1. Yes try small book thaan, less than 150 pages