The Pahlavas are a people mentioned in ancient Indian texts like the Manu Smriti, various Puranas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Brhatsamhita. In some texts the Pahlavas are also mentioned as “Pallavas”: While the Vayu Purana distinguishes between Pahlava and Pahnava, the Vamana Purana and Matsya Purana refer to both as Pallava. The Brahmanda Purana and Markendeya Purana refer to both as Pahlava or Pallava. Bhishama Parava Mahabharata 6.11.66 . of the Mahabharata also does not distinguish between the Pahlavas and Pallavas. The Pahlavas are said to be same as the Parasikas.[citation needed] According to P. Carnegy, the Pahlava are probably those people who spoke Paluvi or Pehlvi, that is the Parthian language. Buhler similarly suggests Pahlava is an Indic form of Parthava meaning ‘Parthian’. In the 4th century BCE, Vartika of Katyayana mentions the Sakah-Parthavah demonstrating an awareness of these Saka-Parthians, probably by way of commerce.

Administration of pallavas


 The Pallavas had followed the system of monarchy. The king was the head of the kingdom. Hereditary succession to the throne had been in practice. Normally, the eldest son would be the next ruler. The Paliava kings had considered themselves as the representatives of God. They had assumed many titles like Maharaja, Maharajathi Raja and Dharma Rajathiraja. These titles indicate the imperial power of the Pallava kings. The Pallava kings had also claimed a divine origin.

 Council of Ministers

 There was an efficient Council of Ministers in the Pallava kingdom. The Ministers were known as Amatyas. They were given titles such as Uthamaseelan, Brahmarajan and Peraraiyan. The Minister carried out the orders of the king. They had also rendered their co-operation and service to the king in all matters of administration. Besides the Council of Ministers, there were many officials to look after each department of the Pallava administration.  


There were three types of courts in the Pallava kingdom. The highest judicial organization was called Dharmasena. The king acted as its head. The courts in the towns were known as Adikarnas. The village courts were called as Karnas. The village Sabhas also acted as courts in settling the civil disputes in the villages. Punishments were not cruel and harsh. Fines were also imposed along with punishment.

Pallavas art and architecture

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 Dandin lived 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.


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