II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > C. Early Civilizations and Classical Empires of South and East Asia > 2. South Asia, 72 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > c. South India
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
c. South India
The whole Indian peninsula south of the Vindhyas, save for a part of Maharashtra (Nasik and Pratishthana) easily accessible from Malwa and already Aryanized, was occupied by Dravidians: Canarese-speakers on the northwest, Telugu-speakers on the east, and Tamil-speakers in the Carnatic. Jainism, brought to Sravana Belgola in Mysore under Chandragupta (end 4th century B.C.E.), flourished in the Digambara, “naked clergy,” form which the north rejected. Buddhism with its stupas and sculpture was brought to Amaravati and Mysore under Ashoka. Sanskrit culture and Hindu culture were carried from the south to Cambodia about the opening of our era. Sanskrit influence is clear in the early Tamil grammar Tolkappiyam and in the Kural of Tiruvalluvar, lofty songs of a priest of pariahs (2nd–3rd centuries C.E.). Brahman colonies with Saivite and Vaishnava sectarianism and the caste system were at various periods imported from the Ganges Valley and endowed by local rulers, as was done also in Bengal.  1
The south, however, placed its own impress on what it received and developed linga-worship, bhakti devotion to Vishnu and Siva, organization of Saiva monasteries and laymen, occasional violent religious intolerance, especially between adherents of Vishnu and Siva, and municipal and corporate life with a sacrificial spirit of personal loyalty.  2
In search of the great profits on spices sold to the Romans, merchants on west and south coasts began to sail eastward to Java, Sumatra, and Bali. Their sharply increased wealth helped to fund expanding urbanism and the spread of Buddhism and Jainism.  3
2nd century C.E. Ashoka's inscriptions name three Tamil states in the Carnatic: Pandya (extreme south), Chola (southeast), and Chera or Kerala (southwest coast, chief port Muziris). These competed with Maesolia at the mouth of the Kistna and especially with the rich western port of Barygaza (Broach) in thriving trade with the Roman Empire. An embassy to Augustus (c. 22 B.C.E.) was sent by a king “Pandion” who may have been a Pandya. Strabo (d. 21 C.E.) speaks of fleets of 120 ships from Egypt to India, and Pliny (23–79) values annual imports from India at 50 million sesterces.  4
King Karikalan of early Tamil poems is credited with construction of a great irrigation dam on the Kaveri River, east of Trichinopoly.  5
c. 225
Breakup of the Satakani Empire led to establishment, in Maharashtra near Nasik, of a  6
c. 250–c. 500
Traikutaka dynasty, probably founded by chiefs of the pastoral Abhira tribe.  7
c. 300–888
The Pallava warrior dynasty of foreign (Pahlava?) origin, using Prakrit and later Sanskrit, held from Kanchi (near Madras) hegemony of the Deccan, which it disputed with the Chalukyas of Vatapi (550–753), the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed (753–973), and the Chalukyas of Vengi (611–1078).  8
c. 300–c. 500
The Vakatakas, extended their power from the fortress of Gawilgarh in northern Berar to Nagpur, Bundelkhand, and Kuntala, probably limiting Gupta expansion to the south.  9
Farther south the Chutu branch of the Satakani, called Andhrabhrityas in the Puranas, ruled at Banavasi (c. 200–c. 250) where they were succeeded by  10
c. 350–c. 500
The Kadamba dynasty, founded by a Brahman rebel from the Pallava. His great-grandson Kakutsthavarman (c. 435–475) married his daughters to a Gupta, a Vakataka (445), and a Ganga of Mysore.  11
In the Telugu lands, the Andhras were succeeded by the Ikshvaku dynasty (3rd century), notable for donations to a Buddhist stupa on the Nagarjunikonda (hill), on the Kistna above Amaravati; by the  12
c. 300–450
Salankayana of Vengi; and by the  13
c. 400–611
Vishnukundins, a dynasty of at least ten kings at the same place. (See South India)  14
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.