III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > C. South and Southeast Asia, 500–1500 > 1. South Asia, 500–1199 > c. South India
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
(See c. 400–611)
 
c. South India
 
In this period in the south, a series of cultural reconfigurations led to greater integration between Aryan and Dravidian cultural systems. The Pallava period, for instance, saw a greater assimilation by the elite of Aryan ideals, while popular culture reasserted Tamil ideas and values—and the tension between these developments helped to shape a distinct and new Tamil culture. Geopolitically, the conflict between the two geographical regions of the Deccan and Tamilnad (the fertile plain south of Madras) marked the early centuries of this period. The area between the Godavari and Krishna deltas often served as the focus of the political contests. Three major kingdoms were involved in the conflict: the Chalukyas of Badami, the Pallavas of Kanchipuram, and the Pandyas of Madurai.  1
The pattern of warring states, with no single polity able to establish hegemony over the others, continued through much of this period. The ascendancy, around 900, of the Cholas also marked the crystallization of Tamil culture, as expressed in social institutions, religion, and the fine arts. Chola cultural production, in fact, came to be defined as “classical” and influenced models of kingship, cultural patronage, community formation, and religious views not only throughout the south, but also in the Deccan. Chola culture also spread to Southeast Asia in this period, as South India intervened actively in the commerce with that region.  2
Despite a somewhat elaborate administrative structure connecting the king to the realm, villages had significant degrees of autonomy under the Cholas. Village sociopolitical structure distinguished sharply between those who paid land taxes and the landless laborers who worked the fields, with the latter being in positions of agrestic slavery. Wealthier members of rural society found strong motivations to invest their wealth in irrigation and land-clearing activities, or to patronize temple complexes. Until the end of this period, when Chola expansion of trade fostered the growth of cities and the need for a monetary economy to move agricultural surplus to the cities, villages had relatively little connection to the larger society. Chola political power extended well past the year 1000 (See 1001–4).  3
 
c. 300–800
 
The Pallava warrior dynasty ruled from its base at Kanchi (near Madras) and exercised hegemony over the Deccan while disputing throughout this period with the Chalukyas and others.  4
 
c. 500–753
 
The first Chalukya dynasty in Maharashtra advanced from Aihole on the upper Kistna to nearby Vatapi (or Badami, c. 550) and to Banavasi (566–97) at the expense of the Kadambas. Construction of the earliest temples at Aihole was followed by that of Mahakutesvara (c. 525) and completion of the cave-temple to Vishnu at Vatapi (578).  5
 
c. 575
 
The Pallava Simhavishnu seized the Chola basin of the Kaveri, which his family held until after 812.  6
 
c. 600–625
 
The Pallava Mahendravarman I, converted from Jainism to Saivism, destroyed a Jain temple, but dug the first (Saivite) cave-temples in the south (at Trichinopoly, Chingleput, etc.). From his reign date Buddhist monasteries (in part excavated) and stupas on the Samkaram Hills (near Vizagapatam).  7
 
609–42
 
The Chalukya Pulakesin II placed his brother on the throne of Vengi, where he ruled as viceroy (611–32), repulsed an attack by Harsha of Kanauj (c. 620), sent an embassy to Khosroes II of Persia (625), and enthroned a son, who headed a branch dynasty in Gujarat and Surat (c. 640–740). Hsüan-tsang (641) describes the prosperity of the country just before the Pallavas pillaged the capital (642), a disaster that was avenged by pillage of the Pallava capital, Kanchi, by Vikramaditya (c. 674).  8
 
611–c. 1078
 
The Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi (independent after 629–32), were continually at war with Kalinga to the north, the Rashtrakutas to the west, and the Pandyas to the south.  9
 
c. 625–c. 645
 
The Pallava Narasimhavarman defeated Chalukya Pulakesin II (c. 642) and took Vatapi. He defeated also his southern neighbors and enthroned Manavalla in Ceylon (?). He improved the port of Mamallapuram, near Kanchi, and cut there the first of five raths, monolithic sanctuaries in the form of cars, the earliest monuments of the Dravidian style; also the cliffside relief depicting the descent of the River Ganges from Heaven.  10
 
c. 675–c. 705
 
The Pallava Narasimhavarman II built in stone and brick the Shore temple at Mamalla, and the central shrine of the Kailasa temple at Kanchi, completed by his son.  11
 
c. 700
 
Conversion of King Srimaravarman to Saivism by Tirujnana Sambandhar, the first of 63 nayanmars, or Tamil saints, led the king to impale 8,000 Jains at Madura in a single day, since celebrated by the Saivas. Another saint, Manikka Vasagar (9th century), wrote poems of his own religious experience which correspond to our Psalms. The Tamil Vaishnavas, too, had their saints, 12 alvars, who also expressed emotional religion and whose works were collected c. 1000–1050.  12
 
733–46
 
The Chalukya Vikramaditya II thrice took Kanchi, and distributed presents to the temples. He imported Tamil artists, and his queen commissioned Gunda, “the best southern architect,” to build the temple of Virupaksha. The frescoes of Ajanta caves I and II are believed to date from this period. So too the Saiva and Vaishnava sculptures of the Das Avatara cave-temple at Ellora.  13
 
c. 735–c. 800
 
Nandivarman II, a collateral kinsman 12 years of age, accepted the Pallava throne offered him by the ministers and elders, who defended him against rival claimants.  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.

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