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Pandyas Kingdom – Polity & State Administration


  • Pandya kings preferred Madurai as their capital.
  • Madurai has been popularly venerated as Kudal and Tamil Kelukudal.
  • The kings are traditionally revered as Kudalkon, Kudal Nagar Kavalan, Madurapura Paramesvaran.
  • The titles of the early Pandyas are: Pandiyatirasan, Pandiya Maharasan, Mannar Mannan, Avaniba Sekaran, Eka Viran, Sakalapuvana Chakkaravarti and others.
  • Titles of the later Pandyas in Sanskrit include Kodanda Raman, Kolakalan, Puvanekaviran, and Kaliyuga Raman.
  • Titles in chaste Tamil are Sembian, Vanavan, Thennavan and others.
  • The Pandyas derived military advantage over their neighbours by means of their horses, which they imported through their connection to a wider Arab commercial and cultural world.

Palace and Couch

  • Royal palaces were called Tirumaligai and Manaparanan Tirumaligai.
  • Kings, seated on a royal couch, exercised the power.
  • The naming of couches after the local chiefs attests to the legitimacy of overlordship of the kings.
  • The prominent names of such couches are Munaiya Daraiyan, Pandiya Daraiyan and Kalinkat Traiyan.
  • The king issued royal order orally while majestically seated on the couches.
  • It was documented by royal scribe called Tirumantira Olai.

Royal Officials

  • A band of officials executed the royal orders.
  • The prime minister was called uttaramantri.
  • The historical personalities like Manickavasagar, Kulaciraiyar and Marankari worked as ministers.
  • The royal secretariat was known as Eluttu Mandapam.
  • Akapparivara Mudalikal were the personal attendants of the kings.
  • The most respected officials were Maran Eyinan, Sattan Ganapathy, Enathi Sattan, Tira Tiran, Murthi Eyinan and others.
  • The titles of military commanders were Palli Velan, Parantakan Pallivelan, Maran Adittan and Tennavan Tamizhavel.

Political Divisions

  • Pandy Mandalam or Pandy Nadu consisted of many valanadus, which, in turn, were divided into many nadus and kurrams.
  • The administrative authorities of nadus were the nattars.
  • Nadu and kurram contained settlements, viz., mangalam, nagaram, ur and kudi, which were inhabited by different social groups.
  • A unique political division in Pandy Mandalam is Kulakkil, i.e. area under irrigation tank.
  • For instance, Madurai is described in an inscription as Madakkulakkil Madurai.
  • The duty of the nattar was to assess the qualities of land under cultivation and levy taxes.
  • In surveying the lands, the officials used rods of 14 and 24 feet.
  • After the measurement, the authorities donated the lands.
  • Salabogam land was assigned to Brahmins.
  • The land assigned to ironsmiths was called tattarkani; for carpenters, it was known as thatchar-maaniyam.
  • Bhattavriutti is the land donated for Brahmin group for imparting education.

Administration and Religion: Seventh to Ninth Centuries

  • An inscription from Manur (Tirunelveli district), dating to 800, provides an account of village administration.
  • It looks similar to Chola‚Äôs local governance, which included village assemblies and committees.
  • Both civil and military powers were vested in the same person.
  • The Pandya kings of the period supported and promoted Tamil and Sanskrit.
  • The great Saiva and Vaishnava saints contributed to the growth of Tamil literature.
  • The period was marked by intense religious tussles.
  • The rise of the Bhakti movement invited heterodox scholars for debate.
  • Many instances of the defeat of Buddhism and Jainism in such debates are mentioned in Bhakti literature.

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