Sources for the History of the Pallavas

The sources for the history of the Pallavas may be classified as native and foreign sources. The native sources may further be classified as literary and archaeological sources.

The literary sources for the study of Pallavas include both Tamil and Sanskrit literature. They provide a lot of information about the Pallavas.

Tamil Literature

The Tamil literature consisted of the songs composed by Azhalvars and Nayanmars. They had lived during the Paliava period. The compositions of Azhalvars are known as Nalayira Divya Prabhandam. The songs of Nayanmars are compiled into Panniru Thirumurais. These works describe the social and religious life of the people during the Pallava rule. The Periyapuranam written by Sekizhar is also another important literary source for this period.

Sanskrit Literature

The Sanskrit works Avani Sundari Katha written by Dandin and Loga Vibagam written by Sarva Nandi provide a lot of information about the importance of Simhavishnu and his rule, The famous Pallava monarch Mahendravarman I himself wrote the Mathavilasa Prakasanam in Sanskrit language. It provides information regarding the social and religious condition during the Pallava period.

Archaeological Sources

Copper plates, inscriptions, monuments and coins remain the important archaeological sources: for the study of the Pallavas. The Allahabad Pillar Inscription of Samudra Gupta mentions about the Pallava king Vishnu Gopa. The Aihole Inscription of the Chalukyan king, Pulakesin II gives details about the Pallava Chalukya conflict. The Kenthoor Stone Carving of Keethivarman also belonged to the Pallava period Apart from these popular inscriptions, there exist hundreds of Pallava inscriptions throughout South India. They depict the military achievements of the Pallava kings. These inscriptions also explain the social and economic conditions of the Pallava period.

The copper plates of the Pallava period remain useful historical sources. The Kuram Copper Plates issued by Parameshwaravarman and the Velurpalayam copper plates of Nandivarman III record their military achievements. The temples, sculptures and other monuments of the Pallava period also provide valuable historical information. The coins of the Pallava period remain important sources to study the economic conditions of this period.

Foreign Sources

The foreign sources for the Pallava period include the Sri Lankan books, namely, Deepavamsa and Mahavamsa. These books are written in Pali language. They describe about the relationship between the Pallava kings Narasimhavarman I and the Sri Lankan king Manavarman. The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang had visited the Pallava kingdom and his travel accounts are known as Siyuki. He had given a detailed account of the capital city of the Pallavas, Kanchipuram. He also mentioned about the Buddhist Viharas in Kanchi and described the social and economic conditions of the Pallava kingdom.