The Pallavas

The Pallavas – Part 2

Middle history of the Pallavas can be classified as the golden age of this dynasty. During this time we saw a great momentum in art & architecture. They were the pioneers and probably the initiators of stone structures in Tamilnadu. Their monuments have supplied us with lots of epigraphs and other information, which will be useful in this study as well.

Pallankovil Plates, Vunna Guruvapalem Plates, Kuram Plates Reyuru Plates, Kanchipuram Inscription of Kailsanatha Temple supplied with following genealogy, you can see the details of these epigraphs here:

Vishnu

|

Brahma

|

Angiras

|

Brhspati

|

Samyu

|

Bharadvaja

|

Drona

|

Ashvattama

|

Pallava

|

Asoka

.

.

Simhavarman

|

Simhavishnu

.

.

Mahendravarman I

|

Narasimhavarman I

|

Mahendravarman II

|

Parameshvaravarman I

|

Narasimhavarman II

From the above genealogy, for the first time we see the mythological origin of the Pallavas. It’s not only the Pallavas but many of the Indian dynasty have claimed their origin from Hindu/Vedic gods and characters. Dravidian and Aryan is a topic of long debate, and many scholars have suggested that the Pallavas came from North of India hence they were foreigners to the south of India.  We will take this in the concluding part of our study.

Till now we have many distinct and not-connected braches of genealogy of the Pallavs, and we are very fortunate to have an inscription, Vayalur temple inscription, which supplies us with a long list of kings of the Pallavas. However there is no relation specified between these kings, but having a look on this inscription, it seems that the names are in succession of genealogy. As this inscription, probably, gives a long list of the kings so we take this as our base of genealogy. With this base, we will fit the genealogy provided from various epigraphs. I have attached a picture of my worksheet where this exercise is done. I am putting here the final result, all the epigraphs consulted to arrive this genealogy can be viewed here:

Brahma
|
Angiras
|
Brihaspati
|
Samyu
|
Bharadvaja
|
Drona
|
Asvathaman
|
Pallava
|
Asoka
|
Harigupta
|
Bhutadatta
|
Suryavarman
|
Vishnugopa I
|
Dhritaka
|
Kalinda
|
Jyamalla
|
Ripumalla
|
Vimala
|
Konkani
|
Kalabhartri
|
Chutapallava
|
Virakurcha
|
Chandravarman
|
Karala
|
Vishnugopa II
|
Skandamula
|
Kanagopa
|
Virakurcha
|
Skandavarman I
|
Kumarvishnu I
|
Buddhavarman I
|
Skandavarman II
|
Kumarvishnu II
|
Buddhavarman II
|
Skandavarman III
|
Vishnugopa III
|
Vishnudasa
|
Skandavarman IV
|
Simhavarman I
|
Viravarman
|
Skandavarman V
|
Simhavarman II
|
Skandavarman VI
|
Nandivarman I
|
Simhavarman III
|
Simhavarman IV
|
Vishnugopa IV
|
Simhavarman V
|
Simhavishnu
|
Mahendravarman I
|
Narasimhavarman I
|
Mahendravarman II
|
Parameshvaravarman I
|
Rajasimha Narasimhavarman II

Now we try to fit the genealogy found in various grants to the list from this inscription:

1.    Brahma to Asvattaman  -> Kanchipuram inscription of Kailasanatha temple

2.    Brahma to Pallava -> Kuram plates, Udayendiram plates

3.    Brahma to Asoka -> Pallankovil plates, Kaskudi plates, Velurpalaiyan plates

4.    Kalabhartri to Virakurcha  -> Valurpalaiyam plates

5.    Skandavarman I to Buddhavarman -> Charudevi grant (would be perfect if we assume Skandavarman I is same as Kumarvishnu I), Velurpalaiyam grant (Skandsisya of Velurpalaiyam is perhaps same as Skandavarman I of Vayalur)

6.    Skandavarman I to Kumarvishnu II -> Chendalur grant (would be perfect if we assume Skandavarman II is same as Kumarvishnu II)

7.    Kumarvishnu II to Skandavarman V – Omgody A plate (we need to remove kings from Buddhavarman II to Vishnudasa and then Simhavarman I if we need to fit this grant in Vayalur inscription)

8.    Skandavarman IV to Skandavarman V -> Uruvappalli plate, Nedungaraya plates (Yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa is not mentioned in Vayalur inscription, as we discussed in early history of the Pallavas that yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa was perhaps never a king but always a yuva-maharaja (heir-apparent), also we need to omit Simhavarman I if we want to exactly fit these two grants with Vayalur inscription)

9.    Viravarman to Simhavarman II -> Omgodu B, Pikira, Mangalur, Vilavetti, Vesanta (as mentioned in point 8, here also we see issue of yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa missing in Vayalur inscription)

10.    Skandavarman IV to Simhavarman II –> Sarkepatna plates

11.    Skandavarman V to Simhavarman II -> Chura plates (yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa missing as also in point 8 & 9, also to fit  Vishnugopa after Simhavarman II we need to do branching at the level of Simhavarman II to bring Vishnugopa IV to fit as per Chura grant)

12.    Skandavarman V to Nandivarman I -> Udayendiram plates

13.    Simhavarman V to Simhavishnu -> Pallankovil plate

14.    Mahendravarman I to Parameshvaravarman I -> Vunna Guruvapalem plates

15.    Narasimhavarman I to Parameshvaravarman I -> Kuram plates

16.    Mahendravarman II to Rajasimha Narasimhavarman II -> Reyeru plates

17.    Parameshvaravarman I to Rajasimhavarman II -> Kanchipuram inscription of Kailsanatha temple

Now we will remove all those names which are not getting substantiated with more than one record. We include Yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa for the convenience of study. Also we need to do some branching to fit few of the epigraphs into Vayalur inscription. After all the exercise, our list looks like as below:

Brahma
|
Angiras
|
Brihaspati
|
Samyu
|
Bharadvaja
|
Drona
|
Asvathaman
|
Pallava
|
Asoka
|
Kalabhartri
|
Chutapallava
|
Virakurcha
|
Skandavarman I
|
Kumarvishnu I
|
Buddhavarman I
|
Skandavarman II
|
Kumarvishnu II
|
Vishnugopa I
|
Skandavarman III
|
Viravarman
|
Skandavarman IV
|
Yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa
|
Simhavarman I________________________
|                                                              |
Skandavarman V                                   Vishnugopa II
|
Nandivarman I
|
Simhavarman II
|
Simhavishnu
|
Mahendravarman I
|
Narasimhavarman I
|
Mahendravarman II
|
Parameshvaravarman I
|
Rajasimha Narasimhavarman II

 

Does branching at Simhavarman I level suggest that there was a partition in the Pallava kingdom? I feel no, as we do not get any such hint in the epigraphs we studied till now. Its usual to have more than one son for a king, however only one can succeed him. It could be that other sons were appointed as governors of various regions of the empire, but they did not rule independently from the central power seat at the capital of the kingdom. There was no mention of any kind of revolution of gaining independence from central ruling in the epigraphs.

We will take forward this genealogy further in our study, Last Years of the Pallavas. As of now, Vishnugopa I can be said to have reigned in about 340 CE, assuming that this king is the same mentioned in the Gupta inscription of Allahabad pillar. We cannot say much about the time of the other rulers at this point of time.