This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
Pallavas: Patrons of Northern Culture.
We find in the earliest known inscription of the Satavahanas that they were votaries of the well-known Hindu Gods - Visnnu and Siva. The Nanaghaut inscription refers to some of the names of the Lokapalas (the guardian deities of the directions), the Vyuhas (forms) of Vishnu, and Skanda or Subramanya. The Myakadoni inscription itself is the record of the gift of a village by a queen to a Vishnu temple. If therefore, as was pointed out in the preceding
1 Rajasokhara, the great poet and critic who lived in the Courts of Mahendrabala and Mahipala of Kanauj gives the account of the Geographical divisions and peoples of India in his time. He distinguishes between the Southern Pallavas and North-Western Pahlavas. In his time the Pallavas of Kanchi were just losing their ascendency in South India or had just lost it. (See Introduction to Kavyamimamsa, Baroda Sanskrit Series.) section, the dynasty of the Pallavas was native to the locality and were in close association, official and personal, with the ruling family of the Satavahanas, we should find them devoted to the same cult generally as the main branch of the Satavahanas, their religious culture being naturally northern, probably in both forms Vaishnava and Saiva. We find in the Andhra country, even a foreigner like the Saka Rishabhadatta, a votary of this comprehensive cult of the Andhras themselves as we are enabled to understand from the inscriptions recording his various donations. It is that broad culture that the Pallavas carried into the Tamil country when they moved into the northern part of it. Although we find evidence of the prevalence both of the cults of Siva and Vishnu in the Tamil country already, the patronage of this northern culture generally seems to have been associated with the Pallavas. Their inscriptions till late in the history of the dynasty happened to be either Sanskrit or Prakrit; their earliest temples, even the cave ones, are devoted to Siva and Vishnu, and to none of the other deities known to the somewhat miscellaneous pantheon of the early Tamil classics. Hence the advent of the "foreign Pallavas" into the Tamil country not only meant the rule of the foreigner to the Tamils but also carried along with it the special patronage of the new culture of the north. The hostility between the Pallvas and the Tamil kings of the farther south seems to be accounted for to a certain extent at any rate by this partiality apart from their character as barbarian foreigners in the eye of the Tamil. Throughout the period of Pallava history which may extend from A. D. 200 to almost the last quarter of the 9th century the Pallavas and the southern powers were in constant hostility if they were not always at war. The hostility between the early Chalukyas and the Pallavas, which is a prominent feature of the history of both the powerful dynasties, is due to the effort of the Chalukya successors of the Andhras to extend their authority over the whole of what was once the Andhra Empire, and the correlative effort of the newly founded dynasty of the Pallavas to make good their own possessions against these new claimants. It is the necessi-ties of this struggle on the northern frontier that sometimes gave respite to the southern frontier but otherwise the normal state of relationship seems to have been one of hostility between the Pallavas and the Tamils all through this long period of close on seven centuries.
Pallavas: not great Patrons of Tamil Literature.
This long period of Pallava dominance, as it may well be called, was a period of no doubt considerable activity and output in regard to Tamil literature. A large number of Tamil works are referable to this period, but in none of them do we find the Pallavas as patrons of Tamil literature in the sense that we find the kings and the petty chieftains of the age preceding are. Several of these poets were contemporaries of some of the great sovereigns of the Pallava dynasty. The Tevaram hymner Appar, a Jain first and a Saiva afterwards, was a contemporary of the great Pallava Mahendra Varman whose conversion to Saivism is said to have been due to him. His companion but a much younger man, Sambandar, was a contemporary of his son and successor Narasimha Varman; but neither of these rulers can be considered as a special patron of either of the authors that the kings or chieftains of the Sangam age could be said to be; and the works of most of these writers have reference not directly to the celebration of the exploits of the patrons. They devote themselves more or less to other themes and such references as we get to these rules are merely incidental. It is only one work so far known that can clearly be considered to have had their patronage, and that is the work Nandikkalambakam dedicated to a Nandi Varman victor at Tellaru, a late Pallava of the 8th or 9th century. So far as is known therefore the Pallavas do not show themselves to have been in any special sense patrons of Tamil lite rature as their predecessors could. 19