CHAPTER-28 : Brahmanization, Rural Expansion, and Peasant Protest in the Peninsula

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 

South India: The Second Historical Phase (c. 300-750 CE)

Continuity from the First Phase (c. 200 BC-300 CE):

  • Rise of powerful empires: Satavahanas in the Deccan, Tamil kingdoms in south Tamil Nadu.

Political Landscape:

  • Emergence of three major states by 7th century CE:
    • Pallavas of Kanchi
    • Chalukyas of Badami
    • Pandyas of Madurai

Economic Trends:

  • Decline in trade, towns, and coinage compared to the first phase.
  • Increase in tax-free land grants to temples and Brahmins.

Religious Developments:

  • Cave inscriptions suggest Jain and Buddhist influence in south Tamil Nadu.
  • Rise of Shiva and Vishnu temple construction:
    • Pallavas in Tamil Nadu
    • Chalukyas of Badami in Karnataka

Cultural Shift:

  • Transition from “land of megaliths” to “land of temples.”
  • Rise of Aryan and Brahminical influence:
    • Patronage by Brahmin rulers
    • Land grants to Brahmins

Linguistic Changes:

  • Shift from Prakrit to Sanskrit:
    • Sanskrit as the official language by 400 CE
    • Most charters composed in Sanskrit

Successors of the Satavahanas (c. 2nd Century CE – 8th Century CE)


  • Vakatakas (North Maharashtra & Vidarbha):
    • Brahmin rulers
    • Promoted Brahminical religion & Vedic sacrifices
    • Succeeded by Chalukyas of Badami (6th-8th CE)

Eastern Deccan:

  • Ikshvakus (Krishna-Guntur Region):
    • Local tribe claiming Brahminical lineage
    • Land grant practices
    • Supplanted by Pallavas

South India:

  • Pallavas (Tondainadu/Kanchi):
    • Possibly a local tribe
    • Ruled parts of Andhra & Tamil Nadu
    • Promoted Vedic learning & temple construction
    • Conflicted with Kadambas
  • Kadambas (North Karnataka & Konkan):
    • Founded by Mayurasharma
    • Defeated & later recognized by Pallavas
    • Performed Vedic sacrifices & granted land to Brahmins
    • Capital: Vaijayanti/Banavasi
  • Gangas (Southern Karnataka):
    • Western Gangas/Gangas of Mysore
    • Located between Pallavas & Kadambas

Common Feature:

  • All these dynasties (Pallavas, Kadambas, Chalukyas of Badami) actively promoted Vedic sacrifices.

The Kalabhra Revolt (6th Century CE)

Disruption in State Formation:

  • Despite advancements in state formation (300-750 CE), the Kalabhra revolt stands out.

The Kalabhras:

  • Possibly a tribal people.
  • Briefly ruled parts of South India, weakening Cholas, Pallavas, and others.
  • Considered anti-Brahminical:
    • Ended Brahmin land rights (Brahmadeya)
    • Possibly Buddhist

Revolt’s Impact:

  • Widespread uprising requiring combined force of Pandyas, Pallavas, and Chalukyas to suppress.
  • Briefly captured Chola, Pandya, and Chera kings (according to tradition).

The Pallava-Chalukya Rivalry (6th-8th Century CE)

Central Conflict:

  • Power struggle between Pallavas of Kanchi and Chalukyas of Badami for dominance in South India.
  • The Pandyas played a minor role.

Bone of Contention:

  • Territory between Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers.

Key Events:

  • Pulakeshin II (Chalukya King):
    • Defeated Kadambas, Gangas, and partially Pallavas.
    • Established Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi branch.
  • Narasimhavarman (Pallava King):
    • Conquered Chalukya capital Vatapi (642 CE).
    • Claimed victories over other South Indian kingdoms.
  • Vikramaditya II (Chalukya King):
    • Defeated Pallavas in 740 CE, ending their supremacy.


  • Chalukyas ultimately defeated Pallavas but were overthrown by Rashtrakutas in 757 CE.

Rise of Bhakti Movement and Temple Construction (7th-8th Century CE)

Bhakti Movement:

  • Nayanars and Alvars promoted Shiva and Vishnu cults respectively.

Pallava Temple Architecture:

  • Constructed stone temples for Shiva and Vishnu.
    • Seven Rathas (chariot) temples at Mahabalipuram (7th century).
    • Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram (structural, not rock-cut).
    • Kailashanathar Temple, Kanchi (8th century).

Chalukya Temple Architecture:

  • Built numerous temples at Aihole, Badami, and Pattadakal (7th-8th century).
    • Pattadakal:
      • Papanatha Temple (northern style, low tower).
      • Virupaksha Temple (southern style, high square tower).

Demands on Peasants in Pallava & Chalukya Kingdoms (c. 300-750 CE)

Burdens on Peasants:

  • Funding for wars, arts, religion, and administration.
  • Similar demands in both Vakataka (Vidarbha/Maharashtra) and Pallava (Andhra/Tamil Nadu) kingdoms.
  • Examples of burdens:
    • Labor
    • Produce

Land Grants and Rural Expansion:

  • Demands suggest peasants’ ability to pay.
  • State growth relied on:
    • Increase in rural communities
    • Higher agricultural production

Types of Villages:

  • Ur (South Tamil Nadu):
    • Peasant castes
    • Communal land ownership?
    • Village headman collected taxes.
  • Sabha:
    • Brahmadeya villages (Brahmins)
    • Agrahara villages
    • Individual land rights for Brahmins, collective activities.
  • Nagaram:
    • Traders and merchants
    • Possibly due to trade decline.

Chalukya Administration:

  • Village elders (Mahajana) managed rural affairs.


  • This period shows signs of:
    • Agricultural expansion
    • Rural organization
    • Improved land use

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