Chola Inscriptions on Civic Officials’ Eligibility


    In Context 

    • Some Chola-era inscriptions bear testimony to the qualifications required for members of the village administrative council (‘perumkuri sabai’)  in Tamil Nadu.


    • Chola-era inscriptions talk about the qualifications required for members of the village administrative council.
    • However, very little is known about the Thenneri inscriptions laying down qualifications for candidates to village administrative committees known as ‘perumkuri sabai’.
    • It also sheds light on how farm produce was taxed.
    • Inscriptions at Thenneri village in Kancheepuram district: These inscriptions which dwell upon ‘Kudavolai’ that is a system to elect members to the annual committee, garden committee, tank committee and other committees for 30 wards — are well-known.
      • The annual committee is known as ‘variyam’.
      • The inscriptions are on the walls of the Kanthaleeswarar temple.

    Chola Inscriptions

    • The inscriptions issued by the Chola kings are found from various parts of the old Madras state. They give evidence for the Cholas’ attack on Kerala.
    • Attacks on south Kerala regions are mentioned in the inscriptions discovered from the temples at Cholapuram, Kanyakumari, Darsanam Koppu, Thirunanthikarai and Sucheendram.
    • The Thirallaisthanam inscription reveals the friendship between Aditya Cholan and Sthanu Ravi. 
    • Rajendra Chola’s (AD 1012-1044) Thiruvalangad inscription has mentioned the Chola attack on Vizhinjam. The Cholapuram inscription is about the retreat of Kulothunga Cholan to Kottattu.

    About Chola Dynasty

    • The Cholas are remembered as one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the southern regions of India.
    • The earliest record of their rule comes from the inscriptions left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire around 3rd century BC.
    • Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola and Kulothunga Chola I made South Asia and South-East India into a military, economic and cultural power.

    Origin of the Chola Dynasty:

    • The reign of the Cholas began in the 9th century when they defeated the Pallavas to come into power. This rule stretched over for over five long centuries until the 13th century.
    • The Early periods of the Chola rule saw the onset of the Sangam literature. Kantaman was one of the prominent rulers of this era.
    • The medieval period was the era of absolute power and development for the Cholas. This is when kings like Aditya I and Parantaka I.

    Prominent Pillars of the Chola Empire:

    • Vijayalaya: The Chola Empire was founded by Vijayalaya. He took over the Tanjore kingdom in the 8th century and led to the rise of the mighty Cholas by defeating the Pallavas. Tanjore was hence made the first capital of the eminent Chola Empire.
    • Aditya I: Aditya I succeeded Vijayalaya to become the ruler of the empire. He defeated king Aparajita and the empire gained massive power under his reign. He conquered the Pandya Kings along with the Vadumbas and established control over the Pallavas’ power in the region.
    • Rajendra Chola: He succeeded the mighty Rajaraja Chola. Rajendra I was the first to venture to the banks of Ganges. He was popularly called the Victor of the Ganges.
      • His new empire capital was called the Gangaikondacholapuram where he received the title of ‘Gangaikonda’. This period is referred to as the golden age of the Cholas. After his rule, the kingdom witnessed a widespread downfall.
    • Culture and Roots:
      • In this era, the temple was the main centre for all social and religious meetings.
      • The surroundings of this region became a school for the folks where Holy Scriptures and the ancient Vedas were taught to students.
      • The societal structure at this time was divided amongst Brahmins and Non-Brahmins. 
        • Several gods and goddesses were worshipped with Shiva being a popular source of strength for the faithful.
      • Art, religion and literature benefited greatly during this period.
        •  Several Shiva temples were built across the banks of the Kaveri river. Thanjavur still stands to be the biggest and tallest amongst all the temples in India of its time. The Tanjore Brihadeeswara temple is adorned with natural colour paintings that are a feast for the eyes even today.
        • Several of these sites have been classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. These include the Brihadeshavara temple, the Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara temples.
    • Administration and Governance:
      • The Cholas ruled in a sustained Monarchy. The king remained the central authority who would make the major decisions and carry out the governance.
      • The Chola Empire consisted of the current day territories of Tiruchirapalli, Tiruvarur, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Nagapattinam, Pudukkottai, Vridhachalam, Pichvaram and Thanjavur districts of Tamil Nadu.
      • The massive kingdom was divided into provinces which were known as mandalams.
      •  Separate governors were held in charge of each mandalam. These were further divided into districts called nadus which consisted of tehsils. The system of rule was such that each village acted as a self-governing unit during the era of the Cholas.
      • The Cholas were ardent patrons of art, poetry, literature and drama; the administration was seen investing in the construction of several temples and complexes with sculptures and paintings.

    Source: TH