Origin Of Ancient Pandyan Kingdom
Derived from the Tamil word ‘Pandi’ meaning a bull, the Pandyan dynasty was one of the famous dynasties that ruled Southern India. Its origin dates back to almost five to six centuries before the advent of the Christian era, and a large section of historians hold the belief that the dynasty could have been established at a much earlier date. Much of their history has been shaped around the facts gathered from Sangam Literature, wherein many Pandyan kings and their accomplishments have been mentioned. The ancient city of Madurai served as their capital, and for several years, prospered as the seat of art, culture and literature. The major language of Pandyans was Tamil and religion followed were Hinduism and Jainism.
The entire Pandyan dynasty can be chronologically divided into four stages:
- Pandyans of the pre Sangam period – Their achievements can be found in the Purananuru literature.
- Pandyans of the Sangam period – Pattupattu and Ettuthugai are some of the well known literature produced during this period.
- Medieval Pandyans – Although historians do know of the names of the rulers who reigned over the Pandyan kingdom, their history still remains to be discovered.
- Later Pandyans – This was the period when the boundaries of the Pandyan kingdom extended up to Nellore and Cudappah district in Andhra Pradesh.
Pandyan Dynasty – Art and Culture
The Pandyan Kings were of Dravidian descent, and were proficient in art, culture, trade and literature. Being located in a coastal area, the Pandyan Rulers wielded control over the fisheries and the related trade activities between Sri Lanka and India. This period also saw some of the finest pearls ever produced. The Pandyans were also great patrons of architecture, and the famous Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is a testimony to this.
Pandyan Empire – Rise and Fall
According to the Sangam Literature, the Pandyan Dynasty of the Sangam period began to weaken and ultimately faced its end due to the invasion of the Kalabhras. Around 550 AD, the kingdom was revived under the leadership of Kadungon, who succeeded in winning back the kingdom from the Kalabhras, and it was during this period that Madurai attained the status of capital city.
The ninth century saw the rise of the Chola, and a simultaneous decline of the Pandyans. Once again, they succeeded in reviving the Pandyan kingdom, this time with the assistance of the Singhalese and the Keralas.
Written By: Saikrupa Chandramouli