Central Government in Pallava


The Pallavas had followed the system of monarchy. The king was the head of the kingdom. Hereditary succession to the throne had been in practice. Normally, the eldest son would be the next ruler. The Paliava kings had considered themselves as the representatives of God. They had assumed many titles like Maharaja, Maharajathi Raja and Dharma Rajathiraja. These titles indicate the imperial power of the Pallava kings. The Pallava kings had also claimed a divine origin.

Council of Ministers

There was an efficient Council of Ministers in the Pallava kingdom. The Ministers were known as Amatyas. They were given titles such as Uthamaseelan, Brahmarajan and Peraraiyan. The Minister carried out the orders of the king. They had also rendered their co-operation and service to the king in all matters of administration. Besides the Council of Ministers, there were many officials to look after each department of the Pallava administration.


There were three types of courts in the Pallava kingdom. The highest judicial organization was called Dharmasena. The king acted as its head. The courts in the towns were known as Adikarnas. The village courts were called as Karnas. The village Sabhas also acted as courts in settling the civil disputes in the villages. Punishments were not cruel and harsh. Fines were also imposed along with punishment.


The Pallavas had possessed a strong and big army. There were four divisions in the army. They were infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots. The cavalry played a vital role in the wars. The Pallavas also had a Navy. We have already noted that Narasimhavarman I had sent two naval expeditions to Sri Lanka.


Land tax was the main source of income to the government. There were also other taxes. The copperplates and inscriptions of the Pallavas mention eighteen kinds of taxes. The number of lakes, tanks, wells, rivers and trees were counted for the purposes of taxation. Taxes were known by different names such as Kaanam, Irai, Paatam, and Poochi. For example, the term Kusakaanam refers to the tax on potters and Than Irai to the tax on weavers. Taxes were also levied on oil-pressers, toddy-tapers, washer men, goldsmiths and cattle-breeders.
The chief items of expenditure of the government were the royal court, public works and temple grants. An officer called as Kumaranpandaram managed the royal palace.

Local administration

The existence and the functioning of the local bodies constitute an important aspect of the Pallava administration. Already mention is made about the administrative units called Nadu and Oor. The respective committees had administered these divisions. The committee of Nadu was known as Naattar. They carried out the king’s orders and looked after the administration of Nadu.

The Sabha or Committee in each Oor or Village was in charge of the village administration. The members of Oor Sabha were known as Perumakkal. Each Sabha was divided into separate committees called Vaariyams. Each Vaariyams had looked after the administration of temple, irrigation tanks and village gardens. Thus, the village administration was well organized during the Pallava rule. It can be said that the Pallavas had laid the foundation for the future expansion of village administration during the Later Cholas.