The Pallava rule had witnessed a drastic change in the social and economic life of the people. The emergence of the Bakthi Movement had significantly changed their way of life. It was further stimulated by the temple-building activity of the Pallava kings. There was also a remarkable growth of economy during this period. In general, there was a tremendous change in the society and culture during the Pallava rule.

Social Structure

The society under the Pailavas was chiefly divided into four, namely, Brahmins, Kshatryas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Besides the four-fold division, there were also other sub castes in the society based on their occupation.

The Brahmins occupied the first place in the society. They were the learned and the most respected in the society. They had lived in a separate place called Agraharam. They had recited Vedas and performed pooja in the temples. The Pallava kings had made extensive land grants to them. These land grants were known as Brahmadeyas. The Brahmins helped the kings in performing sacrifices. They had also enjoyed higher position in the government.

The Kshatryas had remained in the next position in the social hierarchy. Generally, they belonged to the ruling class. They had also become warriors. They also gave liberal donations to the temples and Brahmins.

Those who indulged in agriculture and trade were called as Vaisyas. They had contributed to the development of society by establishing Mutts and choultries. They also fed the poor and committed to public welfare and social progress.

The Sudras had occupied the last place in the social structure. They remained low-grade servants. The literature of the Pallava period refers to them as pulayar and chandalas. However, a few of them had become religious saints due to their devotion to God.

Status of women

The women from royal and rich families had enjoyed high status in the society. They were also given property rights. They remained pious and religious and granted liberal donations to the temples and Brahmins. Chastity was their noble virtue. However, other women in the middle and lower strata of the society had to work hard to earn their livelihood. They indulged in spinning, weaving and other similar works. There were also separate dancing girls in the society. They were employed in the temples because of their talent in music and dance.

Food, Dress and Ornaments

Rice was the staple food of the people during the Pallava period. They had also consumed milk, ghee, and curd. Generally, people wore simple dress made of cotton. The rich people were fond of wearing silk garments. The sculptures of this period indicate several types of ornaments used by the people. They include earrings, bangles, necklaces and anklets.


Much importance was given to the Sanskrit education during the Paliava period. The Mutts had remained as important educational centers. The kings and nobles made land grants to them. The temples had also functioned as educational centers. The Buddhist Kadigai in Kanchipuram was a famous educational centre. The Chinese traveler Hiuen-Tsang stayed there and studied. Another Buddhist scholar Dharmapala was also an alumnus of the Kanchi Kadigai. The Jain pallis had also been functioning in Kanchi. Literature, Grammar, Astrology, Medicine and Painting were some of the important subjects taught in these institutions.