Social Life in Pandiyan Empire
The society under the Pandyas was based on the traditional fourfold division, namely the Brahmins, Kshatryas, Vaisyas and Sudras. There were also other communities based on their vocation like Vellala, Ayar, Idaiyar, etc. However, the caste system was not rigid. Generally, people were respected not on the basis of caste but on the basis of their occupation. Despite caste divisions and political chaos during the Pandyan rule, there was a sense of unity among the people. We come to know that the village assemblies carried on many public activities smoothly.
Dress and Ornaments
The people wore clothes made of silk and cotton. The rich were fond of silk garments. Ordinary people wore cotton clothes. The rich people were also fond of decorating themselves by various jewels and ornaments. The kings and nobles wore costly ornaments studded with pearls, corals and precious stones.
Status of Women
In the Pandyan kingdom, women were generally treated on a par with men. They took part in public functions along with man. They were allowed to possess property. The women from royal families got more opportunity to educate themselves. The famous Vaishnavaite Alwar, Andal had lived in the Pandyan Empire and attained glory during this period.
Generally, the married women had concentrated
more on the up-keep of their house and their children. They also followed
vocations like spinning, pot making, painting, etc. and raised their family
income. They had also extended help to the men-folk in agricultural activities.
Women spent their leisure in playing in-door games like dice, chess, etc.
The Pandyan rulers had evinced special interest to improve education. They had patronized poets and scholars. The temples and Mutts had served as important educational centers. Land and other grants were given to promote education and literature. The Mutts established at Thirunelveli, Seranmadevi, Alagarkoil and Vanamamalai had contributed to the growth of education. Both the Sanskrit and Tamil language and literature were taught in these Mutts. The Pandyan kings had patronized both the Sanskrit and Tamil languages. Institutions of higher learning were called as Salais. Subjects like Vedas, Grammar, politics and law were taught and students from noble families got their education from these institutions.
Language and Literature
The Pandyan Kings had evinced much interest in the Tamil language. Their capital Madurai continued to remain the centre of Tamil literature. It was called as Tamil Kudal. The Vaishnavaite saints namely, Nammaazhwar, Periyaazhwar and Andal had composed beautiful Tamil verses in praise of Lord Vishnu. The Saivaite saint, Manickavasagar had also composed his verses in Tamil. He was the author of Thiruvasagam.