Not only in the middle Ganga Valley and the kingdoms that emerged on the heels of the Gupta demise, but also in the Deccan and in South India, which acquired a more prominent place in history, the classical patterns of civilization continued to thrive after the Gupta empire had completely disintegrated. This was the case not only in the Deccan and in South India. In point of fact, regionalism was the preeminent topic of political or dynastic history in South Asia from the middle of the seventh century until the middle of the twelfth century. According to political scientist Radha Champakalakshmi, who studied the sociopolitical reality of this time period, there are three characteristics that usually define this era. To begin, the propagation of Brahmanical faiths was a two-way process that included the Sanskritization of indigenous cults as well as the localisation of Brahmanical social order. The second significant event was the rise to power of the Brahman priestly and landowning classes, which went on to exert an overwhelming amount of influence on the subsequent political and institutional changes in the area. Third, because of the constant upheaval caused by a large number of dynasties, each of which had a remarkable capacity to withstand persistent military assaults, regional kingdoms were often defeated but were seldom completely wiped out.
The Chalukyas (556-757) of Vatapi, the Pallavas (300-888) of Kanchipuram, and the Pandyas (seventh through tenth centuries) of Madurai were engaged in a tripartite power struggle in Peninsular India throughout the eighth century. The Rashtrakutas were the subordinates of the Chalukya monarchs who eventually overthrew them and went on to govern from 753 until 973. Even though Pallava and Pandya were rival kingdoms, the main fight for political dominance was between Pallava and Chalukya empires. Pandya and Pallava were only the front lines.
Despite the fact that there were disputes between regions, the local autonomy that had existed in the south for centuries was maintained to a far larger degree there. The lack of a highly centralised government was correlated with a similar increase in the level of local autonomy that was present in the governance of villages and districts. It is widely recorded that extensive overland and marine commerce developed with the Arabs who lived on the west coast as well as with Southeast Asian countries. The spread of Indian art, architecture, literature, and social practises across Southeast Asia was made possible by the expansion of trade in that region. Local elites made selective but willing adaptations of Indian culture.
Despite the interdynastic competition and periodic assaults into one other’s territory, the monarchs of the Deccan and South India supported all three of India’s major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. The many faiths competed with one another for royal favour, which was shown not only in the distribution of territory, but also, and perhaps more crucially, in the construction of massive temples, which are still architectural marvels today. The surviving legacy of otherwise warring regional monarchs include the cave temples of Elephanta Island (near Bombay, or Mumbai in Marathi), Ajanta and Ellora (in Maharashtra), and the structure temples of Kanchipuram (in Tamil Nadu). Around the middle of the seventh century, the Hindu sectarian devotional cults of Shiva and Vishnu started to fiercely battle for public support. This caused Buddhism and Jainism to begin to fall as a result of this competition.
Although Sanskrit was the language of learning and theology in South India, as it was in the north, the growth of the bhakti (devotional) movements enhanced the crystallisation of vernacular literature in all four major Dravidian languages: Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. These literatures frequently borrowed themes and vocabulary from Sanskrit, but they preserved a significant amount of local cultural lore. The two major poems Cilappatikaram (The Jewelled Anklet) and Manimekalai (The Jewelled Belt) are examples of Tamil literature. Other examples include the body of devotional literature of Shaivism and Vaishnavism, which are Hindu devotional movements, as well as the reworking of the Ramayana by Kamban in the twelfth century. Both of these examples can be found in Tamil. The process of cultural infusion and assimilation would continue to shape and influence India’s history throughout the centuries, despite the fact that a cultural synthesis had taken place on a national scale in South Asia with only a small number of characteristics in common between the various regions.
The Deccan And The South
In the Deccan region of southern India, an indigenous force known as the Satavahana Kingdom came to prominence under the Kushana Dynasty (first century B.C.–third century A.D.). Although authority was decentralised in the hands of local chieftains, who employed the symbols of Vedic religion and followed the varnashramadharma, the Satavahana, or Andhra, Kingdom was significantly impacted by the governmental model of the Mauryan Empire. However, the monarchs were open-minded and patronised a variety of architectural styles, including Buddhist structures at Ellora (Maharashtra) and Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh). As a result, the Deccan played the role of a bridge, allowing political ideas, commercial practises, and religious beliefs to go from the north to the south.
The ancient Tamil kingdoms of Chera (on the west), Chola (on the east), and Pandya (in the south) were regularly engaged in internecine combat to acquire regional dominance. Chera was located on the west, Chola was located on the east, and Pandya was located in the south. In Greek and Ashokan sources, they are described as being on the periphery of the Mauryan Empire. The Sangam (academy) writings, which include Tolkappiam, a handbook of Tamil grammar written by Tolkappiyar, are a corpus of ancient Tamil literature that date back to 300 B.C. and contain many helpful details regarding the social lives of the Tamil people at that time. to A.D. 200. There is abundant evidence that Dravidian culture, which is largely indigenous and is undergoing transition, has been influenced by Aryan customs coming from the north.
Although the Brahmans enjoyed a high standing at a very early period, the Dravidian social order was founded on diverse ecoregions as opposed to the Aryan varna paradigm, which was the basis of the Aryan social order. Matriarchy and matrilineal succession, which persisted far into the nineteenth century, cross-cousin marriage, and a strong sense of regional identity were some of the distinguishing features of some groups within the culture. The transition from pastoralism to agriculture, which was supported by irrigation systems based on rivers, small-scale tanks (as man-made ponds are called in India), and wells, as well as brisk maritime trade with Rome and Southeast Asia, resulted in the rise of tribal chieftains to the position of “kings.”
The presence of Roman gold coins at a number of South Indian sites is evidence of substantial trade and communication with other parts of the globe. In the same manner as Pataliputra in the north and Taxila in the northwest (both of which are located in modern Pakistan), the city of Madurai, which served as the Pandyan capital and is now located in modern day Tamil Nadu, was the epicentre of intellectual and literary pursuits. Poets and bards gathered there under the auspices of the royal court to participate in consecutive concourses and produce anthologies of poetry, the most of which has been lost. By the end of the first century B.C., South Asia was crisscrossed by overland trade routes, which made it easier for Buddhist and Jain missionaries and other visitors to move about the region. This also opened the area up to a synthesis of many different civilizations.