World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Kalabhras dynasty

Kalabhras Empire


Kalabhras Territories
Capital Kaveripattinam
Languages Tamil
Religion Buddhism
Government Monarchy
 -  5th century Achchutavikranta
 -  ? Tiraiyan of Pavattiri
 -  ? Pulli of Vengadam
Historical era Classical India
 -  Third Century circa 250
 -  Sixth Century circa 600

The Kalabhras dynasty (Tamil: களப்பிரர்) ruled over the entire Ancient Tamil country between the 3rd and the 7th century in an era of South Indian history called the Kalabhra interregnum. The Kalabhras, possibly Jain, displaced the kingdoms of the early Cholas, early Pandyas and Chera dynasties by a revolt. The Kalabhras put an end to the brahmanadeya rights granted to the brahmans in numerous villages across southern India.

Information about the origin and reign of the Kalabhras is scarce. They left neither artifacts nor monuments, and the only sources of information are scattered mentions in Buddhist and Jain literature. The Kalabhras were defeated by the joint efforts of the Pallavas, Pandyas and Chalukyas Badami.


  • Identification 1
  • Evidence from Literature 2
  • Reasons for the Unpopularity 3
  • Patrons of Literature 4
  • Religion 5
  • Fall of Kalabhras 6
  • See also 7
  • Other sources 8
  • References 9


The identification of the Kalabhras is difficult. The chieftains of this tribe mentioned in Sangam literature are Tiraiyan of Pavattiri and Pulli of Vengadam or Tirupati. Romila Thapar claimed to have proved that Kalabhras were from Karnataka. The Kalavar must have been dislodged from their habitat near Tirupati by political events of the third century, viz. the fall of the Satavahanas and the rise of Pallavas, resulting in political confusion in Tondaimandalam.[1] P.T Srinivasa Iyengar identifies them with the Tamil Kalappalar clan.

Evidence from Literature

The history of Cholas of Uraiyur (Tiruchirappalli) is exceedingly obscure from fourth to the ninth century, chiefly owing to the occupation of their country by the Kalabhras. Buddhadatta, the great writer in Pali, belonged to Uraiyur. He mentions his contemporary, King Achchutavikranta of the Kalabharakula, as ruling over the Chola country from Kaveripattinam. He was a Buddhist. Tamil literary tradition refers to an Achchuta who kept the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers in captivity. On the basis of the contemporaneity of Buddhadatta with Buddhaghosha, Achchuta may be assigned to the fifth century. Thus, after the Sangam age, the Cholas were forced into obscurity by the Kalabhras, who disturbed the placid political conditions of the Tamil country.

Reasons for the Unpopularity

Kalabhras, by ruling the Tamil country, disturbed the prevailing order. The Velvikudi inscriptions of the third regnal year of Pandya ruler Nedunjadaiyan (c.765 – c. 815) say that Pandya ruler Mudukudumi Peruvaludi gave the village of Velvikudi as brahmadeya (gift to a Brahmins). It was enjoyed for a long time. Then a Kali king named Kalabhran took possession of the extensive earth, driving away numberless great kings.

Patrons of Literature

The period of Kalabhras was marked by the ascendancy of Buddhism, and probably also of Jainism. It was characterized by considerable literary activity in Tamil. Most of the works grouped under the head, 'The Eighteen Minor works' might have been written during this period as also the Cilappadhikaram, Manimekalai and other works. Many of the authors were characterised as belonging to the `heretical' sects (meaning Buddhists and Jains). However, the great Tamil lexicographer Vaiyapuri Pillai had ascribed later dates to many of these works. This theory would undermine the link between the Kalabhras and the Eighteen Minor works.[2]


It is known that the Kalabhras as patronized Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[3]

The late Kalabras appear to have been Shaivite and Vaishnavite. Scholar F.E. Hardy traced the palace ceremony to a Vishnu or Mayon temple to the rule of the Kalabras.[4] Scholar Alice Justina Thinakaran writes that perhaps they were Shaivite Hindu, Jain or Buddhist.

They are known for patronizing Skanda or Subramanya, the Hindu god. They imprinted his image on their 5th-century coins, especially from Kaveripumpapattinam rulers.[5]

King Achuta had worshiped Vaisnava Tirumal, and some scholars believe this means that the Kalabhras patronized Hinduism.[6]

Fall of Kalabhras

The rule of Kalabhras of South India was ended by the counter invasions of Pandyas, Chalukyas and Pallavas. There are other references to the Kalabhras in Pallava and Chalukya inscriptions. They were conquered by Pallava Simhavishnu and Pandya Kadungon.

See also

Other sources

  • The Kalabhras in the Pandiya Country and Their Impact on the Life and Letters There, By M. Arunachalam, Published by University of Madras, 1979[7]


  1. ^ Episteme, V.J. (2007-04-30). "Some questions". Ponniyin Selvan Varalaatru Pervai. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  2. ^ "Society under the Kalabhras". Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  3. ^ P. 146 Kerala State gazetteer, Volume 2, Part 1 By Adoor K. K. Ramachandran Nair
  4. ^ Veermani Pd. Upadhyaya Felicitation Volume By Veermani Prasad Upadhyaya
  5. ^ P. 150 and P. 152 The peacock, the national bird of India By P. Thankappan Nair
  6. ^ Buddhism in Tamil Nadu: collected papers By G. John Samuel, Ār. Es Śivagaṇēśamūrti, M. S. Nagarajan, Institute of Asian Studies (Madras, India)
  7. ^ Arunachalam, M. (1979). The Kalabhras in the Pandiya Country and Their Impact on the Life and Letters There (Original from the University of California, Digitized Jul 30, 2008 ed.). University of Madras. p. 168. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.