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Three Crowned Kings

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Title: Three Crowned Kings  
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Subject: Chola dynasty, Madurai Nayak dynasty, Pallava dynasty, Chronology of Tamil history, Sangam period
Collection: Tamil History
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Three Crowned Kings

The Three Crowned Kings (Tamilமூவேந்தர், Mūvēntar ), or the Three Glorified by Heaven (Tamilவாண்புகழ் மூவர், Vāṉpukaḻ Mūvar ),[1] or World of the Three (Tamilமூவருலகம், Mūvarulakam )[2] refers to the triumvirate of Chola, Chera and Pandya who dominated the politics of the ancient Tamil country, Tamilakam, from their three countries or Nadu of Chola Nadu, Pandya Nadu (present day Madurai and Tirunelveli) and Chera Nadu (present day Kerala).[3] They signaled a time of integration and political identity for the Tamil people.[4] They would frequently wage war against one another under a period of instability[5] till the Imperial period of the Rajaraja I who united Tamilakam under one leadership.


The etymology of the Mūvēntar comes from Tamil either மூ (mū) meaning 'three' and வேந்தர் (vēntar) meaning 'king',[6] so strictly should be translated as 'Lord' (lesser-king) as opposed to 'King' which in Tamil is கோன் (Kōn).[7] They were originally called Mārar, Vānavar, and Tiraiyar.[8] They are mentioned in Megasthenes and the Edicts of Ashoka,[9] and first in Tolkappiyam among Tamil literature who was the first to call them Three Celestials (Tamilவாண்புகழ் மூவர், Vāṉpukaḻ Mūvar ).[10] Ptolemy and Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mention three kingdoms ruling Tamilakam.[11]


The Pandya were the earliest of the Mūvēntar and were of high antiquity being mentioned by Kātyāyana and Valmiki.[12] However the establishment of a Pandya territory is not known until the sixth century under King Kadungon who liberated the Pandya country from the Kalabhras. Xuanzang reports that Jainism was flourishing while Buddhism was declining during this period. They were famous for being patrons of the Tamil Sangams which were held in their capital, Madurai. Pliny mentions the Pandya country and its capital. Large number of Roman coins from Emperor Augustus to Emperor Zeno found in Madurai shows that trade flourished between Rome, Greece and Tamilakam. Two embassies sent from the Pandya dynasty to Emperor Augustus were recorded. The Roman and Greek writers praise Korkai ( now called as Tuticorin or Thoothukudi) as the seaport of the Pandyas.[13]


  1. ^ A. Kiruṭṭin̲an̲ (2000). Tamil culture: religion, culture, and literature. Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. p. 17. 
  2. ^ Peter Schalk, A. Veluppillai (2002). Buddhism among Tamils in pre-colonial Tamilakam and Ilam: Prologue. The pre-Pallava and the Pallava period. Uppsala University Library. 
  3. ^ M. van Bakel, Renée Hagesteijn, Piet van de Velde (1994). Pivot politics: changing cultural identities in early state formation processes. Het Spinhuis. 
  4. ^ Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 1997. 
  5. ^ Pollock, Sheldon (2003). reconstructions from South Asia. University of California Press. p. 298. 
  6. ^ The journal of the Numismatic Society of India, Volume 47. Numismatic Society of India. 1985. p. 91. 
  7. ^ Hulbert, Homer Bezaleel (1905). A comparative grammar of the Korean language and the Dravidian languages of India. The Methodist publishing house. p. 81. 
  8. ^ Pillai, M. S. Purnalingam (1904). A primer of Tamil literature. Ananda Press. p. 3. 
  9. ^ Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of ancient India: earliest times to 1000 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 246. 
  10. ^ A. Kiruṭṭin̲an̲ (2000). Tamil culture: religion, culture, and literature. Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. p. 17. 
  11. ^ Dravidian kingdoms and list of Pandiyan coins. Asian Educational Services. 1911. p. 6. 
  12. ^ Tripati, Rama Shankar (1987). History of ancient India. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 31. 
  13. ^ Dravidian kingdoms and list of Pandiyan coins. Asian Educational Services. 1911. p. 6. 
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