Critically analyze the salient features of the Chola kingdom:-
Income and Expenditure:- The economy was agrarian. Therefore, the revenue received from it was the main source of income of the state. The government used to take one-sixth of the produce. Revenue could be given in the form of food grains or coins. Coins and shells were in circulation in the markets for trade. The income of the state was spent for the royal family, government employees, roads-temples and public welfare.
Military system :- The water and land armies were very large and well organized during this period. Military cantonments were built in many parts of the country. The Cholas had prepared a huge army by training the cultivators and cattle herders. The Brahmin generals were called ‘Brahmadhiraj’. Apart from him there were other high officers of the army and the heads of small units. The Cholas were very clever and skilled in military art.
Judiciary system:- The judicial system was organized. Cases were presented in local bodies. There was also the practice of jury. The final appeal was with the king. The law was soft, thieves, adulterers, etc. were carried around on donkeys. Accidentally killed 16 cows were fined. For the peace of the soul of the person who was killed, the state used to light a lamp in the temple.
Social System :- In the Chola period the society was divided into four classes according to the brahminical system. From the occupational point of view, two more units existed in the society ‘Valgai’ and ‘Indagai’. Consanguineous marriage was prevalent. But there are many examples of inter-caste marriages also. Mohallas were formed on the basis of ethnicity.
Women were seen with respect in the society. There were no restrictions of any kind on them. According to the inscriptions, the women of the elite class held the right to property. Sati system was prevalent in Tamil society. There were also devadasis in the society. They lived in temples and were skilled in dance etc. On special occasions, their dances were organized in temples. Some writers believe that these devadasis spread incest in the society, but according to some inscriptions, their status in Tamil society was not low. Some Devadasis used to marry and lead a household life. Slave system was also prevalent in the society. In fact, agricultural laborers were like slaves. There were different categories of slaves.
Economic life: Agriculture was the main occupation during the Chola period. Most of the population lived in villages. The farmer was the owner of the land. According to the ownership of the land, the farmers were respected in the society. There were constant efforts on the part of the state for the advancement of agriculture. The dam was built on the Kaveri river during the time of Karikala Chola. Wells, ponds and reservoirs were also dug for irrigation. Bairumeghatdag was built in Uttarmerur. Parantaka had dug a pond named Veerlochan. The Chola kings also tried their best to stop famine. Those who did the business of animal husbandry were called ‘Manchadis’. Goldsmiths, sculptors, metallurgists etc. other businessmen also used to manufacture various types of items. The Kanchi textile industry was flourishing. Salt was prepared in Kumari Anteep Marknam (South Arcot) and in the coastal places.
Religion:- The Chola rulers were Shaivites. During his time, Shaivism progressed a lot in the South. He also had reverence for Vaishnavism. They were generous. He was kind to Buddhism and Jainism. Many temples were built during this period. Donations were given in temples.
Chola period literature: – Tamil language-literature developed during the Chola period. The eminent scholars of Tamil literature are Kamban, Puglenid and Ottakuttan tri-ratna. In Tamil literature – Kamban composed ‘Ramayana’, Puglenid composed ‘Lanabemba’, Gyanagondur composed ‘Kalladanar’. Shekkilar’s ‘Pariyapuranam’ is also an invaluable treasure trove of Tamil literature. Jayagondan was the royal poet of Kulottunga I. His composition was ‘Kalingantupani’. Sekkilar lived in the court of Kulottunga I. Venkata Madhava composed ‘Rigyadeepika’ under the patronage of Parantaka I. The Chola ruler Rajendra I has also been described as a great scholar. In this period there was also a great writer named Nambiyandar Nambi, who is known as Tamil Vyasa.
Chola period sculpture and painting:- The construction of temples also influenced the development of sculpture and painting. The idols here were made of stone and metal. The idols of Shiva and Vishnu are notable mainly in this. In fact, the bronze statue of Nataraja Shiva at Tanjore, built during the Chola reign, is the best example of this. It depicts the Tandava form of Nataraja Shiva, symbolizing the joyous or joyous dance of Shiva. The presence of an asura under his feet indicates that he is destroying ignorance, while on the other hand holding a damaru in one of the four arms indicates his voice or sound creation. Thus the image of Nataraja establishes Shiva as a teacher, a creator.
The development of painting also coincided with architecture during the Chola period. Images of deities are found on the walls of the temple. For example, depiction of Shiva is found on the walls in the Brihadeshwar temple, so there is also the marking of flowers, leaves and lakes.
Chola Architecture:- From the point of view of architecture, the Cholas adopted the ‘Dravidian style’ of temple construction and gave it the top form. For this reason ‘Ferguson’ said in the context of Chola art that “the Chola artists think like demons”. And they carve like a jeweler.” Chola temples have rectangular sanctum sanctorum, pyramidal spire (vimana) and huge gopuram and stupa at the top. The Chola rulers built temples using stones and stones instead of bricks. The most important of the temples of this period are the Rajarajeshwara or Brihadeshwara temple built by Rajaraja I in Tanjore and the Shiva temple at Gangaikondacholapuram built by Rajendra I. The Brihadeshwara Temple of Tanjore is built in a very large quadrangular courtyard and made of ganite stones. Its top is similar to a 13-floor structure. The temple is surrounded on all sides by a wall or wall, in which there is a huge gopuram for the entrance, the vastness and ornamentation of the gopuram reflects the economic prosperity and political expansion of the Chola period.