friend. He held a daily court (nalavai) at which he heard and set right all
complaints.
     The ideal of the ‘Conquering king’ (vijigishu) was accepted and acted on.
Victory against seven kings meant a superior status, which the victor marked
by wearing a garland made out of the crowns of the seven vanquished rulers.
The most powerful kings were expected to undertake a digvi-jaya, which was
a conquering expedition in a clockwise direction over the whole of India.
     The idea of a chakravarti, whose digvijaya was led by the march of a
mysterious wheel of gold and gems through the area, is mentioned in one of
the poems in the Purananuru. Another poem in the same collection mentions
the companions of a king who committed suicide when the king died—an
early anticipation of what later became a widespread institution under such
names as velaikkarar, garudas, sahavasis, apattudavigal and so on.
     Kings assumed several titles. For example, Cheras had tittles like
vanavar, villavar, kuddavar, etc.; Cholas called themselves sennis, valavan,
killi, etc.; and Pandyas preferred minavar, panchvar, tennar, etc. The king
was at the apex of administration and wielded enormous powers. Annual
celebration of his birthday, known as perunal (the great day), was an
important event. Each of the Sangam dynasties had a royal emblem—carp for
the Pandyas, tiger for the Cholas and bow for the Cheras. The imperial court
(avai) was attended by a number of chiefs as well as several officials.
     The sabha or manram of the king in the capital was the highest court of
justice. The elders are said to have laid aside their personal quarrels when
they attended the sabha to help in the adjudication of disputes. The Kural
regards the sabha as a general assembly dealing with all affairs. Even less
specialised, and more entangled in the social and religious complex of village
life, was the manram. Each village had its common place of meeting
generally under the shade of a big tree, where men, women and children met
for all the common activities of the village, including sports and pastimes.
There may also have been a political side to these rural gatherings.
Officials The king was assisted by a large body of officials who were
divided into five assemblies or councils. They were: (a) amaichchar or
ministers, (b) purohitar or priests, (c) senapatiyar or military commanders,
(d) dutar or envoys and (e) orrar or spies.