Provincial and Local Administration           Kingdom (mandalam) was divided
carried on by hereditary chiefs, and that of the villages and towns by local
assemblies, called manrams.
Revenue Administration Land and trade were the chief sources of the
royal revenue. The ma and veli as measures of land and kalam as measure of
grain were already known, but the king’s share of the produce of agriculture
(karai or land revenue) is nowhere precisely stated. Foreign trade was
important and customs revenue (sungam) occupied a high place on the
receipts side of the budget; the Pattinappalai gives a vivid account of the
activity of customs officials in Puhar (Kaveripattinam). Internal transit duties
on merchandise moving from place to place were another source of revenue,
and the roads were guarded night and day by soldiers to prevent smuggling.
Booty captured in war (irai) constituted a considerable part of royal
resources. The Cholas are said to have had a strongly guarded treasury at
Kumbakonam in the Sangam age.
Military Administration The rulers maintained a regular army consisting
of chariots (drawn by oxen), cavalry, infantry and elephants. Elephants
played an important role in warfare. The institution of virakka/ or naduka/
(i.e. hero-stone), which was a practice of erecting monuments for the dead
soldiers and worshipping them, was quite predominant. Also in vogue was
the institution of kava/aram or kadimaram (i.e. tutelary tree) according to
which each ruler had a great tree in his palace as symbol of power.
Judicial Administration The slaughter of a cow, the killing of a foetus,
and the killing of a Brahmin were considered as heinous offences; though in
gratitude, according to the established code, was held to be even worse.
Social Classes
Sangam period witnessed the appearance of the Brahmins as a regular varna
as also their growing influence. They were patronised (in the role of priests
and poets) by the kings. Another fact worth to be noted is the consumption of
meat and wine by the Tamil Brahmins during this period. Kshatriyas and
Vaishyas were absent as regular varnas at this time, but warriors and
merchants were to be found as separate c1asses. The fourth class or caste was