In the Chola period women were held in high esteem and took part in all social activities. There was no discrimination in imparting education to women. They provided free education and teaching of Vedas was an essential one. Royal family women were associated with the administration and religious works such as constructed the temples. Chempian Makadevi, the most respected queen of Chola dynasty. She constructed number of stone temples and granted many endowments to various temples. She was the devotee of Lord Shiva. One of the important achievements in her career was maintained the Old records, especially ancient inscriptions were copied before demolition.1 Many inscriptions were clearly mentioned about the status of women. One of the Tamil Literature, Tirumurugarruppadai speaks of ambalams where woman were engaged in cleaning temples and attending to the daily activities of the Shrines.2 They were appointed as members of the judicial committee (nyayattar). Uttiramerur and Thellaru inscriptions revealed that women had headed the panchayat or local self governments in villages.3 Women took an active part in literary activities Kundalakesi was written during this period it’s about the life of kundalakesi was a Buddha saint. She defeated the scholars of Vedic and Jain religion in religious debates and gave a new life to Buddhism.
Women played a major role in agricultural activities and they undertook the responsibility of cultivation of land. They were financially independent; property rights gave full freedom to do anything. Even widows had the right to claim their husband’s property. They granted many endowments and gifts to temples and poor peoples. The practice of committing Sati was widely prevalent but only restricted to royal families. Dowry system prevailed as Sridhana to bride either in the form of land or house. Remarriage of widows was not allowed and they treated as most horrible. Devadasi system was practiced women were require to render the service in temples.4
The status of women was clearly subordination to men during the Pandya society. But the Queens of the Pandyan kingdom had freedom to contributed temple services like Chola Queens. The Queen of Vikrama Pandya constructed the Ulagamudayal Sannadhi in Tiruvannamalai and granted many endowments to that temple. Gold ornaments and other valuable gifts were given by the queen of VeeraPandian to the Siva temple of Tiruvorriyur. During the reign of Maravarman Kulasekhara(1268-1310) period Marco polo, the venician traveller visited Tamilnadu. In his account elaborately mentioned the social condition of Pandyan Kingdom. Polygamy was put into practice by the King had five hundred wives and illegal contact was considered as sin. Sati was also practiced usually by the women folk of royal and aristocratic families. Devadasi system also prevailed. Women are not economically independent.
1 V. Balammal, Studies in Chola History, Kalinga Publications, Delhi, 1998, p.21.
2R.K.Tandon, Op.Cit., p.6.
3 K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, Studies in Chola History and Administration, University of Madras, Madras, 1932, p.65.
4 K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, The Cholas, University of Madras, Madras, 1987, p.36.