Kingship was attributed to define origin. The kings claimed their descent from the God Brahma. It has hereditary. Yet, on one occasion a king was elected. Most of the kings were accomplished scholars. Mahendravarman I wrote the famous burlesque, Masttavilasa Prahsana. Many of the vaishnava alvars and saiva nayanars flourished during their rule.
The kings adopted high-sounding titles like maharajadhiraja, dharma-maharjadhiraja (great king of kings rulling in accordance with the dharma), agnistomavajpeya, asvamedha-yaji (he who has performed the agnithtoma-vajapeya and asvamedha sacrifices) They were assisted by ministers. History shows that the ministerial council played a great part in the state policy in the later period.
A hierarchy of officials in provincial administration, the governor ofa province was assisted by district officers, who in turn worked in collaboration with automous local bodies. In local administration the meeting of assembles were frequent, and the administration the meeting of assemblies were frequent, and the assemblies were of many varieities and of many levels. Often special meetings were held. As the village levelthe assembly was the sabha which looked after almost all the matters of the village, along with endowments, irrigation, crime, maintaining census and other necessary records, Courts at villages level dealt with minor criminal cases. The judicial courts of the town and districts were presided over by government officials, climaxing with the king as the supreme arbiter of justice. The sabha worked in close association with the urar, and informal gathering of the entire village. Above this unit was a district administration. Finally, the head man of the villages was the link between the village assembly and the official administration.
Theoretically the king owned the land. The status of a village depended on the prevalent land tenure. The fist variety was the village with inter-caste population where in the people paid taxes to the king. The second was the brahmadeya village in which the entire land was donated to a single Brahmin or a group of brahmins. A variation of this village was the agrahars grant which, was an entire village settlement of brahmins. Both these forms were exempt from royal taxes. In the devadana village the revenue was donated to a temple, and the temple authorities in turn provided employment for the villagers in the temple whenever possible. In the Pallava period the first two categories of villages were in vogue.
Apart from these major points relating to land there was a special category of land, the sripatti or tank land. The revenue from such a land was sent apart for the maintenance of the village tank. The tank itself was built by the efforts of the entire village. All shared the water stored in the tank. Very many inscriptions of the Pallavas refer to the up-keep of tanks.
There are two Points about taxes. The land revenue varied from one-sixth to one tenth of the produce of the land. This was paid to the State. The local taxes that were collected in a village were spent for the needs of the village. As land revenue was necessarily small, the State revenue was supplemented by additional taxes on draught cattle, marriage-parties, potters, makers of clarified butter, textile manufacturers, washermen and weavers. The major source of revenue was from land, since the revenue from mercantile activity was not fully exploited.
Regarding expenditure, most to the revenue want for the maintenance of army. The king preferred a standing army instead of feudal levie. The army primarily consisting of food soldiers and cavalry along with a sprinkling of elephants. Indeed the Pallavas developed a navy although the mercantile activity was not great. Two dockyards were built at Mahablipuram and Nagabatnam. This pioneeringh effort of the Pallavas reached its climax during the days of cholas. The navy served a double purpose. It was meant for defence and also assisted the maritime trade with sout-east Asia, particularly with the three kingdoms of Kambuja (Cambodia) Champa (Annam) and Shrivijaya (Malayan peninsula and Sumatra).