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Pillai, Pillay, Pulle, Pilli or Pillaimar (Tamil: பிள்ளை,பிள்ளைமார், Malayalam: പിള്ള) is an upper caste title used by land-owning castes of Tamil- and Malayalam-speaking people of India, Sri Lanka and others living in Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and Fiji, mostly from the Vellalar community in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Nair community in Kerala.
South African Tamils use the spelling Pillay, whereas some Sri Lankan castes may also use Pulle or Pilli.
Yadava (Tamil Yadav) also uses Pillai as sur name. At end of the Nineteenth Century, leaders of Yadava associations had their Sur name as pillai. Most notable persons are
Kuppusamy Pillai, Thana Pillai (Advocate), Krishnasamy Pillai, Kesava Pillai. Then many Tamil Yadavas used Pillai instead of yadav. 
History of the title
In 1909 Edgar Thurston noted, ″Pillai. — Pillai, meaning child, is in the Tamil country primarily the title of Vellalas, but has, at recent times of census, been returned as the title of a number of classes,
They have been influential in the revival of Tamil traditions and dominate much of the writing on Siddha medicine today.
Notable people with the surname Pillai
- A. R. Pillai, Indian freedom fighter
- Ananda Ranga Pillai (1709–61), dubash in the service of French East India Company
- Ariranga Pillay (born 1945), former Chief Justice and briefly Acting President of Mauritius
- Arumuka Navalar, born as Kandar Arumugam Pillai, Hindu reformer
- Candice Pillay, born 1981, singer and songwriter
- Champakaraman Pillai (1891–1934), freedom fighter from Travancore of Tamil descent
- Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, Malayalam poet
- Devasahayam Pillai (1712–52), Indian court official, controversial convert to Christianity
- Dhanraj Pillay (born 1968), Indian hockey player
- G. P. Pillai, barrister, established the first English newspaper in South India
- K. C. Pillai, Doctor of Divinity, (1900–70) a Bishop-at-large of the Indian Orthodox Church, Antiochean Succession, Chennai (Madras), India.
- K. C. Sreedharan Pillai (1920–85), Indian mathematician
- K. Thamboosamy Pillay (1850–1902), a prominent member of the Tamil community in British Malaya.
- Kavimani Desigavinayagam Pillai, Indian freedom fighter, poet
- L. D. Swamikannu Pillai, Indian astronomer, Speaker of Tamil Nadu Assembly
- M. P. Narayana Pillai, a Malayalam writer
- Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai, eminent writer in Tamil literature; his poem "Niraarum Kadal Udutha" is the official Tamil Anthem
- Marimutthu Pillai, musician
- Maruthanayagam Pillai (1725–64), Indian soldier and administrator also known as Muhammed Yusuf Khan
- Nadakkal Parameswaran Pillai (born 1931), leader of Indian Coffee House movement
- Nagai Vedachalam Pillai, also known as Maraimalai Adigal
- Naraina Pillai, a social entrepreneur and businessman
- Navanethem Pillay, South African Judge, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Nisha Pillai, Indian-born journalist and BBC news anchor
- P. Govinda Pillai, a Communist Party of India leader
- Palani Subramaniam Pillai (1908–62), Carnatic music percussionist
- Paravur TK Narayana Pillai (1890–1971), Indian freedom fighter
- Pattom A. Thanu Pillai (1885–1970), Second Chief Minister of unified Kerala
- Pradani Muthirulappa Pillai, minister of Ramnad during the reign of Muthuramalinga Sethupathy
- R. Balakrishna Pillai (born 1935), former State minister in Kerala
- Rajmohan Pillai (born 1964), Indian businessman
- G. Parameswaran Pillai (1890–1963), Dewan of Travancore
- Namakkal Kavignar Ramalingam Pillai, poet and freedom fighter
- Rao Bahadur P. I. Chinnaswamy Pillai, first Municipal Chairman of Palakkad, Kerala, India
- Rhea Pillai, Indian model
- Dr. Sivathanu Pillai, Head of Defence Research and Development Organisation
- Sreekanteswaram Padmanabha Pillai, lexicographer
- Subbayya Sivasankaranarayana Pillai (1901–50), Indian mathematician
- Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, journalist and political activist. Translated Karl Marx's biography into Malayalam
- Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (1912–99), Malayalam author
- Thiru Arul Pakyem Pillai, chemist, prominent Karachiite Tamil community leader and great-grandfather of politician Colonel Osborne Wrigley-Pimley-McKerr III
- V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai, current Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University IGNOU
- V. O. Chidambaram Pillai (1872–1936), Indian freedom fighter
- "History". உலகத் தமிழ் யாதவர் பேரவை. 2009-08-05. Retrieved 2016-06-06.
- Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. VI (P to S). Madras: Government Press. p. 198. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- Weiss, Richard (2008). Divorcing Ayurveda: Siddha Medicine and the Quest for Uniqueness. State University of New York.
- A. S. Pillai
- A Pillai Who's Who, saivaneri.org
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