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Sangam Age

  • According to Tamil legends, there existed three Sangam (Academy of Tamil poets) in ancient Tamil Nadu popularly called Muchchangam.
  • Sangams flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandyas.
  • first Sangam, held at Then Madurai, was attended by gods and legendary sages but no literary work of this Sangam was available
  • second Sangam was held at Kapadapuram but the all the literary works had perished except Tolkappiyam.
  • third Sangam at Madurai was founded by Mudathirumaran. It was attended by a large number of poets who produced voluminous literature but only a few had survived. These Tamil literary works remain useful sources to reconstruct the history of the Sangam Age
  • Sangam Literature

    • The corpus of Sangam literature includes Tolkappiyam, Ettutogai, Pattuppattu, Pathinenkilkanakku, and the two epics Silappathigaram and Manimegalai.
    • Tolkappiyam authored by Tolkappiyar is the earliest of the Tamil literature
      • a work on Tamil grammar but it provides information on the political and socioeconomic conditions of the Sangam period.
    • Ettutogai or Eight Anthologies consist of eight works – Aingurunooru, Narrinai, Aganaooru, Purananooru, Kuruntogai, Kalittogai, Paripadal and Padirruppattu.
    • Pattuppattu or Ten Idylls consist of ten works – Thirumurugarruppadai, Porunararruppadai, Sirupanarruppadai, Perumpanarruppadai, Mullaippattu, Nedunalvadai, Maduraikkanji, Kurinjippatttu, Pattinappalai and Malaipadukadam.
    • Ettutogai and Pattuppattu were divided into two main groups – Aham (love) and Puram (valour).
    • Pathinenkilkanakku contains eighteen works mostly dealing with ethics and morals. The most important among them is Tirukkural authored by Thiruvalluvar.
    • Silappathigaram written by Elango Adigal and Manimegalai by Sittalai Sattanar also provides valuable information on the Sangam polity and society
    • Hathikumbha inscription of Kharavela of Kalinga also mentions about Tamil kingdoms. The excavations at Arikkamedu, Poompuhar, Kodumanal and other places reveal the overseas commercial activities of the Tamils.
  • Period of Sangam Literature

    • The sheet anchor of Sangam chronology lies in the fact that Gajabhagu II of Sri Lanka and Cheran
    • Senguttuvan of the Chera dynasty were contemporaries
      • This is confirmed by Silappathigaram as well as the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa.
      • , the most probable date of the Sangam literature has been fixed between the third century B.C. to third century A.D. on the basis of literary, archaeological and numismatic evidences.
  • Political History

    • Tamil country was ruled by three dynasties namely the Chera, Chola and Pandyas during the Sangam Age.
    • Cheras

      • ruled over parts of modern Kerala.
      • Their capital was Vanji and their important seaports were Tondi and Musiri.
      • Pugalur inscription of the first century A.D refers to three generations of Chera rulers.
      • Padirruppattu also provides information on Chera kings.
      • Perum Sorru Udhiyan Cheralathan, Imayavaramban Nedum Cheralathan and Cheran Senguttuvan were the famous rulers of this dynasty.
      • Cheran Senguttuvan belonged to 2nd century A.D. His younger brother was Elango Adigal, the author of Silappathigaram.
        • his expedition to the Himalayas was remarkable. He defeated many north Indian monarchs.
        • Senguttuvan introduced the Pattini cult or the worship of Kannagi as the ideal wife in Tamil Nadu.
        • The stone for making the idol of Kannagi was brought by him after his Himalayan expedition
        • consecration ceremony was attended by many princes including Gajabhagu II from Sri Lanka.
    • Cholas

      • Chola kingdom of the Sangam period extended from modern Tiruchi district to southern Andhra Pradesh
      • capital was first located at Uraiyur and then shifted to Puhar
      • Karikala was a famous king of the Sangam Cholas.
      • Pattinappalai portrays his early life and his military conquests.
      • In the Battle of Venni he defeated the mighty confederacy consisting of the Cheras, Pandyas and eleven minor chieftains.
      • Vahaipparandalai was another important battle fought by him in which nine enemy chieftains submitted before him. Karikala’s military achievements made him the overlord of the whole Tamil country.
      • Trade and commerce flourished during his reign period.
      • reclamation of forest lands and brought them under cultivation thus adding prosperity to the people. He also built Kallanai across the river Kaveri and also constructed many irrigation tanks.
    • Pandyas

      • Pandyas ruled over the present day southern Tamil Nadu. Their capital was Madurai
      • two Neduncheliyans. The first one was known as Aryappadai Kadantha Neduncheliyan (one who won victories over the Aryan forces). He was responsible for the execution of Kovalan for which Kannagi burnt Madurai. The other was Talaiyalanganattu Cheruvenra (He who won the battle at Talaiyalanganam) Neduncheliyan. He was praised by Nakkirar and Mangudi Maruthanar.
      • Maduraikkanji written by Mangudi Maruthanar describes the socio-economic condition of the Pandya country
      • flourishing seaport of Korkai
      • Pandyan rule during the Sangam Age began to decline due to the invasion of the Kalabhras
      • Minor Chieftains
        • Pari, Kari, Ori, Nalli, Pegan, Ay and Adiyaman were popular for their philanthropy and patronage of Tam
  • Sangam Polity

    • Hereditary monarchy
    • king had also taken the advice of his ministers
    • court-poet and the imperial court or avai.
    • Chera kings assumed titles like Vanavaramban, Vanavan, Kuttuvan, Irumporai and Villavar, the Chola kings like Senni, Valavan and Killi and the Pandya kings Thennavar and Minavar.
    • Each of the Sangam dynasties had a royal emblem – carp for the Pandyas, tiger for the Cholas and bow for the Cheras.
    • . The king was assisted by a large body of officials who were divided into five councils. They were ministers (amaichar), priests (anthanar), military commanders (senapathi), envoys (thuthar) and spies (orrar).
    • Each ruler had a regular army and their respective Kodimaram (tutelary tree).
    • Land revenue was the chief source of state’s income while custom duty was also imposed on foreign trade. T
    • Pattinappalai refers to the custom officials employed in the seaport of Puhar.
    • Booty captured in wars was also a major income to the royal treasury
    • Roads and highways were well maintained and guarded night and day to prevent robbery and smuggling
  • Sangam Society

    • Tolkappiyam refers to the five-fold division of lands –
    • Kurinji (hilly tracks), Mullai (pastoral), Marudam (agricultural), Neydal (coastal) and Palai (desert).
    • people living in these five divisions had their respective chief occupations as well as gods for worship
      • Kurinji – chief deity was Murugan – chief occupation, hunting and honey collection.
      • Mullai – chief deity Mayon (Vishnu) – chief occupation, cattle-rearing and dealing with dairy products
      • Marudam – chief deity Indira – chief occupation, agriculture.
      • Neydal – chief deity Varunan – chief occupation fishing and salt manufacturing.
      • Palai – chief deity Korravai – chief occupation robbery
      • Tolkappiyam also refers to four castes namely arasar, anthanar, vanigar and vellalar
    • ruling class was called arasar.
      • Anthanars played a significant role in the Sangam polity and religion.
      • Vanigars carried on trade and commerce
    • vellalas were agriculturists
    • Other tribal groups like Parathavar, Panar, Eyinar, Kadambar, Maravar and Pulaiyar were also found in the Sangam society. Ancient primitive tribes like Thodas, Irulas, Nagas and Vedars lived in this period
  • Religion

    • primary deity of the Sangam period was Seyon or Murugan, who is hailed as Tamil God
    • He was honoured with six abodes known as Arupadai Veedu.
    • Hero Stone or Nadu Kal worship was significant in the Sangam period. The Hero Stone was erected in memory of the bravery shown by the warrior in battle.
  • Position of Women

    • Women poets like Avvaiyar, Nachchellaiyar, and Kakkaipadiniyar flourished in this period and contributed to Tamil literature
    • The courage of women was also appreciated in many poems.
    • Karpu or Chaste life was considered the highest virtue of women. Love marriage was a common practice. Women were allowed to choose their life partners. However, the life of widows was miserable. The practice of Sati was also prevalent in the higher strata of society. The class of dancers was patronized by the kings and nobles.
    • The royal courts were crowded with singing bards called Panar and Viraliyar.
    • A variety of Yazhs and drums are referred to in the Sangam literature. Dancing was performed by Kanigaiyar. Koothu was the most popular entertainment of the people.
  • Economy of the Sangam Age

    • Agriculture was the chief occupation. Rice was the common crop. Ragi, sugarcane, cotton, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and a variety of fruits were the other crops.
      • Jack fruit and pepper were famous in the Chera country. Paddy was the chief crop in the Chola and Pandya country
    • handicrafts of the Sangam period were popular. They include weaving, metal works and carpentry, ship building and making of ornaments using beads, stones and ivory.
    • There was a great demand in the western world for the cotton clothes woven at Uraiyur.
    • The port city of Puhar became an emporium of foreign trade, as big ships entered this port with precious goods. Other ports of commercial activity include Tondi, Musiri, Korkai, Arikkamedu and Marakkanam.
    • author of Periplus provides the most valuable information on foreign trade.
  • End of the Sangam Age

    • Towards the end of the third century A.D., the Sangam period slowly witnessed its decline. The Kalabhras occupied the Tamil country for about two and a ha
    • Jainism and Buddhism became prominent during this period.
    • Pallavas in the northern Tamil Nadu and Pandyas in southern Tamil Nadu drove the Kalabhras out of the Tamil country and established their rule.