Sangam Age

sangam age literature society tamil period upsc

  • The period between the 3rd century B.C. to the end of 3rd century A.D. in Southern India is known as Sangam Period.
  • Their beginnings can be traced to 1000 B.C.
  • But in many cases the megalithic phase lasted from about the 5th to the 1st century B.C.
  • The Cholas, Pandyas and Keralaputras (Cheras) mentioned in the Asokan inscriptions were probably in the late megalithic phase of material culture.
  • It has been named after the Sangam academies during that period.
  • According to the Tamil legends, there were three Sangams (Academy of Tamil poets) held in the ancient South India popularly called Muchchangam.
  • These Sangams flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandya kings of Madurai.
  • 1st Sangam
    • It is believed to be held at Madurai, attended by gods and legendary sages.
    • No literary work of this Sangam is available.
  • 2nd Sangam
    • It was held at Kapadapuram, only Tolkappiyam survives from this.
  • 3rd Sangam
    • Held at Madurai was founded by Mudathirumaran.
  • Their Chief god was Murugan

sangam age literature society tamil period upsc

sangam age literature society tamil period upsc

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Cheras

  • The Cheras ruled over major parts of modern Kerala.
  • The capital of Cheras was Vanji.
  • Tondi and Musiri were the important seaports in this period.
  • The emblem of Cheras is the ‘bow and arrow’.
  • The Pugalur inscription of the 1st century AD and Padirruppattu has reference to three generations of Chera rulers.
  • Senguttuvan was the prominent ruler of this Chera dynasty.
  • The military achievements of Senguttuvan have been recorded in epic Silapathikaram.
  • He has done an expedition to the Himalayas where he defeated several North Indian rulers.
  • Senguttuvan introduced the Pattini cult or the worship of Kannagi as the ideal wife in Tamil Nadu.
  • He was the first to send an ambassador to China from South India.

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Cholas

  • The Chola kingdom in the Sangam period extended from present day Tiruchi district to Southern Andhra Pradesh.
  • Initially, the capital of Chola was Uraiyur and later moved to Puhar  (Tanjore)
  • King Karikala was a prominent king of the Cholas dynasty.
  • The insignia of Cholas was ‘tiger’.
  • Pattinappalai written by Kadiyalur Uruttirangannanar depicts his life and military takeovers.
  • Various Sangam poems indicate the Battle of Venni where he defeated the alliance of Pandyas, Cheras, and 11 minor chieftains.
  • Vahaipparandalai was another important battle fought by Karikala.
  • Trade and commerce prospered during his rule.
  • He also built irrigation tanks near river Kaveri to make available water for reclaimed land from the forest for cultivation.
  • Elara was another king, who conquest Sri lanka.

sangam age literature society tamil period upsc

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Pandyas

  • Founded by a woman king
  • The Pandyas ruled over the contemporary day Southern region of Tamil Nadu.
  • Madurai was the capital of Pandyas.
  • Their emblem was the ‘Carp’.
  • King Nedunjeliyan also was known as Aryappadai Kadantha Neduncheliyan.
  • According to mythology, the curse of the Kannagi, wife of Kovalan, burnt and destroyed Madurai.
  • The socio-economic condition of the seaport of Korkai was mentioned in Maduraikkanji which was written by Mangudi Maruthanar.
  • Famous for its pearls trade

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Sangam Age Literature

  • The Sangam literature includes Tolkappiyam, Ettutogai, Pattuppattu, Pathinenkilkanakku, and two epics named – Silappathigaram and Manimegalai .
  • Tolkappiyam was authored by Tolkappiyar, it is considered the earliest of Tamil literary work.
  • Though it is a work on Tamil grammar but it also provides insights on the political and socio-economic conditions of the time.
  • Ettutogai (Eight Anthologies) consist of eight works
  • The Pattuppattu (Ten Idylls) consist of ten works  .
  • Pathinenkilkanakku contains eighteen works about ethics and morals.
  • The most important among these works is Tirukkural authored by Thiruvalluvar, the tamil great poet and philosopher.
  • The two epics Silappathigaram is written by Elango Adigal and Manimegalai by Sittalai Sattanar.
  • They also provide valuable details about the Sangam society and polity.

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Other Sources 

  • The Greek authors like Megasthenes, Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy mentioning commercial trade contacts between the West and South India.
  • Also, the Ashokan inscriptions mention the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers to the south of Mauryan empire.
  • Another inscription, Hathikumbha inscription of Kharavela of Kalinga also has mention of Tamil kingdoms.

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Position of Women during Sangam Age

  • There were women poets like Avvaiyar, Nachchellaiyar, and Kakkaipadiniyar who flourished and contributed to Tamil literature.
  • Love marriage wascommon practice and women were allowed to choose their life partners.
  • But, life of widows was miserable.
  • There is also a mention the practice of Sati being prevalent in the higher strata of society.

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Economy of the Sangam Age

  • Agriculture was the chief occupation where rice was the most common crop.
  • The handicraft included weaving, metal works and carpentry, ship building and making of ornaments using beads, stones and ivory.
  • The port city of Puhar became an important place of foreign trade, as big ships entered this port containing  precious goods.
  • Other significant ports of commercial activity were Tondi, Musiri, Korkai, Arikkamedu and Marakkanam.
  • Many gold and silver coins that were issued by the Roman Emperors like Augustus, Tiberius and Nero have been found in all parts of Tamil Nadu indicating flourishing trade.
  • Major exports of the Sangam age was cotton fabrics and spices like pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric along with ivory products, pearls and precious stones.
  • Major imports for the traders were horses, gold, and sweet wine.

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