Sangam Period refers to the time period in South India (the region south of the rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra) that spans roughly from the third century B.C. to the third century A.D. It bears the name of the Sangam academies, which flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandya monarchs of Madurai during that time.
Eminent academics gathered at the sangams to serve as the board of censors, and the best writing was produced in the form of anthologies.
These literary works were the earliest specimens of Dravidian literature.
There were three Sangams (Academy of Tamil poets) held in the historic South India known as Muchchangam, according to Tamil folklore.
- Tolkappiyam, Ettutogai, Pattuppattu, Pathinenkilkanakku, and two epics called Silappathikaram and Manimegalai are among the works of Sangam literature.
- Tolkappiyam, written by Tolkappiyar, is regarded as the first piece of Tamil literature. Although it is a study on Tamil language, it also offers insights on the socio-political environment of the day.
- Aingurunooru, Narrinai, Aganaooru, Purananooru, Kuruntogai, Kalittogai, Paripadal, and Padirruppatu are the eight works that make up Ettuthogai (Eight Anthologies).
- Thirumurugarruppadai, Porunarruppadai, Sirupanarruppadai, Perumpanarruppadai, Mullaippattu, Nedunalvadai, Maduraikkanji, Kurinjippatttu, Pattinappalai, and Malaipadukadam are the 10 works that make up The Pattupattu (Ten Idylls).
- There are eighteen works on ethics and morals in Pathinenkilkanakku. The most significant of these writings is Thirukkural, which was written by Tamil great poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar.
The Cheras, Cholas, and Pandya kingdoms controlled South India throughout the Sangam Age. The literary allusions from the Sangam Period are the main source of knowledge about these countries.
- The Kongu region of Tamil Nadu and the centre and northern portions of Kerala were under the rule of the Cheras.
- Their capital was Vanji, and they had influence over the ports on the west coast, Musiri and Tondi.
- “Bow and arrow” was Cheras’ national anthem.
- Three generations of Chera kings are mentioned in the Pugalur inscription from the first century AD.
- Trade with the Romans contributed to the Cheras’ prominence. There was also an Augustus temple constructed.
- Senguttuvan, often known as the Red Chera or the Good Chera, was the greatest monarch of the Cheras.
- The northern and central regions of Tamil Nadu were under Chola dominion.
- The Kaveri delta, afterwards known as Cholamandalam, served as their main sphere of influence.
- Their primary port town and alternate royal residence was Puhar or Kaviripattinam, which was located close to Tiruchirapalli town. Their capital was Uraiyur.
- Their logo included a tiger.
- Additionally, the Cholas had a productive navy.
- A well-known Sangam Chola ruler was Karikala.
- The life and military victories of Pattinappalai are shown.
- The Battle of Venni, in which he routed the alliance of Chera, Pandya, and eleven minor chieftains, is mentioned in numerous Sangam songs.
- Karikala ruled the whole Tamil region at the time thanks to his military prowess.
- During his rule, trade and commerce prospered.
- He established Puhar, a port city similar to Kaveripattinam.
- In Madurai, the Pandyas held power.
- Their principal port, Korkai, was close to where Thampraparani and the Bay of Bengal met. It was well-known for its diving and pearl fishing.
- The “Fish” served as their crest.
- They supported the Tamil Sangams and made it easier for the Sangam poems to be collected.
- Kings maintained a standing army.
- Their pearls were renowned, and trade was brisk.
- Sati, caste, and idolatry were widespread. Widows received poor treatment.
- They embraced the sacrifice-based religion of the Vedas and supported Brahmin priests.
- The Kalabhra tribe’s invasion caused a collapse in their authority.
- This dynasty declined after the Sangam Age for more than a century until making a comeback at the end of the 6th century.
- Hereditary monarchy was the system of government throughout the Sangam era.
- The Cholas, the Pandyas, and the Cheras each had a different royal insignia during the Sangam era: a tiger, a fish, or a bow.
- A large group of officials who were divided into five councils assisted the king.
- They were secret agents (senapathi), ministers (amaichar), priests (anthanar), envoys (thuthar), and military leaders (orrar).
- A regular army was attached to each king, and the military government was well-organized.
- Land revenue served as the state’s main source of income, and international trade was also subject to a customs levy.
- War booty was a significant source of funding for the royal treasury.
- To stop theft and smuggling, the roads and highways were kept up and patrolled.
- The five-fold division of regions known as Tolkappiyam includes Kurinji (hilly trails), Mullai (pastoral), Marudam (agricultural), Neydal (coastal), and Palai (desert).
- Aside from the ruling class, tolkappiyam also refers to the four castes of arasar, anthanar, vanigar, and vellalar (Agriculturists).
- Tribes from this era included the Thodas, Irulas, Nagas, and Vedars.
Religion During Sangam Age
- Murugan, revered as the Tamil God, served as the main god during the Sangam era.
- The celebration of God Murugan’s festivals is described in Sangam literature, and his worship has a long history.
- Arupadai Veedu, six abodes honouring Murugan, were created.
- During the Sangam era, people also worshiped Mayon (Vishnu), Vendan (Indiran), Varunan, and Korravai.
- The Hero Stone, also known as Nadu Kal worship, was prominent during the Sangam period and was built as a monument to the courage the warriors displayed while engaged in combat.
The Sangam Age’s end
- Its gradual decline toward the end of the third century A.D. was observed during the Sangam period.
- Between 300 and 600 AD, the Kalabhras ruled the Tamil nation following the Sangam period. Earlier historians referred to this time as an interregnum or a “dark age.”