Ancient India Simplified: Sangam Age (300 BC – 300 AD)

The Sangam was characterised by a school of poets and bards, who thrived in three  different periods under the patronage of the Pandyan Kings.
The corpus of poems known as Sangam literature was produced over six centuries, from around 300 BC to 300 AD, by Tamils from very diverse social backgrounds. It was compiled in anthologies several centuries later.
Sangam is associated with a college or assembly of scholars centred around the ancient Madurai.

Features of Sangam Literature

1. The Tolkappiyam, a book of grammar and rhetoric, and eight anthologies (Ettuttokai) of poetry were compiled—Ainkurunuru, Kuruntokai, Narrinai, Akananuru, Kalittokai, Patirruppattu, Purananuru, and Paripatal. A ninth anthology, Pattupattu, consists of 10 idylls (idylls meaning a short description in verse or prose of an incident) that present a picture of early Tamil life.
2. The poems are concerned with two main topics: those of the first five collections are on love (akam), and those of the next two are on heroism (puram), including the praise of kings and their deeds. Paripatal, the eighth collection, contains poems of both types.
3. Since they deal almost entirely with nonreligious subjects, these poems are also free from the complex mythical allusions that are such an outstanding feature of most Indian art forms. 
4. There are nonetheless some instances of religious works in sangam poetry. Paripatal, for example, contains poems about Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, and Murugan.
5. According to Nilakanta Sastri, the poets came from diverse backgrounds: some were from a royal family, some merchants, some farmers. At least 27 of the poets were women.
6. Institution of Virakkal or Nadukal (Hero Stone) was in practice. 
7. The temple was called Nagar, Koli, Kottam, Purai or devalayam.
8. The rich peasants were called Vallalas, the ruling class were called Arasar and the agricultural labourers were called Periyars. 

Important Sangam Works: 

1. Tolkappiyam by Talkappiyar: Work on Tamil grammar
2. Tirukural by Tiruvalluvar (Called “Fifth Veda”): It is a compound of Dharma, artha, kama and moksha. 
3. Silappadikaram “The Jewelled Anklet” by Illano Adigal : Deals with the love story of Kovalan and Madhavi
4. Manimekalai by Sattalai Sattanar:  “Odyssey of Tamil poetry”
The whole sangam age is also called Golden or Augustan age in Tamil Literature. According to tradition the father of Tamil literature is Agastya.

Special Regions of Sangam Age

Region God Worshipped
Hill region Kurunji Murugam or Shiva
Deserted region Pallaii Kornavai or Durga
Forest regionMullai Menar or Vishnu
Agricultural RegionMarudam Indra
Coastal RegionNeyttal Varuna

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