SANGAM AGE | HISTORY~Generalstudies4u.com

SANGAM AGE

The age of 3 Southern kingdoms Cheras,Pandyas and Cholas was known as the Sangam Age.period 300 BC-AD 600.The word Sangam means Assembly.It was an assembly of Tamil poets and scholars.After the collapse of the Mauryan Empire around the end of the 2nd century BCE, The Sangam Age raised, a number of small kingdoms were established all over North India. In southern India, however, three major dynasties, the Cheras, the Cholas and the Pandyas, (who were never under Ashoka’s rule) continued as powerful rulers of Sangam period.

The Pandyan dynasty initially ruled their lands from Korkai, a seaport on the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, and in later times moved their capital to Madurai. The Chera kingdom comprised present day Kerala and parts of western Tamil Nadu. The Cholas ruled over parts of northern and central Tamil Nadu. Together, the Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras were called the ‘three crowned kings of Tamilakam‘.

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SANGAM AGE | HISTORY
Vettuvan Koil since sangam period (Madurai)

The Sangam kingdoms were experts in water management, agriculture and fisheries. They were eminent sailors and used their maritime prowess to establish strong trade links with Babylon, Egypt, Greece and later Rome. Given the large coastlines that the southern kingdoms were exposed to, it is no surprise that this period must have been one of exploration. It was perhaps sometime in this period of maritime expansion that Indic influences started to spread to South East Asia. Legends of Kaundinya (a Brahmin from India) and other Indian travellers abound in the founding myths of several South East Asian civilisations such as Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia among others. One has only to visit any of these countries to witness how Indic practices have shaped their cultures.

The Sangam Age points to that period in the early history of South India when large numbers of poems in Tamil were written by many authors. The term ‘Sangam’, here, indicates to an assembly or “meeting together” of Tamil poets. According to traditional history, three assemblies were convened one after another. All these three Sangams took place under the patronage of the Pandaya Kings of Madurai, at different places.

The Sangam age is widely regarded as the golden age of classical Tamil literature and Dravidian culture. These literary works composed as hymns, ballads, erotic verses, and lyrics were composed by numerous poets including sages and kings. They wrote about kings, valor, wars, loyalty, gratitude, generosity and love and were patronized by the rulers who honored them with lavish gifts for their literary eloquence. These poets came from all classes of society and followed different religious beliefs; native Dravidian worship peacefully co-existed alongside Hinduism, Jainisam, and Buddhism that spread to south India during the last centuries of BC.

The Sangam Literature, belonging to the period from 300BC to 600AD, records early history of South India. In fact the most remarkable feature of the Sangam literature is its vivid description of the contemporary society and culture of Tamilaham or Tamil region and its harmonious and peaceful interaction with the Aryan (northern) culture. Poems representing the Sangam Literature were authored on two broader themes of love and war. Later, it was put together in eight collections named Ettutogai.

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SANGAM AGE | HISTORY
Sri Meenakshi Temple (Madurai) famous holy in south India
Sangams
Venues
Under the Chairmanship of
Patron
1st Sangam
Ten Madurai (old capital of Pandyas)
Agastasya (Agattiyar)
Pandya
2nd Sangam
Kapatapuram/Alvai
Agastaya and Tolakapiyyar
Pandya
3rd Sangam
North Madurai
Nakkirar
Pandya

THE PANDYAS

Their capital was at Madurai.
First mentioned by Megasthenese,who says that their kingdom was famous for pearls and was ruled by a woman.
Important King-Nendunjeliyan.

THE CHOLAS

The kingdom was called Cholamandalam or Coromandal. The chief centre was Uraiyur, a place famous for cotton trade.Capital was Kaveripattanam/puhar.
A Chola king named Elara conquered Srilanka and reled it over for 50 years.Karikala was their famous king.

THE CHERAS

Their capital was at Vaiji (also called Kerala country).
It owed its importance to trade with the Romans.The Romans set up two regiments there to protect their interest.
Fought against the Cholas about AD 150.
Greatest king was Senguttuvan,the Red Chera.

OTHER ASPECTS OF THE 3 KINGDOMS

All the gathered information is based on Sangam literature.
Sangam was a college or assembly of Tamil poets held probably under Royal Patronage (Especially Pandyas).
Silappadikaram by Ilano Adigal (story of a married couple and Manimekalai by Sattanar are the famous epics of this time.
‘Pariyars’-agricultural labourers who used to work in animal skin.
Civil and military officers held by vellalas (rich peasants).
The ruling class was called ‘Arahar’.
Captains of the army were given the title ENADI in formal function.
Sangam literature divides Tamil region into five parts-Palai,Mullai,Kurunj,Marudam and Neydal.
Sangam literature mainly revolves around the two points
(i) Aabam: Love or internal
(ii)Puram: War or external
A book influenced by Jainism called Sivaga Sindamani/Jivak Chintamani was written by Tinittakkadevar.
Tolkappiyam,a Tamil grammar was written by Talkapiyar.

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