Tamil Literature

Tamil literature has a rich and long literary tradition spanning more than two thousand years.


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Tamil literature is one of the world's best literature over two thousand years. Tamil literature can be found in various aspects of life. There are 96 literature threads in the Tamil language. Today, Tamil literature has spread to many new literary genres in Tamil.

Tamil who lived in ancient times have written many good opinions of Tamil literature. Sangam literature is the oldest among the literature in Tamil. The formation of Tamil literature & its origin in ancient days are below as follows

Ancient Tamil kingdoms & Kings (Sangam age)

The history of Tamil kingdom starts from Sangam age it is generally believed that the Sangam age dates from 300 B.C to 300 A.D there were many kings in various parts of Tamil Nadu. During this period, Tamil people were largely farmer, hunters and fishermen's. They were the group of poets who sang songs about kings and their life history in this period and popularly known as Sangam poets. Therefore these 600 years are known as the Sangam age.

We know about the ancient Tamils in Tamil poetry. These tamil poetry & writing from those times gives us very vivid images of the life & society of the ancient Tamil people. This literature is called Sangam literature.

The Three Sangam eras

Sangam means association. Sangams of Tamil writers, poets & scholars were supported by the various kings. From all the evidence we have today, we find there were three great Tamil Sangams. The first kingdom was in the ancient thenmadurai which was submerged under the sea.

The second was in kapadapuram which was away from the seashore. But even this was washed away by the sea. The third Sangam kingdom was established in a region which is present Madurai. There was three major kingdoms in the early and later Sangam eras.

They were as follows

  • Chera
  • Chola
  • Pandya

The Sangam period produced many great works of literature but much of it has been lost. What is left has been compiled in two collection agathiyam this poem tells about the life of the people their values, greatness, benevolence of the kings at that time. The book tholkappiam spelled out all the grammatical elements of Tamil.

Great poets of Sangam age:

Notable among the great poets were avaiyar, kapilar, Paranar, nakkirar, & Pisiranthaiyar.

During the ancient days the kings were very generous and compassionate. They cared about the welfare of their people then foreign trade with Rome, Egypt & Arabia flourished. The special aspects were the great friendships between kings & scholars. The scholars even advised the kings when they were going wrong.

Some salient features:

The ancient Tamil kings were very much people oriented they did not build palaces or monuments for themselves but built temples, forts, dams, ships etc. which were used for their subjects. They displayed sound technical & engineering knowledge in their buildings. They had great artistry sense in them. Chola speciality is their metal craft where they combined five metals to make idols & statues

Language spread:

In ancient days the Tamil language is spread only in the trade relationship with other countries. It is human nature to be interested in new things. People have a desire to explore. From early days people looked for new places new routes by land & sea. During the Sangam age in ancient times, people of Tamil Nadu had the trade relationship with Greece, Rome, Egypt, Arabian islands, Malaysia, East Indian islands, Sri Lanka, & China. Historians have stated that around 120 ships would travel between Greece & India every year. Many kings of the Sangam age have themselves travelled to different lands for maritime trade. Similarly many people from different lands travelled by land routes & sea routes to India. Some explorers set out for faraway lands for a personal thrill.

Apart from being the name of the language, 'Tamil' also means things like beauty, sweet and natural. Only the language of Tamil has many names. Tamil is the only language to have several names like: ‘kanni’ Tamil, ‘Inba’ Tamil, ‘Nat’ramil, etc are basically forms of the word ‘Tamil’ which is prefixed by its adjectives. A few others are ‘Senthamil’, ‘Paindhamil’, ‘Sanga Tamil’. These are words that add special emphasis on one of the many salient features and specialities of Tamil as a language. Being one of the very old languages in the world, it’s no wonder that Tamil has so many such descriptions on it all of the above one of the best name is “Muthamil.”

The Tamil language has been divided into three important facets:

  1. Iyal
  2. Isai
  3. Nadagam