Know all About Sangam Age and Literature

5 minute read

Sangam age is believed to be the period between the 3rd century B.C and the 3rd century AD. of the area laying to the south of the Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers i. e South of India. The Sangam literature is the earliest known literature in the Tamil language. It is also known as “the poetry of the noble ones,”.Sangam’s name was given to the Tamil literature that flourished in South India between 300 BCE and 300 CE. Sangam literature is a valuable source of information about the social, political, and cultural history of South India. In this blog, we will learn more about Sangam Literature and its importance in Indian History.

What are the Three Sangams?

Traditionally, Sangam literature is attributed to three literary academies or Sangams, each believed to have existed for several centuries and are known as Muchchangam. While historical evidence supports the existence of the Third Sangam, the first two remain shrouded in myth and legend.

  • First Sangam: Madurai, a prominent city in ancient Tamil Nadu, is thought to have been the site of the First Sangam. It is believed that legends like gods and sages attended this Sangam, but it has no official record.
  • Second Sangam: Kapadpuram, another important centre of Tamil culture, is associated with the Second Sangam. The only literature that survived this Sangam was Tolkappiyam.
  • Third Sangam: Madurai once again served as the hub of literary activity during the Third Sangam, the period from which the majority of Sangam literature has survived.

What is Sangam Literature?

The word “Sangam” literally means “association” or “academy.” In the context of Tamil literature, it refers to a series of three literary academies that are believed to have existed in Madurai, an ancient city in Tamil Nadu, India. These academies were patronized by the Pandyan kings and provided a platform for poets and scholars to compose and preserve Tamil literature. The three main categories of Sangam literature are Akam (love poetry), Puram (heroic poetry), and Pura (epics). The literature is a vast collection of works, including poems, anthologies, and epics. It provides insights into the lives, loves, and struggles of the Tamil people during the Sangam age.

Also Read – What are the Ancient Indian Languages?

The Two Themes of Sangam Literature

Sangam literature is mainly divided into two themes: aham (love poetry) and puram (war poetry).

Aham (Inner) PoetryPuram (Outer) Poetry
It focuses on the inner world of human emotions, particularly the emotional pain related to love and separation.It celebrates the heroic deeds of kings, warriors, and chieftains. 
It was Women DominatedIt was Male Dominated
It is characterized by its use of vivid imagery, symbolism, and a rich vocabulary of emotions.It is characterized by its grand style, martial imagery, and praise of valour and sacrifice.

Also Read – Paleolithic Age: Phases & Features

Source: Bookstawa

Some Notable Works of Sangam Literature 

  • Tolkappiyam

Considered the earliest Tamil grammar, Tolkappiyam provides a comprehensive framework for the language and its poetic conventions.

  • The Eight Anthologies: Ettutogai

The Ettutogai, or “Eight Anthologies,” is a collection of eight anthologies of poems that deal with various aspects of love and life. These anthologies are:

  1. Ainkurunuru
  2. Kuruntogai
  3. Narrinai
  4. Akananuru
  5. Kalittogai
  6. Patirruppattu
  7. Purananuru
  8. Paripadal
  • The Ten Idylls: Pattupattu

The Pattupattu, or “Ten Idylls,” is a collection of ten long poems that focus on various themes, such as heroism, kingship, and religion. These idylls provide a valuable source of information about the social and political structure of the Sangam period.

Image Source –

  • The Two Epics: Silappathikaram and Manimekalai

The two epics of Sangam literature, Silappathikaram and Manimekalai, are considered masterpieces of Tamil literature. These epics deal with universal themes of love, loss, and spiritual enlightenment, and they continue to inspire and captivate readers today.

  • Pathinenkilkanakku

A group of eighteen didactic poems offering moral and ethical guidance.

What are the characteristics of the Sangam Age and Literature?

Some of the characteristics are as follows :

  • Oral Tradition: This literature was initially transmitted orally, and passed down through generations of poets and scholars.
  • Akam and Puram: Thematic division into Akam (love poetry) and Puram (war and heroism) reflects the diverse experiences of Tamil society.
  • Rich Imagery and Symbolism: Sangam poems are known for their evocative language, employing nature imagery and cultural symbols to convey emotions and ideas.

Also Read- When did Agriculture Begin: A Timeline

What is the significance of Sangam Literature?

The literature is of great cultural and historical significance. It provided a perspective into the lives of the ancient Tamils, their values, and their worldview. It also showcases the richness and sophistication of the Tamil language and its literary tradition.

  • Preservation of Tamil Culture: Sangam literature serves as a valuable record of ancient Tamil society, providing insights into their social structures, beliefs, and artistic expressions.
  • Linguistic Heritage: The study of Sangam literature is crucial for understanding the evolution of the Tamil language and its literary traditions.
  • Cultural Identity: Sangam literature continues to shape the cultural identity of the Tamil people, inspiring artists, writers, and scholars for generations to come.

The Sangam Age was ruled by three major kingdoms namely, the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas and the main information about these dynasties was traced from the literature of the era. The Sangam literature was a vast and diverse body of literature that encompassed a variety of genres, including poetry, epics, and grammar.

The Sangam literature provides valuable insights into the culture, society, and values of the ancient Tamil region. It is a testament to the rich literary tradition of the Tamil language. Through its evocative language, diverse themes, and enduring legacy, Sangam literature continues to captivate and inspire, offering a profound glimpse into the heart and soul of the Tamil people.

Relevant Blogs

Maratha Empire (1674-1818)The Mauryan Empire (321-185 BC)
The Vijaynagar Empire (1336-1647) AD Pallava Dynasty
Khilji Dynasty (1290–1320)Lodi Dynasty
Maharana PratapGupta Empire
AshokaChalukya Dynasty

That’s all about the Sangam Age and Literature! If you want to know more about topics like this, then visit our general knowledge page! Alternatively, you can also read our blog on general knowledge for competitive exams!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *