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prelims Test Series 2019
Aug 21, 2015

Christian era, although it was finally compiled by 600 AD. Poets who in these assemblies were patronized by kings and chieftains produced the Sangama literature over a period of three to four centuries. Poets, bards and writers, authors came from various parts of South India to Madurai. Such assemblies were called “Sangamas”, and the literature produced in these assemblies was called “Sangama literature”. The contributions of Tamil saints like Thiruvalluvar who wrote ‘Kural’ which has been translated into many langauges are noteworthy. The Sangama literature is a collection of long and short poems composed by various poets in praise of numerous heroes and heroines. They are secular in nature and of a very high quality. Three such sangams were held. The poems collected in the first sangam have been lost. In the second Sangam about 2000 poems have been collected.


Place of Organisation








No books survived



Earlier- Agastya Later- Tolkappiyar (a disciple of Agastaya)


Tolkappiyam (author - Tolkappiyar)





covers entire corpus of Sangam Literature

Sangam flourished in three different periods and in different places under the patronage of the Pandyan kings. It is believed that the first Sangam was attended by gods and legendary sages, and its seat was Ten Madurai. All the works of the first Sangam have perished.

The seat of the second Sangam was Kapatpuram, another capital of the Pandyas. It was attended by several poets and produced a large mass of literature, but only Tolkappiyam (the early Tamil grammar) has survived.

The seat of the third Sangam was the present Madurai. It has also produced vast litera¬ture, but only a fraction of it has survived. It is this fraction which constitutes the extant body of Sangam literature. The Age of the Sangam is the age to which the Sangam literature belonged. The Sangam literature constitutes a mine of information on conditions of life around the beginning of the Christian era.

Some Key Points related to Snagam period

  • Sangam literature refers to a body of classical Tamil literature created between the years 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. 

  • Sangam literature deals with emotional and material topics such as love, war, governance, trade, and bereavement. 

  • Sangam Literature deals with secular matter relating to public and social activity like government, war charity, trade, worship, agriculture etc.

  • Sangam literature consists of the earliest Tamil works (such as the Tolkappiyam), the ten poems (Pattupattu), the eight anthologies (Ettutogai) and the eighteen minor works (Padinenkilkanakku), and the three epics. 

  • The chief merits of the sangam works is their absolute devotion to standards and adherence to literary conventions.

  • Tolkappiyam is the oldest extant Tamil grammar written by Tokkappiyar 

  • Silappadikaram was written by Mango Adigal (grandson of Karikala, the great Chola King) in the second century A.D. It is a tragic story of a merchant, Kovalan of Puhar who falls in love with a dancer Madhavi, neglecting his own wife, Kannagi, who in the end revenges the death of her husband at the hands of the Pandyan King and becomes a goddess. 

  • Manimekalaiwas written by poet SANGAM-LITERATURE Sattanar. It is the story of Manimekalai, the daughter of Kovalan, and Madhavi of the earlier epic. The main aim of this epic seems to be to expound the excellence of the Buddhist religion through the medium of the travails of Manimekalai consequent on the loss of the city of Puhar when the sea eroded into the coast. This epic is the only important ancient work which gives glimpse of the development of the fine arts in the Sangam age.

  • The earliest script that the Tamils used was the Brahmi script. It was only from the late ancient and early medieval period, that they started evolving a new angular script, called the Grantha script, from which the modern Tamil is derived.

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