The Sangam Age in India witnessed the rapid development of literary works in the southern regions. The literature that was created during this time came to be known as Sangam literature. The great poets, writers, etc. of this age have left behind invaluable accounts of brilliant literature that continue to enthrall historians and scholars. The earliest literary work dates back to 200 B.C. Read more about the history of Sangham Age in India. The word Sangam has most likely been derived from the Indo- Aryan word Sangha, which means an assembly. This word was usually used for Buddhist and Jain monks. Roughly around 470 C.E an academy called Dravida Sangha was established by a Jain called Vajranandi. The members of this academy had much interest in literature and Tamil language. In early Sangam age poems, one finds the mention of Jain cosmology and mythology. During the Sangam Age, the three empires that ruled the South of India were that of Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras. Though there were constant wars among the different kings for dominion of states and territory, they were all promoters of literature and other classical literary works. Under their rule, Indian art and culture flourished like anything.
The early Sangam literature mentions the kingdom of the Pandyas. It is said that the kingdom became insignificant before emerging again during the 6th Century. With the rise of the Chola dynasty, the dynasty of Pandyas again declined. They were in constant conflict with the Cholas and fought for their part of territory. However, the Pandyas found reliable allies in the form of the Cheras and the Sinhalese and left no opportunity to disturb the Cholas with them. By the late 13th Century, the Pandyas were able to revive their position and gain back heir lost territories and riches. One of the earliest written scriptures in Tamil grammar is known as Tolkappiyam. Another work known as Ettutogai or Eight Anthologies is considered to be a fantastic product of the Sangam Age. Many poems were composed during this age and some of the famous ones are Manimekhalai, Shilpathikaram, Akananuru, Purananuru, etc. These poems speak about the political, social, cultural and traditional aspects of life during the Sangam age. Some poems also mention the fact that the Cheras formed a vital trading center with Rome. Some of the great poets who deserve a mention are Avvaiyar, Kapilar, Mamulanar, Paramer, Gautamanar, etc. Important sangam works: Ettuttogai (the eight anthologies) and patttupattu (the ten idylls) are the two major groups of texts included in the corpus of sangam literature.
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