Ancient History / Post-Mauryan Era
South Indian Kingdoms and Sangam Literature
Three South Indian kingdoms have flourished mainly Tamil Nadu and Kerala regions during the post Mauryan period. They are
Chola, Pandya and Chera kingdoms. Sangam literature, which is the earliest Tamil literature, was composed during this period.
South Indian Kingdoms of Post Mauryan Period
The three south Indian dynasties that flourished during post Mauryan period are mentioned below
Chola dynasty ruled the North Tamil Nadu region with Uraiyur and later Kaveripattinam as their capitals. Tiger was the
Chola dynasty emblem. The greatest king of this dynasty was Karikala (Black legged) Chola. These Cholas are called Early Cholas in order to
differentiate them from Imperial Cholas of medieval period.
Pandya dynasty ruled the South Tamil Nadu region. The capital of Pandyas was Madurai. Fish or Carp (two fishes) was the emblem
of Pandyas. The greatest king of this dynasty was Nedunjeliyan II.
Chera (Kerala Putras) Dynasty
Chera dynasty ruled the Kerala region. The capital of Cheras was Vanji or Karur. Bow and Arrow was the emblem of Cheras. The
greatest king of this dynasty was Senguttuvan.
Sangam literature is the earliest Tamil literature. To publish their works, poets used to gather periodically. These meetings of poets were
called Sangams. The entire Sangam literature was composed and compiled by these Sangam poets.
It was held at Then Madurai. The first Sangam was presided over by Agastya Mahamuni, who is the first Aryan to come to South
and who introduced Aryan culture to Dravidians. Not much known about Sangam literature of first Sangam though many books were compiled in it.
Second Sangam was held at Kapatapuram. It was presided over by 12 disciples of Agastya. In this Sangam, the first book in Tamil
literature, Tolkappiyam was written by Tolkappiyar. The book is on Tamil grammar.
- Third Sangam was held at Madurai. It was presided over by a poet, called Nakkirar. All the surviving Sangam literature
emerged from the third Sangam. Vast Tamil literature was created during this Sangam that was equivalent to Vedic literature.
- The texts that were composed in the Third Sangam were (i) Netunalvatai was written by Nakkirar, (ii) Tirukkural, was written by
Thiruvalluvar (Tirukkural is also known as Dravida Veda) (iii) Akananuru (400 erotic poems) was written by Rudrasarman, (iv) 3 epics of
Tamil literature (a) Silappadikaram written by Illango Adigal, (b) Manimegalai written by Chithalai Chathanar and (c) Civaka Cintamani written
All the three South Indian kingdoms of post Mauryan period used to participate in these Sangams.