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Ancient History / Post-Mauryan Era

South Indian Kingdoms and Sangam Literature


    Three kingdoms have flourished in South India, 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

    • Chola Dynasty - They ruled the North Tamil Nadu region with Uraiyur and later Kaveripattinam as their capitals. Tiger was their political emblem. The greatest king of this dynasty was Karikala (Black legged) Chola. These Cholas are called Early Cholas.
    • Pandya Dynasty - They ruled the South Tamil Nadu region with Madurai as their capital. Fish or Carp (two fishes) was their political emblem. The greatest king of this dynasty was Nedunjeliyan II.
    • Chera (Kerala Putras) Dynasty - They ruled the Kerala region with Vanji or Karur as their capital. Bow and Arrow was their political emblem. The greatest king of this dynasty was Senguttuvan.

    Sangam Literature

    It 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 in Sangams. All the three South Indian kingdoms of that time used to participate in these Sangams.

    • First Sangam - It was held at Then Madurai. It was presided over by Agastya Mahamuni, who is the first Aryan to come to South and who introduced Aryan culture to Dravidians. Many books were compiled during this Sangam but none of them are available now.
    • Second Sangam - It was held at Kapatapuram. It was presided over by 12 disciples of Agastya. First text in Tamil literature was written in this Sangam. Its name is Tolkappiyam, which was written by Tolkappiyar. The book is on Tamil grammar.
    • Third Sangam - It 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, which was equivalent to Vedic literature.
      The texts that were composed in the Third Sangam were (i) Netunalvatai written by Nakkirar, (ii) Tirukkural, known as Dravida Veda written by Thiruvalluvar, (iii) Akananuru (400 erotic poems) written by Rudrasarman, (iv) 3 epics of Tamil literature (a) Silappatikaram written by Illango Adigal, (b) Manimekalai written by Chithalai Chathanar and (c) Civaka Cintamani written by Tirutakkatevar.