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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

    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

    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

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.

  • First Sangam

    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

    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

    • 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 by Tirutakkatevar.

All the three South Indian kingdoms of post Mauryan period used to participate in these Sangams.