Sangam Literature

Post Name : Sangam Literature, History, Background, Themes, Characteristics
Post Date :  03 June , 2024
Post Description :  Sangam literature, sometimes referred to as “Sangam poetry,” is an important and diverse body of prehistoric Tamil writing. The Sangam period, which lasted from about 300 BCE to 300 CE, is when it was made. Because of its linguistic, cultural, and historical richness, this literature is highly prized. The term “Sangam” describes the academies or gatherings of Tamil poets that are purported to have existed in Tamil Nadu in antiquity.

Sangam Literature Historical Context

Sangam Literature Historical Context is as follows:

Sangam Age

The Sangam period is divided into three main Sangams or literary academies:

  1. First Sangam: Believed to have been held in Madurai, this Sangam’s works have been lost.
  2. Second Sangam: Also said to be held in Madurai, most of its works are lost, but some fragments exist.
  3. Third Sangam: The most fruitful period, which took place in Madurai and is responsible for the vast majority of surviving Sangam literature.

Political and Social Background

During the Sangam age, Tamil Nadu was ruled by three major dynasties:

  • The Cheras: Located in present-day Kerala.
  • The Cholas: Based around the Kaveri River.
  • The Pandyas: Centered in Madurai.

These kingdoms were known for their patronage of arts and literature. The society was organized into various clans and tribes, and the poets often belonged to different social backgrounds, from kings to commoners.

Sangam Literature Themes and Genres

Sangam Literature Themes and Genres are as follows:

Akam (Inner Life)

Akam poetry deals with personal, emotional themes, such as love and relationships. It is characterized by its use of natural imagery and metaphor to convey complex emotions. The landscape in Akam poetry is divided into five types, each associated with a particular phase of love:

  • Kurunji: Mountains, representing union.
  • Mullai: Forests, representing waiting.
  • Marutham: Agricultural lands, representing quarrels.
  • Neithal: Seashore, representing separation.
  • Paalai: Desert, representing hardship.

Puram (Outer Life)

Puram poetry focuses on public life, including war, valor, and the deeds of kings and warriors. It is more concerned with societal values and collective experiences. Common themes include heroism, generosity, and ethics.

Sangam Literature Major Works and Poets

Description of Sangam Literature Major Works and Poets is described below:

Ettuthokai (The Eight Anthologies)

  1. Aingurunuru: A collection of 500 short poems focusing on love and personal experiences.
  2. Kurunthokai: A compilation of 400 poems that explore various facets of love.
  3. Natrinai: Contains 400 poems, often dealing with the subtle emotions in romantic relationships.
  4. Purananuru: Comprising 400 poems, this anthology celebrates heroism and valor in war.
  5. Akananuru: A series of 400 poems dedicated to love and romance.
  6. Kalithokai: A compilation of 150 poems written in the Kali meter, dealing with different aspects of love.
  7. Paripadal: Includes 70 poems, some of which are hymns to deities.
  8. Pathitrupathu: A collection of 100 poems in praise of the Chera kings.

Pathuppattu (The Ten Idylls)

  1. Thirumurugarruppadai: A guide for devotees of the god Murugan.
  2. Porunaraarruppadai: A guide for bards seeking patronage from kings.
  3. Sirupanarruppadai: Similar to Porunaraarruppadai but for lesser poets.
  4. Perumpanarruppadai: A longer work guiding poets to generous patrons.
  5. Malaipadukadam: Describes the journey to a king’s court.
  6. Maduraikkanci: A long poem celebrating the city of Madurai.
  7. Netunalvatai: Depicts the winter season and its impact.
  8. Kurinjipattu: A poem dedicated to the Kurunji landscape and its associated themes of love.
  9. Pattinappalai: Celebrates the Chola king Karikala and his capital city.
  10. Mullaippattu: Focuses on the Mullai landscape and themes of waiting and patience.

Sangam Literature Literary Characteristics

Language and Style: Sangam poetry is noted for its simplicity and elegance. The language is ancient Tamil, which is remarkably consistent in its form and style across various works. The poetry often employs metaphors and similes, drawing heavily on nature and everyday life to express deep emotions and philosophical ideas.

Poetic Conventions:

  1. Tinai: A concept where specific themes are associated with particular landscapes.
  2. Thinai Mozhi: Language specific to the context of each Tinai.
  3. Yamaka: Rhyme scheme used in the poems.
  4. Seviyal: The intricate and artistic use of words and sounds.

Sangam Literature Cultural and Historical Significance

Insight into Ancient Tamil Society: Sangam literature provides a detailed account of the social, political, and economic life of ancient Tamil Nadu. It describes the customs, traditions, and everyday activities of various strata of society, offering valuable insights into the ancient Tamil way of life.

Depiction of Nature and Environment: The poetry vividly captures the natural beauty of the Tamil landscape. Each poem is rich in descriptions of flora, fauna, and geographical features, reflecting the poets’ deep connection to their environment.

Ethical and Moral Values: The literature is imbued with themes of honor, bravery, and ethical conduct. It tells the virtues of courage in battle, loyalty to one’s king and clan, and the importance of generosity and hospitality.

Sangam Literature Influences and Legacy

Impact on Later Tamil Literature: Sangam literature has had a influence on later Tamil literature and culture. Its themes, style, and poetic forms have been echoed in subsequent Tamil literary works and continue to inspire modern Tamil poets and writers.

Preservation and Study: Much of Sangam literature was preserved through oral tradition before being written down. Scholars and historians have compiled and translated these works, ensuring their survival for future generations. Modern research continues to uncover new insights into this rich literary tradition.

Cultural Heritage: Sangam literature is important in Tamil cultural heritage. It is celebrated for its linguistic beauty, literary merit, and its ability to convey the ancient Tamil ethos. Festivals, academic studies, and literary gatherings often pay homage to these ancient works.

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