Mains Practice Question


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How Sangam literature has evolved? Discuss the contribution of Thiruvalluvar during the Sangam age.

A Simple Introduction about Sangam literature

Dravidian literature primarily comprises four languages: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam. Among these, Tamil stands out as the oldest language that has preserved its Dravidian essence. Kannada, considered a cultural language, shares antiquity with Tamil. Classical Tamil literature, known as Sangam literature, is divided into two categories: aham (subjective love poetry) and puram (objective, public poetry, and heroic tales). The Pandyan Kingdom emerged during the Sangam period, marking the genesis of organized governance.


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The Sangam classics, consisting of 18 works including anthologies of lyrics and lengthy poems, are celebrated for their straightforward language. To facilitate comprehension of early Tamil poetry, scholars compiled the Tolkappiyam, a foundational Tamil grammar book.

The twin epics, Silappadhikaram (the tale of the anklet) by Ilango-Adigal and Manimekalai (the narrative of Manimekalai) by Chattanar, were crafted between A.D. 200 and 300. These epics offer vivid depictions of Tamil culture during that era.

Thiruvalluvar's Contribution During the Sangam Age

  • Thiruvalluvar, also known as Valluvar in Tamil, occupies a revered position in Tamil culture and morality, revered as an ancient saint, poet, and philosopher across all castes and religions.
  • At the heart of Thiruvalluvar's legacy lies the Thirukkural, a collection of 1,330 couplets (kurals in Tamil) that holds a central place in every Tamil household, akin to the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana/Ramcharitmanas in traditional North Indian Hindu homes.
  • Thiruvalluvar's wisdom extends to his counsel for the monarchs of the Sangam age, cautioning them against the corrupting influence of unchecked power. His teachings emphasize the importance of virtuous governance and ethical leadership.
  • Thiruvalluvar serves as a cornerstone for Tamils seeking to connect with their cultural heritage. His couplets are memorized and cherished, with his lessons guiding daily conduct and moral principles.
The ending of the answer should be on a positive note and it should have a forward-looking approach.

Thiruvalluvar remains a vital pillar for Tamilians in reconnecting with their cultural origins. They are instructed to memorize his couplets meticulously and incorporate his teachings into their daily lives. Recent excavations conducted near Madurai at Keeladi by the Tamil Nadu State Archaeological Department have uncovered evidence that extends the historical timeline of the Sangam Era.


Other Points to Consider 


What makes Thiruvalluvar significant today?





Previous Year Questions

1. Evaluate the nature of Bhakti Literature and its contribution to Indian culture. (2021)

2. Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness. Comment. (2013)


22-May 2024