4 Literary Sources of Sangam Age

The Sangam Age refers to the period when most of the Tamil literature was composed by a body of Tamil scholars and poets in three successive literary gatherings called Sangam. The Sangam Age spanned from about the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD. As highlighted above, the literature composed during this period was known as Sangam because literary works were compiled in assemblies of poets (known as Sangam). Thus, these literary works are also known as ‘Sangam literature’. It is believed that the literature compiled during the first Sangam has been lost. A large mass of literature was produced by poets during the Second Sangam. Literary Sources of Sangam Age are as follows

Literary Sources of Sangam Age

Sangam literature mainly consists of Tolkappiyam, the ten poems (Pattuppattu), eight analogies (Ettuttogai), eighteen minor works (Patinenkilkanakku), and famous epics such as Silappadikaram, Manimegalai, and Sivaga Cindamani.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #1


  • The eighteen minor works form an important source of the period. These are called minor works because the poems are generally shorter in length as compared to the other Tamil works belonging to this period.
  • Tirukkural written by Tiruvalluvar is a collection of Tamil couplets divided into 133 chapters. It comprises the Dharamshastras, the Arthashastras and the Kamasutras. It preaches simplicity and truth in its verses.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #2


  • Ettuttogai comprises a large body of poetic literature. It is a compilation of more than 2,000 poems composed by more than 200 authors.
  • Besides, there are ten long poems called Pattuppattu. These are divided into two main parts—Aham and Puram. While the poems in the Aham categories idealize love and respect, the Puram deals with militarism and hero worship.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #3


  • It is one of the oldest surviving literary works of the Sangam Age. It was written by Tolkappiar.
  • It is not only a textbook on Tamil grammar but also includes the classification of animals, plants, habitats, and human beings.
  • Tolkappiyam is divided into three chapters. While the first two chapters codify language, the third chapter, Porul, refers to people and their behavior.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #4


  • There are three main epics of the Age. These are Silappadikaram, Manimegalai and Sivaga Cindamani.
  • Silappadikaram is regarded as one of the greatest epics of the period. It was written by Illango Vadigal. It deals with the revenge of a wife against her husband’s killer.
  • Manimegalai was written by poet Sattanar of Madurai. It deals with the ideals and teachings of Buddhism. It is an important source of the development of fine arts during the Sangam Age.
  • Sivaga Cindamani was written by Tiruttakkadevar who was a Jain monk. It deals with the story of a superman who becomes a Jain monk in the end.
  • The other two important epics of the period are Kundalakesi and Valayapathi.

ALSO, READ The Sangam Age

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