India is a land of diverse linguistic heritage, with its people speaking languages from four major speech families: Austric, Dravidian, Sino-Tibetan, and Indo-European.

Dravidian literature primarily encompasses Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam, with Tamil being the oldest and most preserved in its original form. Kannada, too, boasts an ancient cultural history akin to Tamil.

The earliest classical Tamil literature, known as Sangam literature, embodies the essence of two poetic traditions: ‘aham’ (subjective love poems) and ‘puram’ (objective, public, and heroic poetry).

The Sangam period saw the rise of the Pandyan Kingdom, marking a significant phase in Tamil history.
Sangam classics, consisting of 18 works (eight anthologies of lyrics and ten lengthy poems), are celebrated for their straightforward and expressive language.

To comprehend early Tamil poetry, the grammar text ‘Tolkappiyam’ was created during this era.
Between AD 200 and 300, the twin epics ‘Silappadhikaram’ by Ilango-Adigal and ‘Manimekalai’ by Chattanar detailed Tamil culture comprehensively.


Contribution of Thiruvalluvar during the Sangam Age

Literary Influence:

  • Thiruvalluvar, also revered as Valluvar, is a seminal figure in Tamil culture, embodying moral and philosophical wisdom.
  • His work, ‘Thirukkural,’ comprises 1,330 couplets, offering timeless advice akin to the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana in North Indian traditions.

Philosophical and Ethical Guidance:

  • ‘Thirukkural’ provides profound insights into governance, ethics, and personal conduct, emphasizing the detrimental effects of unchecked power on rulers.
  • Thiruvalluvar’s teachings have been pivotal in shaping Tamil ethical and moral standards, guiding rulers and common folk alike.

Cultural Legacy:

  • Thiruvalluvar’s couplets are integral to Tamil cultural identity, memorized and revered across generations.
  • His influence extends beyond literature, forming a cornerstone of Tamil moral education and daily life principles.

Examples in the Indian Context

Impact on Governance:

  • Thiruvalluvar’s counsel on just and ethical governance resonated with leaders, influencing policies and administrative practices in Tamil Nadu.
  • Cultural Practices:
  • The reverence for ‘Thirukkural’ is evident in Tamil households, where it is a staple reference for ethical and philosophical guidance.


  • Thiruvalluvar remains a pivotal figure in Tamil history, deeply influencing the cultural and moral fabric of Tamil society.
  • His contributions continue to be relevant, offering timeless wisdom and ethical guidance.
  • Recent archaeological discoveries at Keeladi near Madurai have provided new insights into the Sangam Era, further highlighting the significance of this period in Tamil and Indian history.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 11, 2024