Describe the Society and Culture as Reflected in the Sangam Literature.
Life of the Tamils in the beginning of the historical period is based on the Sangam literature. As shown earlier, the Sangam was a college or assembly of Tamil poets held probably under chiefly or royal patronage. But we do not know the number of Sangams or the period for which they were held. The available Sangam literature, which was produced by these assemblies, was compiled in circa A.D. 300-600. But parts of this literature look back to at least the second century A.D. The Sangam literature can roughly be divided into two groups, narrative and didactic. The narrative texts are called Melkannakku or Eighteen Major Works. They comprise eighteen major works consisting of eight anthologies and ten idylls. The didactic works are called Kilkanakku or Eighteen Minor Works.
They show that the early Tamil people were primarily pastoral. Traces of early megalithic life appear in the Sangam texts. The earliest megalithic people seem to be primarily pastoralists, hunters and fishermen although they also produce rice. Hoes and sickles occur at many shares. The texts suggest that war booty was an important sources of livelihood. They also state that when a hero dies he is reduce to a piece of stone.
The narrative Sangam texts also give some idea of the state formation in which the army consisted of the groups of warriors, and the taxation system and judiciary appeared in a rudimentary state. Beside the Sangam texts we have a text called Tolkkappiyam, which deals with grammar and poetics. Another important Tamil text deals with philosophy and wise maxims this text is called Tirukkural. In addition to this we have the twin Tamil epics of Silappadikaram and Manimekalai. The two were composed around the sixth. century A.D.