THE SANGAM AGE

SANGAM AGE

  • Sangam signifies the "assembly of poets and writers" called Pulavar and Panar (common bards). 
  • The land south of the Krishna river was divided into three kingdoms viz. Chera, Chola and Pandyas.
  • Sangam age corresponds to the post-Mauryan and pre-Gupta period. 

Cholas

  • The Chola dominion was known as Tondaimandalam or Cholamandalam.
  • Their chief centre of political power was at Uraiyur, a place famous for cotton trade. 
  • In the middle of the second century B.C., a Chola king named Elara conquered Sri Lanka and ruled over it for nearly 50 years.
  • A firmer history of Cholas begins in the 2nd Century A.D. with their famous king Karikala, who founded the port city of Puhar (Kaveripattanam) and constructed 160 km of embankment along the Cauvery river.
  • Karikala literally means a man with a charred leg.
  • He had fought the battle of Venni and defeated 11 kings. He was the greatest of Chola kings. 

Cheras

  • The history of Cheras was marked by continuous fighting with the Cholas and Pandyas. The capital of Cheras was Vanji or Karur.
  • Nedunjeral Aden is the first known Chera king. He is said to have fed both the armies of the Kurukshetra war and so had earned the title `Udiyan-jeral'.
  • Senaguttuvan, the red Chera or good Chera according to the Chera poets was the greatest. 
  • Senguttuvan invaded the north and crossed the Ganga. He is remembered for building a temple of Kannagi, the goddess of chastity. The worship of Kannagi is known as the Pattini cult which was established by him.
  • Silapadikaram describes his heroic deeds. Ilango Adigal the author of Silapadikaram was his brother. 

Pandayas 

  • The Pandayas are first mentioned by Megasthenese who speaks of the Pandyan country ruled by women.
  • Their capital was Madurai. >
  • Nedunjhelian was the most important king of the Pandyas. They defeated the Cheras and Cholas in the battle of Talaiyalagnam.
  • According to Sitapadikaram, in a fit of passion Ile ordered the execution of Kovalam, the husband of Kannagi.
  • Another king was Madaranjeral Inunporai, who sent embassadors to Ro-man emperor Augustus and performed Vedic sacrifices. 

Sangam Literature 

  • The word Sangam is associated with south Indian history, where a college or an assembly of Tamil scholars and poets, flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandyan Kings at Madurai around 300 B.C. to 300 A.D. 
  • The available Sangam literature was compiled in circa A.D. 300-600.
  • Poetry was divided into two groups viz. `aham' on love and `puram' dealing with kings.
  • The whole literature is divided into two group's narrative and didactic, the former is called Malkannakku or 18 major works and the latter Kilkannakku or 18 minor works.
  • Tolkapiyam by Tolkapiyar is a work in Tamil grammar.
  • Thirukural or Kural by Tiruvalluvar is sometimes called the fifth Veda or the 'Bible of Tamil India'. It is a compound of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
  • Silapaddikaram literally "The Jewelled Anklet" by Ilango Adigai is an epic. It deals with the love stories of Kovalan and Madhavi.
  • Mainmekhalia is a sequel to Silapaddikaram written by Sattalai Sattanar was considered the"Odysses of Tamil Poetry".
  • Jivaga Chintamani, a third epic by the Jaina Tiruttakadevar.
  • Agattiyam, a magnum opus and grammar of letters and life is written by Agathiyar.
  • The whole Sangam age is called the Augustan age in Tamil literature.
  • The contextual division of the Tamil region.
  • Romans built temple of Augustus at Muziris.
  • Murugan was a god par excellence for the Tamils, also known as Subramaniya.
  • Yavan Priya is a Sanskrit term for pepper.
  • Muslin, gems and pearls and spices were the important export items to Rome. 

Indo-Greeks 

  • Demetrius, the king of Bactria invaded India around 190 B.C. and conquered a considerable part of the Mauryan Empire in the north-west.
  • The most famous Indo-Greek ruler was Menander (165-145 B.C.) who is said to have pushed as far as Ayodhya and reached Patliputra. His capital was Sakala or Sialkot.
  • Menander was converted to Buddhism by Nagasena or Nagarjuna. The conversation between the two is recorded in a book named Milinda Panha, or Questions of Mil inda
  • Indo Greeks were the first to issue gold coins in India. They were the first rulers in India to issue coins definitely attributed to the Kings.
  • The Greek ambassador Heliodorus set up a pillar in honour of Vishnu at Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The history of the Indo-Greeks has been reconstructed mostly with the help of their coins bearing legends in Greek, Kharosthi and Brahmi script.
  • An influence of Indo-Greek coinage, particularly silver coinage, which was excellent in workmanship, can be seen in the coins issued by some local rulers of this period.
  • The Indo-Greeks are also important for their introduction of Hellenistic features in north-western India which culminated in the Gandhara style. 

Sakas

  • The Greeks were followed by the Sakas. They are referred to as Scythians.
  • The Sakas came to India through the Bolan Pass.
  • The earliest Indian textual reference to the Sakas is found in the Mahabhasya.
  • The first Saka King in India was Maues or Moga who established Saka power in Gandhara.
  • The most famous Saka ruler in western India was Rudradaman I (A.D. 130-152).
  • His achievements are highlighted in his Junagarh inscription written in 150 A.D. This inscription records in detail the repairs, his officials undertook of the damaged Mauryan Dam, on the Sudarshan Lake, in the semi-arid zone of Kathiawar.
  • This lengthy inscription is the first major inscription to be written in Sanskrit.
  • The Sakas introduced the Satrap system of government along with the Parthians. 

Parthians 

  • The most important Parthian King was Gondophernes, in whose reign St. Thomas is said to have come to India to propagate Christianity and con-verted him to his faith. 

Kushans

  • The Kushans are also referred to as Yue-Chis or Tocharians. They belonged to one of the five clans of the Yue-Chi tribe.
  • Kujula Kadphises minted coins in copper.
  • From the time of Vima Kadphises, Indian rulers took to the practice of issuing gold coins regularly. 
  • The Kadphises rulers were succeeded by Kanishka I (78-144 A.D.). 78 A.D. is regarded as the end of the Saka era and is most probably the date of Kaniska's accession. Mathura seems to be the second capital, the first being Purushpura near modern Peshawar. 
  • The Kushan Empire at its peak extended from Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
  • He patronised Asvaghosa the writer of Buddhacharita and Charaka.
  • He was a great patron of Buddhism and the 4th Buddhist council was held under his patronage. 

Sunga Dynasty 

  • The Sunga Dynasty was founded by Pushyamitra Sunga who performed two Ashwamedha sacrifices. The last of the Sunga kings Devabhuti was killed by his minister Vasudeva in about 73 B.C. 

Kanya Dynasty 

  • The Kanva Dynasty was founded by Vasudeva Kanva who killed the Sunga King Devabhumi. After 45 years of his reign, they were overthrown by the Andhra Satavahans. 

Satvahanas 

  • In the first century B.C., the Mauryas were succeeded by the Satavahanas in Deccan and central India.
  • They ruled for about 300 years with their capital at Paithan or Pratishthna on the banks of river Godavari in Aurangabad district.
  • Simuka was the first important ruler. The greatest competitor of the Sata-vahanas was Sakas.
  • The fortunes of the family were restored by Gautamiputra Satkarni, who defeated the Sakas.
  • The Satavahanas may have used gold as bullion for they did not issue gold coins. They mostly issued coins of lead and potion. They also used tin, copper and bronze coins.
  • A Prakrit text Gathasaptasati or Gathasattasai is attributed to a Satavahana King called Hala. During the Satavahana period, fortified settlements developed in the Deccan.
  • Under the Satavahanas, during the first century A.D. can be traced the do-nation of revenue of a village to either a Brahmana or a Buddhist sangha, which became much more widespread under the Gupta rulers.
  • Many inscriptions of the Satavahana rulers mention the names of their mothers rather than those of their fathers, such as Gautamiputra Satakami or Satakarni, son of Gautami which proves it was a matriarchal society.