Which one of the following statements about Sangam literature in ancient South India is correct?

(a) Sangam poems are devoid of any reference to material culture.

(b) The social classification of Varna was known to Sangam poets.

(c) Sangam poems have no references to warrior ethic.

(d) Sangam literature refers to magical forces as irrational.

This topic of “Which one of the following statements about Sangam literature in ancient South India is correct?” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Explanation

The correct answer is option b.

  • The social classification of varna was known to Sangam poets. There are mentions of the Arashar (kings), Vaishiyar (traders), and Velalar (farmers). The Brahmanas are also mentioned, some of them closely associated with the courts of kings and patronized by ruling elites. However, the four-fold varna classification had little application to ancient Tamil society. The jati system was not a feature of this society either.
  • Statement 1 is incorrect. Sangam poems contain several incidental references to material culture, often as part of the poem’s setting or in similes and allusions. There are references to farming, cattle rearing, fishing, and iron.
  • Statement 3 is incorrect. Sangam Poems are pervaded with a warrior ethic. Puram poems deal with the outer life of people and speak of the public celebration of the feats of heroes, even the death of heroes in wars.
  • Statement 4 is incorrect. Sangam literature reflects a belief in sacred or magical forces called ananku. Groups like pariyans, tutiyans, panas and velans carried out rites and rituals to control these forces.

Learn more

  • Sangam literature refers to Tamil literature produced between 300 BCE and 300 CE during the Sangam period.
  • It consists of 2,381 known poems written by 473 poets, some anonymous and others renowned.
  • The poems were patronized by the Pandyas and deal with love (akam) and public life (puram).
  • They provide insights into Tamil society, culture, economy, and polity of the era.
  • The literature includes anthologies like Ettuthogai, Pathupattu, epics like Silappatikaram, and works on grammar like Tolkappiyam.
  • The poems are invaluable in reconstructing the history of South India and ancient Tamil culture.

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