Understanding Historical Sources - Part 3

February 8, 2018




Three Sangams took place:

  1. First Sangam = Madurai

  2. Second Sangam = Kapatapuram

  3. Third Sangam = Madurai


Sangam Corpus:

  1. It contains eight anthologies of Poems included in Ettutokai.

  2. It also contains songs called Pattupattu (10 Songs).

  3. Tolkappaiyam is also at times included in the Sangam literature.

  4. The main theme is Akam(Love) and Puram(War).

  5. Both male and female poets composed Sangam Literature.



Other Later Tamil Works:

  1. Tirukkural by Tiruvalluvar is a work on ethics, polity and love.

  2. Two Epics were written:

    1. Silappadikaram by Ilago :

      1. Jaina flavour.

      2. Hero: Kovalan.

      3. Heroine: Kannaki

    2. Manimekalai by Sattinara: Buddhist flavour

  3. Natha-muni wrote Nalayira Divya Prabandham which is a collection of Alvar Hymns.

  4. Alvarvaipavam is a sacred biography of the Vaishnava saints.

  5. Nambi Andar Nambi wrote Shiva canon Tirumurai and Tiruttondar Tiruvantati about the saints.

  6. In 12th century, accounts of Shaiva saints was collected in a text called the Periyapuranam.

  7. Pantikkovai in 6th/7th century was written in honor of Pandya king Netumaran.

  8. Manikkavachakar's Tirukko-vaiyar is in praise of Shiva.

  9. Kamban wrote Tamil version of Ramayana called Iramavataram.

Other Ancient Texts, Biographies and Histories:

Sanskrit Text:

  1. Ashvaghosha:

    1. Buddhacharita (Mahakavya)

    2. Sari-putra-prakarana.

    3. Saundarananda

  2. Bhasa

    1. Pancharatra

    2. Dutavakya

    3. Balacharita

    4. Svapna-Vasacadatta:

      • Love story between Vatsa King Udayana and Princess Vasavdatta, the daughter of Pradyota, King of Avanti.

  3. Kalidas


    1. Drama

      • Abhijnana- Shakuntalam:

        • Love story of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala.

      • Malavika-Agnimitra.

      • Vikram-Orvashiya:

        • Love story of King Pururavas and Urvashi

    2. Poems

      • Raghu-vamsha

      • Kumara-sambhav

      • Meghaduta.


Other Important Dramas:

  1. Vishakadatta:

    •  Mudra-rakshas: It tells the manoeuvers of Chanakya to win over Rakshasa, a minister of the Nandas, to Chandragupta's side.

    • Devi-chandragupta: Centres on an incident set in the reign of the Gupta king Ramagupta.

  2. Panchatantra and Katha-sarit-sagara (Ocean of streams of stories) are collection popular folk tales.

  3. Books on Grammar:

    1. Panini's Ashtadhyayi

    2. Patanjali's Mahabhasya

  4. Kautilya's Arthashastra is on statecraft.

  5. Books on Astronomy

    1. Aryabhata = Aryabhatiya

    2. Varaha-mihira = Brihatsamhita

  6. Vatsyayana wrote Kamasutra, a book on sensual pleasure.

  7. Books on Medicine:

    1. Charaka wrote Charaka Samhita.

    2. Sushruta wrote Sushrita Samhita.

  8. Bharat Muni wrote Natyashastra

  9. Shilpashastra is book on architecture and sculpture.

  10. Banabhatta

    1. Harshacharita: It is the oldest surviving biography in India.

    2. Kadambari

  11. Bihana wrote Vikramanankadevacharita about Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI.

  12. Chand Bardai wrote Prithvirajaraso in Brij Bhasha.

  13. Sandhyakara Nandi's Ramacharitra is a book with double meaning, simultaneously narrating the story of Ramayana and Rampala, a 11th/12th century Bengal king.

  14. Hemchandra wrote Kumara-pala-charita is a long poem in Sanskrit and Prakrit about Chalukya king of Gujarat.

  15. Kalhana wrote Rajatarangini, a 12th century chronicle of Kashmir.


Darshana Literature:

It literally means a way of looking things. It belongs to following schools

  • Samkhya

  • Yoga

  • Nyaya

  • Vaisheshika

  • Purva Mimansa

  • Uttara Mimansa

Accounts of Foreign Writers:


  1. Megasthenes wrote Indica which is highly proclaimed.

  2. Al Biruni wrote Tahqiq-i-Hind which includes text on Indian scripts, sciences, geography, astronomy, astrology, philosophy, literature, beliefs, customs, religions, festivals, ritual, social organization and laws. It helps in identifying the correct period of starting of Gupta era in 319-20 CE.

  3. Shahnama of Firdausi and Gulistan by the famous poet Saadi refers to aspects of Indian trade.

  4. Other important scholars are Fahien(399-414 CE) and Hieun Tsang(629 CE approx. and stayed for 10 years).


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