Tamil Dating Industry: ‘Sangam Age’ spins & our lovely Tamil Hysteriagraphy – quick notes

January 5, 2023

A query from a young man:

> I was reading your blog and in several articles you have talked about dating sangam literature and how they are not as old as they are claimed to be. Could you please refer me to papers or books regarding this? Most of the respected authors I have come across seem to date the oldest of our Tamil poems to at least 1st century CE. Apologies if you’ve linked references and I’ve missed them.

0.Yes. Will.

… I have in general, avoided (sometimes even actively & adolescently resisted) giving ‘lists’ out in public, sometimes even to my close friends & acquaintances – though I relish making lists including for ToDos and diligently follow-up on them. The reason for the reluctance is that one man’s list is another man’s belly-aching ROFLMAO joke. Also, these kinds of quixotic lists are made over a period of time and are  based on exposure to various ideas/opinions & evidences – and to this extent, may not be relatable to others. At all. So, they happen to be very personal.

But, I can’t even begin to tell you (and myself) as to how our Tamil historiography in general and Tamil literary history in specific are oh so full of holes; and, much of them appear fabricated – by some ignorant folks with good intentions and many scoundrels with malintentions – that is, by many of our great ‘scholars’ who vend hysterical fabrications as emotional history, hic.

That said…

1. …Claimer: Am only an avid student of various aspects of history & literature (which, in any case at least wrt Tamil, is only a non-core interest of mine) – and  am definitely NOT an academic or a pundit. I am willing to learn & correct my mistakes (and errors in judgement), provided I get tangible & independently verifiable bits of evidence to the contrary.

2. Have been reading the primary sources for our ‘Sangam’ literature, including that famous ‘Iraiyanar Ahapporul’ of whose commentary, there is the first mention of ‘Sangam.’ If you read it with a fine tooth comb, you would agree with me in general. Of course.

…if one reads our copy-cat, but stellar Kavyas (Silappadikaaram, Manimekalai etc) alongside most of the ‘Sangam literature’ so-called, one would realize that they are only delightful fiction, yes. They are all lovely in terms of poetics, aesthetics etc – but they do NOT represent any contemporary societal culture or historical facts at all. (in other words, they are ‘period’ kavya attempts of a later date, with a whole lot of delightful embellishments etc)

3. There is no mention whatsoever of ‘Sangam Age’ in ANY of the supposedly ‘Sangam literature’ – this ‘Sangam Age’ is a much later day spin; even then, Ettuth-thogai was only mentioned as belonging to the ‘Sangam Age’ and not necessarily Pattu-p-paattu.

4. I have come to a preliminary (but evidence based) conclusion that, the earliest ‘Sangam literature’ shards (by which, I mean some parts of some works which were composed over a period of time, presumably) would not have been before the 4th Century CE. ‘Final’ Tolkkappiam much post-dates all these ‘Sangam Age’ literatures – though there is a possibility that earliest parts in it could have been composed (or duplicated/adapted from many Sanskrit works) in the region of 7-9th centuries CE.

5. Tamil is NOT a very ancient language; to be precise, it is even younger to Telugu. Talking of ‘Dravidian Languages getting derived from ancient Tamil’ is a thoroughly bogus claim.

It is a fraud committed by the Dravidian Scholars so-called & Tamil Supremacists – not only on the rest of Bharat, but on our fellow Tamils too.

Of course, Tamil has a relatively larger/retrieved corpus of delightful classical literary works, which are NOT very ancient either; also, in all these centuries, there has not been even a single original scientific work in Tamil at all.

Tamil has stellar, brilliant Bhakti literature – I revel in it, am so proud of it. Tamil’s contribution to Bharat has been tremendous (across literature, arts, crafts & architectures), even as the rest of Bharat has paid a major price (in Hindu blood) in the context of safeguarding Tamil areas from the depredations of the invading Islamic hordes.

6. Anyway.

The scholars and otherwise brilliant people who have worked hard on the subject (= ‘Sangam Age’ estimations — either directly or indirectly or by providing some thought fragments to the quest) are many, many… but, I give below, a tentative & personal list of such folks. There are many more good ones, that are not mentioned in this list by design – since ISTR or AFAIK that they are not relevant to the current discussion.

One may not agree with all of them completely, or in toto – but I would say that much of what they say is based on rational thoughts and processes – and not on some emotional nonsense. Heck, in some cases, some of them go against what I am hinting at – that ‘Sangam Age’ is a delightful fabrication. But then, they are real scholars. Not at all like our IoT Thass, Devaneyap-Paavaanar et al types. So.


(names in this listing are in no particular order – but I owe them all, my deep gratitude for whatever little/insignificant ideas that I have collected – some of them have written books, many have written brilliantly illuminating research reports, of course, ymmv and all that…)

Pandit CR Namasivaya Mudaliar
R Swaminatha Aiyar
S Bhavanandam Pillai
Srinivasa Pillai
Seshagiri Sastri
TG Aravamuthan
Pandit M Rahava Aiyangar
Narayanaswami Aiyar & Gopinatha Rao
Kaikhosru Dhunjibhoy Sethna
Vaiyapuri Pillai
Eva Wilden
Pandit CR Govindaraja Mudaliyar
Pandit CS Kuppuswamy Sastri
Mayilai Nadar
VR Ramachandra Dikshitar
Kanakasundaram Pillai
Vidwan R Raghava Aiyangar
Dr R Nagaswamy
U Ve Swaminatha Iyer
CW Damodaram Pillai
Bhadriraju Krishnamurti
AN Upadhye
Whitney Cox
G Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi
B Beck
Shesha Aiyar
HK Sastri
Hartmut Scharfe
Herman Joseph Hugo Tieken
Gananath Obeyesekere
BGL Swamy
R Ganesh
Sivaraja Pillai
J Filliozat
F Baldiserra
J Carman & V Narayanan
Sediyapu Krishna Bhat
NJ Cutler
TM Srinivasan
P Dundas
Edholm & Suneson
KV Raman
K Kailasapathy
Po Ve Somasuntaranaar
Raniero Gnoli
MGS Narayanan
Rajan Gurukkal
AV Subrahmanya Aiyer

(there are some more, like Kamil Zvelebil, George Hart et al, that I have kind of avoided in this particular context… I agree that I could have missed out some real scholars… but like all lists, this is a recapitulation-in-motion and is full of personal idiosyncrasies; so, please do not get offended…)

(am also aware of coins, inscriptions based references for ‘Sangam Age’ – but they do not add up to solid facts, in general – meaning, they do not prove without an iota of doubt that there was indeed a ‘Sangam Age’ and that ‘Sangam literature’ is actually history… So.)

(have some vague plans for scribing a somewhat of a serious book about the subject, but have so many other tasks waiting in the wings, desperate for my attention, oh what to do…)

(hope one finds the above desultory list useful; ymmv)


3 Responses to “Tamil Dating Industry: ‘Sangam Age’ spins & our lovely Tamil Hysteriagraphy – quick notes”

  1. Vijay Vanbakkam Says:

    god article. Traditionally Tamils had high regard for their mother tongue. But they did not go to stupid hype of 20th/21st centuries , which is palmed off as ‘rationalist’ . New snake oil in the market is Tamil is the oldest language and mother of all languages, in any case, of all Dravidian languages

மேற்கண்ட பதிவு (அல்லது பின்னூட்டங்கள்) குறித்து (விருப்பமிருந்தால்) உரையாடலாமே...

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