(Last Updated on : 21-01-2013)
Tamil literature pertains to the literary writings scripted in the Tamil language. Literature in Tamil, just like its other domains in history, is rich in its own right, owning an extensive literary tradition, spanning over two thousand years. The oldest surviving works itself exhibit marks of maturity, hinting a yet longer period of evolution. The basic providers and contributors to the Tamil literature
are principally from Tamil people from Tamil Nadu, Sri Lankan Tamils from Tamil Eelam (the name given by specific Tamil groups in Sri Lanka to the state which they seek to create in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka), also including the Tamil Diaspora. There have also existed extraordinary contributions from European authors. Historical evolution of Tamil literature takes after the history of Tamil Nadu
, intimately complying with the social and political tendencies of various periods. The secular tendency of early Sangam poetry gave way to studies of religious and didactic disposition during the Middle Ages. Jain and Buddhist authors during the medieval period and Muslim and European authors later also have significantly contributed to the growth of Tamil literature.
A revivification of Tamil literature did take place commencing from the late nineteenth century, when studies of religious and philosophical inclination were penned in a style that made it easier for the common mass to relish. This gesture of relating with the masses, nationalist poets from the pre-independence period had begun to apply the power of poetry in inciting the masses. With growth of literacy, prose began to flower and unfold and mature towards its contemporary stage. Short stories and novels in Tamil literature began to make their sequential appearance. The tremendous admiration for Tamil Cinema
has also furnished opportunities for modern Tamil poets to re-emerge.
Tamil, the oldest and truest of the Dravidian speeches, boasts of its literary tradition of more than 2200 years, the most over-the-top body of secular poetry extant in India. The Tamil people consider the Sangam Literature age as the Golden Era. The period being spoken about was when the Tamil country was ruled by the three 'crowned kings' - the Cheras, Pandyas and the Cholas. The magnitude of the Sangam age poetry may be ascribed not so much to its ancientness, but due to the fact that their ancestors were indulging in literary pursuits and logical classification of the habitats.
Tamil literature was classified into the broad categories of 'subjective' (akam) and 'objective' (puram) topics to enable the poetic minds to converse on any topic under the sun, from grammar to love, within the framework of well-prescribed, socially-accepted conventions. Subjective topics pertain to the personal or human facet of emotions that cannot be verbalised adequately or elucidated entirely. It can only be experienced by the individuals and comprises love and sexual relationship.
Even Kuruntokai, a collection of poems belonging to the Ettuthokai anthology in Tamil literature, evidences an early handling of the Sangam landscape. Such handlings are however found to be much polished in the later works of Akananuru and Paripaatal. Paripaatal takes its name from the musical Paripaatal metre, applied in these above-mentioned poems; this is the first ever instance of a work set to music. Akaval and Kalippa were the other popular metres employed by poets during the Sangam age
. Tamil literature, running parallel and in line with the state's evolution from ancientness to contemporaenity, holds a gargantuan time-line, beginning in pre-Christian era and still moving towards additional refinement. In this context, Tamil literature and its germination can be divided into the periods classified as: the Sangam Age in Tamil literature, the Post-Sangam Age
in Tamil literature, Medieval Tamil Literature
, Vijayanagar and Nayak Age in Tamil literature and, the Modern Era in Tamil literature