Post Mauryan South India - Part I

Exact Match
  Indus Valley
  Mauryan Era
  Post Mauryan
  Kushana Era
  Golden Age
  Post Gupta

  Arab Invasion
  South India
  Prithviraj Era
  Delhi Sultunate
  Mughal Period
  Maratha Era
  British Period

  Subhash & INA

Sungas & Kanvas | Indo-Greeks | Kharavela | South India | Indian Influence on the World | Literature

Ashoka in his inscriptions refers to the kingdoms of south India (the region comprising modern Andhra Pradesh, Madras, Mysore, and Kerala) as those of the Cholas, Pandyas, Satiyaputras, and Keralaputras. The first two of these came to dominate the east coast and were associated with the emergence of Tamil culture, called after Tamil, the predominant language of the Dravidian group.

The nucleus of Tamil culture was the region just south of Madras city, which even today is called Tamil-nad, the Land of the Tamils. Kharavela the king of Kalinga speaks of defeating the Tamil confederacy, which was doubtless that of the 'three crowned kings', the Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras (also known as Keralas) and their feudatories. Kharavela established a trading relationship with the Pandya kingdom.

Megasthenes mentions that the Pandya kingdom was founded by the daughter of Herakles. Perhaps this reflects the matrilineal society of early south India, which survived on the west coast in Kerala until half a century ago. The queen of the Pandyas is credited by Megasthenes with an army Of 500 elephants, 4,000 cavalry, and 13,000 infantry.

The historical records of the time are contained in the Sangam literature - anthologies of poetry similar to the Vedic sources. Tradition has it that many centuries ago three successive assemblies (Sangams) were held at the town of Madurai. All the poets and bards of the south gathered at these assemblies and their combined compositions constitute the Sangam literature. According to the mythological the first assembly, was attended by the gods, but the poetry composed at this session has not survived the winds of time. At the second assemby, the Tolkappiyam, the earliest Tamil grammar, was supposed to have been written. At the third assembly the Eight Anthologies were compiled, consisting of over 2,000 poems composed mainly by bards and these have survived.

The Cheras, the Cholas, and Pandyas appear to have been continually at war with each other, which give ample scope to the poets for heroic ballads and verses. The three kingdoms are said to have, even, participated in the battle at Kurukshetra of the Mahabharata age. Eventually the Tamils built a navy and attacked Ceylon in the Second century B.C., and finally managed to occupy northern Ceylon for a short while, as they were defeated by the Sinhalese king Dutthagamini in the latter half of the second century B.C.


next page >>

Copyright ©2000 All rights reserved.
By using this service, you accept that you won't copy or use the data given in this website for any commercial purpose.
The material on is for informational & educational purpose only.
This site is best viewed at 800 X 600 picture resolution.