came to be identified with the Puranic Kartikeya, but he was still essentially
the Tamil god of war and fertility and was worshipped with the offering of
rice and blood and the performance of orgiastic ritual dancing.
Sangam Literature
Meaning A college (sangam) of Tamil poets flourished for a time under
royal patronage in Madurai. But the earliest account of it is enveloped in
legend. It refers to three sangams which lasted, at long intervals, for 9,990
years altogether and included 8,598 poets (including a few gods of the Saiva
sect) as members and 197 Pandyan kings as patrons. Some of the names of
the kings and poets, such as Kadungon and Ugrapperuvalludi, are found in
inscriptions and other authentic records, showing that some facts have got
mixed up with much fiction.
     It is believed that the first sangam was attended by gods and legendary
sages, but all its works have perished. The second, attended by several poets,
produced a large mass of literature, but only Tolkappiyam (the early Tamil
grammar) has survived. The third, attended by several poets, had also
produced vast literature, but only a fraction of it has survived. It is this
fraction which constitutes the extant body of Sangam literature.
Composition Sangam literature consists of the earliest Tamil works (such
as the Tolkappiyam), the Ettutogai (Eight Anthologies), the Pattuppattu (Ten
Idylls), the Padinenkilkanakku (Eighteen Minor Works), and the three epics.
Earliest Tamil Works Tolkappiyam, acknowledged as the earliest
surviving Tamil literary work, supposedly written by Tolkappiyar (one of the
12 disciples of saint Agastya), is a work on Tamil grammar of the aham or
agam (love) and puram (war, government, etc.), orthography, construction,
prosody, figures of speech, social practices, literary conventions, and the like.
It is divided into three sections, each consisting of nine iyals (sub-chapters)
and has a total of 1,612 sutras.
     Other earliest Tamil works were the Agattiyam (a work on grammar of
letters and life) by saint Agattiyar, Pannirupadalam (a grammatical work on
puram literature) by the 12 disciples of saint Agastya and the
Kakkipadiniyam (a work on prosody) by an unknown writer; but all these are
practically extinct today.