assemblies (Sangams) held at Madurai, the Pandyan capital. What remains of
this literature is about 33,000 lines of poetry classified as eight anthologies
(Ettuttogal) and ten idylls (Pattupattu). The corpus also includes the
Tolkappiyam, the earliest surviving Tamil grammar. The Tamil epics, three of
which have survived, appear to have been later compositions.
Of all the branches of science and technology, astronomy and medicine
appear to have made considerable progress in this period, and it is not
unlikely that this progress was to some extent, a result of contact with other
contemporary civilizations. While the astronomical texts are lost, leaving
only their names and impress on such later texts as the Brihatsamhita, two
important treatises on the indigenous system of medicine have survived.
Despite their incorporation of later revisions, the originals traditionally go
back to the early centuries of the Christian era, perhaps being themselves
based on earlier Agnivesa and Susruta Samhitas.
Our knowledge of the Ayurvedic or early Indian system of medicine is
based on the two Samhitas: Charaka and Susruta, but the system certainly
had an earlier origin. Rudiments of the system are already available in the
later Vedic literature, not only in the countless names of diseases and the
recognition of natural, along with supernatural causes for them, but also in
the suggested remedies, as in the Vajasaneyi, Taittiriya and Maitrayani
Samhitas, effected by plants, metals, sunlight and animal products. However,
the systematisation of this knowledge and its further advancement were only
achieved in the period of the Ayurvedic Samhitas, both of which mention
eight branches of medical knowledge. The basic difference between them is
that Charaka is mainly a treatise on therapeutic medicine, whereas Susruta is
primarily devoted to surgery. Together, they represent the core of the
Ayurvedic system in that both make a plea for a maximum utilisation of
natural resources and advocate a true relationship between the complex of
body, mind and soul and the eternal universe.
Gupta and Post-Gupta Period
The most notable point about language in this period was the ascendancy of
Sanskrit, the process of which had started earlier. This was in this period,
associated to a large extent, with the patronage to brahmins and their