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cankam literature

the earliest writings in the Tamil language. The writings are thought to have been produced in three sangams, or literary academies, in Madurai, India, from the 1st to the 4th century AD. The Tolkappiyam, a book of grammar and rhetoric, and eight anthologies (Ettuttokai) of secular poetry were compiled: Kuruntokai, Narrinai, Akananuru, Ainkurunuru, Kalittakai, Purananuru, Patirruppattu, and Paripatal. These secular writings are possibly unique in early Indian literature, which is almost entirely religious. The poems are concerned with two main topics, love and the praise of kings and their deeds. Many of them, especially on the latter subject, display great freshness and vigour and are singularly free from the literary conceits of much of the other early and medieval literatures of India. Since they are almost entirely secular, these poems are also free from the complex mythical allusions that are such an outstanding feature of most Indian art forms. There are nonetheless some instances of religious works in Sangam poetry. Pattupattu ("The Ten Long Poems") contains the earliest Indian poem of personal devotion to a god, and Paripatal contains poems about Vishnu, Siva, and Murugan.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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