Economic Condition, Social Life and Religion - The Sangam Age, History, UPSC UPSC Notes | EduRev

History for UPSC (Civil Services) Prelims

UPSC : Economic Condition, Social Life and Religion - The Sangam Age, History, UPSC UPSC Notes | EduRev

The document Economic Condition, Social Life and Religion - The Sangam Age, History, UPSC UPSC Notes | EduRev is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC (Civil Services) Prelims.
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Economic Condition

  • The common people were mostly agriculturists or cowherds, hunters and fishermen. Industry flourished in the age. 
  • The textile industry, house building, jewellery makers, chariotmakers, provided the necessaries, comforts and luxuries of life. 
  • Ship-building, harbour-building etc. were developed. Next to agriculture, shipping and weaving were the most important and widely practised crafts. 
  • Most of the trade was carried on by barter. Paddy constituted the most commonly accepted medium of exchange. 
  • There were established angadi (markets) in the big towns. The market place was known as avanam. 
  • Agriculture was carried on in almost every part of the land, somewhat more in the delta area than elsewhere. 
  • The chief product i.e. paddy was largely supplemented by millets and other varieties of corn. 
  • They carried on extensive trade with foreign countries from very early times. Pepper, ginger, rice, sandal wood, cardamum, cinnamon, ivory and pearls and always been in great demand in foreign markets. 
  • Large hoards of Roman gold coins in many parts of South India provide evidence of the brisk trade between Tamilham and Rome.
  • There were also manufacturers or traders. The major towns like Puhar, Uraiyur, Vanji, Tondi, Muziris, Madurai and Kanchi etc. absorbed most of the manufactured goods.
  • A song in the Purananuru speaks of the sale of fish for paddy, of bales of pepper, and of the transport of a variety of merchandise in small boats from the large ships to the shore.
  • Bandar was noted for its pearls and Kodumanam for rare jewels. Mention is made of the abundance of quartzite precious stones in the hills of the Chera country.
  • Nirpeyarru was a seaport of which were brought horses from the west and other products from the north.
  • Panik Kalari was an important industrial factory where weapons of war were forged and repaired.
  • The merchandise brought to the port of Puhar included war-horses that came by sea, bags of black pepper brought overland by carts, gems and gold from the northern mountain, sandal and agil woods from the western mountain, pearls of the southern and coral of the eastern sea, food stuffs from Sri Lanka and luxuries from Kadaram.
  • External trade was carried on between south India and Hellinistic kindgom of Egypt and Arabia as well as Malaya. Later Roman trade became very important. Roman settlements and gold coins have been discovered at Muziris in Kerala, Puhar or Kaveripattinam and Arikamedu near Pondichery in Tamilnadu.
  • Cotton goods, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, ivory, rice, cardamum, pearls, precious stones were the items of export and main imports were horses and gold etc.

Social Life

  • The people were organised for the most part in occupational groups living part from one another but in fairly close proximity within each village or town, and their life was regulated by a pervasive sense of social solidarity.
  •  Except the agriculturists, who were the most important part of the society, there were many other communities such as fishermen, blacksmiths, carpenters, weavers, cobblers etc.
  •  A distinguishing features of the Sangam social life was that it was not priest dominated although Brahmanas had been an integral part of Vedic society. 
  • The name Chetti denoting a commercial community in South India seems to have been known in the Sangam age. Tolkappiyar calls them vaisigas. 
  • The status of women were not high. The widows had to cut off their hair, discard all ornaments and eat only the plainest food. 
  • Sati was fairly common but by no means universal. There were much faith in omens and astrology. 
  • The banyan tree was considered to be the abode of gods. Poetry, music and dancing were the most cultured amusement open to the upper classes. 
  • Yal was a famous instrument which was stringed instrument like the lute. 
  • For the disposal of the dead both cremation with or without urns are freely mentioned.
  • The caste division and the tribal arrangement co-existed. Appearance of the Brahmanas as a regular varna.
  • The merchant community was mostly in evidence in the towns. Tolkappiar calls them the Vaisigas. Absence of Kshatriya and Vaishya as regular varnas.
  • The agriculturists (Velalas) were the very important part of the society.
  • The ruling class was called the ‘Arasar’. There were some minor classes such as the “Kadaisiyar” (agricultural labourers) and ‘Pulaiyans’ (rope-makers).
  • There is a vivid description of a padini, a singing woman of the panar caste, in the Perunanutruppadai in which Karikalan himself is described as the master of seven notes.
  • Different kinds of lutes like Periyal, Palai-yal, and Sengottiyal are described in detail.
  • The dances of Viralis (professional dancing girls) took place at right. 
  • Tolkappiyam and the Kalaviyal say that the Aryans introduced the ritual and ceremony of marriage (Karanam). These works also mentions the spontaneous coming together of sexes (Kamak-Kuttam); they distinguish secret marriage (Kalavu) from the open alliance contracted with the consent of parents (Karpu).
  • Tolkappiyam and Kalaviyal refer to the eight forms of marriage known to the Sanskrit Dharmasastras. Though the gandharva form of marriage is easily equated to kalavu, the other Aryan forms do not fall in line so easily.

Religion

  • Religion was associated with rituals and certain amount of metaphysical thoughts. Their rituals were related to animism and other forms of anthropomorphic deity worship. 
  • The hunters of the hill tracts worshipped Murugan as the God of the hillock. Indra, God of Marudam, was worshipped by the agriculturists. 
  • The fishermen and the people of the coastal regions worshipped Varuna. Korravai was the God of victory. 
  • The name for temple nagar, kottam, purai, koli was mentioned in Tamil literature. 
  • The vedic religion had struck root in the South. This is established by references to the costly sacrifices performed by monarchs of the age.
  • The popularity and prevalance of the Brahmanical velvi (yajna), the sraddha and pinda to the dead, fasting etc. are well attested to by the Sangam literature.
  • Rice mixed with flesh was offered to crows daily on the thresholds of houses.
  • Vishnu sleeping on the coils of Ananta in Kanchipuram is mentioned in the Perumbanarruppadai.
  • Siva as ardhanarisvara, his bull Nandi, his ganas are found together in the invocatory verse of the Purananuru.
  • Gods on the basis of caste are mentioned in the Silappadikaram. Brahmana, the thirty-three devas, and the eleven ganas are mentioned in Tirumururruopadai.
  • The temple of Indra is mentioned in Silappadikaram and in Manimekalai. Vilakalol was the festival of Indra.
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