The Sangam literature, interestingly, was classified into ‘Aham’ and ‘Puram’, with ‘Aham’ dealing with personal or human aspects, such as love and relationships, and ‘Puram’ with other aspects of human experience including heroism, war, valour, ethics, benevolence, philanthropy, social life, and customs. As another ‘first’ to its credit, Tamil literature classified its landscape into ‘Kurunji’ or Mountainous region, ‘Marutham’ or Cropland, ‘Mullai’ or Forests, ‘Neithal’ or Seashore, and ‘Paalai’ or Desert based on the flora, fauna, climatic conditions, animals, inhabitants and culture of a specific region.
Education, Science & Research were considered significant in ancient Tamil culture. For instance, the decimal numeral system that we use today was derived from the Tamil numerals! Equal importance was given to women with excellent training in Illakiyam (or Literature) and Muthamil (or Arts) namely ‘Iyal’ (or Thoughts), ‘Isai’ (or Music) and ‘Nadakam’ (or Drama).
With the classical art forms in action—Carnatic music & Bharatanatyam dance—the body and soul unite to offer the viewer a delight meant originally for the Gods. Bravery is an essential attribute and philosophy of the Tamil Culture with various indigenous martial arts including Silambam, Adi Thada, Kuthu Variasai, just to name a few, practiced for self-defence, competition, fitness, entertainment and spiritual development. The ‘Shaolin Kung Fu’ owed a lot to the influence of one of Tamilnadu’s most popular martial arts forms, ‘Varmam’. A great sense of social justice, righteousness and equality prevailed in the ancient Tamil culture with the legendary Tamil Chola ruler, “Manunithi Chozan”, believed to have killed his own son for killing a calf by accident! The ‘Purananuru’, an ancient Tamil poetic work, is a complete text dealing with kingship, manifesting the awesome wisdom of the Tamil rulers and their subjects.