The period roughly between the 3rd century B.C. and 3rd century A.D. in South India (the area lying to the south of river Krishna and Tungabhadra) is known as Sangam Period.It has been named after the Sangam academies held during that period that flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandya kings of Madurai.
Sangam Polity and Administration
- During the Sangam period hereditary monarchy was the form of government.
- Each of the dynasties of Sangam age had a royal emblem – tiger for the Cholas, carp/Fish for the Pandyas, and bow for the Cheras.
- The king was assisted by a wide body of officials who were categorised into five councils.
- They were ministers (amaichar), priests (anthanar), envoys (thuthar), military commanders (senapathi), and spies (orrar).
- The military administration was efficiently organized and a regular army was associated with each ruler.
- The chief source of state’s income was land revenue while a custom duty was also imposed on foreign trade.
- Major source of fulfilling the royal treasury was the booty captured in wars.
- The roads and highways were maintained and guarded to prevent robbery and smuggling.
- Tolkappiyam refers to the Five-fold division of lands – Kurinji (hilly tracks), Mullai (pastoral), Marudam (agricultural), Neydal (coastal) and Palai (desert).
- Tolkappiyam also refers to four castes namely arasar(Ruling Class), anthanar, vanigar(carried on trade and commerce) and vellalar(Agriculturists).
- Ancient primitive tribes like Thodas, Irulas, Nagas and Vedars lived in this period.