TAMILAKAM refers to the geographical region inhabited by the ancient
Tamil people .
Tamilakam covered today
Tamil Nadu ,
Lakshadweep and southern parts of
Andhra Pradesh and
Karnataka . Traditional accounts and _Tholkāppiyam_ referred these
territories as a single cultural area, where Tamil was the natural
language and culture of all people. The ancient Tamil country was
divided into kingdoms. The best known among them were the Cheras ,
Cholas , Pandyans and Pallavas . Archaeological data from
Tamil Nadu "appears to challenge the notion
of a separate culture region". During the
Sangam period , Tamil
culture began to spread outside Tamilakam. Ancient Tamil settlements
were also found in
Sri Lanka (
Sri Lankan Tamils ) and the Maldives
Part of a series on
* History of
* History of
Sources of ancient Tamil history
* Tamil Kingdoms
* Numeral system
Sri Lankan Tamils
* Sri Lankan
Tamil Australians , French
Tamils , British
Tamils , Tamil Italians ,
Tamil Indonesians ,
Tamil Canadians ,
Tamil Americans , Tamil South
Africans , Myanmar
Tamils , Tamil Mauritians ,
Tamil Germans , Tamil
Tamil Seychellois , Tamil New Zealanders , Swiss
Religion in ancient Tamil country
* Christianity in
* Politics of
Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism
Part of a series on
DRAVIDIAN CULTURE AND HISTORY
Indus Valley Civilisation
Indus Valley Civilisation
History of South India
* Ancient history of
* Hoysala dynasty
South Indian culture
* History of
Dravidian folk religion
South India (Dravida)
* Nagas (Extinct)
* Giraavarus (Extinct)
* Kannada language rights
Telugu Desam Party
Part of a series on
HISTORY OF TAMIL NADU
Chronology of Tamil history
List of Tamil monarchs
Three Crowned Kings
* Legal system
* Naming conventions
* Early Pandyas
* Pandya Empire
* Kalahasti Nayaks
Part of a series on the
HISTORY OF KERALA
Main Megalithic culture
Confluence of religions
Venad - Kingdom of Quilon
Rise of Travancore
Battle of Quilon
Other topics Geography
Part of a series on
SRI LANKAN TAMILS
Ancient clans of Lanka
* Early Jaffna
* Portuguese conquest
Yalpana Vaipava Malai
American Ceylon Mission
* Wesleyan Methodist Mission
Jaffna Youth Congress
Sinhala Only Act
Sinhala Only Act
* 1954 pact
* 1957 Pact
* 1964 pact
* 1974 pact
Burning of Jaffna library
Sri Lanka Accord
* War crimes
* IDP camps
* UN Panel
* History of Eastern
Tamil people portal
Sri Lanka portal
* 1 Etymology
* 1.1 Modern use
* 2 Sources
* 3 Territory and geographical boundaries
* 3.1 Classical era territory
* 3.3 Nadus of
* 3.4 Nadus outside
* 4 Culture
* 4.1 Cultural unity
* 4.2 Cultural influence
* 5 Religion
* 6 The Nagas of
* 6.1 Naga Nadu
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 References
* 10 Sources
* 10.1 Printed sources
* 10.2 Web-sources
"Tamiḻakam" is a portmanteau of a word and suffix from the Tamil
language , namely _Tamiḻ_ and -akam . It can be roughly translated
as the "homeland of the
Tamils ". According to
Kamil Zvelebil , the
term seems to be the most ancient term used to designate Tamil
territory in the Indian subcontinent. The Periplus of the Erythraean
Sea referred it as _Damirica_.
The word _Tamilakam_ is today used as synonym for
Tamil Nadu .
Until recently, the interpretation and understanding of India's past
has largely been based on textual sources. According to Abraham,
"In the southern portion of the peninsula – the region that
corresponds roughly to the present-day states of
Kerala and Tamil Nadu
– the existence of a large documentary corpus, both indigenous and
foreign, and the occurrence of inscribed coins and cave inscriptions,
have given rise to the idea of a separate ethnic and linguistic region
known as "Tamiḻakam"."
The role of archaeology has often been secondary, as "a source of
correlates for information gleaned from the texts", but challenges
existing notions of
Tamiḻakam which are primarily based on textual
TERRITORY AND GEOGRAPHICAL BOUNDARIES
CLASSICAL ERA TERRITORY
Sangam literature and
The second or first century BCE Tamil chronicle, the _Tholkāppiyam
_, a work on the grammar of the
Tamil language and the earliest known
extant work of
Tamil literature , contains several references to
_Centamil nilam_, which is translated as the "land of refined Tamils".
According to the _Tholkāppiyam_, the limits of
between the hills of Venkatam in the north and
Kanyakumari in the
south. Tholkappiar, the writer of the _Tholkāppiyam_, doesn't
mention a Tamil part of Sri Lanka.
In the _Tholkāppiyam_, during this period of ancient Tamil country,
there isn't any distinction between
Malayalam and Tamil, conclusively
Malayalam hasn't been in existence as a separate language and
although it's said that the Tamil, was naturally spoken from the
_Eastern sea_ to the _Western sea_.
Main article: History of
Approximately during the period between 350 BCE to 200 CE,
Tamiḻakam was ruled by the three Tamil dynasties: the
Pandyan dynasty and the
Chera dynasty . There were also a few
independent chieftains, the
Velirs . During the time of the Maurya
Empire in North India (c. 4th century BCE – 3rd century BCE) the
Cheras, the Pandyas and the Cholas were in a late megalithic phase on
the western coast of Tamiḻakam. The earliest datable references to
the Tamil kingdoms are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE during
the time of the Maurya Empire.
Pandyan dynasty ruled parts of
South India until the early 17th
century. The heartland of the Pandyas was the fertile valley of the
Vaigai River . They initially ruled their country from
Korkai , a
seaport on the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, and in later
times moved to
Madurai . The
Chola dynasty ruled from before the
Sangam period (3rd century BCE) until the 13th century in central
Tamil Nadu. The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the
Kaveri . The
Chera dynasty ruled from before the
Sangam period (3rd
century) until the 12th century over an area corresponding to
Tamil Nadu and
The Vealirs (Tamil : வேளிர் _Vēḷir_) were minor
dynastic kings and aristocratic chieftains in
Tamiḻakam in the early
historic period of
South India .
NADUS OF TAMIḻAKAM
Tamiḻakam was divided into political regions called _Perunadu_ or
"Great country", "nadu" means country.
There were three important political regions which were
Chera Nadu ,
Chola Nadu and Pandya Nadu. Along these three there were two more
political regions of Athiyaman Nadu (Sathyaputha) and Thamirabharani
Nadu (Then Paandi) which were later on absorbed into
Pandya Nadu by 3rd century BCE. Thondai Nadu which was under Chola
Nadu, later emerged as independent
Pallava Nadu by 6th century ADE.
Tamilakam resp. Perunadus was resp. were divided into 12
socio-geographical regions called _Nadu_ or "country". Each of this
Nadu had their own dialect of Tamil.
* Thenpandi Nadu
* Panri Nadu
* Kuda nadu
* Punal nadu
* Aruva nadu
* Aruva Vadathalai nadu
* Sida nadu
* Malai Nadu
NADUS OUTSIDE TAMIḻAKAM
Some other Nadus were also mentioned in Tamil literatures which
weren't part of Tamilakam, but the countries traded with
ancient times. Tamil speaking lands:
* Eela Nadu (Eelam)
* Naga Nadu or Yazh Kuthanadu (Jaffna Peninsula)
* Vanni Nadu (Vanni region)
* Chavaka Nadu (Java)
* Kadara Nadu (Kedah)
* Kalinga Nadu
* Singhala Nadu
Tulu Nadu (Land of the
Tulu people )
* Vadugu Nadu
* Kannada Nadu (Land of
Kannada people )
* Erumai Nadu
* Telunka Nadu (Land of
Telugu people )
* Kolla Nadu
* Vanka Nadu
* Kucala Nadu
* Konkana Nadu
* Kampocha Nadu (Cambodia)
* Palantivu Nadu (Maldives)
* Kupaka Nadu
* Marattha Nadu
* Vatuka Nadu
* Tinmaitivu (Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
Thapar mentions the existence of a common language of the Dravidian
Ashoka in his inscription refers to the peoples of
South India as the
Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and Satiyaputras - the crucible of the culture
Tamiḻakam - called thus from the predominant language of the
Dravidian group at the time, Tamil.
Yet, also according to Abraham,
... the archaeological data from protohistoric
Kerala and Tamil Nadu
is not so clear-cut and, in fact, appears to challenge the very notion
of a separate culture region.
Sri Lankan Tamils and
Sri Lankan Civil War
With the advent of the early historical period in
South India and
the ascent of the three Tamil kingdoms in
South India in the 3rd
Tamil culture began to spread outside Tamiḻakam. In
the 3rd century BCE, the first Tamil settlers arrived in Sri Lanka.
Annaicoddai seal , dated to the 3rd century BCE, contains a
bilingual inscription in
Tamil-Brahmi . Excavations in the area of
Tissamaharama in southern
Sri Lanka have unearthed locally issued
coins produced between the second century BCE and the second century
CE, some of which carry local Tamil personal names written in early
Tamil letters, which suggest that local Tamil merchants were present
and actively involved in trade along the southern coast of Sri Lanka
by the late classical period. Around 237 BCE, "two adventurers from
southern India" established the first Tamil rule at Sri Lanka. In 145
BCE Elara, a
Chola general or prince known as Ellāḷaṉ took
over the throne at
Anuradhapura and ruled for forty-four years.
Dutugamunu , a Sinhalese , started a war against him, defeated him,
and took over the throne.
Jains , Buddhists and Hindus have coexisted in Tamil country for at
least as early as the second century BCE.
THE NAGAS OF SRI LANKA
... some scholars suggest that the Yakshas and Nagas in the
prehistorical period dating back to 1000 BCE".
The Yakshas and the Nagas are depicted in the
the early inhabitants of the island when Vijaya arrived in the island
in 500 B.C. According to Manogaran, some scholars also "have
postulated that the Yakshas and Nagas are the aboriginal tribes of
Sri Lanka". Holt concludes that they were not Tamils, but a distinct
group. Other scholars consider the Nagas as a Tamil group due to
their snake worshipping which is a dravidian custom. The Naga custom
is still visible in Sri Lankan Tamil
Naga people (Lanka)
The 2nd century AD Tamil epic _
Manimekalai _ speaks of the prosperous
Naga Nadu or "land of Nagas ", and of "the great Naga king Valai
Vanan and his wife, the queen Vacchamayilai , who ruled the prosperous
Naga Nadu with great splendor." According to the _Manimekalai_, this
region had a rich dravidian Buddhist tradition.
* History of
* History of
* ^ Thapar mentions the existence of a common language of the
Dravidian group: "Ashoka in his inscription refers to the peoples of
South India as the Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and Satiyaputras - the
crucible of the CULTURE OF TAMILAKAM - called thus from the
predominant language of the Dravidian group at the time, Tamil".
* ^ See, for example, Kanakasabhai.
* ^ Various contemporary sources also refer to the _Tolkāppiyam_,
and mention the hills of Venkatam and
Cape Comorin in the south as the
historical limits of Tamiḻakam. Other sources mention somewhat
different limits, or use a different wording.
* ^ According to A. Rajayyan, it is possible that the Tolkappiar
and Sikiandiyar were "not aware of the Tamil part of the island of
* ^ An archaeological team led by K.Indrapala of the University of
Jaffna excavated a megalithic burial complex at Anaikoddai in Jaffna
District, Sri Lanka. In one of the burials, a metal seal was found
assigned by the excavators to c. the 3rd century BCE.
* ^ Manogaran notes: "... there is general consensus among
historians that Sinhalese settlements preceded Tamil settlements on
the island by a few centuries." Manogaran also notes: "... we can
only speculate that the ancestors of the present-day
Sri Lanka when the Sinhalese began colonizing the island."
* ^ John Holt writes that "in the early Sri Lankan chronicles as
well as in the early Tamil literary works the Nagas appear as a
distinct group". Holt also writes that "the adoption of the Tamil
language was helping the Nagas in the Tamil chiefdoms to be
assimilated into the major ethnic group there".
* ^ According to the _Manimekalai_, their daughter, the princess
Pilli Valai, had a liaison at
Nainativu islet with the early Chola
king Killivalavan. The _Manimekalai_ is the only source for this
information; no other sources mention Killivalavan. Out of this union
was born Prince Tondai
Eelam Thiraiyar, a supposedly early progenitor
Pallava Dynasty who were the rulers of
Tondai Nadu until the
9th century CE.
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Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years
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* ^ _A_ _B_ Kanakasabhai 1997 , p. 10.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ Abraham 2003 .
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