The Tamil Sangams were assemblies of Tamil scholars and poets that, according to traditional Tamil accounts, occurred in the remote past. Some scholars believe that these assemblies were originally known as kooṭal or gathering. Three assemblies are described. The legend has it that the first two of which were held in cities since "taken by the sea", and the third of which was held during the 5th century BC in the present-day city ofMadurai. The word sangam has its mention in the sense of an 'academy' in several Tamil literary works like Tevaram, Thiruvilayadal puranam, periyapuranam and Irayanar Ahaporul. Also legend has it that Nammazwar's Thiruvaimozhi was approved in an assmebly of 300 poets. The Sangam period extended from roughly 3000 BC to 300 AD, when the earliest extant works of Tamil literature were created (also known asSangam literature). However, the name Sangam and the associated legends probably derive from a much later period. Whilst the accounts of first two Sangams are generally rejected as ahistorical, some modern scholars, such as Kamil Zvelebil, find a kernel of truth in them, suggesting that they may be based on one or more actual historical assemblies. Others reject the entire notion as infactual. Nevertheless, legends of the Sangams played a significant role in inspiring political, social, and literary movements in Tamil Nadu in the early 20th century. -------------------------------------------------
Early literature from the pre-Pallava dynasty period does not contain any mention of the Sangam academies, although some early poems imply a connection between the city of Madurai, which later legends associate with the third Sangam, and Tamil literature and the cultivation of the language. The earliest express references to the academies are found in the songs of Appar and Sampandar, Shaivite poets who...