Tamil is a language with Indian roots. It is spoken in our country in the state of Tamil Nadu as well as the Union territory of Pondicherry. It is the official language at these two places Apart from these places, outside the country .It is also spoken in Sri Lanka and Singapore where it is one of the official languages.
Tamil is also widely spoken in parts of Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji and South Africa. Tamil enjoys the classic language status in our country, a privilege that was accorded to the language in the country in the year 2004. Tamil received this privilege on account of three grounds as the language has an ancient history attached to it. The tradition associated with the growth of the language was also independent and the literature forms are found in huge volumes, thus making it a language that belongs to the classic language category.
UPSC Tamil Literature Syllabus for IAS Mains
Answers must be written in Tamil.
Part: 1 History of Tamil Language
- Major Indian Language Families-The place of Tamil among Indian languages in general and Dravidian in particular-Enumeration and distribution of Dravidian languages.
- The language of Sangam literature-The language of medieval Tamil: Pallava period only-Historical study of Nouns, Verbs, adjectives, adverbs Tense markers and case markers in Tamil.
- Borrowing of words from other languages into Tamil-Regional and social dialects-difference between literary and spoken Tamil.
Part: 2 Histories of Tamil Literature
- Tolkappiyam-Sangam Literature-The division of Akam and puram-The secular characteristics of Sangam Literature-The development of Ethical literature-Silappadikaram and Manimekalai.
Part: 3 Devotional literature (Alwars and Nayanmars) The bridal mysticism in Alwar hymns-Minor literary forms (Tutu, Ula, Parani, Kuravanji)
- Social factors for the development of Modern Tamil literature: Novel, Short story and New Poetry-The impact of various political ideologies on modern writings.
Part: 1 Recent trends in Tamil Studies
- Approaches to criticism: Social , psychological, historical and moralistic-the use of criticism-the various techniques in literature: Ullurai, Iraicchi, Thonmam (Myth) Otturuvagam (allegory), Angadam (Satire), Meyppadu, Padimam(image), Kuriyeedu (Symbol), Irunmai (ambiguity)-The concept[t of comparative literature-the principle of comparative literature.
Part: 2 Folk literature in Tamil: Ballads, Songs, proverbs and riddles-Sociological study of Tamil folklore.
- Uses of translation-Translation of Tamil works into other languages-Development of journalism in Tamil.
Part: 3 Cultural Heritage of the Tamils
- Concept of Love and War-Concept of Aram-the ethical codes adopted by the ancient Tamils in their warfare-customs, beliefs, rituals, modes of worship in the five Thinais. The cultural changes as revealed in post Sangam literature-cultural fusion in the medieval period (Jainism & Buddhism). The development of arts and architecture through the ages (Pallava, later Cholas, and Nayaks). The impact of various political, social, religious and cultural movements on Tamil Society. The role of mass media in the cultural change of contemporary Tamil society.
Answers must be written in Tamil.
The paper will require first hand reading of the Text prescribed and will be designed to test the critical ability of the candidate.
Part: 1 Ancient Literature
- Kuruntokai (1-25 poems)
- Purananurui (182-200 poems)
- Tirukkural Porutpal: Arasiyalum Amaichiyalum (from Iraimatchi to Avaianjamai)
Part: 2 Epic Literature
- Silappadikaram: Madhurai Kandam only.
- Kambaramayanam: Kumbakarunan Vadhai Padalam
Part 3: Devotional Literature
- Tiruvasagam: Neetthal Vinnappam
- Tiruppavai: (Full Text)
Part: 1 Poetry
- Bharathiar: Kannan Pattu
- Bharathidasan: Kudumba Vilakku
- Naa. Kamarasan: Karuppu Malarkal
- Mu. Varadharajanar. Aramum Arasiyalum
- C N Annadurai: Ye! Thazhntha Tamilagame.
Part : 2 Novel, Short story and Drama
- Akilon: Chittirappavai
- Jayakanthan: Gurupeedam
- Cho: Yarukkum Vetkamillai
Part: 3 Folk Literature
- Muthuppattan Kathai Edited by Na. Vanamamalai, (Publication: Madurai Kamaraj University)
- Malaiyaruvi, Edited by Ki. Va Jagannathan (Publication: Saraswathi, Mahal, Thanjavur)
More about the language
It is interesting to note that the Tamil speaking population outside India or Tamil immigrants to be precise are found in very huge numbers outside the country. Their distribution can be traced to pockets all around the world. The evolution of Tamil literature has been segregated into seven beautiful phases, namely, Sangam period, later Sangam period, Pallava period, Cholas period, Nayaks period, European period and finally the current period.
The literature can be broadly grouped into 4 important categories namely, the Sangam classics, devotional literature, ethical literature and finally what we get to see today, the modern literature.
The earliest form of Tamil classical literature is called the Singham classics. Roughly around 200 to 500 BC, the literature that was created belonged to this group. This group of literature mainly had topics like nature, love, description of human feelings, war etc that were the areas of interest. Pathuppattu and Ettuthokai are considered the greatest form of anthologies of the Singham group.
Thiruvalluvar, the greatest poet of Tamil literature till date belonged to this era. He wrote the Thirukkural which is a great collection of poems. These poems mainly were family based and also about virtues of life. Many language experts consider this book as not only a literature form, but the greatest contributor to teach a person the values of life, the way to lead a good family life and thereby act as a guide for family life.
This book is so old and famous that it has been translated into numerous Indian and foreign languages till date. The famous saint Ilango created the works Silappathikaram and Manimekalai, proudly known as twin epic creations in the Tamil language.
In the devotional literature phase, philosophies related to religion and saints were mainly addressed. Poems on Buddhism can be widely found in this period of literature era. It was in this period that Shaivism, Vaishnavism, together with Buddhism and Jainism took turns to establish war against each other and make space to thrive and conquer more creations. The language in this phase was actually used as a channel to let each religion make space to grow and shine.
The ethical phase, as it sounds, dealt mainly with the theme of morals in life. Literature in this phase was used by people to explore and express morals in their best form possible. Morals were taught to the common man through the medium of Tamil language and literature. This phase had poems written in the forms of verses and many language experts are happy to memorise beautiful verses from the period.
The modern literature can be further grouped into the prose and poetry forms. It is during the modern age literature that many other forms began to be experimented in the capacity of the language. This led to the language to outgrow its capacity and expand into new horizons. Under this era, we find the invasion of novels, short stories, essays etc being part of the mainstream literature activity.
Prathabha Mudaliar Sarithiram was the first novel found in Tamil language. It was written in the 19th century. Poetry is another branch of Tamil literature that has significant importance due to the enormous contribution of talented poets from various timelines.
Modern grammatical aspects are perfect with the aspects of phonology, morphology as well as syntactical measures. The earlier forms of poetry dealt with personal and internal aspects of life, external beauty of different life stages, behavioural aspects of humans etc. Tholkappiyam is the oldest reliable resource on Tamil grammar. This grammar is actually considered to have existed even before the dawn of the Christian era.
Popular names in Tamil literature include Puthumaipittan among others. The modern days of Tamil literature saw high notes from Subramania Bharathi. Other great contributors to the language are Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, U V Swaminatha Iyer, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Ramalinga Adigal, Maraimalai Adigal, Bharathidasan, D Jayakanthan, S Ramakrishnan, Kalki Krishnamurthy, etc. Tamil language is also famous among periodicals and the first one was ‘The Tamil Magazine’ as early as 1831 by Christian Religious Tract society. Swadesamitran was the first official Tamil newspaper published in the year 1882.