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Unique Nature of Tamil
According to Dr.Zvelebil Tamil literature possesses at least two unique features.
- Tamil literature in its beginnings and in its first and most vigorous bloom, is almost independent of Sanskrit and Aryan influences.
- Tamil Literature is the only literature which is classical and modern.
Tamil is the only literary Dravidian Language whose Meta Language is Tamil. The meta Language of Tamil is always been Tamil and never Sanskrit.With conscious effort Tamil can be used without any Sanskrit origin word. This is observed by A.K.Ramanujan when he says, “In most Indian languages,the technical gobbledygook is Sanskrit;in Tamil,the gobbledygook is ultra-Tamil.”
Tamil is probably the only ancient language in India which bears the reflection of life style and emotion of an entire people who lived in that period. Though its heroes were idealized and heroic as Kailasapathy observes “What is pertinent is the fact that both poems (akam,puram) are dealing with aristocratic society- a society dominated by warlike chiefs.” 
Kamil Zvelebil accepts this fact but also points out that these Old Tamil heroes were very close to the land, the economic basis of existence, though he probably did not do any manual work himself; he did not live in huge castles, but in villages in big houses called manai,akam,il and only occasionally in small fortress(very similar to present day village headmen, who are associated with day to day activities of the village and are not isolated from the common man).
Kailasapathy also points out that slaves, servants, errand men etc. are not entitled to be portrayed as the heroes in the poems treating the five divisions of Mutual Love. He also gives references from Tolkappiyam and works of commentators like Ilampuranar and Nachinarkiniyar.
Zvelebil observes that though these heroes were Idealized men and women; it wasn’t essentially life of sacerdotal or ruling nobility, of priestly class, of nuns, monks, or of elite group or groups of society. These poems have captured the basic human experience in the best possible way making it one of the truly classical piece of literature.
Zvelebil also points out the difference between Tamil literature from other literatures of India “it (Sangam literature) is very different all strata of Sanskritic literature – from the Vedic literature which is literature of sacerdotal class, from the great epics which are the literature of the ruling barons, from the classical literature which is par excellence the literature of the “man about town”, of the naagarika; it is also different from the Buddhist and Jaina texts, since these are mostly the literature of the monastic orders,of monks and nuns.However this does not mean that it is ,in its finished form, as we have it “popular” literature of folk literature.”
The poets of the Sangam age include 20 women contributing 140 poems. The poets also belonged to all classes of the society- princes, chieftains, peasants, brahmins, merchants, potters, black smiths and carpenters by birth. 
Both Kailasapathy and Zvelebil agree on the basic fact that the early poetry of the Tamils is founded on a secular, oral bardic tradition – in sharp contrast to the Vedic poetry and comparable rather with the Greek or Welsh bardic literature. The essential philosophies of the early Tamils were also different from that of the Sanskrit, Vedic literature.(Scope this topic beyond this article, hence I am avoiding going into details.)
Dr.Zvelebil observes that the poets of Ancient Tamils to the present day writers have mastered the technique of suggestion, of allusion, of interference and wordplay, of complex use of imagery and multiple overtones .
To end this essay I would like to quote A.K.Ramanujan opinion on Sangam literature, “In their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in any Indian Literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In their value and stances, they represent a mature classical poetry; passion is balanced by courtesy, transparency by ironies and nuances of design, impersonality by vivid detail, leanness of line by richness of implication. These poems are not just the earliest evidence of the Tamil genius. The Tamils, in all their 2000 years of literary effort,wrote nothing better. “
 Language and Modernization by A.K.Ramanujan, pg. 31
 Tamil Heroic Poetry by K.Kailasapathy, pg.11
 ibid., pg.11-12
 The Smile of Murugan : On Tamil Literature of South India by Kamil Zvelebil, pg. 12
 ibid., pg.12-13
 ibid., pg.22
 The Interior Landscape: Love Poems from a Classical Tamil Anthology by A.K.Ramanujan, pg. 115
Reference and Further Study:
- The Smile of Murugan : On Tamil Literature of South India by Kamil Zvelebil
- Companion studies to History of Tamil History
- Tamil Literature by Kamil Zvelebil
- Poems of Ancient Tamil: Their Milieu and Their Sanskrit Counterparts by George L. Hart
- Tamil Heroic Poetry by K.Kailasapathy
- The Eight Anthologies by J.R. Marr
- The Interior Landscape: Love Poems from a Classical Tamil Anthology by A.K.Ramanujan
- Pattupattu: Ten Tamil Idylls by J.V. Chelliah
- A History of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar by K.A.Nilakantasastri
- Early Tamil Epigraphy : From the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century A.D. by Iravatham Mahadevan
- Tamil Lexicon – University of Madras
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