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Age of Kalabhras

Age of Kalabhras Post Sangam Period

  • The period between the Sangam Age and the Pallava-Pandya period, roughly between c. 300 CE and 600 CE, is known as the age of Kalabhras in the history of Tamizhagam.
  • As the three traditional kingdoms disappeared in this interval due to the occupation of their territory by a warlike group called the Kalabhras, this period was called an interregnum or ‘dark age’ by earlier historians.
  • It was also supposed that many good traits of earlier Tamil culture disappeared in this interval.
  • This idea of the Kalabhra interregnum is no more accepted as correct.
  • Rather this is the time when the greatest Tamil work Tirukkural was written along with many other works grouped as the eighteen minor works.
  • The epics Silappathikaram and Manimekalai also belong to this period.
  • As this was the time when the non-orthodox religions, Jainism and Buddhism became more influential, the scholars of the orthodox Vedic-Puranic school seem to have created the impression that the ruling Kalabhras of the time were evil in nature.
  • The recent interpretation of the period takes it as a period of transition leading to enlarged state societies under the Pallavas ruling over northern Tamilnadu and the Pandyas in the south from the sixth century onwards.
  • To start with, the rulers of these new states were patrons of the Jain and Buddhist religions and gradually they came under the spell of the orthodox Vedic-Puranic religion emerging in the form of the Bhakti cults of Saivism and Vaishnavism.
  • But the influence of Jain and Buddhist religions on the general society was so strong as to evoke much aversion from the Bhakti saints.

A group of inscriptions found at Pulangurichi in Sivagangai district datable to about the middle of the fifth century, name two kings. They are Chendan and Kurran. Though there is no mention about their family or dynasty name, some scholars identify them as Kalabhra rulers. The Kalabhra kingdom seems to have been uprooted by Pandyas around the third quarters of sixth century CE.

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