Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Palk Straits - A Narrow Stretch of Shallow Water that Divides the Tamil Homeland
International Conferences on Tamil Studies
History of the Tamils: from the earliest times to 600 A.D. - P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar

Aryan/Dravidian Question

A Video Essay on Tamil
M. V. Bhaskar and K. T. Gandhirajan, 19 June 2006

Milestones in Tamil History UNESCO Courier, March, 1984 "..The History of Tamil Nadu begins with the 3 kingdoms, Chera, Chola and Pandya, which are referred to in documents of the 3rd century BC. Some of the kings of these dynasties are mentioned in Sangam Literature and the age between the 3rd century BC and the 2nd century AD is called the Sangam Age. At the beginning of the 4th century AD the Pallavas established their rule with Kanchipuram as their capital...In the middle of the 9th century a Chola ruler established what was to become one of India's most outstanding empires on account of its administrative achievements (irrigation, village development) and its contributions to art and literature. The Age of the Cholas is considered the golden age of Tamil history."
Chronology of Tamil History
Tamil Literature as a Source Material of History - Professor K.K.Pillai
Maraimalai Atigal and the Genealogy of the Tamilian Creed - Ravi Vaitheespara Comment by tamilnation.org "Dr. Ravi Vaitheespara's study is essential reading for all those concerned to further their understanding of Tamil nationalism and its future direction. It was Mao Tse Tung who said somewhere that theory is a practical thing. Mao was right."
Who is a Tamil - C.Sivaratnam, 1968

Writing Tamil History:Post National Perspectives - Ponnampalam Ragupathy, 11 May 2006

On Constructing the History of Tamils - N.Nandhivarman
History of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Militarism
Flags of the Tamils
Tamil Studies in Canada
Early History
3,500 Year Old Indus Script Found in Tamil Nadu, May 2006
Towards a scientific study of the Indus Script - Iravatham Mahadevan 4 February 2007
The Indus Valley Decipherment Hoax - Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer, 13 October 2000
Adichchanallur, Tamil Nadu - An Iron Age Urn Burial Site
Tamil Language Inscriptions in Thailand
Tamil Language Inscriptions in China - Dr.S.Jayabarathi
Ancient rock art dating back to 1500 B.C. found in Tamil Nadu, 27 May 2007
Three granite pillars with inscriptions of Pallava and Chola kings
Pondicherry Stone Inscriptions - N.Nandivarman
Ancient rock art dating back to 1500 B.C.in Tamil Nadu
Epigraphy - Tamil inscriptions from the Tambaram area, 1973 - Gift Siromoney
Dolmens & Hero Stones
Tamil Coins - Sangam Age
Wootz Steel - an Advanced Material of the Ancient World - S. Srinivasan and S. Ranganathan
From Indus Valley to coastal Tamil Nadu Strong resemblances between graffiti symbols in Tamil Nadu and the Indus script
மனித இனம் முதலில் தோன்றிய கடல் கொண்ட குமரிக் கண்டம் - கதிரவன்
Sources of ancient Tamil history
Tamil Civilization - the Origins, J.M.Rajaratnam
The direction of Harappan writing - Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer, 13 October 2000
Rewriting Indian History - Hindu Timeline
Sarasvati-Sindhu civilisation (c. 3000 B.C.) - S.Kalyanaraman
Harappa Civilisation
Harappa: Basic Signs - Clyde Winters
Inspiration of Harappan Talismanic Seals - Clyde Winters
Decipherment of Indus Valley Script - Clyde Winters
A Grammar of Dravido Harappan Writing - Clyde Winters
Harappan Fish Signs - Clyde Winters

The Scientific Dating of the Mahabharat War by Dr.P.V.Vartak

Pre Historic Age of Tamil Nadu

Tsunami Disaster & the Tamil People - Catastrophes of the past in Tamil Aham : poetic exaggeration or scientific facts?, 7 January 2005


Sangam Age Dynasties
Dynasties of the South
Sangam Age Culture

Kappal Oddiya Thamilan

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century - W.H. Schoff (tr. & ed.), 1912

Kappal Oddiya Thamilan
- The Overseas Exploits of the Thamils & the Tragedy of Sri Lanka - G.K.Rajasuriyar, 2002

Tamils in South East Asia And Far East - Dr. S. Arasaratnam, 1981
Some aspects of South Indian cultural contacts with Thailand � Historical Background. - S.Singaravelu, 1966
Early Tamil Cultural Influences in South East Asia - S.J.Gunasegaram, 1985
Tiru-p-pavai, Tiruvempavai in South East Asia - T.P.Meenakshisundaram, 1966
Tamil Studies: Research in South East Asia and in the Far East - Jean Filliozat, 1966
Ancient Ports and Maritime Trade Centres in Tamilnadu and their Significance
Presentation by
T.S.Sridhar, IAS
Special Commissioner,
Department of Archaeology,
Government of Tamil Nadu - 6 October 2005
Ancient anchors off Tamil Nadu coast and
ship tonnage analysis
N. Athiyaman and P. Jayakumar,
10 May 2004

Literary History

Literary History in Tamil - Karthigesu Sivathamby, 1986 "Literature... creates the mode of consciousness and this can in a historical perspective become an indicator of national consciousness... In fact consciousness of the literary heritage was a cause and an index of Tamilian nationality consciousness... "
Third Tamil Sangam and The Mauryas - Nallathambi Thevar
Antiquity and Sacred Writing: Tamil Literary Histories in the late 19th - early 20th centuries - Srilata M�ller, 1998
Religious Traditions of Tamils - Professor Velupillai, 1995

Gingee - the Fort with a 1000 Year History - N.Nandhivarman, General Secretary Dravida Peravai

Tamil Renaissance

Veerapandiya Kattabomman
U.V.Swaminatha Iyer - S.Thangavelu, 1996
Subramaniam Sivam
V.O.Chidambaram Pillai
Elite Formation in 19th Century South India - An Interpretative Analysis - Robert Eric Frykenberg
National Movement in Tamil Nadu, 1905-1914 - Agitational Politics and State Coercion, N.Rajendran
Caste & the Tamil Nation
The Origin of the Non-Brahmin Movement, 1905-1920 - K.Nambi Arooran in Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism
Demand for Dravida Nadu - K.Nambi Arooran, 1980
Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism - K.Nambi Arooran, 1980
Constitution of Self Respect League
Periyar E.V.Ramaswamy
Dravida Munetra Kalagam
Decaying of the Dravidian Movement - Shan Ranjit, 2000

Towards a Re-Appraisal
of the Dravidian/Non-Brahmin Movement
V.Geetha and S.V.Rajadurai

Interrogating India - a Dravidian Viewpoint - V.Geetha and S.V.Rajadurai, 1991

Eelam Tamils

Tamils in Sri Lanka - A Comprehensive History (C.300 B.C. - 2000 A.D.)
by Murugar Gunasingham Ph.D. in English and in Tamil
Tamil Studies in Ceylon; a review essay of 1968 - S. Vithiananthan
History of Tamil Eelam Flag - Video Presentation
Ancestry of the Ceylon Tamil - M.D.Raghavan
The Vijayan Legend and the Aryan Myth - C.J.Gunasegaram, 1963
Elara (Elalan) and the Chronicles of Ceylon -
Tamil Kings in Early Ceylon - C.J.Gunasegaram
History of the Tamils in Eelam and The Jaffna Kingdom - Dr Mathi Chandrakumar
The Tamils in Early Ceylon, C.Sivaratnam, 1968
On the Traditional Tamil Homeland: The Facts - Sachi Sri Kantha
Tamils & the Meaning of History - Dr Hellmann-Rajanayagam, 1996 "..And that leads us to the final question, whether, if this was the case, the Tamils in Ceylon were not really somewhat unique, different from those in India, the close proximity notwithstanding, whether the undoubted fact of their political autonomy had not generated a degree of cultural, religious and linguistic independence as well, but an independence which has become, in the late 20th century, extremely limiting and downright dangerous. There have been attempts to reverse this trend: Followers of Arumuka N�valar's religious tradition always saw India and Jaffna as one and unseparated and stressed the unity. The dilemma of being torn between South India and Jaffna is most evident in the writings and ideology of the militants for whom India again became the vanishing point when things in Jaffna got too hot, in the good old tradition, but who now have changed their song again and consider themselves as primarily belonging to Sri Lanka. That is the dilemma of the Jaffna Tamils..."
Pandara Vannian
Sri Lankan Tamil Society & Politics - Karthigesu Sivathamby, 1995
Sri Lanka Tamils - Brian Pfaffenberger, 1991

The Tomb of Elara at Anuradhapura - Dr.James Rutnam, 1981

The Vallipuram Buddha Image - Peter Schalk
புராதன இலங்கை சரித்திரம் - ப. கணபதிப்பிள்ளை

Tamil Rulers of the Kandyan Kingdom - G.Amirthalingam, 4 March 2006

Beginnings of Tamil Rule in Eelam (Ceylon, Sri Lanka) - Nallur Swami S. Gnana Prakasar O.M.I.
Arya Chakravarties of Tamil Eelam - M.D.Raghavan
Matrimonial Alliances between Tamilnad and the Sinhalese Royal Family in the 18th Century and the Establishment of a Madurai Dynasty in Kandy - Lorna Srimathie Dewaraja, 1974
The Tamil Kingdom in Jaffna - Early Beginnings to the Court of the Ariya Chakravartis - Dr.H.W.Tambiah, 1968
A Critical Study of Tamil Documents Pertaining to the History of Jaffna - K.S.Nadarajah, 1966
Tamil Consciousness in Eelam - K.Kailasapathy, 1979
The Five Ishwarams in Eelam - Shruthi Laya Shangam, London and Shri S. Arumugam, 1999
Dondra (Tennavan-Thurai) - C.J.Gunasegaram
Munnicuvaram (Munnesvaram) Kovil: Its History, Ceremonies and Layout - Professor A. Velupillai, 1995
Our Temple: Thirukoneswaram
Welcome to Thirukoneswaram
Trincomalee - Holy Hill of Siva - S.J.Gunasegaram, 1985

Contribution of some leading Ceylon Tamils to the Constitutional and Political Development of Ceylon during the 19th and 20th centuries -A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, 1966

Boundaries of Tamil Eelam

Ceylon Tamils

Work on ancient history of Batticaloa released, April 2005

�We should write the people�s history of the northeast. It is important to discover and publish old palm leaf manuscripts such as �Mattakkalappu Poorva Sariththiram� (Ancient History of Batticaloa) to bring out the history of the communities that live in this region. We have to search and preserve valuable primary sources of our history�, Prof. S. Mounaguru, former Dean of Fine Arts, Eastern University, Tamil Eelam

யாழ்பாணப் பாரம்பரியம்
Jaffna Heritage - Traditional Buildings of Jaffna
- R.Mayuranathan - "On studying the various civilizations of the world we come to know their architectural heritage their temples, tombs, palaces, and other public buildings which can be considered as the products of high civilizations. Although these buildings reflect the technological developments and the economic and social power of the ruling elite of the respective periods, they rarely have any relevance to the culture and the economic realities of the majority common masses. Domestic houses and other smaller buildings of the ordinary people reflect the soul of the common man's culture, as these building types had evolved in the respective communities for longer periods through trial and error and generally retain the basic characteristics unchanged for longer time . The above characteristics make these buildings as potential sources for information relevant to longer period back in history...Traditional buildings of Jaffna are potential sources of essential information about the life and history of the community in which these were evolving for several hundreds of years..."

Varalaaru - A Monthly Magazine on Tamil History

Tamil Nadu in Word IQ
S..J.Gunasegaram - Selected Writings
Tamil Heritage Centre, Auroville
Itihaas:Chronology Ancient India
Maps of Tamil Nadu
World History Archives Tamil History
The East India Company
History of Madurai

History of Nattukottai Chettiars

Tamil Iyers of Kerala
The Dravidian Connections of Japanese


'I Remember...' I.P.Thurairatnam
Journey Down Memory Lane - R.Shanmugalingam

Mauritius Tamils

Brief History of Tamils in Mauritius


History Section
of Tamil Nation Library

the Tamils are an ancient people

Nadesan Satyendra
1998, 2009

"When the past no longer illuminates the future,
the spirit walks in darkness."
de Tocqueville quoted in the Left Curve

"The Tamil cultural renaissance of the second half of the 19th century and of the early 20th century, on the foundations laid by Swaminatha Iyer from Tamil Nadu and Thamotherampillai from Tamil Eelam; the rise of the Dravida Tamil national movement of the first half of the 20th century led by Periyar and C.N.Annadurai; the internationalisation of Tamil studies by the monumental efforts of Father Thaninayagam from Tamil Eelam; the armed struggle for freedom in Tamil Eelam symbolised by the Chola Tiger emblem and led by Velupillai Pirabakaran; and the answering responses in Pongu Tamil Vizhas and Maveerar Naals around the world, with the active participation of Tamils who traced their origins to both Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam, are but tributories flowing into one river - the river of the growing togetherness of the Tamil nation - and this river is not about to flow backwards..."

"... தமிழ் இன்று அதன் எல்லைகளைத் தாண்டி கண்டங்களையும் கடல்களையும் தாண்டி தேசங்களைக் கடந்த தேசியமாக பர்ணமித்துள்ளது.... நாம் எங்கும் சிறகுடன் பறந்தாலும் தமிழுக்கென, தமிழருக்கென ஒரு நாடு மலர்ந்திட காலம்தோறும், தேசம்தோறும் தமிழ்செய்வோம்.." M.Thanapalasingham

bullet The Tamil Homeland
bullet Indus Civilisation
bullet Tamils were a sea faring people
bullet British conquest & Tamil renaissance
bullet Bharathy, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy & Tamil nationalism
bullet Growth of Tamil consciousness in Sri Lanka
bullet Indian Union & the Tamil Nation

up The Tamil Homeland

The Tamils are an ancient people. Their history had its beginnings in the rich alluvial plains near the southern extremity of peninsular India which included the land mass known as the island of Sri Lanka today. The island's plant and animal life (including the presence of elephants) evidence the earlier land connection with the Indian sub continent. So too do satellite photographs which show the submerged 'land bridge' between Dhanuskodi on the south east of the Indian sub-continent and Mannar in the north west of the island.

submerged 'land bridge' between Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam

Some researchers have concluded that it was during the period 6000 B.C. to 3000 B.C. that the island separated from the Indian sub continent and the narrow strip of shallow water known today as the Palk Straits (named after Robert Palk, who was a governor of Madras Presidency (1755-1763) under the British Raj) came into existence.

View of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu from Talaimannar in Tamil Eelam

up Indus Civilisation

Many Tamils trace their origins to the people of Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley around 6000 years before the birth of Christ. There is, however, a need for further systematic study of the history of the early Tamils and proto Tamils.

"Dravidians, whose descendents still live in Southern India, established the first city communities, in the Indus valley, introduced irrigation schemes, developed pottery and evolved a well ordered system of government." (Reader's Digest Great World Atlas, 1970)

Clyde Ahmad Winters, who has written extensively on Dravidian origins commented:

"Archaeological and linguistic evidence indicates that the Dravidians were the founders of the Harappan culture which extended from the Indus Valley through northeastern Afghanistan, on into Turkestan. The Harappan civilization existed from 2600-1700 BC. The Harappan civilization was twice the size the Old Kingdom of Egypt. In addition to trade relations with Mesopotamia and Iran, the Harappan city states also had active trade relations with the Central Asian peoples."

He has also explored the question whether the Dravidians were of African origin. (Winters, Clyde Ahmad, "Are Dravidians of African Origin", P.Second ISAS,1980 - Hong Kong:Asian Research Service, 1981 - pages 789- 807) Other useful web pages on the Indus civilisation (suggested by Dr.Jude Sooriyajeevan of the National Research Council, Canada) include the Indus Dictionary.

At the same time, the Aryan/Dravidian divide in India and the 'Aryan Invasion Theory' itself has come under attack by some modern day historians. (see also Sarasvati-Sindhu civilisation; 'Hinduism: Native or Alien to India')

Professor Klaus Klostermaier in 'Questioning the Aryan Invasion Theory and Revising Ancient Indian History' commented:

"India had a tradition of learning and scholarship much older and vaster than the European countries that, from the sixteenth century onwards, became its political masters. Indian scholars are rewriting the history of India today. One of the major points of revision concerns the so called 'Aryan invasion theory', often referred to as 'colonial-missionary', implying that it was the brainchild of conquerors of foreign colonies who could not but imagine that all higher culture had to come from outside 'backward' India, and who likewise assumed that a religion could only spread through a politically supported missionary effort.

While not buying into the more sinister version of this revision, which accuses the inventors of the Aryan invasion theory of malice and cynicism, there is no doubt that early European attempts to explain the presence of Indians in India had much to with the commonly held Biblical belief that humankind originated from one pair of humans - Adam and Eve to be precise ..."

Hinduism Today concluded in Rewriting Indian History - Hindu Timeline:

"Although lacking supporting scientific evidence, this (Aryan Invasion) theory, and the alleged Aryan-Dravidian racial split, was accepted and promulgated as fact for three main reasons. It provided a convenient precedent for Christian British subjugation of India. It reconciled ancient Indian civilisation and religious scripture with the 4000 bce Biblical date of Creation. It created division and conflict between the peoples of India, making them vulnerable to conversion by Christian missionaries."

"Scholars today of both East and West believe the Rig Veda people who called themselves Aryan were indigenous to India, and there never was an Aryan invasion. The languages of India have been shown to share common ancestry in ancient Sanskrit and Tamil. Even these two apparently unrelated languages, according to current "super-family" research, have a common origin: an ancient language dubbed Nostratic."

up Tamils were a sea faring people

Robert Caldwell wrote in 1875:

"... From the evidence of words in use amongst the early Tamils, we learn the following items of information. They had 'kings' who dwelt in 'strong houses' and ruled over 'small districts of country'. They had 'minstrels', who recited 'songs' at 'festivals', and they seem to have had alphabetical 'characters' written with a style on Palmyra leaves. A bundle of those leaves was called 'a book'; they acknowledged the existence of God, whom they styled as ko, or King.... They erected to his honour a 'temple', which they called Ko-il, God's-house.

They had 'laws' and 'customs'... Marriage existed among them. They were acquainted with the ordinary metals... They had 'medicines', 'hamlets' and 'towns', 'canoes', 'boats' and even 'ships' (small 'decked' coasting vessels), no acquaintance with any people beyond the sea, except in Ceylon, which was then, perhaps, accessible on foot at low water.. They were well acquainted with agriculture.... All the ordinary or necessary arts of life, including 'spinning', 'weaving' and 'dyeing' existed amongst them. They excelled in pottery..." (Robert Caldwell: Comparative Grammar of Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages - Second Edition 1875 - Reprinted by the University of Madras, 1961)

The Tamils were a sea faring people. They traded with Rome in the days of Emperor Augustus. They sent ships to many lands bordering the Indian Ocean and with the ships went traders, scholars, and a way of life. Tamil inscriptions in Indonesia go back some two thousand years. The oldest Sanskrit inscriptions belonging to the third century in Indo China bear testimony to Tamil influence and until recent times Tamil texts were used by priests in Thailand and Cambodia. The scattered elements of ruined temples of the time of Marco Polo's visit to China in the 13th century give evidence of purely Tamil structure and include Tamil inscriptions.

"Tamil Nadu, the home land of the Tamils, occupies the southern most region of India. Traditionally, Thiruvenkatam - the abode of Sri Venkatewara and a range of hills of the Eastern Ghats - formed the northern boundary of the country and the Arabian sea line the western boundary. However as a result of infiltrations, made by peoples from other territories, Tamil lost its ground in the west as well as in the north. In medieval times, the country west of the mountains, became Kerala and that in the north turned part of Andhra Desa. Bounded by the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Desa, the Tamil Nadu of the present day extends from Kanyakumari in the south to Tiruttani in the North....

Chola EmpireIn early times the Pandyas, the Cheras and the Cholas held their pioneering sway over the country and extended their authority beyond the traditional frontiers. As a result the Tamil Country served as the homeland of extensive empires. It was during this period that the Tamil bards composed the masterpieces in Tamil literature.

"In the first decade of the 14th century the rising tide of Afghan imperialism swept over South India. The Tughlugs created a new province in the Tamil Country called Mabar, with its capital at Madurai which in 1335 asserted independence as the Sultanate of Madurai. After a short period of stormy existence, it gave way to the Vijayanagar Empire... Since then, the Telegus, the Brahminis, the Marathas and the Kannadins wrested possession of the territory. Between 1798 and 1801, the country passed under the direct administration of the English East India Company." (History of Tamil Nadu 1565 - 1982: Professor K.Rajayyan, Head of the School of Historical Studies, M.K.University, Madurai - Raj Publishers, Madurai, 1982)

Today an estimated 80 million Tamils live in many lands - more than 50 million Tamils live in Tamil Nadu in South India and around 3 million reside in the island of Sri Lanka.

up British conquest & Tamil renaissance

The response of a people to invasion by aliens from a foreign land is a measure of the depth of their roots and the strength of their identity. It was under British conquest that the Tamil renaissance of the second half of the 19th century gathered momentum.

It was a renaissance which had its cultural beginnings in the discovery and the subsequent editing and printing of the Tamil classics of the Sangam period. These had existed earlier only as palm leaf manuscripts. Arumuga Navalar in Jaffna, in the island of Sri Lanka, published the Thirukural in 1860 and Thirukovaiyar in 1861. Thamotherampillai, who was born in Jaffna but who served in Madras, published the grammatical treatise Tolkapiyam by collating material from several original ola leaf manuscripts.

It was on the foundations laid by Arumuga Navalar and Thamotherampillai that Swaminatha Aiyar, who was born in Tanjore, in South India, put together the classics of Tamil literature of the Sangam period. Swaminatha Aiyar spent a lifetime researching and collecting many of the palm leaf manuscripts of the classical period and it is to him that we owe the publication of Cilapathikaram, Manimekali, Puranuru, Civakachintamani and many other treatises which are a part of the rich literary heritage of the Tamil people.

Another Tamil from Jaffna, Kanagasabaipillai served at Madras University and his book 'Tamils - Eighteen Hundred Years Ago' reinforced the historical togetherness of the Tamil people and was a valuable source book for researchers in Tamil studies in the succeeding years. It was a Tamil cultural renaissance in which the contributions of the scholars of Jaffna and those of South India are difficult to separate.

Again, not surprisingly, it was a renaissance which was also linked with a revived interest in Saivaism and a growing recognition that Saivaism was the original religion of the Tamil people. Arumuga Navalar established schools in Jaffna, in Sri Lanka and in Chidambaram, in South India and his work led to the formation of the Saiva Paripalana Sabai in Jaffna in 1888, the publication of the Jaffna Hindu Organ in 1889 and the founding of the Jaffna Hindu College in 1890.

In South India, J.M.Nallaswami Pillai, who was born in Trichinopoly, published Meykandar's Sivajnana Bodham in English in 1895 and in 1897, he started a monthly called Siddhanta Deepika which was regarded by many as reflecting the 19th century ' renaissance of Saivaism'. A Tamil version of the journal was edited by Maraimalai Atikal whose writings gave a new sense of cohesion to the Tamil people - a cohesion which was derived from the rediscovery of their ancient literature and the rediscovery of their ancient religion.

up Bharathy, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy & Tamil nationalism

The cultural renaissance of the 19th century led to an increasing Tamil togetherness and was linked with the thrust for social reform and political power - a thrust which at the same time, sought to marry a rising Tamil togetherness with the immediate and larger struggle for freedom from British rule.

In South India, no one exemplified the marriage of this duality more effectively than Subramania Bharathy whose songs in Tamil stirred the hearts of millions of Tamils, both as Tamils and as Indians. The words of Bharathy's Senthamil Nadu Enum Pothinale, continue to move the hearts of the Tamil people today. It was his salute to the Tamil nation that was yet unborn. His Viduthalai was the joyous song of Indian freedom and there he reached out beyond the Tamil nation to the day when Bharat would be free.

Bharathy sought to consolidate the togetherness of his own people by his ceaseless campaign against casteism and for women's rights. The Bharathy birth centenary celebrations of 1982 served to underline the permanent place that Bharathy will always have in the hearts of the Tamil people, whether they be from Tamil Nadu, Tamil Eelam, Malaysia, Singapore or elsewhere.

Two other Tamils will be always associated with the rise of Tamil national consciousness in the first two decades of the 20th century - lawyer, Tamil scholar and revolutionary, V.V.S.Aiyar and the Swadeshi steam ship hero, Kappal Otiya Thamilan, V.O.Chidambram Pillai.

Aiyar was a lawyer who joined Grays Inn in London to become a barrister but became a revolutionary instead. Later, he wrote many books in Tamil and in English and is regarded by many as the father of the modern Tamil short story. He was a pioneer in Tamil literary criticism. His major works included a translation of the Thirukural and 'Kamba Ramayanam - A Study'.

In the years after the first World War, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi reached out to the underlying unity of India and sought to weld together the many peoples of the Indian subcontinent into a larger whole. But the attempt did not entirely succeed. The assessment of Pramatha Chauduri who wrote in Bengali in 1920 was not without significance:

"...You have accused me of 'Bengali patriotism'. I feel bound to reply. If its a crime for a Bengali to harbour and encourage Bengali patriotism in his mind, then I am guilty "But I ask you, what other patriotism do you expect from a Bengali writer? The fact that I do not write in English should indicate that non Bengali patriotism does not sway my mind. If I had to make patriotic speeches in a language that is the language of no part of India, then I would have had to justify that patriotism by saying it does not relate to any special part of India as a whole. In a language learnt by rote you can only express ideas learnt by heart.

... The whole of India is now under British rule...therefore, the main link between us is the link of bondage and no province can cut through this subjugation by its own efforts and actions...So today we are obliged to tell the people of India, 'Unite and Organise'... People will recognise the value of provincial patriotism the moment they attain independence...Then the various nations of India will not try to merge, they will try to establish a unity amongst themselves... To be united due to outside pressure and to unite through mutual regard are not the same. Just as there is a difference between the getting together of five convicts in a jail and between five free men... Indian patriotism then will be built on the foundation of provincial patriotism, not just in words but in reality..."(Pramatha Chaudhuri: Bengali Patriotism - Sabuj Patra 1920, translated and reprinted in Facets, September 1982)

In Madras Presidency, which was the largest province of British India, and which included parts of that which is Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala today, the Suya Mariyathai Iyakam (Self Respect Movement) of E.V.Ramasamy (Periyar) started initially, in the early 1920s, as a social reform movement aimed at a casteless society. It later developed into a vehicle for a rising Tamil nationalism.

"The Tamil Renaissance took place at the same time as the (Indian) Nationalist Movement. The outcome of this interaction of the renaissance and the Nationalist Movement was the genesis of a consciousness of a separate identity resulting in Dravidian Nationalism.... In philology the term 'Dravidian' was used to denote a group a group of languages mainly spoken in South India, namely, Tamil Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam. Later when the term was extended to denote a race, again it denoted the peoples speaking these four languages. But in South Indian politics as well as in general usage since the beginning of this century the term 'Dravidian' came to denote the 'Tamils' only and not the other three language speaking peoples. ... Hence it may be observed that the terms 'Tamil Nationalism' and 'Dravidian Nationalism' were synonymous" - K.Nambi Arooran - Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism, Koodal Publishers, Madurai, 1980

The establishment of Annamalai University in Chidambaram and later the Tamil Isai Sangam in Madras were manifestations of a rising Tamil self consciousness. The students at Annamalai University were to become influential political leaders of the Tamil people in the years to come.

As early as 1926, Sankaran Nair, a nominated member of the Council of State in Delhi, pleaded for self government to the ten Tamil districts of the Madras Presidency, with its own army, navy and airforce.

Madras Presidency

Scholar politician V. Kaliyanasundarar writing in 1929 urged that Tamil Nadu constituted a nation within the Indian state. He declared that the correct English translation of the word Nadu was nation and not land and pointed out that the early Tamils had their own government, language, culture and historical traditions. (V.Kaliyanasundarar, Tamil Cholai, Volume 1, Madras 1954)

In 1937, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy took over the leadership of the South Indian Liberal Federation, commonly called the Justice Party. At the Justice Party confederation held in Madras in 1938, Periyar Ramasamy put forward his demand for Dravidanad. This was two years before Mohamed Ali Jinnah set out the formal demand for Pakistan at the Lahore conference. In 1944, the Justice party changed its name to Dravida Kalagam and C.N.Annadurai functioned as its first General Secretary.

C.N.Annadurai Statue in CoimbatoreThese early manifestations of a Tamil national consciousness influenced Tamils outside India as well. Periyar visited Malaysia in 1929, and his visit led to a proliferation of Tamil associations, dedicated to religious and social reform - associations which were often led by journalists and teachers. The writings of Annadurai and other leaders of the Dravida Kalagam were avidly read by ordinary Tamils and marked a watershed in the literary heritage of the Tamil people .

But, in the end, Periyar E.V.Ramasamy, the undoubted father of the Dravidian movement failed to deliver on the promise of Dravida Nadu. E.V.R. failed where Mohamed Ali Jinnah succeeded. It is true that the strategic considerations of the ruling colonial power were different in each case - and this had something to do with Jinnah�s success. But, nevertheless, if ideology is concerned with moving a people to action, the question may well be asked: why did E.V.R�s ideology fail to deliver Dravida Nadu?

Two aspects may be usefully considered. One was the attempt of the Dravida movement to encompass Tamils, Malayalees, Kannadigas and all Dravidians and mobilise them behind the demand for Dravida Nadu. Unsurprisingly, the attempt to mobilise across what were in fact separate national formations failed to take off.

It was one thing to found a movement which rejected casteism. It was quite another thing, to mobilise peoples, speaking different languages with different historical memories, into an integrated political force in support of the demand for Dravida Nadu.

At the same time, the Aryan/Dravidian divide propagated by German scholars such as Max Weber, encouraged by the British, and espoused by E.V.R. paid insufficient attention to the underlying links that the Tamil people had with the other nations of the Indian sub continent.

That was not all. E.V.R extended his attack on casteism to an attack on Hinduism - and indeed to all religions as well. Periyar E.V.R threw out the Hindu child with the Brahmin bath water.

E.V.R was right to extol the virtues of pahuth arivu, common sense. He was right to attack mooda nambikai, foolish faith. His rationalism was often a refreshing response to religious dogma and superstition in a quasi feudal society. His attack on casteism, his social reform movement and his Self Respect Movement in the 1920s infused a new dignity, thanmaanam, amongst the Tamil people and laid the foundations on which Tamil nationalism has grown.

It was the pioneering work of EVR that led to the growth of the Dravida Munetra Kalagam (DMK) led by C.N.Annadurai and later by M.Karunanidhi, to the All India Dravida Munetra Kalagam led by M.G.Ramachandran and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munetra Kalagam (MDMK) led by V.Gopalasamy.

".. Periyar's Dravidianisin, which was but Tamil nationalism, has to be seen as a response to the homogenising drives of the Brahmin-Bania combine which, Periyar judged rightly, would shape the new Indian nation-state. Periyar opposed to the coopting logic of Brahminism and the centralizing dynamic of the modern nation-state, the notion of a free and rational Tamil society that would in time evolve into a Tamil nation..." Interrogating 'India' - a Dravidian Viewpoint - V.Geetha and S.V.Rajadurai

But, having said that, the refusal of EVR to recognise that casteism was one thing, Hinduism another and spiritualism, perhaps, yet another, proved fatal. His belligerent atheism failed to move the Tamil people. In the result even within Tamil Nadu, EVR's Dravida Kalagam became marginalised, and the DMK which was an offshoot of the Dravida Kalagam and the ADMK which was an offshoot of the DMK, both found it necessary to play down the anti religious line and adopt instead a �secular� face. One consequence of EVR�s atheism was that spirituality in Tamil Nadu came to be exploited as the special preserve of those who were opposed to the growth of Tamil nationalism.

Furthermore, the anti-Brahmin movement tended to ignore the many caste differences that existed among the non-Brahmin Tamils and failed to address the oppression practised by one non-Brahmin caste on another non-Brahmin caste.

"... The cultural nationalist agenda of the Dravidian parties, and its moral claims for social justice for the common people (to be achieved by modest redistribution, or 'sharing' through welfare programmes rather than by changing the distribution of assets), was immensely successful... Culture war, in other words, is class war by other means: the one is a displacement of the other'. ..but the non-Brahmin category proved too amorphous to become the basis of an enduring cleavage... The dividing lines between individual backward castes and between the 'backward' castes and the scheduled castes create divisions that are salient in the everyday experience of the majority of the population, and this makes broader categories, such as that of the backward castes, difficult to invoke as the basis of political action..." The Changing Politics of Tamil Nadu in the 1990s - John Harriss and Andrew Wyatt

It is a failure that continues to haunt the Tamil national movement even today. Caste divides and fragments the togetherness of the Tamil people.

"The Tamil nation is a political community, a grand solidarity. To maintain its solidarity, the Tamil nation has to remove all sorts of divisions that causes dissension and discord among its members. The Caste System is such a pernicious division that has plagued our society for thousands of years." S.M.Lingam on Tamil Nationalism & the Caste System - Swami Vivekananda and Saint Kabir

Support for the positive contributions that E.V.R. made in the area of social reform and to rational thought, should not prevent an examination of where it was that he went wrong. Again, it may well be that E.V.R. represented a necessary phase in the struggle of the Tamil people and given the objective conditions of the 1920s and 1930s, E.V.R was right to focus sharply on the immediate contradiction posed by 'upper' caste dominance and mooda nambikai. But in the 21st century, there may be a need to learn from E.V.R. - and not simply repeat that which he said or did.

It is not surprising that in Tamil Nadu poverty and corruption continue to weaken confidence in existing political structures.

"As programmes and reforms failed... repression appeared as the direct method of dealing with peasant unrest. Between 1975 and 1982, the police forces launched a series of operations against the Naxals. Either in what was called encounters or under police custody nineteen young men died and about 250 people were jailed. The green turbanned peasants led by Narayanaswamy Naidu launched agitations in 1972 and 1980. In Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, South Arcot and Madurai there were serious disturbances.. Between 1972 and 1982 fifty four peasants were killed in police firings and more than 25,000 were taken into custody." (History of Tamil Nadu 1565 - 1982: Professor K.Rajayyan, Head of the School of Historical Studies, M.K.University, Madurai - Raj Publishers, Madurai, 1982)

And Badri Raina was right to point out in Old Habits Die Very Hard: India's Ugly Underbelly in 2009 -

"India's Tamilians have always considered themselves a distinct race. Distinct from the Aryans who, history tells us, displaced their Dravidian ancestors after the conquest of the Indus-Valley civilizations. The Tamil language and script are perhaps of greater antiquity than Sanskrit and have remained largely free of its influence. Not to speak of Tamil literature which may be the richest India has to offer, both in depth and scope.

Which is why Tamilians break into passionate protest when any Tamilian anywhere be perceived as being under siege. Sri Lanka offering a prime example, as well as the situation of Tamilians in Malysia. So, would it be right to infer that Tamilian civilizational homogeneity brooks no breach? Wrong.... Interestingly, Tamil Nadu is governed by a largely (Other Backward Classes) OBC-led formation-intermediate social castes who vanquished the caste oppression of the Tamil Brahmins during the social reform agitations led by Periyar and Annadurai, mentors of the current leadership.Yet, such is India's social reality that those who fought and defeated Brahminism seem at best lukewarm in defeating caste oppression of the Pillai OBCs in Uthapuram against fellow dalit Tamils.."

up Growth of Tamil national consciousness in Sri Lanka

In the island of Sri Lanka, the national identity of the Tamil people grew through a process of opposition to and differentiation from the Buddhist Sinhala people. The Sinhala people trace their origins in the island to the arrival of Prince Vijaya from India, around 500 B.C. and the Mahavamsa, the Sinhala chronicle of a later period (6th Century A.D.) records that Prince Vijaya arrived on the island on the same day that the Buddha attained Enlightenment in India. However, the words of the Sinhala historian and Cambridge scholar, Paul Peiris represent an influential and common sense point of view:

"..it stands to reason that a country which was only thirty miles from India and which would have been seen by Indian fisherman every morning as they sailed out to catch their fish, would have been occupied as soon as the continent was peopled by men who understood how to sail... Long before the arrival of Prince Vijaya, there were in Sri Lanka five recognised isvarams of Siva which claimed and received the adoration of all India. These were Tiruketeeswaram near Mahatitha; Munneswaram dominating Salawatte and the pearl fishery; Tondeswaram near Mantota; Tirkoneswaram near the great bay of Kottiyar and Nakuleswaram near Kankesanturai. " (Paul E. Pieris: Nagadipa and Buddhist Remains in Jaffna : Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch Vol.28)

The Pancha Ishwarams of Eelam were important landmarks of the country and S.J.Gunasegaram's 'Trincomalee - Holy Hill of Siva ' reveals the antiquity of Trincomalee as an ancient Hindu shrine.

The Tamil people and the Sinhala people were brought within the confines of a single state by the British. The struggle for freedom from British colonial rule, did lead Tamil leaders such as Ponnambalam Ramanathan and Ponnambalam Arunachalam to work together with their Sinhala counterparts in the Ceylon National Congress. But it was largely a dialogue between the English speaking Tamil middle class and its English speaking Sinhala counterpart.

Professor Kailasapathy in a paper presented at a Social Scientists Association Seminar in Colombo, traced the growth of Tamil consciousness in Eelam from the time of British rule, through independence and upto 1979. The paper affords many insights into the continuing growth of Tamil Consciousness today, not only in Eelam but in the Tamil diaspora as well:

"Both the reformers and the revivalists came from the Hindu upper castes, but while the former were not only English educated but also used that language for their livelihood and for acquiring social status, the latter were primarily traditional in their education and used their mother tongue for their livelihood and social communication.. .most of them wrote in English... In doing so they probably had a particular audience in mind, an audience to whom they wanted to prove the antiquity and greatness of their tradition...In contrast the revivalists were mainly highly erudite in their mother tongue and wrote in it..."

The Pan Sinhala Executive Committee of the Ceylon State Council in 1936 and the formation of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress led by G.G.Ponnambalam were some of the early manifestations of the growth of a separate Sinhala nationalism and a separate Tamil nationalism in the political arena of the island of Ceylon (as it then was known).

It was a Tamil nationalism which eventually found expression in the formation of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi led by S.J.V.Chelvanayakam in 1949 and later in the 1970s in the Tamil armed resistance movement, led today by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Velupillai Pirabaharan.

LTTE Women GuerrillaThe 'thiyagam' of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, gave poignant expression to the cultural values of the Tamil people, rooted in the Purananuru and Cilapathikaram. At the same time, the armed resistance movement in Tamil Eelam, also brought about a fundamental cultural transformation in Tamil society. It helped to break down casteism among the Tamil people. It helped to liberate Tamil women from the structures of oppression that had been deeply embedded in sections of Tamil society - and help create the Puthumai Penn that Bharathy had sung about.

"The historical storm of the liberation struggle is uprooting age old traditions that took root over a long period of time in our society... The ideology of women liberation is a child born out of the womb of our liberation struggle... Our women are seeking liberation from the structures of oppression deeply embedded in our society. This oppressive cultural system and practices have emanated from age old ideologies and superstitions. Tamil women are subjected to intolerable suffering as a consequence of male chauvinistic oppression, violence and from the social evils of casteism and dowry." (Velupillai Pirabaharan, 1992, 1993)

That the armed resistance movement of the Tamil people should have originated in Tamil Eelam and not in Tamil Nadu is not altogether surprising. It is the nature of the discrimination and oppression which often determines the nature of the response.

"Liberty is the life breath of a nation; and when life is attacked, when it is sought to suppress all chance of breathing by violent pressure, then any and every means of self preservation becomes right and justifiable...It is the nature of the pressure which determines the nature of the resistance." (Aurobindo in Bande Mataram, 1907)

Suffering unites a people and the suffering of the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka, in their struggle for freedom and justice, has also served to bring together the Tamils living in many lands. Pongu Tamil Vizhas and Maveerar Naals around the globe have brought together Tamils who had originally come not only from Tamil Eelam but also from Tamil Nadu - the Tamil homeland.

up Indian Union & the Tamil nation

The Tamil cultural renaissance of the second half of the 19th century and of the early 20th century, on the foundations laid by Swaminatha Iyer from Tamil Nadu and Thamotherampillai from Tamil Eelam; the rise of the Dravida Tamil national movement of the first half of the 20th century led by Periyar and C.N.Annadurai; the internationalisation of Tamil studies by the monumental efforts of Father Thaninayagam from Tamil Eelam; the armed struggle for freedom in Tamil Eelam symbolised by the Chola Tiger emblem and led by Velupillai Pirabakaran; and the answering responses in Pongu Tamil Vizhas and Maveerar Naals around the world, with the active participation of Tamils who traced their origins to both Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam, are but tributories flowing into one river - the river of the growing togetherness of the Tamil nation - and this river is not about to flow backwards.

"... தமிழ் இன்று அதன் எல்லைகளைத் தாண்டி கண்டங்களையும் கடல்களையும் தாண்டி தேசங்களைக் கடந்த தேசியமாக பர்ணமித்துள்ளது.... நாம் எங்கும் சிறகுடன் பறந்தாலும் தமிழுக்கென, தமிழருக்கென ஒரு நாடு மலர்ந்திட காலம்தோறும், தேசம்தோறும் தமிழ்செய்வோம்.." M.Thanapalasingham in காலம்தோறும் தமிழ், 2009

Here, not many will question that the future of the Tamil nation is interlinked with the other nations of the Indian subcontinent. In 1973, Kamil Zvebil, Professor in Tamil Studies at Charles University, Prague wrote in 'The Poets and the Powers', of the Tamil contribution in shaping and moulding the Indian synthesis :

"...Many and variegated are the contributions of the Tamils of South India to the treasures of human civilisation, the early classical love and war poetry, the architecture of the Pallavas, the deservedly famous South Indian bronzes of the Chola period, the well known Bharata Natyam dance, the philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta, the magnificent temples of the South - for more than two thousand years have the Tamils been contributing to Indian culture and taking part in shaping and moulding the great Indian synthesis."

Sylvain Levi George Coedes and La Valee Poissin wrote in the 'The Indianisation of South East Asia' in 1975:

"Without being aware of it, India determined the history of a good portion of mankind. She gave three quarters of Asia a God, a religion, a doctrine, a art. She gave them her sacred language, literature and her institutions... All the regions contributed to this expansion and civilisation, but it was the South that played the greatest role."

Said that, it has also to be said that the Indian 'Union' will survive only if it reinvents itself as a free and equal association of independent states.

"... Endless platitudes abound about (Indian) 'national unity' and the catholicity and durability of 'Indian culture'... (but) our national identity has not been forged through a definitive articulation of a national-popular collective will as has been claimed... It seems urgent, then, that we pose certain crucial and important questions about ourselves: How are we a 'nation'? What are the historical and cultural markers of our 'nation-hood'? Is our national identity the product of a `national popular will'?... The Indian state is of course determined to prevent these questions from being asked. In this context it seems logical that we ask: What is the 'Indian' nation we seek to preserve? These questions were posed with great alacrity and boldness by the ideologues of the Dravidian movement in Tamilnadu (among others) during the early decades of this century..." Interrogating 'India' - a Dravidian Viewpoint - V.Geetha and S.V.Rajadurai

The European Union is a pointer to the direction that the Indian 'Union' will need to take if it is not to implode in the way that the Soviet Union did in the 1990s. Peaceful evolution is necessary if bloody revolution is to be avoided. The days of an Indian empire with a ruling Indira Gandhi - Rajiv Gandhi - Sonia Gandhi - Rahul Gandhi dynasty presiding over a caste riven quasi feudal society with an English speaking elite are numbered.

"...India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says his country is losing the battle against Maoist rebels. Mr Singh told a meeting of police chiefs (14 September 2009) from different states that rebel violence was increasing and the Maoists' appeal was growing... The rebels operate in 182 districts in India, mainly in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. In some areas they have virtually replaced the local government and are able to mount spectacular attacks on government installations. " India is 'losing Maoist battle' says Indian Prime Minister, BBC Report, 15 September 2009

Arundhati Roy was right to point out in 2007 -

"..What we�re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India � the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It�s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They�re fighting for the right to merge with the world�s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere... to equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous injustice with the government which enforces that injustice is absurd. The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. When people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence � revolutionary, lumpen and outright criminal. The government is responsible for the monstrous situations it creates...There is a civil war in Chhattisgarh sponsored, created by the Chhattisgarh government, which is publicly pursing the Bush doctrine: if you�re not with us, you are with the terrorists. The lynchpin of this war, apart from the formal security forces, is the Salva Judum � a government-backed militia of ordinary people forced to become spos (special police officers). The Indian State has tried this in Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. Tens of thousands have been killed - thousands tortured, thousands have disappeared. Any banana republic would be proud of this record. Now the government wants to import these failed strategies into the heartland... I have no doubt that the Maoists can be agents of terror and coercion too. I have no doubt they have committed unspeakable atrocities. I have no doubt they cannot lay claim to undisputed support from local people � but who can? Still, no guerrilla army can survive without local support. That�s a logistical impossibility. And the support for Maoists is growing, not diminishing. That says something. People have no choice but to align themselves on the side of whoever they think is less worse.does this mean that people whose dignity is being assaulted should give up the fight because they can�t find saints to lead them into battle?. " 'It�s outright war and both sides are choosing their weapons'- Arundhati Roy March 2007

There is a compelling need for those concerned to preserve the Indian 'Union' to pay renewed attention to that which Pramatha Chauduri said many decades ago -

"... As children, we read in the Hitopodesa that at night birds from all directions would gather on a shimul tree on the banks of the Godavari. Why? To cackle for a while and then go off to sleep. Cackle in this context means to discuss the politics of the birdworld. We, too, in this dark, night time of India's history go to the Congress meet to cackle for three or four days and then snore. We can cackle together because, thanks to the education conferred by the British, we all have the same dialect. I am not saying that this dialect is all that our lips utter or our minds. All I want to suggest is that behind the Congress patriotism, there is only one kind of mind and that mind is bred on English text books. We all have that kind of mind, but under it is the mind which is individual for all nations and different from nation to nation. And our civilisation will emerge from the depth of that mind.

...It is not a bad thing to try and weld many into one but to jumble them all up is dangerous, because the only way we can do that is by force. If you say that this does not apply to India, the reply is that if self determination is not suited to us, then it is not suited at all to Europe. No people in Europe are as different, one from another, as our people. There is not that much difference between England and Holland as there is between Madras and Bengal. Even France and Germany are not that far apart." For Province, Read Nation - Pramatha Chauduri, 1920

up Milestones in Tamil History UNESCO Courier, March, 1984
"The Tamil Language is the official language of the State of Tamil Nadu (population over 48 million) in southeast India and is also spoken by some 4 million people living in Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, as well as parts of east and south Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean, the South Pacific and the Caribbean.

There is a scholarly literature in Tamil dating back to the early centuries of the Christian era. The language is of Dravidian origin. The Dravidians were the founders of one of the world's most ancient civilizations, which already existed in India sometime before 1000 BC when the Aryans invaded the sub-continent from the north.

The Aryans, who spoke the Sanskrit language, pushed the Dravidians down into south India. Today 8 of the languages of northern and western India (including Hindi) are of Sanskrit origin, but Sanskrit itself is only spoken by Hindu Brahman priests in temple worship and by scholars. In southern India, 4 languages of Dravidian origin are spoken today. Tamil is the oldest of these.

The History of Tamil Nadu begins with the 3 kingdoms, Chera, Chola and Pandya, which are referred to in documents of the 3rd century BC. Some of the kings of these dynasties are mentioned in Sangam Literature and the age between the 3rd century BC and the 2nd century AD is called the Sangam Age. At the beginning of the 4th century AD the Pallavas established their rule with Kanchipuram as their capital. Their dynasty, which ruled continously for over 500 years, left a permanent impact on the history of Tamil Nadu, which was during this period virtually controlled by the Pallavas in the north and the Pandyas in the south.

In the middle of the 9th century a Chola ruler established what was to become one of India's most outstanding empires on account of its administrative achievements (irrigation, village development) and its contributions to art and literature. The Age of the Cholas is considered the golden age of Tamil history.

Towards the end of the 13th century the Cholas were overthrown by the later Pandyas who ruled for about a century and were followed by the Vijayanagara Dynasty, whose greatest ruler was Krishnadeva Raya (1509-1529), and the Nayaks of Madurai and Tanjore.

The Colonial Age opened in the 17th century. In 1639 the British East India Company opened a trading post at the fishing village of Madraspatnam, today Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu. In 1947, India achieved Independence. The overwhelming majority of the population of Tamil Nadu is Hindu, with active Christian and Muslim minorities.

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