Status of Women in Sangam Age

The Sangam literature describes the position of women in ancient Tamil society. In the Sangam Age, women were treated with special consideration. The natural feminine qualities such as Achcham, Madam and Naanam were insisted in the Sangam literature. Their most important virtue was chastity. The heroine of Silappathigaram. Kannagi had been hailed for her chastity and worshipped by the people. The women were given freedom to choose their life partners during the Sangam period. The concept of love had been elaborately discussed in Agananuru.

Women treated their husbands as equivalent to God during the Sangam period. They were not permitted to remarry and inherit property Sati or the custom of self-immolation at the death of one’s husband was not generally prevalent during this period. However, some women from the royal family indulged in the practice of Sati. According to the Sangam literature, a woman had to play different roles in the family such as a dutiful wife, responsible mother and an ideal hostess to guests. Women’s education was also insisted during the Sangam Age. We come to know a few women poets like Avvaiyar, Kakkai Padiniyar and Nachchellaiyar, whose verses are found in the Sangam literature. Sangam women were also known for their courage. However, from the post-Sangam period, there was a decline in the status of women.