Hinduism in South India
Ancient South India
The Vedic culture in South India has been in some respects the best preserved of ancient Vedic culture and traditions. In North India during late ancient and medieval periods, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam flourished alongside the Hindu majority. Every intermixing influenced North Indian culture, in particular Islam. The influence of Islam, specifically Sufism, and Sikhism are widespread in the modern-day North Indian society, clearly palpable in linguistics, music, attire, etc. Much of this influence can be attributed to close to a millennium of Muslim rule across North India. Unlike in the North, South India had less outside inlfuence until the advent of European imperialists. As such the original Hindu traditions are relatively better oreserved in South India than in North India.
Tamil literature and Tamil epics and classics have many references to Vedic gods and culture. The Tolkaappiyam, 1st century BCE grammar book, mentions non-Vedic, early-Vedic (Indra, Varuna) and Puranic (Vishnu) gods. The Paripadal (8; 3; 9 etc.), one of the "Eight Anthologies" of poetry (or ettuttokai), has homages to Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma, the twelve Adityas, the Ashvins, the Rudras, the Saptarishis, Indra, the Devas etc. The Kural, written by Tiruvalluvar, mentions gods like Indra (25) and Lakshmi (e.g. 167).
The Fifth century CE Tamil epic Silappathikaram, begins with invocations to Chandra, Surya, and Indra, and has homages to Agni, Varuna, Shiva, Subrahmanya, Vishnu-Krishna, Uma, etc. The epic states that “Vedic sacrifices [are] being faultlessly performed” and has many references to Vedic culture and Vedic texts. In the Buddhist work Manimekhalai, the submersion of the city Puhar in Kumari Kandam is attributed to the neglect of the worship to Indra.
According to the Puranas, the Dravidians are descendants of the Vedic Turvasha people. According to the Matsya Purana, Manu is considered as a south Indian king. In Hindu tradition the creation of the Tamil language is credited to the Rig Vedic sage Rishi Agastya.
- also e.g. Bhagavata Purana (VIII.24.13)
- Michel Danino - Vedic Roots of Early Tamil Culture