Tamil mythology means the stories and sacred narratives belonging to the Tamil people. This body of mythology is a mix of elements from the Southern Hindu peoples and Indus Valley cultures with Vedic and orthodox Hindu aspects of the Sanskritic tradition.
In the Neolithic period, the Tamils were a herding, nature-oriented culture with a nature-based mythology of deities of the land. For example, Murugan(Skanda) was a major god of the hunt who battled evil forces (like Vaishnava Kṛṣṇa, he was often accompanied by a following of beautiful young women) and Ventan (Indra) was God responsible for rain and general well-being. A tradition of Bhakthi apparently existed among the early Tamils (Agama). In sacred places a liṇga-like pillar called a kantu represented the deity.
Medieval and modern traditions
In the 8th century, the land of the Tamils became the setting for a particularly devotional form of Hinduism marked by the works of poet-saints, especially followers of Śiva, called Nāyaṇārs, and followers of Viṣṇu, called Āḷvārs. Among the most famous of the Āḷvārs was Nammāḷvār, who lived in the late ninth and early tenth centuries, and wrote especially about Viṣṇu's avatar Kṛṣṇa, and espoused the beliefs of Vedānta. The most notable of the Nāyanārs was the ninth century Māṇikāvasakar, who stressed the ecstatic aspect of the worship of Śiva.
The late eighth and early ninth century was also the period of Śaṇkara, who preached Advaita Vedānta, a form of Hinduism that stresses the absoluteness of Brahmam (See Brahman). By the tenth century, the person of the Goddess (often in her aspect as Kālī), who from ancient times had been a popular deity, had regained a position of equality with Śiva and Viṣṇu, a position she holds to this day. Other popular deities who retain positions of importance in Tamil mythology with Śiva, Viṣṇu, and the Goddess are Śiva's sons Murugan and Gaṇeśa.
The twelfth century saw a flowering of Tamil literature, particularly featuring the poet Kampaṇ's Ramavataram, the Tamil version of the Rāmāyaṇa epic.
Since the sixteenth century, a tradition of stories about the childhoods of the gods has been a significant aspect of Tamil mythology. Tamil mythology remains one of the richest and most complex narrative traditions in India.
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