Tamil is one of the ancient classical literature and tradition of the world with an estimated history of more than 3000 years. Tamil had a well defined grammatical treatise named ‘Tholkappiyam’ even 2500 years ago. The maturity and fineness of this oldest literary work indicates that Tamil literature has even longer history than estimated. Tamil literature is also a part of curriculum of many international universities. Tamil is the first language of the state of Tamil Nadu and the union territory Pondicherry in India. There is a significant amount of Tamil population in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. It also has large communities of Tamil speakers in many other countries like Indonesia, United Kingdom, Canada, Mauritius, Australia, USA, London, South Africa.
Tamil is the only literary tradition indigenous to India that is not derived from Sanskrit. Tamil is the mother language of Dravidian languages and Dravidian culture in India. Indeed, its literature arose before the influence of Sanskrit in the south became strong and so is qualitatively different from anything we have in Sanskrit or other Indian languages. It has its own poetic theory, its own grammatical tradition, its own esthetics, and, above all, a large body of literature that is quite unique.
Tamil is one of the major languages of southern India. It is spoken principally in the state of Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras), located on the eastern coast and extending down to the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent. There are about 60 million Tamil speakers in India. In addition it is spoken by about 4 million people in north-eastern Sri Lanka, about one million in Malaysia, and in smaller colonies in Singapore, and parts of East Africa. Tamil is the oldest and most richly developed of the Dravidian languages. The origin of the alphabet (Tamil script) is uncertain, though it is believed to be about 1,500 years old. “Curry” is a Tamil word that entered the English language. Other Dravidian languages like Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu have close affinities with Tamil.