The reason behind highlighting Tamil language is that not as I am a Tamilian but that Tamil is as old as Sanskrit (as per the historical record proofs) and it is still used in some parts of the world.

My question may be a assumption but is it possible that people during the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods used Tamil as their language?

Because at that time Tamil was widely spread over Hindustan.

Even, consider Tholkapiyam, which was considered as the oldest literature around South India still now. My question is that there may be a chance when events of Ramayana and Mahabharata were taking place, Tamil was used or when they were being written down by some in Tamil, which is the world's oldest language.

  • 2
    Well, Tamil being world's oldest language is other discussion. But people at those times spoke Prakriti. Official Language for Kingdoms was Sanskrit.
    – The Destroyer
    Mar 21, 2016 at 13:42
  • [Related] Did Ravan speak Sanskrit?
    – The Destroyer
    Mar 21, 2016 at 13:44
  • 1
    None knows the exact birth of Tamil and Sanskrit languages. If you guaranteed that these old epics periods were in Sanskrit,why you guys not ready to consider Tamil which is as old,may be older than Sanskrit. Mar 21, 2016 at 14:36
  • Did you mean Tamil is the oldest language still in use or 'the' oldest language? (there's a difference) Mar 21, 2016 at 14:36
  • The different you looking for is unable to answer by anyone. According to scholars, Tamil is always glorified as "even before stone and soil starts to appear in earth, there were poems in Tamil language" Mar 21, 2016 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


First of all: when it comes to the age of a language, there is a difference to be observed in dating by means of actual things, that still exist and other methods based on other evidence. Speaking about the first one, we are talking mostly about rock inscriptions, since these are quite durable and judged by these, Sanskrit and Tamil are approximately of the same age, since there are Ashoka Edicts from the 3rd century BCE as well as mostly Buddhist rock inscriptions in Tamil from about the same time.

Now, the second. If you date the age of a text, like Tolkappiyam or the Vedas, you have to rely on other evidence, since the surviving manuscripts are for the most part much younger than the text itself. Here it is quite without doubt, that the oldest books of the Rig-Veda are the oldest texts in Sanskrit and are much older than Tolkappiyam. This is based mostly on linguistic evidence. But fact is, that the literary history of Sanskrit, at least what we know of it, is much older than that which we know of Tamil. The Tolkappiyam itself is heavily indebted to the Sanskrit grammatical tradition and must therefore be younger.

Now about Ramayana and Mahabharata periods: are you talking about the period, when these texts were composed or the period that they are supposedly talking about? If the first: the Mahabharata was composed somewhere between 400 BCE and 400 CE and the Ramayana somewhere between 300 BCE and 200 CE. These datings are of course to some extent speculative but are the best guesses that are based on real evidence and not wishful thinking. So of course in these times, Tamil must have been spoken, since for example the Sangam literature (itself starting maybe around 150 BCE or a bit later) presupposes a literary development that must have happened before the first poems and should therefore go back to somewhere around maybe 300 BCE. This is about literature which again presupposes spoken language.

If you are asking about the era, that the epics are playing in, the question is much harder to answer, since it is not clear, what that time should be in the first place.

Please note, that all this talk is about literary testimonies of languages, not about languages itself. Think about it this way: early Sanskrit-speakers (if there ever were) and Tamil-speakers did not fall from heaven, they had ancestors, that also spoke a language and so on. So the question which language is older (not talking about which literature is older here), at least in the case of languages not yet proven to be related in any way, as is the case with Sanskrit and Tamil, does not make too much sense. Which literature is older? Sorry to say, but it clearly is Sanskrit.

  • I accept the answer but my intention is to find some precious work of these epics before Kamban or other works in tamil Mar 22, 2016 at 4:31
  • What do you mean by "precious work"?
    – zwiebel
    Mar 23, 2016 at 16:01
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    mahabharata war happened during beginning of kali yuga which was 5000 years back or 2000 BCE, and vyasa composed it during the time it happened, Same with Ramayana which happened in Treta Yuga (atleast 800,000 years ago), might have even been in 24th chatur yuga's treta yuga (we are in 28th now). Vedas are in Sanskrit (not written form which came recently, but oral), and they are timeless, so yes Sanskrit is older. But If Sanskrit is father, Tamil is mother. Divya Prabandhams are tamil-vedas.
    – ram
    Mar 24, 2016 at 4:47
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    800,000 year ah :D very funny! There is no old sanskrit inscription found anywhere which are older than 1300 years were found! and you are claiming ramayana written in sanskrit. It might have translated in to sanskrit from some other language. After Keezhadi excavation, oldest inscription is found 2300 years old! go and check for Vaigai civilization/Keezhadi excavation.
    – Itzdsp
    Apr 16, 2018 at 0:11
  • @Itzdsp, i didn't say sanskrit was WRITTEN 800,000 years ago. They never wrote things down in olden days, it was oral tradition. Vyasa wrote down 5000 years ago for people of limited brain in kali yuga
    – ram
    Nov 18, 2018 at 3:23

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