This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
Even in this latter transformation India south of the Vindhyas bore an important part, but it does not appear to be the Tamil country, or South India proper, that really played the most important part. The honour of it perhaps must be ascribed to a region farther north than the Tamil country - the country of the Andhras. Bhakti that transformed Brahmanism into Hinduism may therefore be regarded as an important contribution of South India to Indian culture, not in reference to its origin but in regard to the important features of its further development.
Another important contribution of South India consists in the spread of Indian culture and the expansion of Indian Commerce. In both of these important departments South India played a prominent part. South India is primarily responsible for the spread of Hindu culture to the islands of the East and the Indo-Chinese peninsula, reaching even as far east as China. The outspread of Southern Buddhistic culture into the islands belongs to a later period of South Indian historv. In commercial enter-prise, articles of trade from South India were carried in great quantity to the west. In this commerce the commodities of the Eastern Archipelago formed a considerable part of the exports. The import of the eastern commodities into India seems to have been managed as a thoroughly
Indian business though their transportation across to the west might have been in part, or even as a whole, in the hands of others. The expansion towards the east seems to have been in full and self-contained colonies of Hindus, including Brahmans, as the Koetei epigraphs and the statement of Fa-hien together will indicate. In overseas enterprise therefore, South India comes in for comparatively, perhaps the most important share.
In administration, particularly in local administration, which is a characteristic feature of Indian administration generally, South India has its own characteristics which appear to have developed early and been carried to the fullest fruition under the great Cholas A.D. 850-1350. The local part of it seems to have been developed on the indigenous system such as it was, and even in respect to central administration South India shows characteristics which may justify giving it a distinct character though the prevalent general notions and admitted general principles were the same both in the north and in the south. This has been carried to such perfection that it continued undisturbed down to the end of the period of Vijayanagar Empire. Even after, much of it has been carried down intact so that the revenue and fiscal organisa-tion of a considerable part of the Madras Presidency under the East India Company is derived from the system that obtained at the commencement of the nineteenth century, as a lineal descendant of the ancient Chola administration. It was this continuity that gave South India its distinct character, and made a separate treatment necessary even in the now famous "Fifth Report" which was submitted to Parliament on the eve of the renewal of the charter of the East India Company in 1813.
These are some of the main features of the contributions that South India made to Indian civilisation and culture generally, and much more could be said by way of details both in the preservation of Indian religions and Indian learning when they were subject to great pressure and unavoidable modifications by the impact of Islam which came with the Muham-madan invasions. The conservation of both was due, as was pointed out, to the Empire of Vijayanagar, the supersession of which empire by the Muhammadans being a short parenthesis in the history of the general development of religion and culture in South India.
The whole of this investigation rests upon the Chronology of Tamil literature and history which I have adopted as the result of a long series of researches by a band of South Indian scholars, and my own. The main features of this, setting aside details which are not of much moment, are that that portion of Tamil literature, generally called Sangam literature, is of a pre-Pallava character and as such referable to the early-centuries of the Christian Era; that the literature, the typical representatives of which are the Tevaram and Tiruvoymoli of the saints of the Saivas and Vaishnavas, belongs to the age of the Pallavas and, as a whole, is assignable to the period AD. 300 to 900. Then follow the works of the later writers who gave form and shape to the teachings of these saints, and those marked the third age beginning from very near the end of the first millennium and going on to about the end of the seventeenth century. There is not much difference of opinion among scholars in regard to the third of these periods. The main lines of the second are also more or less agreed upon though there is a certain amount of difference of opinion in regard to details which however do not affect the general position. In regard to the first however there continues to be an acute difference of opinion yet. Even in regard to this the chronological difference will not affect the general position except in the case of one school of scholars who base their conclusions upon astronomical considerations and thus claim for their investigations a finality which an exact science like mathematical astronomy would give them a title to. It therefore becomes a matter of some necessity that the position should be examined, however imperfectly, so as not to lay one-self open to the charge of neglect of an important line of investigation bearing vitally upon this question. This astronomical position so called, falls into two divisions: one of these concerns itself with the collection of such details as are found in literature of an astronomical character and their investigation from the point of view of astronomy with a view to arrive at a chronological conclusion. The second is of a more general character and has reference more or less to a knowledge of the zodiac that the Hindus had generally, and the use of the week days in Indian literature. The two are connected more or less closely, but can for the purpose of this investigation be treated separately.