SOURCES OF THE TAMIL LEXICON
The Rev, M.Winslow's Dictionary was originally taken as the main basis of work. But,the vast amount of literature belonging to the early, the medieval and the modern periods that has been published since Winslow's time has made it absolutely necessary to widen the basis and the scope of the Tamil Lexicon.1
The great Tamil classics of the sang am period, the grammatical works, Tolkappiyam and Iraiyanar Aka-p-porul and the ethical and other works included in the Patinen-kil-k-kanakku represent the earliest stage of literary Tamil. The Sangam and post-Sangam classics have been mostly edited by the late Rao Bahadur C.W.Damodaran Pillai.
Religious and philosophical treatises closely followed the early Tamil literature. These are the first 11 Tirumurais of the Saivites,the Nalayira-tivviya-p-pirapantam of the Vaisnavites,the Jain works like Culamani,Civaka-cintamani,etc.,the Buddist works,like Manimekalai,etc.The longer poems like Perunkatai,Cilappatikaram,etc.,and the early nikantus like Tivakaram also belong to this period.
Kamban's Ramayanam, Periya-puranam, Kalinkattu-p-parani, the three Ulas, Takka-yaka-p-parani,etc., represent the early medieval Tamil literature. To this period must be assigned the Yapparunkalam,Viracoliyam and few other notable grammars. Among the philosophical and religious works of the period may be mentioned the 14 sastras of the saivites and the exegetical works of the god on the Nalayria-tivviya-p-pirapantnam. The Commentaries on Tolkappiyam ,sangam works, etc., were written during this period.d)
Villiputturar,s Paratam and the Puranic works such as Koyir-puranam,Paka vatam,kanta-puranam,Tiru-v-alavay-utaiyur-puranam represent the late medieval period of Tamil literature. Commentaries on the 14 saiva sastras, religious and philosophic treatises like Nanavacittam,Merumantara -puranam etc., several minor pirapantams and nikantus like Akarti-nikantu and Cutamani-nikantu belong to this period. Some of the special treatises on arts and science ,like Cinentira-malai and Cuttamani Ullamutaiyan(Astrology),Parata-cattiram (Dancing),Kanak-k-atikaram (Mathematics) must also be counted among the works of this period.e)
Contact with the European nations may be taken to inaugurate the modern period. Pirapantams of Kumarakurupara-cuvamikal,Civa-p-
1 Winslow himself remarks (in his preface to Spaulding's English and Tamil Dictionary, 1852) 'The period' is to come when a sufficient number of generally received classic authors in the Tamil Language shall be in print or accessible in uniform manuscripts, to enable any lexicographer to fix with certainty the standard of language.