Tholkappiam had followed the traditional grammatical regulations of several thousand years.
In its backdrop, a long grammatical tradition had been alive which has provided enormous material to build up the first available grammatical treatise.
The Tamils are fortunate to recover Tholkappiam intact without any loss which has escaped from huge deluges that usurped many valuable works of their glorious ancestors.
It is the most ancient extant Tamil grammar text and the oldest extant long work of Tamil literature.
The surviving manuscripts of the Tolkappiyam consist of three books (atikaram), each with nine chapters (iyal), with a cumulative total of 1,612 sutras in the nūṛpā meter. It is a comprehensive text on grammar, and includes sutras on orthography, phonology, etymology, morphology, semantics, prosody, sentence structure and the significance of context in language.
The Tolkappiyam is difficult to date. Some in the Tamil tradition place the text in the mythical second sangam, variously in 1st millennium BCE or earlier.
Scholars place the text much later and believe the text evolved and expanded over a period of time. According to some, the earliest layer of the Tolkappiyam was likely composed between the 2nd and 1st century BCE, and the extant manuscript versions fixed by about the 5th century CE.
The Tolkappiyam Ur-text likely relied on some unknown even older literature. The Tamils are fortunate to recover Tholkappiam intact without any loss which has escaped from huge deluges that usurped many valuable works of their glorious ancestors.