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Tamilnadu or Tamil Nadu. A state forming the southern area of India, at one time covering the areas where the Dravidian languages are prevalent (including Andhra Pradesh, Karnāṭaka, and Keralā). Its sense of separate identity is so strong that there have been movements for independence from the Indian republic. Although Aryan Hinduism from the north spread over Tamil areas, there has always been active interchange, with influence flowing in both directions. Thus although Tamilnadu is associated with devotional Hinduism (see ĀḻVĀRS) and especially devotion to Śiva, in fact the name of Śiva occurs fairly late in Tamil texts, and is identified with the indigenous Mudalvan, with adaptation occurring in the transition. Again, Viṣṇu is known as Māl (‘great one’) and became associated with Tirumāl. One Tamil deity, Murukaṉ/Murugan, who is worshipped in a particularly frenzied sacred dance, resisted assimilation altogether. This independence of Tamil religion is epitomized in Tiruvaḷḷuvar's Tirukkural. Tamil religion is most usually associated with bhakti poetry in which caste and ritual are reduced in importance, and the path to mokṣa through devotion rather than knowledge (jñāna) is prominent.

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