Dravida is mentioned as one of the kingdoms in the southern part of present-day mainland India during the time of the Mahabharata. Sometimes the name Dravida was used to denote all the southern kingdoms (like the Chera, Pandya and Chola kingdoms) collectively and sometimes as a separate kingdom.
In the south, are the Dravidas, the Keralas, the Prachyas, the Mushikas, and the Vanavashikas; the Karanatakas, the Mahishakas, the Vikalpas, and also the Mushakas; the Jhillikas, the Kuntalas. (6,9)
Mahabharata links the origin of Dravidas with sage Vasistha. Viswamitra, a king in the Ikshwaku clan, attacked the cow of Vasistha. Then many armies emerged for the protection of that cow and they attacked the armies of Viswamitra. Cow symbolizes land, in ancient Indian scriptures. Thus this war was fought with the countries allied with Vasista.
Other kingdoms that were mentioned along with the Dravidas in this incident were Sakas, Yavanas, Savaras, Kanchis, Paundras and Kiratas, Nishada, Yavanas and Sinhalas, and the barbarous kingdoms of Khasas, Chivukas, Pulindas, Chinas Hunas with Keralas, Mlechchhas, etc.
Sahadeva brought under his subjection and exacted tributes from the Paundrayas, the Dravidas along with the Udrakeralas and the Andhras and the Talavanas. He also vanquished the Karanatakas, Pashandas, the town of Sanjayanti, the Kalinga, the Ustrakarnikas, the city of Atavi and the city of Yavanas. (2,30)
Pandavas reached the sea in the Dravida land, and visited the holy spot passing under Agastya’s name, which was exceedingly sacred and exceptionally pure. And the valiant king visited the feminine sacred spots. They visited one by one those holy places on the coast of the sea and many other sacred spots and came to the holiest of all known by the name of Suparaka. (3,118)
Arjuna in his military campaign after the Kurukshetra War, visited Dravida country
Arjuna proceeded towards the southern ocean. In those regions battle took place between him and the Dravidas and Andhras and the fierce Mahishakas and the hillmen of Kolwa. (14,83)
Vedic kingdoms attributed a degraded status to Dravidas and other tribes in later periods of ancient Indian history