Maruthu Pandiyar-Brothers in Arms

The Maruthu Pandiyar brothers (Periya Maruthu & Chinna Maruthu) ruled Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu during the last part of the 18th century and they were the first to issue a proclamation of independence from the British rule from Trichy Thiruvarangam Temple, Tamil Nadu on June 10, 1801, which is 56 years before the North Indian rebellion – Sepoy mutiny of 1857.

In the year 1772, the English military of the East India Company, under the command of Lt.Col. Bon Jour attacked the state at Kalayar Kovil. As the war worsened, Raja Muthu Vaduganadhar lost his life on the spot. But the Maruthu brothers managed to escape along with Rani Velu Nachiar, wife of Raja Muthu Vadughanadhar and arrived at Dindigul which was ruled by Hyder Ali – the Sultan of Mysore as refugees. Hyder Ali supported them with all respects.

Arcot Nawab, the alliance partner of East India Company was not able to collect any taxes from the people of Sivaganga state for eight years, arranged for an agreement whereby the rule of Sivaganga was restored to Rani Velu Nachiar after he collected his dues from her. The Marudu brothers with 12,000 armed men surrounded Sivaganga and plundered Arcot Nawab’s territories. The Nawab on the 10th of March 1789 appealed to the Madras Council for aid. On 29th April 1789, the British forces attacked Kollangudi. It was defeated by a large body of Marudu’s troops.

They were in close association with Veera Pandiya Kattabomman of Panchalankurichi. Kattabomman held frequent consultations with Marudhus. After the execution of Kattabomman in 17th October 1799 at Kayattar, Chinna Marudhu gave asylum to Kattabomman’s brother Oomadurai (dumb brother). But, the British took this reason to invade and attacked Sivaganga in 1801 with a powerful army. The Maruthu Pandiyars and their allies were quite successful and captured three districts from the British. British considered it as a serious threat to their future in India that they rushed additional troops from Britain to put down Maruthu Pandiyars’ rebellion. These forces surrounded Maruthu Pandiyars’ army at Kalayar Koil, and the latter scattered. The Maruthu Brothers and their top commanders escaped. They regrouped and fought the British and their allies at Viruppatchi, Dindigul and Cholapuram. While they won the battle at Viruppatchi, they lost the other two battles.

The Marudhu Pandiyars, was the first king man who planned to war against British empire for India’s independence. They gave the protection to Velunachiyar from the British empire. They along with the war leader Sivagangai and many of their family members, were captured at Cholapuram and were killed at Thirupatur. They were hanged in the fort of Tirupputhur, which is now Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu, on 24 October 1801.The kallarai of maruthu padiyar is located at Sivagangai.

Maruthu Brothers are good in aerodynamics and invented many variants of spears and Valari. They also founded guerilla war tactic in India during the early stages of colonisation. A commemorative postage stamp was released in October 2004. Every year people conduct Maruthu Pandiar Guru Puja at the Kalayakoil temple in October

Categories: Editorial, India