The Marudhu Pandiyar (Tamil: மருது பாண்டியர்) brothers (Periya Marudhu and Chinna Marudhu) ruled Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu towards the end of the 18th century. The Marudhu brothers were the first to issue a proclamation of independence from the colonial British rule from Trichy Thiruvarangam Temple, Tamil Nadu on 10 June 1801, more than 56 years before what is generally said to be the First War of Indian Independence which broke out mainly in Northern India in the year 1857.
The Marudhu brothers were the sons of Udayar Servai alias Mookiah Palaniappan Servai and Anandayer alias Ponnathal.Marudhu Pandiyar, the Elder was born on 15.12.1748 in a small hamlet called Narikkudi near Aruppukkottai in then Ramnad principal state (now Virudhunagar district). In 1753 the younger Marudhu Pandiyar was born in Ramnad. Their father "Udayar Servai" served as the General in the Ramnad state military and he shifted his family to Virudhunagar from Narikkudi.
The Marudhu brothers were trained in native martial arts at Surankottai which traditionally served as a training centre for the Ramnad state army. The Valari is a peculiar weapon unique to India used originally by the indigenous people (ancient Tamils) of the South Asia. Two forms of this weapon are used in India and known as boomerang warfare. These are normally made of wood. They are known as Valari sticks in Sangam Tamil. Marudhu brothers were experts in the art of throwing the Valari stick and using it as a weapon. They used Valari in their Poligar Wars against the British colonial forces. They contested in and won many competitions of martial arts and distinguished themselves as brave warrirors. The Raja of Ramnad Muthu Vijaya Raghunatha Sethupathy issued the title of Pandiyas to honour the Marudhu Pandiyargal.
The Raja of Sivagangai, a principal state near Ramnad, Muthu Vaduganadhathevar came to know of their brave and courageous deeds and requested the Ramnad king to assign them to serve the Sivaganga state army. They were appointed as Generals of the Sivaganga military and the brothers left an indelible impression in the military history of India.
In the year 1772, the English military of the British East India Company, under the command of Lt.Col. Bon Jour attacked the state at Kalayar Kovil. During the war, Raja Muthu Vaduganadhathevar lost his life in the battlefield. But the Marudhu brothers managed to escape along with Rani Velu Nachiar, wife of Raja Muthu Vadughanadhathevar and arrived at Dindigul which was ruled by Hyder Ali – the Sultan of Mysore as refugees. Hyder Ali supported them in all respects.
The Nawab of Arcot, the alliance partner of British East India Company, was not able to collect any taxes from the people of Sivaganga state for eight long years. He entered into an agreement whereby the rule of Sivaganga was restored to "Rani Velu Nachiar" after he collected his dues from her. The Marudhu brothers with 12,000 armed men surrounded Sivaganga and plundered the Arcot Nawab's territories. The Nawab on the 10th of March 1789 appealed to the Madras Council for aid. On 29 April 1789, the British forces attacked Kollangudi. It was defeated by a large body of Marudhu troops.
Marudhu Pandiyars Battles against the British
After the execution of Kattabomman in 17 October 1799 at Kayattar, Chinna Marudhu gave asylum to Kattabomman's brother Oomaidurai. 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. The British considered it such a serious threat to their future in India that they rushed additional troops from Britain to put down the Maruthu Pandiyars' rebellion. These forces surrounded the 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.
Marudhu brothers were not only warriors and noted for bravery, but they were very great administrators. Rani Velu Nachiar made a will and paved the way for Marudhu Pandiyar Elder to rule. Marudhu Pandiar younger was made the Dewan of the state. During the period from 1783 to 1801, they worked for the welfare of their subjects and the Sivaganga Seemai was made fertile. They constructed many notable temples like Kalayar Kovil, Sivaganga many Ooranis and Tanks.
The Marudhu Pandiyars and many of their family members were captured at Cholapuram they were infamously hanged at same time in the Fort of Tiruppathur (Sivaganga District, Tamil Nadu) on the English month of October 24, 1801.
- "Imbibe patriotic spirit of Marudhu brothers". The Hindu (India). 5 November 2008.
- "Marudhu brothers". Sivaganga district, State government of Tamilnadu. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- Southindian states website
- Kalayar Kovil
- "Stamp on Marudhu Pandiar brothers released". The Hindu (Madurai, India). 25 October 2004.
- "Stamps 2004". Indian Postal department. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- "Thousands pay homage to Marudhu Brothers". The Hindu (Madurai, India). 28 October 2010.
- Maruthu Pandiyar picture
- Maruthu Pandiyar History in Tamil
- Marudu Brothers - Forgotten Facts. Article by P.A.Krishnan in Kalachuvadu
- Mahradu – An Indian Story of the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century - 1813 London
- Major James Welsh (1830). Military reminiscences : extracted from a journal of nearly forty years' active service in the East Indies. London : Smith, Elder, and Co.