Unsung Heroes ' Marudu ' Brothers

Vishwa Bhaarath
Unsung Heroes Marudu Brothers
Marudu Brothers were icons of our Freedom movement and were the first ones to proclaim the declaration of independence (Jambudweepa Declaration) against British.

Ramanathapuram District was spread far and wide during 18th Century CE and the major towns were classified as – Kizhakku Seemai (East Town) and Merku Seemai (West Town). Marudu Brothers were born in the place called Mukkulam (near Narikkudi) to Mukka Palaniappan and Anandhai in Kizhakku Seemai.

The elder one (Vella Marudu or Periya Marudu) was born in 1748 CE and the younger one (Chinna Marudu) was born in 1753 CE. Their ancestors were loyal to Ramanathapuram Samasthanam and were warriors in the army. Hence, Marudu Brothers were obviously trained in warfare and martial arts from the childhood and groomed to be take on the role of their father to lead the army. Among other weapons, they were proficient in usage of a particular weapon called “Valari”, which is a variant of boomerang. Historical evidences point out that they invented this weapon “Valari” and have mastered the art and science of using it.

Marudu Brothers were inducted into the army of King Muthuvaduganathar and Queen Velu Nachiyar and rose in ranks due to their loyalty and valour. In 1772 CE, Arcot Nawab Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah, joined hands with British East India Company and cast evil eyes on Ramanathapuram and Sivagangai.  King Muthuvaduganathar was assassinated (shot dead) by deceit and it warranted Queen Velu Nachiyar and Marudu Brothers to retreat to Virupachi near Dhindukkal. Gopal Nayakar, who was in charge of Dhindukkal gave safe haven to them and assured army support to Velu Nachiyar to reclaim Sivagangai.

Unsung Heroes Marudu Brothers
Unsung Heroes Marudu Brothers
As Hyder Ali was not on good terms with Arcot Nawab, he wanted to utilize this opportunity to take on Acrot Nawab and agreed to send 5000 infantry and 5000 cavalry in support of Velu Nachiyar. Velu Nachiyar and Marudu Brothers devised plans and strategies for 8 years and launched a massive counterattack to recapture Sivagangai. Velu Nachiyar has sworn in as Queen of Sivagangai once again in 1780 CE and she was ably ruling for the next 10 years till 1790 CE.  Marudu brothers played a significant role in this administration. British dare not attempt any misadventure for 10 years, thanks to the bravery, valour and statesmanship of this trio Rani Velu Nachiyar and Maruru Brothers (and the daredevilry act of Kuyili).

After Rani Velu Nachiyar renounced the throne owing to health reasons in 1790 CE, her daughter was made queen and was in the helm for 3 years till 1793 CE. Marudu brothers took over the reigns of Sivagangai in 1793 CE. By this time, the British understood that it is in their interest to extend an olive branch to Marudu Brothers rather than taking them head-on in a fight having seen their bravery and valour first hand. This is a tactic of the British to deal with one enemy at a time. At that point in time, they found huge resistance from Veerapandiya Kattabomman of Palayamkurichi and hence decided to focus their efforts and energy to fight him, while still keeping Sivagangai as their second priority on the radar. When Veerapandiya Kattabomman was executed in 1799 CE, his brother Oomathurai escaped and sought refuge in Sivagangai.

Marudu Brothers gave refuge to Oomathurai, which has irked the British East India Company. In spite of their demands to hand over Oomathurai, Marudu Brothers refused to do so and decided to take on the British on the battlefield.

Chinna Marudu led this strategy and mobilized a joint force of all Palayakars to fight the British.

Marudu Brothers made the famous “Jambudweepa Declaration” (also known as Trichy Declaration) in 1801 CE in which they exhorted all fellow Hindustanis to join the fight against the British tyranny to establish Swarajya. The posters containing the Jambudweepa Declaration were pasted on the Srirangam temple and various prominent places in the region, which re-kindled the spirit of nationalism and patriotism amongst the common public and other Hindu Kings.

The war escalated in 1801 CE and as per their practice, the British resorted to deceit and cheap divide-and-rule tactics to gain an advantage. A few of the loyalists were bribed and coerced to provide tip and intelligence about the war strategies of the Marudu Brothers and hence British gained an upper hand in the war. Marudu Brothers had to retreat in forest areas to re-work their war strategy and mobilize forces to recapture Sivagangai.

At that time, the British East India Company made a public announcement, which was bolt-from-the-blue to the Marudu Brothers. British announced that if Marudu Brothers would not surrender within 48 hours, they would bombard Shree Kaleeswarar Temple in Kalayar Koil with canons. Shree Kaleeswarar Temple is a centuries-old Hindu temple and had a mention in Sangam Literature. This temple was consecrated once again by Marudu Brothers during their rule. Having listened to this announcement, Marudu Brothers decided that a Hindu temple should not be allowed to be destroyed by milechas for their sake and hence surrendered.

Marudu brothers along with their family members (including 10-12 years old children), associates, friends, and loyal subjects were hanged in front of Shree Kaleeswarar Temple at Kalaiyar Koil on 24th October 1801. The properties of the Marudu Brothers and their family members, including Sivagangai Fort and several villages were burnt by the British to remove the trace of their existence.

A few of the family members were deported and sent in exile to various East Asian countries. Even after hanging Marudu Brothers to death, the British not wanting to take chance beheaded their mortal remains and buried them.

Jambudweepa Declaration was no doubt a clarion call of independence made by the Marudu Brothers as early as in 1801 CE. Their supreme sacrifice to protect and preserve the cultural icon of this country will continue to inspire us in the service of the motherland.

Courtesy : VSK BHARATH  (full-width)

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