Maruthu brothers

Marudhu Brothers : Two Pillars of Sivagangai

The Marudhu Pandiyar 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.


The Marudhu brothers were the sons of Udayar Servai alias Mookiah Palaniappan Agamudayar 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.

Early life

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 boomerang 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.

These are normally made of wood. They are known as Valari sticks in Sangam Tamil. It is said that Marudhu brothers were great experts in the art of throwing the Valari stick and using it as a weapon. It is said that Marudhu brothers successfully 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.

Maruthu Pandiyar Valour

The Raja of Sivagangai, a principal state near Ramnad, Muthu Vaduganadhar 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 Vaduganadhar lost his life in the battlefield.

But the Marudhu 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 in all respects.

Rani Vedu Nachiyar and the Maruthu brothers
Rani Vedu Nachiyar and the Maruthu brothers

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.

War Against British

They were in close association with Veera Pandiya Kattabomman of Panchalankurichi. Kattabomman held frequent consultations with the Marudhus.

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.

State Archives, Madras via South Indian Rebellion: The War of Independence 1800-1801

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.

Sunset in freedom struggle

The Marudhu Pandiyars and many of their family members were captured at Cholapuram and they were infamously hanged on the English month of October 24, 1801.

The House of Lords of the British Parliament submitted a Report on the sessional papers on Slavery in the British Colonies in 1841, which narrates at length the existence of the slavery system in the Colonies.

It deals with two judgments delivered by the Southern Court of Appeal at Trichinopoly ( India ) dated 17th March 1806.

1. Meenammal, widow of late Sivagnanam the daughter in law of Marudu servai.

2. Veerayee Aathal, widow of Masrudu Servai

1) Meenammal preferred a complaint against the Zamindar of Sivaganga in the Zilla court at Ramnad regarding the recovery of jewels valued at 1542 Star Pagodas and again for the recovery of jewels valued at 1100 Star Pagodas as the property appeared to have been taken by the Zamindar during the operation of military law in Sivaganga district.

Maruthu Pandiyar  placed the jewels under the care of her servant, Alagu in September 1801.

2) Veerayee Athal filed a case against the Zamindar of Sivaganga in the zilla Court at Ramnad for the recovery of jewels valued at 4125 Star Pagodas and she secreted the above jewels in September 1801 and the above jewels were taken away the Zamindar.

The Decision of the Zillah Court at Ramnad dated 1st November 1805 was in favour of both of the widows, ordering the Zamindar to restore the jewels to their owners. The Sivaganga Zamindar, Padamathur Gowri Vallabha Thevar preferred an appeal against the verdict of Lower Court with the Southern Provincial Court of Appeal at Trichinopoly.

The Court of Appeal considered the following points in consultation with the Hindoo Pandits and pronounced the final verdict in favour of the Zamindar. “ The husband is the master of his wife, if the husband be a slave; although his wife be born of free parents, she is also a slave.

Any riches acquired by slaves in consequence of the assumption of the master’s property, belong not to the slave but to the master- are of opinion, that the claim of Veerayee Aathal to the recovery of jewels valued at 4125 Star Pagodas from the Zamindar is inadmissible.

Marudu Servai the slave to the housae of Naalukottai and Veerayee Aathal, although free born becomes by her marriage with a slave, a slave also.” “ The wife of the slave is also the slave of the master. The husband and the wife are one and the same and by a verse from smriti chandrika in its chapter concerning the Slaves.

The husband is the master to his wife if that husband be a slave ; although his wife be born of free parents, she is also a slave, and the answer to the second of these questions being “ any riches acquired by a slave, in consequence of the assumption of his master’s property, belong not to the slave, but to the master” – the Provincial Court are thence of opinion that Meenammal, being a slave, can have no right to the above jewels which she claims and valued at 350 Star Pagodas “ Exract taken from the Sessional Papers of the House of Lords 1841 which contains the Judgment delivered by the Southern Provincial Court of Appeal Trichinopoly dated 17th March 1806 on pages 463 and 464.

Maruthu brothers
Maruthu brothers

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