The Maruthu Pandiyar brothers (Periya Maruthu and Chinna Maruthu) ruled Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu towards the end of the 18th century.They were the first to issue a proclamation of independence from the British rule from Trichy Thiruvarangam Temple, Tamil Nadu on June 10, 1801,56 years before the - Sepoy mutiny (also known as the first war of Independence) which broke out in many parts of north India in 1857.
Marudu brothers were the sons of Udayar Servai alias Mookiah Palaniappan (Agamudayar) Servai and Anandayer alias Ponnathal. Maruthu Pandiyar, the Elder was born on 15.12.1748 in a small hamlet called Narikkudi near Aruppukkottai in the Ramnad principal state.In 1753 the younger Marudhu Pandiyar was born in Ramnad. Their father Udayar Servai served as a General in the Ramnad state military and he shifted his family to Ramnadu from Narikkudi.
The brothers were trained in martial arts at Surankottai which served as a training centre for the Ramnad army. Boomerang is a peculiar weapon to India. Two forms of this weapons are used in India. These are normally made of wood. They are known as Valari stick in tamil. It is said that Maruthu brothers were experts in the art of throwing the valari stick. It is said that Maruthus used Valari in the Poligar wars against the British.They contested in and won many competitions of martial arts and distingusihed themselves.The Raja of Ramnad Muthu Vijaya Raghunatha Sethupathy issued the title of ‘Pandiyas’ to honour the brothers.
The Raja of Sivaganga principal state (near Ramnad), Muthu Vaduganadhar came to know of their brave deeds and requested the Ramnad king to assign them for serving the Sivaganga army.They were appointed as Generals of the Sivaganga military and the brothers left an indelible impression in the history of Tamil Nadu.
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. During the war, Raja Muthu Vaduganadhar lost his life in the battlefield. 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.
The Nawab of Arcot, the alliance partner of East India Company was not able to collect any taxes from the people of Sivaganga state for eight years,entered in to 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 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 Marudu's troops. Maruthu brothers are very famous for Tiger fight -- it is said that they could kill the tiger without any arms.
War against British
They were in close association with Veera Pandiya Kattabomman of Panchalankurichi. Kattabomman held frequent consultations with Marudhus. After the execution of Kattabomman in 17 October 1799 at Kayattar, Chinna Marudhu gave asylum to Kattabomman's brother Oomadurai (mute 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.
Marudu brothers were not only warriers and noted for bravery, but they were very great Administrators. Rani Velu Nachiar made a Will and paved way for Marudhu Pandiyar Elder to rule. Marudhu Pandiar younger was made as Dewan of the state. During the period from 1783 to 1801, they worked for the welfare of the people and the Sivaganga Seemai was reported as fertile. They constructed many notable temples like Kalayar Kovil, Sivaganga many Ooranis and Tanks.
Maruthu Pandiyars and many of their family members were captured at Cholapuram and they were hanged on October 24, 1801.