"No Tamil Kingdom was ever brought down by an outsider, except when there were internal rivalries

Thanjai Nalankilli in An Analysis of Tamil History (book in preparation)


Nine Hundred Year Historical Perspective of how Tamil Nadu lost its Sovereignty and How Selfish Politicians are selling out Tamil National Rights Today

Part II

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, February 2002 (ID.2002-02-02)

Click here for MAIN INDEX to archived articles (main page)

Hindians: People whose mother tongue is Hindi (similar to Tamil speakers are sometimes referred as Tamilans or Tamilians).


AIADMK- All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party

CBSE - Central Board of Secondary Education

DK- Dravida Kazhagam

DMK- Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

MDMK- Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam


Part I (already published. Click here)

1. Introduction

2. Feuds within the Dravidian Parties

3. Brief Sinhala Occupation of Parts of Tamil Nadu in the Twelfth Century

    3.1 History

    3.2 Lessons to be Learned

Addendum 1: Emerging Sinhala Aggressiveness towards Tamil Nadu today

Part II 

4. Malik Kafur's Invasion of Tamil Nadu in the Fourteenth Century

5. Tamil Nadu under Sultans, Nayaks, Maharashtrians, Nawabs and others

    5.1. Overview of History
    5.2. Kizhavan Sethupathi's Rebellion against Madurai Nayaks

6. Tamil Nadu under British Rule

    6.1.Overview of History
    6.2. Maruthu Pandyar's Rebellion against the British
    6.3. The British Indian Empire

The article continues (and ends) in Part III (to be published in April or May 2002 issue of TAMIL TRIBUNE)

4. Malik Kafur's Invasion of Tamil Nadu in the Fourteenth Century

Chola kings who dominated Tamil Nadu for over two centuries (approximately 950 AD to 1200 AD) waned, and Pandya kings had the upper hand for the next century (approximately 1200 AD to 1300 AD). End of the Pandya dynasty as a major force, and in fact the end of Tamil Nadu as sovereign nations ruled by Tamil kings of the Chera, Chola and Pandya dynasties, came about because of internal squabbles again within the Pandyan royal family. Tamil Nadu is yet to recover the lost sovereignty!

King Maravarman Kulasekhara Pandyan (1268 - 1310) had two sons Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan and Jatavarman Veera Pandyan. The elder son, Sundara Pandyan, was by the king's wife and the younger, Veera Pandyan, was by a mistress. Contrary to tradition, the king proclaimed that the younger son would succeed him. This enraged Sundara Pandyan. He killed the father and became king in 1310. Some local chieftains in the kingdom swore allegiance to the younger brother Veera Pandian and a civil war broke out . Sundara Pandyan was defeated and he fled the country. He sought help from the far off northern ruler Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji  who was ruling much of northern India from Delhi. At that time, his army under General Malik Kafur was in the south at Dvarasamudra (far to the north of Tamil Nadu). Khilji agreed to help Sundara Pandyan and ordered Malik Kafur's army to march to Tamil Nadu. With Sundara Pandyan's assistance, this Muslim army from the north entered Tamil Nadu in 1311. The army engaged in murder, rape and looting as it passed through Tamil Nadu. Many historians believe that Malik Kafur in Dvarasamudra was not planning to march south all the way to Tamil Nadu, and that, but for Sundara Pandyan's request to Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji, he would never have invaded Tamil Nadu. Thus the first  invasion of Tamil Nadu from Delhi was a direct result of the internal quarrel in the Pandyan royal family. As we would see, the result of this invasion was devastating to Tamil Nadu; Tamil Nadu lost its sovereignty and continues to be an enslaved nation even after almost 700 years.

Once inside Tamil Nadu and his army well entrenched with not much opposition, Malik Kafur turned on Sundara Pandyan also, whom he came to help. The latter fled Madurai to southern Pandya Nadu. Malik Kafur looted Madurai also. Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji and Malik Kafur never intended to conquer and hold Tamil Nadu as part of the Delhi Sultanate; looting Tamil Nadu was their aim all along. So, having accomplished what he came for, he did not occupy Tamil Nadu but turned back north. (Sundara Pandyan's uncle Vikrama Pandyan did win a couple of battles against Malik Kafur but many historians do not believe it to be the reason for Malik Kafur leaving Tamil Nadu. Whatever the reason, Malik Kaur left with his loot.)  His army was in Tamil Nadu for only a few months. During this period he gathered (looted) gold, precious stones, horses and elephants from the Tamil land. He is said to have taken over 90,000 maunds of gold, unspecified numbers of jewelry and famed Pandyan pearls, 23,000 horses and 612 elephants. 

This was the very first time Tamil Nadu was plundered by a ruler from Delhi. Today, some 700 years later, after so many invasions by so many foreigners (as we would see in Section 5), Tamil Nadu is once again being economically discriminated by the new Hindi politicians in New Delhi. The Hindi dominated Government of India that came into existence in 1947 economically discriminates against Tamil Nadu and some other non-Hindi states by a variety of governmental mechanisms, such as unfair allocation of fiscal grants to states, unfair allotment of Indian Government sponsored industry and infrastructure development in various states, unfair import-export policies and taxation policies for various industries (favouring industries centered in Hindi states and nearby regions), etc. This is discussed in some detail in Reference 1 listed at the end of this article. The "mode of transferring wealth" has changed but the effect is the same. Malik Kafur took the wealth in sacks of gold and boxes of jewels. Today's Hindian dominated Indian Government takes the wealth through sophisticated fiscal policies that favor mostly Hindi states. Malik Kafur took the gold and jewels at the point of the sword. Today the Indian Government also enforces its biased fiscal policies by deploying the army if necessary. Army and/or police are often sent after groups that demand independence because of Indian governments discriminatory fiscal policies. We saw what the Indian army can do, how brutal it can be in Punjab and Nagaland. Thousands of civilians were killed and many more injured.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhaga (DMK) leaders in their early days used to say "Vadakku Vazhkirathu, Therku Thaeikirathu" ("north lives and south languishes"); When they said north, they of course were referring to the north-central regions of the Hindi states. Today DMK leaders are more interested in their personal selfish gains than in safeguarding the interests of Tamil Nadu. Wealth of some powerful Tamil Nadu politicians have multiplied a hundred times in a short period of time but the Tamil people are impoverished as ever as their wealth is being transferred to Hindi states slowly year after year. Some economists have concluded that, but for the burden of subsidizing Hindi states, states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra, etc. might have reached a standard of living comparable to Singapore and Malaysia

5. Tamil Nadu under Sultans, Nayaks, Maharashtrians, Nawabs and others

5.1.Overview of History

Ever Though Malik Kafur left Tamil Nadu with the looted wealth in 1311, the Tamil nation laid devastated and demoralized. Tamil Nadu would never recover from it fully and achieve its past glory. The lost sovereignty was yet to be recovered. The historic division of Tamil Nadu into three dynastic rules of Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas was no more. Neither the Cholas nor the Pandyas were strong monarchs any more. In the years between the Chola heydays and Malik Kafur invasion, Chera Nadu had transformed itself into Kerala and slowly drifted away from Tamil mainstream. It developed its own cultural and linguistic identity, although Kerala has strong affinity to Tamil Nadu in both culture and language even today.

After Malik Kafur left Tamil Nadu, there were couple of more invasions from the Delhi Sultans. Much of Tamil Nadu became part of Sultan Mohammad-bin-Tughlug's empire of the Delhi Sultanate for a brief period (approximately 1327 to 1335). Then the local commanders of the Delhi Sultanate rebelled against him and established their own rule as independent Madurai Sultanate (or Ma'bar Sultanate). Thus the Delhi rule over Tamil Nadu ended in less than 8 years. 

Madurai Sultanate fell to the Vijayanagar Emperor and much of Tamil Nadu was annexed to the Vijayanagar Empire. This was a southern empire and did not include northern India. Soon some Vijayanagar commanders in Tamil Nadu rebelled against the emperor and established their own "kingdoms" in Tamil Nadu. These commanders are Telugu Nayaks. Thus began the "kingdoms" of Madurai Nayaks, Thanjai Nayaks and Ginjee Nayaks. Nayak rule gave way to Maharashtrian rule. These Maharashtrian invaders conquered and ruled much of Tamil Nadu for a while. Again, the Maharashtrian invaders ruled Tamil Nadu as a separate entity and not part of any northern empire. About this time Aurangzeb, the Moghul Emperor from Delhi, invaded Tamil Nadu and annexed much of it to his Delhi-based empire. This was the second time Tamil Nadu came under Delhi rule. This lasted for only a few years. The local Mogul commanders rebelled against Aurangzeb and established themselves as independent rulers (Nawabs). Thus started the Nawab rule over Tamil Nadu. After the Nawab rule, Europeans came to power in various parts of Tamil Nadu. European rule (primarily British rule) over Tamil Nadu lasted for almost two centuries. We will discuss European rule in Section 6. It is worth noting that, before the British rule, Tamil Nadu was ruled from Delhi as part of some type of Indian empire for only about ten years (first during the Delhi Sultanate of Mohammad-bin-Tughlug and then during the Moghul Empire of Aurangzeb).

Thus from the time of Malik Kafur invasion to British rule, Tamil Nadu was under an assortment of foreigners, namely, the Sultans, Vijayanagars, Nayaks, Maharashtrians and Nawabs. Even during this time of foreign rule, some parts of Tamil Nad were independent of foreign rule and were under Tamil chieftains for brief periods of time. At times they ruled under the tutelage of foreign rulers and occasionally declared themselves independent and carried on for brief periods until defeated by foreigners. Always some type of in-fighting was at least part of the reason for the defeat of the independence-minded Tamil chieftains. We will briefly examine the case of one such Tamil chieftain. 

5.2. Kizhavan Sethupathi's Rebellion against Madurai Nayaks

During the time of Telugu Nayak rule over Tamil Nadu, Tamil chieftains known as "Sethupathi" ruled Ramanathapuram (Ramnad). They usually paid tribute to Madurai Nayaks but occasionally refused to pay and declared themselves independent. Kizhavan Sethupathi (Raghunatha Devar) ruled Ramanathapuram between 1670 and 1710. He replaced the mud walls around his capital to stone walls and also dug a moat around it to protect it from enemy attacks. He built a strong army with as many as 40000 soldiers at its peak. Then he not only refused to pay tribute to the Madurai Nayaks but also attempted wrestle control of Madurai from Nayaks. His first two attempts, during the reigns of Chockanathar Nayak and Third Veerappa Nayak, ended in failure not because the Nayaks defeated him but because of internal dissentions in his own Ramanathapuram. He had to interrupt his Madurai campaign and come home to put down the internal dissentions. We see here again the same scenario. It is internal quarrels in Pandya dynasty that brought in foreign rule to Madurai in the fourteenth century. Now it is internal dissentions in Ramanathapuram that helps the continuation of foreign rule over Madurai. (Kizhavan Sethupathy did capture Madurai during the days of Rani Mangammal (Nayak) but the Nayak soon recaptured it.)

The famed Madurai City that was the capital of the ancient Pandya dynasty and the home of the Third Tamil Academy (Third Tamil Sangam or Third Tamil Kazhagam) that brought us some of the greatest jewels of Tamil literature went under foreign rule in the fourteenth century, and Tamil people are yet to regain full sovereignty over this ancient Tamil city. Tamil Nadu State Government cannot do anything (even put up a stone carving or statue) near some of the ancient historical sites in Madurai (as well as other historical sites in ancient cities like Thanjavur (Thanjai or Tanjore)) without getting permission from the Indian Government located couple of thousand miles away and dominated by politicians who do not know of Tamil history or culture. In fact, the Indian Government refused permission to the Tamil Nadu State Government to install a statue of Emperor Raja Raja Cholan near the Thanjai Big Temple (Thajavur Peria Koil) that the emperor built (see Reference 2). Will we accept if the British were to tell us what we can or cannot do in Madurai or Thanjavur? Will Hindians accept if the British were to dictate what can or cannot be done in Delhi or Agra or other historical places in the Hindi belt?

6. Tamil Nadu under British Rule

6.1.Overview of History

The Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the British came as traders from Europe. Tamil Nadu was then a fragmented nation with many Nayaks, Nawabs and other local chieftains. The traders became rulers because some local rulers sought their help against others and the Europeans soon became their masters and demanded tribute. Those who obeyed were allowed to rule, those who refused were militarily defeated (with the help of other local chieftains) and their land handed over to other more subservient rulers or direct European rule was established. Eventually the British took control of all of Tamil Nadu with the exception of the small Pondicherry territory under the French. Pondicherry remained under French rule until the early 1950s.

It is not possible in this short article to go through the twisted history of the British conquest of Tamil Nadu, involving shifting alliances, betrayals and back-stabbings (not much different from today's politics). We will however discuss very briefly the life of one Tamil king who resisted the British valiantly but in the end fell. 

6.2. Maruthu Pandyar's Rebellion against the British

Maruthupandyar (Maruthu Pandyar) ruled Sivagangai during the last part of the 18-th century. He became the ruler of Sivagangai which was paying tribute to the British. He continued to pay tribute for many years. Eventually he rebelled against the British and issued an Independence Proclamation from Thiruchi Thiruvarangam Temple on June 10, 1801. He called on the other local rulers to join hands with him and fight the British. While some did, others supported the British. 

Maruthu Pandyar and his allies were quite successful and captured three districts from the British. Seeing the deteriorating situation, the British brought in additional troops from Britain. They also got more troops from the British garrisons in the neighboring Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka). Pudukottai and Ettayapuram rulers also sent their armies to help the British. These forces surrounded Maruthu Pandyar's army at Kalayar Koil, and the latter scattered. Maruthu Pandyar and his top commanders escaped. They regrouped and fought the British and their allies at Viruppatchi, Dindugal and Cholapuram. While they won the battle at Viruppatchi, they lost the other two battles. Maruthu Pandyar was captured at Cholapuram. He was hanged on October 24, 1801. He was the last Tamil ruler in Tamil Nadu to fight the British. The British conquest of Tamil Nadu was complete; all the local rulers paid tribute to them. 

Maruthu Pandyar's 1801 Independence Proclamation was the first such proclamation against the British. But you will not find any mention of it or of Maruthu Pandyar in Indian History texts funded or approved by the Government of India. Those books center about the Hindi heartland and nearby regions. History of regions farther from it, be it the northeast or the south, are ignored. Generations of students from outside of Tamil Nadu come out of school without knowing anything about Tamil Nadu while we are taught all about the northern kings and their exploits. In fact, history texts used at Indian government affiliated schools (CBSE schools) located in Tamil Nadu teach little about Tamil Nadu. Thus even students from these Tamil Nadu schools come out without knowing the history of Tamil Nadu. This is the sad state of Tamil Nadu in the post-British era. We will discuss it more in Section 7 (Part III). 

Some Tamil Members of Parliament requested the Indian Government to issue a postage stamp to commemorate the 200-th anniversary of the hanging of Maruthu Pandyar in October 2001.The Indian Government said it had to study it. They are still studying. The Indian Government took much less time to decide to test a nuclear bomb than to study whether to issue a postage stamp honoring Maruthu Pandyar! This government had issued postage stamps in honor of Jhansi Rani and other northern monarchs who rebelled against the British (and lost). Maruthu Pandyar fought the British (and lost) decades before Jhansi Rani but the Indian Government would not issue a stamp in his honor. Tamils are only third class citizens in this post-British India under Hindian rule. We will discuss it more in Section 7 (Part III). 

6.3. The British Indian Empire

As mentioned in the previous subsection, with the defeat of Maruthu Pandyar, Tamil Nadu became totally under the control of the British. Some areas were ruled by chieftains who paid tribute to the British and others were governed directly by the British. Soon all of Tamil Nadu (with the exception of the French controlled Pondicherry) became part of the British Indian Empire ruled from Delhi. Except for the eight years under the Delhi Sultanate of Mohammad-bin-Tughlug and couple of years under the Moghul Empire of Aurangzeb, Tamil Nadu was never part of any type of Indian Empire before. Tamil Nadu remained part of the British Indian Empire until 1947 when the British left. End of Part II.

We expect to publish Part III in the April or May 2002 issue. March issue is reserved for another subject. We will discus in Part III the Hindian rule over Tamil Nadu in the post-British India. Don't miss it.


1. Economic Discrimination of Tamil Nadu

2. Why is Emperor Raja Raja Cholan Standing outside the Thanjai Big Temple?

NOTE: Tamil and other names are sometimes spelled differently by different authors. Here are some variations of spellings of names used in this article:

Ala-ud-din - Alauddin, Alaudin, Alaudhin 
Madurai - Mathurai, Madura, Mathura
Pandya - Pandia, Pandiya
Pandyan - Padian, Pandiyan
Veera Pandyan - Veerapandyan, Veerapandiyan, Veerapandian 

Chockanatha - Chockanathar 

Cholapuram - Chozhapuram, Chola Puram 

Devar - Thevar 

Dindugal - Thindugal, Thindukal, Dindukal 

Ginjee - Ginji, Senjee, Senji 

Jhansi - Jansi 

Kalayar Koil - Kalayarkoil, Kalayarkovil 

Khilji - Kilji, Kiljhi 

Kilzhavan - Kilavan 

Kulasekhara Pandyan - Kulasekharapandyan, Kulasekharapandiyan, Kulasekharapandian 

Ma'bar - Mabar 

Malik Kafur - Malik Kapur, Malikafur, Malikapur 

Maruthu Pandyar - Maruthupandyar, Maruthupandiyar, Maruthupandiar

Maruthu Pandyan - Maruthupandyan, Maruthupandiyan, Maruthupandian 

Moghal - Mogal, Mughal 

Mohammad-bin - Mohammadu-bin 

Nayak - Naik, Nayakar 

Pondicherry - Pondichery 

Pudukottai - Puthukottai 

Sethupathi - Sethu Pathi, Sethupathy, Sethu Pathy 

Sivagangai - Siva Gangai, Shivagangai 

Sundara Pandyan - Sundarapandyan, Sundarapandiyan, Sundarapandian 

Thanjavur - Thanjavoor 

Thiruchi - Trichi, Thiruchirapalli, Trichirapalli 

Thiruvarangam - Tiruvarangam (also called Srirangam, Sri Rangam) 

Tughlug - Thuglug, Thughlug 

Vijayanagar - Vijaya Nagar

FN020308    2002-a1d

Your comments on this article or any other matter relating to Tamil are welcome

(e-mail to: tamiltribuneatasia.com Please replace "at" with the @ sign.)

Copyright 2009 by TAMIL TRIBUNE. All rights reserved. No part of this article should be copied or distributed in any form by any means without written permission from TAMIL TRIBUNE. Those interested in re-publishing this article read http://www.tamiltribune.com/gen/permit.html for details or e-mail us.