THE SETHUPATHIS, THONDAIMANS – SOCIAL LIFE OF PEOPLE
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Sethupathis of Ramand and Sivaganga: The rulers of Ramnad and Sivaganga region of early 17th Century were called Sethupathis. The Nayak ruler Muthukrishnappa Nayak appointed Sadaikkathever in 1605 as protector and guardian of the pilgrims to Sethusamudram and Rameswaram. The protector of Sethusamudram was called as Sethupathy. Sadaikkathevar was a loyal subordinate of the Nayaks.
He emerged as the chief of the poligas. Sethupathis were maravas of Ramnad, Madurai and Tirunelveli. They had Ramnad as their official head quarters. Sadaikkathevar and his son KuttanSethupathi acted as Sethupathis and extended protection to the pilgrims who visited Rameswaram. Apart from giving protection these two Sethupathis did religious services to the Ramanathaswamy temple at Rameswaram.
Sadaikka Thevar II: 1636AD. – 1645AD: Kuttan Sethupathi made his adopted son Sadaikkathevar II as the next ruler. This was opposed by Kuttan Sethupathi’s natural son Thambi. Thirumalai Nayak supported the claim of Thambi. The ruler Sadaikka thevar was dethroned and jailed. Thambi was made as Sethupathi. Thambi was not competent. Sadaikka thevar’s nephews Raghunathathevar and Narayanathevar rebelled against Thambi’s rule. Accepting the popular representation, Thirumalai Nayak released Sadaikkathevar from Jail and made him Sethupathi after dismissing Thambi from the throne. Sadiakkathevar constructed a new Chokkanatha temple at Rameswaram. He did lot of Charitable and public works.
Raghunatha Sethupathi – 1645AD. – 1670AD. He was loyal to the Nayak ruler. He helped the Nayaks by defeating the Muslims under Kutbkhan and the poliga of Ettayapuram. In appreciation to this help the Nayak ruler gave the privilege of celebrating Navarathri festival at the capital city. The Nayak ruler also donated places like Thirubhuvanam, Mannar Koil Thiruchuli to Sethupathi. He successfully annexed Devakottai and Aranthangi. He helped Thirumalai Nayak in his war against Mysore army. Thirumalai Nayak recognised the valuable military services of Raghunatha Sethupathi and conferred the title ‘Thirumalai Sethupathi’ on him. Sethupathis loyalty towards the Nayaks was over with Thirumalai Nayak Raghunatha Sethupathi recaptured all the forts and places from the Nayaks and became an independent ruler.Raghunatha Sethupathi patronised art and literature. He made Tamil and Telugu as an official languages of his court. He encouraged Tamil poets namely Alagiya Chitramabala Kavirayar and Amirtha Kavirayar. He constructed the Second Prakaram of the Ramanathswami temple in Rameswaram. The famous poet Thayumanavar spent his last days under the Patronage of Raghunatha Sethupathi. After Raghunatha Sethupathi both Surya thevar
and Athana thevar were in power for a very short duration in 1670.
Raghunatha Sethupathi II alias Kilavan Sethupathi : 1671AD. – 1710AD.:
Kilavan Sethupathi was the greatest ruler among the Marava kings. He was helpful to Chokkanatha Nayak. The Nayak king conferred him a title Para Rajakesari (Lion to alien kings). He annexed some territories of Madurai Kingdom, Aranthangi, Thirumayam, Piranmalai. He opposed the spread of Christian missionary activities.
Kilavan Sethupathi liberated the Marava country from the control of Madurai Nayak. After defeating Rani Mangammal’s army, he declared independent Marava country in 1707. He shifted his head quarters from Pughalur to Ramnad.
Kilavan Sethupathi established the Nalcottal palayam (later Sivaganga) and appointed Udaya Thevar as Governor. He served well for the development of Hinduism. He endowed villages to a temple at Thiruvadanai and Kalaiyar Koil. He constructed a fort around the Ramanathapuram, the capital city. He constructed a dam across the Vaigai. His rule was marked as the golden age of the Maravas. Kilavan Sethupathi was succeeded by Bhavani Shankarathevar and Thandathevar.
After Kilavan Sethupathi the kingdom was divided into two. A new Sivaganga Kingdom emerged. During the later period of Sethupathi’s rule, the Ramnad was reduced to a zamin level. Then it was brought under the control of the Britishers. Finally it became a part of the Indian Union. Among the later Sethupathis, Baskara Sethupathi was an exceptionally enlightened zamindar. He was an English educated ruler. He honoured Swami Vivekananda who attended the parliament of Religion at Chicago. The social life under Sethupathi’s rule was good.
THE THONDAIMANS OF PUDUKOTTAI
Kilavan Sethupathi established a new Pudukottai Kingdom and made his son Raghunatha Raja Thondaman as its first ruler.
Raghunatha Thondaiman: After becoming the ruler of Pudukottai, Raghunatha Thondaiman fought against the Nayaks of Tanjore in support of the Nayaks of Madurai and conquered Thirukkattupalli a very important place. Then there was a direct clash between Thondaimans of Pudukottai and the Nayaks rulers of Tanjore. Thondaiman conquered the west of Thirukkattupalli. The Pudukottai Thondaiman’s army defeated a combined army of the Maravas of Ramnad and Marathas of Tanjore. With this victorious experience the Pudukkotai Raja supported poligas. Pudukottai was made as the capital of the Thondaiman’s Kingdom.
The Nizam of Hydrabad recognised the independent rule of Pudukottai Thondaiman. Pudukottai Thondaiman maintained friendly relation with the British and the Nawab of Arcot. Raghunatha Thondaiman was the real founder and consolidator of the independent Pudukottai kingdom.
Thondaiman helped Arcot Nawab against Hyder Ali the ruler of Mysore. He was also loyal towards the British Government. After some time, when Hyder Ali’s army tried to enter intoPudukkottai, the Thondaiman’s army successfully defeated them and drove Hyder’s army away. Thondaiman captured Kilanilai and Aranthangi. He helped the British Government. against Tipu Sultan. Raja Raghunatha Thondaiman died in1789. As he had no male issue, he was succeeded by his uncle’s son Vijaya Raghunatha Thondaiman.
Vijaya Raghunatha Thondaiman: During his rule, charitable services continued. The Nawab of Arcot conferred a title Raja Bahadur on Thondaiman. Thereafter the Thondaimans of Pudukkottai came to be known as Rajas of Pudukkottai. Pudukkottai Raja supported Arcot Nawabs in their battle against the poligas and the rulers of Tanjore and Ramnad. He built many choultries to provide free rest houses. He fed the poor pilgrims. He consolidated the state of Pudukkottai.
During his period he replaced the old weak administration of Tondaiman with Thanjavur Maratha’s new administrative system in Pudukkottai region. Many Marathi brahmins were employed in state administration. Due to calamities the old city of Pudukkottai faced destruction. The present city of Pudukottai was designed and rebuilt during his period.
After Ragunatha Thondaiman, Ramachandra Thondaiman, Marthanda Bairava Thondaiman and Raja Rajagopala Thondaiman ruled Pudukkottai. During the period of these weak Rajas, the British
influence had increased in Pudukkottai. Many social, judicial educational reforms were introduced. A new Anglo vernacular free School was started. Population census was commenced. Irrigation tanks were built to over come famine. Finally Pudukkottai became a part of the Indian Union in 1948.
Social Condition: During the early part of Thondaiman’s rule people of Pudukkottai region led normal life. Kings concentrated more on political matters and also on the peoples welfare. Choultries were built for pilgrims. In the later part of their rule due to famine people faced many types of sufferings. Heavy rain and flood damaged the city of Pudukkottai and natural diseases were there. Later after sometime city of Pudukkottai was modernised. New school was opened. Tanks were built to increase water supply. Vaccination was introduced against small Pox. Many reforms were introduced during the last phase of their reign.