Madras (India : State).

Madura (Volume 1) online

. (page 7 of 40)
Online LibraryMadras (India : State)Madura (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


latter none the less marched into his country, took Tanjore
and Vallam and drove the Nayakkan to fly into tlie jungle. The
invaders then moved against Trichinopoly and Madura, spreading
havoc far and wide, while Muttu Alakadri remained inactive
behind the walls of the former of these forts. Fortunately for
him, the enemy soon had to retire, for their cruel devastations
produced a local famine and pestilence from which they themselves
suffered terribly. They accordingly made a half-hearted attempt
on Trichinopoly and then permitted tliemselves to be bought off
for a very moderate sum. Muttu Alakadri did not long survive
their departure, but gave himself up to debauchery with an
abandon which soon brought him to a dishonoured grave.

He was succeeded by his son Chokkan^tha (1662-82), a
promising boy of sixteen. This young ruler began his reign with
a second ill-considered attempt to drive out the Musalman troops,
despatching a large army against the Gingee fortress. His
general, however, sold himself to the enemy and wasted time and
money in a long and unprofitable campaign which was little but
pretence. Chokkanatha was also harassed by a domestic con-
spiracy (in which the same unfaithful general took a prominent
part) and though he detected and quashed this, the general went
over openly to the Muhammadans and induced them to join in an
assault upon Trichinopoly in which they had the countenance (if
not the practical assistance) of the Nayakkan of Tanjore. The
officers whom Chokkanatha entrusted with the duty of repelling
the attack were again disloyal, and it was not until he himself at
length took command of the army that the invaders were driven
back to Tanjore and eventually to Gingee.

So far things had not gone so badly, but in tlie next or the
following year (1663 or 1664) Chokkanatha paid a heavy price for



POLITICAL HISTOBY. 51

his temporary success. The Muliainmadans burst into the CHAP. ll.
Trichinopoly and Madura districts and devastated tlie country NXyakkan
with almost incredible cruelty. They again besieged Tricliino- Dy-^'^sty.
poly, and this time Chokkanatha had to buy them off with a
large sum. He consoled himself by punisliing the Nayakkan of
Tanjore for assisting them, and he attempted similar reprisals on
the Setupati of Eamnad, who had failed to help him in repelling
them. This latter enterprise was unsuccessful, for though
Chokkanatha succeeded in taking several forts in the Marava
country, he was baffled by the guerilla tactics of his adversary,
and had to retire without obtaining that cliief's submission. The
campaign marks a new epoch in the relations of Ramnad and
Madura : from thenceforth the Setupati aspired to an independent
kingdom.

Chokkanatha's next war was with Tanjore, and it resulted in His oonqneat
the capture of that ancient city and the extinction of its Nayakkan xanio^r^e °
dynasty. Unluckily the Jesuit letters of the years 1666 to 1673
have been lost, and the only authority upon these exciting events
is a vernacular manuscript. This has been abstracted at length
by Mr. Nelson, but space forbids more than the merest summary
of its contents.

The casus J>elH, says this authority, was tlie refusal of the
Tanjore Nayakkan to give his beautiful and gifted daughter in
marriage to Chokkanatha. The latter determined to fetch the
maiden by force. His troops invaded the Tanjore country, drove
its forces back into their capital, and successfully stormed tliat
place. But they did not get the p)rincess : her father placed her
and all the other ladies of the palace in one room, blew this up
with gunpowder and then, with his son and his body-guard,
charged furiously into the thickest of the enemy, was captured
after a desperate resistance, and was beheaded.

Chokkanatha placed his foster-brother Alagiri in cliarge of
the government of Tanjore, but within a year the latter threw off
his allegiance, and Chokkanatha was now so given up to self-
indulgence and so ill served by his disloyal officers that, after an
outburst of indignation which ended in notliing, he was forced to
acquiesce in the independence of Tanjore.

Alagiri, however, was not long permitted to enjoy his ill-
gotten kingdom. A sou or grandson of the last Tanjore Nayakkan
had escaped to the Mus.ilman court of Bijapur and had induced
that power to help to place him on the throne of his fathers. In
1674 the Sultan of Bijapur sent a force commanded by the
Mar^tha general Venkaji {alias Ekoji) to turn out the Madura



52



MADURA.



CHAP. II.

NiiYJKKAN

Dynastt.



Attacked by
Mysore and
the Marathas.



usurper and reinstate the scion of the old line. Yenk^ji ventured
little until the occurrence of the rupture between Chokkandtha
and Alagiri; but he then defeated the latter with ease, and
occupied Tanjore. He did not, however, place his protege on
the throne, though he treated him kindly enough, but seized
the kingdom for himself. So the outcome of CJhokkanatha's
feebleness was that a Maratha, instead of a Nayakkan, sat upon
tlie throne of Tanjore.

Vonkaji shortly afterwards became embroiled with his famous
half-brother Sivaji, and Chokkanatha attempted to take advan-
tage of the circumstance to regain his hold on Tanjore. But he
was dilatory in the field and in his negotiations, and Venk^ji
succeeded in buying off the hostility of Santoji (the son of Sivaji,
whom tlie latter had despatched against him) before Chokkanatha
could effect anything. This was in lb'77-78.

Soon afterwards, Chokkanatha was forced to turn from aggres-
sion to the defence of his own kingdom. The famous Chikka
Deva Eaya, king of Mysore from 1672 to 1704, had for some time
been massing troops on his frontier, and now burst upon Coim-
batore and spread havoc far and wide. Chokkanatha did little
to repel him, the country was moreover visited with famine and
pestilence, and in despair the ministers of the state deposed their
incompetent I'uler in favour of his brother.

The change was not for the better, and the parlous state
of Madura and its territories in 1678 may be gathered from
the following passage iu a letter written by one of the Jesuit
missionaries in that year : —

' The capital, formerly bo flonrishing, is no longer recognizable.
Its palaces, onre so gorgeous and majestic, are deserted and falling
to ruin. Madura resembles less a town than a brigand's haunt. The
new Nayakkan is essentially a do-; otliing king. He sleeps- all niglit,
he sleeps all day ; and his neighbours, who do not sleep, snatch from
him each moment some fragment of his territories. Nations who
would profit from a change of rulers do not trouble to repel invaders,
and everything foretells that this kingdom, 60 powerful twenty years
back, will soon be the prey of its enemies, or rather the victim of the
insane policy of its own government.'

Chokkanatha was replaced on his tottering throne about 1678
by a Muhammadan adventurer who during the next two years
usurped the whole of his authority (and even the ladies of his and
his fallen brother's harems) and at last was slain by Chokkanatha
himself and a few of his friends. But the Nayakkan^s position
was still far from enviable. In 1682 his capital was besieged by
MyBore ; was shadowed by forces belonging to the Marathas,



POLITICAL HISTORY. 53

who, while pretending to be on his side, were only waiting for CHAP. IT.
a chance to seize his territory for themselves ; and was threatened N^yakkan
by a body of Maravans who noniin'-iUy had hurried to his ^^nast^.
assistance, but in reality had only come to share in the booty
which the sack of Trichinopoly was expected to yield.

While Chokkanatha thus sat helpless behind his defences, Tho latter
matters were taken out of his hands by the more virile actors upon ^^^^^ ^^"^
this curious scene. The Marathas, who were now established in
Gingee as well as in Tanjure, inflicted a crushing defeat on the
Mysore troops and drove them out of almost every corner of the
Madura and Trichinopoly districts. Madura itself they were
unable to capture, for the Maravans, regarding the men of
Mysore as on the whole more eligible neighbours than the
Marathas, helped the former to hold that fortress. The latter
then turned against Chokkandtha, whose friends they had
pretended to be, and laid siege to Trichinopoly itself. In despair
at their treachery, Chokkandtha died of a broken heart in lb82.

His successor was his son Eanga Krishna Muttu Yirappa, a Raiiga
boy of fifteen, who ruled for seven years. Little enough of his ^r'^'fJ^^*^
territories remained to him to rule. The greater part of them ViVappa
was held by Mysore, some by the Maravans, some by the (l*'^2-89).
Marathas of Gingee and some by the Marathas of ^J'anjore. The
country was a prey to complete anarchy and universal pillage,
foreign enemies occupying all the forts and robber-chiefs being
masters of the rural areas and carrying on their brigandage with
impunity.

Matters, however, slowly improved. Mysore was soon dis- Matters
tracted by a war with the Marathas of Gingee, and both the '™l'*°^'*'-
Setupatis of Eamnad and the Marathas of Tanjore were occupied
by domestic outbreaks in their own countries. A new disturb-
ing factor in south Indian politics had also appeared on the scene
in the person of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who in 1686-87
conquered the kingdoms of Madura's old enemies, Golconda and
Bijdpur, and was for many years engaged in a war with its foes
the Marathas which was most exhausting to both parties. More-
over the young Nayakkan of Madura, though imbued witli a
boyish love of fun and adventure which endeared him to his
courtiers, had also a stock of sound ability and spirit which
moved the admiration of his ministers, and he took advantage
of his improving prospects. He recovered his capital about 1685,
and though he failed in an attempt to reduce the Setupati in
1 686, he gradually reconquered large parts of the uncient kingdom
of his forefatheits and succeeded in restoring the power of the



54



MADURA.



CHAP. ir.

NiYAKKAN

Dtnasty.



Mangrammal
(1689-1704).



Her charities.



Her ware.



N^yakkans of Madura to a position which, though not to be
compared with that held by it at the beginning of his father's
reign, was still far above that which it occupied at the end of that
period. He unfortunately died of small-pox ia 1689 at the early
age of 22. The story goes that his young widow Muttammdl
(the only woman, strange to say, whom he had married) was
inconsolable at his loss and, though she was far advanced in
pregnancy, insisted upon committing sati on his funeral pyre.
Her husband's mother, Mangammdl, with great difficulty per-
suaded her to wait until her child should have been born, solemnly
swearing that she should then have her way. When at length
the cLild (a son) arrived, she was put off day after day with
various excuses until, despairing of being allowed her desire, she
put an end to her life.

Mangammal, the mother of the late Nayakkan, acted
for the next fifteen years as Queen- Regent on behalf of his
posthumous son.

She was a popular administrator and is still widely remembered
by Hindus as a maker of roads and avenues, and a builder of
temples, tanks and choultries. Popular belief unhesitatingly
ascribes to her every fine old avenue in Madura and Tinnevelly.
Native writers assign a curious reason for her passion for
charitable acts. One day, th(^y say, she inadvertently put betel
into her mouth with her left (instead of her right) hand, and
was warned by the Brahmans that this offence against manners
must be expiated by expenditure of this kind. Mr. Taylor has
suggested that this story hides her repentance for some amorous
escapade.

She was an able woman as well as a charitable, and under her
firm guidance Madura apparently all but regained the proud
position it had held in the days of Tirumala Nayakkan.
Unluckily, the Jesuit letters from 1687 to 169M, both inclusive,
have again been lost and the events of her regency cannot be
given with any fullness.

She was less frequently engaged in war than her predecessors,
but she did not escape the usual conflicts with her neighbours.
In her reign the kingdom of Madura first came into direct touch
with the Mughal empire of Delhi, since Zulfikar Khan, the
general who was sent by Auraugzeb to attack the Maratha
stronghold of Gingee, exacted tribute both from Trichinopoly and
Tanjore in 1693, though he did not succeed in taking Gingee till
five years later. Trichinopoly was besieged (according to Wilks)



POLITICAL HISTORY.



55



by Mysore in 1695, but relieved owing to pressure on the CHAP. II.

invader's country from tlie north. NXyakkan

Dynasty.

In 1698 Mangammdl had to subdue a rebellion in Travancore.
The ruler of that country had of recent years been very remiss in
sending his tribute to Madura, and it had been necessary on
several occasions to send an army to collect the arrears. In 1697
a force despatched for this purpose was taken oil' its guard and
almost cut to pieces. A punitive expedition was organized in the
following year, and after hard fighting Travancore was subdued
and an immense booty was brought home. Part uf this consisted
of many cannon, and these were mounted, says one of the ver-
nacular manuscripts, on the ramparts of Trichinopoly and Madura.
Mr. Nelson made many enquiries about these latter, but failed to
unearth any tradition regarding their ultimate fate.

In 1700 a desultory war, the origin and course of whicli are
alike obscure, was carried on between Madura and the Marathas
of Tanjore. In the following year the latter were crushingly
defeated near their capital, and were glad enough to buy oif the
invading army with an enormous bribe.

In 170



Online LibraryMadras (India : State)Madura (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 40)