Maruthu Pandyan, ruler of Ramnad before the gallows asked the English company to honor his grants to the local church - 18 th century British India

         Marudhu Pandiyar brothers  www.quazoo.
The Marudhu Pandiyar brothers (Periya Marudhu and Chinna Marudhu)  were the well-known rulers of Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu towards the end of the 18th century. When the atrocities of the British rulers in the southern part of Madras presidency what is now called Tamil Nadu, the Marudhu brothers could not tolerate their injustice done to the gullible natives.  They were the first  to make a  proclamation of independence  from the colonial British rule from the holy premises of  Srirangam Renganathar  Temple, Tamil Nadu on 10 June, 1801. Many people may not be aware that the brothers were the first to have made  ''First War of Indian Independence''  56 years before  the Sepoy Mutiny, considered the first major  rebellion  against the British first started off at Meerut, UP..

Initially the brothers  were in the service of the Raja of Ramnad Muthu Vaduganadha  Thevar. Slowly they grew in stature and power. The British killed some members of the royal family and forced Queen Velu Nachiar to flee the country. When she was in exile in Dindukal, Tamil Nadu, Marudu brothers helped her a lot and saw to to it that she got her kingdom back from the British. Likewise when the Palayakkarars of Thirunelveli led by Kattabomman and others waged a war against the foreigners, the bothers helped them in the wars. Thus the  Marudu brothers earned the ire of the British, who at last  captured  them and many of his family members at a place called Cholapuram. Chinna Marudu was  hanged to death  in the Fort of Tiruppathur (now called Oomayan Kottai), Sivaganga District, Tamil Nadu) on  October 24, 1801.

The Sarugani
The Sacred Hearts Church, Sarugani, a village near Kalayarkoil in Sivaganga district, is a famous church founded by Rev. Fr. Maria Louis Leveil ( born in France in 1884), a Jesuit priest from France, who chose the undivided Ramanathapuram district as his second home. Here he spent the rest of his life as a Jesuit novitiate in 1908 and  was so much revered and respected here, many children were named after him. This historical Church was patronized by Catholic converts from the local dominant community called Marava.

Marudu Brothers, staunch Hindus  were known for their bravery and war skill and also for their deep respect for Christian community living there then. A casual perusal of the history of  Sacred Hearts Church, Sarugani reveled some interesting facts. The church  received funds from Chinna  Marudhu Panidyar, ruler of Sivaganga and   younger of the Marudu Pandiyar brothers.

A rare manuscript records the munificence  of the ruler. Standing before the gallows, in the fort of Thrupattur before execution, without any fear or trepidation, the courageous Chinna Marudu expressed his last wish to  the East India Company officers to honor the ‘grants’ he had bequeathed to the Catholic Church. This incident was mentioned in the book titled '' Marutha Pandiyan'' by  Rev. Baauche, a French Catholic Priest of 18th century who had lived there during that period. Chinna Mardu donated the entire village Maraneri, so that from the income religious services in the Church would continue for good. He also made provision for the conduct of annual car festival of the Serugani church. This was a fine gesture by a ruler as a token of his gratitude to a Christian priest of this Church who once saved him from near death when he was chased  by the British troops led by one Martinz. According to Fr. Baauche Chinna Marudu helped the first group of  community of Catholics from the Tanjore region (Tamil Nadu), the Nattambadiyars or Udaiyars  settle down there upon their arrival here (1781-1783). It is quite amazing that this ruler of a small kingdom was very particular about his grants reaching the Church, unmindful of the fact that he was about to ascend the gallows and, that in a moment or two, the noose would be put around his neck, apparently his death was just minutes away from the scheduled time. Indeed a great, brave and pious soul;  ''A great benefactor of the Church,” Fr. Baauche says.

Like many Hindu rulers, the Mardu Brothers, particularly Chinna Marudu, were as much known for their catholicity and veneration for other faiths as for their guts and valor. Secularism was their guiding principle, thus upholding the virtues religious freedom in their kingdom.