A Declaration of Independence You Have Probably Not Heard About
Snippets, a new series, will bring you clips and excerpts from rare books, historical records and old documents. Through this new series we hope to throw light on previously unknown facts and facets of history.
We are quite sure that you have never had the chance to learn about the famous Trichy Proclamation.
Issued by the Marudu Pandyan in 1801, the document is a significant historical artefact. It represents one of the earliest organised attempts at evicting the English East India company from India (jamboo dweepa in the proclamation). It was issued by one of the captains of a loosely organised confederacy of Southern poligars who resented the sudden usurpation of power and authority by the English.
Fully developed during the Vijayanagar empire the poligars were a intermediary class of military and administrative heads who managed small districts and collected revenue for the sovereign. The system continued to be in vogue in many parts of South India even after the Vijayanagar empire had collapsed. They were however overthrown or degraded into zamindars by the English who had taken over the southern country after installing a puppet Nawab in Arcot. Marudu Pandyan brothers were among the foremost poligars who came together to resist English ascendancy over the Nawab’s territories.
The poligar confederacy, short-lived, was eventually defeated. The leaders of the conspiracy, and their children as young as 10-12 years old, were mostly hung to death. A small number were also exiled. The Company set on a policy of thorough disarmament after the rebellion. In fact, all manufacture and possession of arms was made illegal. One hundred and thirty years later the famous Purna Swaraj declaration would lament about how “compulsory disarmament has made us unmanly”
We reproduce excerpts from the Trichy Proclamation below. Copies of the Proclamation were found on the walls of Arcot Nawab’s palace, Srirangam temple and the strategically important Trichy fort in central Tamil country.
“Who ever sees this paper, Read it with Attention.”
“To the castes, nations, Brahmins, Kshetriyas, Vysyas. Sudras and Musselmen that are in the Island of Jamboo in the Peninsula of Jamboo Dweepa this notice is given. “
His Highness the Nawab Mohammad Ali having foolishly given the Europeans place amongst you is become like a widow. The Europeans violating their faith have deceitfully made the kingdom their own and considering the inhabitants as dogs, accordingly exercise authority over them. There existing no unity and friendship amongst you the above castes, who, not being aware of the duplicity of these Europeans have not only inconsiderately calumniated each other, but have absolutely surrendered the Kingdom to them. In these countries now governed by these low wretches, the inhabitants have become poor and the rice has become vellum ( water).
And although they manifestly suffer, they are still without understanding to discern it. It is certain that the Man must die although he may live a thousand years! And it is as certain that his fame will survive him as long as the Sun and Moon (Shine).
Therefore it is devised and determined that in future each shall enjoy his hereditary Rights, namely to His Highness the Nawab Arcot Subah, Vijaya Ramanah Tirumala Nayak the Carnatic, Tanjore the first place and to others their respective kingdoms all to be given to their rightful sovereigns without any violation of faith and national customs (The Europeans must) confine themselves to a dependent service on the Nawab from which they may expect to derive a real and uninterrupted happiness.
As the authority of the Europeans will be destroyed, we shall enjoy as in the service of the Nawab, constant happiness without tears. It is therefore recommended that every man in his place and palayam fly to arms and unite together in order to make even the name of the low wretches cease.Then all the poor and the needy will get subsistence.
But should there be any who like dogs desirous of an easy life, obey the commands of these low wretches, such should be Karoo or cut off. As all know with what subtility these low wretches, always in unity with each other have subdued the country!
Therefore you Brahmins, Kshetriyas Vysyas, Sudras and Musselmen, all who wear whiskers, whether civil or military, serving in the field or elsewhere, and you subedars, jamedars, havildars, nayaks and sepoys in the service of the low wretches and all capable of bearing arms, let them in the first place display their bravery as follows – Wherever you find any of the low wretches destroy them and continue to do so until they are extirpated. Whoever serves the low wretches will never enjoy eternal bliss after death, I know this. Consider and deliberate on it.
To all living at Srirangam the priests and great people, MARUDU PANDYAN, prostrates himself at their feet. The Sovereigns made and kept ports, mud bastions, churches and chapels, The above great Rajahs and People by the injustice of the low wretches are now reduced to poverty. So great a people as you are reduced to this State! Grant me your Blessing”
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