Special Service and Features14-August, 2014 11:00 IST
Velu Nachiyar - India’s Joan of Arc



Velu Nachiyar/

I. Day 2014



                                                                                                                    M. Srividhya*


Independent India was a dream of every Indian who lived under the British Rule. The freedom that we finally won from the shackles of colonial rule was the result of sufferings and sacrifices of great freedom fighters and millions of ordinary Indians. As the nation recounts historic freedom struggle, its chronicle would be incomplete without recalling the contributions of women.

Indian Women freedom fighters took on the British rule with true spirit and undaunted courage.  They too, like their male counterparts, faced tortures, exploitations and humiliations during their pursuit for freedom. When most of the male freedom fighters were in prison there were quite of few valiant women who came forward and took the centre stage of the struggle. The list of these great women who have gone down in history for their dedication and undying devotion to the motherland is a long one.

One bright star among them was Rani Velu Nachiyar, a scion of a Royal family in Tamil Nadu.

Rani Velu Nachiyar was the first ever woman from a royal family to have challenged the mighty British Empire.  According to historian Prof. Sanjeevi, brave heart queen Velu Nachiyar revolted against English empire 85 years before Rani of Jhansi challenged Colonial power.  Another historian Venkatam further stated that Velu Nachiyar was India’s Joan of Arc.

Rani Velu Nachiyar was born in 1730 AD to the King Sellamuthu Sethupathy and to Rani Sakandhimuthal of Ramnad Kingdom.   Since the royal couple had no male heir, she was brought up like a prince, not a princess.  She was trained in weapon skills and in martial arts like kalari, sticks fighting etc. She learnt horse riding and archery. The young Princess was exposed to excellent training in all types of war strategies. She was a scholar in many languages

Velu Nachiyar married Muthuvaduganathaperiya Udaiyathevar of Sivagangai Royal family. The couple had a daughter - Vellachi Nachiyar. Queen Velu Nachiyar took to arms when her husband and his second wife were killed by combined forces of British soldiers and the son of the Nawab of Arcot. Later, she escaped with her daughter, lived under the protection of Hyder Ali at Virupachi near Dindigul for eight years. During this period she formed an army and formed an alliance with Gopala Nayaker and Hyder Ali with the aim of attacking the British. In 1780 Rani Velu Nachiyar fought the British with military assistance of her allies and won the battle. Thus she became the first queen who successfully fought   against British in India.  She ruled her regained kingdom for a decade.

Subsequently, Queen Velu Nachiyar granted powers to Marudu brothers to administer the country in 1780. She died a few years later.

Nation paid tributes to her by issuing a commemorative postage stamp on 31st December, 2008.

One may recall what Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi once wrote on women power in his weekly journal ‘Young India’. “To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man's injustice to women. If by strength is meant moral power then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self sacrificing has her not greater power of endurance, and has she not greater courage? “

Yes, Rani Nachiyar lived a life true to what father of the nation said one and half century later!

*Sh. K. M. Ravindran is the ADG, PIB Chennai and Sh. M. Srividhya, is IA, PIB Chennai.

(PIB Features)

Email: - featuresunit@gmail.com



SS- 214/SF- 214/14.08.2014

YSK/ Uma


(Release ID :108691)