|Puli Thevar was a poligar (or palayakarar)besttoppers.com|
|Sri Krishna thevaraya article.wn.com|
Palaiyakkarar (Tamil) or Palegaadu (Telugu) or Paaleyagaara (Kannada) or Polygar (English), was a special feudal title for a class of rulers, specifically selected and appointed by the Nayak rulers of South India (notably Vijayanagara Empire formed in 1336; Madurai Nayakas and the Kakatiya dynasty) during 16th – 18th centuries. In reality, they were territorial administrative and military governors vested with limited powers over large areas and they owed their allegiance to Madurai Nayak rulers.
Kumara Kampana - 1378 AD of Vijayanagaram first established his rule in Madurai. By the end of the century, the whole of South India, south of the Krishna-Tungabadra rivers including part of Kartataka, Kerala, were under the Vijayanagara rule.
|Veerapandya Kattabomman, early freedom fighter. Chira Chaitanya - blogger|
Vijayanagaram became so a vast a military state, it was too difficult to manage it. At one stage territorial division for effective management became a necessity. The country was divided into small territories and each territory called 'Amara Nayakka Thaanam' is headed by Amara Nayakkars. Subsequently, the divisions were referred to as ''Palayams.''
Palaiyakkarars' civil responsibilities included irrigation projects, maintenance of forts, religious institutions, land revenue collection, giving judgment and imposing punishment, etc.
Many wars, waged by the daring, well motivated and highly patriotic Palayakkarars against the diabolic British East India company officers, after the demise of Madurai Nayaks, are often regarded as the ''earliest Indian Independence struggles.'' Though their relentless rebellions predate the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 in Northern India by many decades, unfortunately, their daring exploits, sacrifices and vast contributions to India's early independence struggle are given either less importance or simply ignored by historians. The central government must take steps to recognize the vital roles played by the Playakkarars of South Tamil Nadu in the early freedom struggle against the unjust East India company. Countless young Palayakkarars came their precious lives for our country.
Even now a vast majority of Indians including native Tamil people have no idea whatsoever about Palayakkarars, who were early freedom fighters of Tamil Nadu. Nor have they read or come across great freedom fighters from Tamil Nadu like Puli Thevar, Veerapandya Kattabomman, Dheeran Chinnamalai, Marudu brothers, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy - the most courageous and well-known Palayakkarar. They revolted against the oppressive British rule in South India, particularly, in the southern part of Tamil Nadu, south of Madurai where the British were land revenue administrators on behalf of the Nawob of Arcot. Just because the feudal rulers protested against their forced land revenue collection from their legitimate land, which they had long been enjoying the rights by way of raising various crops even before the arrival of the British, many Palaiyakkarars were hanged to death under some pretext and some banished forever to Andaman Islands by the British. Over night, the rich feudal heads, their families and their dependents were pushed to mere ''hand to mouth existence.'' One could imagine how cruel the British company officials were against the natives. To strangle the throat of daring Poligars or Palayakkarars, the British followed several ingenuous methods - right choice of whistle blowers, unpatriotic, untrustworthy persons, turn coats, among some local rulers. These traitors served the British well in return for substantial rewards, land, etc.
|A 1700 AD map of India, region ruled by Polygars in the south,en.wikipedia.org.|
The head of Palayam (Tamil) or Paalem (Telugu), a fortified district or military camp was often referred to as Palayakkarar. It is believed, that the famous general Ariyanatha Mudaliar of Visvanatha Nayakkar of Madurai established 72 Paalayams in the Madurai country - system of military - civil administration for better management and better services to the people. Each palayam was taken care of by a chieftain - palyaakkarar. So, there was a perfect harmony between the head of Palayam and his subjects. After the gradual down fall of Madurai Nayak rule, many Palayams became separate small kingdoms on their own and the palayakkarar became a ruler.
There are no specific and acceptable sources of information on the origin of Palaiyakkarar in Tamil country. The general belief has been that this kind of system of civil military administration was based on the Kakatiya dynasty's model by the ruler Prataparudra. There were, it is believed, 77 Padmanayakas in the kingdom; but the records are not clear.
Soon after the Vijayanagara kingdom was formed, it started expanding. The formation was in 1336 AD. By 1378 AD, Kumara Kampana, the prince of Vijayanagaram had conquered the Madurai country, then the whole of Tamil Nadu and later Kerala. By the end of the century, the whole of South India, south of the Krishna - Tungabadra rivers was under rule. Vijayanagaram was a military state. The Viyanagara rulers were staunch Hindus and they, during their reigns in Tamil Nadu, safe guarded the various temples. In addition to it the Nayak rulers, rebuilt or repaired several temples damaged by the Muslim invaders led by Malik Kaufer and Ulagh Khan, Military Commanders of Alauddin Khilji of Delhi in the 13th century.
In the Vijayanagara empire, local chieftains called Polygars were allowed to rule with limited autonomy by their overlords. They had powers to collect revenue, maintain a small army and impose punishments. They numbered up to 200 during this period. However, they are supposed to have refused to come to the rescue of the empire at the Battle of Tallikota in 1565 AD, which marked the downfall of the Vijayanagara empire.
When the Vijayanagara Empire of southern India weakened after the mid-16th century, the Vijayanagara Nayakas, or governors, became the independent rulers of large tracts of southern India. Of the prominent Nayakas were the Nayakas of Madurai (1549–1736), ruling from Madurai and Tiruchirapalli. The Tanjore Nayaks opted for a conventional system of administration, while the other Vijaynagar offshoots, namely the Nayakas of Gingee, and other territories under the Aravidu line of later Vijayanagara Kings based in Chandragiri – Vellore Fort, followed the Palayam or Palegallu system of administration.
The Madurai kingdoms consisted of present day Western Tamil Nadu with Coimbatore, Salem and Kollidam river forming the northern boundary barring Tanjore Kingdom and Western Ghats forming the western border and Kanniyakumari in the South.
Balendu Sekaram, Kandavalli, 1909–. The Nayakas of Madura by Khandavalli Balendusekharam (Hyderabad : Andhra Pradesh Sahithya Akademi, 1975) ; 30 p. ; 22 cm. ; "World Telugu Conference publication." ; History of the Telugu speaking Nayaka kings of Pandyan Kingdom, Madurai, 16th–18th century.
Prof.K.Rajayyan M.A.,M.Litt,A.M. P.hd.,A History of Freedom Struggle in India
M.P.Manivel, 2003 – Viduthalaipporil Virupachi Gopal Naickar (Tamil Language), New Century Book House, Chennai