THONDAI-MANDALA VELLALA MUDALIARS!

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Our Community Tree : “It is indeed a desirable thing to be well-descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors”

A Brief History

Thondaimandala Mudaliars are the natives of Tamilnadu, from time immemorial. This community with rich heritage, traditions and civilization and known for their honesty, intelligence, valour, loyalty and administrative ability were occupying high positions like ministers, army chiefs, regional rulers etc. in various southern kingdoms.

“Thondaimandala mudaliars” are part of “saiva-velalers” community spread over the entire length and breadth of Tamilnadu. “Saiva-velalars”, were called, as such, since they were pure-vegetarians and mostly engaged in farming activities. “Pattinapalai”, one of the oldest Tamil classic sangam literature states that this “saiva-velalar community known for their piousness, honesty and philanthropy excelled in farming and trading”.

Saiva-velalars were called by different names in different places. In Thondaimandalam, they were called “Mudaliars”. In some places they were called “Saiva-Pillaimars” and “Karkarthars”. In some places, they were also called “Chettiars” as they were engaged in business, particularly in jewellery trade. But one common fact is that they are all pure-vegetarians and share common beliefs, customs and traditions. This view is supported by the fact that there are a number of religious mutts in Tamilnadu like “Kanchipuram thondaimandala adhinam” “Dharma-puram adhinam”, “Thiruvaadudurai adhinam”, “Thirugnanasambandar swamigal adhinam” etc. whose “Matathipathis”are drawn from these communities.

It is also a fact that , even to-day, in most places, they have common burial ground exclusively for these saiva-velalars community and owned and managed by respective “Mudaliar-Pillaimar Sangams”. Also for any functions in their families like marriage etc. all members from these communities are invariably invited.

The legendary great king “Karikal-cholan” of “Chola- dynasty” had two sons. He divided his kingdom into two and gave the northern part including “Kanchipuram”region to second son named “Aathondai Chakravarthi”. This region has come to be called as “Thondai-mandalam”, named after the founder-emperor. Aathondai chakravarthy has divided his kingdom into 24 divisions (kottams) and appointed members from ‘Saiva-velalars” community as “rulers” of these regions or “kottams”, under his empire.

Chola king Karikal Cholan has awarded the title of “Mudaliars” (meaning muthanmai (first) citizens) to these community members. Since then we are called as “Thondaimandala Mudaliars”.

These community members had the privilege of handing over the crown at the time of coronation ceremony (mudi-sootu vizha) of the kings, religious heads etc. This fact can be seen from old tamil classical literature “Thirukkaivazhakkam” which states “mangaiyoru bhagarkum, madhavarkum, mannavarkum thunga mudiyai sootumkai (the hands that handover the crown to kings/religious heads at the time of coronation ceremony)”.

In the great tamil classical literature “Kamba-ramayana”, Kavi-chakravarthy Kambar has stated that “the great sage Vashista took the crown from ancestors of Vallal Sadaiappa Mudaliar and crowned the king Rama” (“Vennaiyur Sadayan thangal marabulore kodukka-vangi Vasittaney punainthan mauli”).

Our community had very unique names of addressing their relations. Lady members were respectfully addressed as “anni” by all other community members. Sisters-in-law (elder brother’s wife) were addressed as “anniyar” and sisters-in-law (one’s husband’s sisters) were addressed as “aththathai or aththachi”. Brother-in-law (sister’s husband) is addressed as “aththan”. It is of interest to note that lady members of Mysore royal family are addressed as “anni”.

It is believed that one “Ekambavanan” of our community from “Aamoor” once ruled great “Magatha empire”. From “Kanchipuranam”, it is learnt that once a member of “velalar” community was elected to be the king in “Thirukanchinadu”. It will be of interest to note that even to-day, in our marriage ceremony, father-in-law ties “pattam” (meaning crown) on the fore-head of the bride.

“Sekkizhar” the legendary author of yet another great classic Tamil literature “Peria-puranam” who was also a reputed prime-minister of chola kingdom hailed from our community from Kuntrathur.

In 15th century “Ariyanatha Mudaliar” from our community from a tiny village named “Maipaedu” near Kanchipuram was a minister in the great Vijayanagar empire. In the year 1564 AD, after the “Thalikottai war”, Dalawai Ariyanatha mudaliar was deputed to “Pandiya-nadu” to assist “King Viswanatha Nayakkar”. Dalawai Ariyanatha Mudaliar ably assisted the king from 1559 to 1600 AD. It was he who divided the kingdom into 72 subdivisions called “ Palaiyams” and evolved a stable and good administration. He has appointed few of our community members to rule these palayams. “Aayiramkal (thousand pillared) Mantapam” in the famous “Meenakshi Temple” was constructed by him in 1569. At the entrance of the Mandapam , the statue of Dalawai Ariyanatha Mudaliar on horse-back can be seen.

Maavai kumaraswamy Mudaliar administered the 3 districts of Madurai, Tirunelveli, and Trichy from 1688 (kollam calendar(kc) 863) to 1700 (kc875), as “Dalawai” during Rani Mangammal’s rule . His son-in-law “Aarai Aagappa mudaliar” administered these areas from 1701 (kc876) to 1726 (kc 911). Since Aarai Alagappa Mudaliar had no children, he handed over the authority to his sister’s son-in-law “Dalawai Kumaraswamy Mudaliar” who hailed from Kunnur (Near Srivilliputtur), whose direct descendants are even to day enjoy the title of “Dalawai”.

British govt. in appreciation of “Dalawai Kumaraswamy Mudaliar” (son of Dalawai Thirumaliappan Mudaliar and granson of above Dalawai Kumaraswamy Mudaliar) able Administrative skill, awarded him “Medai-Dalawai”title whose descendants also enjoy this “Medai-Dalawai” title even to-day.

We, as a member of Thondai-mandala Mudaliars community can rightfully feel proud that the following great personalities were from our own community and they should be taken as role-models by the present and future generation members to achieve greatness in whatever they do and bring honours to our community :-

It is proud to note that 13 out of 63 great saiva saints Naaiyanars from Vellalar Community.

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