A COURTESAN BECAME THE QUEEN OF MADURAI (Post No.7430)

Compiled  by London Swaminathan

Uploaded in London on  – 7 JANUARY 2020

Post No.7430

contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.

RANI MANGAMMAL RULED MADURAI NAYAK KINGDOM FOR FIFTEEN YEARS FROM 1689 T0 1704. SHE WAS A COURTESAN FROM TIRUVELLORE NEAR CHENNAI. HERE IS HER INTERESTING STORY.

A lampoon by a contemporary writer Chnna Venkanna, throws some light on Mangamma’s life. According to his account, she was the daughter of  Tupaakula Lingama Nayaka of Chandragiri and a courtesan of  Tiruvellore near  Chennai. Her name was Kanakaa. Beautiful and accomplished young Kanaka  migrated probably in search of a career to the court of Vijararaghava of Thanjavur, where talented women had the opportunity of  rising to prominence. Vijayaraghava was said to have intended to take her in to his harem, but she left Thanjavur for some reason or other and married Chokkanatha Nayaka of  Madurai, whose heart she captured by blandishments. The account, perhaps, distorted one, may contain a kernel of truth.

Mangamma alias Kanaka survived her husband and her son Rangakrishna Muthuveerappa Nayaka, and after the demise of the later in 1689 ruled the kingdom till 1707 as the regent during the minority of her grandson Vijayaranga  Chokkanatha  Nayaka.

The regency of Mangamma was a critical period in the history of  the Nayaka Kingdom of Madurai, which was threatened on one side by the Mughal forces of Aurangzeb and on the other side by the rulers of   Mysore, Thanjavur , Ramanathapuram and Travancore. Mangamma shrewdly decided that the only way of survival was to approve the supremacy of Mughal emperor. She agreed to pay him an annual tribute, and secured the goodwill of his officers and generals by suitable presents and bribes.

VEENA PLAYER

Towards her other enemies she adopted a policy of firmness and waged war upon them, on the whole successfully. Occasionally she had to buy off some of them with bribes, but that was only a temporary expedient. Later, when she felt she was strong enough, she overpowered the enemy and exacted compensation.   She had for her counsellor Narasappiah , great in strategy and administration and in private life a skilful player on the Veena (lute).

Mangamma’s name is almost a household name in south Tamil Nadu. There are still in existence numerous avenues  and cholutries, Dharmasalas built by her as well as the lofty piles like those that remain of the Nayaka Palaces within the fort area of Tiruchy.

Mangammal Choultry opposite Madurai railway station served thousands of pilgrims to Madurai and Rameswaram. All these are monuments to the greatness of her rule. Her benefactions to temples and gifts of Agraharams (Brahmin streets) to learned brahmins  were numerous, but she was equally liberal in her endowments to Christian churches and Muslim darghas. The dargah of Baba Nattar Auliya in Thiruchy was specially favoured and received grants of villages.

Manucci has paid a handsome tribute to her benevolence and large hearted tolerance .

Niccalao Manucci (1638- 1717) was an Italian traveller and writer, who spent his life in India during the Mughal period.

SAURASHTRAS BECAME BRAHMINS

There is an interesting account of a social enactment  in her reign. The Saurashtra weavers of Madurai claimed the privilege of observing some ceremonies peculiar to Brahmins (wearing sacred thread etc). Mangamma first opposed the claim, but later sanctioned it.

There are conflicting reports about the end of her reign. According to one account, power was forcibly wrested from her hands and transferred to her grandson, on his coming of age, and the queen perished in prison. Whatever may be the truth Mangamma’s place in history  as a capable, enlightened  and beneficent ruler is unchallengeable

Source – Great Women of India, Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, Almora, Himalayas, year 1953

–SUBHAM-

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