Saturday, 28 October 2017

Anthirei Kethi or Anthirei Kethish ? That was the question

A hero stone to honour the polygar: Photo: Raja Ramasamy

The grave of an Englishman, which was discovered at the village Tali near Udumalpet in Tirupur district a few years ago, has an interesting tale behind it.
The Tamil inscription on the tombstone reads thus:

“Thanjai Nagarathiliruntha
 Anthirei Kethish Paranki
Iirupathezhu vayathil
Dheiveekamaki Adingina Samaathu “

The inscription informs that an Englishman by name Anthirei Kethish , a twenty seven year old Englishman from Tanjore ‘attained divinity’ and buried here)

It reminds a poem by great Tamil poet Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi, in which he calls the English  ‘Paranki’ (white gourd) as ‘ Parankiyai Durai Endra Kalamum Poche’  ( Gone are those days, when we called the ‘white gourd’ as Lord!). Similarly the inscription on the gravestone too addresses the deceased Englishman  as ‘ Paranki’
An oral tradition maintains that Ethalappa Naicker, a Kongu chieftain who ruled a palayapattu with Tali as headquarters, hanged this British messenger to death in retaliation to the killing of Veerapandiya Kattabomman, the polygar of Panchalankurichi. What’s more, Ethalappa Naicker hanged the white man from a tamarind tree in the same way as the British executed Kattabomman.  

“However, there is little historical evidence on this incident. The inscription too informs only the death of an Englishman by name Anthirei Kethish” says Nandakumar, on whose farmland the grave is found. Interestingly, the farmland too came to be   called ‘Thookkumara Thottam’ after the incident.  
Nandakumar adds saying that the palace of Ethalappa Naicker was razed down in a cannon strike during his war against the British government.

Thenkongu Sathasivam, a writer and history enthusiast, informs:

“The book Tali Ethalappan Varalaru, which narrates the history of the Kongu chieftain, informs that he executed the Englishman Anthirei Kethish to avenge the execution of Veerapandiya Kattabomman. The book points out that Anthirei Kethish came to meet Ethalappa Naicker to hold peace talks with him, after the British government sensed it would meet a defeat in the war against him. Ethalappa Naicker, who had integrated all his neighbouring 14 palayapattus ( group of villages)and provided a strong military support to Oomaithurai, the younger brother of Katabomman, was a threat to the British government. Nevertheless, the book hardly says anything about the death of Ethalappa Naicker. It ends in a scene in which he informs his commander that he is moving northward and asking him to follow soon”

But, epigraphist Jegadisan asks:

“Why did Ethalappan have to move northward, as the Gurumalai, where he was said to have gone underground, is on the west side from Tali? His expression ‘northward’ implies his bidding farewell to the world. In ancient Tamil society, it was called ‘Vadakiruththal’ (facing northwards and fasting unto death). In Jainism, the same is called ‘Sallekana’ “ 

Link to the article in The New Indian Express:  

No comments:

Post a Comment