During the years 1690 to 1800 , the Nawabs of the Carnatic (also referred to as the Nawabs of Arcot), ruled the Carnatic region of South India. They had their capital at Arcot near Vellore region in Tamil Nadu . The temple town Kanchipuram was ruled by the Arcot Nawabs .
Robert Clive from East India was serving as a clerk could not digest the French expansion taking place at different parts of India .He was too upset with the British response to the French onslaught during the Carnatic wars . He could see the French advancing in the areas around Madras with the Muslem kings . He was moved and hence proposed a plan to the governor at Madras to somehow defend this . He wished he could somehow challenge the strong Franco-Indian forces at Trichinopoly by taking a strike at Arcot, Chanda Sahib’s capital city, with the goal of forcing Chanda Sahib to lift the siege at Trichinopoly.
The plan was brilliant .Though they did not have enough forces , Saunders agreed . He commanded the 200 of the 350 British soldiers to charge under Robert Clives command. Those 200 soldiers and a further 300 sepoys along with artillery marched towards Arcot from Madras . It was a tough terrain . Robert Clive was unwell due to the heat and was severely de hydrated . They somehow reached Kancheepuram which was at a distance 68 km from Madras. Robert Clive was completely dehydrated in the journey .He was seriously ill and the doctors had given up hope.
The entire army was demotivated with his illness . Meanwhile at Kancheepuram ,the temple was busting with festival time .Many pilgrim’s had camped at the outskirts of the temple seeking Lord’s darshan . Robert Clive’s forces were camping near the present day Ekambareshwara temple which was used as military camp.
The Lordships are taken in procession accompanied by huge temple elephants , Nadaswaram ,Kolattam along with other festive customs . The mood was ecstatic as the crowd were eagerly awaiting for the Lord’s shower of mercy on them . The unusual activities that was happening around was very new to Robert Clive .
During festivals Lordships arrive to meet the people . Clive summoned his soldiers to brief him about the unusual music and the crowd . The soldier was overjoyed to praise the Lordships and briefed him about the Emperor of Emperors Lord Vardarajan . Robert Clive was immersed in his description and the divine pastimes . One soldier braved to meet the Procession priests for the holy water and the sataari for Clive to honour them who was unwell . Being too tired and completely de hydrated he decided to submit to the Lord’s lotus feet for him to recover after having the holy water . The prayers were with utmost faith . Oh Lord! I am new to your place . I have come here on a mission .Please help me in succeeding in the mission .To everybody’s surprise Clive had completely recovered by next morning. Thanking the Lord he marched along with his men to Arcot .
Clives’s intelligence informed him that the enemy garrison at Arcot was twice the size of his marching forces. Clive however decided to proceed to Arcot which was 43 km and the troops of Clive, in spite of a delay caused by a tremendous storm of thunder and lighting, reached Arcot . The garrison left by Chanda Sahib to defend Arcot, struck with panic at the sudden arrival of Clives forces . They at once abandoned the fort, despite their larger number of sepoys and rushed to safe pastures . Clive and his forces took over the city and the fort without firing a single shot and went on to capture Arcot . He was amazed with the unusual events .
A blessing from Lord Varadarajar made the task so simple . He was so much impressed with Lord’s mercy that even without harming a single soldier the war was won . Being deeply indebted to Lord’s benevolence and mercy in gratitude, he decided that he would present to Lord Varadaraja the most valuable thing he captured from Arkad’s treasury. Clive while returning went to Lord Vardarajar’s temple and gifted most famous Arcot necklace to Lord and told the priests to offer the same to the Lord . This necklace Clive makarakandi is decorated to the Lord on ceremonial occasions even to this present day . Later once , on the way to Arkad, Clive stopped in Kanchi to have Lord’s darshan He observed the priests were fanning Lord Varadaraja amidst recitation of divine sukthis .
Clive expressed his doubts about the deity feeling hot. Upon hearing this, the priest fanning the Lord wiped the deity’s face with a small towel and gave it to Clive, who was amazed to find the wet cloth with divine fragnance . He had special regard for the Lord and made it a point to have his darshan whenever he visited Arcot .
Robert Clive later became an ardent devotee of the Lord , an Emperor of Emperors
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pictures ; COURTESY Google images