Tipu Sultan: Noble or Savage?

rockey 71

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http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/voices/tipu-sultan-noble-or-savage#all

Tipu Sultan: Noble or Savage?
by
William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple’ s new book, The Anarchy: How a Corporation Replaced the Mughal Empire, 1756-1803, will be published next year by Bloomsbury
In 1791, the Swami of Sringeri Math wrote to his ruler, and most generous patron, to relate a tragic tale of murder, temple destruction and violent iconoclasm.
The great temple, he related, had been attacked by a large armed party of cavalry. The invaders had mercilessly sacked the complex, stealing over Rs 60 lakh of offerings, including the temple vessels and other valuables. But it was not just a matter of looting and plunder— the raiders had deliberately violated the sanctum sanctorum. The idol of the presiding deity, Sarada, had been desecrated and pulled out of its socket.
The Swami knew that his patron was likely to be sympathetic. He was, after all, locally well-known for taking most seriously his role as protector of his Hindu subjects and their places of worship—as had been his father before him. It was the father who had begun the special relationship between the family and Sringeri, writing earlier to the Swami that ‘you are a great and holy personage. It is nothing but natural for everyone to cherish a desire to pay respects to you.’
The son had continued where his father had left off. From the beginning of his reign, he had loaded the temples of his realm with presents, honours and land. Few of his chancery records survive, but from the temple archives of the region we know, for example, that in 1784 he gave a land grant to one Venkatachala Sastri and a group of Brahmins, begging them ‘to pray for the length of his life and prosperity.’ A year later, he sent the temple complex of Melkote 12 elephants and a kettledrum, while also sending a Sanskrit verse recording his grant of lands ‘to the temples and Brahmins on the banks of the Tungabhadra.’ So it continued at the rate of at least three or four major endowments or gifts of money, bells, pensions, villages, jewels or ‘padshahlingams’ per year, for the rest of his reign, mostly in return for requests for prayers, pujas ‘for the success of the King’s armies’ or temple processions.
But it was Sringeri that had always received both the most generous presents, and as a stash of correspondence discovered within the temple in the 1950s bears witness, Tipu Sultan rose to the occasion and wrote a most heartfelt letter in response to the Swami. He put on record his horror at what the Maratha raiding party, led by their general Parasurambhau, had done to his favourite temple during their 1791 invasion of Mysore: ‘People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds,’ wrote Tipu, ‘In accordance with the verse, Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudabhih anubhuyate, those who commit evil deeds smiling, will reap the consequences weeping. Treachery to gurus will undoubtedly result in the destruction of the line of descent.’
Sending a large sum of cash and a consignment of grain ‘for the consecration of Goddess Sarada’ and to ‘feed one thousand Brahmins’, Tipu asked the Swami ‘to pray for the increase of our prosperity and the destruction of our enemies.’ Shortly after this, he sent another note, along with a present of an elephant, writing that ‘wrongdoers to gurus and our country will soon perish by the grace of God! Those who took away elephants, horses, palanquins and other things from your Matha will surely be punished by God. Cloth for the Goddess has been sent through Narasimha Sastri. Please consecrate the Goddess, and pray for our welfare and the destruction of our foes.’
That the Marathas could desecrate a Hindu temple, and that Tipu Sultan could restore it, goes so firmly against all our modern expectations that it is worth examining what was going on here. How exactly could this happen?
The reality is that the pre-modern rulers of India tend to be more layered and complex figures than the one dimensional gallery of angels or devils we sometimes reduce them to. Moreover, they usually tend to behave in a far less straightforwardly sectarian manner than we might imagine. It was quite normal, for example, for Hindu rulers to endow mosques and Sufi shrines within their Kingdoms—as for example the Marathas did in the 1760s when they took over Burhanpur and Khandesh— just as it was not unknown for them to destroy the temples and state deities of their enemies when they invaded neighbouring lands. This was an old tradition, a normal way to humble an enemy and remove the sources of his power.
The Cholas, for example, were especially ruthless in this respect: when they invaded Sri Lanka and attacked Anaradhapura in 993, they sacked the town, plundered the stupas and destroyed all the temples. According the Culavamsa, the Anuradhapura chronicle:
They violently destroyed here and there all the
monasteries,
Like blood-sucking yakkhas, they took all the
treasures of Lanka.
They took away all valuables in the treasure house
of the King,
They plundered what there was to plunder in
vihara and the town.
The golden image of the Master [Buddha],
The two jewels which had been set as eyes in the
Prince of Sages,
All these they took.
They deprived the Island of Lanka of her valuables,
Leaving the splendid town in a state as if it had been
plundered by yakkhas.

They also laid waste the temples of Manyakheta, the Rashtrakutan capital, and according to western Chalukyan inscriptions, did the same in Kalyana, ‘slaughtering women, children and Brahmins’, even raping Brahmin girls, and taking a large black stone guardian image back to Thanjavur, where it was displayed to Rajaraja Chola’s subjects as a trophy of war. Captured Chalukyan women were enslaved and also taken back to Thanjavur where they formed what one scholar has described as ‘reproductive pools’ for breeding a cadre of military men, the kaikkolas, loyal only to the Chola king.
Indeed, places of worship in state capitals often bore the brunt of successive conquests and reconquests: when Warangal fell to the Delhi Sultanate in 1323, the Tughlaqs destroyed the state temple of Svayabhu Shiva and built a congregational mosque in its place as the centre piece of the city they renamed Sultanpur. But then, at the breakup of the Sultanate, at the Hindu reconquest of the city by Kapaya Nayaka in the 1330s, the mosque seems to have been demolished and the temple restored and rebuilt over its ruins.
This was the world—often surprising to our eyes—that Tipu Sultan inhabited, and we have to make an effort to try and understand the mores of the times if we are to make sense of all this.
There is no question that Tipu was ruthless in war. He routinely and brutally converted to Islam captive enemy combatants and internal rebels, both Hindu and Christian, Indian and British, frequently destroying the temples and churches of those he conquered. He did this on a particularly horrific scale in Malabar, Mangalore and Coorg. Portuguese missionaries wrote that ‘he tied naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces.’
When he defeated the British in 1780, of the 7,000 prisoners he captured—one of whom was my ancestor James Dalrymple—around 300 were forcibly circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes. It is also true that he liked, especially towards the end of his reign, to describe himself as a ghazi, a Muslim Holy Warrior. Yet he clearly did not see this as being in contradiction with his duty to protect the lands and temples of his own Hindu subjects. We may see this as a massive paradox. He and his contemporaries did not.
Tipu’s patronage of the Hindu institutions of Mysore was no doubt as much a recognition of political realities, as any inherent liberalism or ‘secularism’. Tipu recruited a large number of Hindu warriors into his army—especially from the Telugu huntsman caste of Bedas or Beydaru—and he employed Brahmins to run much of his administration, particularly the revenue department, under a Hindu prime minister, Purnaiya. The palace coup which brought his father to power had been financed by Hindu bankers.
The Ranganatha Temple in his capital was not just protected but loaded with gifts which are still on display today, as are all the beautiful Vijayanagara-era images, not one of which has suffered from iconoclasm, despite standing in the middle of the capital of a ruler denounced by his British enemies as an ‘intolerant bigot’, a ‘furious fanatic’ who had ‘perpetually on his tongue the projects of Jihad’. In return for this royal patronage and protection, the Brahmin priests of his capital were expected to pray for Tipu’s success, and by studying his horoscope and the stars, to help augur his fortunes. On one occasion after a group of Malabar Christians had sided with the British, he destroyed churches in Mangalore and northern Malabar and gave the magnificent Dutch-cast bells to one of his state temples, the Venkaramana Temple in Nagar.
Yet it was not all realpolitik. Tipu, despite being a devout Muslim, believed strongly in the power of Hindu deities: in his dreams, which he diligently recorded every morning in a dream book which survived the British sack of Srirangapatna, Tipu encounters not only long-dead Sufi saints, but also Hindu gods and goddesses; in one dream sequence, which he saw on 16 November 1798, there are references to him encountering in a ruined temple idols whose eyes moved: one talked to him, and as a result, Tipu ordered the temple rebuilt. Tipu also strongly believed in the supernatural powers of holy men, both Hindu and Muslim. As he wrote in 1793 to the Swami of Sringeri: ‘You are the Jagatguru,the preceptor of the world… in whatever country holy personages like you may reside, that country will prosper with good showers and crops.’
Moreover, it is clear that for all his self-portrayal in his letters to other Muslim rulers such as Zaman Shah of Kabul, or the Ottoman Sultan in Constantinople, as a Muslim ghazi, intent on kafir conversion, his personal beliefs and cosmologies were imbricated with Hindu ideas of holiness and the supernatural: it is recorded , for example, that he made all his troops, Hindu and Muslim, take ritual baths in holy rivers ‘by the advice of his augers’ in order to wash away cowardice and make them superior in battle to the Marathas.
In this deeply syncretic world view, Tipu was a man of his time, and this vision which saw two cosmologies, Hindu and Islamic, profoundly intertwined, was one that he shared with many of his contemporaries: the Maratha leader Mahadji Scindia, for example, was well known at the time for his deep devotion to various Sufi saints.
Where Tipu does stand apart from almost all his contemporaries, however, was in his prescience about the intentions of the British, his profound alarm at the power of their East India Company, and his determination to attempt to root it out of India. He tried to warn other Indian rulers of the dangers of the increasingly arrogant and aggressive Company: ‘Know you not the custom of the English?’ he wrote in vain to the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1796. ‘Wherever they fix their talons they contrive little by little to work themselves into the whole management of affairs.’
It was these British enemies of Tipu who did most to create the image of Tipu so widely held today. In 1799, before sending into the field the largest army the East India Company ever gathered together, the Governor General, Lord Wellesley, began a campaign of vilification against Tipu, portraying him as an aggressive Muslim Monster who divided his time between oppressing his subjects and planning to drive the British into the sea. This essay in imperial villain-making opened the way for a lucrative conquest and the installation of a more pliable regime which would, in the words of Wellesley, allow the British to give the impression they were handing the country back to its rightful owners while in reality maintaining firm control.
It is, however, a truth universally acknowledged that a politician in search of a war is not necessarily over-scrupulous with matters of fact. Until recently, the British propaganda offensive against Tipu has determined the way that most people in India remember him. But as with more recent dossiers produced to justify pre-emptive military action against mineral-rich Muslim states, the evidence presented reveals far more about the desires of the attacker than it does about the reality of the attacked. For recent work by a succession of modern scholars has succeeded in reconstructing a very different Tipu to the one-dimensional fanatic invented by Wellesley. Tipu, it is now clear, was in fact one of the most innovative and far-sighted rulers of the pre-Colonial period.
What really worried the British was less that Tipu was a Muslim fanatic, something strange and alien, but that he was in fact frighteningly familiar: a modernising technocrat who used the weapons of the West against their own inventors. Indeed in many ways he beat them at their own game.
Tactically the Mysore forces were fully the match of those of the East India Company, and Tipu’s sepoys were every bit as well trained by their French mercenary officers as those of the Company were by theirs; indeed the steely discipline of the Mysore infantry amazed and worried many British observers. The Mysore army was strong in those areas where the Company was weakest and the Mysore light cavalry was ‘the best in the world’, according to Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.
Moreover the sepoy’s rifles and canon were based on the latest French designs, and their artillery had a heavier bore and longer range than anything possessed by the Company’s armies. Indeed, in many respects the Mysore troops were more innovative and tactically well ahead of the Company armies: firing rockets from their camel cavalry to disperse hostile cavalry, for example, long before William Congreve’s rocket system was adopted by the British army. Tipu also developed a large bullock ‘park’ of white Deccani cattle to allow him rapidly to deploy infantry and their supplies through his kingdom, a logistical innovation later borrowed by the British for their wars against the Marathas.
More worrying still for Wellesley, the defences of the island fortress of Srirangapatna were state-of-the-art and designed by French engineers on the latest scientific principles, following Sébastian de Vauban’s research into artillery-resistant fortification designs, as adapted by the Marquis de Montalembert in his book, La Fortification Perpendiculaire. These provided the most up to date defences that the 18th century could offer and also took into account the newly increased fire-power of cannon, bombs and mines, as well as the latest developments in tactics for storming and laying siege to forts. Haider and Tipu even tried to create a navy which by 1766 comprised two ships, seven smaller vessels and 40 gallivats, all commanded by a European sailor named Stannett.
All this made Tipu by far the Company’s most formidable enemy. He was responsible for a unique and catastrophic defeat of the armies of the East India Company at Pollilur in 1780 which led to the slaughter of an entire army and the capture of one in five of all the British soldiers in India: no less than 7,000 British men, along with an unknown number of women, were held captive by Tipu in his sophisticated fortress of Srirangapatna. Many were circumcised and forcibly converted to Islam. Even more humiliatingly, several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls.
At the end of ten years’ captivity, one of these prisoners, James Scurry, found that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair or use a knife and fork; his English was ‘broken and confused, having lost all its vernacular idiom’, his skin had darkened to the ‘swarthy complexion of Negroes’ and he found he actively disliked wearing European clothes. This was the ultimate colonial nightmare, and in its most unpalatable form: the captive preferring the ways of his captors, the coloniser colonised.
Tipu was just as innovative in peace as he was in war. He tried to import industrial technology through French engineers and experimented with harnessing water-power to drive his machinery. He sent envoys to southern China to bring back silkworm eggs and established serriculture in Mysore—something that still enriches the region today. He introduced irrigation and built dams so that even his British enemies had to admit that his kingdom was ‘well cultivated, populous with industrious inhabitants, cities [including Bangalore] newly founded and commerce extended.’ More remarkably still, he created what amounted to a state trading company with its own ships and factories dotted across the Persian Gulf. He even asked his ambassadors to Istanbul to secure for him the ijara—farm— of Basra so that, like Europeans, he could establish an overseas settlement which would be both a base and a safe haven for his vessels. No wonder the British were terrified when they discovered that ‘Citizen Tippoo’ was in communication with Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he formally invited to visit India to liberate the country and expel the British. He had even sent Ambassadors to Paris along with a draft treaty in which he proposed an alliance to drive the British out of India.
As Christopher Bayly nicely put it, Tipu attempted to fight ‘European mercantilist power with its own weapons: state monopoly and an aggressive ideology of expansion.’ He failed only because the resources of the Company were expanding faster than those of Mysore. British propaganda might like to portray Tipu as a savage barbarian, but he was in fact something of a connoisseur and an intellectual, with a library containing some 2,000 volumes in several languages, and a large collection of modern scientific instruments including thermometers and barometers. The culture of innovation Tipu fostered in Mysore stands record to a man very different from that imagined by the Islamophobic propaganda of the British and the startling inaccuracy of Lord Wellesley’s ‘dodgy dossier’ of 1799. The fanatical bigot and savage was also something of an economic and political visionary.
Tipu knew what he was risking when he took on the British, but as he said himself, “I would rather live a day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep.” He duly went down fighting: when Wellesley’s army finally closed in for the kill and surrounded Srirangapatna in mid-April 1799, Tipu resisted with characteristic ingenuity and tenacity. As one British observer wrote, he ‘gave us gun for gun… night time skirmishes were made with desperate exertion… Soon the scenes became tremendously grand; shells and rockets of uncommon weight were incessantly poured upon us from the SW side, and fourteen pounders and grape from the North face of the Fort continued their havoc in the trenches; while the blaze of our batteries which frequently caught fire… was the signal for the Tiger sepoys [Tipu’s élite forces dressed in tiger-striped uniforms] to advance, and pour in galling vollies of musketry.’ It was a brave and skilful defence that ended with Tipu falling, sword in hand, at the breach in his defences near the water gate.
How should we remember Tipu today? He is certainly a complex figure, and it is anachronistic to call him ‘secular’: his was an Islamic state, albeit one run with a Hindu administration and a partially Hindu army, and led by a man who firmly believed in the power of Hindu deities. It is perfectly reasonable for the descendants of his victims—and I can count myself among them—to remember his horrible savagery in victory: in Coorg, Malabar and Mangalore he was responsible for what we today would call war crimes.
But he was beloved by his own people, as the British discovered to their surprise when they seized his state: ‘numbers of his confidential Hindoo servants who during the war fell into our hands, acknowledged him to be a lenient and indulgent master.’ At his funeral, people lined the streets ‘many of whom prostrated themselves before the body, and expressed their grief by loud lamentations.’ So it is not far-fetched to see him as a brave proto-nationalist. For while it is true that modern ideas of nationalism and patriotism were only in their infancy, he nonetheless firmly identified the British as dangerous outsiders and there is no question he did more than any other ruler of the time to stop them taking over the country.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/voices/tipu-sultan-noble-or-savage#all

Tipu Sultan: Noble or Savage?
by
William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple’ s new book, The Anarchy: How a Corporation Replaced the Mughal Empire, 1756-1803, will be published next year by Bloomsbury
In 1791, the Swami of Sringeri Math wrote to his ruler, and most generous patron, to relate a tragic tale of murder, temple destruction and violent iconoclasm.
The great temple, he related, had been attacked by a large armed party of cavalry. The invaders had mercilessly sacked the complex, stealing over Rs 60 lakh of offerings, including the temple vessels and other valuables. But it was not just a matter of looting and plunder— the raiders had deliberately violated the sanctum sanctorum. The idol of the presiding deity, Sarada, had been desecrated and pulled out of its socket.
The Swami knew that his patron was likely to be sympathetic. He was, after all, locally well-known for taking most seriously his role as protector of his Hindu subjects and their places of worship—as had been his father before him. It was the father who had begun the special relationship between the family and Sringeri, writing earlier to the Swami that ‘you are a great and holy personage. It is nothing but natural for everyone to cherish a desire to pay respects to you.’
The son had continued where his father had left off. From the beginning of his reign, he had loaded the temples of his realm with presents, honours and land. Few of his chancery records survive, but from the temple archives of the region we know, for example, that in 1784 he gave a land grant to one Venkatachala Sastri and a group of Brahmins, begging them ‘to pray for the length of his life and prosperity.’ A year later, he sent the temple complex of Melkote 12 elephants and a kettledrum, while also sending a Sanskrit verse recording his grant of lands ‘to the temples and Brahmins on the banks of the Tungabhadra.’ So it continued at the rate of at least three or four major endowments or gifts of money, bells, pensions, villages, jewels or ‘padshahlingams’ per year, for the rest of his reign, mostly in return for requests for prayers, pujas ‘for the success of the King’s armies’ or temple processions.
But it was Sringeri that had always received both the most generous presents, and as a stash of correspondence discovered within the temple in the 1950s bears witness, Tipu Sultan rose to the occasion and wrote a most heartfelt letter in response to the Swami. He put on record his horror at what the Maratha raiding party, led by their general Parasurambhau, had done to his favourite temple during their 1791 invasion of Mysore: ‘People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds,’ wrote Tipu, ‘In accordance with the verse, Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudabhih anubhuyate, those who commit evil deeds smiling, will reap the consequences weeping. Treachery to gurus will undoubtedly result in the destruction of the line of descent.’
Sending a large sum of cash and a consignment of grain ‘for the consecration of Goddess Sarada’ and to ‘feed one thousand Brahmins’, Tipu asked the Swami ‘to pray for the increase of our prosperity and the destruction of our enemies.’ Shortly after this, he sent another note, along with a present of an elephant, writing that ‘wrongdoers to gurus and our country will soon perish by the grace of God! Those who took away elephants, horses, palanquins and other things from your Matha will surely be punished by God. Cloth for the Goddess has been sent through Narasimha Sastri. Please consecrate the Goddess, and pray for our welfare and the destruction of our foes.’
That the Marathas could desecrate a Hindu temple, and that Tipu Sultan could restore it, goes so firmly against all our modern expectations that it is worth examining what was going on here. How exactly could this happen?
The reality is that the pre-modern rulers of India tend to be more layered and complex figures than the one dimensional gallery of angels or devils we sometimes reduce them to. Moreover, they usually tend to behave in a far less straightforwardly sectarian manner than we might imagine. It was quite normal, for example, for Hindu rulers to endow mosques and Sufi shrines within their Kingdoms—as for example the Marathas did in the 1760s when they took over Burhanpur and Khandesh— just as it was not unknown for them to destroy the temples and state deities of their enemies when they invaded neighbouring lands. This was an old tradition, a normal way to humble an enemy and remove the sources of his power.
The Cholas, for example, were especially ruthless in this respect: when they invaded Sri Lanka and attacked Anaradhapura in 993, they sacked the town, plundered the stupas and destroyed all the temples. According the Culavamsa, the Anuradhapura chronicle:
They violently destroyed here and there all the
monasteries,
Like blood-sucking yakkhas, they took all the
treasures of Lanka.
They took away all valuables in the treasure house
of the King,
They plundered what there was to plunder in
vihara and the town.
The golden image of the Master [Buddha],
The two jewels which had been set as eyes in the
Prince of Sages,
All these they took.
They deprived the Island of Lanka of her valuables,
Leaving the splendid town in a state as if it had been
plundered by yakkhas.

They also laid waste the temples of Manyakheta, the Rashtrakutan capital, and according to western Chalukyan inscriptions, did the same in Kalyana, ‘slaughtering women, children and Brahmins’, even raping Brahmin girls, and taking a large black stone guardian image back to Thanjavur, where it was displayed to Rajaraja Chola’s subjects as a trophy of war. Captured Chalukyan women were enslaved and also taken back to Thanjavur where they formed what one scholar has described as ‘reproductive pools’ for breeding a cadre of military men, the kaikkolas, loyal only to the Chola king.
Indeed, places of worship in state capitals often bore the brunt of successive conquests and reconquests: when Warangal fell to the Delhi Sultanate in 1323, the Tughlaqs destroyed the state temple of Svayabhu Shiva and built a congregational mosque in its place as the centre piece of the city they renamed Sultanpur. But then, at the breakup of the Sultanate, at the Hindu reconquest of the city by Kapaya Nayaka in the 1330s, the mosque seems to have been demolished and the temple restored and rebuilt over its ruins.
This was the world—often surprising to our eyes—that Tipu Sultan inhabited, and we have to make an effort to try and understand the mores of the times if we are to make sense of all this.
There is no question that Tipu was ruthless in war. He routinely and brutally converted to Islam captive enemy combatants and internal rebels, both Hindu and Christian, Indian and British, frequently destroying the temples and churches of those he conquered. He did this on a particularly horrific scale in Malabar, Mangalore and Coorg. Portuguese missionaries wrote that ‘he tied naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces.’
When he defeated the British in 1780, of the 7,000 prisoners he captured—one of whom was my ancestor James Dalrymple—around 300 were forcibly circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes. It is also true that he liked, especially towards the end of his reign, to describe himself as a ghazi, a Muslim Holy Warrior. Yet he clearly did not see this as being in contradiction with his duty to protect the lands and temples of his own Hindu subjects. We may see this as a massive paradox. He and his contemporaries did not.
Tipu’s patronage of the Hindu institutions of Mysore was no doubt as much a recognition of political realities, as any inherent liberalism or ‘secularism’. Tipu recruited a large number of Hindu warriors into his army—especially from the Telugu huntsman caste of Bedas or Beydaru—and he employed Brahmins to run much of his administration, particularly the revenue department, under a Hindu prime minister, Purnaiya. The palace coup which brought his father to power had been financed by Hindu bankers.
The Ranganatha Temple in his capital was not just protected but loaded with gifts which are still on display today, as are all the beautiful Vijayanagara-era images, not one of which has suffered from iconoclasm, despite standing in the middle of the capital of a ruler denounced by his British enemies as an ‘intolerant bigot’, a ‘furious fanatic’ who had ‘perpetually on his tongue the projects of Jihad’. In return for this royal patronage and protection, the Brahmin priests of his capital were expected to pray for Tipu’s success, and by studying his horoscope and the stars, to help augur his fortunes. On one occasion after a group of Malabar Christians had sided with the British, he destroyed churches in Mangalore and northern Malabar and gave the magnificent Dutch-cast bells to one of his state temples, the Venkaramana Temple in Nagar.
Yet it was not all realpolitik. Tipu, despite being a devout Muslim, believed strongly in the power of Hindu deities: in his dreams, which he diligently recorded every morning in a dream book which survived the British sack of Srirangapatna, Tipu encounters not only long-dead Sufi saints, but also Hindu gods and goddesses; in one dream sequence, which he saw on 16 November 1798, there are references to him encountering in a ruined temple idols whose eyes moved: one talked to him, and as a result, Tipu ordered the temple rebuilt. Tipu also strongly believed in the supernatural powers of holy men, both Hindu and Muslim. As he wrote in 1793 to the Swami of Sringeri: ‘You are the Jagatguru,the preceptor of the world… in whatever country holy personages like you may reside, that country will prosper with good showers and crops.’
Moreover, it is clear that for all his self-portrayal in his letters to other Muslim rulers such as Zaman Shah of Kabul, or the Ottoman Sultan in Constantinople, as a Muslim ghazi, intent on kafir conversion, his personal beliefs and cosmologies were imbricated with Hindu ideas of holiness and the supernatural: it is recorded , for example, that he made all his troops, Hindu and Muslim, take ritual baths in holy rivers ‘by the advice of his augers’ in order to wash away cowardice and make them superior in battle to the Marathas.
In this deeply syncretic world view, Tipu was a man of his time, and this vision which saw two cosmologies, Hindu and Islamic, profoundly intertwined, was one that he shared with many of his contemporaries: the Maratha leader Mahadji Scindia, for example, was well known at the time for his deep devotion to various Sufi saints.
Where Tipu does stand apart from almost all his contemporaries, however, was in his prescience about the intentions of the British, his profound alarm at the power of their East India Company, and his determination to attempt to root it out of India. He tried to warn other Indian rulers of the dangers of the increasingly arrogant and aggressive Company: ‘Know you not the custom of the English?’ he wrote in vain to the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1796. ‘Wherever they fix their talons they contrive little by little to work themselves into the whole management of affairs.’
It was these British enemies of Tipu who did most to create the image of Tipu so widely held today. In 1799, before sending into the field the largest army the East India Company ever gathered together, the Governor General, Lord Wellesley, began a campaign of vilification against Tipu, portraying him as an aggressive Muslim Monster who divided his time between oppressing his subjects and planning to drive the British into the sea. This essay in imperial villain-making opened the way for a lucrative conquest and the installation of a more pliable regime which would, in the words of Wellesley, allow the British to give the impression they were handing the country back to its rightful owners while in reality maintaining firm control.
It is, however, a truth universally acknowledged that a politician in search of a war is not necessarily over-scrupulous with matters of fact. Until recently, the British propaganda offensive against Tipu has determined the way that most people in India remember him. But as with more recent dossiers produced to justify pre-emptive military action against mineral-rich Muslim states, the evidence presented reveals far more about the desires of the attacker than it does about the reality of the attacked. For recent work by a succession of modern scholars has succeeded in reconstructing a very different Tipu to the one-dimensional fanatic invented by Wellesley. Tipu, it is now clear, was in fact one of the most innovative and far-sighted rulers of the pre-Colonial period.
What really worried the British was less that Tipu was a Muslim fanatic, something strange and alien, but that he was in fact frighteningly familiar: a modernising technocrat who used the weapons of the West against their own inventors. Indeed in many ways he beat them at their own game.
Tactically the Mysore forces were fully the match of those of the East India Company, and Tipu’s sepoys were every bit as well trained by their French mercenary officers as those of the Company were by theirs; indeed the steely discipline of the Mysore infantry amazed and worried many British observers. The Mysore army was strong in those areas where the Company was weakest and the Mysore light cavalry was ‘the best in the world’, according to Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.
Moreover the sepoy’s rifles and canon were based on the latest French designs, and their artillery had a heavier bore and longer range than anything possessed by the Company’s armies. Indeed, in many respects the Mysore troops were more innovative and tactically well ahead of the Company armies: firing rockets from their camel cavalry to disperse hostile cavalry, for example, long before William Congreve’s rocket system was adopted by the British army. Tipu also developed a large bullock ‘park’ of white Deccani cattle to allow him rapidly to deploy infantry and their supplies through his kingdom, a logistical innovation later borrowed by the British for their wars against the Marathas.
More worrying still for Wellesley, the defences of the island fortress of Srirangapatna were state-of-the-art and designed by French engineers on the latest scientific principles, following Sébastian de Vauban’s research into artillery-resistant fortification designs, as adapted by the Marquis de Montalembert in his book, La Fortification Perpendiculaire. These provided the most up to date defences that the 18th century could offer and also took into account the newly increased fire-power of cannon, bombs and mines, as well as the latest developments in tactics for storming and laying siege to forts. Haider and Tipu even tried to create a navy which by 1766 comprised two ships, seven smaller vessels and 40 gallivats, all commanded by a European sailor named Stannett.
All this made Tipu by far the Company’s most formidable enemy. He was responsible for a unique and catastrophic defeat of the armies of the East India Company at Pollilur in 1780 which led to the slaughter of an entire army and the capture of one in five of all the British soldiers in India: no less than 7,000 British men, along with an unknown number of women, were held captive by Tipu in his sophisticated fortress of Srirangapatna. Many were circumcised and forcibly converted to Islam. Even more humiliatingly, several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls.
At the end of ten years’ captivity, one of these prisoners, James Scurry, found that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair or use a knife and fork; his English was ‘broken and confused, having lost all its vernacular idiom’, his skin had darkened to the ‘swarthy complexion of Negroes’ and he found he actively disliked wearing European clothes. This was the ultimate colonial nightmare, and in its most unpalatable form: the captive preferring the ways of his captors, the coloniser colonised.
Tipu was just as innovative in peace as he was in war. He tried to import industrial technology through French engineers and experimented with harnessing water-power to drive his machinery. He sent envoys to southern China to bring back silkworm eggs and established serriculture in Mysore—something that still enriches the region today. He introduced irrigation and built dams so that even his British enemies had to admit that his kingdom was ‘well cultivated, populous with industrious inhabitants, cities [including Bangalore] newly founded and commerce extended.’ More remarkably still, he created what amounted to a state trading company with its own ships and factories dotted across the Persian Gulf. He even asked his ambassadors to Istanbul to secure for him the ijara—farm— of Basra so that, like Europeans, he could establish an overseas settlement which would be both a base and a safe haven for his vessels. No wonder the British were terrified when they discovered that ‘Citizen Tippoo’ was in communication with Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he formally invited to visit India to liberate the country and expel the British. He had even sent Ambassadors to Paris along with a draft treaty in which he proposed an alliance to drive the British out of India.
As Christopher Bayly nicely put it, Tipu attempted to fight ‘European mercantilist power with its own weapons: state monopoly and an aggressive ideology of expansion.’ He failed only because the resources of the Company were expanding faster than those of Mysore. British propaganda might like to portray Tipu as a savage barbarian, but he was in fact something of a connoisseur and an intellectual, with a library containing some 2,000 volumes in several languages, and a large collection of modern scientific instruments including thermometers and barometers. The culture of innovation Tipu fostered in Mysore stands record to a man very different from that imagined by the Islamophobic propaganda of the British and the startling inaccuracy of Lord Wellesley’s ‘dodgy dossier’ of 1799. The fanatical bigot and savage was also something of an economic and political visionary.
Tipu knew what he was risking when he took on the British, but as he said himself, “I would rather live a day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep.” He duly went down fighting: when Wellesley’s army finally closed in for the kill and surrounded Srirangapatna in mid-April 1799, Tipu resisted with characteristic ingenuity and tenacity. As one British observer wrote, he ‘gave us gun for gun… night time skirmishes were made with desperate exertion… Soon the scenes became tremendously grand; shells and rockets of uncommon weight were incessantly poured upon us from the SW side, and fourteen pounders and grape from the North face of the Fort continued their havoc in the trenches; while the blaze of our batteries which frequently caught fire… was the signal for the Tiger sepoys [Tipu’s élite forces dressed in tiger-striped uniforms] to advance, and pour in galling vollies of musketry.’ It was a brave and skilful defence that ended with Tipu falling, sword in hand, at the breach in his defences near the water gate.
How should we remember Tipu today? He is certainly a complex figure, and it is anachronistic to call him ‘secular’: his was an Islamic state, albeit one run with a Hindu administration and a partially Hindu army, and led by a man who firmly believed in the power of Hindu deities. It is perfectly reasonable for the descendants of his victims—and I can count myself among them—to remember his horrible savagery in victory: in Coorg, Malabar and Mangalore he was responsible for what we today would call war crimes.
But he was beloved by his own people, as the British discovered to their surprise when they seized his state: ‘numbers of his confidential Hindoo servants who during the war fell into our hands, acknowledged him to be a lenient and indulgent master.’ At his funeral, people lined the streets ‘many of whom prostrated themselves before the body, and expressed their grief by loud lamentations.’ So it is not far-fetched to see him as a brave proto-nationalist. For while it is true that modern ideas of nationalism and patriotism were only in their infancy, he nonetheless firmly identified the British as dangerous outsiders and there is no question he did more than any other ruler of the time to stop them taking over the country.
Everybody knows this illiterate coomer is known to cover up crimes of mooghal jihadis - pedophilia, prostitution, and slavery child porn and what not and publish them in a liberal hippy propaganda dirtbag called bloomsbury.
I could do khatna of this nevertheless that is not the topic.

Next time bring a better source if it does exist. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
 

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Coomer fought to safeguard his own interests, not freedom fighter, observes Karnataka HC

“What is the logic behind celebrating Tipu Jayanti? Tipu was not a freedom fighter, but a monarch who fought the opponents to safeguard his interests,” Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee, presiding over the division bench, observed.

Justice R B Budhihal is the other member of the bench.

The observation was made by the Chief Justice during a hearing on a Public Interest Litigation filed by South Kodagu- based K P Manjunatha, challenging government’s move to celebrate Tipu Jayanti.

Justice Mukherjee also questioned the logic behind celebrating Tipu Jayanti amid fears of communal tension escalating in Kodagu district and other parts of the state.

He observed that last year’s celebrations had resulted in a law-and-order situation after protesters resorted to violence.

Countering the submissions, Sajan Poovaiah, counsel for the petitioner, said Tipu was a tyrant ruler who killed people belonging to many communities, including Kodavas, Konkanis and Christians.

See - http://deshgujarat.com/2016/11/02/t...ts-not-freedom-fighter-observes-karnataka-hc/
 

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Tipu Sultan: The Whitewashing Of A Tyranny in South India – SANDEEP BALAKRISHNA :
Coomer was a junior contemporary of the last powerful Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. What Aurangzeb did in a span of 50 years throughout most of India, Tipu did the same thing in just 4 states, in a span of about 17 years, in South India. The barbarian Tipu Sultan tied naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants, and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. We have Tipu’s own words, “With the grace of Prophet Muhammad and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only on the borders of Cochin state, a few Hindus are still not converted. I am greatly determined to convert them very soon. I consider this as Jihad to achieve that objective.”
Hello and welcome and at the outset let me say that it’s a really great pleasure and a delight to address this august gathering. Lot of respected elders from whom I’ve learnt, like Dr Elst & Sangrinu Mukherjee, other people like Dr. Shankar Sharan, they’re all in the audience. It’s a matter of great honour for me, and I would also like to express my gratitude to Srijan Foundation, Rahul Dewan and his brilliant team for extending this warm welcome to me.
So after the intro, I’ll get straight to the point. So because the topic of my address relates to history, we can begin with some main concepts. I promise not to take long time on this and kind of bore you.
So quickly, this relates to the manner in which we regard history itself, as an academic discipline, as a way of understanding the world and more importantly as a way of understanding ourselves. So much of the way in which we are taught history and how we regard history, comes from our formal education, needless to say, from our school and college. But this education does not teach us how our ancestors, how our forefathers, regarded history. Or what, loosely speaking, or what is the native conception of history. Or what is the rooted Indian conception of history. This none of our schools and our so called education teaches us.
So as all of you know, the Indian word for history is “itihasa”, which can be split into 3 parts. Iti + ha + asa, which literally means “it happened thus”. So, I’ll illustrate this with a couple of examples. In our tradition, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and sometimes even the Puranas are collectively known as itihasa. So in North India, all of you are familiar, that its very common that you take it for granted to hear terms like Ramkatha, Ramayankatha, Bharatkatha and variations thereof. So here we need to focus on the word katha, which stands subconsciously, nobody needs to teach this to us. We know it subconsciously, that the word katha, while it stands for story, its implied meaning is actually itihasa. Which can loosely be understood as history, but we will look at that in some detail later.
The other important way to understand the word itihasa is that in our tradition itihasa is recited. It is recited as points, it is recited as, it is set to tune, it is sung as songs. Which is completely distinct from merely being read, in the form of a book or whatever narrative.
So, for example, at least I’m from South India, from Karnataka. So we celebrate Sita Kalyana, which is, Sita Ram ka shaadi, and we also celebrate Parvati Kalyana, which is Parvati’s marriage with Shiva and all kinds of, you know folklore which revolves around stories from our Puranas, from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Stories, Kathas, Upkhatas, Episodes, Sub-Episodes from our, what is known as itihasa. But how are these things done?
Ramkatha, Sita-Ram Kalyana, how are these done? They are celebrated as festivals. They are celebrated as festivals in our temples, in various mathas, on different actual festivals like Navratri, you name it. So this conception of history, what does it symbolize? It symbolizes a living tradition and most importantly, it symbolizes a long line of civilizational and cultural continuity. This does not come by just memorizing some facts, like you know Rama was born on such and such day and he did this and he did that and he fought this war at some random time in history. It is not just some memorization of events and dates.,
One can also compare this, contrast this, with say from example the Greek epics. Iliad, Odyssey. All these stories, these epics in the west, they came from the west, what is their fate now? What is their condition today? They are not celebrated; it is not a living tradition. It was completely cut off. So Iliad, Odyssey, all these things are just studied in universities and schools and colleges only out of academic interest. It is no longer a living tradition. So when you contrast this, you will understand the full significance, when I say you know what I mean by itihasa.
So, long story, in our tradition, history or itihasa, is not merely a collection of facts, it is a value. Now, a man is thirsty and there is water. So for example, this gentleman is thirsty and there is some water there, I fetch water and give it to him, and he quenches his thirst with that action. That journey between thirst, between being thirty and actually fulfilling it is the meaning of the word value.
So then we come to stuff like bowls of history, and I will give a disclaimer saying that, you know, whatever I said so far does not mean that I reject a, you know, study of history as a scientific study of our past. Whichever country it may be.
So a honest history from that perspective must lead to 2 things. First, it is a truthful understanding of our past. And second, is to imbibe within ourselves the courage to face the truth of the past, to digest past mistakes and learn from them. This is because we cannot build a robust society and a robust country based on false and distorted readings of the past. Or based on the foundations of false history or distorted history, and as far as I See it, there is no such thing as a goal of history so to say, because the trajectory of the historical establishment, I hate to use that word but anyway. The trajectory of the Indian history establishment, started with you know, having something called a purpose or a goal of history. And as far as I’m concerned, the quest for the truth is only the goal of history, that’s the only goal and nothing else. Such goals have led to a massive politicization of history, especially in India, more so in India. All of you here in this room, I’m sure understand and are aware of the consequences that this kind of politicization of history in India has taken us how far.
So I’ll begin with a small, very humorous quote by an American scholar of history, He says, about politics he says this, and I quote “The first lesson of politics is to forget the first lesson of history”. So I’ll repeat that, “The first lesson of politics is to forget the first lesson of history”. So, let’s look at another quote, “It is an ominous sign of the time that Indian history is being viewed in official circles, in the perspective of recent politics. The official history of the freedom movement of India starts with the premises that India lost independence only in the 18th century, and has thus an experience of subjection to a foreign power for only 2 centuries. Real history on the other hand, teaches us that the major part of India lost independence about 5 centuries before, and merely changed masters in the 18th century.” Most of you know, are aware of who said this, this was by Acharya RC Majumdar, one of the titans of historical scholarship and he wrote this, and he says recent politics, he was referring to 1948.
So in that period, in 1948/49, the likes of you know, eminent historians like Romila Thapar, they were not anywhere around the scene. So what happened to the study of Indian history from then on till now? It’s a well-known story and I don’t need to repeat it, but putting it in one line. The enormous politicization and the downfall of history as a discipline, it has been near total and all of you are familiar with Arun Shourie’s book on eminent historians, their technology, lying, fraud.
So, but in practical terms, this politicization of history simply means this. At least 3 generations of our children have learnt this distorted history, false history, about their own country and culture. And some specimens, some human incarnation, which are the products of this distorted history, include the world famous Swara Bhasker and her gang.
So what have been some consequences of this kind of distorted history, and some major themes, is that India never had a great civilization and culture. All great elements of Indian civilization and culture was a gift of alien invaders, starting with the Aryans who came from outside. Native Indians were barbaric, they were regressive, they were cowardly, they were spineless, they were weak, and therefore they were invaded repeatedly.
And this kind of absolute nonsense is taught from early school level right up to university. We should not be surprised, we should not be sad, that when these kids grow up, they choose to migrate out of India. Your own education teaches your own kids that their own culture, their own country, and they, specifically them as Hindus, in general, are a bunch of buffoons, idiots, weaklings and completely uncultured people. This is what our textbooks teach our children.
So, to pull of this kind of distortion, this kind of sweeping generalization about an entire civilization, you’re talking about real people. To pull off this kind of industrial scale distortion, its history has to be distorted on an equally industrial scale. And nowhere is this distortion most glaring, than in writing about the history of the nearly 1000 year-long Muslim rule of India.
So here are some of the defining characteristics of medieval Muslim rule in India, I don’t need to dwell at it, most of you know this. So it was characterized by all round oppression of Hindus, constant assault on their way of life, their women being abducted at will, desecration of their traditions, customs, institutions, large scale temple destructions, forced conversions, jaziya and so on. It was an Islamic law, I think during Khilji’s period, that the Kafir would be stopped for no reason by a Muslim official, who would sit on the horse and his (the Kafir’s) mouth would be made to open, and this official would spit inside his mouth, and he had to shut up and swallow it and not show any sign of disgust on his face. This was law.
So, all the current historical distortions that we are familiar with in the last 70 odd years, are aimed precisely at white washing, hiding and even denying, these brutal, uncomfortable historical truths which were actually realities. Our Ancestors lived this life on a daily basis.
So this same principle of historical distortion is at work in the case of Tipu Sultan, the Tyrant of Mysore. So Tipu Sultan was a junior contemporary of the last powerful Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. What Aurangzeb did in a span of 50 years throughout most of India, Tipu did the same thing in just 4 states, in a span of about 17 years, in South India.
“Your Majesty would soon proceed to prosecute a Holy War against infidels, should those infidels Brahmins (that means he is referring to the Marathas), direct their power, the hands of the heroes of the faith of our Muslim soldiers in this part of the world, shall be raised for their punishment. We should unite in carrying on a Holy War against these infidels. Delhi, the seat of government of the Muhammadan faith, has been reduced to this state of ruin, so that the infidels all together prevail now. We should unite in carrying on a Holy War against the infidels and free these regions of Hindustan, in the service of Islam.”
So this was Tipu Sultan’s letter to the Afghan king named Zaman Shah, written sometime in 1794/95. This letter was part of Tipu’s invitation to Zaman Shah to invade India, and establish the Sword of Islam in the country, and free it from the darkness of the Kafirs.
So this letter is just one tiny sample of hundreds of such letters that Tipu wrote to various people. Like the Caliph in Turkey, and also to the French, whom he invited to occupy India and then they would, he dreamt of sharing the spoils of the conquest. So, over the last 40 odd years and upto the present time, this Islamic bigot Tipu Sultan has been hailed in the following terms, he was a “freedom fighter”, he was a “tiger”, he was a “liberator”, of what? I don’t know. He was a “patron of Hinduism”, he was a “tolerant ruler” and even more hilariously, one Kannada article in a mainstream newspaper, described Tipu as a “rocket scientist”. I’m not kidding you! I’m not making this up!
So, lets puncture these myths one by one. We begin with something called sword of Tipu Sultan. So Tipu Sultan’s rehabilitation as a freedom fighter, roughly begins with a secular, I don’t know, eminence, okay. With a secular eminence named Bhagwan S Gidwani, who wrote a novel named “The Sword of Tipu Sultan”, most of you are familiar with this title. So this novel was not based on any sort of history, but it was based on this guy, Bhagwan S Gidwani’s imagination running really wild. So “Sword of Tipu Sultan”, was made into a TV series by Sanjay Khan, most of you might have seen that, it was telecast on Doordarshan. And after a few weeks, it evoked widespread outrage, and a lawsuit was filed against Sanjay Khan by the Bombay Kerala Samaja.
So this fake image of Tipu Sultan as a freedom fighter, was later escalated by the dear departed, by the late Girish Karnad, who wrote a dream called “Tipuvina Kannasugadu”, which means Tipu’s dreams. Which was again heavily borrowed from Gidwani’s novel.
And in 2011 & 2012, there was a proposal by the then union minister for minority affairs, named Mr. Rahman Khan who unfortunately happens to be from my state. It was submitted to the Central Government. The aim of the proposal was to establish an Islamic university near Srirangapatana, named in Tipu’s honour. So Srirangapatana was the seat of power from where Tipu ruled. So this same Rahman Khan, has also taken a DPS School, Delhi Public School franchise in Bangalore.
But apart from all these guys, guess who else has honoured Tipu? Pakistan. (audience member says President of India, Speaker replies “Also! So we will come to that in the Q&A). So Pakistan has named one of its missiles in the honour of Tipu, and the other missile names include Ghaznavi, Ghori, Abdali and Babur.
So what does the oral tradition in Karnataka and Kerala say about Tipu? So in Coorg and Sakleshpur region, street dogs are named after Tipu. And a branch of the Iyengar community hailing from Melukote near Mysore, for generations together, still doesn’t celebrate Deepavali. Im talking about a period that began roughly in the late 18th century. From then on, one sect of the lineage of the Melukote Iyengars, they do not celebrate Deepavali, because it was precisely on the day of Deepavali, back then, that Tipu massacred more than 10,000 Iyengars in Melukote. And, several Kodava Muslim families still retain their original Hindu surnames, their last names their family names. They still retain their original names despite forcible conversion of their ancestors by Tipu.
The Kerala oral tradition remembers Tipu’s “visit” to the Malabar as the “Military March”, where he literally burnt down Kozhikode and several parts of Malabar, right down to the ground. All that was left was ashes. So the Kerala local legends remember this “military March”.
And then we come to the actual historical records, for those who are interested to research more on Tipu. Then that is another irony. Look around you, there is a wealth of historical records that still exist, which show the exact opposite of what Tipu is portrayed. And some of these records are written by Tipu’s own contemporaries and by his own biographer.
So, I’ll give you a partial list. Haider Ali & Tipu Sultan by Lewin B Bowring, Mysore Gazetteer Volume 1 & 2, Selected Letters of Tipu Sultan by Colonel William Kirkpatrick, Nishan-e-Haidri by Mir Hussain Ali Kirmani, who was Tipu’s official biographer, The Malabar Manual by William Logan and some British archives at Fort St.George and Fort St.Williams.
So inspite of availability of all these tonnes of documents, these are primary sources that tell you the real story of that period. It is astonishing that Tipu is still hailed as a patriot and Tiger and whatever. This notion, this image of Tipu still persists.
So I will list out a few key features of Tipu’s rule. It was a regime of military and economic terror. It was characterized by unnecessary destructive raids throughout South India. Most notably, in Malabar and Coorg. And it was also notable for the sheer scale of rural destruction. Entire villages found in the countryside were completely burnt. For example, Kushalnagar, Tallakaveri, Mudikeri, Napoklu. So when you travel to Coorg from Mysore, you get all these major towns and villages, completely burnt to the ground. And Calicut (or Kozhikode) was burnt to the ground as I just told you. This Calicut was a hub of spice trade for several centuries and Tipu’s just one destructive raid, changed its character forever. And spice trade there came to a permanent halt for nearly 40-50 years. And all these places were entirely depopulated, and there was no human habitation after he invaded. Those few of them who survived, the weak and old, all these people, women, they were forcibly converted or killed brutally.
So another key feature of Tipu’s rule was the large scale destruction of Hindu Temples. If you look at the Malabar Manual, it gives you the detailed list of all such temples. I have listed only about 56 in my book, just the major ones that were destroyed. So Lewis writes in the Mysore Gazetteer and I quote, “In a vast empire of Tipu Sultan, on the eve of his death, there were only 2 Hindu temples having daily functional pujas. Only two. Tipu also Islamized every facet of his administration by A) Giving Muslim names to original Hindu cities and towns. Sakleshpur was called Manjarabad and thankfully it was changed back.
So he changed the units of measurement of weights, distance and time, so that it corresponded to some aspect of Prophet Muhammad’s life. He founded a new calendar, and he named each year after a synonym given to Muhammad. And he changed the official administrative language of the Mysore kingdom from Kannada to Farsi. So that Farsi was not real Farsi, and I will come to that in a bit.
Other key features is the complete devastation of Mysore state’s economy through reckless and expensive unprovoked military campaigns. He appointed incompetent officers to key posts, and the only qualification to occupy these bureaucratic posts, was that you had to be a Muslim and bonus, if you were a Hindu who converted, you got a fast track promotion.
And all his attacks I just mentioned, I’ll add some other places which he attacked. Travancore, Nizam of Hyderabad, Gutti, Aduni in Andhra Pradesh, Coorg, Malabar, Bijapur, Raichur, the Krishna-Godavari belt. He also had a habit of repeatedly dishonouring war treaties and peace treaties with the British and other rulers of South India.
So I’ll read out a long-ish quote just to show you a very brief glimpse into the nature of Tipu’s aggressions and invasions. Here is an eye witness account by Father Bartholomew, “First a core of 30,000 barbarians who butchered everyone on the way, followed by the field gun unit, Tipu was riding on an elephant behind which another army of 30,000 soldiers followed. Most of the men and women were hanged in Calicut, first mothers hanged with their children tied to their necks. The barbarian Tipu Sultan tied naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. Temples and Churches were ordered to be burnt down, desecrated and destroyed. Hindu women were forced to marry Muhammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry Muhammadan women. Those Christians and Hindus who refused to be honoured with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately.”
And then we have another eye witness account by a German Christian missionary named Guntest, and he says, “Accompanied by an army of 60,000, Tipu Sultan came to Kozhikode/Calicut in 1788 and razed it to the ground. It is not even possible to describe the brutalities committed by that Islamic barbarian from Mysore.”
So now we come to Colonel William Kirkpatrick. After the fort of Srirangapatana fell to the British, lot of stuff was recovered from what belonged to Tipu. Out of that was a bunch of letters and Kirkpatrick, compiled all of them and published them. He published about 2000 selected letters. These were letters, that Tipu wrote to himself every morning, sitting on the shit-pot. Sorry for the language.
Kirkpatrick writes about the importance of these letters and I quote, “The importance of these letters consists in the vivid illustration which they afford in the talents and disposition of their extraordinary author, who is here successively and repeatedly delineated in colours from his own pencil, as the cruel and relentless enemy, the intolerant bigot or furious fanatic, the oppressive and unjust ruler, the perfidious negotiator.”
So they say that its always the best when it comes directly from the mouth of the horse. So we have Tipu’s own words, “With the grace of Prophet Muhammad and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only on the borders of Cochin state, a few Hindus are still not converted. I am greatly determined to convert them very soon. I consider this as Jihad to achieve that objective”. This Tipu wrote in a letter to one of his military officers named Syed Abdul Dulai, in 1788 because he was so happy that he had burnt down Calicut to the ground.
Another letter, “I Have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over 4 Lakh Hindus were converted to Islam. I am now determined to march against the accursed Raman Nayar.” Now its important to remember that Raman Nair was the chieftain of a relatively small kingdom, a bunch of principalities. He and his Nair army beat back Tipu Sultan twice. In one battle he fell down from his palki and literally ran like a coward to save his life. So he wanted to take revenge on Raman Nair.
And then one more letter, during the siege of Nargun in 1786, “In the event of your being obliged to assault the place (that is Nargun), every living creature in it, whether man, woman, old or young, child, dog, cat, owl or anything else must be put to the sword”. One more, “the exciters of sedition in the Coorg country not looking to the consequences have raised their heads. Immediately we proceeded with the utmost speed and made prisoners of 40,000 Coorgs. Then we carried them away from their native country and we raised them to the honours of Islam”. Which means they were forcibly converted.
So, Tipu called his own kingdom as Khudadat Sarkar, meaning Government of Khuda or Allah. And as we have seen he left behind a bankrupt economy and more importantly, for everybody who says that Tipu is a great hero and some kind of reformer, here is a data point. Under Haider Ali, before Haider Ali died, the military force of Mysore was more than 1,20,000. Tipu reduced it to just 50,000 during his late battle. That’s the 4th Karnataka war. So Tipu reckless war also left behind large scale death and destruction in all of South India, spice trade was totally destroyed in Kerala.
We’ve seen all that, and more importantly, he caused a permanent change in the cultural character of several cities, most notably in Karnataka. For example, I spoke to you about changing official language from Kannada, it was written in official documents. For Mysore state it was written in two languages, Marathi and Kannada. Tipu changed this to Farsi and his whatever language policy, that resulted in a bastardized language called Urdu. But that is not Urdu. It’s a horrible love child born out of wedlock of Urdu, some kind of Arabic, some kind of Farsi and some kind of Hindi and some kind of Kannada.
So if anybody knows this Urdu in Karnataka, you might get this joke. I think Vijay will get this, “Kathe Ko Puraladalko, Merveninge Karasu”. It means, “put a garland around a donkey’s neck and bring it out in a procession”. So this is the language that Tipu invented and changed the cultural character. From a patriot national hero, freedom fighter, these are the more enduring myths without basis in history and a survey of that period, shows a struggle for both economic and military power between the French, the British, the Marathas and Tipu Sultan in largely the theatre of South and Western India. This includes parts of Maharashtra also.
So Tipu’s stated goal in his own words was to bring Islam to the infidel land under the sword of Islam, as the selected letters of Kirkpatrick show. For all his celebration as some kind of a great freedom fighter he cultivated deep friendships with the French, to conquer entire India and share the territory equally. And he invited, we saw in the beginning, I told you about his letters to the Afghani king Zaman Shah. He also sent similar invitations to the Turkish caliph and the important point to note is that in Tipu’s time, it was the East India Company who fought wars in India. It was not the British crown that directly fought wars in India. It was a commercial enterprise, named East India Company. And the whole of India was not united under one single rule, under a central rule or whatever you want to call it. But all of India was not united politically under one umbrella.
So the notion of Tipu Sultan fighting for India’s freedom does not arise. So if Tipu is a freedom fighter, why do we hesitate to call Marathas who also fought the British? Why do we hesitate to call them freedom fighters? If Tipu is a freedom fighter, then Siraj-ud-Daula is also a freedom fighter. If Tipu is a freedom fighter, then Nizam of Hyderabad is also a freedom fighter. All of these fought both for their own dominions, for economic and military supremacy, and not for any notion of independence or freedom of India.
Why is Maharaja Ranjit Singh not regarded as a freedom fighter? He fought some of the most decisive battles against the British. It was they who gave him the name Lion of Punjab. For the first time after nearly 300 or 400 years, Afghanistan had Hindu population, had Hindu rule, all because of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
So I will look at some closing notes. I will say that the whitewashing or distorting of historical truths leads to friction in our own times, because all of you know that to sustain one lie, you have to speak thousands of lies. On the other hand, it is better that we face unpleasant historical truths because, at the most what will you do? You might punch each other in the face? At the most nothing beyond that will happen. But we can sit together at the table and see how we can move forward.
So accepting bitter historical truths and learning constructive lessons from them will always help avoid repeating such brutal history. The biggest example of this kind of truthful approach or lessons learned from history in modern times is, the various holocaust museums in Germany and other parts of the world.
With that I think I can conclude this part of the session and many thanks to Srijan Foundation and the entire team.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Topi Sultan – A Celebration of Bigotry and Barbarity.

Author : SHANMUKH SASWATI SARKAR and DIKGAJ


The 10th of November, is being celebrated by the Government of Karnataka as Tipu Jayanthi, despite Tipu being born on the 20th of November. The government is commemorating the birth of Tipu, who ruled most of Karnataka as its sultan, from his capital, Srirangapattaman. Tipu Sultan’s rule lasted from December 1782, to 1799 – sixteen years in all. He has been alternately lauded as a great freedom fighter and patriot – a martyr in the war against the British and damned as a bigot and a religious zealot, who cruelly persecuted all, but the Muslims. Recently, the government of Karnataka, in its wisdom, decided to accept the former interpretation of Tipu Sultan, and decided to celebrate Tipu Jayanthi, ignoring the vociferous protests by the Hindu and the Christian groups. The government avers that Tipu was a great patriot and freedom fighter, a man who gave his life in the war against the British, a man who raised the prestige of the Mysore kingdom to the highest pitch, and that his atrocities have been greatly exaggerated, or outright falsified. The honourable chief minister of Karnataka declared, “Tipu Sultan is a patriot, freedom fighter – and he is most secular man. That is why I have celebrated.’’ [2]. Many secular and liberal scholars have written tomes exonerating Tipu of any atrocities against the Hindus.
A case has been made by a secular doyen [1] that while Tipu’s bigotry did come into the picture in Malabar and other places outside Karnataka, he ruled well and wisely for the people of Karnataka, and consequently, the government of Karnataka is well justified in celebrating his birth. Consequently, in this article, we take a deep look into Tipu’s actions regarding Hindus and other infidels inside the regions of modern Karnataka itself. We also present his actions during times of war and how he treated his enemies, and even his subjects. Contrary to the claim of the secular doyen [1], there were rules of war and those that rejected those rules were subject to censure by their own contemporaries. This is true whether it was Shivaji punishing his sardars, who misbehaved with women, or French and British censuring those, who indulged in wanton loot.
Tipu, throughout his life was the regent (Sarvadhikari) of Mysore Kingdom, acting for the Rajah of Mysore, though by the end of his reign, he had more or less dispensed with this pretence. Most of Tipu’s actions came in the first ten years of his rule, when his star waxed to the brightest. From the death of Haidar in 1782, until the moment when his power was broken and he was defeated and clipped of his claws in the Treaty of Srirangapattanam in 1792, Tipu energetically moved from one end of the kingdom to the other actively, warring against both external enemies like the British, the Raja of Travancore, Marathas, and the Nizam of Hyderabad and internal revolts in Coorg, Nargund, and Malabar. Consequently, it is in these 10 years that we must look for how he treated those of his Kingdom that did not follow the Islamic faith. His later actions too, bear deep scrutiny, but those at the height of his power display his characteristic feeling for his non-Muslim compatriots.
In this article, we present his life and moves as chronicled by his contemporaries, both Indian and European, and also later historians, and leave the readers to draw their own conclusions from the actions of Tipu. For this purpose, we have presented the actions chronologically, and have observed his various actions in the words of his contemporaries and respected historians of modern Mysore.
Each action of Tipu against the infidels that we list has been usually confirmed by multiple sources, both Indian and European. For his actions, we have depended on a wide variety of sources, both contemporary and later historians. Importantly, we depend on Tipu’s own letters and commands to his soldiers and administrators for our guide to his ideas. Apart from Tipu himself, for contemporary English sources, we utilise Col. Wilks, who fought against Tipu, and the famous English traveller, Hamilton-Buchanan, for French sources, the great French historian, Joseph Michaud, for Hindu sources, Ramachandra Rao, who was an official under Tipu, and for Muslim, Kirmani, who was his court poet and official chronicler and biographer, and who sang Tipu’s praises. Later historians whose words we quote include, Lewin Bowring, and Lewis Rice among the Britishers, other Europeans, including Richter, Indian historians including Hayavadana Rao, Sitaram Goel, and Sheik Ali. English sources have been accused of being hostile to Tipu, who was the enemy of the British, but most of the atrocities that Tipu perpetrated on the Hindus and Christians have been confirmed by his French allies and other contemporary Hindu and Muslim historians as well.
Tipu’s Accession and the Melukote Massacre
Haidar died (of natural causes) during the Second Mysore war against the British and their allies, and as such, Tipu was fighting the British in Malabar, when the news of his father’s death reached him. His succession was fairly smooth and as the French historian Michaud [a contemporary of Tipu] records, Haidar had pointed out to Tipu the advantages of his smooth succession, in these words, “I leave you an empire that I have not received my ancestors. A scepter acquired by violence is always fragile; However, you have not to fear the political storms that usually accompany changes of reign in Hindustan. You will find no obstacles in your family; you have no rivals among leaders of the army; I will leave you no enemies among my subjects; you have nothing to fear from within the kingdom.’’ p. 81, [8]
Nevertheless, there was considerable violence, unsettled conditions and quite a few desertions in this kingdom that attended his accession to the throne, for many, who had faithfully served Haidar Ali, were worried about Tipu. Early in his reign, Tipu faced an attempt at a coup, led by Tirumala Rao, Shamaiah and his brother Rangaiah. Both Rangaiah and Shamaiah were brutally tortured to death. However, it was the people from Tirumala Rao’s caste at Melukote, which was innocent of his crimes against Tipu, which faced brutal reprisals. These reprisals have been recorded by Hayavadana Rao, who chronicles, “… for in the executions which followed the betrayal of the plot, `seven hundred’ of Tirumala Rao’s `caste people and relations’, as he himself tells us, were put to death on the orders of Tipu, on the latter’s hearing of these proceedings.’’ p. 635, [10]. These unhappy people were slaughtered on Naraka Chaturdashi, the first day of the three days Deepavali festival.
C Hayavadana Rao has made a clear reference to the Melukote massacre of Brahmins in the aftermath of the failed revolt against Tipu, “In the executions that followed the betrayal [of Tipu by Shamaiah, Rangaiah and Tirumala Rao], it is said that over 700 families, who were described as the adherents of the Raja in this connection, were put to death. Several fled out of the country while others went into self-chosen obscurity to avoid further troubles.’’ p. 2565, [14]
This incident has been confirmed by Tipu’s contemporary, Ramachandra Rao, who writes ``In the time of Hyder, he had a servant named Shamaya, a very superior man whom Hyder employed as Post Master. He was present with Tippoo Sultan at Mangalore; his elder brother Rangaya being the head man at Seringapatam, where one Syed Mohammad was [Killadar] Captain of the fort. Syed Mohammad believed that Rangaya was plotting in favour of the English; thereupon, he imprisoned him with 200 persons connected with him; out of these people, he hanged some and killed others by dragging them at the foot of an elephant. He informed the Sultan of this by a letter written when he was at Mangalore. Hereupon, Tippoo severely reprimanded Shamaya (who now was with Tippoo), put him in irons and sent him to Seringapatam, where he was kept in a cage. All his horse and wealth being seized and ruined, all his dependants were put to the torture. Ultimately, two lacks of pagodas were extorted from them; and Tippoo extorted other sums from their people employed throughout the country, putting them fettered in prison. After a while, he slew some of them and others perished in jail. … Some wives of the sufferers were drafted into the Sultan’s Seraglio.’’ p. 35, [17]. Tipu’s atrocity on blameless women has been highlighted, for it is a recurring theme, throughout his career.
Tipu’s Actions at Bidnur and his treatment of the prisoners
From 1782, to 1784, Tipu fought the British in the region of Nagar (Bidnur) and the coast of Karnataka, for the most part, returning to Srirangapattanam in the wake of the Treaty of Mangalore with the British. In 1783, Bidnur was under a traitorous officer named Sheikh Ayaz, who deserted to the British, in the wake of Haidar Ali’s death. However, Tipu was able to retake the place and on his takeover, he forcibly converted every non-Muslim follower of Sheikh Ayaz that he could find in Bidnur to Islam. It is recorded by Wilks, a historian who was working on the history of Mysore a bare decade after the fall of Tipu Sultan and who had access to primary sources, both within the Mysore Kingdom and also among Tipu’s former officers that “Khan Jehan Khan – was born a Bramin, and was a writer in the service of Scheikh Ayaz, when it surrendered to General Medows. On the recapture of the place by Tippoo, every person was sought for who had been in any respect of use to the fugitive and this youth was forcibly converted to Islam, and highly instructed in its doctrines.’’ p. 284-285, footnote, [15]
At the same time [in 1784], Tipu’s actions against the British prisoners have also been recorded. Bowring writes thus, “The English prisoners were specially selected as victims of his vengeance, not omitting officers of rank such as General Matthews’’ pp.220-221, [3]
The cruel treatment of the English prisoners of Nagar has also been confirmed by the French historian, Michaud, who concedes that “The [English] garrison [of Bidnur] found itself at the discretion of its vanquishers, who were not any more moderate in their triumph than the English had been in theirs.’’ p. 95, [8] and ``The English general [Mathews], after further barbaric treatment, was poisoned by an Indian drink that was poured down his throat. Twenty other [English] officers suffered a similar fate.’’ p. 95, [8].
Col. Wilks also records the fate of his countrymen at Tipu’s hands, “… it was reserved for Tippoo Sultaun to destroy his prisoners by poison and assassination and the infamy was heightened, by his selecting for this purpose all those who were observed or reported to have distinguished themselves in arms, and might hereafter become dangerous opponents: fortunately, his defective information spared many who were eminently entitled to this fatal honour. Colonel Baillie’s death preceded Tippoo’s accession. Captain Rumley, who led the charge against Tippoo’s guns on the morning of Baillie’s tragedy; Lieutenant Fraser, one of that officer’s staff; and Lieutenant Sampson, captured with Colonel Brathwaite; were the first victims of this policy of the new reign. Brigadier-General Matthews, and most of the captains taken at Bednore, were the next selections; and afterwards, at uncertain periods, other individuals in the several prisons were either carried away to Cabbal Droog, to be poisoned, or if that were deemed too troublesome, they were led out to the woods, and hacked to pieces; but with this savage exception, the treatment of the remainder was not materially changed.’’ p. 520, [16]
Tipu had conquered Bidnur and Mangalore, by forcing the British garrisons to submit. After the treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu was honour bound to return the prisoners, for one of the conditions of the treaty of Mangalore was the restoration and repatriation of prisoners. However, in contravention of the terms of the treaty, Tipu retained many English prisoners, subjecting them to humiliation and cruelty. Bowring writes thus, “Tipu, on the other hand, had no compunction in cutting their [prisoners’] throats, or strangling and poisoning them; while as has been stated, numbers of them were sent to die of malaria and starvation on the fatal mountain of Kabaldurg.… in direct contravention of the treaty made at Mangalore in 1784, he did not scruple to retain in captivity considerable numbers of Europeans. Many of these, particularly young and good-looking boys, were forcibly circumcised, married haphazard to girls who had been captured in the Coromandel districts, and drafted into the ranks of the army, or compelled to sing and dance for the amusement of the sovereign.” pp.220-221, [3]
Tipu Sultan’s torture of the prisoners and specifically, the European prisoners, whom he had retained in contravention of the Treaty of Mangalore has been recorded by Wilks. He writes, “Exclusively of all officers, without exception, and about two hundred other persons, who from terror or compulsion had submitted to be enrolled in his service, an account was officially rendered to Government of about fifty names, chiefly boys, who had been forcibly subjected to the painful rite of an abhorred religion, and many of them instructed to perform as singers and dancers for the future amusement of the tyrant. Some of these unhappy beings had been occasionally placed in situations to observe and be observed by the English prisoners in Seringapatam; the journal of an officer describes them as shedding a flood of tears, while attempting by gestures to describe their situation; and imagination may revert to the story of a more ancient people for the picture of their sorrows: ‘They that wasted us, required of us mirth ; saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion: How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ pp. 519-520, [16] and elsewhere too, as “…in the mass of living evidence at Seringapatam and elsewhere, of his [Tipu’s] detention of prisoners, in direct violation of the treaty of 1784. Of the English boys, educated as singers and dancers, twenty still remained; a secret order was despatched for the murder of these unhappy youths, as the first victims and an imperceptible succession of most of the other prisoners of the previous war.’’ p. 112, [15]
Tipu’s actions in Dakshin Kannada
After the reconquest of Bidnur, Tipu moved next to the region of Mangalore to reconquer the fortress of Mangalore that had fallen to the British. After he had expelled the British from the region in 1784, he showed himself utterly without mercy towards the infidel inhabitants of the Dakshin Kannada (Christians, Jains and even Hindus, to an extent) as will be seen below.
Lewin Bowring points out Tipu’s actions towards the Christians (who were called Nasranis) of Mangalore. He writes, “Before returning to the upper country, he [Tipu] signalised his zeal for the faith of Islam by driving out of the coast region no fewer than 30,000 of its Christian inhabitants, who were forcibly deported into Mysore. His own account of this infamous transaction is that the Portuguese, having on pretence of trade obtained settlements on the western coast, had prohibited Musalmans from practising their faith, and expelled Hindus from their territory, those who remained, in spite of the prohibition, being enrolled as Christians.” pp. 125-126, [3]
Lewin Bowring’s claim is strengthened by his quoting the official biographer of Tipu, Kirmani. Quoting Kirmani, Lewin Bowring adds, “His Majesty, `the shadow of God,’ so runs his bombastic effusion, being informed of these circumstances, the rage of Islam began to boil in his breast. He ordered that an enumeration and description of the houses of all Christians should be made, and then sent detachments under trusty officers who, after early prayers, acting in accordance with their instructions, seized 60,000 (sic) persons, great and small of both sexes, who were carried to the resplendent presence. They were then despatched to the capital, and the males being formed into battalions of five hundred each, under the command of faith, officers well instructed in the were honoured with the distinction of Islam, and distributed in the principal garrisons’ These unfortunate people, having received the appellation of ‘Ahmadi’ or ‘praiseworthy,’ and the date of their forcible conversion was commemorated by the phrase, ‘God is the protector of the religion of Ahmad’ ” p. 126, [3]
This account of forcible conversion of the Christians of Mangalore is corroborated by Col. Wilks, who writes, “Among the memorable events of this wonderful year, was the making Mussulmans of the Nazarene Christians. Now, Christian, in the language of the Franks, is applied to designate a new convert to the religion of Jesus, (on whose race be benediction and peace and as a compound word, it is synonymous with Eesovian, (persons of the religion of Jesus) for in the language of the Franks Christian is a name of the Lord Jesus; but to proceed with our subject. The Portuguese Nazarenes, who for a long period have possessed factories on the sea coasts, obtained, about three hundred years ago, an establishment of this nature, on pretense of trade, on the coast of Soonda, at a place situated midway in the course of a large river and estuary (Goa); and in process of time, watching their opportunity, obtained from the raja, a country, yielding a revenue of three or four lacs of rupees. They then proceeded to prohibit the Mahommedan worship within these limits, and to expel its votaries: to the bramins and other Hindoos, they proclaimed a notice of three days, within which time they were at liberty to depart, and in failure to be enrolled in the new religion. Some, alarmed at the proposition, abandoned their property and possessions; and others, deeming the whole to be an empty threat, ventured to remain and on the appointed day, the Nazarenes enrolled them in their own foolish religion. In process of time, and by means of rare presents, and flattery, and pecuniary offerings, they prevailed on the senseless rajas of Nuggur, Courial, (Mangalore), and Soonda, to tolerate their farther proceedings, and began gradually to erect shrines and chapels, (Keleesha – eclesia), and in each of these idol temples, established one or two padres, that is to say monks, who, deluding the weak and pliant populace, by a fluency of tongue, alternately soothing and severe, and by liberal and munificent gifts, led the way to their abolished religion ; and in this manner made a multitude of Christians, and continued to that day the same practices. When His Majesty, the shadow of God, was informed of these circumstances, the rage of Islam began to boil in his breast : he first gave orders, that a special enumeration and description should be made and transmitted, of the houses of the Christians in each district: detachments, under trusty officers, were then distributed in the proper places, with sealed orders, to be opened and executed, on one and the same day, after the first devotions of the morning : and in conformity to these instructions, sixty thousand persons, great and small of both sexes, were seized, and carried to the resplendent presence : whence, being placed under proper guardians, and provided with everything needful, they were dispatched to the royal capital, and being formed into battalions of five hundred each, under the command of officers well instructed in the faith, they were honoured with the distinction of Islam; they were finally distributed to the principal garrisons, with orders for a daily provision of food, apparel, and other requisites ; and the year of their reception into the pale of Islam, is designated in the following distich, each hemistic of which contains the date. The firmament is enlightened by the sect of Ahmed-God is the protector of the religion of Ahmed; and, as a distinctive appellation for this race, they were thenceforth called Ahmedy.” pp. 528-530, [16]
Hamilton-Buchanan, a famous English traveler who travelled in what was Tipu’s kingdom in the 1810s and 1820s, corroborates the forcible conversion of the Christians of Mangalore and writes thus, “In Tulava [Tulu plains – Mangalore region] they [Christians] had 27 churches, each provided with a vicar, and the whole under the control of a vicar-general, subject to the authority of the archbishop of Goa. Tippoo threw the priests into dungeons, forcibly converted to Islam the laity, and destroyed all the churches. … During the government of Hyder, these Christians were possessed of considerable estates in land, all of which were confiscated by Tippoo, and immediately bestowed on persons of other casts, from whom it would be difficult to resume them.’’ p. 28, [18]
Further, he writes of the town of Mangalore, “After Tippoo had taken General Mathews, he destroyed the town [of Mangalore], and carried away its inhabitants. One end only of the church remains, which however shows that it has been a neat building. Its situation is remarkably fine.’’ p. 61, [18]
Hayavadana Rao, a great historian of modern Mysore also has similar points to make about Tipu’s conversion of the Christians of Mangalore into Islam in the wake of the treaty of Srirangapattanam, “The reversion of Mangalore to the possession of Tipu was signalized by the forcible circumcision of many thousands of Indian Christians and their deportation to Seringapatam” p. 2581-2582, [14]
This account of the forcible capture and conversion of the Christians of Mangalore and the coast of Canara is confirmed by Ramachandra Rao, an official of Tipu and his contemporary, who writes, “Thirty or forty thousand native Christians of Mangalore were sent by Tippoo, prisoners to Seringapatam, where they were kept as converts.’’ p. 36, [17]
Further, writing about Tipu’s atrocities on the local Kings of southern Dakshin Kannada (Canara) in Nileshwar, Hamilton-Buchanan writes, “The dominions of the Nileswara Raja extended from the sea to the Ghats; and, according to the report of the same Nairs, are exceedingly depopulated by war, and by a famine that ensued while they were forced to retire into the woods to avoid circumcision. The inner parts of the country are much overgrown with woods, and are very thinly inhabited.’’ p. 12, [18]
Tipu’s cruelty in Dakshin Kannada in his dealings with the Jain chiefs of the region has also been recorded by Hamilton Buchanan, who writes, “The dominions of the first of these Jain chiefs that I entered were those of the Bungar Raja. Tippoo hanged the last person who possessed this dignity;’’ pp. 19-20, [18]
Further, Tipu, in a bid to keep out all Europeans, including his allies the French, burnt all the pepper vines in the Canara region. This has again been recorded by Hamilton Buchanan, who wrote, “They say, that Tippoo, in order to remove every inducement for Europeans to frequent the country, destroyed all the pepper vines, and all the trees on which these were supported.’’ p.61, [18]

It was not merely during his campaigns that Tipu resorted to barbarity. During a revolt in Supa, Tipu wrote a letter, which has been reproduced by Bowring, to his commander. Again, alluding to a rising at Supa in Kanara, he writes to Badr-uz-zaman Khan: “Ten years ago, from ten to fifteen thousand men were hung upon the trees of that district; since which time the aforesaid trees have been waiting for more men. You must therefore hang upon trees all such of the inhabitants of that district as have taken a lead in these rebellious proceedings.”, p. 219, [3]
Tipu’s actions in Coorg
Coorg is a small, hilly and heavily forested province in the south-western corner of today’s Karnataka. Coorg has a long tradition of being ruled by its own rulers and the military traditions of the district are well known. Throughout the rule of both Haidar and Tipu, the province was in ferment. Haidar had controlled the province to an extent via crude barbarity, but it was far from subdued, and chose to revolt. Writing of the fate of the people of Coorg, who rose in revolt in the aftermath of the treaty of Srirangapattanam and were invaded by Tipu in 1784-1785 first and later too, Lewin Bowring narrates, “Similar cruelties were practised on the people of Coorg, the small hill district where Haidar had barbarously cut off the heads of all those who opposed his progress. Some resistance having been made to the Mysore Governor, Tipu marched into the country with his army, and lectured the Coorgs on the iniquity of their custom of polyandry. He warned them that if it any further rebellion took place he would extinguish by removing the population and Islamizing them. At a later period he actually carried this barbarous threat into execution, devastating the province, and driving the wretched inhabitants like sheep to Seringapatam, where they had to submit to circumcision and the sanctifying rites prescribed by the despot.” p. 127, [3]
Bowring also points out a letter written by Tipu to one of his officers working in Coorg, as, “You are to make a general attack on the Coorgs, and, having put to the sword or made prisoners the whole of them, both the slain and the prisoners, with the women and children, are to be made Musalmans.” p. 219, [3]
The episode of the tragedy of the Coorgis is narrated briefly by Hayavadana Rao in his Mysore Gazetteer as, “A revolt in Coorg next year [in 1785] led to the same treatment [i.e., deportation to Srirangapattanam and forcible conversion to Islam] of the greater part of the inhabitants, the occasion being marked by Tipu’s assumption of the title of Padshah.’’ pp. 2581-2582, [14]
Rev. Richter, a Christian missionary, who made Coorg his home and who has chronicled the history of Coorg, corroborates what other historians have said and narrates the tragedy of the Coorgis. He quotes Tipu’s own words to the Coorgis in 1785, “…From the period of my father’s conquest of the country, you have rebelled seven times and caused the deaths of thousands of our troops; … but if rebellion be ever repeated, I have made a vow to God, to honour every man of the country with Islam; I will make aliens of your home and establish you in a distant land, and thus at once, extinguish the rebellion and the plurality of your husbands, and initiate you in the more honourable practice of Islam!” p. 247, [9].
Further elaborating on the fate of the Coorgis, Richter writes, “Under pretence of peaceful intentions and conciliatory measures, Tipu allured the Coorgs to Talekaveri (in 1785), and when they felt most secure, he seized them suddenly with their families about 85,000 souls, sent them to Seringapatam and, carrying out his former threat, had them forcibly circumcised. On the same auspicious day, when he had added so great a number to Islam, he assumed royal dignity and declared himself independent of Delhi.’’ pp. 247-248, [9]
Into a depopulated Coorg, he sent Mussalman landlords and gave to them the lands and slaves of the exiles, besides a supply of labourers from Adwani (Adoni) in (the then) Bellary district, and armed them with a degree of cruel proscription, “The country is given to you in jahgir, improve it and be happy; the extermination of the mountaineers [Coorgs] being determined on, you are required as an imperious duty, to search for and slay all who may have escaped our just vengeance; their wives and children shall become your slaves ” p. 248, [9].
Writing of the fate of the Coorgis, James Rice Innes, a British official, has briefly mentioned a few specific tragedies: “Tippu seized some 5000 Coorgs in Bhagamandala fort, with their families, whom he sent into Mysore in 1785 and made Muslims.” p. 193, [11].
The most comprehensive effort to discern the fate of the Coorgis was made by Col. Wilks, in his 3 volume Historical Sketches concerning the state of Mysore. He writes, “He [Tipu] did, however, move late in October[of 1785], and entering Coorg in two columns, burned and destroyed the patches of open country, and compelled the inhabitants to take refuge in the woods, where they, as usual, refrained from any decisive operation. Some delay was necessary in making strong detachments to the frontier, in every direction, with a view to his ultimate measures for the future tranquility of Coorg ; but everything being ready along the whole circumference, his troops began to contract the circle, beating up the woods before them as if dislodging so much game, and by these means closed in on the great mass of the population, male and female, amounting to about 70,000, and drove them off like a herd of cattle to Seringapatam, where the Sultaun’s threats were but too effectually executed. The proprietors of land constitute the greater portion of the military population of Coorg; the labours of husbandry are chiefly performed by a perfectly distinct race (adscripti glebae) conjectured to be the aboriginal possessors, and their masters to be descended from the conquering army of the Cadumba Kings. These slaves were separated from the other prisoners, and assigned to new Mahommedan settlers, who were to be encouraged to remove thither from various parts of his possessions; but this scheme, at first attended to, and soon afterwards falling into neglect and abuse, from the prevalence of some newer project, shared the common fate of a large portion of his abortive designs.’’ p. 534, [16]
Wilks view of the tragedy of the Coorgis is attested also by Hayavadana Rao in his 3 volume history of Mysore State till 1799. He writes, “Everything being ready along the whole circumference, these troops began to contract the circle, and beating up the woods, carried distress and confusion all over the country, attacking and destroying the towns, and driving away and capturing immense crowds of wild men. … Then he [Tipu] dispatched his troops in advance directing them to pursue the rebels further. Accordingly, the troops advanced to attack on all sides, and systematically closing in on the great mass of the population, succeeded in making prisoners of forty to fifty thousand of them, men and women. Both the leaders of the Coorgs, Momuti Nair and Ranga Nair, were taken on the Cardamon Hills by the exertions of Mons. Lally. Momuti Nair, however, died soon after, and Ranga Nair was circumcised and made a Mussalman, being named Sheikh Ahmed and appointed a Risaladar. All the other prisoners were driven off to Seringapatam, where they were in due course converted to Islam and incorporated with the Ahmedi corps of the army. The landed proprietors and husbandmen of Coorg were separated and assigned to new Muhammadan settlers, though the scheme eventually proved abortive, both on account of the local climatic conditions and by falling into neglect and abuse.’’ pp. 682-683, [10]
An European officer, who was in the employ of the last King of Coorg, published his memoirs after Coorg had been taken into possession of the East India Company. To the last day, he remained loyal to the Rajahs of Coorg, and he records, “Hyder Ali died in 1782, and was succeeded by his son Tippoo, who, in 1784, having reduced Mangalore, marched through Coorg, on his way back to Seringapatam, and compromised matters with the insurgents. The young Coorg princes were kept prisoners at Periyaputtana. Before the lapse of a year, the Coorgs rose again and defeated a force of 15,000 men sent against them from Seringapatam. Tippoo’s policy and zeal for his religion appear to have led him to expect that these warlike Hindoo tribes might be subdued like wild animals and tamed by violence, and that, by subjecting the Coorgs and Nairs to the rites of his creed, they would be the sooner reconciled to his yoke. Taking advantage, therefore, of this last formidable resistance to his authority, he marched against them with his whole force, the Coorgs retreating before him into the depths of their forests, which appeared almost inaccessible. Having, however, divided his whole army into detachments, which formed a complete circle round the unhappy, fugitives, and closing in upon them as huntsmen do in pursuit of game, he at length penetrated into their most secret haunts, and carried off several thousands of victims to undergo the abhorred punishments of circumcision and captivity. The rank of the young Rajah did not save him from like treatment: he was made a Mussulman, and enrolled among the Chelas (corps of slaves) and, though strictly guarded, had the nominal command of a battalion, at the time he made his escape.’’ pp. 11-12, [20]
Ramachandra Rao also confirms the atrocities of Tipu in Coorg in 1785, when he says, “He [Tipu] now heard that rebellion had broken out in Coorg. He therefore marched rapidly by the Aigur pass. He seized upon men and women, all he found, and sent them captives to Seringapatam. One Ramati had formerly made his escape. Tippoo at this time invited him back by (cowl) fair promises, made him an asasullahi (convert) and appointed him risaladar (captain) of the asadullahi cacheri (corps of converts).About five hundred souls, men, women and children, whom Tippoo caught in Coorg were all made asadullahi and sent (as captives) to Bangalore, Seringapatam, Chitradurgam, Colaram, Hosscota and Nandidurgam (in separate gangs).’’ p. 37, [17]
During the rebellion in Coorg, one of the most devoted generals of the Raja of Coorg and Tipu’s ferocious opponent was Kannana. After Coorg was subdued, Tipu deliberately perpetrated atrocities on the person and family of the enemy general. This has been recorded by Richter, who writes, “When after the death of Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan invaded Coorg, he burnt Kannana’s house and hanged 24 members of his family, and the ruins are still visible.” p. 189, [9].
Ramachandra Rao also confirms Tipu’s atrocities in 1784-85, ``At the time, the whole of the Coorg [Kodugu] country had been usurped by Utteh Naick. … Thence he marched by Bhednad where he supposed Utteh Naik had his home. This place was burnt down and Tipu next turned to [`Lakiri Kota’].’’ pp. 36-37, [17]
Tipu’s generals were not far behind him in perpetrating atrocities on the hapless Coorgi civilians. The general Shoostri laid waste to many villages in Kushalanagar region. One such has been recorded by Hayavadana Rao, who records, “Zain-ul-labidin Shoostri, who, by way of erasing the impression of former misconduct, had by now attacked the village of Kushalpur [in Coorg] and plundered and destroyed it, making prisoners of the inhabitants’’ pp. 681-682, [10]
Further, Tipu’s contempt of women is manifest in his remarks to the Coorgis, where he castigates the freedom given to Coorgi women. This has been recorded by Richter, who points out Tipu’s anger against the `ascendancy of women and bastardy of your children is your common attribute.’ p. 247, [9]
Like many others, Tipu was infamous for forcibly abducting the womenfolk of his enemies. The Raja of Coorg was among those, who suffered this fate, as recorded by Wilks,”It was probably after this event [escape of the Raja of Coorg from the fortress of Periyapatnam] that Tippoo Sultaun ordered the remainder of the family to be removed to Seringapatam; where after the customary scrutiny, two females, sisters of the Raja, were received into the royal harem; and a third deemed unworthy of that honour, had a destination of which we shall presently speak.’’ p. 165, [15]
Tipu’s officers suffered from a similar malady, as indicated by Wilks, “A person named Zeen-ul-ab-u-Deen-Mahdavee was left as foujedar of Coorg, and in the exercise of a power too customary among Mussulmans, forcibly carried off the sister of a person named Mummatee, who being enraged at the indignity, incited the inhabitants, who sought but an ostensible motive, and a leader, to rise in a general revolt;’’ p. 533, [16]
In his book, Sheik Ali has claimed that Tipu crushed the Hindus of Coorg, because they were in league with the English. p. 79, [19]. However, Tipu crushed the Coorgis between 1785 and 1788, when he was not at war with the British and the Coorgis were not allied with anyone. Further, even Tipu never accused the Coorgis of being in league with the English (as seen by his own accusations, earlier in this article – he accuses them of rebellion and immoral behaviour, but not of being in league with the English). The only time when the Coorgis allied themselves with the English (in 1791 and later), they succeeded in winning their freedom from him.
Tipu’s War with the Nizam and the Marathas
In 1785-1786, Tipu was at war with the Nizam and the Marathas, over the conduct of the Desai of Nargund (among other reasons), as we have mentioned in the previous part. Bowring chronicles Tipu’s instructions to the commander investing Nargund, “In the event of your being obliged to assault the place, every living creature in it, whether man or woman, old or young, child, dog, cat, or anything else, must be put to the sword, with the single exception of Kala Pandit (the commandant) what more’? pp. 218-219, [3]
The fate of the Desai of Nargund [in 1784-85] has also been chronicled by Hayavadana Rao, in both his Mysore Gazetteer, and the History of Mysore “On this he dispatched a force against Nargund, which the Mahrattas failed to relieve; and, after operations protracted for several months, the Deshayi, induced on a false promise to deliver himself up, was treacherously put into chains and sent off to Kabbaldurga in October 1785. Kittur was taken in a similar manner.’’ p. 2582, [14]
The fate of the Desai of Nargund has also been corroborated by Wilks, who records, “The Deshaye descended under the escort of a select guard of his own men, on the faith of personal security, and free permission to depart; he was detained under a variety of pretenses, and the vigilance and desperate aspect of his little guard, was such as to restrain Burhan-u-Deen for nearly two months from overpowering them by open violence, the object however was effected on the 6th of October [1785]. The unfortunate Kala Pundit was dispatched in irons to Seringapatam, and thence to the well-known fort at Cabaldroog, with his family, one individual excepted, a daughter, who was seized for the harem of the Sultaun.’’ p. 538, [16], pp. 690-691, [10]
Ramachandra Rao also makes the same point about Tipu’s atrocities on the Desai of Nargund. He states, “Burhan ud Din and Mir Kawer were men of Savanoor. Tipu gave them some troops and sent them to Nargund, which fort they took. They took prisoner the Commandant of the fort, Callappa, by name, and sent him, his wife and children captives to Seringapatam. Callappa, `the Mirjman’ was then sent to Cappal Droog, where he died. His daughter was taken into the Sultan’s seraglio.’’ p. 37, [17].
Tipu also perpetrated utter barbarities on enemy soldiers, and this has been recorded by the contemporary chroniclers. Ramachandra Rao also states that Tipu plundered the town of Savannur, stripping it bare. p. 38, [17]. Recounting further, Ramachandra Rao says, “Then the Badshah marched to Bahadur Bunder, where he planted batteries and made an assault in which he conquered the fort. The Peshwa had in his employ several Arabs who fled with their arms. This place was commanded by Hanuma Naik and Tipu had this man’s legs cut off.’’ p. 38, [17].
The latter event of Tipu’s cruel treatment of the Hindus, who had surrendered to the Marathas at Bahadur Banda, Hayavadana Rao writes, “On January 13th, Bahadur Banda surrendered after a short siege. The Arabs who composed a portion of the garrison were suffered to depart with their arms, but, in violation of the terms, the Hindu matchlock- men, formerly of Tipu’s garrison, who had gone over to the Mahrattas, were punished by the excision of their noses and ears, and Hanumant Naik, their chief, by the amputation of both his legs.’’ pp. 711-712, [10]
During the campaign, Tipu’s ruthlessness was once more visible. Bowring has chronicled the events and this is corroborated by Hayavadana Rao too, “Again he writes regarding some of the Nizam’s cavalry, of whom six had been taken prisoners at Kadapa: Let the prisoners be strangled, and the horses, after being valued, be taken into Government service.” p. 219, [3]
Hayavadana Rao, in his famous three volume history of Mysore State, narrates the fate of the family of the Palegars (Tipu’s vassals) of Koppal, “Tipu then proceeded [to Koppal] by route of Kanchangarh, whose ruler, Tungamma – widow of the deceased Palegar – who had gone over to the Mahrattas, escaped by flight across the river, and whose son was taken prisoner and later circumcised and made a Muslim under the name of Ali Mardan Khan.’’ p. 706, [10]
Later on, during the revolt of Moona Kool in 1786, we have Tipu writing a letter to his commander, Budruz Zaman Khan, ordering him to forcibly convert the followers of Moona. This letter has been translated by Col. William Kirkpatrick, who translated a large number of Tipu’s letters into English, after the fall of Srirangapattanam,
“Letter to Budruz Zaman Khan, 19/01/1786
Directing him to crucify the miscreant (‘) Moona Kol, and to send for his family and keep them confined in irons. If the nephew of Moona Kool should be more than twenty five years of age, to crucify him also
Two hundred of the followers of Moona Kool to be made Ahmedies, and put into the Nugr” pp. 242-243, [5]

Tipu’s ruthlessness against the Palegars
After the campaign against the Marathas and the Nizam, which ended in a tame draw, Tipu turned his attention to the palegars of Harapanahalli and Rayadurga [between 1786 and 1788]. Tipu had been strengthened by the Maratha inability to chastise Tipu sufficiently, and he utilised the opportunity after the failure of the Marathas to ruthlessly destroy the poligars of northern Mysore, many of whom had been loyal to Tipu during the Maratha war. This has been recorded by many chroniclers.
Hayavadana Rao and Lewis Rice have both written, “Returning by way of Harpanhalli and Rayadrug, after deceiving those polegars by repeated acknowledgments of their services, Tipu treacherously seized and sent them off to Kabbaldurga, plundering their capitals of every article of the slightest value, and annexing their territories.’’ p.2583, [14], p. 400, [7]
Hayavadana Rao, in his History of Mysore, expands on the treachery at Harpanahalli and Rayadurga, thus “And having previously removed all grounds of suspicion, by repeated personal acknowledgement to the chiefs of the distinguished services they had rendered in the late campaign, he seized them and their principal officers in camp on the same day, and hour that the brigades overpowered their unsuspecting garrisons. The cash and effects of every kind, not excepting the personal ornaments of the women, were carried off as plunder, and the chiefs themselves, who were put in irons, were sent off to Bangalore and later to Kabbaldurg, where they miserably perished.’’ pp. 711-712, [10]
The same atrocities have been confirmed by Ramachandra Rao too. He writes, “In the year [1787], Tippoo vanquished Harpanhalli, Raidroog, Havanur, and other places; he imprisoned the poligars of the places and their troops, setting guards in these towns; all the jewels and other plunder were seized; then he sent the poligar of Harpanhalli to Capal Droog and put him to death there. The poligars of Raidroog and Havanur and their followers were sent, some to Bangaloor and some to [Capal] Droog while the wives and children of these three poligars were sent to be in prison at Seringapatam.’’ pp. 38-39, [17].
Continuing on the fates of the hapless inhabitants of Rayadurga, Harpanahalli and Lochangood, Punaganuri continues, “Tippoo also sent Chistyar Khan and Purnaya and Nayak Singaya with some infantry to Rai Droog, sending also Kisnappa and Syed Mohammad Khan (of Hyderabad) and Nayak Govind Rao to Harpanhalli. At each place, the house of the baron [poligar] and that of his headman (Dalwai) was plundered. He next made prisoners of some inhabitants of Lochangood, whom he sent to Seringapatam; there they were made converts.’’ p. 39, [17]
Tipu’s brutality continued, and during the Third Mysore War (1791-92), Tipu’s cruelty towards the people of Chikkaballapur has been recorded by Ramachandra Rao, who writes, “Before arriving at Shondeh Coppah, Tippoo marched to Chikka Balapoor; he took the fort of Balapoor; here were five hundred peons [spearmen] in the employ of the poligar; the poligar and his men surrendered on the themselves on the faith of the promises of Mir Mohin ud Deen. But he cut off their hands and legs and let them go.’’ p. 45, [17]
Tipu’s atrocities on Mysore and its Raja
Tipu Sultan decided to obliterate the town of Mysore, in order to eliminate all traces of the previous Hindu dynasty. The Hindu dynasty of Mysore was extremely hated by him and he strove to extinguish this line by every means, without jeopardising his own position in the region. These attempts have been recorded by Lewis Rice, in both volumes of the Mysore Gazetteer. He writes,
“Hyder’s son, Tipu, attempted to obliterate traces of the Hindu Raj, and in pursuance of this policy, caused the town and fort of Mysore [in 1787], the ancient residence of the Rajas, to be razed to the ground and deported all inhabitants to the neighbourhood of Seringapatam. The stones of the old fort, he employed in building another fortress, on a slight eminence about a mile to the east, to which he gave the appellation, still retained by the site, of Nazarbad, of the place visited by the Eye of the Almighty, and the remains of the fort are to be seen.
The work, which, according to Maj. Wilks, could not have been of the slightest use in defending the country, was still unfinished at the fall of Seringapatam; and when it had been determined that the inauguration of the Raja, then a child of four years old, should take place at Mysore, it was discovered that owing to the almost universal demolition of the place by Tipu, the workmen’s huts at Nazarbad formed the only accommodation available for the performance of the ceremony. Into the best of these, the young Raja was conducted and placed on the throne, while the work of rebuilding the palace of his ancestors was going on.” pp. 281-282, [12]

On returning to the capital, he began the destruction of the fort and town of Mysore, and commenced building Nazarbad [in place of Mysore].’’ p. 400, [7].
Wilks corroborates the account, writing, “The town and fort of Mysoor, the ancient residence of the Rajas, and the capital from which the whole country derived its name, was an offensive memorial of the deposed family, and he determined that the existence and if possible, the remembrance of such a place should be extinguished. The fort was levelled with the ground and the materials were employed in the erection of another fortress on a neighbouring height, which he named Nezerbar [Nasarbad today]. …. The town was utterly destroyed and the inhabitants were ordered to remove at their option to Gunj-am on the island of Seringapatam or to the Agrar (bramin village) of Bumboor, now to be named Sultaun-pet, a little to the southward of the island.’’ p.2, [15]
Ram Chandra Rao also confirms the destruction of the fort of Mysoor in 1787, saying, “Tippoo broke down the ancient treasury gate of Seringapatam and the old fort of Mysore and built a new one named Nazarbahar’’. p. 39, [17].
Tipu decided to do away with the old Hindu dynasty, whose regent, he and his father, Hyder Ali, were and usurp the throne. This attempt has been recorded by Lewis Rice, who writes “In 1796, Chamaraja Wodeyar, the pageant Raja, died of small pox. The practice of annually exhibiting him on the throne at the Dasara had been kept up, but Tipu now considered it unnecessary, removed the family to a mean building and plundered the palace of everything.” p. 410, [7]
Lewis Rice’s account has also been corroborated by Wilks, who writes, “Even Tippoo Sultaun in the height of his arrogance had not hitherto omitted the customary form of showing the Raja to his people once a year, at the feast of Dessera, but now [in 1796] for the first time, the ceremony was omitted of even a nominal succession to the musnud. The ancient Ranee, the present Raja, then two years old, with the remnant of the family, were removed to a miserable hovel, in which they were found at the capture of Seringapatam, and the palace rifled of all its contents, and even the individuals of their personal ornaments; the present Raja cried bitterly at the attempt to take away his little golden bracelets, and there was still sufficient feeling among the instruments of this tyranny, to be touched at the distress of a child and to abstain from this last violation.’’ pp. 300-301, [15]
Even Tipu’s French allies were horrified by Tipu’s treatment of the Rajah of Mysore’s family and the French historian Michaud records that, “History eternally reproaches him of having left the family of the Rajah [of Mysore] in the most dreadful misery.’’ p. 86, [8]
Apart from destroying the palace of Mysore, he also destroyed the Maharaja of Mysore’s palace in the island of Srirangapattanam, which included the Maharaja’s library. This has been recorded by Hayavadana Rao, who writes, “The library of the [Mysore] Maharaja’s palace at Seringapatam, with its invaluable manuscripts, was destroyed by Tipu in 1796.” p. 731, [10]
Tipu destroyed the artificial lake at French Rocks [now near Pandavapura] in 1792. p. 50, [17].
Temples destroyed by Tipu
Sitaram Goel records the destruction of the temple of Nandi at Srirangapattanam. He quotes the court historian of Tipu, Kirmani, as he writes, “It is known that when the vile and rejected Brahman Khunda Rao imprisoned the Nawab’s Zanana and the Sultan (who was then a boy of six or seven years of age) in a house in the fort, there stood a Hindu temple, the area or space round which was large. The Sultan, therefore, in his infancy being like all children fond of play, and as in that space boys of Kinhiri Brahmin castes assembled to amuse themselves, was accustomed to quit the house to see them play, or play with them. It happened one day that a Fakir (a religious mendicant) a man of saint-like mind passed that way, and seeing the Sultan gave him a life bestowing benediction, saying to him, `Fortunate child, at a future time thou will be the king of this country, and whey thy time comes, remember my words-take this temple and destroy it, and build a Masjid in its place, and for ages it will remain a memorial of thee.’ The Sultan smiled, and in reply told him, that whenever, by his blessing, he should become a Padishah, or king, he would do as he (the Fakir) directed. When, therefore, after a short time his father became a prince, the possessor of wealth and territory, he remembered his promise, and after his return from Nagar and Gorial Bundar, he purchased the temple from the adorers of the image in it (which after all was nothing but the figure of a bull, made of brick and mortar) with their goodwill, and the Brahmins, therefore, taking away their image, placed it in the Deorhi Peenth, and the temple was pulled down, and the foundations of a new Masjid raised on the site, agreeably to a plan of the Mosque built by Ali Adil Shah, at Bijapur, and brought thence.’’ [21], [22]
The nature of the purchase needs no comment. [21]’’
Sitaram Goel also records the destruction of the Anjaneya temple at Srirangapatnam, stating in his book `Hindu Temples – What happened to Them’, “Jãmi Masjid built by Tipu Sultan (1787). Stands on the site of the Ãñjaneya Temple.’’ [17]
Sitaram Goel also points out, quoting Kirmani himself, the establishment of the Masjidi Ala on a temple site, writing, “At this time the Sultan determined to recommence the building of the Masjidi Ala, the erection of which had been suspended since the year 1198 Hijri, and the Daroghu Public buildings, according to the plan, which will be mentioned hereafter, completed it in two years, at the expense of three lakhs of rupees.’’ [21], [22]
Malabar and Anjengo Gazetteer of James Rice-Innes mentions a temple destroyed in Coorg. He points out, “The Palupare fort, on the Kire river, a tributary of the Lakshmanateertha, in Hatgatnad, in Kiggatnad taluq, in which there are also the ruins of a temple, is said to have been built by Kolli Ninga and Benne Krishna of the Bedaru or hunter tribe. It was destroyed by Tippu Sultan’s armies and its ruins are extensive.” p. 193, [11].
Tipu destroyed the Prasannaparvati temple at Nandigada in 1794. Ramachandra Rao records, “The sultan then marched to Balapoor and Nandigada, where he kicked the [image of the] goddess [named Prasanna Parvati] and broke her statue. He ordered the Killadar to lodge himself in the pagoda.’’ p. 48, [17]
Sitaram Goel, in his famous book, `Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’ has noted the destruction of the following temples:
Bellary, Masjid built by Tipu Sultãn (1789-90). Temple site.
Hospet, Masjid in Bazar Street built by Tipu Sultan (1795-96). Temple site.
Nagar, Masjid built by Tipu Sultan. Temple materials used. [6]

Further, Tipu often confiscated the lands and wealth of the temples. Hayavadana Rao points out, “Tipu’s bigotry about this time led him to consummate the extinction of Hindu worship in the State, the confiscated funds of the temples being intended to balance the loss of the revenue derived so far from the tax on intoxicating substances. The measure commenced to operate from an early period of his regime, and the extinction was gradual, though (in 1799) the two temples (i.e. the Ranganatha and the Narasimha Swami temples) within the fort of Seringapatam alone remained open throughout the extent of his kingdom. The service inams of the Patels were likewise confiscated. … Tipu strove, in short, to obliterate every trace of the previous rulers. For this purpose, even the fine irrigation works, centuries old, of the Hindu Rajas, were to be destroyed and reconstructed in his own name.’’ p. 925, [10]
Wilks also points out the confiscation of temple lands, and writes, “The same bigotry led him to the extinction of Hindoo worship, and the confiscated funds of the temples, and were intended to compensate, and would, if well-administered, in a great degree, have balanced the tax on intoxicating substances: the measure commenced at an early period of his reign, and the extinction was gradual, but in 1799, the two temples within the fort of Seringapatam, alone remained open throughout the extent of his domains.’’ p. 267, [15]
Sheik Ali has argued in his book p. 79, [19] that Tipu’s grants to Sringeri and other temples absolve him of the charge of bigotry. However, he overlooks the instances in which Tipu showered largesse on Hindu temples and their leaders and the context it provides. Nandagopal Menon wrote about Tipu’s gifts to temples and his appeasement of Hindus thus, “It is common knowledge that Tipu had immense faith in astrology. He used to keep a number of astrologers in his court who were asked to calculate the time auspicious for his invasions. It was at the appeals of these astrologers and his own mother that Tipu spared two temples out of more than a dozen within Srirangapatanam Fort. Moreover, by the end of 1790, Tipu was facing enemies from all sides. He was also defeated at the Travancore Defence Lines. It was then that in order to appease the Hindus of Mysore, he started giving land-grants to Hindu temples.”, ch.03, [4]
Further, Nandagopal Menon, quoting Parameswaram Pillai wrote, “This view finds endorsement in the biography of the Diwan of Travancore, Life History of Raja Kesavadas by V,R. Parameswaran Pillai. Pillai writes: “With respect to the much-published land-grants I had explained the reasons about 40 years back. Tipu had immense faith in astrological predictions. It was to become an Emperor (Padushah) after destroying the might of the British that Tipu resorted to land-grants and other donations to Hindu temples in Mysore including Sringeri Mutt, as per the advice of the local Brahmin astrologers. Most of these were done after his defeat in 1791 and the humiliating Srirangapatanam Treaty in 1792. These grants were not done out of respect or love for Hindus or Hindu religion but for becoming Padushah as predicted by the astrologers.” ch.03, [4]
Hayavadana Rao also points out the expediency to which Tipu resorted when threatened politically. This is recorded in his book on the History of Mysore. He writes, “His [Tipu’s] religious fanaticism and the excesses he committed in the name of religion – both in Mysore and in the provinces, especially in Malabar and in Coorg, stand condemned for all time. His bigotry was indeed so great that it precluded all idea of toleration to others’ feelings in social or religious matters. He kept up intercourse with the Sringer Guru, but it was more for the political benefits he expected to derive from it than for allowing him unmolested the free exercise of his own religion.’’ p. 1048, [10]
Tipu’s bigotry in his administrative choices
It is interesting to observe Tipu’s character as described by several, both his allies and his enemies. Michaud, a contemporary French historian, who is rather sympathetic to Tipu [unsurprisingly, given that the French were Tipu’s allies, till the end] records the advice given by Haidar to Tipu, “Hindus, enfeebled by their pacific maxims, are incapable of defending their nation, which becomes every day the prey of foreigners; Muslims are numerous and more enterprising than the weak Hindus; it is to them belongs the glory of saving Hindustan [from the foreigners]. My son, gather all your efforts for the triumph of the Koran; and if heaven supports this noble enterprise, the day is not far, perhaps, for the sword of Mahomet will place you on the throne of Tamerlane.’’ pp. 81-82, [8] Michaud, further avers that these counsels [of his father] had a great impression on the mind of young Tipu. He says, “This advice made a strong impression on the mind of the young Tippoo Saib, and maxims of the father became the immutable principles of his own policy. He always showed himself ardent protector of the doctrine of Mahomet.’’ p. 83, [8] Consequently, it can be seen that Tipu was educated by his father to a) believe that the Muslims are the only ones capable of facing off against the foreigners, b) Hindus are weak and incapable. And while Michaud says that Tipu was always a great follower of the doctrine of Mohammad, he says nothing about his affection for the Hindus.
Tipu, raised by Haidar to hold such contempt for the Hindus, had unsurprisingly, a general disdain for Hindus [and also Christians] and a particular solicitude for the Muslims. It is recorded by Bowring that, “In 1786 he issued a remarkable proclamation, calling upon all true believers to ‘extract the cotton of negligence from the ears of their understanding,’ and, quitting the territories of apostates and unbelievers, to take refuge in his dominions, where, by the Divine blessing, they would be better provided for than before, and their lives, honour, and property remain under the protection of God. He was resolved that the worthless and stiff-necked infidels, who had turned aside their heads from obedience to the true and openly raised the standard of unbelief, should be chastised by the hands of the faithful, and made either to acknowledge the true religion or faith, to pay tribute. As, owing to the imbecility of the princes of Hind, that insolent race (presumably the English) had conceived the futile opinion that true believers had become weak, mean, and contemptible, and had overrun and laid waste the territories of Musalmans, extending the hand of violence and on the property and honour of the faithful, he had resolved to prosecute a holy war against them.” p. 215, [3]
Ramachandra Rao points out that in 1784-85, Tipu seized the property of the Brahmins. He points out, “Tippoo now settled all the country and seized on all the lands (agraharams) and livings (bhattavartiswasti), which had been bestowed on the Brahmins; he established a Revenue office to ascertain facts concerning several livings (agraharams) and report on them. After full enquiry, some (bhatvarti maniams) clerical stipends were ordered to be sequestered and others to be sanctioned.’’ p. 37, [17]
Not even atheists were spared by Tipu. Ramachandra Rao records that, “Sayed Mohammed Khan, who was commandant of the fort of Seringpatam, was falsely accused [in 1794] to the sultan that this man, with the atheists, had leagued to seize possession of Seringapatam. … Then Tippoo took away the title Mir Mira which he had bestowed upon Syed Mohammad Khan, the atheist [daireh wala], who was commandant of Seringapatam, imprisoning him and all other atheists, whether they were in his service or not, he turned them out of his country.’’ p. 48, [17]
Tipu’s tax policy and his preference for Muslim officers and administrators has been clearly described by PCN Raja, “In a deliberately designed taxation scheme, the religious prejudice of Tipu Sultan became quite clear. His co-religionists, Muslims, were exempted from house tax, commodity tax and also the levy on other items of household use. Those who were converted to Muhammadanism, were also given similar tax exemptions. He had even made provisions for the education of their children. Tipu Sultan discontinued the practice of appointing Hindus in different administrative and military jobs as practised by his father, Hyder Ali Khan, in the past. He had deep hatred towards all non-Muslims. During the entire period of sixteen years of his regime, Purnaiyya was the only Hindu who had adorned the post of Dewan or minister under Tipu Sultan. In 1797 (two years before his death) among the 65 senior Government posts, not even a single Hindu was retained. All the Mustadirs were also Muslims. Among the 26 civil and military officers captured by the British in 1792 there were only 6 non-Muslims. In 1789, when the Nizam of Hyderabad and other Muslim rulers decided that only Muslims would be appointed henceforth in all Government posts, Tipu Sultan also adopted the same policy in his Mysore State. Just because they were Muslims, even those who were illiterate and inefficient, were also appointed to important Government posts. Even for getting promotions, one still had to be a Muslim under Tipu Sultan’s regime. Considering the interest and convenience of only Muslim officers, all the records relating to tax revenue, were ordered to be written in Persian rather than in Marathi and Kannada as followed earlier. He even tried to make Persian the State language in place of Kannada. In the end all the Government posts were filled by lazy and irresponsible Muslims. As a consequence the people had to suffer a great deal because of those fun-seeking and irresponsible Muslim officers. The Muslim officers, occupying important posts at all levels, were all dishonest and unreliable persons. Even when people complained to him with evidences against those officers, Tipu Sultan did not care to inquire about the complaints lodged.” ch.02, [4]
This state of affairs is seen to be confirmed by Wilks too, who points out, “Among the real novelties in the code of Revenue, not one improvement can be discovered; as specimens may be adduced an instruction to seize all Christians and confiscate their property. … There was indeed on novelty of a ludicrous description; offices requiring an exact knowledge of accounts, and formerly filled by Brahmins or Hindoos, were ordered to be executed by Mahommedans; and when it was objected to many of the individuals that they could not even write, the Sultaun gravely replied that they would learn.’’ p. 266-267, [15]
Hayavadana Rao points out how Tipu considered Hindus and other non-Muslims “At this time [after the treaty of Seringapatam in 1792], Tipu developed a great aversion to Brahmans, Hindus and other tribes… and did not consider any but the people of Islam his friends, and therefore, on all accounts, his chief object was to promote and provide for them’’ p. 922, [10]
Ripaud, a Frenchman in Tipu’s service, recorded the treatment of Hindus, thus, “I’m disturbed by Tipu Sultan’s treatment of these most gentle souls, the Hindus. … ‘’ [Entry on the 14th January, 1799. [13]
On the other hand, Muslim officers could and often did, get away with the most egregious offences, as recorded by Wilks, “A person of strict veracity, who was present at the examination of an account furnished by a Mahommedan officer, in which the frauds were too obvious to be concealed, related that the Minister, Mir Sadik, could not help noticing it to the Sultaun. …. The Sultaun paused, and meditated for some time. `He is a Mussulman’, he gravely replied, `and pronounces the bismillah before his meal; if the revenue has diminished, the praise of God is increased.’’’ p. 272, [15]
Even in policies of trade, Tipu preferred Muslims, and not to trade with the Europeans, even his French allies, “… in 1784, he [Tipu] ordered the eradication of all pepper vines in the maritime districts, and merely reserved those of inland growth to trade with the true believers from Arabia”, p. 595, [11]
One of Tipu’s virtues, i.e. the ban on alcoholic, opium and other intoxicating substances, which have been lauded by many secular historians, as reformatory, must be seen in the context of the Koranic injunction. “The large sacrifice of revenue involved in this prohibition was founded on the unforced interpretation of a text of the Koran; `every intoxicating drink is forbidden’ and on that fanatical zeal which is deemed to cover and found to accompany so many deviations from moral rectitude.’’, p. 267, [15]
Tipu was infamous for seizing temple lands throughout his kingdom. This has been recorded by Lewis Rice, who points out, “Lands and money allowances granted to Hindu pagodas, as well as service inams of Patels, were confiscated, and an income was raised by dividing the houses in the fort of Seringapatam into separate wards for different classes, and putting prices upon them. The Revenue regulations of Chikka Deva Raja, however, remained unaltered; but they were republished as the ordinances of the sultan himself. He strove, in short, to obliterate every trace of the previous rulers. For this purpose, even the fine irrigation works, centuries old, of the Hindu Rajas were to be destroyed and reconstructed in his own name.”, p. 410, [7]
Tipu, importunate to get foreign alliances and assistance for his purposes, had no problem pointing out his brutality towards the Hindus to enthuse the Afghans to commit to a holy war against all infidels. He wrote to the Afghan King, Zaman Shah, on 30/01/1799, stating, “You were pleased to write that it was the object of yours to crush the infidels and to propagate the religion of Muhammad; please God, your Majesty would soon proceed with the conquering army to prosecute a holy war against the infidels and heretics, and free the religion of those regions from those shameless tribes …. it is my hope and my prayers that the oppression of the infidels and the polytheists may be destroyed by the avenging sword of those who have been selected by God to exercise domination” p. 275, [23]
In the same tone, he persists, boasting of his conversions, “Nearly 500,000 of the infidels of the districts of Calicut, Nuzzerabad, Zafferabad and Ashrusabad, who were wavering on the precincts of obedience, have been converted at different times” p. 283, [23]
Michaud further states that “Hyder Aly had the ambition to extend the cult of the Koran to all the peninsula of India. As a faithful and scrupulous follower of the law of the Prophet, Tippoo Saib would make it [Islam] reign among his subjects. He apportioned his time between caring for his government and the expansion of the Mohammedan religion.’’ pp. 124-125, [8].
Conclusion
Tipu’s oppression, temple destruction and bigotry have been summarised by both Lewin Bowring and Hayavadana Rao, who write, “So many instances have been given of the atrocities which he committed in the name of religion, that it would be superfluous to add to them. In this respect, he rivalled Mahmud of Ghazni, Nadir Shah, and Ala-ud-din the Pathan Emperor of Delhi surnamed the Khuni, or the Bloody, all of whom were famous for the number of infidels slaughtered by their orders. For this very zeal for the faith, notwithstanding the cruelties which attended his persecutions, the name of Tipu Sultan was long held in reverence by his co-religionists in Southern India – a proof how readily crimes that cry to Heaven are condoned when perpetrator of them is supposed to have been animated by a sincere desire to propagate the faith which he professed.” pp. 226-227, [3] pp. 1043-1045, [10]
Even Tipu’s own court bard, Kirmani, concedes, “He had a pleasing address and manner, and was very discriminating in his estimation of the character of men of learning, and laboured sedulously in the encouragement and instruction of the people of Islam. He had, however, a great dislike to, or rather, an abhorrence of the people of other religions
…. His chief aim was the protection and encouragement of the Muhammadan religion and the religious maxims or rules of the Soonni sect – and he had not only abstained from all forbidden practices, but he also strictly prohibited his servants from their commission’’ pp. 1040-1042, [10]

Michaud sums up Tipu’s character with the following statement, “We have noticed that when physically or morally feeble men arrive by chance at an exalted station, the head turns. We will see an example in this unhappy Tippoo-saib, who when left in power, was dazzled by it and whose overconfidence in his strength caused him to rush into mad enterprises which snatched away his empire and his life.’’ p. 86, [8]
Perhaps, it is appropriate to end the article with the words of Col. Allen, recorded by Hayavadana Rao, “Hyder was born to create an empire, Tippoo to lose one’’ p. 1036, [10]. And one wonders at the quality of the secularism that the honourable chief minister of Karnataka affects, if he is proud of the man whose crimes we have just recorded.
References:
[1] Tipu greatest Kannadiga in 500 years, says Girish Karnad. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/...in-500-years-says-girish-karnad/1/521954.html
[2] “Karnataka simmers over Tipu Sultan Controversy’’, http://www.ndtv.com/karnataka-news/karnataka-simmers-over-tipu-sultan-controversy-1242517
[3] Lewin Bowring, “Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan and the struggle with the Mussalman powers of the South”
[4] “Tipu Sultan: Hero or Tyrant”, Collection of Articles, Voice of Dharma Publications http://voiceofdharma.org/books/tipu/
[5] William Kirkpatrick, “Selected Letters of Tipu Sultan”, 1811
[6] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 1, ch. 10
[7] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part I”, 1897
[8] J. Michaud, “Histoires des progrès et de la chûte de l’empire de Mysore”
[9] Rev. Richter, “Coorg Gazetteer”
[10] Hayavadana Rao, “History of Mysore’’, Vol. 3
[11] James Rice-Innes, “Malabar and Anjengo”
[12] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part II”.
[13] – “Tyrant Diaries: An account of Tipu provided by Ripaud’’, Francois Gautier http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-tyrant-diaries/284803
[14] “Mysore Gazetteer – Historical’’, Hayavadana Rao, Vol. 2
[15] Col. Mark Wilks, “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 3.
[16] Col. Mark Wilks, “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 2.
[17] Ramachandra Rao, “Memoirs of Hyder and Tippoo: rulers of Seringapatam’’
[18] Patrick Hamilton-Buchanan, “An Account of Travels through Mysore, Canara and Malabar’’, Vol. 3.
[19] “Tipu Sultan”, B Sheik Ali
[20] “Memoir of an Officer in the Employ of the Rajah of Coorg’’, 1857.
[21] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 2, ch. 7
[22] Mir Ali Kirmani, “Nishan i Hyduri’’, Translated by Col. W Miles.
[23] IM Muthanna, “Tipu Sultan X Rayed”, Usha Press.
 
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Topi sultan – a History of Bigotry and Barbarities Outside Karnataka- I.


Author : SHANMUKH SASWATI SARKAR and DIKGAJ

Introduction


In the previous article [https://defenceforumindia.com/threads/tipu-sultan-noble-or-savage.76724/post-1990482], we recounted the barbarities and bigotry of Tipu Sultan in the region of (current) Karnataka. We recounted his numerous outrages on everyone from those in Mysore, to those of his poligars in Chiradurga, Nargund, Kittur, etc. to his brutalities on his own officers like Shamaiah and Rangaiah and his horrific brutalities on the people of Canara and Coorg. [33]. In this article, we shall pursue Tipu’s brutalities and barbarities beyond the borders of Karnataka and show that his cruelties were neither limited by time, nor by space. We shall follow his trail of terror in the Malabar, and continue to show the same behaviour in both Travancore and the regions of Tamizh Nadu that he ruled. We shall further show that his actions were consistent with basic theological tenets of Islam, as can be found in Quran and Hadith.


In our article, we have relied on a wide variety of references, both contemporary and that of later historians. Of the contemporary sources, we have relied on Tipu’s own letters [5], [31], that of his official biographer, Kirmani, [29] (a Muslim source), that of his treasury official, Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, [31], (a Hindu source), that of Fra, Bartolomeo (a Portuguese missionary source) and several British sources (Hamilton-Buchanan [25], [26], Col. Mark Wilks [15], [16], and Col. Kirkpatrick [5]). Of later sources, we have relied on reputed historians like Sankunni Menon [1] of Travancore, and KP Padmanabha Menon [21]. [22], Krishna Ayyar [20], KM Panikkar [32], and Hayavadana Rao [23]. [24]. and Lewin Bowring [3]. A few other local sources and events have also been used with proper citation.


The article has been divided into two parts to make it manageable in size. The first part considers the origin of Tipu’s Jihad and his barbarities and religious bigotry in the Malabar, and the second part covers the effect of Tipu’s Jihad in the Malabar, his temple destruction and the atrocities in Travancore, Coimbatore and other parts of the south, along with the conclusion.

Section A: Malabar

Tipu himself had remarked that he was embarking on a Jihad against the Hindus. Most of Tipu’s outrages and anti-Hindu activities were carried out in Malabar. Malabar was among the richest of Tipu’s provinces and also the most unruly. Tipu and his Moplah allies devastated the region. These activities of Tipu have been described in gory detail by several authors. We will proceed to detail Tipu’s atrocities. However, first a word about the term `Nairs’ is in order. The term appears to have been used loosely, often, for all non-Brahmin landowning classes of the Malabar and Travancore, rather than as a specific reference to a caste.


The province of Malabar had repeatedly risen in revolt, both against Haidar and Tipu. The barbarities of both Haidar and Tipu precluded a peaceful rule by the Mysore kings in the region. But the treaty of Mangalore, at the end of the second Mysore war, left the region and its rulers to Tipu. In his chronicle of the Zamorins of Calicut, Krishna Ayyar relates that “… the Treaty of Mangalore concluded in 1784, restored Malabar to Tippu and exposed the Hindus to a religious persecution and suffering, unparalleled in the history of any other country.’’ p. 250, [20]


Section A2: The Original Threat by Tipu and Forcible Conversion


The province of Malabar had revolted against Haidar too in the past, but none ever let loose the savagery on Malabar that Tipu did. Indeed, Tipu himself had announced his intention to forcibly convert the population of Malabar to Islam, if ever they rebelled, as Innes, and Hayavadana Rao point out,” From the period of the conquest until this day, during twenty-four years, you have been a turbulent and refractory people, and in the wars waged during your rainy season, you have caused numbers of our warriors to taste the draught of martyrdom. Be it so. What is past is past. Hereafter you must proceed in an opposite manner, dwell quietly and pay your dues like good subjects: and since it is the practice with you for one woman to associate with ten men, and you leave your mothers and sisters unconstrained in their obscene practices, and are thence all born in adultery, and are more shameless in your connections than the beasts of the field : I hereby require you to forsake these sinful practices and to be like the rest of mankind; and if you are disobedient to these commands, I have made repeated vows to honour the whole of you with Islam and to march all the chief persons to the seat of Government.” p. 72, [11], pp. 717-718, [24].


The threat to `honour’ the entire population with Islam has also been chronicled by KM Panikkar. Quoting from the Hukmnameh of Tipu to the Malabar Hindus, Panikkar writes, “In the course of the last 25 years, you have slain near a hundred thousand of the Sircar’s soldiers, and repeatedly committed excesses. Now (or henceforward) you must desist from these proceedings; but if you should ever be guilty of the like, or engage in war or tumult against the Ahmedy Sircar, we will, with the blessing of God, the Helper, act by you according to the Book of God; and of the Messenger of God, will confer upon you the honour of Islam, and place, every individual of you in the Ahmedy ranks.’’ pp. 358-359, [32]


Lewin Bowring also corroborates Tipu’s zealotry in Malabar and his threats against its people, stating, “He next proceeded to Calicut, which offered him a fine field for showing his zeal for Islam by reforming the pestilential customs of the province. He at once issued a proclamation, denouncing the custom of polyandry, and informing the people that if they did not desist from such a pernicious practice usage, they would all be ‘honoured with Islam,’ and their headmen deported to Seringapatam. With this object, he appointed sundry religious teachers to supervise their domestic morals and teach the true faith.” pp. 135-136, [3]


It is interesting to see Tipu’s fury against polyandry, while he himself maintained a vast harem of women. In other words, taking multiple women, who were captives in war as his sex slaves was acceptable to Tipu, but polyandry was not. This view of Tipu flows directly from the Koran, which permits polygamy. Further, the Muslim kings (Akbar included) were infamous for maintaining vast harems. It is true that many Hindu kings also were polygamous, but few, if any, attempted to change the customs of polyandry and never by `honouring’ the entire suspected polyandrous populace with Islam. We shall cite a few verses that show that Tipu’s contempt for women came directly from the Koranic doctrine. 4:24 of the Koran states that “And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.’’ 4:24, [36] In short, it was permissible for Tipu to take the wives, sisters and daughters of infidels in war into his own harem. This is confirmed by other statements from the Hadith too, which state, ``Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported that at the Battle of Hanain Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent an army to Autas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (may peace te upon him) seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allah, Most High, sent down regarding that:” And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess (iv. 24)” (i. e. they were lawful for them when their ‘Idda period came to an end).’’ Book 008, Number 3432, [42]


When the revolt, in part invited by Tipu’s own brutal rule occurred, Tipu was happy to translate his intentions to ground reality. Tipu not only forcibly converted the kings and princes who were guilty of the revolt, but turned the entire population of the Malabar into his enemy. He pursued them into forests and caves where they had taken refuge and forcibly converted all he could lay his hands on.


The famous historian of Kerala, Sankunni Menon, who wrote the History of Travancore writes thus of Tipu’s atrocities in Malabar in 1788-1789, “The worst of Tippoo’s tyrannical proceedings was that he ordered the conversion of all the Hindus indiscriminately, whether of high caste or low caste, male or female, to the Mussalman faith, and all who acknowledge the prophet were menaced with death.


Tipu descended into the Malabar with the intention of compelling the Nayars to submit to Islam, but the Nayars refused pitched battles and retired to the mountain and forest refuges. Then, as KM Panikkar points out, “Baulked of his intention of `honouring’ the whole community with Islam, the Sultan organised what was a veritable manhunt. He divided up his army into small detachments with orders to scour the country and enforce his social reforms on the unwilling Nayars, and on refusal to convert them to Islam at the point of the sword.’’ p. 360, [32]


This is confirmed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri as well, who points out that Tipu marched in 1787 across the Tamaracherry pass and extracted a fortune from the Brahmins and Nairs as `nazars’ (gifts). In all, he seized Rs. 20 lakh of wealth from the people of Malabar. p. 39, [31].


Tipu’s brutal measures to exterminate the Hindus from the Malabar is narrated at length by Ravi Varma. He writes, “Tipu Sultan who gave strict orders to his army under M. Lally and Mir Asrali Khan to “surround and extricate the whole race of Nairs from Kottayam to Palghat,” (p. 508, [6]). After entrusting Calicut to a powerful army contingent, he instructed it “to surround the woods and seize the heads of all Nair factions”. He then proceeded to North Malabar to suppress the spreading revolt under Kadathanad and Pazhassi Rajas. Prior to this, Tipu had sent a formal request to the English Company at Tellicherry asking them “not to give protection and shelter to Nairs fleeing from South Malabar” (p. 509, [6]). A similar letter had been sent to the English Company in Tellicherry by Hyder Ali Khan in 1764 before he launched his Malabar invasion (Kerala History by A.S. Sreedhara Menon, p. 372).”, ch.04, [4]


As we have seen in the earlier sections, Tipu had held out a threat to `honour’ the entire Malabar with Islam. Once the Hindus of Malabar rose in revolt, Tipu began to carry out his threat with the utmost cruelty and brutality. Speaking further on the forcible conversion of the Nairs and other Hindus, PCN Raja writes, “Then he marched upto Kumbla on the northern borders of Kerala, forcibly converting to Islam every Hindu on the way. This time, his argument (repeated by the Muslim and secularist historians of today) was that if all belonged to one religion – Muhammadanism – there would be unity and consequently it would be easy to defeat the British!” ch.02, [4]. Right from the beginning, Tipu embarked upon forced conversions. This is noticed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, who states that, Tipu halted in the neighbourhood of Ahmadnagar and Chakatur after descending the Thamarassery pass into Kozhikode and forcibly converted a few inhabitants in the region in 1788 and drafted them into the Asadulai corps. p. 40, [31]. Tipu then marched on Kurmanadu from Ahmadnagar and forcibly converted all the Nairs there. He seized the fort of Agidi Cotta, also Cherkul, Cadtanad and other places and gave orders to forcibly convert all the Nairs there. p. 40, [31].


The fate of other Hindu princes was no better than that of the Raja of Chirakal, though many did escape to Travancore. PCN Raja writes, “All the members of one branch of Parappanad Royal Family were forcibly converted to Muhammadan faith except for one or two who escaped from the clutches of Tipu Sultan’s army. Similarly, one Thiruppad belonging to Nilamboor Royal Family was also forcibly abducted and converted to Islam. Thereafter, it was reported that further conversions of Hindus were attempted through those converts.’’ ch.02, [4]


The fate of the Hindu princes is also confirmed by Krishna Iyer in his book, `Zamorins of Calicut’, whose words were pointed out by PCN Raja, “As per the provisions of the Treaty of Mangalore of 1784, the British had allowed Tipu Sultan to have his suzerainty over Malabar. ‘In consequence, the Hindus of Malabar had to suffer the most severe enormities the world had ever known in history,’ observes K.V. Krishna Iyer, in his famous book, Zamorins of Calicut, based on historical records available from the royal house of Zamorins in Calicut. “When the second-in-line of Zamorins, Eralppad, refused to cooperate with Tipu Sultan in his military operations against Travancore because of Tipu’s crude methods of forcible circumcision and conversion of Hindus to Islam, the enraged Tipu Sultan took a solemn oath to circumcise and convert the Zamorin and his chieftains and Hindu soldiers to Islamic faith,” he adds.” ch.02,[4]


William Logan also confirms the fate of the Malabar princes in his Malabar Manual, “It was not only against the Brahmins who were thus put in a state of terror of forcible circumcision and conversion; but against all sections of Hindus. In August, 1788, a Raja of the Kshatriya family of Parappanad and also Trichera Thiruppad, a chieftain of Nilamboor, and many other Hindu nobles who had been carried away earlier to Coimbatore by Tipu Sultan, were forcibly circumcised and forced to eat beef. Nairs in desperation, under the circumstances, rose up against their Muslim oppressors under Tipu’s command in South Malabar and the Hindus of Coorg in the North also joined them.” (p. 507, [6]). ch.04, [4]


Innes also remarks the fate of the Malabar princes, writing, “The Parappanad family claim to be Kshatriyas by caste, and have often supplied consorts to the rulers of Travancore. They were roughly handled by Tipu, and many of them were forcibly converted to Islam; and since that time they have lived for the most part in Travancore.’’ p. 413, [11].


Tipu himself wrote several letters boasting his cruelty towards and forcible conversion of the Hindus to his commanders, or directing them to specific zealotry. We have collected several letters here.


Letter dated March 22, 1788, to Abdul Kadir: “Over 12,000 Hindus were ‘honoured’ with Islam. There were many Namboodiris (Brahmins) among them. This achievement should be widely publicised among the Hindus. There the local Hindus should be brought before you and then converted to Islam. No Namboodiri (Brahmin) should be spared. Also they should be confined there till the dress materials sent for them, reach you.” [29]


Tipu also wrote a letter dated December 14, 1788, to his Army Chief in Calicut: ``I am sending two of my followers with Mir Hussain Ali. With their assistance, you should capture and kill all Hindus. Those below 20 may be kept in prison and 5,000 from the rest should be killed by hanging from the tree-tops. These are my orders.’’ ch.04, [4], [29]. This letter is confirmed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri too, who writes that, Tipu, in a letter in December 1788 to the commander in Malabar states, “You are to slay the infidels. Such of the males [at Calicut] as may be under twenty years of age may be made prisoners. Of the remaining unbelievers, five thousand may be suspended to trees.’’ p. 41, [31]


In another letter dated December 21, 1788, Tipu wrote to Sheik Kutub: “242 Nairs are being sent as prisoners. Categorise them according to their social and family status. After honouring them with Islam, sufficient dress materials may be given to the men and their women.’’ Ch. 04, [4], [29]


The letter of January 19, 1790, sent to Budruz Zuman Khan by Tipu himself, says: “Don’t you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed ‘Raman Nair’ very soon (reference is to Rama Varma Raja of Travancore State who was popularly known as Dharma Raja). Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now’’. ch.03, [4], ch.04, [4], [29]


In a letter dated 8th Eezidy (February 13, 1790) addressed to Budruz Zuman Khan, Tipu writes: “Your two letters, with the enclosed memorandums of the Naimar (or Nair) captives, have been received. You did right in ordering a hundred and thirty-five of them to be circumcised, and in putting eleven of the youngest of these into the Usud Ilhye band (or class) and the remaining ninety-four into the Ahmedy Troop, consigning the whole, at the same time, to the charge of the Kilaaddar of Nugr…’’ ch.02, [4], ch.03, [4], p. 257, [5]


An original order sent to various army contingents by Tipu was found among the records from Palghat Fort, after its capture by the English Company in 1790. “It directed (all military detachments) that every being in the district should be honoured with Islam, that they should be traced to their hiding places, and that all means, truth or falsehood, fraud or force, should be employed to effect their universal conversion to Islam.’’ p.510, [6], ch.04, [4]. The above order issued to the army is confirmed by Innes, who writes, “Early in 1789 Tipu himself descended the Tamarasseri ghat to enforce his proclamation at the point of the sword. General orders were issued to his army of more than twenty thousand men that ‘every being in the district without distinction should be honoured with Islam, that the houses of such as fled to avoid that honour should be burned, that they should be traced to their lurking places, and that all means of truth and falsehood, force or fraud should be employed to effect their universal conversion’.” p. 73, [11]


The last order is also confirmed by Wilks, who details the circumstances in which Tipu’s order was found. He has recorded, “Six divisions, consisting of two brigades each, were left in Malabar, with the distinct establishments of officers, spiritual, civil and military, charged with the threefold duty of surveying the lands, numbering the productive trees, and seizing and instructing the remaining Nairs [in Islam]. … the joint duties of the spiritual and military officers were performed with horrible precision. [In a footnote is added] Palgaut was captured by the English in the ensuing year, and an officer of the staff, in searching the records of the place, for military intelligence, found one of the orders for conversion, under the sultan’s seal and signature, which was at the time deemed a curiosity of the highest order. It directed, `that every being in the district, without distinction, should be honoured with Islam, that the houses of such as fled to avoid that honour should be burned, that they should be traced to their lurking places, and that all means of truth and falsehood, fraud and force should be employed to effect their universal conversion.’’ p. 24, [15]. KM Panikkar also notes that when the British captured Palakkad, they found in the fort an order from Tipu which commanded the Killedar that he ``by every exertion of judgement and policy, whether by force or by consent, make a Mussulman of every infidel in the district.’’ p. 394, [32].


This is confirmed by KM Panikkar as well, who notes that the Nayars of Cootipur were forced to convert to Islam after their fort fell. p. 361, [32]


Ramachandra Rao Punganuri notes that Tipu, after his settlement with the Bibi of Chirakkal, ordered all the remaining Nairs to be `circumcised’ near Telicheri (Thalassery) and marched past Kozhikode to Coimbatore. p. 40, [31]. Ramachandra Rao Punganuri also lists another letter in March 1789 that “directs that the fort of Kumbari shall be assaulted and all the men made prisoners, who are to be fed on rice and beef and then circumcised.’’ p. 41, [31]


One of the most notable conversions was the conversion of the Nairs at Kuttipuram. This has been confirmed by multiple sources. Detailing the horror of the Nairs of Malabar and their eventual fate, Bowring narrates, “Marching through Coorg with a large army, he sent detachments about the country to hunt down the rebellious Nairs, while he himself proceeded to Kutipuram. Here, two thousand of their race defended themselves and their families with resolution, but were soon obliged to surrender. This gave an opportunity to Tipu to show his apostolic zeal. Orders were issued that the whole of these unfortunates should be offered `becoming good Musalmans’, or, the alternative of in case of non-compliance, that they should be banished to Seringapatam. They reluctantly acquiesced in the former alternative, knowing well what the deportation meant. The next day, accordingly, all the males were circumcised, while both sexes were compelled to eat beef, as a proof of their conversion. In this raid, the Mysore sovereign is said to have carried off large treasures plundered from the temples in Malabar.” pp. 136-137, [3]


This is confirmed by both Wilks and Hayavadana Rao, who write, “While the detached divisions were conducted with various success, his [Tipu’s] own took the direction of Gootipoor [Kuttipuram], where about two thousand Nairs with their families occupied an old fortified position, which they defended for some days, but finding it untenable against the superior numbers and means by which they were invested, they were ultimately compelled to surrender at discretion. The alternative was signified to them of a voluntary profession of the Mahommedan faith, or a forcible conversion, with deportation from their native land. The unhappy captives gave a forced assent, and on the next day the rite of circumcision was performed on all the males, every individual of both sexes being compelled to close the ceremony by eating beef. This achievement being completed, it was held out as an example to the other detachments of the army, and it is certain that the great numbers of Nairs themselves incessantly hunted out of their places of concealment, at length came forth to be circumcised, as the only mode which remained to them of avoiding a more cruel fate.’’ pp. 14-15, [15], pp. 720-721, [24]. The forcible conversion of the Nairs of Kuttipuram has also been confirmed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, p. 40, [31]. Innes also corroborates the fate of the Nairs of Malabar, “The Kadattanad Raja’s fortified palace at Kuttippuram was surrounded, and two thousand Nayars forced to surrender after a resistance of several days were circumcised and regaled with beef.” p. 73, [11]


Not only were the ordinary Nairs forced to convert to Islam, but their chiefs were compelled as well. This is confirmed by Innes, who writes, “A Raja of the Parapanad family and ‘Trichera Terupa, a principal Nayar of Nelamboor’ were among the first of the many thus honoured [with Islam] at Coimbatore.’’ pp.72-73, [11]


Such was the terror of Tipu’s forcible conversions that the British had trouble finding messengers to send to Tipu, even for necessary negotiations. This is narrated in the Malabar Manual of Logan, “The immediate object of Tipu’s early military operation was to subjugate and retake the principalities which had revolted against the Mysore suzerainty immediately after the departure of Hyder Ali Khan from Malabar. So far, the Brahmins who were by nature quiet and honest, were usually and customarily sent as messengers to high places. But because of Tipu’s orders to “seize, circumcise and convert the Brahmins to Islam”, they started refusing to carry his messages to Malabar. They refused to oblige even the British who had extended and promised full protection to them. It had been confirmed from Calicut that 200 Brahmins had been “seized, confined, made Muslims and forced to eat beef and do other things contrary to their customs” (p. 507, [6]). ch.04, [4]


James Innes also refers to the Brahman refusal to take messages from the British to Tipu, since their persons as ambassadors were no longer inviolate. Innes writes, “On July 17th a Brahman refused to take a message from Tellicherry-to Anjengo, pleading that the sanctity, which had hitherto allowed Brahmans to pass in safety from one end of Malabar to the other, was no longer a protection; and a week later news arrived from Calicut that ‘two hundred had been seized and confined, made Musalmen, and forced to eat beef.’ Tipu had entered on the campaign of proselytism and social reform, which he himself sketched in a proclamation to the people of Malabar. p.72, [11]


The attacks on the Hindus and their forcible conversion to Islam, or submission is also decreed by the Koran, which states, ``So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.’’ 9:5, [36]


Section A3: Tipu’s brutalities in the Malabar


We narrated Tipu’s saga of forcible conversions. Here, we shall narrate his barbarity. During the Malabar revolt of 1788-1789, Tipu ruthlessly crushed the revolt and also let loose the Moplahs (Keralite Muslims who often acted as irregular allies of Tipu in the Malabar region) on the hapless populace. We narrate, in the words of the German missionary, Guntest, the cruelties of Tipu in Malabar, “Accompanied by an army of 60,000, Tipu Sultan came to Kozhikode in 1788 and razed it to the ground. It is not possible even to describe the brutalities committed by that Islamic barbarian from Mysore.” ch.02, [4], [15]





According to the official report of Col. Fullarton of the British forces stationed in Mangalore, worst type of brutalities on Brahmins were committed by Tipu Sultan in 1783 during his siege of Palghat Fort, which was being defended by the Zamorin and his Hindu soldiers. “Tipu’s soldiers daily exposed the heads of many innocent Brahmins within sight from the fort for Zamorin and his Hindu followers to see. It is asserted that the Zamorin rather than witness such enormities and to avoid further killing of innocent Brahmins, chose to abandon the Palghat Fort’’ p. 500, [6]. ch.04, [4]


In another letter, despatched to Arshad Beg Khan at Calicut respecting certain highway robbers, he says: “Such of the authors of this rebellion and flagrant conduct as have been already killed, are killed. But why should the remainder of them, on being made prisoners, be put to death? Their proper punishment is this: Let the dogs, both black and white, be regularly despatched to Seringapatam.” p. 219, [3]


Another chieftain, Korangoth Nair, who had resisted Tipu, was finally captured with the help of the French and hanged.” ch.04, [4]


Padmanabha Menon, in his History of Cochin narrates Tipu’s brutality in a graphic way. He states,


“First a corps of 30,000 barbarians who butchered everybody on the way, followed by the Field-Gun Unit under the French Commander, M. Lally. Tipu Sultan was riding on an elephant behind which another army of 30,000 soldiers followed. Most of the men and women were hanged in Calicut. First mothers were hanged with children tied to the necks of their mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move about till the bodies of the helpless victims were tom to pieces. Temples and Churches were ordered to be burnt, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Muhammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry Muhammadan women. Those Christians who refused to be ‘honoured’ with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging then and there. The above version of the atrocities was obtained from the sorrowful narration by the victims who escaped from Tipu’s army and reached Varapuzha (near Alwaye) which is the centre of Carmichael Christian Mission. I myself helped many victims to cross the Varapuzha river by boats” p. 573, [34].


Tipu’s brutality in the lands of the Raja of Cochin are also clearly recorded. The destruction of the region of Thrissur has been recorded again by Fra. Bartolomeo, “Farther towards the north, and at the distance of about ten leagues from Cranganor lies Triciur, a town and district: belonging to the Brahmans. They have here a celebrated academy, public and private schools; also an university, where young persons are instructed in their sciences, and the principles of their religion. This place was also destroyed by Tippoo Sultan; but rebuilt by the Brahmans, after Tippoo’s defeat.” p. 138, [8] This is confirmed by KM Panikkar who points out that when the Raja of Cochin, Raja Rama Varma, refused to aid Tipu in claiming the Travancore forts of Ayacottah and Cranganore, his country was subjected to systematic pillage by Tipu. p. 400, [32]. Many important temples were also plundered.


In addition, Ramachandra Rao Punganuri notes that Tipu took 400-500 people captive in Nidamacota, after the fortress fell, and slew them. p. 41, [31]


The famous Portuguese traveller, Fra. Bartolomeo, affirms Bowring’s claims in his travelogue, `Voyage to the East Indies’ about Tipu’s brutal treatment of the Hindus and the Christians, “Hayder Aly’s son, Tippoo Sultan Bahader, was at length so incensed against the inhabitants of Calicut and the neighbouring district, because they assisted, by every possible means, their former sovereign, that he resolved to punish them; and for that purpose took the field in person. He was preceded by 30,000 barbarians, butchered every person who came in their way; and by his heavy cannon under the command of general Lally, at the head of a regiment of artillery. Then followed Tippoo Sultan himself, riding on an elephant; and behind him marched another corps, consisting of 30,000 men also. The manner in which he behaved to the inhabitants of Calicut was horrid. A great part of them, both male and female were hung. He first tied up the mothers, and then suspended the children from their necks. The cruel tyrant caused several Christians and Heathens to be brought out naked, and made fast, to the feet of his elephants, which were then obliged to drag them about till their limbs fell in pieces from their bodies. At the same time he ordered all the churches and temples to be burned and pulled down or destroyed in some other manner. Christian and Pagan women were compelled to marry Mahometans; and Mahometan women were compelled to marry Heathens and Christians. The Pagans were deprived of the token of their nobility, which is a lock of hair called Cudumi; and every Christian who appeared in the streets, must either submit to be circumcised, or be hanged on the spot. This happened in the year 1789, at which time I resided at Verapole. I had then an opportunity of conversing with several Christians and Pagans, who had escaped from the fury of this merciless tyrant; and I assisted these fugitives to procure a boat to enable them to cross the river which runs past that city.” pp. 141-142, [8]


Indeed, Tipu being unsparing of even women and children during his attack on the Malabar has a precedent in the early Muslims being unsparing of the women and children of the infidels that attacked. It is narrated in the Sahih Muslim that ``It is reported on the authority of Sa’b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them.’’ Book 19, Number 4321, [42].


Nandgopal Menon points out the words of Raman Menon, the biographer of the King of Cochin during the time of Tipu, saying, “The Padayottam military occupation period won’t be forgotten by the Malayalis for generations. It was this invasion, between Malayalam era 957 to 967 (1782 to 1792) that turned Malabar upside down,” says P. Raman Menon, biographer of Shaktan Tampuran, the King of Cochin during Tipu’s invasion. He adds: “There was hardly any cowshed left in Malayalam lands where the Mysore Tiger did not enter.” The reference is to the mass cow-slaughter carried out by Tipu’s army on his orders.” ch.03, [4]


The famous traveller, Fra. Bartolomeo, also confirms the brutality of Tipu sultan, “We know from various accounts, published by the English and the missionaries, with what cruelty the followers of the Brahman religion were treated by the inhuman Tippoo Sultan, and in what manner he endeavoured by the rack and famine to make them, them embrace the Mahometan faith.” footnote, pp. 141-142, [8]


James Rice Innes confirms the persecutions of Tipu in Malabar, writing, “His [Tipu’s] religious persecutions had engendered a fierce and abiding hatred between Hindu and Muhammadan” p. 77, [11]


Not only were the common folk of Malabar treated brutally, even their chieftains were treated ruthlessly. Krishna Iyer, the author of `Zamorins of Calicut’ also records Tipu’s brutality towards the princes of Malabar. He narrates, “He [Tipu] resolved to wipe out the princes, the Nayars and the Namputiris, who were capable of such treachery [refusal to help in conquest of Travancore], by their conversion to Islam. He sent the converted Rajah of Parappanad, and `Tichera Tiroopar’ (the Tirumalpad of Nilambur) to Malabar to use their influence over the Nayars for the purpose.’’ p. 245, [20]. Krishna Iyer further points out that, “In November [1788], Tippu’s officers laid violent hands upon the Karanavappad of Manjeri.’’ p. 246, [20]


Padmanabha Menon also confirms Tipu’s atrocities on the Princes of Malabar, narrating, “Early in 1788, Tippu made one more descent into Malabar, and the usual excesses followed in his train. The Sultan broke faith with all Malabar princes and drove them to desperation by his barbarities.’’ p. 170, [22]


Nor were the Christians spared, as Innes points out, “Tipu was less complaisant [than Haidar], and in 1788 the Vicar with most of his flock and the church plate took refuge in Tellicherry. p. 388, [11].


Hamilton-Buchanan points out the disposition of Tipu’s allies, the Moplahs, towards the Hindus,“… but those who in the interior parts of Malabar have become farmers, having been encouraged by Tippoo in a most licentious attack on the lives, persons, and property of the Hindus, are fierce, blood-thirsty, bigoted ruffians.’’ P. 422, [25]. This view of Tipu’s invasion has been confirmed by the well-known Muslim historian, P.S. Syed Muhammed, author of Kerala Muslim Charitram (History of Kerala Muslims), who has this to say about these invasions: “What happened to Kerala because of Tipu’s invasion, reminds one of the invasion of Chengez Khan and Timur in Indian history.” ch.03, [4]


Again, the condoning of, indeed incitement to, violence against the infidels comes directly from the Koran, which states, ``When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.’’ 8:12, [36] and “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.’’ 9:73, [36] Further, the history of Islam relates a destruction of the Banu Qurayza. The Encyclopaedia of Islam states that 600 men of the Banu Qurayza were beheaded after the armies of Muhammad won over them. p. 85, [41]. This is also confirmed by [39], which states, “After a raid, the Prophet of Islam captured all tribe members of Banu Qurayza. ‘Then they surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka’b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the apostle they asked Ka’b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, `Will you never understand? Don’t you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!’ This went on until the apostle made an end of them.’’’’ p. 464, [39]


Sheik Ali claims that the Nairs of Malabar were in league with the British and therefore, Tipu crushed them as a political manoeuvre. Apart from pointing out that the British and Tipu were at peace between 1784 and 1790 (most of the atrocities in Malabar were perpetrated between 1788 and 1790), it is perhaps instructive to show the degree of disaffection between the British and the Malabar princes. Not only were they not in league with each other, they were actually at odds with each other. Indeed, with unconscious irony, the Treaty of Mangalore mentioned the Hindu rulers and Zamindars of Malabar as `friends of Tipu’ p. 356, [32]. KP Padmanabha Menon writes, “While matters were so [in 1788, between the Chirackal Raja and the English, who were nearly at war with each other], Tippu’s marauders came upon the country like an avalanche, crushing everything before them. Malabar was offered the honour of Islam. Thousands upon thousands were forcibly converted and compelled to eat beef, the highest sin a Hindu can commit.’’p.227, [22]


Perhaps it is ideal to summarise the whole bigotry of Tipu Sultan, using the words of the greatest historian of Kerala, KP Padmanabha Menon, who records, “Tippu’s persecution of the people made matters worse. His fanatic endeavours to convert the people to Islamism were warmly supported by the Mopla inhabitants of Malabar, whom he used as his unscrupulous instruments. The whole country, from one end to the other, was devastated by fanatic Mussalman hordes. The sword or the Koran was the alternative offered. Everywhere the Hindus were persecuted, and robbed of their riches, their women, and their children. Those who could elude the vigil of the Mysoreans hid themselves in the forests.’’ pp. 266-267, [21].


This state of affairs is also affirmed by the traveller, Hamilton-Buchanan, who states, “But still greater calamities were reserved for the unfortunate inhabitants of this country in the reign of the Sultan. During the govermnent of his father, the Hindus continued unmolested in the exercise of their religion: the customs and observances of which, in many very essential points, supply the place of laws. To them it was owing, that some degree of order had been preserved in society during the changes that had taken place. Tippoo, on the contrary, early undertook to render Islamism the sole religion of Malabar. In this cruel and impolitic undertaking he was warmly seconded by the Moplays, men possessed of a strong zeal, and of a large share of that spirit of violence and depredation which appears to have invariably been an ingredient in the character of the professors of their religion, in every part of the world where it has spread. All the confidence of the Sultan was bestowed on Moplays, and in every place they became the officers and instruments of government. The Hindus were everywhere persecuted, and plundered of their riches, of their women, and of their children. All such as could flee to other countries did so: those who could not escape took refuge in the forests, from whence they waged a constant predatory war against their oppressors. To trace the progress of these evils would carry me too far. I mention them only for the purpose of showing, how the ancient government of this country was at last completely destroyed, and anarchy was introduced. The Moplays never had any laws, nor any authority, except in the small district of Cannanore, even over their own sect; but were entirely subject to tlie Hindu chiefs, in whose dominions they resided. Tippoo’s code was never known beyond the limits of Calicut.’’ pp. 549-551, [25].


Section A3.2: Raja of Chirakkal and other Princes of Malabar


One of the principal and most respected of the Nair chieftains was the Raja of Chirakal. He was specifically targeted by Tipu as has been recorded by several historians. Indeed, Tipu, after procuring his murder (he was either killed by Tipu’s soldiers, or killed himself), takes fiendish delight in recording the murder and the desecration of his corpse. This respected Nair chieftain had offered to ransom the temples of Malabar for four lakh rupees and more gold plate, and earned Tipu’s anger, who refused his request. Whether this was the reason for his murder, or whether there were others too, is a matter of speculation, as there is no specific detail on this point. Nevertheless, Tipu pursued the unfortunate chieftain after lulling him into security and then had him murdered and his corpse, desecrated. Of the incident, Bowring writes, `One of the principal victims of Tipu’s revenge was the Raja of Chirakkal of ancient descent, who, having been falsely accused of conspiring, was attacked and killed, and body hung up after his death.” pp. 136-137, [3]


The fate of the Raja of Chirakal is confirmed by Sankunni Menon too, who wrote, “he [Chirakal Raja] died either by his own hand, or by that of a friendly Nair, whom he is said to have required to perform this last mournful office for him.” p. 243, [1]


PCN Raja also testifies to the fate of the Raja of Chirakal (Kolathiri Raja, as he was properly called), “In the end, when the Kolathiri Raja surrendered and paid tribute, Tipu Sultan got him treacherously killed without any specific reason, dragged his dead body tied to the feet of an elephant through the streets, and finally hanged him from a tree-top to show his Islamic contempt for Hindu Rajas.’’ ch. 02, [4]


Hamilton-Buchanan also confirms the fate of the Raja of Chirakal, writing, “The last of these [Chirackal Rajas] was Rama Varma; who being afraid that Tippoo, then at Cotayangady near Tellichery, would compel him to become a Mussulman, retired to Pychi, and procured a friendly Nair to shoot him dead. Although Rama Varma would not submit to exile, yet, before he had determined on a voluntary death, he had secured a retreat for his sister with her two sons, the only remaining males of the family of Cherical. On the day in which he caused himself to be shot, she embarked at Dharma-pattanna, and went to Travancore, the Raja of which country was of the same family.’’ pp. 557-558, [25]


Wilks also gives full details about the fate of the Raja of Chirakkal, “The Nair Raja of Cherucul had been induced, by the most sacred promises, to pay his personal respects to the Sultaun, and was, for several days, treated with considerable distinction, and dismissed with costly presents to his little principality. Immediately after his departure, real or pretended information was received, of his being engaged in a secret conspiracy to revenge the cruel indignities of his countrymen; and Tippoo detached two brigades to effect his destruction or ascertain to obedience, by directing him instantly to return to camp. His attendants, justly alarmed at these appearances, prepared for defence, and before any explanation could be given, a skirmish ensued in which the Raja and some of his attendants were killed, and a few prisoners secured; and Tippoo, considering the accusation to be established, ordered the most base and unmanly indignities to be offered to the corpse, and that the dead and the living should afterwards be hanged on the same tree. These indignities recounted by the Sultaun himself, although free from the usual obscenity, are too brutal for translation; and he relates, among the incidents pertaining to the Raja, that he had, during their personal intercourse, offered 400,000 rupees and the plates of gold with which a particular temple was roofed, on condition of sparing the temple itself; to which proposition the Sultaun is made to reply that he would not spare it for all the treasures of the earth and the sea. He states the destruction in the course of the holy war of eight thousand idol temples, many of them roofed with gold, silver or copper, and all containing treasures buried at the feet of the idol, the whole of which was royal plunder; but when crimes are deemed to be virtues, we may infer that their amount is exaggerated.’’ pp. 22-23, [15].


Lewis Rice also details the sufferings of the Nairs of Malabar and confirms the fate of the Raja of Chirakal, “A rebellion now occurred in Coorg, and Malabar, and the Sultan, passing through Coorg to quiet it, entered Malabar. Large parties of the Nairs were surrounded and offered the choice of death or circumcision. The Nair Raja of Cherakal, who had voluntarily submitted, was received and dismissed with distinction, but immediately after, seized and hanged, his body being treated with every insult. … He divided the country of Malabar into districts, each of which had three officers, charged respectively with the duties of collecting the revenue, numbering the productive trees and seizing and giving religious instruction to the Nairs.” p.401, [7]


The fate of the Raja of Chirakkal is also confirmed by KM Panikkar, who has stated that when the Chirakkal raja departed the camp, Tipu announced that he had been implicated in a conspiracy against Tipu, and ordered a party to attack him. The Raja was killed in the fight, his corpse was mutilated and exposed to public view and Tipu gloated over the atrocity in his memoirs. p. 361, [32]


William Logan, in his Malabar Manual, also writes of the fate of the unfortunate Raja of Chirakkal and the desecration of his body by Tipu. “While escaping from Tipu’s army, one of the princes of the Chirackal Royal family in North Malabar was captured and killed in an encounter after a chase of few days. As per the accounts of Tipu’s own diary and as confirmed by the English Company records, the body of the unfortunate prince was treated with great indignities by Tipu Sultan. “He had the dead body of the prince dragged by elephants through his camp and it was subsequently hung up on a tree along with seventeen of his followers who had been captured alive” (p. 512, [6]).


Finally, the fate of the Raja of Chirakkal is also detailed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, who gives a graphic description of the event. He writes, “This Raja had by some means heard that Tippoo intended to circumcise him; whereupon, he fled and joined the rebellious Nairs; he had his dwelling in a forest of Palas trees. Tippoo sent two battalions of infantry, who came to the spot and captured him. The Raja, therefore, shot himself and died. Yet they still would not let him off so easily. They brought the Raja’s corpse with them and smote it with slippers and hanged it up, hanging four or five of the Nairs who were his confederates. There were two or three Brahmins who were drafted as Asadulai.’’ p. 40, [31]


References:


[1] “History of Travancore”, Sankunni Menon, 1879.


[2] “An Account of the Travels of Fra Bartolomeo, in Letters from Vissicher”, 1862


[3] Lewin Bowring, “Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan and the struggle with the Mussalman powers of the South”


[4] “Tipu Sultan: Hero or Tyrant”, Collection of Articles, Voice of Dharma Publications http://voiceofdharma.org/books/tipu/


[5] William Kirkpatrick, “Selected Letters of Tipu Sultan”, 1811


[6] William Logan, “Malabar Manual”


[7] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part I”, 1897


[8] Fra Bartolomeo, “A Voyage to the East Indies 1776-1788”


[9] Richter, “Coorg Gazetteer”


[10] C Gopalan Nair, “Wynad – Its Peoples”


[11] James Innes, “Malabar and Anjengo”


[12] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part II”


[13] – “Tyrant Diaries: An account of Tipu provided by Ripaud’’, Francois Gautier http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-tyrant-diaries/284803


[14] – Inscription on the walls of the Ambalapuzha temple.


[15] – “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 3, Wilks.


[16] – “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 2, Wilks.


[17] – “Do Not Take Up Tipu Sultan Role – Hindu Outfit tells Rajini’’, The Hindu, 12/09/2015 http://www.thehindu.com/news/nation...-hindu-outfit-tells-rajini/article7643805.ece


[18] Mohibbul Hassan, “History of Tipu Sultan’’


[19] [Temple Chronicles of Srirangam], SriVaishnava Press


[20] Krishna Ayyar, “The Zamorins of Calicut’’.


[21] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Kerala’’, Vol. 1


[22] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Kerala’’, Vol. 2


[23] Hayavadana Rao, “Mysore Gazetteer – Historical’’, Vol. 2


[24] Hayavadana Rao, “History of Mysore’’, Vol. 3


[25] Patrick Hamilton-Buchanan, “An Account of Travels through Mysore, Canara and Malabar’’, Vol. 2.


[26] Patrick Hamilton-Buchanan, “An Account of Travels through Mysore, Canara and Malabar’’, Vol. 3.


[27] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 1


[28] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 2, ch. 7.


[29] Mir Ali Kirmani (translated by Col. Miles) “Nishan i Hyduri’’.


[30] B Sheik Ali, “Tipu Sultan’’


[31] Ramachandra Rao Punaganuri, “Memoirs of Hyder and Tippoo: rulers of Seringapatam’’


[32] KM Panikkar, “History of Kerala’’


[33] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, and Dikgaj, “Tipu Jayanthi – a Celebration of Bigotry and Barbarities in Karnataka’’,


[34] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Cochin’’


[35] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, and Dikgaj, “Ban on Durga Puja: An assault on the core of Hindu civilisation [Part II]’’, http://www.dailyo.in/politics/durga...rophet-mohammad-mecca-part2/story/1/7500.html


[36] Koran http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=simple&q1=9:5&size=First+100


[37] Tabaqat-i-Ibn Sa’d, translated into Urdu by Alama Abdullah al-Ahmadi, 2 Volumes, Karachi, n.d.


[38] First Encyclopedia of Islam, 1931-1936, 9 Volumes, Leiden Reprint


[39] Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah (The Life of Muhammad, translated by A Guillaume)


[40] Tarikh-i-Tabari, translated into Urdu by Sayyid Muhammad Ibrahim, Vol. I: Sirat-un-Nabi, Karachi, n.d.


[41] Encyclopaedia of Islam, https://books.google.co.in/books?id=bYtmAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=banu+qaynuqa+encyclopedia+of+islam&source=bl&ots=yu8cx_1Oj4&sig=Gfth40Y6t7idLIzpO2sTAcwC-XI&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=banu%20qaynuqa%20encyclopedia%20of%20islam&f=false


[42] Collection of Hadiths, Sahih Muslim, http://hadithcollection.com/sahihmuslim/136-Sahih%20Muslim%20Book%2008.%20Marriage/11240-sahih-muslim-book-008-hadith-number-3432.html
 

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Topi sultan – a History of Bigotry and Barbarities Outside Karnataka- II.


Author : SHANMUKH SASWATI SARKAR and DIKGAJ

Introduction

In the previous part of the article, we discussed the barbarities and religious bigotry of Tipu Sultan in the Malabar. In this part, we shall discuss its effects, Tipu’s career of temple destruction in the Malabar and his atrocities Travancore, Coimbatore and other parts of the south.

Section A1: Large Scale Destruction and Migration due to Tipu’s Jihad in the Malabar

Seeing Tipu’s merciless Jihad against the Hindus, there was a large scale terrified migration from Malabar. The richer Hindus (especially the Nairs and other richer landlords and the Brahmins fled the region in huge numbers to Travancore. This is attested to by James Innes, who notes that Tipu not only caused the flight of the richer Hindus, but also pursued the migrants. He writes, ``The Chirakkal Raja was killed, and the- other Rajas and the richer landowners fled to Travancore. The poorer Nayars retreated into the jungles, and were pitilessly pursued by bodies of Mysorean troops. … He made no attack upon Tellicherry; but he upbraided the factors bitterly for the protection they had afforded to refugees, and kept them by a cordon of troops in a state of virtual siege.” p. 73, [11]. Sankunni Menon, the famous historian of Travancore, also testifies to the flight of the Hindus. He writes, “All the high caste Hindus fled from Malabar: but where could they find shelter? In the territory of the Cochin Raja, they could not get an asylum as that potentate was a tributary of the Sultan. The Hindu portion of the population of Malabar, including the royal family of the Zamorin of Calicut, and everyone of the opulent Nambudories, resorted to Travancore and begged for protection at the hands of the Maharajah.” p. 212, [1]. The flight of the Hindus to Travancore has also been recorded by Hamilton-Buchanan, who notes that, “All such as could flee to other countries did so: those who could not escape took refuge in the forests, from whence they waged a constant predatory war against their oppressors.’’ pp. 549-551, [25]. KP Padmanabha Menon also confirms the flight of the Hindus to Travancore, stating that “The exodus of the Malabar families to Travancore, unable any longer to suffer the persecutions of Tippu, had already begun, and the Zamorin and his family too fled and sought refuge in Travancore, like so many others.’’ p. 170, [22]. Fra. Bartolomeo further adds, “In the years 1788 and 1789, when the cruel Tippoo Sultan Bahader, son of Hayder Aly Khan, persecuted the Brahmans, and caused them either to be unmercifully beat, or circumcised according to the Mahometan manner, a great many of them fled to Vaikatta, where they received every kind of protection possible from the king of Travancor.”, pp. 122-123, [8]. This is also confirmed by KP Padmanabha Menon, who writes, “30,000 Brahmans, with their families, took refuge in Travancore.’’ pp. 266-267, [21]


The devastation caused by Tipu has been remarked by James Rice Innes, who writes that, “The whole district [of Malabar] seethed with discontent, and South Malabar in particular was in a state bordering on anarchy. Trade was at a standstill, and of the pepper vines in the south of the district Tipu had left not one in fifty standing.” p. 77,[11]. Some of the effects of Tipu’s terrible bigotry were felt nearly 20 years after his death, as recorded by Hamilton-Buchanan, “This want of cultivation is attributed to a want of people, the greater part of the inhabitants having perished in the Malabar year 964 (A. D. 1788-9); during the persecution of the Hindus by the Sultan.’’ pp. 559, [25]. The destruction caused by Tipu has been remarked by KM Panikkar too, who points out that the country of Malabar was depopulated and turned into a wilderness by Tipu. p. 418, [32]. What this shows is that the destruction and devastation caused by Tipu was not limited to his enemies, but also to the common people, who often fled to the forests and lived there like beasts to escape the terror of Tipu and his Moplah allies.


While Tipu was busy destroying the Malabar, Tipu’s French allies were constrained to warn him gently, right at the beginning. Gen. Bussy, head of the French forces in India, wrote to Tipu in 1783 stating, “You can be sure that he [Bussy’s chief of staff, who carried the letter] and I will always support you with all our power. This is the intention of the Emperor of France, my master, who does not want to retain anything for himself of the [territories that will be] conquered and will give you everything. [However] He does not desire the abasement of the English, our common enemies.’’ pp. 341-342, [43]. The curious point here is that, at the time of the letter, Tipu had just quit the Malabar, which he had thoroughly destroyed, but he had not destroyed the British there, nor had the episode involving the British in Bednur played out, so there is no question of `abasement of the British’ at Tipu’s hands. It is, we suspect, a reference to Tipu’s cruelties on the Hindus of Malabar.


Among the victims of Tipu’s brutality were the ancestors of the erstwhile chief minister of Tamizh Nadu, MG Ramachandran, “Recalling Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran’s autobiographical series [Naan Yen Piranthen], where the leader had said Tipu’s attacks forced his family to move to Palakkad from Coimbatore, Mr. Ramagopalan said a movie trying to present the “fanatical Muslim ruler” as a freedom fighter would be offensive to MGR’s memory.’’ [17]. Among other famous emigrants was Manorama Tampuratti, a famous poetess in Sanskrit, who was forced to flee from Killake Kovilakam and take refuge in Travancore. She returned only in 1800, when it was safe for her to return. p. 310, [20]


Tipu, in his large scale expulsion of Hindus from the Malabar, was only following the example set by the Prophet of Islam himself, who had expelled the Jews of Medina from their homes. It is recorded that two major Jewish tribes of Medina, Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir, were expelled from their homes by the Prophet of Islam; the former, because they rejected the message of Islam and the latter, on the charges of impeding the establishment of the Islamic community in Medina. p. 85, [41].


Not all Hindus, however, fled and indeed, Tipu’s bigotry produced a desperate resistance from the Hindus. Ravi Varma, a relative of the Zamorin of Calicut led the rebellion, as narrated by Ravi Varma (a modern author of the same name), “The revolt in the South Malabar was led by Ravi Varma of the Zamorin family. Though Tipu conferred on him a jaghire (vast are of tax-free land) mainly to appease him, the Zamorin prince, after promptly taking charge of the jaghire, continued his revolt against the Mysore power, more vigorously and with wider support. He soon moved to Calicut, his traditional area of influence and authority, for better co-ordination. Tipu sent a large Mysore army under the command of M. Lally and Mir Asrali Khan to chase and drive out the Zamorin prince from Calicut. However, during the above operations, Ravi Varma assisted not less than 30,000 Brahmins to flee the country and take refuge in Travancore.” (p. 508. [6]) ch.04, [4]. The flight of the Brahmins and the resistance of Ravi Varma is confirmed by Innes too, as he writes, “The country rose in horror. Thirty thousand Brahmans fled to Travancore. The Kottayam and Kadattanad Rajas besought the factors at Tellicherry ‘ to take the Brahmans, the poor and tithe whole country’ under their protection. The Nayars of South Malabar, headed by Ravi Varma of the Zamorin’s house, turned in desperation on their oppressors.” pp.72-73, [11]


Apart from the wholesale flight of the Hindus from Malabar, many cities were demolished, among which the most prominent were Kozhikode (Calicut) and Chirakkal. Wilks points out that for a similar reason to that which induced the `demolition of Mysoor’, Tipu ordered the entire destruction of Calicut, and the erection at a few miles distance, another fortress; with the name of Ferruckhee [today’s Faroke]’ p.8, [15]. The destruction of Calicut is also remarked by Hayavadana Rao, who remarks that “He [Tipu] also ordered the destruction of Calicut and the erection of a new fortress of the name of Furruckku (Ferkoe)’’ p. 2583, [23]. It falls to Hamilton-Buchanan to give the most precise information about Tipu’s destruction of Calicut. He notes that, “This place [Kozhikode] continued to be the chief residence of the Tatnuri Rajas until the Mussulman invasion, and became a very flourishing city, owing to the success that its lords had in war, and the encouragement which they gave to commerce. Tippoo destroyed the town, and removed its inhabitants to Nelluru, the name of which he changed to Furruck-abad; for, like all the Mussulmans of India, he was a mighty changer of old Pagan names. Fifteen months after this forced emigration, the English conquered the province, and the inhabitants returned with great joy to their old place of residence. The town now contains about five thousand houses, and is fast recovering. Before its destruction by Tippoo its houses amounted to between six and seven thousand. Most of its inhabitants are Moplays.’’ p. 474, [25]


Expanding further on the destruction of Calicut, Fra. Bartolomeo writes of the region of Calicut and its adjoining regions. “The fortress of Calicut, is of much greater antiquity than the city to which it has given its name. The natives of Malabar believe that it was built by king Ceramperumal, from whom all the petty Malabar princes are descended. This city was razed almost to the ground by Tippoo Sultan, who destroyed its flourishing trade; expelled from the country the merchant and factors (factories) of the foreign commercial houses; caused the coconut and sandal trees to be cut and ordered the pepper plants in the whole surrounding district to be torn up by the roots, and even to be hacked to pieces, because these plants, as he said, brought riches to the Europeans, and enabled them to carry on war against the Indians.” pp. 139-140, [8]. This account is confirmed by C.A. Parkhurst also, who noted that “Almost the entire Kozhikode was razed to the ground.” ch.02, [4]


Further, PCN Raja writes “To the Malabar people, the Muslim harem, Muslim polygamy and the Islamic ritual of circumcision were equally repulsive and opposed to the ancient culture and tradition in Kerala … Kozhikode was then a centre of Brahmins and had over 7000 Brahmin families living there. Over 2000 Brahmin families perished as a result of Tipu Sultan’s Islamic cruelties. He did not spare even women and children. Most of the men escaped to forests and foreign lands.’’ ch.02, [4].


Regarding Chirakkal, Hamilton-Buchanan points out that not only was the Raja of Chirakkal murdered and his corpse dishonoured, but also the town itself was pillaged and devastated. Hamilton-Buchanan writes “… but on account of its. proprietor it [Chirakkal] suffered very severely in the wars with Hyder and Tippoo, and within the memory of man it has been twice completely depopulated.’’ pp. 551-552, [25]


This view of Tipu’s Jihad causing a huge demographic shift is confirmed by Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, who wrote, “Muhammadans greatly increased in number. Hindus were forcibly circumcised in thousands. As a result of Tipu’s atrocities, strength of Nairs and Chamars (Scheduled Castes) significantly diminished in number. Namboodiris also substantially decreased in number.” [28]. The demographic collapse of the Hindus in Malabar is also mentioned by Hamilton-Buchanan, who writes, “In the interior part of the country, there are large tracts which have been overrun with high grass and trees since they have been deserted by their inhabitants, owing to the persecutions of the Hindus by the late Sultan, and the subsequent depredations committed on the Nairs by the Moplays.’’ p. 443, [25]


KP Padmanabha Menon also confirms the demographic shift in the Malabar, as he writes, “Others [Other Hindus] fled to Travancore leaving cherished hearths and homes behind, a prey to Moslem frenzy. The Rajas and chiefs deserted their people and fled for their very lives and anarchy prevailed throughout the land. The ancient system of government and constitution of society was gone, never to return. The Moplas increased in number and influence, while the Nairs decreased in proportion. … [On their return after the defeat of Tippu Sultan], it was then found that the Nairs had dwindled into an inconsiderable number’’ pp.266-267, [21] The demographic devastation caused by Tipu is also mentioned by Hamilton-Buchanan, who writes, “During this period of total anarchy the number of Moplays was greatly increased, multitudes of Hindus were circumcised by force, and many of the lower orders were converted. By these means, at the breaking out of the war conducted by Lord Cornwallis, the population of Hindus was reduced to a very inconsiderable number. The descendants of the Rajas were then invited to join the Company’s forces; and, when Tippoo’s army had been expelled from Malabar, many Nairs returned from their exile in Travancore; but their number was trifling, compared with what it had been at the commencement of the Sultan’s reign.’’ pp. 549-551, [25].

Section A2: Tipu’s Temple Destruction and Desecration in Malabar

Tipu’s zealotry for destroying temples is manifest in his own words, for he has recorded his refusal to spare the temples of Malabar for a ransom offered by the Raja of Chirakkal. KM Panikkar points out that Tipu received the Chirakkal Raja initially with consideration, but refused his prayer to spare the temples of Malabar for a sum of 4 lakhs of rupees and plates of gold, stating he would not spare them for all the gold in the world. p.361, [32].


PCN Raja, quoting from the Malabar Manual, has written, “According to the Malabar Manual of William Logan who was the District Collector for some time, Thrichambaram and Thalipparampu temples in Chirackal Taluqa, Thiruvangatu Temple (Brass Pagoda) in Tellicherry, and Ponmeri Temple near Badakara were all destroyed by Tipu Sultan. The Malabar Manual mention that the Maniyoor mosque was once a Hindu temple. The local belief is that it was converted to a mosque during the days of Tipu Sultan.” ch.02, [4]


The damage to the temple of Tellicherry (Thalasseri) has been recorded in the Malabar and Anjengo Gazetteer by Innes, who points out, “The fine gopurams of the [Taliparamba] temple were partially blown up by the Mysoreans and now make an impressive gateway.’ p. 399, [11]


The Malabar Manual of William Logan also records, “The temple [of Taliparamba] has many sculptures and some fine gopurams (towers), which were however, destroyed by Tippu’’ Appendix 21, p. 368, [6]


PCN Raja also records the threat to the world famous Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayoor. He points out how it escaped, writing, “Tipu Sultan reached Guruvayoor Temple only after destroying Mammiyoor Temple and Palayur Christian Church. If the destruction caused by Tipu’s army is not visible today in the Guruvayoor Temple, it is mainly because of the intervention of Hydrose Kutty, who had been converted to Islam by Hyder Ali Khan. He secured the safety of the temple and the continuation of land-tax exemption allowed by Hyder Ali earlier, besides the renovation and repairs done by the devotees later. According to available evidences, fearing the wrath of Tipu Sultan, the sacred idol of the Guruvayoor Temple was removed to the Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple in Travancore State. It was only after the end of Tipu’s military regime, that the idol was ceremoniously reinstated in the Guruvayoor Temple itself. Even today, daily pujas are conducted in Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple where the idol of Guruvayoor Temple was temporarily installed and worshipped.’’ ch.02, [4]


The threat to the Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayoor has also been recorded in the Ambalapuzha temple, where the inscription on the wall of the temple reads, “At the time of Tipu sultan’s invasion the Murthi of Guruvayur kshetra was transferred to Ambalapuzha kshetra because of the fear that Guruvayur kshetra would be attacked by Tipu. The Murthi was installed in northern part of Ambalapuzha with the order of Chempakassery Raja. Murthi was returned to Guruyavur at somewhere near 1800 AD. During Uchcha Puja (Puja at noon) it is believed that Guruavyoorappan (Murthi of Guruvayur) would visit Ambalapuzha kshetra every day to drink Ambalapuzha Palpayasam (the famous dish from Ambalapuzha kshetra). (Inscription on the walls of the Ambalapuzha temple).’’ [14]


The damage and dislocation at the temple of Tirunelli has been recorded by C Gopalan Nair, who writes, “The puja [at the temple of Tirunelli] was naturally neglected during the Mysore invasion but subsequently the Sannyasi known as Samiyar returned.” p. 118, [10]


Tipu’s destruction of the Devadevesan temple at Tirunelli has also been recorded by Gopalan Nair, who points out, “The idol [of Devadevesan (Vishnu) in the temple of Tirunelli] is of granite stone and is said to be of excellent workmanship. After destruction by fire during Tippu’s invasion temple was first reconstructed with thatched roofs. The Srikovil (central shrine) has since been roofed with copper and surmounted by a golden spire.” p.119, [10]


Gopalan Nair also records the destruction of temple of Ganapathi at Sultan’s Battery, writing, “… the sphere of the Ganapathi, covered the amsams of Kidanganad, Nulpuzha and Neiimeni and when Tippu of Mysore overran the country, his troops destroyed the temple and mutilated the granite idol. The town then took the name of Sultan’s Battery and the Moslem town of that name sprung up at the time.” p. 128, [10]


Innes has also recorded the damage to many other temples, including the one in Wandur, about which he writes, “There [at Wandur] is … a Hindu temple with a breach in its walls said to have been caused by Tipu’s guns’’ p. 419, [11]


The world famous temple of Thirunavaya, where Rig Veda is taught to students, also suffered significant damage, as pointed out by Innes and Logan. Innes writes, “The Srikovil dedicated to Vishnu [at Thirunavayi] has been lately roofed with copper by the Kizhakke Kovilagam, and the venerable wall that surrounds it rises at the two gateways into massive gopurams roughly handled by the Mysoreans [under Tipu] and never since repaired.’’ p. 458, [11]


The temple of Durga Bhagavati at Thrikkavu has a painful history under Tipu Sultan. This history has been recounted at some length by William Logan, who writes, “Tippu is said to have plundered the temple [of Durga Bhagavati at Trikkavu] during his invasion of the country, broken the idol into pieces and used the Srikovil as his powder magazine while halting at the place. On the restoration of the peace and order in the country, a few of the former owners of the temple who had taken refuge in Travancore, returned and discovering in the temple well, the broken pieces of the original idol, repaired and repurified it; but later, unable to repair all the damage caused to the temple by Tippu, made it over to Zamorin of Calicut, who seems to have carried out the necessary repairs in 1861AD’’ Appendix 21, pp. 408-409, [6]


Tipu’s Moplah allies were equally zealous in destroying Hindu temples. The temple of Srimuthra Kunnu is recorded by Innes, who writes, “The temple [Srimuthra Kunnu – a temple of Durga] has a melancholy interest as the scene of three Mappilla outbreaks. In 1784 it and the Karanamulpad’s palace were attacked by a large body of Tipu’s] Mappillas, and after three days’ siege were burnt to the ground. The temple was not fully restored till 1849, in April of which year a new idol was installed.’’ p. 418, [11]


Ravi Varma quotes the famous Raja Raja Varma, in his quote about the destruction of the temples of Taliparamba and Thrichambaram, writing, “ Vatakkankoor Raja Raja Varma in his famous literary work, History of Sanskrit Literature in Kerala, has written the following about the loss and destruction faced by the Hindu temples in Kerala during the military regime (Padayottam) of Tipu Sultan: “There was no limit as to the loss the Hindu temples suffered due to the military operations of Tipu Sultan. Burning down the temples, destruction of the idols installed therein and also cutting the heads of cattle over the temple deities were the cruel entertainments of Tipu Sultan and his equally cruel army. It was heartrending even to imagine the destruction caused by Tipu Sultan in the famous ancient temples of Thalipparampu and Thrichambaram. The devastation caused by this new Ravana’s barbarous activities have not yet been fully rectified.” ch.02, [4]


Ramachandra Rao Punganuri narrates how Tipu directed sipahdar Sheikh Imaum to destroy the `god in Shamanna’s pagoda’ in the Malabar. He destroyed the Hindu temples at Ahmadnagar. Further, he narrates how Tipu ordered the destruction of the temples of Madana Katoor and Valiparamba, which followed. Ramachandra Rao Punganuri also narrates how, summoning a Kazi, Tipu slew a cow in the pagoda. Tipu and his troops also plundered the place of all the gold, silver, copper, brass and other metals, which Tipu sent to Srirangapattanam. p. 40, [31]. Further, Ramachandra Rao Punganuri notes that, Tipu demolished the great temple of Venkataramanayya at Coimbatore. p. 40, [31]. Punganuri points out that, at Triskeroo (Thrichuvaperoor), a few miles from Cranganore, Tipu saw the great temple of Venkaratamana and established a asaf cacheri there. He also formulated plans to turn the temple into a fort. p. 41, [31]


Panikkar recounts how Tipu held his court in the famous temple of Thrissur. His officers were quartered in the mutts adjoining the temple and the kine were slaughtered on the temple premises. p. 400, [32]. Further, Sitaram Goel points out that the fort of Palakkad, built by Tipu, used locally destroyed temple material for its construction.


Nor were Jain temples spared, as Hamilton-Buchanan points out, “…and in the government of Hyder, those [temples] of the Jain [at Mudabidiri] had possessions to the amount of 360 Pagodas a year. These were entirely resumed by Tippoo, who gave, in place of them, an annual pension of 90 Pagodas; but he destroyed most of the Brahmans houses, and now the whole place contains only a hundred families.’’ p. 74, [26]


Like in his other atrocities on non-Muslims, Tipu was emulating the Prophet of Islam in his temple destruction. In this article, we just enumerate a few instances of the destruction of the temples of the Goddesses by the Prophet of Islam himself, or by his close associates. Indeed, the destruction of pagan temples has been a noble act for the followers of Islam, as it was for Tipu, who refused a ransom for sparing temples, as has been recounted earlier in this section. The Prophet of Islam won martial victories against pagan Arabia, and supplemented his victories with spiritual victories over the Gods and Goddesses, extinguishing their worship. While shrines of pagan Gods weren’t spared, the pejorative physical characterisations were almost exclusively reserved for the worship of the feminine form. We narrate a few instances here verbatim from [35].


  1. “The expedition to Manat was sent under Sa’d b. Zayd al-Ashahli in the Ramzan of AH 8…. It was the idol of Ghassn, Aws and Khazraj in al-Mushallal…Sa’d started with twenty cavalrymen and reached there at a time when the priest was in attendance. The priest asked them, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Destruction of Manat.’ The priest exclaimed, ‘You, and want to do this!’ Sa’d approached the idol. A black and nude and disheveled woman came out and advanced towards him, cursing and beating her breast. The priest said, ‘O Manat, manifest your might.’ Sa’d started hitting her, and she was cut down. He had asked his companions to take care of the idol in the meanwhile. They smashed it. But the treasury yielded nothing”; p. 485-486 [37]. “Other sources attribute the destruction of the sanctuary of Manat in Qudayd to Ali bin Abu Talib, still others to Abu Sufyan”; pp. 231-232, Vol. V, [38]. “One wonders whether more than one temple of Manat was destroyed”; p. 360, [39].
  2. “Then the apostle sent Khalid to Al-Uzza which was in Nakhla. It was a temple which the tribe of Quraysh and Kinana and all Mudar used to venerate. Its guardians were B Shayban of B Sulaym, allies of B Hashim. When the Sulami guardian heard of Khalid’s coming he hung his sword on her, climbed the mountain on which she stood, and said:O’ Uzza, make an annihilating attack on Khalid,Throw aside your veil and gird up your train.
    O Uzza, if you do not kill this man Khalid
    Then bear a swift punishment or become a Christian.

When Khalid arrived he destroyed her and returned to the apostle.” p. 565, [39], p. 359 [27]. Then “He (the Prophet) asked him (Khalid), “Did you see anything?” Khalid replied, “Nothing.” He (the Prophet) said, “Go again, and smash her to pieces.” Khalid went back, demolished the building in which the idol was housed, and started smashing the idol itself. The pagan priest raised a cry, ‘O Uzza, manifest your might.’ All of a sudden a nude and disheveled black woman came out of that idol. Khalid cut her down with his sword and took possession of the jewels and ornaments she wore. He reported the proceedings to the Prophet who observed: “That was Uzza. She will be worshipped no more.” pp. 404-405, [40], p. 359, [27]

Section B: Tipu’s attack on Travancore

Tipu always harboured a desire to conquer Travancore. This was a natural one – it would enhance the security of Mysore if he could turn the British defences in Carnatic. Further, it would provide Mysore a stretch of unbroken coastline from Honavar to Kanyakumari and politically too, consolidate the Mysore hold on Kerala. However, it was not the only reason why Tipu went to war with the Raja of Travancore. Indeed, from his many manoeuvres, it is clear that he was waiting for a reason to attack Travancore. In the letters of Vissicher, it is recorded, “It was not only the lust of conquest that instigated Tippoo to undertake hostilities against the Raja [of Travancore], but his religious bigotry, and intemperate zeal for the diffusion of his favourite creed, animated him in this, as well as many of his other expeditions.” p. 179, [2]


One of the instruments he tried to use for his attack on Travancore was the Raja of Cochin, who was loath to be that instrument. He feared and hated Tipu, and his feelings are recorded by Sankunni Menon as, “On the receipt of Tippoo’s summons, the [Cochin] Rajah was perplexed. He apprehended that the Sultan, who was at the zenith of his power, angry at the ill-success of his negotiations with the Maharajah of Travancore, would punish him either by imprisonment or by compelling him to renounce his religion for that of Mahomedanism. … The Cochin Chief conveyed the Sultan’s requisition for his appearance to his allies, the Dutch and the Travancore Maharajah, both of whom considered his apprehension as justifiable and advised him to excuse himself from responding to the Sultan’s call.” p. 219, [1]


Nor was the Raja of Cochin’s fear a groundless one, as evidenced by Tipu’s threat, “After the return of Kader Khan, Tippoo threatened the Cochin Raja with forcible seizure of his person and annexation of his territory.” p. 220, [1]


The bigotry of Tipu has been further recorded by the traveller, “In the above observations may be found one of the reasons why Hayder Aly and Tippoo Sultan could maintain their ground against the English and the king of Travancor, on the coast of Malabar. The great number of Christians residing there, whom Hayder and his son everywhere persecuted, and often compelled by violence to embrace Mahometanism, always took part with the English.” footnote, p. 207, [8]


When Tipu attacked Travancore in 1789, he let loose, both his own troops and his irregular Moplah allies, to perpetrate atrocities on the hapless civilian populace. This has been recorded by several historians. To begin with, we reproduce the words of the great historian of Travancore, Sankunni Menon, “After this [breach of the Travancore defensive lines], the lawless force was let loose in the villages. They committed various atrocities and the country was laid waste with fire and sword. Some of the inhabitants fled to the wild hills of Kunnathnaud, while many were taken captive. Hindu temples and Christian churches were equally desecrated by the followers of Mahomet. Towers of pagodas, houses of the rich, and the huts of the poor were all burnt to ashes and the scenes throughout the districts of Alangaud and Paravoor were heart-rending. The ruins, which may be seen up to the present day, testify to the ferocity of the invaders. Records of antiquity, secured in the archives of the pagodas, palaces, churches and the houses of the nobles, were all committed to the flames … All these cruelties were perpetrated with the express sanction of the sultan …. p. 233, [1]


During Tipu’s invasion of Travancore, Tipu’s attitude towards all the Hindus and Christians of the region has been recorded by Fra. Bartolomeo, who writes, “This persecution continued till the 15th of April, 1790. I had then quitted the coast of Malabar; but I was informed by the bishop and apostolic vicar there, that, on the above day, Tippoo Sultan, having forced the king of Travancor’s lines, penetrated as far as Verapole, and had renewed the bloody scenes begun the year before. “The troops”, said the bishop, in a letter dated May 23, 1791, “advanced to Verapole, and set some houses on fire, but did not enter the island. We were visited only by a few marauders, who converted our church, our seminary, and our convent into real dens of thieves. They plundered and destroyed whatever they could lay their hands on; for it had been almost impossible for us to remove any thing out of the way. By the peculiar providence of God, however, and of St. Joseph (the patron of the congregation), neither our church nor our convent fell a prey to the rapacity of the soldiery, or to the flames.” Soon after, the army of Tippoo sultan was defeated by the English under the command of Lord Cornwallis, and totally routed. He himself was driven into the fortress of Ciringapatam, in the kingdom of Maissur, where he was obliged to enter into an engagement, to pay the expences of the war, to give back his conquests to their former possessions, and to deliver both his sons into the hands of the English as hostages.” pp. 141-142, [8]


This account of Tipu’s cruelty in Travancore has been corroborated by the Dewan of Cochin. PCN Raja writes, “Dewan of Travancore, Madhava Rao, had written in the history of Travancore. It may be emphasized here that he had relied on the original local records, not the ones published by the European historians. He wrote: “Whatever cruelties, the local Mappilas were desirous of indulging in the land, Tipu Sultan and his army of Muslim converts did. The ancient and holy temples were heartlessly defiled or burnt down. The ruins of those temples destroyed by Tipu’s fanatic army are the existing evidences of the atrocities committed by Muslims in the country. Christian churches also had to suffer widespread destructions. However, Tipu Sultan spared only the territories of Cochin Raja who had surrendered to Hyder Ali Khan in the beginning itself. Still, when Tipu Sultan and his army entered Parur and started firing at Kodungallur, the Cochin Raja sent a letter to the Travancore Raja requesting him ‘to protect me and my family’.” ch.02, [4]


The famous traveller, Fra. Bartolomeo, has recorded many atrocities in Travancore in his chronicles. About Paravoor, he writes, “Higher up the country, towards the east, lie Paravur, formerly a very large and considerable town, which was, however, reduced to ashes by the troops of Tippoo Sultan.”, p. 137, [8]


The town of Angamali was also destroyed by Tipu and his activities there were recorded by Fra. Bartolomeo, “On the north-east stands Angamali, a very ancient city also, where there are three Christian congregations. It was formerly the residence of the bishop of the Christians of St. Thomas; but great part of it has been burnt or destroyed by the troops of Tippoo Sultan.” p. 138, [8]


Thousands of Christians were slaughtered as part of the total mayhem let loose by Tipu in Travancore. This has been recorded by Fra. Bartolomeo, “Ten thousand of them, I confess, lost their lives during the war against Tippoo Sultan; but still there will remain 90,000 Catholic Chriftians, who follow the Syrio-Chaldaic ritual. They have in their possession sixty four churches, some of which however were destroyed by Tippoo.” p. 149, [8]


The destruction of Travancore, after the collapse of the Travancore lines, has also been recorded by Wilks, who wrote, “… everything north of the estuary and the and all the territory of Travancore and Cochin, was now [in 1790] open to the invader [Tipu;] …the plain country [of Travancore] was now a scene of merciless devastation; the inhabitants were hunted and sent in immense numbers to meet the usual fate of captivity and death.’’ pp. 63-64, [15]

Section C1: Tipu’s atrocities in Coimbatore, Thiruchirapally, Thanjavur and Arcot

Tipu’s destruction of Thanjavur has been well recorded in [44]. It notes that the kingdom of Thanjavur, nominally in the protection of the East India Company, was occupied (except for the capital city) for six months by Tipu’s forces, that plundered the kingdom thoroughly. p. 64, [44]. Schwartz records the abduction of 12,000 children from Tanjore state as late as 1782. p. 64, [44]. The revenues in 1780, after Tipu’s invasion, dropped to 1/9 of the revenues in 1781 p. 65, [44]. The stories of Haidarkalabam are still recounted in horror, according to the author. p. 65, [44].


Tipu also razed to the ground the territories of the palegars who were insubordinate. Writing of the destruction, Wilks records, “Before leaving this quarter [Coimbatore quarter], he [Tipu Sultan] laid waste with fire and sword, the countries of such poligars dependent on Dindigul and Coimbetoor, as had recently failed in obedience, ….’’ p. 12, [15]. This is confirmed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri too, who points out that Tipu then went to Karmapalliam where he plundered the lands of Gurva-Naick. Other poligars were similarly plundered. p. 39, [31].


“From Coimbatore [in 1788], he visited Dindigal, and meditated, it appears, upon the conquest of Travancore. Laying waste with fire and sword the territory of the refractory palegars, he returned to Seringapatam”, pp. 400-401, [7]


Tipu’s habitual cruelty, as part of his campaigns, has been recorded by Wilks, who writes the fates of the regions of Tiruchirapalli, Tiruvannamalai and the island of Srirangam, writing, “On leaving Trichinopoly, Tippoo had proceeded in a northern direction into the heart of Coromandel, marking his route by the accustomed trail of plunder, conflagration and ruin ..’’ p. 105, [15]


Wilks further points out that, “[Trinomalee (Thiruvannamalai) surrendered unconditionally] which was accompanied by circumstances of cruelty and outrage too horrible for description. p. 106, [15]


“Against that place [Trichinopoly], he [Tipu] made various demonstrations, but they had no material result beyond the plunder and devastation of the island of Seringham.’’ p.102, [15], p. 193, [18]


It is of some interest to point out that wherever Tipu went, he caused the flight of the Hindus. The fear of Tipu and his terror loomed large and Fra. Bartolomeo writes, “I was assured also by Father Pavone, who for thirty rears had been superintendant of the missionary establishment at Madura, that a -great many of the Kshetrias had fled to these mountains from Madura, in order to avoid falling into the hands of Hayder Aly Khan, Tippoo Sultan, Mohamed Aly, and the English.” p. 306, [8]

Section C2: Tipu’s Temple Destruction in Arcot, Coimbatore and Other Parts of Tamizh Nadu and his Temple Land Thefts:

Tipu was infamous for extracting ransoms from temples, under threat of sacking them. His actions at Srirangam have been recorded as, “Tipu camped in the temple for 6 days and demanded a ransom of 1L[akh] varaha for not ransacking it. The stalathar (Hereditary temple trustees) led by Rangaraja Vadhula Deshika negotiate the ransom to save the temple from destruction’’ [19]


Sitaram Goel, in his famous book, `Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’ has noted the destruction of the following temples.


Annamalai, Fort. Repaired by Tipu Sultan with temple materials.


Coimbatore, Large Masjid of Tipu Sultan. Temple site. [27]



All these masjids were built by Tipu using locally available temple materials. These materials were usually either stolen or taken from destroyed temples.


Tipu’s land thefts from the Brahmins who worked for temples and the temple lands themselves have also been recorded by KP Padmanabha Menon, who writes, “Sir Charles Turner, the late Chief Justice of Madras, after reviewing all the literature available on the subject and after fully considering the nature and effect of the early documents has arrived at the following conclusion, `It appears to me impossible to resist the conclusion that whatever the origin of the title, the Jenmies were, and for centuries, before the British rule had been, owners of the soil in full proprietory right, and that their rights were recognised even by the class that would have been the most hostile to them, the Moplahs, who, owing to the persecution of Tippoo, had for some years, been the masters of the situation.’’ p. 304, [22]

Section D: Conclusion

Tipu’s bigotry has been summarised by both Lewin Bowring and Hayavadana Rao, who write, “So many instances have been given of the atrocities which he committed in the name of religion, that it would be superfluous to add to them. In this respect, he rivalled Mahmud of Ghazni, Nadir Shah, and Ala-ud-din the Pathan Emperor of Delhi surnamed the Khuni, or the Bloody, all of whom were famous for the number of infidels slaughtered by their orders. For this very zeal for the faith, notwithstanding the cruelties which attended his persecutions, the name of Tipu Sultan was long held in reverence by his co-religionists in Southern India – a proof how readily crimes that cry to Heaven are condoned when perpetrator of them is supposed to have been animated by a sincere desire to propagate the faith which he professed.” pp. 226-227, [3] pp. 1043-1045, [24]


Even Tipu’s own court bard, Kirmani, concedes, “He had a pleasing address and manner, and was very discriminating in his estimation of the character of men of learning, and laboured sedulously in the encouragement and instruction of the people of Islam. He had, however, a great dislike to, or rather, an abhorrence of the people of other religions … His chief aim was the protection and encouragement of the Muhammadan religion and the religious maxims or rules of the Soonni sect – and he had not only abstained from all forbidden practices, but he also strictly prohibited his servants from their commission’’ pp. 1040-1042, [24]


Tipu’s penchant for Jihads against infidels is remarkable. KM Panikkar, paraphrasing from Tipu’s own letter to Budr-uzzuman Khan on 6th March, 1789, quotes ``Four months after this (settlement in the Malabar), these base wretches, spreading confusion around and setting sedition on foot, broke out universally into (a fresh) rebellion; and engaging in frequent hostilities with the Foujdars stationed among them, reduced the latter to great straits. Immediately upon learning the whoreson behaviour of the infidels, our special retinue again moved in the direction of Furkhy (Calicut) with a view to fulfilling the commandments of God; and of the Messenger of God, as contained in the Koran, and delivered twelve hundred years ago. The Jehads which (in consequence) took place at that period may be learned by reference to ancient books. Since then no person has undertaken a Jehad, till now that we through the divine favour and with the aid of the holy prophet, have embarked in the present one, with which no other good work can compare; nor can any claim so high a reward.’’ p. 359, [32]


Paraphrasing from the letter, KM Panikkar writes, “The letter proceeds to state that the holy war now pursued had already led to the spontaneous profession of the true faith by great numbers of the infidels and their families; and it concludes with inculcating the positive duty of all Mussulmans, `to take up arms for the advancement of Islam; and by expatiating on the favour which they will by so doing, acquire with God, with his prophet and with the Mahomedan world at large.’’ p. 359, [32]


Panikkar further relates that, “The foregoing mandate was directed to be read to the whole of the Mussulman population of the place, who were to be assembled for the purpose, on the ensuing Friday after its receipt in the public mosque, a special thanksgiving was ordered to be rendered to the Almighty for the sultan’s recent successes and prayers to be offered up for the continuance of the same. The service was appointed to be closed with a discharge of twenty one guns, and the distribution of fifty maunds of sugar among the people (i.e., the true believers).’’ pp. 359-360, [32].


Also, KM Panikkar has recorded several other instances of Tipu’s Islamist zeal in the Malabar. He writes, “In a letter dated January 18, 1790 to Syed Abdul Dulai, Tipu writes: “With the grace of Prophet Mohammed and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only on the borders of Cochin State a few are still not converted. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I consider this as Jehad to achieve that object.’’’’ (K.M. Panicker, Bhasha Poshini). ch.03, [4], [29]


Tipu had a general disdain for Hindus and Christians and a particular solicitude for the Muslims. It is recorded by Bowring that, “In 1786 he issued a remarkable proclamation, calling upon all true believers to ‘extract the cotton of negligence from the ears of their understanding,’ and, quitting the territories of apostates and unbelievers, to take refuge in his dominions, where, by the Divine blessing, they would be better provided for than before, and their lives, honour, and property remain under the protection of God. He was resolved that the worthless and stiff-necked infidels, who had turned aside their heads from obedience to the true and openly raised the standard of unbelief, should be chastised by the hands of the faithful, and made either to acknowledge the true religion or faith, to pay tribute. As, owing to the imbecility of the princes of Hind, that insolent race (presumably the English) had conceived the futile opinion that true believers had become weak, mean, and contemptible, and had overrun and laid waste the territories of Musalmans, extending the hand of violence and on the property and honour of the faithful, he had resolved to prosecute a holy war against them.” p. 215, [3]


Even in policies of trade, Tipu preferred Muslims, and not to trade with the Europeans, even his French allies,“… in 1784, he [Tipu] ordered the eradication of all pepper vines in the maritime districts, and merely reserved those of inland growth to trade with the true believers from Arabia”, p. 595, [11]. Tipu’s preference for Muslim merchants has been noted by KM Panikkar too, who notes that almost all the merchants were Muslim p. 416, [32].


One of Tipu’s virtues, i.e., the ban on alcoholic, opium and other intoxicating substances, which have been lauded by many secular historians, as reformatory, must be seen in the context of the Koranic injunction. “The large sacrifice of revenue involved in this prohibition was founded on the unforced interpretation of a text of the Koran; `every intoxicating drink is forbidden’ and on that fanatical zeal which is deemed to cover and found to accompany so many deviations from moral rectitude.’’, p. 267, [15]


And the fitting epitaph to the man who did so much to alienate his own subjects and thus dig his own grave, would also be delivered by Wilks, who wrote, “A dark and intolerant bigotry excluded from Tippoo’s choice all but the true believers; and unlimited persecution united in detestation of his rule every Hindoo in his dominions. In the Hindoo, no degree of merit was a passport to his favour; in the Mussalman, no crime could incur his displeasure.’’ p. 464, [15]. Wilks concludes, “Tippoo, in an age when persecution only survived in history, renewed its worst terrors; and was the last Mahommedan prince, after a long period of better feeling, who propagated that religion by the edge of the sword.’’ p. 465, [15].


Perhaps it is appropriate to end the article with the words of Col. Allen, recorded by Hayavadana Rao, ``Hyder was born to create an empire, Tippoo to lose one’’ p. 1036, [24]. His own barbarity and bigotry had laid the foundation of his ruin.


References:


[1] “History of Travancore”, Sankunni Menon, 1879.


[2] “An Account of the Travels of Fra Bartolomeo, in Letters from Vissicher”, 1862


[3] Lewin Bowring, “Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan and the struggle with the Mussalman powers of the South”


[4] “Tipu Sultan: Hero or Tyrant”, Collection of Articles, Voice of Dharma Publications http://voiceofdharma.org/books/tipu/


[5] William Kirkpatrick, “Selected Letters of Tipu Sultan”, 1811


[6] William Logan, “Malabar Manual”


[7] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part I”, 1897


[8] Fra Bartolomeo, “A Voyage to the East Indies 1776-1788”


[9] Richter, “Coorg Gazetteer”


[10] C Gopalan Nair, “Wynad – Its Peoples”


[11] James Innes, “Malabar and Anjengo”


[12] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part II”


[13] – “Tyrant Diaries: An account of Tipu provided by Ripaud’’, Francois Gautier http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-tyrant-diaries/284803


[14] – Inscription on the walls of the Ambalapuzha temple.


[15] – “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 3, Wilks.


[16] – “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 2, Wilks.


[17] – “Do Not Take Up Tipu Sultan Role – Hindu Outfit tells Rajini’’, The Hindu, 12/09/2015 http://www.thehindu.com/news/nation...-hindu-outfit-tells-rajini/article7643805.ece


[18] Mohibbul Hassan, “History of Tipu Sultan’’


[19] [Temple Chronicles of Srirangam], SriVaishnava Press


[20] Krishna Ayyar, “The Zamorins of Calicut’’.


[21] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Kerala’’, Vol. 1


[22] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Kerala’’, Vol. 2


[23] Hayavadana Rao, “Mysore Gazetteer – Historical’’, Vol. 2


[24] Hayavadana Rao, “History of Mysore’’, Vol. 3


[25] Patrick Hamilton-Buchanan, “An Account of Travels through Mysore, Canara and Malabar’’, Vol. 2.


[26] Patrick Hamilton-Buchanan, “An Account of Travels through Mysore, Canara and Malabar’’, Vol. 3.


[27] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 1


[28] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 2, ch. 7.


[29] Mir Ali Kirmani (translated by Col. Miles) “Nishan i Hyduri’’.


[30] B Sheik Ali, “Tipu Sultan’’


[31] Ramachandra Rao Punaganuri, “Memoirs of Hyder and Tippoo: rulers of Seringapatam’’


[32] KM Panikkar, “History of Kerala’’


[33] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, and Dikgaj, “Tipu Jayanthi – a Celebration of Bigotry and Barbarities in Karnataka’’,


[34] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Cochin’’


[35] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, and Dikgaj, “Ban on Durga Puja: An assault on the core of Hindu civilisation [Part II]’’, http://www.dailyo.in/politics/durga...rophet-mohammad-mecca-part2/story/1/7500.html


[36] Koran http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=simple&q1=9:5&size=First+100


[37] Tabaqat-i-Ibn Sa’d, translated into Urdu by Alama Abdullah al-Ahmadi, 2 Volumes, Karachi, n.d.


[38] First Encyclopedia of Islam, 1931-1936, 9 Volumes, Leiden Reprint


[39] Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah (The Life of Muhammad, translated by A Guillaume)


[40] Tarikh-i-Tabari, translated into Urdu by Sayyid Muhammad Ibrahim, Vol. I: Sirat-un-Nabi, Karachi, n.d.


[41] Encyclopaedia of Islam, https://books.google.co.in/books?id=bYtmAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=banu+qaynuqa+encyclopedia+of+islam&source=bl&ots=yu8cx_1Oj4&sig=Gfth40Y6t7idLIzpO2sTAcwC-XI&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=banu%20qaynuqa%20encyclopedia%20of%20islam&f=false


[42] Collection of Hadiths, Sahih Muslim, http://hadithcollection.com/sahihmuslim/136-Sahih%20Muslim%20Book%2008.%20Marriage/11240-sahih-muslim-book-008-hadith-number-3432.html


[43] Alfred Martineau, “Bussy et L’Inde Francaise’’


[44] Subramanian, “Maratha Rajas of Tanjore’’
 

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This is well recommended read.


Book Review—Tipu Sultan : The Tyrant of Mysore


Unfortunately, a dominant section of the political establishment in India, inclusive of its preferred set of “progressives” from the worlds of academia, media, culture et al have been engaged in inventing politically useful myths which are dangerous for any civilized society. Sandeep Balakrishna , a Bengaluru-based former IT professional, heading perhaps one of the most renowned digital media platforms in India has admirably sought to De-falsify our existing history through this painstaking work, and he promises more in future.
Since independence, while various aspects of the British colonial rule were rightly put under the scanner, the much-longer, and much more destructive era of Islamic imperialism was kept outside this historical lens for the very survival of the Nehruvian state, with its known Muslim communal bias and pronounced antipathy towards Hindus.The fact remains that the British colonial rule, with all its fault lines had provided some cultural-political space to many Indians to look at their past with objectivity and pride, but then the Nehruvian system took away from us that short-lived tryst with freedom of thought and expression. The Deobandi and Marxist-Pan Islamic influence in India’s cultural-historical establishment continued to grow so much that Ministers of Central government could go on glorifying the descendants of Babar the Invader, and “Great” historians could justify the sacking and sacrilege of the Holy Somnath temple and every barbarism against India and the Hindus.
mongols
Actually, falsification of Indian history, justification of Islamic terror while smothering its crucial theological basis had begun much before independence. Let’s look at what Nehru wrote in Discovery of India about Tipu Sultan:
“The real protagonists for power in India during the eighteenth century were four : two of them were Indians and two foreign. The Indians were the Marathas and Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan in the south; the foreigners were the British and the French.”
It is clear that Nehru overlooks the crucial difference between the Marathas, the indigenous people engaged in a fightback to reclaim their patrimony, and the Haider-Tipu duo, though born and brought up on the Indian soil, were engaged in furthering Pan Islamic empire in India. Thus Nehru smothers the all-important Islamic dimension for his flawed “secular” approach. Then again, Nehru credits, Haider Ali for being a “remarkable man and one of the notable figures in Indian history” who possessed “some kind of a national ideal”, and was a “leader with vision”. Though Nehru did not mention anything more about Tipu, except a mention about his efforts at strengthening the navy, he had laid some kind of a guideline for assessing such historical personages, without a word on his anti-Hindu actions as a fierce Jihadi.
One of the post-independence text books on Indian history edited by R.C. Mazumdar, K.K. Dutta and H.C. Roychowdhury, “An Advanced History of India: Modern India”, Part. III, (1946, 1951), takes up Tipu Sultan(this section being written by K.K. D) in this fashion: “ ..he was not a fierce bigot—Though a pious Muslim, he did not attempt any wholesale conversion of his Hindu subjects—and he “forced it only on those recalcitrant Hindus on whose allegiance he could not rely”. Otherwise, he is described as a “remarkable personality-a man of sound moral character-with an intense faith in God” and endowed with a restless spirit of innovation” etc. At least, some basic facts were mentioned while withholding a lot more, and of course without explaining what “God” meant in Tipu’s tradition.
Nehru overlooks the crucial difference between the Marathas, the indigenous people engaged in a fightback to reclaim their patrimony, and the Haider-Tipu duo, though born and brought up on the Indian soil, were engaged in furthering Pan Islamic empire in India.
With rapid secularization or more precisely, Islamisation, a blatant falsification naturally found its way in our textbooks. One NCERT Social Science book for class VIII( Arjun Dev, 2005), glorifies Tipu Sultan as “an able ruler”, in religious matters “enlightened and broad-minded”, who thus won the loyalty and support of all . Another NCERT History text-book for Class xii by Bipan Chandra (2005, which was used in earlier textbooks) goes on to describe Tipu as one with a well-stocked library, having keen interest in the French Revolution ( to create the impression as if he believed in Equality, Liberty and Fraternity”), free from vices in personal life, conscious of the threat posed to India by the British (again slyly projecting him as another Tilak or Sri Aurobindo, and thus smothering the most obvious thing that he was actually working for an Islamic empire). Chandra further says that some British historians have described him as a religious fanatic, which was “not borne out by facts”, moreover, “he was tolerant and enlightened in his approach towards other religions”.
Following the then Karnataka education Minister, Shankaramurthy’s historically correct criticism of Tipu, in 2008, a Delhi University historian with Islamic- leftist leanings sought to present Tipu as an iconic figure in our anti-British struggle, while suppressing his Islamic bigotry in an English daily. (Incidentally, he also happens to be the first historian to be rewarded with an important appointment by the NDA government in 2014). As that daily would not publish my article countering this, only an abridged version of my Letter to Editor was carried (11 Oct 2006), wherein I had pointed out as to how Tipu needs to be studied not because of his “iconic stature in the anti-colonial struggle” as he was suggesting, but because of our need to “understand the history of aggression on our society and culture, so that we are intellectually and logistically better prepared to counter Islamic terrorism’.

I had further pointed out how Tipu was committed to helping “my brethren Musselman in the general cause of religion”, who looked at Hindustan being “over-run with Infidels(Christians) and polytheists(Hindus)”. I also rubbished this attempt to project Tipu as a “modernizer” since he had forcibly converted Hindus to Islam. As for the Marathas, I had pointed out that Tipu felt that “Haider Ali had an understanding with the Poona infidels”, while hoping that the “religion of Islam will obtain exclusive prevalence over the whole country”. (All these citations are from Tipu’s papers).
Hence the UPA Minister Rahman Khan’s announcement to set up an university in Tipu’s name was no sudden decision but part of a long process in the rehabilitation of Tipu’s reputation. This is how Tipu Sultan came to be presented as a “freedom fighter” and bracketed along with Basavanna, Chennamma, Gandhi in the hoardings put out by the Karnataka government.
Sandeep Balakrishna shows with meticulous research that Tipu was neither a secularist, nor a scholar as propagated by the jihad-friendly secular–liberal establishment in India. True, Tipu was very well known in England/ France, and when Rammohan Roy was moving about in London in his Bengali costume (1830), the small boys shouted “Tipu ! Tipu!” (Forrest, 1970). His understanding with the French and the sobriquet “Citizen Tipoo”/ Jacobin club etc just can’t hide the hideous dimensions of his persona/rule.
Sandeep Balakrishna shows how people like Girish Karnad and Bhagwan Gidwani have mischievously tried to paint Tipu as a national hero by smothering his Islamic fanaticism. He also writes on the role of Hyder, who usurped the throne from his employer, the Hindu king , and goes on to provide various details of Tipu’s early life, including how he was once publicly flogged by his father. In the chapter, The Durbar of an Islamic Fanatic, he shows in great detail, how Tipu gave Islamic names to the existing cities/towns, and many other places , how chiefs of every district were Muslims, how converts to Islam were exempted from taxes, how Muslims were exempted from paying house tax, how lands seized from non-Muslims were given to Qazis and other Muslim officers etc.
Sandeep explains how Tipu’s “morbid obsession with Islamizing his entire kingdom wrecked the economy”. He imposed Farsi language on the Kannada speaking people, and formed one Ahmadi contingent consisting of converted Hindu youth, mainly from Mangalore, the Malabar and Coorg, much like the Janissaries of the Ottomans. The calendar and currency he introduced were Islamic in content and complexion.
Sandeep Balakrishna further shows how Tipu lacked even the “most basic and common attributes of a king”, and his failure was primarily because of his “obsession with Islam and his penchant for grandiose daydreaming”. The author provides details of Tipu’s inhuman conduct, and the savagery he wreaked on the hapless people of Coorg (Kodagu), Malabar and the desecration and destruction of Hindu temples. His “illustrious” career in spreading Islamic imperialism was matched by his invitation to Islamic rulers beyond India to carry on Jihad on its soil. Such a figure no wonder evokes such a tremendous admiration from India’s only “progressives”—the public sector historians and theatre personalities. It is distortion of this sort which has been at the root of India’s collective failure to grasp the nature of Islamic terrorism, define its content and scope and devise ways and means to counter it effectively. Its time some objective history was written in India.

Naturally, Pakistan has one of its naval frigates named after him, so has the Shipping Corporation of India, and our own Amar Chitra Katha publication has a book on him as a role model. Tipu’s use of rocket technology, a gift from the French as Sandeep shows, does not mitigate his crime against humanity. He was an Islamic bigot, a true soldier in the service of a theologically sanctioned war of elimination of both the Hindus and Christians. Fortunately for India, he was defeated and killed by the English East India Company in 1799.
The author provides details of Tipu’s inhuman conduct, and the savagery he wreaked on the hapless people of Coorg (Kodagu), Malabar and the desecration and destruction of Hindu temples. His “illustrious” career in spreading Islamic imperialism was matched by his invitation to Islamic rulers beyond India to carry on Jihad on its soil.
Let’s think of it now. Without his elimination, and the restoration of the Hindu royal dynasty to power in 1799 (its rendition in 1881), contemporary Karnataka and Bengaluru, currently the hub of IT industry in India would have been turned into another Pakistan/ Afghanistan/ Bangladesh. Despite this, Bengaluru has experienced sporadic incidents of Islamic terror is a different story.
Much has been written on Tipu Sultan before and Sandeep Balakrishna’s book is a welcome addition to that list. This needs to widely read and appreciated. He has set the record straight and has provided an excellent historical account and exposed the dangers inherent in what the contemporary historians and fellow-travellers are doing as part of their pro-Islamic propaganda exercises.

( Tipu Sultan the Tyrant of Mysore is available from Rare Publications, Chennai, 2013, p.224. Rs. 250.)
 

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Itihāsa. When the south was one Karnataka Empire -- Vasundhara Filliozat
When the south was one

Historian Vasundhara Filliozat on distortions of history, and how the Karnataka empire ruled over most of south India and fought Muslim invasions.
History by Monica Jha Mar 15, 2018
Poster

Vijayanagara was one of the most dazzling of the capitals of mediaeval India. The ruins of the city have awed travellers and scholars alike. But a historian, a woman who lives in Paris, says an empire by the name Vijayanagara never existed. She has created an uproar but insists the correct name is Karnataka empire.
Vasundhara Filliozat has been working on the history of Karnataka since the early 1960s. She was born in Haveri in Dharwad district as the fifth child of Sanskrit and Kannada scholar Pandit Chennabasavappa Kavali. She studied history, Indian epigraphy and French at Karnataka University, Dharwad before she got a scholarship to study theatre in France. After two years of studying theatre, she returned to history and did her PhD from Sorbonne University in Paris. There, she studied the first two kings of Vijayanagara under Prof. Jean Filliozat, the celebrated Indologist of that era.
Her approach to history is simple: Read what is written at the site. She studies inscriptions and icons to dig out stories from the past. While studying Hampi, she translated more than 150 Kannada inscriptions into French.
She has worked on several temple sites in Karnataka including Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal and Muktesvara (at Caudadanapura) and Kalamukha temples. Her books on the temples in Karnataka are co-authored with her husband Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat, son of her mentor. While Vasundhara writes on history, epigraphy and iconography, chapters on architecture are authored by Pierre-Sylvain. Her books include: Vijayanagar, Alidulida Hampe, Hampi-Vijayanagar: The Temple of Vithala. She is currently working on two books—a book on Vijayanagara for the National Book Trust and another on legends of Hampi for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.
Now, she divides her time between Paris and Mysuru. At her house in Mysuru, sitting amid paintings by her husband, she talks to us about the “Hinduness” of the kings who unified the south to fight Islamic invasion, the role of the temple in everyday life, the current phenomenon of politics over history, and more.
Edited excerpts from an interview.
What was your childhood in Dharwad in 1940s like?
Though I come from a poor family, my background was very rich. We belong to the Nekara (weaver) community. My father, Pandit Chennabasavappa Kavali studied old Kannada and Sanskrit in the 1920s. Father would bring up various topics during regular conversations and stories or his own experiences. He would discuss novels and dramas with us.

During my BA final examinations, AIR was airing a Mallikarjun Mansur concert on a Saturday. I had my paper on Monday. He said:‘Oh! The examination can come next year as well but not Mansur’s programme.’ My mother didn’t object to it either whereas neighbours did. This is the kind of upbringing I had.
I did my high school in Dharwad and my higher studies at Karnataka University. I was a Gandhi class student. The distinction students stop at getting a good job. But for mediocrities like me, our brains continue to work since it has not exhausted itself in those initial years (laughs). Being mediocre is what pushed me to do better later in life.
How did you get interested in studying history?
I considered history and philosophy. But, history is like a story. I found it more interesting than philosophy, which is more abstract.

In Paris, I met Prof Jean Filliozat. He was just back after visiting temples of Aihole (Hindu, Jain and Buddhist monuments built between the 4th century and the 12th century in Badami Chalukya, Rashtrakuta and Kalyani Chalukya periods) and Pattadakal (Badami Chalukya era, 7th and 8th century) and happy to have a student from Karnataka. He asked me questions about Karnataka: have you seen these sites; do you speak Kanara or Canari? I said boldly, no, sir, I speak Kannada. He corrected himself calling it Kannada. At that time, I had no idea how great a scholar he was and what a great institution Collège de France was. Under his guidance, I started my PhD on the first two kings of Vijayanagara.
How did you discover your love for Vijayanagara?
That was my first love! It started as early as in 1962-63 when I was an MA student and taken on a study tour to Hampi. When I saw Hampi, I said to myself that I must take photos of every inch and every nook and corner of this place and I must study this site. That was the day! At that time, Hampi was so beautiful. All the ruins were there—all the broken structures and pillars, and mutilated images. And there was not so much of vegetation on the monuments. We spent three days there and I immediately decided to study Hampi for my PhD.

What initiated you into epigraphy?
I was working on the beginning of the dynasties—whether they were Kannadigas or Telugus, whether Desapattana was Vijayanagara, etc. I was studying a lot of published material. My guide Dr Filliozat—by then I had become his daughter-in-law—said: ‘Stop this nonsense! Go to the inscriptions; translate them and write about that. That is going to be your original contribution to the history of Vijayanagara.’ I wasn’t happy.

Today, I am thankful to him. This is the path I have taken not just for that PhD work, but in all my works, be it Hampi, Pattadakal or Kalamukha temples (Lakulashaiva temples in North Karnataka built in 11th-13th century, Kalyani Chalukya period). I go only through the inscriptions and give my own impressions about them. And that’s what makes my work original.
Which language were these inscriptions in?
The art of writing inscriptions starts from Ashoka in the 3rd century BC and his inscriptions are many in that area— Muski, Sanganakallu, Koppal in Bellary district. They are in Brahmi script and the language is Prakrit; it is neither Sanskrit nor Kannada. It’s like that all over India. Later, each region developed its own script, taking Brahmi as the base. Karnataka wasn’t an exception; they developed Kannada from Brahmi. We have Hale (old) Kannada, Nadu (medieval) Kannada, and Hosa (new) Kannada.
However, in the inscriptions of this so-called Vijayanagara period, there is no Prakrit. Most are in Kannada except the first few words in Sanskrit. So the Hampi inscriptions were not very difficult for me to translate.
Badami Chalukya and Hoysala inscriptions are in Hale Kannada. To read and understand these, you should have a good knowledge of Kannada literature, Sanskrit literature and Prakrit, which most people don’t have. I can’t read Prakrit. I can understand Kannada and manage Sanskrit.
However, in the inscriptions of this so-called Vijayanagara period, there is no Prakrit. Most are in Kannada except the first few words in Sanskrit. So the Hampi inscriptions were not very difficult for me to translate.
How important is it for a historian to understand the local language and culture?
When the Europeans came to India, they said Indians didn’t have a historical sense. This is stupid. They did not know that in each and every temple, at every historical place, there are inscriptions and they are our authentic documents which tell our history. In most of the inscriptions, the first portion is eulogy of the king or the donor or the patron. Next, they mention the date— on such and such a date, the temple was built or such a donation was made. They go on to detail which rituals were performed in the temple, who were employed for which service and how much salary they were getting. If you study an inscription, every word tells you a good history.

The British did a very nasty thing. They thought Indians were fond of legends and mythology so they put legendary history in history textbooks.
Europeans have done some epigraphy work but most of it is superficial. A professor from Paris collected several inscriptions of Vithala (built in 1406, Sangama era) and Virupaksha temples (Badami Chalukya era, 7th century). The copies were in Kannada but some European historians called them Telugu inscriptions. Many inscriptions have been translated wrongly by Europeans. They read it correctly but interpreted it wrongly because they did not have a good knowledge of the language or culture. They took some assistance from good pandits but couldn’t find reference material. Not many books were published as now and material was not as abundantly available as today. Some translated inscriptions just give a resume of the inscription, not the details. For instance, they mention that the inscription has details of a grant but don’t translate the details of the grant. In fact, details of the grants are very important to understand life in that period.
A lot of your works have been published in French. While in Paris, you also hold public lectures. Who are your audiences?
Many, many people are interested in Vijayanagara the capital, the history of the empire, and history of Karnataka. Not much has been published. In France, I think, I am the only one working on Karnataka.

In Europe there is an epidemic; they all go to Tamil Nadu (laughs). When the British became rulers of India, Madras was one of the important places so many people went there. Then, Pondicherry became independent and the French Institute of Pondicherry was established in 1955. It was established by my father-in-law and unfortunately that is also in Tamil Nadu (laughs). Also scholars are well received by institutions like Madras University. In Karnataka, there is no infrastructure for receiving these scholars and help them with material. There was one American who wanted to study the Lakulisha Pashupata shaivism in Karnataka. He abandoned it for lack of support.
Making works available in various languages encourages future works.

Vasundhara Filliozat with her husband Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat. This and title photo: Sriram Vittalamurthy.
What discoveries from Hampi inscriptions surprise or interest you the most?
The most interesting bit for me was that the kings were Kannadigas. I can’t say if Telugu was their mother tongue but the official language was Kannada. They called it deshabhasha, roughly translated as national language. All inscriptions are in Kannada. Even the inscriptions in Tamil Nadu and Andhra start in Tamil or Telugu but switch to Kannada in the details of the grant.
The most interesting bit for me was that the kings were Kannadigas. I can’t say if Telugu was their mother tongue but the official language was Kannada. They called it deshabhasha, roughly translated as national language. All inscriptions are in Kannada.
There are many Sanskrit copper plates—grants were given on copper plates— where the first portion of the text is in Sanskrit and when they come to the date and the details of the grant, they say ‘deshabhashya kathyate’ (to be said in deshabhasha). And this is followed by text in Kannada. So, Kannada is the deshabhasha.
Did reading inscriptions help you find original material on Vijayanagara?
Yes. Most importantly, the foundational legend turned out to be untrue. The legend is—Harihara goes hunting and sees hounds being chased by a hare. Vidyaranya, a saint of Sringeri matha, considers it a blessed and protected place and advises him to build a city on that spot. Harihara builds an empire, with his capital on the hare-hounds spot. Goddess Bhuvaneshwari showers gold upon Vidyaranya.

The empire was founded in 1336. The inscriptions reveal that Vidyaranya didn’t exist at that time. A renowned scholar in 1336 was Vidyatirtha, the guru of Vidyaranya. This was also the time of Ballala III, the last great Hoysala ruler (1292-1342), the only surviving Hindu king in the south and fighting to eliminate Muslim rule in the south. Can you imagine saints like Vidyaranya or Vidyatirtha saying ‘let Ballala fight but instead of supporting him, let us build a new empire’? This is really stupid.
Also, Bhuvaneshwari wasn’t worshipped in Hampi. In fact, until the 18th century, there is no mention of Bhuvaneshwari but now she has become the goddess of Karnataka, the Mysore Dasara festival, etc. and people proudly shout Jai Bhuvaneshwari! Jai Karnataka Mate!
The legend was concocted in the 17th-18th century but people have taken it as historical fact. And our people are happy to repeat it.
For all your love for Vijayanagara, you state that an empire called Vijayanagara never existed.
What they refer to as Vijayanagara empire was actually called Karnataka Samrajya (empire). Vijayanagara was only the capital.

Robert Sewell (1845-1925, Keeper of the Madras Record Office) was the first to study Hampi and write a book on it, A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar. Though he mentioned in the body of the text that the empire was called Karnataka, he chose Vijayanagar in the title because he knew Kannada and Telugu groups would fight if he called it Karnataka.
Most Indian historians, like B. A. Saletore, P. B. Desai and Ram Sharma, also knew it was called Karnataka. Still, Saletore titled his thesis ‘Social and political life in the Vijayanagara empire’. Desai titled his novel Vijayanagara Samrajya Sthapane. Suryanarain Rao titled his book Vijayanagar, The Never To Be Forgotten Empire.
In 1936, they celebrated the 6th centenary of the foundation of the empire. There were great scholars like Saletore, P. B. Desai and Aluru Venkata Rao but they did not have the courage to say it was Karnataka Empire.
The Indian Council for Historical Research requested Dr Shrinivas Ritti, who also called the empire Vijayanagara in his works, to bring out a compilation of all published inscriptions. In the introduction to the second volume, he says the empire was never called Vijayanagara; it was called Karnataka and that Mrs Filliozat was the first to point out, and that Sewell knew about it. He said historians chose the name Vijayanagara since it was better known but forthcoming scholars should think of using the correct nomenclature.
Could you independently verify the name of the empire?
Yes, I’m basing this on epigraphical evidence. It shouldn’t be called by a certain name because I’m saying so or because Sewell said so. In all official mentions, it was Karnataka. Dr Ritti has also quoted more than 30 inscriptions that show it was Karnataka empire, right from the beginning.

Karnataka or Kannada Nadu embraced some parts of Andhra and Maharashtra. In Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga’s time (ruler of the Rasthrakuta dynasty, 800-878 CE), the region between the Godavari river in the north and Kaveri river in the south was Kannada country. Pampa and Janna, two of the greatest Kannada poets come from today’s Andhra.

Kings didn’t call themselves Badami Chalukya or Kalyani Chalukya but rulers of Karnataka. The Maharaja of Mysore, in his inscriptions, used to say he was king of Karnataka. Even later, Thanjavur, Vellore, and Madurai were ruled by Nayaks who were vassals of Karnataka kings and called themselves Nayaks of Karnataka. The British called the two styles of music in India Hindustani and Carnatic because the northern Mughal Empire was Hindustan and the southern Karnataka. The wars between the British and the Nawab of Arcot were called Carnatic wars.
Today, when I say the empire should be referred to as Karnataka, the response is ‘no madam, if we say Karnataka, we’ll be limiting ourselves to Karnataka state’. They exhibit their idiocies because there is a difference between the empire and the state that exists today. It makes me feel very sorry.
How willing are historians to take a fresh look at ideas that are widely accepted?
It’s very difficult to change these ideas. A lot of history in India has been reduced to supporting or refuting what’s already been said. That’s what modern students do; whatever the former scholars have said, I should speak for or against it. And if he is a foreigner who has said something, they repeat it and they take it as gospel truth. I am not sure if it is a lack of original study or plain jealousy.

How important is it to call the empire Karnataka and not Vijayanagara? Do you expect it to provide a new context in the study of history?
It definitely will. If you are a good historian, you should say what is in the text and not conform to general perceptions. When you study the Hoysala empire, do you call it Dwarasamudra empire or Belur empire? Do you call the Chalukyas the Badami empire? You don’t do that. Why should you call Karnataka empire by a different name? You should call a thing by its original, correct name.
In this particular case, the correct name solves several problems. When you say Karanataka empire, the big question about the date of and story behind the foundation of the empire vanishes. The untrue legends of Vidyaranya and Bhuvaneshwari showering gold vanish too.

So, when and how did the Karnataka Empire come into existence?
In 1346. There was no foundation as such. It was decided that to face the northern invaders, there must be only one kingdom and one king for the whole of the south. The Hoysala ruler Ballala III started bringing the entire south together and it was fully realised in the time of Harihara I.

Probably it was Vidyatirtha’s (the guru of Vidyaranya) idea. Since Ballala III was the last surviving Hindu king, he started this. It was decided that the Hoysala Empire would continue but the king didn’t call it Hoysala to spare the feelings of other rulers who came together. Since Ballala III was from Karnataka he called the new empire Karnataka.
According to me, it starts in 1336-37 when Ballala III goes on a tour to supervise the northern frontiers— Badami, Koppal, Gadag, etc.— of his kingdom. He realises a stronghold in this area can stop invasions from the north. Hampi answers his problems because of its geographical situation—it is on the banks of the Tungabhadra, not far from his northern frontiers, and surrounded by rocky mountains that serve the purpose of fort walls. Hampi was in the hands of Kampila, a minor chieftain whose capital was at Kammatadurga, not far from Hampi. Ballala III got him killed and took control of Hampi.
Ballala III was treacherously killed by the Madurai Sultan in 1342, after he was invited to go unarmed to sign a treaty. Ballala IV comes to the throne in 1342 but there are no inscriptions about him after that. He was in his 60s and must have died.
From 1346 onwards, we don’t get any Hoysala inscriptions but we do get inscriptions of Sangamas, Harihara I and Bukka I. To publicise his victory, the king makes a grant to the Sringeri Sharada Peetham in 1346. That marks the beginning. So there was no foundation as such. The study of inscriptions gives you this picture.
How was the south unified?
It was done over a long period. Madurai, the Yadavas of Devagiri were originally Hindu kingdoms but occupied by Muslims at that point. Most temples in these areas were closed and no rituals were performed. When Malik Kafur invaded (generalissimo of the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji, he invaded the Yadava, Kakatiya, Hoysala and Pandya kingdoms between1308 and 1311), the whole of the south was a patchwork ruled by the Hoysalas, the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiyas of Warangal, the Cholas and Pandyas. They were fighting among themselves for further aggrandisement of territory. The Hoysalas had a lot of vassals holding small areas.

So Vidyatirtha must have advised that the south must be united. He sent his students, Madhavacharya and Sayanacharya, to campaign in this direction. It was executed so well that by the time of Harihara I, all the Hoysala vassals had come to their support. When Bukka I came to the throne, he sent his son Kampana II to various places to study them and establish peace and order. Kampana went to Madurai and succeeded in re-establishing the rituals in all the temples and order in the south.
So, at that time whole of south India was united under one banner and it was called Karnataka.
Is this the only time in history when the whole of south India is united as one kingdom?
Yes, yes! The entire area south of the Krishna was under the Karnataka Empire while the two oceans formed the boundaries in the east and the west. It existed for more than 200 years—from 1346 to 1565. It fell only in 1565 after the battle of Talikota (where its army was defeated by the Deccan Sultanates).

Was Vijayanagara a significant place for other empires?
It was known beyond the seas, both the eastern and the western. Many western chroniclers, including Portuguese and Italian travellers, have written about Vijayanagara, visited it. Many horse merchants visited it; they had a trade with Portugal. Before the Portuguese, they had contacts with Arabs. And on the eastern side, it had contacts— both trade and diplomatic—with China. An inscription mentions that Bukka sent his ambassador to the Ming ruler in China. It is recorded in the Ming annals. But Vijayanagara’s contacts on the eastern side have been neglected in studies.

Do you find inscriptions at Vijayanagara site on the empire’s relations with other kingdoms?
Unfortunately, there are none. We have to study foreign documents. The Chinese mention they had their traders in the western oceans. It is published in a journal called T’oung Pao. I feel I should study it in detail. There is Hikayat Hang Tuah from Malaysia, which mentions links with the kings of Karnataka and the writer gives a description of the capital Vijayanagara— there were heads of terrifying lions on the top of every gate so that miscreants who wanted to enter the capital would get scared.

Did the travellers call the empire Karnataka?
No, it was hard for them to pronounce Karnataka. The chroniclers and the horse merchants called the capital Bisnaga and the kingdom Narasanga, by the name of the king Saluva Narasimha, who was on the throne when they came. Abd-ur Razzaq (a Persian scholar) doesn’t speak about the empire but gives a beautiful description of the capital in the mid-15th century. He calls it Biznagalia;it was very difficult for them to say Vijayanagar. Diogo do Couto came in the 16th century after the downfall of the empire. He was an archivist and had documents. It is he who writes that we call the empire Narasanga and the capital Bisnaga but local people call it Biznagalia; it was difficult for him to pronounce Vijayanagara. He called the empire Canarine; he couldn’t pronounce Karnataka.

Does studying the Karnataka empire and Vijayanagara capital offer significant insights into Indian history?
It is after the downfall of Vijayanagara that the Keladis and the Maharaja of Mysore and other chieftains came. That is the continuation of the culture. The rulers of Mysore used to say they were Karnataka Simhasanadhishawara (lord of the throne of Karnataka). It was the British who compelled them to call themselves Mysore Samsthanikaru (Ruler of Mysore). It’s in their documents.

The greatest contribution of Karnataka kings to Indian architecture is the musical pillars of the Vithala temple. You have musical pillars in Madurai, Shuchindram and some other temples. To understand what it is, where it came from, you must go to Hampi. Musicians suggest that the quality of musicality in Hampi pillars is missing in other temples.
Do inscriptions talk about musical pillars at Hampi?
Unfortunately, no. These pillars were built in 1554 and the downfall of the empire occurred in 1565. The empire hardly survived 10-11 years after the pillars so we do not have any reference to this.

How was the musicality of pillars found out?
It was believed that those pillars were musical. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) gave pieces of wood to monument attendants to beat the pillars with wood and show the tourists the pillars were musical. But it didn’t work well. In 1975, Vasant Kavali, my elder brother, discovered the way. He was a producer in AIR, Bangalore and a musician. He tried various ways and figured that you get musical notes only on tapping with fingers.

The capital was Vijayanagara. So, what was Hampi?
Hampi is the nucleus of Vijayanagara. Initially, it was called Virupaksha tirtha. After the marriage of Pampa and Virupaksha, she demanded that the place be called after her name. So, it became Pampa tirtha. And Pampa became Hampi in Kannada.

Which is your favourite Hampi legend? And, how do you know it is not a true story?
My favourite is the Radha legend. It talks about why all Vithala idols are naked. It is the most beautiful story, a very funny story.

Shachi, the wife of Indra, goes to see Vishnu and praises him. A happy Vishnu grants her a wish and she asks him to seat her on his lap. Vishnu declines but promises he will do it when he is born as Krishna and Shachi as Radha. So, when Radha meets Krishna, now the king of Dwaraka, he makes Radha sit on his lap, which infuriates his wife Rukmini. She leaves him and goes to the jungle. Krishna goes to get her back home.
He tells her in Marathi: ‘Aga vedhe chal (Hey, you mad girl, come on)’. This gets her angrier. Krishna stands in front of her and undresses. The poet doesn’t explain why. It is believed that all the Vithala temples since then have idols of a naked Krishna.
This story became popular in Karnataka but we do not have literary evidence for this. But in Marathi it is written. G. H. Khare has written a book on Pandharpur Vitthal. He says we do not know why he removed all his clothes but he stands naked in front of her and since then the Vithala temples are built with idols of naked Krishna.
In Hampi, there is no Vithala idol now. But we discovered a temple near Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu where the image is naked. Khare speaks about the image of Vitthal in Pandharpur; it is not the original image, which was replaced by the current one. He says he has examined it closely and the image is dressed but Krishna’s private parts are visible.
The cult of Vithala starts in Karnataka from the 7th or 8th century, before the Hoysalas. At that time the images of Vithala were fully clad. In the time of Krishnadevaraya, somebody concocted this legend about Vithala being naked.
Also, the Radha cult was not popular in Karnataka. Nobody accepted Radha as a goddess or the beloved of Krishna. She is not present even in Tamil Nadu. This story came up later and became popular in Maharashtra. In fact, it was concocted after the downfall of the kingdom since there is no mention of Radha in any of these inscriptions. There is no Radha mentioned in the compositions of Purandar Dasa, Kanaka Dasa, Vijayadasa or other saints. She is worshipped in the whole of north India (north of Krishna river); there are Meera bhajans about Radha and stories of her in Gita Govinda; but not in Karnataka.
Another favourite is the story that the Vithala temple was never completed and there never was an idol. You know this is not true if you study the inscriptions. Many donations were made to the temple. The dholotsava mantapa was built and the festival celebrated in the centre of the mantapa. If the temple had not been completed or the idol not installed, why did they celebrate so many days of festival and describe it in great detail in the inscriptions?
As late as in 1563, Nammalavaralu, a devotee of Vithala and a Telugu man with a Tamil name, makes donations to the temple, specifying that the prasada of the morning rituals should be brought to his house with a procession of musicians and dancers. That kind of pomp implies the temple was open.
So do we know why doesn’t the Vithala temple in Hampi have an idol today?
The Muslims who attacked the empire were not against temples or Hindus. But they wanted to efface the memory of Rama Raya, the defeated king, from history. They thought if they demolished the temples so dear to Rama Raya, he would be forgotten. So, first, they attacked the Vithala temple and wanted to raze it to the ground but it is built so solidly that they could not succeed. So they covered it with wooden logs and set fire to the sanctum. It burnt. That is why only the central part is open to the sky.

The temples in Hampi exhibit Aihole-Pattadakal style as well as influences of Indo-Islamic architecture. Didn’t this era witness a Hindu-Muslim divide as some historians have suggested?
Yes, there are monuments that have Indo-Islamic architecture because Islam was already there. There were many Muslims living in the capital. If you go towards Kadirampura, you will find Muslim tombs. And next to them, you will find an inscription of a temple. Towards the north from the core of the capital towards the Vithala temple in the ruins, you can’t see it from the road but if you have the courage to walk inside like we did in those days, you will find Muslim tombs with inscriptions and Hindu temples, next to each other.

Domingo Paes, a Portuguese horse merchant, who came in the time of Krishnadevaraya, says Hindus and Muslims had their houses next to each other. He says that to the north of the capital there are Muslim quarters where Hindus also live.
A Muslim bodyguard of Deva Raya II, Katige (one who holds a stick) Ahmad Khan, built a chhatra (umbrella) in Hampi for the good of the king. After Khan’s death, the king built his tomb next to that chhatra. The tomb and the chhatra with an inscription on the door still exist.
Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony there. These British historians have made a mess, concocting stories of Hindu-Muslim divide and our people want to repeat it.
How important were temples in this empire? Were they just for worship or did they serve a larger purpose?
Temples were, first of all, banks. People would deposit an amount in the temple and on the interest rituals were celebrated. Some revenues from villages were given to the temple. Right from the beginning, they became cultural as well as educational and financial centres.

In Hampi, there are several inscriptions detailing donations to temples, specifying which rituals they were meant for and how much was to be spent for which purpose. Donations were made for renovation and construction as well.
The temple was a religious centre but it served many other purposes. All the life in that area developed around the temple so it was the pivot of the agglomeration.
You have studied the Hampi, Pattadakal and Kalamukha temples. Do you study only temple sites?
The temple is an open book—you get mythology, history, social, cultural and religious lives. A student gets abundant material here. This is what makes me interested in studying them.

But I study the entire place, not just the temple site. Whichever site I choose, I want to study the history of that place. While studying Vijayanagara, I wanted to understand the whole empire.
Why have some historians complained that Basaveswara hampered temple building in Karnataka?
In Badami Chalukya and Kalyani Chalukya period (6th to 8th centuries and 10th to 12th centuries, respectively), Lakulashaivas(followers of Lakulisha, the founder of the Pashupata Shaivite school) in Karnataka advised people to build temples and make donations to them. People who made donations were not required to pay taxes to the king, making him weak. When Bijjala comes to power, he employs Basaveswara to find a via media. Basaveswara teaches that your body is god; if you perform your duty, god will be happy and you get moksha; going to temples isn’t necessary.

Some historians accuse Basaveswara of impeding temple-building. Yes, building a temple anywhere and everywhere stopped, but existing temples got enlarged. Because of his movement, Karnataka has some large and beautiful temples, instead of several small and insignificant ones.
There is a huge discussion about lingayatism being a separate religion but Basaveswara never said it was a religion. He said ‘do your duty and don’t think of anything else’. He talked about it as a way of life. In his days, lingayatism did not get recognition. It became prominent only in the 15th century.
There are demands to recognise Lingayatism as a separate religion. Can we find early references if we look through the inscriptions?
You will be wasting your time. There is a huge discussion about lingayatism being a separate religion but Basaveswara never said it was a religion. He said ‘do your duty and don’t think of anything else’. He talked about it as a way of life. In his days, lingayatism did not get recognition. It became prominent only in the 15th century.

In Basaveswara’s time, Lakulashaivas were prominent in Karnataka. They were treated as equal to Brahmins and held important posts as royal preceptors and advisors to ministers. They did not accept Basaveswara’s ideas. That led to revolution in the capital Kalyani. King Bijjala was assassinated and Basaveswara had to leave the place. His period was over by 1168 and the Chalukya empire ends in 1189. Seunas of Devagiri continued to rule and we have a number of Lakulashaiva inscriptions that suggest they were heads of the temples and continued to perform pooja, unlike what Basaveswara taught. He was not forgotten but we get his references only in some inscriptions, including one at Chaudadanapur near Ranebennur, where a saint says ‘I want to be like Sangana Basava’.
Basaveswara’s principles and lingayatism came to prominence only in the time of Deva Raya II, when all the vachanas were codified. This is in the first half of the 15th century.
The Karnataka Empire was founded to protect Hindu kingdoms from Muslim invasion. So, how Hindu was this empire?
The kings were not against Muslims. They were against Muslim rule over Hindu kingdoms. I must make this point very clear. There was no hatred. In fact, they just wanted to protect their kingdom from invaders, who happened to be Muslim. They saw it as alien invasion. In fact, they used a title Suratrana, derived from the title Sultan that Muslim rulers used. They called themselves Hindu Raya Suratrana meaning Hindu Sultan.

Did they not want to build a fierce Hindu identity or promote Hindu nationalism?
No. They were just stopping alien invasion. Temples were built and rituals conducted but there wasn’t a state religion. When the Bhakti movement started, Purandara Dasa, Kanakadasa and other saints sang the praises of their gods. In a way, itwas maintaining Hinduism but the kings never asked people to do anything about religion. They accepted all religions. Buddhism had disappeared from this area by then; Jainism was there; and Madhava, Sri Vaishnava and Shaivism were there. Lingayatism started after the 15th century. The kings accommodated all of them. Some Jesuits in their documents have said the king—I think it was about a king of the Aravidu dynasty—was ready to become Christian. They must have exaggerated but it shows how accommodating the king was.

You mentioned in one of your lectures that Karnataka is celebrating Hampi Utsav (festival) without giving Tipu Sultan due credit. What’s Tipu’s Hampi connection?
When the British were organising the states, the Hyderabad Nizam had an eye on Hampi since Anegundi was already in his dominion. At the same time, the Marathas, who had Bombay-Karnataka (Dharwad, Bijapur, etc.) thought Hampi should come under their territory. But Tipu said Hampi was the capital of the Karnataka Empire and must remain in Karnataka. He fought for it. Also, he had a soft corner for the last descendant of the maharaja of Anegundi, who called himself the descendant of Aravidu Rama Raya, surviving on a meagre revenue and some help from Tipu who thought if Hampi stayed in Karnataka, he would have better means of survival.

In any case, it is because of Tipu that Hampi is in Karnataka today. If Karnataka is celebrating Hampi Utsav, they must give Tipu his due.They must remember him for what he did.
There has been a lot of political drama around celebrating Tipu’s birth anniversary with some political groups calling him anti-Hindu. Do you think he was anti-Hindu?
These are all stupid people. The BJP is backed by the VHP, who are fanatics. They don’t acknowledge Tipu’s contribution but this is a fact and written by the British in a published paper.

You celebrate Krishnadevaraya and all other rulers. Why not Tipu? He is part of our history. Whether you like Tipu or not is not the question. By celebrating his jayanti, you are remembering a historical figure and you’re reminding the people of our history. Doing this is not anti-Hindu. In fact, he was not anti-Hindu. He is being portrayed as one but he wasn’t. In fact, Tipu used to say he was a devotee of Ranganatha of Srirangapatna. He gave lots of donations to temples in Srirangapatna, Melkote, etc.
It was the British who started anti-Tipu propaganda to turn people against him. In the beginning, Tipu was a kind and gentle ruler. When the British attacked him continuously and he had a lot of difficulties, probably he became cruel. But, I don’t believe it when they say he massacred hundreds of Iyengars because he wanted to kill Hindus. His acts were more of suppression to save his state than anti-Hindu.
You seem to take your role as a historian as somebody who separates myth from facts very seriously.
That should be the primary objective.

Our current political dispensation is blurring the line between myth and history. There are attempts at rewriting history from one point of view and to erase parts that are not to one’s liking. How do you see that as a historian?
It makes me very sad. We have an expression in Kannada ‘Boregall mele neer suridhanthe’. On a rock, you pour water, it doesn’t sprout. Talking to politicians about these things is like that.

I’m not saying that myth is worthless and you should discard it. Some legends are based on certain facts. But, you need to verify. It is important to separate historical facts and myth.
In the original Ramayana, Hanuman is not a monkey but a great scholar and musician. The legend about him being a monkey appears much later. Recently, I attended a seminar where a professor from Hyderabad spoke about Aurangzeb’s atrocities as well as his good qualities. When he spoke about the good qualities, nobody wanted to accept it.
Our people are happy repeating legends.
 

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