Tipu Sultan, a cruel tyrant

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Tipu Sultan, a cruel tyrant

Post by Rishi on Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:51 pm


Tipu Sultan lived in an era when the British Crown wasn’t ruling India. India was on its way to reviving and restoring its ancient ideals and way of life after the prolonged darkness of the Islamic era ended with Aurangzeb’s death in 1707. The Marathas had emerged as the most powerful and the largest political force then. It’s therefore both a misleading and a fraudulent claim that Tipu fought the British in the sense of the then British Government. Tipu waged war against the British East India Company. He waged the war purely for territorial and imperial purposes and not because he was spurred by patriotism towards India as a nation. He was primarily an immensely cruel Muslim zealot motivated by the goal of establishing Islam in India. Indeed, the notion of India as—roughly speaking—a nation state took root in the minds of the early crop of Indian freedom fighters after the British Crown took over the country and declared it as one of their colonies. This fact is intentionally blanked out by our clever-by-half historical frauds of the Marxist school in their vile endeavour to project Tipu as some kind of a valiant saviour. If Tipu is indeed this heroic freedom fighter who fought against British tyranny, why don’t our secular scum extend the same logic to the Marathas as well?

Another popular myth is in wide currency as far as Karnataka is concerned. Girish Karnad among others has played a huge part in recent times to perpetuate this myth that Tipu Sultan was an unsullied patron and promoter of the Kannada language. About 4 years ago, he frothed at the mouth in a Kannada daily when the then Education Minister D.H. Shankara Murthy correctly claimed that Tipu was an opponent of Kannada. Dr. S L Bhyrappa then tore into Girish Karnad’s perverted history concerning Tipu’s life and deeds. Here are some excerpts from that piece by Dr. S.L Bhyrappa (translation mine):

Kannada was the official language of the Mysore state when the Wodeyar dynasty ruled over the Mysore kingdom…When Tipu took over, he changed the administrative language from Kannada to Farsi. We can witness this till date. Karnataka Government’s land and revenue records use Farsi terminology. For instance, a usage like “Ramesh’s son Suresh” is written as “Suresh bin Ramesh.” Our state has retained terms like “Khata,” “Khirdi,” “Pahani,” “Khanesuvari,” “Gudasta,” and “Baranamoona,” a direct holdover from Tipu’s times. Not just that—Tipu changed the names of entire cities and towns: Brahmapuri became Sultanpet, Kallikote became Farookabad, Chitradurga became Farook yab Hissar, Coorg became Zafarabad, Devanahalli became Yusufabad, Dinigul became Khaleelabad, Gutti became Faiz Hissar, Krishnagiri became Phalk-il-azam, Mysore became Nazarabad, Penukonda became Fakrabad, Sankridurga became Muzaffarabad, Sira became Rustumabad, and Sakleshpur became Manjarabad…Muslims in Malabar speak, read and write Malayalam even today just as Tamil Muslims in Tamil Nadu read, write and speak in Tamil. Thanks to Tipu, Muslims in Karnataka speak only Urdu. This is the direct result of Tipu’s insistence that Farsi and Urdu were the only permitted mediums of instruction.

This linguistic assault apart, we need to examine the full extent of the unfettered barbarism Tipu Sultan unleashed in serving the cause of Islam. Here’s what comes out of the mouth of this Islamic zealot par excellence, someone who belongs in the same Hall of Islamic Savagery that Aurangzeb occupies. We can turn to S L Bhyrappa again:

A collection of papers entitled Tipu Sultan’s Dreams was recovered by the British Colonel William Kirkpatrick from the Srirangapatanam palace after Tipu was killed in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799. These are written in Tipu’s own hand in Farsi. Kirkpatrick himself translated several of these from Farsi to English. The India Office in London still retains the original and some translations. Tipu himself speaks in these papers, the strongest and firsthand evidence of his fanaticism. He always refers to Hindus as Kaffirs and the British as Christians. In some of these papers, he recounts a recurring dream in which a a long-bearded Maulvi frequently appears. Tipu goes to Mecca on a pilgrimage; Prophet Mohammad tells a long-bearded Arab, “Tell Tipu that I shall not enter Heaven without Tipu.” Tipu then embarks on a mission to convert all non-Muslims to Islam and then Islamizes all non-Islamic nations…. He talks nothing about modernizing India and fumes that the Christians (British) are the biggest obstacle that he must urgently remove.

The most glaring instance where Tipu’s Islam-inspired savagery played out in all its cruel glory is his brutal Malabar campaign. He managed to do in a very brief span what centuries of Islamic incursions had failed to do to large parts of Kerala. The account of his savage raid of the Malabar region makes your stomach churn. Here is how he gloats about it in a letter to the Governor of Bekal written in January 1790:

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 (Rajah of Travancore) very soon. 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.

Equally, the Malabar Manual written by William Logan, the Collector of Malabar makes for painful reading. A horrified Logan describes in detail the kind of barbarism Tipu’s hordes inflicted on the Hindus of Kerala. To read a sample, head here. In fact, the extent and scope of Tipu’s cruelty appalled even the British who had by then developed imperial ambitions in India. Here is how the Preface of G.A. Henty’s The Tiger of Mysore describes Tipu:

…our struggle with Tippoo Saib was…marked by a long endurance of wrong, and a toleration of abominable cruelties perpetrated upon Englishmen and our native allies….Tippoo…revelled in acts of the most abominable cruelty. It would seem that he massacred for the very pleasure of massacring, and hundreds…were killed by famine, poison, or torture, simply to gratify his lust for murder. Patience was shown towards this monster until patience became a fault, and our inaction was naturally ascribed by him to fear.

Indeed, the people of Malabar still retain the memory of Tipu’s brutality. When the proposal to air Sanjay Khan’s spurious serial on Tipu was mooted, the Bombay Kerala Samajam published a book entitled Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero, a collection of historical essays that gives us the accurate picture of Tipu Sultan. Almost all of these essays are written by Malayalees who were rightfully enraged at the attempts to paint the bigoted Tipu as a freedom fighter, as a tolerant ruler and someone who was a pioneer of modernity. The Bombay Kerala Samajam lodged a case in the Bombay High Court to prevent the telecast of the TV serial on the grounds that it was based on distorted history.

This then is in brief, the true legacy of Tipu Sultan.


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