Mir Fateh Ali Bahadur Tipu
|Sultan of Mysore|
|Reign||10 December 1782 – 4 May 1799|
|Coronation||29 December 1782|
|Successor||Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (as Wodeyar ruler)|
|Born||20 November 1750|
Devanahalli, present-day Bangalore, Karnataka
|Died||4 May 1799 (aged 48)|
Srirangapatna, present-day Mandya, Karnataka
Srirangapatna, present-day Mandya, Karnataka
Tipu Sultan (born Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu, 20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799), also known as Tipu Sahab or the Tiger of Mysore, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore and a pioneer of rocket artillery. He introduced a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including a new coinage system and calendar, and a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of the Mysore silk industry. He expanded the iron-cased Mysorean rockets and commissioned the military manual Fathul Mujahidin. He deployed the rockets against advances of British forces and their allies during the Anglo-Mysore Wars, including the Battle of Pollilur and Siege of Seringapatam. He also embarked on an ambitious economic development program that established Mysore as a major economic power, with some of the world's highest real wages and living standards in the late 18th century.
Napoleon Bonaparte, the French commander-in-chief, sought an alliance with Tipu Sultan. Both Tipu Sultan and his father used their French-trained army in alliance with the French in their struggle with the British, and in Mysore's struggles with other surrounding powers, against the Marathas, Sira, and rulers of Malabar, Kodagu, Bednore, Carnatic, and Travancore. Tipu's father, Hyder Ali, rose to power capturing Mysore, and Tipu succeeded him as the ruler of Mysore upon his father's death in 1782. He won important victories against the British in the Second Anglo-Mysore War and negotiated the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore with them after his father died from cancer in December 1782 during the Second Anglo-Mysore War.
Tipu's conflicts with his neighbours included the Maratha–Mysore War which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Gajendragad The treaty required that Tipu Sultan pay 4.8 million rupees as a one-time war cost to the Marathas, and an annual tribute of 1.2 million rupees in addition to returning all the territory captured by Hyder Ali.
Tipu remained an implacable enemy of the British East India Company, sparking conflict with his attack on British-allied Travancore in 1789. In the Third Anglo-Mysore War, he was forced into the Treaty of Seringapatam, losing a number of previously conquered territories, including Malabar and Mangalore. He sent emissaries to foreign states, including the Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan, and France, in an attempt to rally opposition to the British.
In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, the imperial forces of the British East India Company were supported by the Marathas. They defeated Tipu, and he was killed on 4 May 1799 while defending his fort of Seringapatam.
In post-colonial Indian subcontinent, Tipu Sultan is celebrated as a hero of colonial resistance. However, he has been criticized for his repression of Hindus, Christians and even Muslims for both religious and political reasons.
Tipu Sultan was born on 20 November 1750 (Friday, 20th Dhu al-Hijjah, 1163 AH) at Devanahalli, in present-day Bangalore Rural district, about 33 km (21 mi) north of Bangalore city. He was named "Tipu Sultan" after the saint Tipu Mastan Aulia of Arcot. Being illiterate, Hyder was very particular in giving his eldest son a prince's education and a very early exposure to military and political affairs. From the age of 17 Tipu was given independent charge of important diplomatic and military missions. He was his father's right arm in the wars from which Hyder emerged as the most powerful ruler of southern India.
Tipu's father, Hyder Ali, was a military officer in service to the Kingdom of Mysore who had become the de facto ruler of Mysore in 1761 while his mother Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa was the daughter of Mir Muin-ud-Din, the governor of the fort of Kadapa. Hyder Ali appointed able teachers to give Tipu an early education in subjects like Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Kannada, Quran, Islamic jurisprudence, riding, shooting and fencing.
Tipu Sultan was instructed in military tactics by French officers in the employment of his father. At age 15, he accompanied his father against the British in the First Mysore War in 1766. He commanded a corps of cavalry in the invasion of Carnatic in 1767 at age 16. He also distinguished himself in the First Anglo-Maratha War of 1775–1779.
Alexander Beatson, who published a volume on the Fourth Mysore War entitled View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun, described Tipu Sultan as follows: "His stature was about five feet eight inches; he had a short neck, square shoulders, and was rather corpulent: his limbs were small, particularly his feet and hands; he had large full eyes, small arched eyebrows, and an aquiline nose; his complexion was fair, and the general expression of his countenance, not void of dignity".
In 1779, the British captured the French-controlled port of Mahé, which Tipu had placed under his protection, providing some troops for its defence. In response, Hyder launched an invasion of the Carnatic, with the aim of driving the British out of Madras. During this campaign in September 1780, Tipu Sultan was dispatched by Hyder Ali with 10,000 men and 18 guns to intercept Colonel Baillie who was on his way to join Sir Hector Munro. In the Battle of Pollilur, Tipu decisively defeated Baillie. Out of 360 Europeans, about 200 were captured alive, and the sepoys, who were about 3800 men, suffered very high casualties. Munro was moving south with a separate force to join Baillie, but on hearing the news of the defeat he was forced to retreat to Madras, abandoning his artillery in a water tank at Kanchipuram.
Tipu Sultan defeated Colonel Braithwaite at Annagudi near Tanjore on 18 February 1782. Braithwaite's forces, consisting of 100 Europeans, 300 cavalry, 1400 sepoys and 10 field pieces, was the standard size of the colonial armies. Tipu Sultan seized all the guns and took the entire detachment prisoner. In December 1781 Tipu Sultan successfully seized Chittur from the British. Tipu Sultan had thus gained sufficient military experience by the time Hyder Ali died on Friday, 6 December 1782 – some historians put it at 2 or 3 days later or before, (Hijri date being 1 Muharram, 1197 as per some records in Persian – there may be a difference of 1 to 3 days due to the Lunar Calendar). Tipu Sultan realised that the British were a new kind of threat in India. He became the ruler of Mysore on Sunday, 22 December 1782 (The inscriptions in some of Tipu's regalia showing it as 20 Muharram, 1197 Hijri – Sunday), in a simple coronation ceremony. He then worked on to check the advances of the British by making alliances with the Marathas and the Mughals. The Second Mysore War came to an end with the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore.
In 1780, Tipu crowned himself Badshah or Emperor of Mysore, and struck coinage.
The Maratha Empire, under its new Peshwa Madhavrao I, regained most of Indian subcontinent, twice defeating Tipu's father, who was forced to accept Maratha Empire as the supreme power in 1764 and then in 1767. In 1767 Maratha Peshwa Madhavrao defeated both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and entered Srirangapatna, the capital of Mysore. Hyder Ali accepted the authority of Madhavrao who gave him the title of Nawab of Mysore.
However Tipu Sultan wanted to escape from the treaty of Marathas and therefore tried to take some Maratha forts in Southern India, which were captured by Marathas in the previous war. Tipu also stopped the tribute to Marathas which was promised by Hyder Ali. This brought Tipu in direct conflict with the Marathas, leading to Maratha–Mysore War
Conflicts between Mysore (under Tipu) and Marathas:
Conflict ended with Treaty of Gajendragad in March 1787, as per which Tipu returned all the territory captured by Hyder Ali to Maratha Empire. Tipu agreed to pay four year arrears of tribute which his father Hyder Ali had agreed to pay to Maratha Empire (4.8 million rupees), The Marathas agreed to address Tipu sultan as "Nabob Tipu Sultan Futteh Ally Khan".
In 1766, when Tipu Sultan was just 15 years old, he got the chance to apply his military training in battle for the first time, when he accompanied his father on an invasion of Malabar. After the incident- Siege of Tellicherry in Thalassery in North Malabar, Hyder Ali started losing his territories in Malabar. Tipu came from Mysore to reinstate the authority over Malabar. After the Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789–90), due to the monsoon flood, the stiff resistance of the Travancore forces and news about the attack of British in Srirangapatnam he went back.
In 1789, Tipu Sultan disputed the acquisition by Dharma Raja of Travancore of two Dutch-held fortresses in Cochin. In December 1789 he massed troops at Coimbatore, and on 28 December made an attack on the lines of Travancore, knowing that Travancore was (according to the Treaty of Mangalore) an ally of the British East India Company. On account of the staunch resistance by the Travancore army, Tipu was unable to break through the Tranvancore lines and the Maharajah of Travancore appealed to the East India Company for help. In response, Lord Cornwallis mobilised company and British military forces, and formed alliances with the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad to oppose Tipu. In 1790 the company forces advanced, taking control of much of the Coimbatore district. Tipu counter-attacked, regaining much of the territory, although the British continued to hold Coimbatore itself. He then descended into the Carnatic, eventually reaching Pondicherry, where he attempted without success to draw the French into the conflict.
In 1791 his opponents advanced on all fronts, with the main British force under Cornwallis taking Bangalore and threatening Srirangapatna. Tipu harassed the British supply and communication and embarked on a "scorched earth" policy of denying local resources to the invaders. In this last effort he was successful, as the lack of provisions forced Cornwallis to withdraw to Bangalore rather than attempt a siege of Srirangapatna. Following the withdrawal, Tipu sent forces to Coimbatore, which they retook after a lengthy siege.
The 1792 campaign was a failure for Tipu. The allied army was well-supplied, and Tipu was unable to prevent the junction of forces from Bangalore and Bombay before Srirangapatna. After about two weeks of siege, Tipu opened negotiations for terms of surrender. In the ensuing treaty, he was forced to cede half his territories to the allies, and deliver two of his sons as hostages until he paid in full three crores and thirty lakhs rupees fixed as war indemnity to the British for the campaign against him. He paid the amount in two instalments and got back his sons from Madras.
In 1794, with the support of French Republican officers, Tipu helped found the Jacobin Club of Mysore for 'framing laws comfortable with the laws of the Republic'. He planted a Liberty Tree and declared himself Citizen Tipoo.
One of the motivations of Napoleon's Invasion of Egypt was to establish a junction with India against the British. Bonaparte wished to establish a French presence in the Middle East, with the ultimate dream of linking with Tippoo Sahib. Napoleon assured the French Directory that "as soon as he had conquered Egypt, he will establish relations with the Indian princes and, together with them, attack the English in their possessions." According to a 13 February 1798 report by Talleyrand: "Having occupied and fortified Egypt, we shall send a force of 15,000 men from Suez to India, to join the forces of Tipu-Sahib and drive away the English." Napoleon was unsuccessful in this strategy, losing the Siege of Acre in 1799 and at the Battle of Abukir in 1801.
|“||Although I never supposed that he (Napoleon) possessed, allowing for some difference of education, the liberality of conduct and political views which were sometimes exhibited by old Hyder Ali, yet I did think he might have shown the same resolved and dogged spirit of resolution which induced Tipu Sahib to die manfully upon the breach of his capital city with his sabre clenched in his hand.||”|
|— Sir Walter Scott, commenting on the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814|
Horatio Nelson defeated François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers at the Battle of the Nile in Egypt in 1798. Three armies marched into Mysore in 1799—one from Bombay and two British, one of which included Arthur Wellesley. They besieged the capital Srirangapatna in the Fourth Mysore War. There were more than 26,000 soldiers of the British East India Company, approximately 4,000 Europeans and the rest Indians. Thus, the soldiers in the British force numbered more outnumbered. Tipu Sultan had only about 30,000. The betrayal by Tipu Sultan's brother in law in working with the British and weakening the walls to make an easy path for the British.
Tipu Sultan was killed at the Hoally (Diddy) Gateway, which was located 300 yards (270 m) from the N.E. Angle of the Srirangapatna Fort. He was buried the next afternoon at the Gumaz, next to the grave of his father. Many members of the British East India Company believed that Nawab of Carnatic Umdat Ul-Umra secretly provided assistance to Tipu Sultan during the war and sought his deposition after 1799.
Tipu introduced a new calendar, new coinage, and seven new government departments, during his reign, and made military innovations in the use of rocketry.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, in his Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture in Bangalore (30 November 1991), called Tipu Sultan the innovator of the world's first war rocket. Two of these rockets, captured by the British at Srirangapatna, were displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum in London. According to historian Dr Dulari Qureshi Tipu Sultan was a fierce warrior king and was so quick in his movement that it seemed to the enemy that he was fighting on many fronts at the same time. Tipu managed to subdue all the petty kingdoms in the south. He was also one of the few Indian rulers to have defeated British armies. He is said to have started a new coinage, calendar, and a new system of weights and measures mainly based on the methods introduced by French technicians.
Tipu Sultan's father had expanded on Mysore's use of rocketry, making critical innovations in the rockets themselves and the military logistics of their use. He deployed as many as 1,200 specialised troops in his army to operate rocket launchers. These men were skilled in operating the weapons and were trained to launch their rockets at an angle calculated from the diameter of the cylinder and the distance to the target. The rockets had twin side sharpened blades mounted on them, and when fired en masse, spun and wreaked significant damage against a large army. Tipu greatly expanded the use of rockets after Hyder's death, deploying as many as 5,000 rocketeers at a time. The rockets deployed by Tipu during the Battle of Pollilur were much more advanced than those the British East India Company had previously seen, chiefly because of the use of iron tubes for holding the propellant; this enabled higher thrust and longer range for the missiles (up to 2 km range).
British accounts describe the use of the rockets during the third and fourth wars. During the climactic battle at Srirangapatna in 1799, British shells struck a magazine containing rockets, causing it to explode and send a towering cloud of black smoke with cascades of exploding white light rising up from the battlements. After Tipu's defeat in the fourth war the British captured a number of the Mysorean rockets. These became influential in British rocket development, inspiring the Congreve rocket, which was soon put into use in the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1786 Tipu Sultan, again following the lead of his father, decided to build a navy consisting of 20 battleships of 72 cannons and 20 frigates of 62 cannons. In the year 1790 he appointed Kamaluddin as his Mir Bahar and established massive dockyards at Jamalabad and Majidabad. Tipu Sultan's board of admiralty consisted of 11 commanders in service of a Mir Yam. A Mir Yam led 30 admirals and each one of them had two ships. Tipu Sultan ordered that the ships have copper-bottoms, an idea that increased the longevity of the ships and was introduced to Tipu by Admiral Suffren.
The peak of Mysore's economic power was under Tipu Sultan in the late 18th century. Along with his father Hyder Ali, he embarked on an ambitious program of economic development, aiming to increase the wealth and revenue of Mysore. Under his reign, Mysore overtook Bengal Subah as India's dominant economic power, with highly productive agriculture and textile manufacturing. Mysore's average income was five times higher than subsistence level at the time.
Tipu Sultan laid the foundation for the construction of the Kannambadi dam (present-day Krishna Raja Sagara or KRS dam) on the Kaveri river, as attested by an extant stone plaque bearing his name, but was unable to begin the construction. The dam was later built and opened in 1938. It is a major source of drinking water for the people of Mysore and Bangalore.
The Mysore silk industry was first initiated during the reign of Tipu Sultan. He sent an expert to Bengal Subah to study silk cultivation and processing, after which Mysore began developing polyvoltine silk.
Under Tipu Sultan, Mysore had some of the world's highest real wages and living standards in the late 18th century, higher than Britain, which in turn had the highest living standards in Europe. Mysore's average per-capita income was five times higher than subsistence level, i.e. five times higher than $400 (1990 international dollars), or $2,000 per capita. In comparison, the highest national per-capita incomes in 1820 were $1,838 for the Netherlands and $1,706 for Britain.
Both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan owed nominal allegiance to the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II; both were described as Nabobs by the British East India Company in all existing treaties. But unlike the Nawab of Carnatic, they did not acknowledge the overlordship of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Immediately after his coronation as Badshah, Tipu Sultan sought the investiture of the Mughal emperor. He earned the title "Nasib-ud-Daula" with the heavy heart of those loyal to Shah Alam II. Tipu was a selfdeclared "Sultan" this fact drew towards him the hostility of Nizam Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad, whom clearly expressed his hostility by dissuading the Mughal emperor and laying claims on Mysore. Disheartened, Tipu Sultan began to establish contacts with other Muslim rulers of that period.
Tipu Sultan was master of his own diplomacy with foreign nations, in his quest to rid India of the East India Company and to ensure the international strength of France. Like his father before him he fought battles on behalf of foreign nations which were not in the best interests of Shah Alam II.
After facing substantial threats from the Marathas, Tipu Sultan began to correspond with Zaman Shah Durrani, the ruler of the Afghan Durrani Empire, so they could defeat the British and Marathas. Initially, Zaman Shah agreed to help Tipu, but the Persian attack on Afghanistan's Western border diverted its forces, and hence no help could be provided to Tipu.
In 1787, Tipu Sultan sent an embassy to the Ottoman capital Constantinople, to the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid I requesting urgent assistance against the British East India Company. Tipu Sultan requested the Ottoman Sultan to send him troops and military experts. Furthermore, Tipu Sultan also requested permission from the Ottomans to contribute to the maintenance of the Islamic shrines in Mecca, Medina, Najaf and Karbala.
However, the Ottomans were themselves in crisis and still recuperating from the devastating Austro-Ottoman War and a new conflict with the Russian Empire had begun, for which Ottoman Turkey needed British alliance to keep off the Russians, hence it could not risk being hostile to the British in the Indian theatre.
Due to the Ottoman inability to organise a fleet in the Indian Ocean, Tipu Sultan's ambassadors returned home only with gifts from their Ottoman foes.
Like his father before him, Tipu Sultan maintained friendly relations with Mohammad Ali Khan, ruler of the Zand Dynasty in Persia. Tipu Sultan also maintained correspondence with Hamad bin Said, the ruler of the Sultanate of Oman.
Both Hyder Ali and Tipu sought an alliance with the French, the only European power still strong enough to challenge the British East India Company in the subcontinent. In 1782, Louis XVI concluded an alliance with the Peshwa Madhu Rao Narayan. This treaty enabled Bussy to move his troops to the Isle de France (now Mauritius). In the same year, French Admiral De Suffren ceremonially presented a portrait of Louis XVI to Haidar Ali and sought his alliance.
Napoleon conquered Egypt in an attempt to link with Tipu Sultan. In February 1798, Napoleon wrote a letter to Tipu Sultan appreciating his efforts of resisting the British annexation and plans, but this letter never reached Tipu and was seized by a British spy in Muscat. The idea of a possible Tipu-Napoleon alliance alarmed the British Governor, General Sir Richard Wellesley (also known as Lord Wellesley), so much that he immediately started large scale preparations for a final battle against Tipu Sultan.
Tipu Sultan appoints Judges from both communities for Hindu and Muslim subjects. Qadi for Muslims and Pandit for Hindu in each province. Upper courts also having similar system.
There is one decree from Tipu Sultan as follows,
On a personal level, Tipu was a devout Muslim, saying his prayers daily and paying special attention to mosques in the area. As a Muslim ruler of a predominantly Hindu country, some of his policies have evoked controversy. The mainstream view considers Tipu's administration to have been tolerant. Regular endowments were made during this period to about 156 Hindu temples, including the famed Ranganathaswami Temple at Srirangapatna.
His religious legacy has become a source of considerable controversy in India, with some groups proclaiming him a great warrior for the faith or Ghazi, while others revile him as an intolerant ruler who massacred Hindus, Christians and even Muslims, for both religious and political reasons. On one hand, many sources mention the appointment of Hindu officers in Tipu's administration and his land grants and endowments to Hindu temples, which are cited as evidence for his religious tolerance. On the other hand, various sources describe the massacres, imprisonment and forced conversion of Hindus (Kodavas of Coorg, Nairs of Malabar) and Christians (Catholics of Mangalore), the destruction of churches and temples, and the clamping down on Muslims (Mappila of Kerala, the Mahadevi Muslims, the rulers of Savanur and the people of Hyderabad State), which are sometimes cited as evidence for his intolerance.
Historians such as Brittlebank, Hasan, Chetty, Habib, and Saletare, amongst others, argue that controversial stories of Tipu Sultan's religious persecution of Hindus and Christians are largely derived from the work of early British authors (who were very much against Tipu Sultan's independence and harboured prejudice against the Sultan) such as James Kirkpatrick and Mark Wilks, whom they do not consider to be entirely reliable and likely fabricated. A. S. Chetty argues that Wilks' account in particular cannot be trusted.
Irfan Habib and Mohibbul Hasan argue that these early British authors had a strong vested interest in presenting Tipu Sultan as a tyrant from whom the British had liberated Mysore. This assessment is echoed by Brittlebank in her recent work where she writes that Wilks and Kirkpatrick must be used with particular care as both authors had taken part in the wars against Tipu Sultan and were closely connected to the administrations of Lord Cornwallis and Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley.
One of contemporary French sources also mentions about cruelties of Tippu Sultan. The French were allies of Tipu Sultan. Francois Fidele Ripaud de Montaudevert, a French soldier who fought for Tippu, in his diary entry of 14 January 1799 writes: "I'm disturbed by Tipu Sultan's treatment of these most gentle souls, the Hindus. During the siege of Mangalore, Tipu's soldiers daily exposed the heads of many innocent Brahmins within sight from the fort for the Zamorin and his Hindu followers to see."
During his campaigns of clamping down on groups that helped the British, Tipu Sultan targeted several Muslim groups, including the Mappila Muslims of Malabar, the Mahadevi Muslims, and the Nawab of Savanur and Nizam.
Tipu Sultan's treasurer was Krishna Rao, Shamaiya Iyengar was his Minister of Post and Police, his brother Ranga Iyengar was also an officer, and Purnaiya held the very important post of "Mir Asaf". Moolchand and Sujan Rai were his chief agents at the Mughal court, and his chief "Peshkar", Suba Rao, was also a Hindu.
Editor of Mysore Gazettes spondence between his court and temples, and his having donated jewellery and deeded land grants to several temples, which he was compelled to do to make alliances with Hindu rulers. Between 1782 and 1799 Tipu Sultan issued 34 "Sanads" (deeds) of endowment to temples in his domain, while also presenting many of them with gifts of silver and gold plate. The Srikanteswara Temple in Nanjangud still possesses a jeweled cup presented by the Sultan. He also gave a greenish linga; to Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatna, he donated seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner. This temple was hardly a stone's throw from his palace from where he would listen with equal respect to the ringing of temple bells and the muezzin's call from the mosque; to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale he gifted four cups, a plate and Spitoon in silver.
During the Maratha–Mysore War in 1791, a group of Maratha horsemen under Raghunath Rao Patwardhan raided the temple and matha of Sringeri Shankaracharya. They killed and wounded many people, including Brahmins, plundered the monastery of all its valuable possessions, and desecrated the temple by displacing the image of goddess Sarada.
The incumbent Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu Sultan for help. A bunch of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which were exchanged between Tipu Sultan's court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore. Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid:
"People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kali age in accordance with the verse: "Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudadbhir-anubhuyate" (People do [evil] deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying)."
He immediately ordered the Asaf of Bednur to supply the Swami with 200 rahatis (fanams) in cash and other gifts and articles. Tipu Sultan's interest in the Sringeri temple continued for many years, and he was still writing to the Swami in the 1790s.
In light of this and other events, historian B. A. Saletare has described Tipu Sultan as a defender of the Hindu dharma, who also patronised other temples including one at Melkote, for which he issued a Kannada decree that the Shrivaishnava invocatory verses there should be recited in the traditional form. The temple at Melkote still has gold and silver vessels with inscriptions indicating that they were presented by the Sultan. Tipu Sultan also presented four silver cups to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale. Tipu Sultan does seem to have repossessed unauthorised grants of land made to Brahmins and temples, but those which had proper sanads (certificates) were not. It was a normal practice for any ruler, Muslim or Hindu, on his accession or on the conquest of new territory.
Noted for his persecution of Christians, historian Thomas Paul notes that Tipu had shifted his hatred for the British to Catholics of Mangalore and other Christian communities of South India. According to historian Praxy Fernandes, Tipu Sultan was "an enlightened monarch who followed a secular policy towards his subjects."
C. Hayavadana Rao wrote about Tipu in his encyclopaedic court history of Mysore. He asserted that Tipu's "religious fanaticism and the excesses committed in the name of religion, both in Mysore and in the provinces, stand condemned for all time. His bigotry, indeed, was so great that it precluded all ideas of toleration". He further asserts that the acts of Tipu that were constructive towards Hindus were largely political and ostentatious rather than an indication of genuine tolerance.
After Haider Ali was appointed the military chief of the Hindu Wadiyar dynasty of Mysore and led a coup, the Lingayats of Karnataka came under Islamic rule in the late 18th century. During this period, the followers of Lingayatism were persecuted. A British source claimed that Tipu found the practice of Lingayat women being topless offensive and ordered the mutilation of breasts of a Lingayat woman; as a result, Hindu women began wearing long garments.
Tipu got Runmust Khan, the Nawab of Kurnool, to launch a surprise attack upon the Kodava Hindus who were besieged by the invading Muslim army. 500 were killed and over 40,000 Kodavas fled to the woods and concealed themselves in the mountains. Thousands of Kodavas were seized along with the Raja and held captive at Seringapatam. They were thought to be subjected to forcible conversions to Islam, death, and torture.
In Seringapatam, the young men were all forcibly circumcised and incorporated into the Ahmedy Corps, and were formed into eight Risalas or regiments. The actual number of Kodavas that were captured in the operation is unclear. The British administrator Mark Wilks gives it as 70,000, historian Lewis Rice arrives at the figure of 85,000, while Mir Kirmani's score for the Coorg campaign is 80,000 men, women and child prisoners.
Mohibbul Hasan, Prof. Sheikh Ali, and other historians cast great doubt on the scale of the deportations and forced conversions in Coorg in particular. Hassan says that it is difficult to estimate the real number of Coorgis captured by Tipu.
In a letter to Runmust Khan, Tipu himself stated:
"We proceeded with the utmost speed, and, at once, made prisoners of 40,000 occasion-seeking and sedition-exciting Coorgis, who alarmed at the approach of our victorious army, had slunk into woods, and concealed themselves in lofty mountains, inaccessible even to birds. Then carrying them away from their native country (the native place of sedition) we raised them to the honour of Islam, and incorporated them into our Ahmedy corps."
"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."
In 1788, Tipu entered into Malabar to quell a rebellion. Nairs were surrounded with offers of death or circumcision. Chirakkal's Nair Raja who was received with distinctions for surrendering voluntarily was later hanged. Tipu then divided Malabar into districts, with three officers in each district given the task of numbering productive trees, collecting revenue and giving religious orders to Nairs.
Destruction of the Palace at Vittala:
In 1784, Tippu Sultan captured Achutha Heggade, king of Vittala. He beheaded him and set fire to the ancient royal palace of the Domba- Heggade kings of Vittala. It was an ancient and sacred palace of the dynasty whose age goes back to the period when the first kings settled in that area.
"My victorious sabre is lightning for the destruction of the unbelievers. Ali, the Emir of the Faithful, is victorious for my advantage, and moreover, he destroyed the wicked race who were unbelievers. Praise be to him (God), who is the Lord of the Worlds! Thou art our Lord, support us against the people who are unbelievers. He to whom the Lord giveth victory prevails over all (mankind). Oh Lord, make him victorious, who promoteth the faith of Muhammad. Confound him, who refuseth the faith of Muhammad; and withhold us from those who are so inclined from the true faith. The Lord is predominant over his own works. Victory and conquest are from the Almighty. Bring happy tidings, Oh Muhammad, to the faithful; for God is the kind protector and is the most merciful of the merciful. If God assists thee, thou will prosper. May the Lord God assist thee, Oh Muhammad, with a mighty great victory."
During a search of his palace in 1795, some gold medals were found in the palace, on which the following was inscribed on one side in Persian: "Of God the bestower of blessings", and the other: "victory and conquest are from the Almighty". These were carved in commemoration of a victory after the war of 1780.
The following is a translation of an inscription on the stone found at Seringapatam, which was situated in a conspicuous place in the fort:
"Oh Almighty God! dispose the whole body of Kafirs (infidels)! Scatter their tribe, cause their feet to stagger! Overthrow their councils, change their state, destroy their very root! Cause death to be near them, cut off from them the means of sustenance! Shorten their days! Be their bodies the constant object of their cares (i.e., infest them with diseases), deprive their eyes of sight, make black their faces (i.e., bring shame), destroy in them organs of speech! Slay them as slay them as Shedaud (i .e. the Prince who presumptuously aimed at establishing a paradise for himself and was slain by command of God); drown them as Pharaoh was drowned, and visit them with the severity of the wrath. Oh Avenger! Oh Universal Father ! I am depressed and overpowered, grant me thy assistance."
Tipu is considered to be anti-Christian by several historians. While Alan Machado in his book 'Slaves of Sultans', argues that by expelling Christian priests, Tipu was only following precedent set by European rivals. Historian J. B. Prashant More in his paper 'Tipu Sultan and the Christians' argues that Tipu's encounters and dealings with the Christians of both European and Indian origin were in accordance with the spirit of his times and also had a political dimension. The captivity of Mangalorean Catholics at Seringapatam, which began on 24 February 1784 and ended on 4 May 1799, remains the most disconsolate memory in their history.
The Barcoor Manuscript reports him as having said: "All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject." Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara. He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates, and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route. However, there were no priests among the captives. Together with Fr. Miranda, all the 21 arrested priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rupees 200,000, and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned.
Tipu ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches. Among them included the Church of Nossa Senhora de Rosario Milagres at Mangalore, Fr Miranda's Seminary at Monte Mariano, Church of Jesu Marie Jose at Omzoor, Chapel at Bolar, Church of Merces at Ullal, Imaculata Conceicão at Mulki, San Jose at Perar, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios at Kirem, Sao Lawrence at Karkal, Rosario at Barkur, Immaculata Conceição at Baidnur. All were razed to the ground, with the exception of The Church of Holy Cross at Hospet, owing to the friendly offices of the Chauta Raja of Moodbidri.
According to Thomas Munro, a Scottish soldier and the first collector of Canara, around 60,000 people, nearly 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, were captured; only 7,000 escaped. Francis Buchanan gives the numbers as 70,000 captured, from a population of 80,000, with 10,000 escaping. They were forced to climb nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m) through the jungles of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It was 210 miles (340 km) from Mangalore to Seringapatam, and the journey took six weeks. According to British Government records, 20,000 of them died on the march to Seringapatam. James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics, said that 30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly made wives of the Muslims living there. The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears. According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Seringapatam was found, the punishment under the orders of Tipu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand. Gazetteer of South India describes Tipu Sultan forcibly circumcising 30,000 West Coast Christians and deporting them to Mysore.
Tipu's persecution of Christians even extended to captured British soldiers. For instance, there were a significant number of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their disastrous defeat at the 1780 Battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men along with an unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam. Of these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls or dancing girls. After the 10-year-long captivity ended, James Scurry, one of those prisoners, recounted that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair and use a knife and fork. His English was broken and stilted, having lost all his vernacular idiom. His skin had darkened to the swarthy complexion of negroes, and moreover, he had developed an aversion to wearing European clothes.
During the surrender of the Mangalore fort which was delivered in an armistice by the British and their subsequent withdrawal, all the Mestizos and remaining non-British foreigners were killed, together with 5,600 Mangalorean Catholics. Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. The Netravati River was so putrid with the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside homes.
The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, "It is notoriously known in all Asia and all other parts of the globe of the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians in the Dominion of the King of Kanara, during the usurpation of that country by Tipu Sultan from an implacable hatred he had against them who professed Christianity."
Tipu Sultan's invasion of the Malabar had an adverse impact on the Syrian Malabar Nasrani community of the Malabar coast. Many churches in the Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the center of Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tipu's soldiers. A lot of centuries old religious manuscripts were lost forever. The church was later relocated to Kottayam where it still exists to this date. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed as well. Tipu's army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Furthernmore, the Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was also destroyed. Over the course of this invasion, many Syrian Malabar Nasrani were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Most of the coconut, arecanut, pepper and cashew plantations held by the Syrian Malabar farmers were also indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army. As a result, when Tipu's army invaded Guruvayur and adjacent areas, the Syrian Christian community fled Calicut and small towns like Arthat to new centres like Kunnamkulam, Chalakudi, Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. where there were already Christians. They were given refuge by Sakthan Tamburan, the ruler of Cochin and Karthika Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore, who gave them lands, plantations and encouraged their businesses. Colonel Macqulay, the British resident of Travancore also helped them.
During the storming of Srirangapatna by the British in 1799, thirteen murdered British prisoners were discovered, killed by either having their necks broken or nails driven into their skulls.
The coinage of Tipu Sultan is one of most complex and fascinating series struck in India during the 18th century. Local South India coinage had been struck in the area that became Mysore since ancient times, with the first gold coinage introduced about the 11th century (the elephant pagoda), and other pagodas continuing through the following centuries. These pagoda were always in the South Indian style until the reign of Haidar Ali (1761-1782), who added pagodas with Persian legends, plus a few very rare gold mohurs and silver rupees, always in the name of the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II plus the Arabic letter "ح" as the first letter of his name. His successor, Tipu Sultan, continued to issue pagodas, mohurs and rupees, with legends that were completely new. As for copper, the new large paisa was commenced by Haidar Ali in AH1195, two years before his death, with the elephant on the obverse, the mint on the reverse, and was continued throughout the reign of Tipu Sultan, who added other denominations. Tipu Sultan introduced a set of new Persian names for the various denominations, which appear on all of the gold and silver coins and on some of the copper. They were:
Copper: Qutb "قطب" for the 1/8 paisa (Persian for the pole star) -- Akhtar "اختر" for the 1/4 paisa (star) -- Bahram "بهرام" for the 1/2 paisa (the planet Mars) -- Zohra "زهره" for the paisa (the planet Venus) -- either Othmani "عثمانی" for the double-paisa (the third caliph of the Rashidun) or Mushtari "مشتری" (the planet Jupiter).
Silver: Khizri "خضری" for the 1/32 rupee (Khizr the prophet) -- Kazimi "کاظمی" for the 1/16 rupee (for Musa, the seventh Shi'ite Imam) -- Ja'fari "جعفری" for the 1/8 rupee (Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sixth Shi'ite Imam) -- Bâqiri "باقری" for the 1/4 rupee (Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth Imam) -- Abidi "عبیدی" for the 1/2 rupee (Ali Zain al-'Abidin, the fourth Imam) -- Imami for the rupee (reference to the 12 Shi'ite Imams) -- Haidari "حیدری" for the double-rupee (lion, for Ali b. Abi Talib, who was both the fourth caliph and the first Shi'ite Imam).
Gold: Faruqi "فاروقی" for the pagoda (Umar al-Faruq, the second caliph) -- Sadîqi "صدیقی" for the double-pagoda (Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, the first caliph) -- Ahmadi "احمدی" for the four-pagoda ( "most praised ", one of the name of the Prophet Muhammad). During his first 4 years, the large gold coin was the mohur, with an average weight of about 10.95g (AH1197-1200), replaced with the four-pagoda of 13.74g with the calendar change to the Mauludi "مولودی" system (AM1215-1219).
The denomination does not appear on the Hijri dated gold coins, but was added on all the Mauludi dated pieces.
At the beginning of his first year, Tipu Sultan abandoned the Hijri dating system and introduced the Mauludi system (from the Arabic word "walad ", which means "birth "), based on the solar year and the birth year of the Prophet Muhammad (actually 571 AD, but for some perplexing reason reckoned as 572 by Tipu Sultan for his staff).
From the beginning of his reign, Tipu Sultan added the name of the Indian cyclic year on the large silver and gold coins, including this double-pagoda, together with his regnal year. Each of the names is Persian, though in several examples, the meaning of the names in India was different from the Iranian meaning (not indicated here). According to the Indian meanings, these are the cyclic years: Zaki "زکي" for cyclic 37, which corresponded to his year 1 ( "pure ") -- Azâl "أزل" for 38 ( "eternity ", year 2) -- Jalal "جَلال" for 39 ( "splendor ", year 3) -- Dalv "دَلو" for 40 (the sign of Aquarius, year 4) -- Shâ "شاه" for 41 ( "king ", year 5) -- Sârâ "سارا" for 42 ( "fragrant ", year 6) -- Sarâb "سراب" for 43 ( "mirage ", for year 7) -- Shitâ "شتا" for 44 ( "winter ", year 8) -- Zabarjad "زبرجد" for 45 ( "topaz ", year 9) -- sahar "سَحَر" ( "dawn ", year 10) -- Sâher "ساحِر" ( "magician ", year 11).
Assessments of Tipu Sultan have often been passionate and divided. Successive Indian National Congress governments have often celebrated Tipu Sultan's memory and monuments and relics of his rule while the Bharatiya Janata Party has been largely critical. School and college textbooks in India officially recognize him as a "freedom-fighter" along with many other rulers of the 18th century who fought European powers.
Tipu had several wives. One of his wives quite renowned for her beauty and intelligence was Sindh Sahiba whose grandson was Sahib Sindh Sultan also known as His Highness Shahzada Sayyid walShareef Ahmed Halim-az-Zaman Khan Sultan Sahib. Tipu Sultan's family was sent to Calcutta by the British. A descendant of one of Tipu Sultan's uncles, Noor Inayat Khan, was a British Special Operations Executive agent during the Second World War, murdered in the German Dachau concentration camp in 1944. Many other descendants continue to live in Kolkata.
Tipu Sultan had lost his sword in a war with the Nairs of Travancore during the Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789), in which he was forced to withdraw due to the severe joint attack from the Travancore army and British army. The Nair army under the leadership of Raja Kesavadas again defeated the army of Tipu near Aluva. The Maharaja, Dharma Raja, gave the famous sword to the Nawab of Arcot, from whom the sword was taken away forcibly by the British after annexing Arcot and sent to London. The sword was on display at the Wallace Collection, No. 1 Manchester Square, London.
Tipu was commonly known as the Tiger of Mysore and adopted this animal as the symbol (bubri/babri) of his rule. It is said that Tipu Sultan was hunting in the forest with a French friend. They came face to face with a tiger there. The tiger first pounced on the French soldier and killed him. Tipu's gun did not work, and his dagger fell on the ground as the tiger jumped on him. He reached for the dagger, picked it up, and killed the tiger with it. That earned him the name "the Tiger of Mysore". He even had French engineers build a mechanical tiger for his palace. The device, known as Tipu's Tiger, is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Not only did Tipu place relics of tigers around his palace and domain, but also had the emblem of a tiger on his banners and some arms and weapons. Sometimes this tiger was very ornate and had inscriptions within the drawing, alluding to Tipu's faith - Islam. Historian Alexander Beatson reported that "in his palace was found a great variety of curious swords, daggers, fusils, pistols, and blunderbusses; some were of exquisite workmanship, mounted with gold, or silver, and beautifully inlaid and ornamented with tigers' heads and stripes, or with Persian and Arabic verses".
The last sword used by Tipu in his last battle, at Sri Rangapatnam, and the ring worn by him were taken by the British forces as war trophies. Till April 2004, they were kept on display at the British Museum London as gifts to the museum from Maj-Gen Augustus W.H. Meyrick and Nancy Dowager. At an auction in London in April 2004, Vijay Mallya purchased the sword of Tipu Sultan and some other historical artefacts, and brought them back to India.
In October 2013, another sword owned by Tipu Sultan and decorated with his babri (tiger stripe motif) surfaced and was auctioned by Sotheby's. It was purchased for £98,500 by a telephone bidder.
In 2015, the Government of Karnataka, under the leadership of then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah from the Congress party, began to celebrate Tipu's birth anniversary as the "Tipu Sultan Jayanti". The Congress regime declared it as an annual event to be celebrated on 20 November. It was officially celebrated in Karnataka initially by the Minority Welfare department, and later by the Kannada & Culture department. However, on 29 July 2019, the next Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa, who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ordered the celebrations cancelled, saying: "Legislators from Kodagu had highlighted incidents of violence during Tipu Jayanti." The previous Congress government’s decision to organise the Jayanti was also seen as the party’s move to pander to the minorities. Objecting against the cancellation of the celebrations, the previous Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: “BJP has cancelled it because of their hatred towards minorities. It’s a big crime. He [Tipu] was a king of Mysore and fought against the British [as] a freedom fighter. It was during his time when the foundation was laid for the Krishna Raja Sagara dam. He also tried to improve industry, agriculture and trade.” The previous year, not a single JD(S) leader, including the then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, attended the event, turning it into a fiasco. The Lok Sabha Congress leader, Mallikarjun Kharge, also earlier criticized BJP and RSS for their opposition against holding the celebrations, and asked: “When RSS can celebrate Nathuram Godse, can't we celebrate Tipu Sultan?”
Cannon used by Tippu Sultan in the battle of Seringapatam 1799
Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans.
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