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Tipu Sultan was ‘Aurangzeb of South India’: Sandeep Balakrishna

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Photo: churumuri.wordpress.com

By Nithin Sridhar

Two people, including a member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), have been killed during clashes in Coorg district over the celebration of ‘Tipu Jayanti’- the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan on November 10.

The Karnataka government had organized the celebration of the 265th birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan amid protests by opposition parties and many other organizations. Though, the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan falls on November 20, the government had organized the celebration on November 10 itself.

Following this, a bandh was called in Coorg district. The silent protest turned violent when a clash between protesters and the supporters of Tipu Sultan resulted in the death of two people. The incident has again put the controversial life of Tipu Sultan, often called as ‘Tiger of Mysore’, under the spotlight.

NewsGram spoke to Sandeep Balakrishna, the author of “Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore” and Chief Editor of IndiaFacts- in a written interview, about Tipu’s life, his legacy, and the current protests in Coorg district against the celebration of his Jayanti.

Nithin Sridhar: Can you shed some light regarding why the government decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of controversial Tipu Sultan amid such opposition?

Sandeep Balakrishna
Sandeep Balakrishna

Sandeep Balakrishna: Because it is entirely in line with the Congress’ tried and tested brand of the politics of appeasing Muslims at any cost. However, this is not new. The decision to celebrate Tipu’s birth anniversary was taken in 2014. This year, the Siddaramaiah government has merely put the decision into action.

NS: Why have the Kodavas (people of Coorg) raised their voice against this celebration? What was Tipu Sultan’s relationship with Kodavas?

SB: Kodavas are protesting because of history. Even after around two hundred years, the barbaric wounds that Tipu inflicted on Kodavas remain as fresh and painful as before.

Around 1770, Hyder Ali launched a raid on Coorg and butchered thousands of Kodavas. As British historian Lewin Bowring notes, “Haidar offered a reward of five rupees for the head of every Coorg [Kodava] which was brought to him, and that 700 heads were in consequence delivered.”

He couldn’t hold on to it for long but was finally able to bring Coorg under his control in 1780. After his death, Coorg briefly slipped from the control of Mysore. However, in 1788, Tipu Sultan reduced Coorg to a wasteland. In a letter to the Nawab of Kurnool Runmust Khan, Tipu gloats about how gloriously he accomplished this vicious task:

“…the exciters of sedition in the Coorg country, not looking to the consequences [of such conduct]… raised their heads, one and all, in tumult. Immediately on our hearing of this circumstance, we proceeded with the utmost speed, and, at once, made prisoners of forty thousand…Coorgs, who, alarmed at the approach of our victorious army, had slunk into the woods, and concealed themselves in the lofty mountains, inaccessible even to birds. Then carrying them away from their native country we raised them to the honor of Islam, and incorporated them with our Ahmadi corps. As these happy tidings are calculated, at once, to convey a warning to hypocrites…”

He razed and burnt down entire villages and towns, destroyed temples, and forcibly converted the Kodavas to Islam.

Additionally, Tipu resettled about 7000 Muslim families from elsewhere in Coorg thereby altering its religious demography. When his savagery was done, Coorg was largely depopulated of its original inhabitants.

Remnants of his brutality against the hapless Kodavas are visible even today in the form of ruined temples, original Kodava surnames of (forcibly converted) today’s Muslims among other things. Even today, stray dogs in Coorg are contemptuously called “Tipu,” a measure of how intensely he is reviled there.

NS: It is being alleged that, hundreds of Tipu’s supporters entered Coorg yesterday, in tempos and trucks, that triggered clashes between the protestors and supporters of Tipu in which 2 people died. Do you have any information regarding this? Who were these supporters who entered Coorg?

SB: According to ground reports that reached IndiaFacts–phone calls and emails–it appears that the violence that erupted was preplanned. Local people told IndiaFacts that about three days ago, a substantial contingent of Kerala Muslims was camped in Napoklu, about 40 Kms from Madikeri, and yesterday, about 1000 vehicles carrying pro-Tipu supporters entered Madikeri and started unprovoked aggression against the peaceful protestors who were protesting against the celebration of Tipu Jayanti.

Second, it is inaccurate to use the word “clashes” because, pro-Tipu supporters initiated the attacks against peaceful protesters. The clashes happened as a result of this attack. Local people also suspect the hand of SDPI and PFI–both based out of Kerala–behind this preplanned and organized attack.

Incidentally, Napoklu is also the site where Tipu Sultan destroyed temples–in the surrounding villages of Betu and Kolakeri. He also set fire to the house of Biddatanda family burning them alive. Those who survived were captured as prisoners and transported to Ganjam, near Srirangapattana.

NS: Tipu Sultan has been a controversial figure. On the one hand, he is portrayed by certain section of intellectuals as being tolerant and secular. As evidence his donations and correspondence with a few Hindu temples are put forward. On the other hand, some brand Tipu Sultan as communal and intolerant. What is your assessment? Can you elaborate regarding Tipu Sultan’s rule, especially with respect to his treatment of Hindus and other non-Muslims?

Photo: www.youtube.com
Photo: www.youtube.com

SB: The first question one needs to ask relates to the approximate period when the myth of Tipu as a tolerant and secular king–even freedom fighter–was created. We can trace this back to the early-to-mid 1970s. One also needs to remember the fact that until that time, almost no Muslim in Karnataka would name his son as “Tipu.”

This myth-making got a huge boost with Bhagwan S Gidwani’s ahistorical and spurious novel, Tipu Sultan: The Tiger of Mysore, which turned an Islamist bigot of unmatched fanaticism and cruelty into a glorious hero, freedom fighter, and some kind of a sacrificing patriot.

Regarding his donations to Hindu temples, etc. one can go through a piece I wrote for dailyo where I have dealt in detail about this. It is suffice to say that, it was motivated by both political expediency and his urgent need to recover his lost territory, fortune and pride.

His record of 17 years of rule indisputably shows how he regarded Hindus as Kaffirs (infidels) who deserved to be killed or converted to Islam. His raids in Coorg and the Malabar region in Kerala give us ample testimony: how, for example, he literally burnt down the thriving, prosperous and spice-trade rich Calicut and made it into a ghost city. For nearly 40 years, Calicut was ruined and impoverished, its spice cultivation etc. completely destroyed.

As Tipu notes in a letter to his deputy, Abdul Dulai: “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.”

He also changed the original Hindu names of cities and towns to Muslim ones: 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, etc.

In his administration, he changed the official language from Kannada to Farsi. This is reflected even today in Karnataka’s official administrative documents which has a significant usage of Farsi and Urdu words: Khirdi, Khata, Pahani, Banjaru, Ahavalu, Jamabandi, and so on. Equally, he appointed only Muslims–even illiterate and incompetent–to the highest positions in his administration and military with the result that Mysore’s economy was wrecked, and the vast army that his father had left behind was reduced to nearly half. Historian and economist Prof. S. Gopal Rao’s study leaves us a comprehensive record of this fact. The only reason (behind this) was his determination to Islamize all aspects of his administration.

The list of Tipu’s atrocities against Hindus in South India is endless and includes oppressive and discriminatory taxation against Hindus, tax exemptions to Muslims, large scale destruction of Hindu temples, and closure of rituals etc. in existing temples.

There’s actually nothing controversial about Tipu Sultan. He was a semi-shrewd politician, an imperialist, and a religious bigot who inflicted widespread atrocities against both Hindus and Christians. The controversy has been created thanks to the ideologically-motivated fashion of writing Indian history, especially in the matter of Muslim rulers. This is also why Arun Shourie’s Eminent Historians must be made mandatory reading.

NS: Tipu Sultan is also portrayed in certain sections of academia as a patriot and freedom fighter who strived hard to free India from the clutches of the British. What is your view regarding this? What do historical accounts say about this?

SB: This portrayal can be attributed to two things: 1. The aforementioned project of ideology-driven whitewashing the sordid record of medieval (and late medieval) Muslim rule. 2. Utter ignorance of history.

Photo:www.pinterest.com
Photo:www.pinterest.com

First, in Tipu Sultan’s time, India was not a nation, both politically and administratively, held together and controlled by a single central rule/ruler. There was no (British-controlled) Indian Army, or Indian Navy, no Indian Civil Services, etc.

This being the case, it’s only logical that there was no British rule over all of India. A fact that’s carefully concealed is that it was the East India Company, a private business outfit with its own militia fighting for economic and political control in various parts of India. The French were the other powerful contenders for said control.

Where then does the question of fighting for India’s freedom arise? If this was the case, we can also consider Siraj-ud-Daula in Bengal as a freedom fighter. But in the history written by these eminences, Siraj-ud-Daula–Tipu’s older contemporary–isn’t regarded as such. Or for that matter, neither are the Marathas who, too, fought the British.

If anything, Tipu too was only fighting for a slice of the territorial pie, trying constantly to expand his dominions by launching savage military and religious campaigns against his neighbors. If that was not the case, why would Tipu attack his co-religionist, the Nizam of Hyderabad and other Nawabs in South India?

NS: If you were to describe the life and legacy of Tipu Sultan in one word or a phrase, how would you describe him?

SB: I would say, Tipu Sultan was Aurangzeb of South India. As I have observed in my book: If Aurangzeb was the most fanatical Muslim king who reigned on the Mughal throne in Delhi at the start of the 18th century, his counterpart who matched him in both bigotry and cruelty in South India at the close of the same century was Tipu Sultan.

Aurangzeb inflicted untold atrocities on Hindus, their way of life, their traditions, and their places of worship over a long period of 50 years. However, when we recall that Tipu inflicted the same – if not greater – kind of barbarism on Hindus in just 17 years, we realize the breadth and depth of his religious zealotry.

  • swadesi

    Great article…

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Court questions Karnataka’s Move to Celebrate Tipu Jayanti, says Mysore ruler was not a Freedom Fighter

Though Tipu was born in 1750 at Devanahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru, his kingdom's capital was at Srirangapatna near Mysore

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Mysore Ruler Tipu Sultan, Flickr

Bengaluru, November 2, 2016: Observing that erstwhile Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan was not a freedom fighter, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday questioned the state government’s move to celebrate his birthday on November 10.

“What is the logic behind the state government’s decision to celebrate Tipu’s birth anniversary (Jayanti) as he was only a king and not a freedom fighter,” asked Chief Justice S.K. Mukherjee hearing a PIL against the event.

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Known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, Tipu Sultan ruled the Mysore kingdom from 1782-1799 succeeding his father Hyder Ali.

Though Tipu was born in 1750 at Devanahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru, his kingdom’s capital was at Srirangapatna near Mysore.

A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Mukherjee and Justice R. B. Budhihal sought response of the state government to the PIL, which claimed that Tipu was a monarch who fought against the British to protect his own kingdom.

[bctt tweet=”K.P. Manjunathja of Kodagu had filed the PIL opposing the state government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti.” username=””]

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Defending the celebration, public counsel M.R. Naik told the bench that Tipu was a great warrior who also fought against the British rulers.

Challenging the state government’s move, petitioner’s counsel Sajan Poovaiah said Tipu was a tyrant ruler who killed hundreds of people belonging to other communities, including Kodavas, Konkanis and Christians during his 17-year rule.

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At this, Justic Mukherjee noted: “Even the Nizams and other monarchs of then princely states across the country fought against the British during the 18th century and the 19th century to safeguard their own interests.”

The ruling Congress began celebrating Tipu’s birth anniversary since last year, which led to violent protests by the right-wing organisations in the Mysore region.

Opposition BJP and pro-Hindu organisations like RSS have threatened to stage protests against the event, as Tipu was a “religious bigot and violent sultan”.

Manipal Global Education Chairman and former Infosys Director T. V. Mohandas Pai also slammed the state government’s plan to celebrate Tipu Jayanti, saying it amounted to celebrating the birth anniversary of Aurangzeb, the 17th century Mughal Emperor, perceived as a tyrant and a religious fundamentalist.

“The state government, instead, should celebrate the birth anniversaries of benevolent rulers like the Wodeyars of Mysore and their Diwan (Prime Minister) Mirza Ismail,” said Pai here on Tuesday.

Accusing the government of playing politics over Tipu Jayanti, Pai said celebration of such a ruler would dived the people as Tipu had killed people of different communities and forcibly converted people to Islam.

“I am a Konkani and feel offended that the state government is celebrating somebody (Tipu) who did wrong to both communities,” he said.

Pai also said that Tipu butchered Coorgis and Christians in Kodagu and Kerala and destroyed Konkani temples near Sultan Bathery and Kasargod (in north Kerala). (IANS)

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Five places whose native names were changed to Islamic ones by Tipu Sultan

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By Nithin Sridhar

When Tipu Sultan, who is often referred as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, was ruling the kingdom of Mysore during the final decades of the 18th century, he implemented several measures that were aimed at Islamizing the entire Kingdom.

Apart from measures like changing the medium of writing accounts in the revenue department from Kannada to Farsi and appointing only Muslims to high posts in various departments of his administration, Tipu Sultan also tried to Islamize currencies, Calendars, and Weights and measures by giving them Islamic names. He adopted this strategy with respect to the names of various regions of his kingdom as well. He called the plains region of Karnataka that was under his control as Ghabraasubaa. Similarly, he named coastal regions and forested Malnad regions as Yaamsubaa and Taransubaa, respectively. He further changed the names of more than 40 cities and towns and gave them Islamic names.

Here is the list of five such cities and towns whose name he had changed:

1. Mysuru: The city of Mysuru was the capital of Mysore state ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty for many centuries. Today it is often referred as the ‘cultural capital of Karnataka’ or as the ‘city of palaces’. The name Mysuru is derived from Kannada ‘Mahishuru’ or ‘Mahisha uru’, which means ‘the place of Demon king Mahishasura’. It is believed that the hill present overlooking the city was the place where the battle between the demon and Goddess Chamunda was conducted and where the Goddess killed the demon.

After taking control of the Mysore kingdom, Tipu renamed the city as ‘Nazarbad’. Today, a section of the city still retains the name that was given by Tipu.

2. Mangalore: This is one of the important port cities in the present day Karnataka. Apart from Kannada, the city is home to speakers of Konkani, and Tulu languages. The city gets its name from the presiding deity of the city- Mangaladevi whose temple is located at the place. She is often identified with the Goddess Tara of the Tantras. It is held by the locals that Mangaladevi was actually a Malabar princess Parimala who became a student of Matsyendranatha and left her body in the city.

Tipu Sultan renamed the city as ‘Jalalabad’.

3. Hassan: Hassan was at one time the seat of the mighty Hoysala Empire. Even today, one can witness numerous temples with beautiful carvings and magnificent architectures dating back to Hoysala period. Hassan is an important center of Jainism as well. The city gets its name from its presiding deity ‘Haasanaamba’. The temple of Goddess Haasanaamba is open only for one week once a year during the Deepavali festival.

Tipu Sultan had rechristened the city: ‘Khayimabad’.

4. Kozikode: This port city in Malabar area of Kerala was once called as ‘City of spices’. Today it is referred as ‘City of Sculptures’ due to its rich variety of architectural sculptures. The name ‘Kozikode’ literally means ‘fortified palace’ derived from words koyil- palace and kotta-fort.

Tipu Sultan had renamed it as ‘Islamabad’.

5. Madikeri: The town is a famous hill station in Karnataka. It is also home to the Kodava community, the martial Kshatriya tribe who worship River Kaveri which origins in the area. The name ‘Madikeri’ is derived from ‘Muddu raja keri’, which means ‘town of Mudduraja’. It refers to the Haleri king Mudduraja, who had once ruled from the region.

Tipu Sultan had given the name ‘Jaffarabad’ to the town. (Photo: Indian Express)

Also Read: Tipu Sultan was ‘Aurangzeb of South India’: Sandeep Balakrishna

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VHP leader killed in anti-Tipu Sultan protests in Karnataka

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Kodagu (Karnataka): A day after the Opposition BJP announced the boycott of Karnataka government’s birth anniversary celebrations of the 18th-century legendary king Tipu Sultan on Tuesday, stating that the king was a “religious bigot”, protests in the state’s Kodagu town turned violent, leading to the death of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) official.

Protests by Hindu outfits in Kodagu turned violent after stone pelting by angry mobs. In the clashes between the police and agitators, as many as three persons were reportedly injured and VHP’s Kodagu Organising Committee Secretary killed.

“It’s a total boycott on our part, no public representative from our party at any level should participate in the official function,” state BJP President Prahlad Joshi said on Monday. Describing Tipu Sultan as a “fanatic” and “anti-Kannada”, he said, “….we have 44 legislators, and it is a practice that wherever such events are organised local legislator presides over it. We have instructed our legislators that they should not preside over this event, they should not go on the dais.”

“As the party state President, I’m giving this instruction to all our party public representatives through the media. We will also be sending this instruction through all our district presidents and zonal office bearers,” he told reporters at Hubballi in north Karnataka.

Several organisations and individuals have opposed the state government’s move to celebrate ‘Tipu Sultan Jayanti’ on November 10, with a few threatening to disrupt the first-ever such government celebration.

Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore, who was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna against the British forces.

Once again defending his government’s decision to organise ‘Tipu Jayanti’, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said RSS and “other communal forces” were opposing it. Speaking to reporters here, he said, “Tipu is a patriot, he fought against the British, in a sense freedom struggle began from three Mysore wars, he lost his life during the battle, and he had even pledged his son to British.” “RSS is unnecessarily trying to defame him, we will celebrate his Jayanti,” Siddaramaiah added.

(With inputs from agencies)