The rightwing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) , Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have now started a new drama by calling Tipu Sultan (RA) a murderer ,tyrant and bigot. It is not for the first time they have started this hate campaign, in-fact it has been continuing since decades. But when, a couple of months ago, the Congress Government in Karnataka decided to organise “Tipu Jyanti” , the RSS backed organizations started spitting venom. This is a direct attack on the legacy of Tipu Sultan who was martyred while fighting the British troops supported by Marathas in 1799 at Srirangapatna. When the IInd war of Mysore (1784) came to an end with the signing of Treaty of Mangalore , Tipu Sultan had upper hand over British forces. This was, in-fact, the last occasion when an Indian king dictated terms to the British. This treaty is a prestigious document in the history of India.
A tolerant ruler !
In 1916 the Directorate of Archaeology in Mysore (Karnataka) discovered around 30 letters written in Kannada language which had been exchanged between the then Shankaracharya of Sringeri and ruler of Mysore Tipu Sultan. Most of these letters were written by Shankaracharya to Tipu Sultan in 1791 when the Army of Marathas had raided the temple and Mathh at Sringeri. During this raid the Maratha soldiers had killed and wounded many civilians and also looted the temple / mathh of all the cash , jewelry and other valuables. The Shankaracharya of Sringeri who was also the custodian of the famous temple and matth had appealed Tipu Sultan for help. Tipu Sultan while replying to one of the letters had expressed his serious concern and grief over the plunder. While addressing Shankaracharya of Sringer , Tipu Sultan said “People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kalyug. People do evil deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying” . Tipu Sultan without wasting any time directed the Asaf of Bednur to supply 200 rahatis (fanams) in cash and other gifts to Shankaracharya . Tipu Sultan’s letters written post 1791 to Shankaracharya are still preserved which makes it clear that he was in constant touch with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri. This incident is not my personal creation but is very much part of our history. It is not the only incident which proves Tipu Sultan’s love and affection towards his non muslim subjects. There are dozens of such incidents which make it clear that Tipu was extremely tolerant and affectionate ruler who laid down his life in the battle field fighting against the British East India company.
His Hindu Ministers :
Had Tipu Sultan been intolerant he would had never appointed Hindus to head his important Ministries. Krishna Rao was the treasurer of Tipu Sultan and it proves that Tipu had full faith in Rao who was assigned such an important portfolio. Shamaiya Iyengar was his Minister for Internal security and Posts. Shamaiya’s brother Ranga Iyengar was also a senior officer in Tipu’s administration. Purnaiya Pandit 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 Srikantaiah has listed 156 temples to which Tipu regularly paid annual grants. Between 1782 and 1799 Tipu Sultan issued 34 “Sanadsipu Sultan” (deeds) of endowment to temples in his domain. He also presented many of them with gifts of silver and gold plate. The Srikanteswara Temple in Nanjangud still possesses a jewelled cup presented by the Tipu Sultan.
While delivering Tipu Sultan Shaheed memorial lecture in Bangalore on November 30th 1991, the former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam called Tipu Sultan the innovator of world’s first war rocket. Two of the rockets, captured by the British troops at Srirangapatna ,Mysore, are still displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum in London. Tipu managed to subdue all the petty kingdoms in the south. He defeated the Nizams and was also one of the few Indian rulers to have defeated British armies. Tipu Sultan started a new coinage, calendar, and a new system of weights and measures mainly based on the methods introduced by French. He was well versed in Kannada, Urdu, Persian, Arabic, English and French. Tipu was such a brave warrior who initiated freedom struggle against the British East India Company at a time when Raja’s and Maharaja’s across India had almost surrendered or become allies and stooges of Britishers. If this brave warrior, who sacrificed his life for the freedom of India, is portrayed as Bigot & murderer by RSS and its allies merely on the ground that he was a Muslim ,what kind of message does it convey to the people of India ? If this hate campaign is not stopped once for all , I am sorry to say that India may face a big communal upheaval in the coming years.
(Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is a Kashmir based Activist / Columnist . He can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)