Tippu Sultan – Kodavas – British : A Triangle of skepticism. Part 1: Who exactly was Tippu/Tipu Sultan? Is his ghost still floating in Karnataka?

My inferences are based on the cruelty meted out on certain communities in the Southern Deccan peninsular by Tipu Sultan (Fateh Ali Khan), the so called “Tiger of Mysore”… the atrocities he committed on innocent people including my own Kodava community are beyond words. This is an attempt to show that brutality was his passion, nothing else as claimed by some people who try to portray him otherwise….Being a Kodava, I have learnt that humanity, compassion, love.. are the face/reflection of God, there is only one God but there are many ways to reach that GOD.

I am dedicating this article in honour of those innocent victims who lost their lives & had their families thrown in to misery for no fault of theirs & in fond memory of one of my HEROs, my adopted “Tottajja” Biddatanda Appanna (I will write about him sometime in the near future…. along with main question Tippu-Kodvas-British connection). After reading this article, if it touched you in anyway PLEASE take a minute on November 1st (Karnataka Rajostava Day) at 9 am each year wherever you are to pray for those beautiful souls not only in Karnataka but all around the world who lost their lives to such barbarism.

What prompted me to write this? One of my colleagues BB told me that he wants to visit Coorg with his family & when he checked around he came to know that Kodavas hate Tippu Sultan & likes/loyal to Britishers… there was a sly smile on the face! Well I was taken back… I said I am a cent-percent Coorg & been for generations… I never heard of this comparison & I can tell you Kodavas definitely dislike or loath Tippu Sultan for the atrocities he committed on our forefathers…, a Satan in the guise of human who did not really succeed fully in destroying us despite his torture & killing perhaps because we were brave & too stubborn for Tippu’s palates!! My forefathers considered him a psychopath… an outright mass murderer.

The old gramophone sang again,… “yeh that means you hate him”… I said “NO we don’t hate him because he simply is not WORTH it… My colleague still could not understand why I don’t accept that we hate Tippu!! Then BB said if he is bad then why does Karnataka Government want to celebrate his birthday? I retorted, didn’t I tell you Tippu Sultan was worthless?!? Not even worthy of hatredness… That’s when I realized that as a grandmother I have to write what I heard, seen & read for our future generation… I wish I could go back in time & bring the details from the horse’s mouth.

First let me write briefly about Tippu Sultan…..

Where do I begin… he was one of those freak accidents of nature in an Evil way. It’s hard to describe if he were human or manifestation of terror itself!! A small, plump man with a round face with black moustache, bejeweled clothing & ornaments. He was forceful, warlike, ruthless, dogged mind, blood thirsty & a hard core liar. The only credit I would ever give him is that he was a military man & his willingness to fight with the Britishers who had a larger army & were riding on a string of success across the sub-continent!! However, his wonton cruelty & ausuric/demonic behavior surpassed all other qualities.

To my understanding & years of personal experience, Islam is a Religion of peace & giving. So how can he be one? He reeked of brutality… he spoke, ate, drank & slept on violence. Tipu was the diplomat for the Devil.. Nexus of evil… Somehow somewhere he just managed to jump from FIRE to DIRT! God has given thinking & discriminating capacity to each individual &, when anyone acts in monstrous way it is their individual action & perhaps bad karma from past life.

His atrocities were so gruesome even holocaust sound like a minor accident!! Just one gory description of his army by the world-famous Portuguese traveler, Fr. Barthoelomeo, could skip a heartbeat & makes one wonder how could someone be so inhumane?!? When you read, for a while pretend you were in 1780s & 1790s a happy man with a fine, happy family… Read the first para again.. close your eyes, take a deep breath & try to relive the experience… with you as a witness,

In his book Voyage to East Indies Fr. Barthoelomeo writes: “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 was riding on an elephant behind which another army of 30,000 soldiers followed. Most of the men & women were hanged in Calicut; first mothers were hanged with their children tied to necks of mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians & Hindus to the legs of elephants & made the elephants to move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. Temples & churches were ordered to be burned down, desecrated & destroyed. Christian & Hindu women were forced to marry Mohammadans & similarly their men were forced to marry Mohammadan women. Those Christians, who refused to be honoured with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately. These atrocities were told to me by the victims of Tipu Sultan who escaped from the clutches of his army & reached Varappuzha, which is the centre of Carmichael Christian Mission. I myself helped many victims to cross the Varappuzha River by boats.

I know there is no further writing required… yet I will continue. Sadly “The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people!

Was Tippu really an Indian? His faceless grandfather came hitchhiking perhaps as a porter with some businessman seeking livelihood to India from somewhere in Persia (his origin is not certain!!). Hyder himself claimed descent from the Arabs. So that makes Tippu just a Second generation migrant. So he was as much a foreigner as British ever were!! Other than the colour of the skin what else he have in common? OMG…. that’s why he could mercilessly kill or punish Indians, waste flora & fauna. He was an immigrant’s grandson; anyway Indians were not really his blood, so kindness was not required! I think His major problem was he had faulty wiring in his brain.

Tippu’s father Hyder Ali was born in Budhikote in Kolar district to an unknown father…  & Hyder’s birth date is also not clear. Tipu’s migrant grandfather was a care-taker in the local mosque. Being poor he had no education & managed to become a foot soldier. As a favour for saving the life of Mysore ruler, he was promoted to the rank of Nayak, a kick start upgrading in life,.  Being street smart he learnt the art of war & soon excelled in military war tactics… with the first opportunity he managed to topple the king in deceit & became de facto ruler of Mysore. So he became the ring leader of betrayal in the saga of Mysore!!

Hyder was too busy with expansionist policy & unlike his son he did not have much time to think about bulldozing people….. but he still had a very strong street rules imbedded in him… kill or get killed.  Bowring writes that Haider Ali was equally ferocious in the treatment of his enemies. For example: When he defeated Khande Rao, the Hindu general, he kept him in an iron cage  like a tota (parrot) & fed him rice & milk till the end of his life. What contrast between both the characters!!

However, Tipu had tasted comforts as his father Hyder Ali was progressing in life. With the new found wealth & power of his father he had the material comforts & privilege of education to certain extent but never had a proper upbringing with his father around. Most of his military training came from his father’s friend Khan who stayed with him till the end. Hence he lacked morals in his life & if a person can’t determine right from wrong then he lacks empathy. First five years of the child’s life is very important where the child gets the love & good teaching of the parents. For a boy presence of father is very important. Most probably based on what he heard about his father all that he wanted to was to please his father, aggrandize more & get appreciation from his father. Even though it is said that when he was 15 he used to go with father on military missions, question remains how much attention he really got from his father? And also where was the time for some decent education?

Founding of Mysore State The disintegration of the Mughal Empire was accelerated after Nadir Shah sacked Delhi in 1739. The Marathas under the Peshwa Baji Rao had unwisely decided to march towards the North instead of consolidating its power in the South. Baji Rao felt that the future of Maratha power lay in conquering Delhi. In Baji Rao’s words: Let us strike at the trunk of the withering tree & the branches will fall themselves. Maratha flag should fly from Krishna to Indus. It had adverse consequences in the South. The state of Mysore was ruled by the Wadiyar dynasty from the 14th century. Mysore was a viceroyalty of the Vijayanagar Empire. However between 1731-34, the government of the state was usurped by 2-brothers, Devraj & Nanjaraj who reduced the royalty to a puppet. Haider Ali then was only a horseman in the service of Nanjaraj. Between 1750-60, Haider Ali came steadily into prominence; as Mysore was invaded by the Marathas in 1753, 1757 & 1759. Nizam-ul-Mulk regarded Mysore as Mughal territory & the state was drawn within the circle of conflict between the Peshwa & the Nizam.

When the Marathas invaded Mysore in 1757, the Mysore Raja Nanjaraj agreed to pay them Rs.32 lakhs but could pay only six lakhs & for the remaining amount, he handed over 15-taluks as security. The Marathas came again in 1758, Haider took personal responsibility for the payment of arrears & he was also placed in charge of the field army. Haider Ali took advantage of the uncertain conditions prevailing in the state & assumed all powers of the king under the cover of being an officer of the Hindu ruler. Haider Ali died of cancer.  In 1786 Tipu assumed the title of Padshah or king. Thereafter he began to call himself ‘the resplendent presence’ & his army was designated as ‘the holy camp’. His government was called the ‘God given State’. The climax of his arrogance was reached when he ordered that the ‘Khutbah’ or daily prayer be read in his name. The name of Devanhalli, was changed to Yasufabad. The castle of Chitaldurg was changed to Farukh-yab Hisar or the propitiously acquired castle et al. {Lewin B. Bowing: Rulers of India – Haider Ali & Tipu Sultan page 209 (210)}.

His father Hyder’s first wife suffered from dropsy (oedema) during child birth & remained paralyzed till her death. So when his second wife (Tippu’s mother Fatima, aka Fakhr-un-Nissa, daughter of the keeper of Cuddapah) was pregnant, they paid a visit to the tomb of Saint Tipu Mastan Aulia in Arcot seeking blessing for a son & safe delivery. Unfortunately other than the name, he never inherited any goodness from the great Sufi Saint!!

Even Hydrabad Nizam refused to give his daughter to Tippu’s family because of Tipu’s heritage & in defiance Tipu got a bride from the Arakkal Family for his son Abdul Khaliq. Once an Arayankulangra Nairs, Arakkal family still practiced Nair Matriarchal System!! They have the most unique conversions story ever… something like a Bollywood movie… I will write towards the end.

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