Tippu Series Part 8: Why the “HERO” term?

His hunger for expansion reflected on the great seal of Tipu found in Major Alex Dirom’s comprehensive account of the Third Mysore War published as early as 1793 in London, The translation reads: “I am the Messenger of the true faith. “I bring Unto you the Edicts of Truth. “From CONQUEST & the Protection of the Royal Hyder, comes my tide of SULTAN & the world under the Sun & Moon is subject to my Signet.”

Tippu wanted to replace Kannada with Persian language… our beautiful Kannada language is one of the oldest languages… recently joined the rank of the oldest living language in Guinness Book of Record. Said to be in use for more than 2500 years. “Siri Kannadam gelge” Jai Bhuvaneshwari mate (thank you for sharing your name with me). Tipu Sultan & his father Hyder were no real manninamagas (“sons of the soil”) as claimed by lawyer turned politician held position both in state & central governments in 1999. How a Persian became true sons of the soil.. only Karnataka politicians can come up with such cruel jokes!! Another one went further with proposal to name Bangalore International airport after Tippu. LoL… some politicians snore during session… Karnataka has managed to produce some real cari-creatures for politicians!!

Many consider him a hero based on the theory that he fought against the British. Their attitude seems to rest everything including barbarism as collateral damage!?! Was this contention true or was it a one way traffic… if he was against white-man why did he invite the French, another white-race? What is the different between French & British? Doesn’t that actually MAKE HIM THE BIGGEST TRAITOR OF INDIA? He risked his life to fight with English & defeat them so that he can fulfill his own dream of becoming Padshah!! {Padshah is a superlative royal title, composed of the Persian “pad” (master) & the widespread shah (king) roughly equivalent to the ancient Persian notion of “The Great” or “Great King”}.

The renowned historian & one of my relatives, Dr. Ichettira. M. Muthanna, says in his Tipu Sultan X-Rayed that Tipu was a traitor as he invited the French to invade India. The letter, dated April 21, 1797, written by Tipu & classified as No. 4 in the Persian File of Records, & quoted by Muthanna in his book, reads:

“Citizen Representatives:

Since I manifested my friendship in writing to you, my messengers have arrived with the following intelligence which will not be displeasing to you.

“The Nizam, an ally of the English, & the Chief of the Mughals, is very ill & his age leaves no prospect of his recovery. He has four children who are disputing the right of succession. One of them is much attached to me, (he) is the favourite of the chiefs of the people & is expected to succeed him.

“I inform these events in order to prove to you that it is now the moment for you to invade India. With little trouble we shall drive the British out of India. Rely on my friendship.

“Your ally (Sd) Tipu Sultan.”

At this juncture Before I proceed further I would like to ask an important question to my fellow countrymen… hope someone comes up with the right answer… was Tippu Sultan really an Indian to begin with? His originless Grandfather came hitch-hiking perhaps as a porter with some businessman before landing in Kolar. So that makes Tippu a Second Generation illegal-immigrant. Hence he was as much a foreigner as the British who were there before him. If Tippu is acceptable as a hero, then why did Britishers have to leave India? Other than the skin colour what else did the Barbarian, Tipu have in common with Indians? Hyder himself claimed descent from the Arabs. Tippu had strong Persian obsession. What a mangling of Indian history… OMG. This is what is called MAYA (illusion)….

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Tippu Sultan – Kodavas – British : A Triangle of skepticism. Tippu Series Part 2: What other Western historians have said of Tippu

The British historian Wilks has managed to describe Tipu realistically. He criticizes Tipu as vain & arrogant, mediocre soldier & statesman, a despot to his English prisoners & Hindu subjects. Wilks declares: the leading features of his character were vanity & arrogance; no human being ever so handsome, so wise, so learned, so brave as himself. Resting on the shallow instructions of his scanty reading, he neglected the practical study of mankind. No man had ever less penetration into character, I accordingly no prince was ever so ill-served. Emphasizing Tipu’s religious fanaticism, Wilks states that Tipu promulgated his religion, by force.

Like Wilks, Bowring points out that Tipu urged on by religious bigotry, innate cruelty & despotism, though little of sacrificing thousands of lives to his ardent zeal & revengeful feelings. Various British texts, testimonies by British soldiers who had been Tipu’s prisoners, & others portray Tipu as barbaric Eastern ruler who abused his British & local prisoners, forcibly converting them to Islam, circumcising them, & enslaving them.

Mr. Sewin B. Bowring, formerly Chief Commissioner of Mysore in his work Hyder Ali & Tipu Sultan (1899) has given a number of instances of cruel treatment that was meted out to the Hindus in Mysore state. Lieutenant-Colonel William Kirkpatrick (1756-1813) also mentions the incident: In a letter written to his brother-in-law Burhanuddin Khan by Tipu during the siege of Nargund, Tipu ordered: “In the event of your being obliged to assault the place, every living creature in it, whether man or woman, old or young, child, dog, cat, or anything else must be put to the sword…” This is in stark-contrast to what Khande Rao did to Tipu himself. When Khande Rao plotted the destruction of Hyder Ali, the latter realizing that his life was in danger, escaped from the capital on the night of August 2, 1760 leaving behind Tipu & rest of the family who were placed by Khande Rao, to a guarded house near the mosque inside the fort of Srirangapatana. He however treated them kindly (within the rule of war). Later on the re-conquest of Srirangapatana, Hyder shifted his family to Bangalore palace for safety. On that day the young boy of TEN had learnt three lessons simultaneously from his father & Khande Rao. Abandonment from father (that’s why obsession with tigers); a God fearing Brahmin (Khade Rao) will not breach the trust & what is the meaning of power & wealth. The fear, guilt & scar of abandonment seem to have shaped his behavior towards humanity till his death. Also this is one of the reasons he enjoyed cruelty against other happy families & also had Purnaiya (Brahmin) as his Prime Minister!?!

Kirkpatrick (1811) writes further, “Colonel Munro [Sir Hector, 1726-1805] assures me, that it is an absolute fact that on one occasion he [Tipu] ordered all the male population of a particular village which had given him offence, to be castrated.

Professor Sir Thomas Arnold was a well-known scholar of Islam. He had taught at MAO College, Aligarh in the 19th century. He wrote: For India has often been picked out as a typical instance of a country in which Islam owes its existence & continuance in existence to the settlement in it of foreign conquering Muhammadan races, who have transmitted their faith to their descendants, & only succeeded in spreading it beyond their own circle by means of persecution & forced conversions. Thus the missionary spirit of Islam is supposed to show itself in its true light in the brutal massacres of Brahmans by Mahmud of Ghazna, in the persecution of Aurangzeb, the forcible circumcisions effected by Haider Ali, Tipu Sultan & the like. Tipu Sultan most systematically engaged in the work of forcible conversions.

In 1788, he issued the following proclamation to the people of Malabar:  From the period of the conquest until this day, during 24- years, you have been a turbulent & refractory people, & in the wars waged during your rainy season, you have caused number of our warriors to taste the draught of martyrdom. Be it so. What is past is past. Hereafter you must proceed in an opposite manner, dwell quietly & pay your dues like good subjects; & since it is the practice with you for one woman to associate with ten men, & you have your mothers & sisters unconstrained in their obscene practices, & are thence all born in adultery, & are more shameless in your connection than the beasts of the field, I hereby require you to forsake these sinful practices & to be like the rest of mankind; & if you are disobedient to these commands, I have made repeated vows to honour the whole of you with Islam & to march all the chief persons to the seat of Government.

The above proclamation led to an uprising. Tipu Sultan sent an army of more than 20-thousand to enforce the general orders that “every being in the district without distinction should be honoured with Islam, that the honour of such as fled to avoid that honour should be burned, that they should be traced to their lurking places, & that all means of truth & falsehood, force or fraud should be employed to effect their universal conversion.

Sir Thomas concludes: The history of Islam in Southern India by no means always continued to be of so peaceful a character, but it does not appear that the forcible conversions of the Hindus & others to Islam which were perpetrated when the Muhammadan power became paramount under Haider Ali (1767-1782) & Tipu Sultan (1782-1788), can be paralleled in the earlier history of this part of India. (The Preaching of Islam, London, 1913).

Today there is no harmony among people & the world peace hangs with a thin strand of thread not because of any religion but because of mushrooming barbarians like Tippu. Tippu died like a street dog & it should be lesson to every barbarian…

Our ephemeral memories on monuments

On June 6th 2014, the world witnessed the 70th celebrations commemorating the D-Day landing of allied forces on the shores of Normandy. An event commercially romanticized by the Hollywood & the media. Anything for publicity & cash in! The who & who of the big nations were present & news coverage went on & on. Old habits die hard…. Some avoided the hostile encounter so the host president got to eat many meals lunches/dinners in separate quarters. But I guess the French never complain about eating food!

Every time I hear of WWII three different persons comes to mind. First one is my late father who told me that India would never have got independence but for the Second WW, a tide which positively hastened the process for Indians. Otherwise the British would never let go a golden goose… & would still be sponging India of its riches. In a cruel twist, Indians owe thanks to Mr. Hitler, at least we are free from Gulamgiri! Born in free India I did not share much of his sentiments THEN but when I think of it NOW, it makes so much sense to me. Hitler certainly boosted the Cause of the Liberation by shaking the rock & creating financial crisis helping us free from the clutches of imperialism & a win against the racial inequality, & to help the sun to finally set in the British Empire. Something good comes out of everything that happens is true after all at least to few Asian & African countries!!

Second one is my late dear cousin whom I was very fond of, for a different reason. Celebrating the dead. She was the youngest among the seven siblings. Her mother lost 2 of her children when they were in their twenties. From then on the drama started. Every time there was any kind of function or festivities or any gathering, big or small, even at weddings, the mother would conjure her dead children. She would either cry nonstop or keep on praising the dead children. In the beginning it was ok but then it became an irritating affair. Every one misses the loved one & they have the right to be remembered but the ones living needs a life too. Any function among family was a doldrums & all the five remaining dreaded any celebrations, big or small. My cousin once told me I am afraid to die because I hate the thought of my mother crying & making my living siblings more miserable. It is not their mistake that they are alive!

Finally my cousin’s sister-in-law, whose husband suffers from PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), once a lovely young couple, now they are divorced as his depression & night mares led him to substance abuse, violence & abusive combined with paranoia. The gap between his life of defense & the civilian society had a big dent. He lost two of his best friends in the war & he felt guilty because he survived them. She tried her best to help him but his both biological as well as psychological changes were too much for her to handle. They had no children & she realized that she could not baby sit or wet nurse her husband all her life.

My cousin’s mother & her life is a drop in the ocean; imagine the fate of thousands of soldiers returning home after fighting a proxy war. In the grand scheme of warfare who really gains is a trillion dollar question? Colour red seems to be the universal colour these days. It is said that at least every one in five returning from war front suffers from PTSD. How many comes out from it is no one knows. People are always connected by slices of the event. And sadly either bad or sad experiences are securely stored than the happy ones in human psyche. Unfortunately when one individual suffers the effected is on the entire family. Moreover the mental wound just does not end there!!

There are so many monument built in so many countries & spent millions on celebration of commemoration. Sadly, more concentration on the cement & brick than on the flesh & blood still standing & walking. Ironically no one seems to learn any lesson from the past either & history keeps repeating itself. The concrete cannot teach & the warm blood does not have any face or mouth to speak. Perhaps the money could be utilized for the welfare of the survivors & their families. May be every country which prefers sending their soldiers should spend on establishing sizable acreage of land and resources as a cradle for recovery for PTSD soldiers. An open place with peace, tranquility, fresh air, beautiful flowers &, knowing & sharing that there are more people with the same problem combined with yoga & meditation could do wonders for them.

During the WW I, large number of Indian soldiers were forced to fight the war which was not their own. Almost 130,000 Indian either lost or wounded in that time. Compared to the world population of that time it’s a big number. British government built (designed & constructed by Lutyens) the 42-meter high India Gate (originally called the All India War Memorial) to remember bearing the names 90,000 who laid their life, located astride the Rajpath (formerly called Kingsway), on the eastern edge of the ceremonial axis of New Delhi. It’s all conveniently forgotten in the sand of time. Ironically this monument has become a place for relaxation area during summer & a picnic spot during winter & I wonder many of them even knew what monument stood for? I agree that protecting the boarders as well as the interest of the nation is everyone’s duty but Wars mostly happens because of some rabies infected rulers. Hope some vaccine will be invented to cure such disease in the future.

Indians had paid heavy prices for the part of code of conduct “athithi devobava” meaning guest is like god & has to be treated well along with some greedy rulers seeking expansion through outside help had made Indians the victims of outside oppression in the past. A lesson to be remembered… leant… contained!!

Note: PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares & flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, & feel detached or estranged, & these symptoms can be severe enough & last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.

Coorg Warrior 1837

The following article is a contribution from my Son:

I’m a big history buff, and have spent hundreds of hours pouring over facts and figures from Cahokia to Dwaraka, Alexander to Xerces and Hannibal to Rommel. I’ve replayed alternative histories, imagined ancient battles, and often found myself dreaming about discovering new civilizations or lost Incan gold!

But what recently blew my mind was my own piece of investigative history during my trip to India last December (2012). With all the excitement of an old Tintin story, spanning two cities, learning something new about Coorg (Kodava) History, to finding lost gold (yes GOLD), all in a span of 36 hours! Here’s my story….

During my cousin’s wedding, I overheard someone talking about how Coorgs have stopped sporting the once famous “Coorg Wildlife Society”* stickers on their vehicles, and were now moving towards what’s called the “Coorg Warrior” sticker. Apparently the Coorg wildlife society sticker was so widely available that everyone and anyone were sticking it on their cars and bikes. Additionally, you no longer had to join the society to get the sticker, so this also led to a slight drop in its use by actual Kodavas.

My Dad was gifted one of the warrior stickers by a cousin of mine, and when I was in Mysore, I got a chance to take a look at it as I was cleaning out my Dad’s car. The sticker depicted a common poise of a Kodava Warrior, taken from an old French or British picture of an ancient Kodava warrior brandishing an Odi Kathi (Fighting sword) above his head, and a musket/flintlock on his other hand. I say ancient because of the particular way in which he wears his traditional attire: Coorgs today wear their traditional black woolen Kupiya, tailored to a modern fit, with a white and gold turban, a red and gold ornate silk sash (Chaele) that wraps tightly around their waists, and a ceremonial dagger, the Peche Kathi tucked into the sash. The kupiya is worn over either a modern shirt/pant/tie combination or over a kurtha pyjama.

However, if you look at the Warrior’s attire,  you’ll notice how it’s fitting to his martial needs. He wears a cloth around his head, his kupiya is free flowing, and not rigid like the woolen ones of today, and he wears nothing on this legs and feet. His Cheale appears to merely be a cloth wrapped around his waist. Even the peeche kathi appears to be purpose built as a weapon and less of a ceremonial blade.

The sticker also had the following words on the bottom, “Coorg Warrior 1839”. Now that year really got me hooked and my mom suggested I find out what the significance of that date is. That night, a bit of wordsmithing and googling later, this is what I found:

a)      There was no particular significance of the date 1839 in Coorg history pertaining to that medal. Let me know if you know otherwise**

b)      There was however, significance to 1837, when it is recorded in multiple publications and sites that a Coorg Medal was issued by the British Government to some Kodavas for their loyalty to the British during an uprising in Canara, Karnataka in April of 1837.

c)       The reverse of the medal is the Coorg coat of arms (sans the rifle that is in the coat of arms used today). This coat of arms contains the Odi and Peeche Kathi, and also included the “thodanga”, which is girdle used to hold the Odi Kathi at the back of the warriors waist. A laurel wreath surrounds all of them, and an English inscription surrounds the wreath “For distinguished conduct and loyalty to the British Government. Coorg, April 1837

d)      On the front of the medal, I found what I was looking for: The Coorg Warrior. The medal, unlike the sticker, afforded the opportunity to build depth the warrior, and so I could clearly make out the warriors face, well defined calf and pectoral muscles, his rifle, the free flowing Kupiya, the dagger in his Chale.

I was quite stumped: mainly because of my own (and I suspect most Coorgs) lack of knowledge in the origins of the Coorg warrior pose. Here I had found we were not only citing the date wrong, but more so, we were using a something that the British created as a symbol of our warrior history!

Now, I’m not going to get into the obvious arguments of our allegiances, what were we doing helping the British when we should have been fighting to keep them out, etc etc etc. India in 1839 did not exist as a country, and we were really 500 states (or countries even) that either paid tribute to or were ruled over by the British Crown. The concept of the entire region being a country is quite debatable, so let’s save that for another time or offline. For now, treat this as a story of what happened: pure facts.

Anyway, the next morning, off we went to Coorg for my final trip there before I had to come back to the US. That afternoon, I found myself sitting with my close uncle and aunt (I them Papa and Mama) and the conversation obviously drifted into this exciting story that I told them. How we were using a British sign of loyalty to depict our warrior backgrounds, etc. The whole time I told the story, I noticed a growing gleam in my Papa’s eyes, his lips and manner itching to butt into my story, until finally; he said “no you’re wrong; the medal was given by the Maharaja of Coorg, to certain people for their bravery. We have one of those medals, and I can show it to you!”He instructs his daughter to get the special medal from the safe, and I thought he was kidding. But lo and behold, she appears with this:

Front-lightroom British Coorg History india indian Knowlegde Martial medal Warrior Kodagu kodava wealth hindu  medal 1837 Back-lightroom British Coorg History india indian Knowlegde Martial medal Warrior Kodagu kodava wealth hindu medal 1837

Goosebumps, flashbacks, everything came pouring out as I took the medal in my hands. I just couldn’t believe I was holding a piece of history so close to my people, right in my hands, a mere 24 hours after I first began my search for an answer! After much observation and translating, we confirmed that it was indeed given by the British and not the Maharaja, and we spent the next hour or so refreshing our memories and getting our history right!

References

*Coorgs, traditionally bound by geography and family ties to Coorg, have spread out of their homeland over the last few decades, moving into Mysore, Bangalore and beyond. Fiercely connected to their identity, we would look for ways to identify ourselves when we were out driving around in these cities. Now, wearing a Kupiya and riding your motorcycle is not for everyone, but most of us would stick the Coorg Wildlife sticker our Motorcycles and Cars. I had one on my bike’s petrol tank, and most cars have it at the rear windshields or on the boot(trunk) of the car.

** It’s possible that strict British industrial age policy of making goods in the British homeland necessitated the medal being produced and shipped from the UK. This could mean that they were probably distributed in 1839 for the actions of 1837.  However, that’s my interpretation. The real person to know for sure is the one who printed the sticker for the first time:-D

Reference:

1880-British-Military-and-Naval-Medals-and-Decorations (pg 26, Coorg)

http://www.scribd.com/doc/100191148/1880-British-Military-and-Naval-Medals-and-Decorations