Tippu Series Part 11: Tippu’s downfall – Krishnacharya Purniya & Mir Sadiq

Who was Dewan Purnaiya? Purnaiya (1746-1812), a poor Madhwa Brahmin boy hailing from a village near Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) who learnt to fend for himself & take responsibility on his shoulder, after losing his father at a tender age. He was a self-taught scholar & linguist with sharp and agile brain & extraordinary administrative & accounting skills with perfect handwriting. As a shrewd strategist blessed with prodigious memory, one of the most enigmatic & influential characters was considered as the Chanakya of Karnataka, served as a Diwan under Hyder Ali, Tipu & the Wodeyars. Even though some reports suggest that wounded Tippu was killed in the battle ground for his jewelry, during my college days I learnt that Purnaiya was loyal to Tipu until the devil named Tipu struck his own home… it is said that Tippu once had gone to Purnaiya’s home to meet him on some urgent work. Purniah was away & his beautiful daughter treated the guest with honour (atithi devobhava). Tippu smitten by her beauty offered to marry her. When she refused, he raped her. When Purnaiya confronted him, he offered to take her to his Heram…. {Some suggests that the soldiers did it (knowing her father it is highly unlikely that soldiers would dare do it) & laughed at Purnaiya & told him to convert too… Eventually the daughter killed herself. In any case a few seconds of pleasure cost Tippu his life along with his dream, becoming one of the most expensive rapes to this day!!!

When his loyalty clashed with thinly stretched royalty, hitting the home ground … Purnaiya woke up with a jolt… till then it was someone else’s daughter now it’s mine. It’s ironic that the very instrument (sorry guys) he used to brand people brought him the death too. Guess he ran out of luck or finally God got tired of his wickedness!! Poorna means complete… no wonder he managed to complete the task & gotten rid of a monster out of this beautiful earth. May 4th what a glorious day for Kannadiagas!

Purnaiya plotted with the help of Mir Sadak, a good Muslim who was fed up of Tipu’s barbarianism & misuse of his religion. Also for Mir Sadak it was the chance of a life times as he had already negotiated through Nizam for a hefty reward & good books of British!! The plot was simple nothing to attract attention from any quarters including Tippu. Operation was smooth as silk… Just send all Tipu’s guards to collect their salary at the same time!! Without much resistance, it was a cake walk for Sherbrooke & Dunlop to capture the breach & fann out. Even the fort commander Mir Nadim was taken into confidence who had managed to close the water gate & blocked to prevent Tipu from escaping from fort. No wonder he was a great strategist! Modern media may call Purnaiya & Mir Sadak as traitors but logically they were the little windows, God opened to the prayers of millions of innocent people. Their descendants should be proud of their forefathers for helping get rid of an evil from mother earth. On the other hand I am ashamed of the ones who cover things for personal gains just like Tippu’s guise though in a minor way. What goes up always comes down; it’s the law of the nature. So did Tippu. But the saddest part is the misinterpretation of his action & glorification of this monster in disguise.

Tipu’s death is explained in many ways. The sequence of death could have been manipulated in anyway by the then ruling British wanted & no one would want to wash their laundry in public. Letting the world know of treason…. would have been an insult to their very imperialism… & bring shame. Purnaiya, Mir Sadak & the rest loyalists involved never wanted to be called traitors.

Nothing much is known about the life of Mir Sadiq other than that he held the post of a minister in the cabinet of Tipu as well as a General in the Mysorean Army. In the 4th Anglo-Mysore War, he collaborated with Purnaiya to get rid of Tipu, the evil from earth, the monolithic block of cruelty without a second. (Thank god for that & instead of terming him cunning & betrayal, he needs medal for his bravery!) Hyderabad Nizam was the mediator between them & the British. During the siege of Seringapata, he reshuffled the most trusted palace guards like Laxman Rao, etc., & sent the new appointees to collect their salaries paving the way for British to kill Tippu. Ahmad Khan a henchman of British-Nizam killed Sadiq before he reached his palace. Ring a bell 1963 – President John Kennedy’s assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald & Jack Ruby killing Oswald when he was under police custody?

So the major event of the century simply went with fiction. {Just like, in the recent history if during the Operation Red Dawn, the Americans really found Saddam Husain hiding on his own in the ditch or whether the Kurds captured & put him there to be found, will always be a mystery. When Saddam was caught, many said that Kurds had captured him to avenge the rape of their daughters & put in there}. After all everything is fair in Love & War…

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Tippu Series Part 6: How did the Tiger became LAME?

In January, 1790 Tipu launched an attack against Travancore but due to certain unexpected turn of events he ended up with a humiliating defeat. Tipu & his army were camping on the banks of the Alwaye River before launching the attack on the Travancore defense lines (Nedunkotta Fort). The Travancore army was no match for the huge Mysore army & the monsoon season was 4 – 5 months away. Therefore, a temporary bund was constructed way up on the stream by a team headed by Mr. Kalikutty Nair under the guidance of Raja Kesavadas, the Prime Minister of Travancore. When the Mysore army launched its assault & Nedunkotta was penetrated, the temporary bund was breached in the midst of heavy fighting, causing an unexpected flood which drowned many Tipu’s soldiers & rendered the gunpowder wet & useless causing panic & confusion in the Mysore army. {Sadly even the valiant Kalikutty Nair was also drowned in the sudden surge of water & became a martyr}. The triumphant Nair forces of Travancore inflicted heavy casualties on the invading army. In the confusion Tipu Sultan fell down from the ramparts of the fort into the ditch below along with his palanquin. The fall made him permanently LAME.

It is recorded in Travancore history & also confirmed by the local folklore that as the wounded Tipu was lying unconscious in the battlefield he was rescued by a Nair soldier who quietly carried the unconscious Sultan to the Mysore military camp during the night & left quickly (p. 518). The brave Nair soldier could have easily killed the unconscious Tipu but unlike power hungry maniac Tipu, killing a wounded was against Nair’s ethical beliefs.

Later on, the Travancore forces recovered from the ditch, the sword, the palanquin, the dagger, the ring & many other personal effects of Tipu & presented them to the Dharma Raja. Some of Tipu’s personal weapons & ornaments were sent to the Nawab of Arcot on his request (Travancore History by P. Sankunny Menon, published by Kerala Bhasha Institute, Trivandrum, pp. 191-92).

According to Mr. Powney, who was the Resident Representative of the English Company in Travancore, Tipu’s attack was not only effectively stopped by the Travancore army, Tipu himself fell down from the rampart, was seriously wounded, & was rendered permanently lame during the counter-attack by the Travancore forces.

Tippu Series Part 5: What’s with Astrology & Tippu?

He was an unusually unpredictable character & a delusional soul… he claimed that he was a Muslim. However, since his passion for expansion weighed greater, he was addicted to astrology. He consulted astrologers, believed in omens, sought answers for his dreams… on behest of astrological predictions observed some Hindu believes to ward of trouble… Even spared some temples from destruction to avoid curse!! Yet he used conversion as a tool… perhaps he must have thought that they would be loyal?

He enjoyed the destruction of temples… His destruction of Hindu temples were innumerable. The intensity of Tipu’s raid was so terrifying that hundreds of temple priests from Kodagu fled to Mangalore along with their families. Many Priests had to dump the idols & the other holy artifacts into temple wells to protect it. Many priests lost their lives. Worship came to a permanent halt in several temples. Like the Maletirike Bhagavati temple at Virajpet some temple were covered with leaves in order to conceal their presence. The famous Omkareshwara (Shiva) temple of Madikeri faced mortal danger. To avert it from Tippu’s wrath the ruler of Madikeri removed the existing tower (Kalasha) of the temple & replaced it with a dome so that it appeared like a Mosque from afar. To this day it stands with its dome as a testament to Tippu’s destruction spree!

On the other hand it is on record that the Tipu addressed the head of the Sringeri Math, Sachchidananda Bharati, as Jagadguru (“World Teacher”; Saletore, 1999, p. 127) &, according to an eyewitness account, “went barefoot to [the] . . . Math to receive the Swamy’s blessings & to ask him to pass on a letter to the Marathas requesting them to take his side than that of the British” (Subhan, 2002, p. 43). Tipu patronized the temples of Sri Gandeswara & Sri Ranganatha. Subbaraya Chetty (1999) cites a list of grants from the Sultan to the Hindu temples & priests.

As the an astrology freak he consulted Hindu astrologer to find out right time to travel, start & wage wars, gave Brahmins dakshina to clear any bad omens. So much so, he was wearing a 41.2 gm oval yellow gold ring with the name of the Hindu God Rama inscribed in raised Devanagari given by Sankaracharya of Sringeri Math. He must have hoped that by wearing such a ring, he would reach the status of reverence like Lord Rama & his lies will be covered. {The famous ring was sold in Christie’s auction as part of the Raglan Collection on May 23, 2011 for 1.5 crore rupees. It was taken off the finger of the dead ruler by the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, as his personal spoil of war after the Battle of Seringapatam in 1799.} Astrologers obliged him fearing for their lives, their family & to protect their deities. Because of Tipu’s trust in astrology, astrologers managed to convince him that offering poojas on behalf of him at Sri Ranganath temple will give him immense power that he seeks. That’s one of the reasons few of the temples like Sri Ranganatha is still standing! Not because he was an apostle of secularism, peace & religious tolerant! {Sri Ranga did pay his debt by saving Tipu’s life once… read further!) Also it is said that Tippu used to dream & would seek meanings & solutions for his dreams from both Hindus & Muslim astrologers….. it is not surprising!! How could one sleep in peace after the evil destruction?

In 1960s when there was heavy rains & flooding in Lakshmanathirata River, many artifacts such as lamps washed up from the sand near my cousin’s home. He not only destroyed the two temples (there were very few temples in Kodagu) near my ancestral home in Napoklu, Kodagu but also along with it, set fire to the  homes of Kodavas & burnt everyone inside alive by not allowing anyone to leave. The atrocities meted out on Nairs (in general it is referred as Nairs but it is inclusive of all the Hindus of Kerala), Kodavas, Brahmins, Catholics in Mangalore, is beyond imagination. Interestingly, according to the folk lore, the origin of Badaga community of Coonoor (Tamil Nadu) with their uniquely beautiful culture & songs originated when their revered “Hethai“ managed to escape Tipu’s advances with handful of trusted people from Karnataka. Luckily they managed to make a living & to keep their culture & tradition alive. There are one too many untold tragic calamities befell on so many communities & families.

Tipu’s correspondences with the Sankaracharya of Sringeri Math reveal his scare for the foreboding of doom that he tried desperately to counter (Sharma, 1991). A firm believer in astrology, he often resorted to religious rituals & wore apotropaic objects & trinkets—Hindu as well as Islamic—either to avert a disaster or to attain success in his undertakings. A near contemporary historical account describes how, on May 4, 1799, the day Tipu died in the battlefield, he had ordered for all the ceremonies prescribed by the Brahmins to be duly performed, & having given them several presents, requested their prayers for the prosperity of his government. He also ordered to be slaughtered two elephants with all their golden trappings; . . . & large sums of gold mohurs were distributed amongst the beggars. (Maistre De La Touche & Mohammad, 1855, p. 307)

When the morning of May 4th came, Tipu was told that, the omens were not propitious. Since fighting was inevitable, He tried to ward off misfortune. Perhaps his black soul was so huge, even the elephants souls could not carry it away which stayed behind to welcome the death personally!! He appears to have developed a defeatist mentality of a doomed man several months before the siege of Srirangapatnam. Lieutenant Wilks writes of the Sultan’s apprehension of an impending dissolution of his empire based on a folk tale of cephalomancy he sincerely believed. {Cephalomancy: Divination by the study of the skull or head of a donkey or goat. Sometimes mentioned as the roasting of an ass’s head on hot coals}. According to this tale, the mysterious power of a crushed human skull showing some cracks caused the death of 40 persons. When Tipu noticed some cracks on the mast of the ship the Frenchman Ripaud had taken to the Isle of France, he was convinced that these cracks foreboded the destruction of his empire & thus “he readily made up his mind to throw himself unconditionally in his Lordship’s [Wellesley’s] compassion” after he had read the Governor General’s letter of January 9, 1799 (Wilks, 1810-1817/1869, Vol. 2, pp. 332-333). {Wilks does not mention how he obtained the information on Tipu’s reaction to Mornington’s letter of January 9, 1799.}

It’s very odd to write this… for all his offering to Hindu Gods & God men (Brahmins)… Sri Ranaga did save his life once, in the form of a Nair!!

 

Tippu Series Part 4: The marauding Tiger

Roderick Mackenzie (1793) commented on Tipu’s march to Trinomaly & his mayhem there in 1790: Here neither respect, for the grandeur & antiquity of their temples, nor veneration for the sacred rites of a religion whose origin no time records, proved any protection for the persons or property, even of the first Brahmins. Their pagodas, breached with sacrilegious cannon, were forcibly entered, their altars defiled, their valuables seized, their dwellings reduced to ashes, & the devastation was rendered still more horrible by the scattered remains of men, women & children, mangled beneath a murderous sword. (Vol. 1, p. 203).

On his raid of Napoklu near Madikeri, Tipu destroyed the temples in the the surrounding villages of Betu & Kolakeri. He set fire to the house of the Biddatanda family. Forty members of this family were captured as prisoners & transported to Ganjam. After a few years, two members of this family escaped from Ganjam & returned to their hometown. One of them was a warrior named Appanna. However, the people of his hometown decided that he had now become a Mapila (Muslim), & excommunicated him. Appanna built a hut near the town-lake & spent the rest of his life there. This lake was in existence till recently, & was known as the Appannajja kere (Lake). Like the siege of Nargund letter (quoted earlier), he left nothing in the path of destruction. Remnants of the savagery that Tipu inflicted upon the hapless Kodavas are visible even today. His actions could dwarf every event from Afghanistan to Middle East combined. (Sandeep Balakrishna- Tipu Sultan The Tyrant of Mysore page 105).

Even today, we find the descendant of these Kodavas who were forcibly converted during Tipu’s time. these Kodava mapilas till recently used to celebrate Coorg festivals, built houses (called ain-mane) like the non-Muslim Kodavas, bore the same arms, the same kind of jewelry, & carried similar surnames. We have surnames like Alira, Cheeranda, Chimma Cheera (this surname is shared by non-Muslim Kodavas), Duddiyanda, Kaddadiyanda & Kolumanda in Virajpet. In Davanageri village, we have Muslim family names like Puliyanda & in the regions surrounding Virajpet, we have Muslim family names like Kuvalera, Italtanda, Mitaltanda, Kuppodanda, Kappanjeera. Similarly in the Madikeri taluk, we have Kalera, Chekkera, Charmakaranda, Maniyanda, Balasojikaranda & Mandeyanda.  Intriguingly, in the Hoddur village in Madikeri taluk, there is a Muslim family with the surname of Harishchandra… (Sandeep Balakrishna, Tipu Sultan the Tyrant of Mysore page 108).

Tippu Series Part 3: Tippu’s Tiger obsession

Did Tippu really fight (& get a LIMP?) with a TIGER?!? Britishers had merely nicknamed him Tiger of Mysore because of his OBSESSION with the TIGERS & also to describe his ferocious personality. Tipu’s reverence for tigers was well known & his slogan was: Better to live for two days like a Tiger than drag out an existence like a Sheep for two hundred years. Did this slogan stem fourth from his experience at the age of ten?!? His throne was shaped & striped like a tiger, so did many other objects. His elite troops wore tiger badges, a mortar shaped like a tiger, the hilt of his sword was in the form of a snarling tiger. Tippu also had the notion that Tiger brings good luck & blessings; hence the famous hulivesha (man dressed like tiger) preceded the procession of any kind!!

But the most interesting was his favourite toy, the mechanical pipe organ now standing at Victoria & Albert Museum known as Tippoo’s Tiger. Captured & brought back from India by the East India Company’s soldiers, the apparatus consists of a huge tiger lying atop a prostrate man, the tiger sinking its fangs & claws into the helpless individual who, with his pale skin, red coat, & military attire, is easily identifiable as a British soldier. The tiger is also an organ, however, which when wound up would growl & roar menacingly to all nearby, although the passage of time has today robbed this fierce customer of his prior voice. Created by local artisans during the 1790s on the specific order of Tipu, it was designed to encapsulate the fear & terror that the Sultan inspired in Europeans, the savagery of the tiger goring its unfortunate victim a reflection of Tipu’s own military prowess.

Tipu was perhaps pioneer “Robot Master” (or was he a child with lost childhood owning a toy?!?) in the recent history!! No wonder he is been “ideal” for many without proper childhood. Sometimes early in the morning when I see the youngsters with catapult aiming & chasing the cats & kitten, I wonder what is their future going to be? Why the heck they are out so early in the morning …. where are their parents?

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.

Being Kodava – “No Thank you”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going against the theme of this blog by saying “no thanks” to being a Kodava. That’t not what this is about. Often I get asked where I’m from and more often than not people haven’t heard about Coorg. I also sometimes explain to people how and why the culture is so different from those that surround us.  There’s a lot of hype about our origins, including that we’re somehow connected with the Greeks of Alexander’s time. “Being Kodava” is my take on what it is to be a Kodava, and some of the things we should be proud of.

Someone once asked me how do you say thank you in your language. I told them in my language, we do not have words for “Thank you, Please, or Sorry”. We have never been taught it, and as far as I know, these words don’t exist. Did they once exist but were got rid of once the brits took  over our educational system? We’ll never know. But what I was told was the reason for this paucity of “Golden words” is because for kodava’s,  it’s our duties as family, community and friends to help each other out at all times, to always be there for anything, without having to ask please if you want something, say thank you when you have been helped, or say sorry if you have hurt.

kodava coorg traditional wedding jewelery men peeche odi kathi

This is quite deep if you think about it. Western education is steeped in the use of golden and kind words almost mechanically, sometimes without really meaning it. Making helping others a duty is really unique in our culture, and it really has to do  with the unique clan setups we have in Coorg: Clans typically helped each other with everything from planting crops, defending them against wild animals, celebrations, festivals, weddings, wars, etc. Every traditional wedding begins with the close family members getting together to cook for the entire wedding. It is our duty to help.

See there is more to being Kodava than coffee, Greeks and our weddings!