TIPU SULTAN: AS KNOWN IN KERALA
Of late there has been a concerted attempt to distort and falsify recorded Indian history, very often even by painting dark periods of Indian history as glorious and progressive, to suit the selfish and perverted interests of the ruling clique. One of these attempts relates to the life and deeds of Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Most of his active life as Sultan of Mysore was spent in Kerala, waging wars of territorial annexation and Islamic conversions. Therefore, the true character of Tipu Sultan can be best judged from his activities in Kerala. The following is an earnest attempt to present Tipu Sultan as known from the available records of Kerala history.
There is ample evidence, available in many authentic records of his military operations in Kerala, to show that Tipu Sultan of Mysore was a fanatic Muslim tyrant who was responsible for the destruction of hundreds of Hindu temples, large-scale forcible conversion of the Hindus, and perpetration of unimaginable brutalities on the Hindu population in Kerala. All the available records such asMalabar Manual of William Logan, Historical Sketches of Col. Wilks, Voyage to East Indies of Fra Bartolomaeo, histories of Kerala written by K.P. Padmanabha Menon and Sardar K.M. Panicker, historical research papers of Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, official reports of the English Company, and the records of Chirackal, Zamorin and Palghat royal families besides those from Trichur, Guruvayoor, Thirunavaya and Perumanam temples, clearly and conclusively depict Tipu Sultan as the most intolerant cruel, and fanatic Muslim ruler in the South. His main object, like his father Hyder Ali Khan’s, was to subjugate the whole of Kerala and convert its Hindu population to Islamic faith by force. Tipu Sultan’s notorious jihâd – Islamic war-slogan – was SWORD (death) or CAP (Islamic honour, i.e. forcible conversion), a cruel option for a hapless Hindu population. For this, his most dependable and obedient accomplices were his equally cruel and treacherous co-religionists – the Mappilas (local Muslim converts) of North Malabar.
The ruins of hundreds of Hindu temples destroyed, and heavy concentration of Mappilas, all along the invasion routes of Tipu’s army, are standing and conclusive proofs of the brutalities and atrocities committed by the fanatic Tipu Sultan in Kerala. He was, all through, waging a cruel Islamic war against the Hindu population of Kerala, with a large Muslim army under Muslim field commanders ably assisted by the French, and with powerful field-guns and European troops. The period of Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali Khan from 1766 to 1792 is the darkest period in Kerala history for all types of Islamic atrocities including forcible conversions. In spite of all these, historical documents and records are being deliberately suppressed, distorted and falsified in order to project this fanatic Tipu Sultan of Mysore as a liberal and magnanimous Muslim king. Worse still, this Muslim tyrant from Mysore is being glorified and projected as a national hero like Chhatrapati Shivaji, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Rana Pratap Singh, and Pazhassi Raja of Kerala. To perpetuate the memory of this tyrant Tipu Sultan, the Central Government has released a postal stamp. Doordarshan has sanctioned a video serial to glorify the deeds and life of Tipu Sultan. And a special rehabilitation programme is being worked out for the benefit of the descendants of Tipu Sultan in Calcutta. It is an insult to our national pride and also to the Hindus of Kerala. At this rate, who knows that tomorrow our secular Government and the motivated Muslim and Marxist historians of Jawaharlal Nehru, Aligarh and Islamia universities will not project as national heroes villains like Mahmud Ghaznavi who destroyed the Somnath Temple, Babar who destroyed the Sri Rama Temple at Ayodhya, and Aurangzeb who destroyed the Vishwanath Temple at Kashi and the Sri Krishna Temple at Mathura? What a shame! What a degradation!
Now, let us turn to the facts of history, compiled and presented in Malabar Manual of William Logan published over a hundred years ago. William Logan was Collector of Malabar and worked in various capacities for over twenty years in Kerala, before 1886.The highly acclaimed Malabar Manual was the result of his strenuous research and study of various official records, oral history, and legends of Kerala. Because the facts presented here are mainly from the Malabar Manual as edited by Dr. C.K. Kareem,1himself a Muslim, and published by the Charitram Publications of Trivandrum with the assistance of Kerala and Cochin universities, we are sure, they will be more acceptable as authentic and unbiased than any other version of Kerala history.
To give the background of Tipu Sultan’s wars and Islamic atrocities in Kerala, it would be better to start from Hyder Ali Khan, Tipu’s father.
HYDER ALI KHAN
After the decline and disintegration of the Vijayanagaram Empire, Raja Wodeyar enlarged his small principality into a mighty kingdom and established the Wodeyar Dynasty with Srirangapatanam as its capital (1578-1761). Lord Shree Ranganatha Swamy was the family deity of the Wodeyar family and, therefore, a magnificent temple dedicated to this God was constructed there. Since then, the capital city came to be known by the name of the presiding deity of the place. The last king of the Wodeyar Dynasty was Krishna Raya who was overthrown by Hyder Ali Khan, his army chief stationed in Dindigal, with the help of the wily Purnaiyya. Hyder Ali imprisoned all the royal family members in Srirangapatanam. Later on, he declared himself the Sultan of Mysore with Srirangapatanam as capital in 1761 (p. 456 of Malabar Manual). It may be noted here that Hyder Ali Khan’s father was a Punjabi Muslim settled in Mysore and serving as a soldier with the rank of ‘naik’ in the army.
INVASION OF KERALA BY HYDER ALI
During that period, there were a number of small kingdoms in Malabar. Among them, the important ones were those of Kottayam (Pazhassi) Raja, Kolathiri (Chirackal) Raja, Kadathanad Raja in North Malabar, and Zamorin in South Malabar. There was also a Muslim ruler under Kolathiri Raja. He controlled the sea trade through Cannanore port. The seniormost male member of the Arackal Muslim family was known as Ali Raja while the seniormost female member was referred to as Arackal Bibi. The family originated from the Hindu royal family of Chirackal or Kolathiri. Though converted to Islam years back, the Arackal family followed their original matriarchal system as prevalent in Kerala. And though Ali Raja was a subordinate chieftain under Kolathiri Raja, he used to disobey the authority of Kolathiri quite often.
When Hyder Ali Khan overran Mangalore and reached the northern borders of Malabar, Ali Raja invited and persuaded him to subjugate the Hindu Rajas of North Malabar and offered his assistance. But it was only after regrouping and equipping his army with more powerful field-guns that Hyder Ali Khan launched the long-expected Malabar invasion in 1766. After reaching Cannanore, he appointed Ali Raja as his Naval Chief (High Admiral) and the Raja’s brother Sheik Ali as Chief of Port Authority (Intendant of Marine). After that, Ali Raja and his brother served Hyder Ali Khan on land and sea and aided all his military operations with a body of over 8,000 Mappilas (Muslim converts – name derived from Macca Pillai, Ma-Pillai). None of the Hindu Rajas in Malabar at that time was under the tutelage of the British or any other European power. The English Company, with its headquarters in Madras and Bombay, had only some pockets of influence in Mangalore and Tellicherry. The Kerala coast was under the influence of the Dutch and the French who were established in Cochin and Mahe respectively. Thus Hyder Ali’s invasion of Kerala was not to fight and defeat the British, but to subjugate the independent Hindu kingdoms and for conversions to Islam. Neither Hyder Ali Khan nor Tipu Sultan is known to have attacked any of the British establishments in Kerala at any time.
ATROCITIES UNDER HYDER ALI
During his southward march of conquest and plunder, Hyder Ali allowed Ali Raja and his barbarous Mappilas to act as army scouts and also to commit all sorts of atrocities on the Hindu population of Malabar. The Kolathiri Raja could not offer much resistance against the huge army of Hyder Ali which was equipped with heavy field guns. On the other hand, Ali Raja who had been made a tributary chieftain in Cannanore, seized and set fire to the palace of the old Kolathiri Raja. The latter escaped with his followers and sought protection of the British in Tellicherry. Hyder Ali now entered Kottayam (Pazhassi) Raja’s territory where he encountered resistance. There were casualties on both sides. But the Kottayam Mappilas betrayed and deserted their Hindu king and assisted Hyder Ali Khan (p. 460).
The first serious resistance encountered by the invading army of Hyder Ali Khan was in Kadathanad. The devastation caused by him during his wars in Kerala was typical of fanatic Muslim invaders anywhere in India. A broad picture of his Islamic atrocities as described by a Muslim officer of Mysore army in his diary and as edited by Prince Ghulam Muhammad, the eleventh and only surviving son of Tipu Sultan, is given below. (Prince Ghulam Muhammad was later on exiled to Calcutta by the British after the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799.)
‘Nothing was to be seen on the roads for a distance of four leagues, nothing was found but only scattered limbs and mutilated bodies of Hindus. The country of Nairs [Hindus] was thrown into a general consternation which was much increased by the cruelty of the Mappilas who followed the invading cavalry of Hyder Ali Khan and massacred all those who escaped without sparing even women and children; so that the army advancing under the conduct of this enraged multitude [Mappilas] instead of meeting with continued resistance, found villages, fortresses, temples and every habitable place forsaken and deserted (p. 461).
“Wherever he (Hyder Ali Khan) turned, he found no opponent; and every inhabitable place was forsaken and the poor inhabitants who fled to the woods and mountains in the inclement season experienced anguish to behold their houses in flames, fruit-trees cut down, cattles destroyed and temples burnt. By means of Brahmin messengers despatched to woods and mountains, Hyder Ali Khan promised pardon and mercy to the Hindus who had fled. However, as soon as the unfortunate Hindus returned on his promise of mercy and pardon, Hyder Ali Khan, like all the other Muslim tyrants of North India, saw to it that they were all hanged to death, their wives and children reduced to slavery (p. 468).
“Before quitting the country (Kerala) Hyder Ali Khan by a solemn edict declared the Nairs deprived of all (social and political) privileges and (ordered) not to carry arms. This ordinance was found to make the submission of the proud Nairs absolutely impossible because they would have thought death preferable to such humiliations and degradation. Therefore, Hyder Ali Khan by another ordinance, consented to restore all social and political privileges including carrying of arms, to the Nairs who embraced the Mohammadan religion. Many nobles had to embrace Islam; but a significantly large section (Nairs, Chieftains and Brahmins) chose rather to take refuge in the kingdom of Travancore in the South than to submit to the last ordinance” (p. 469).
It may be noted here that when Hyder Ali Khan reached Calicut with his huge army, destroying everything on the way and forcibly converting to Islam every Hindu warrior defeated or captured, the ruling Zamorin, after sending away all his family members to Travancore State, committed self-immolation by setting fire to his palace and ammunition depot nearby, in order to escape personal humiliation and possible forcible conversion to Islam.
Hyder Ali Khan had thus attempted and to some extent succeeded in converting a sizeable section of Hindus, especially Nairs and Thiyyas, to Islam by force and treachery. However, as soon as he left Malabar, all Hindu Rajas, Chieftains and Nairs revolted and asserted their independence. He died in December, 1782, and his son, Tipu Sultan, succeeded him in Srirangapatanam. Tipu was also a fanatic Muslim king, but more cruel and inhuman than his father in his Islamic wars and conversions in Kerala.
By the time Tipu became the Sultan of Mysore towards the end of 1782, all the Rajas and Chieftains of North Malabar had revolted and declared their independence. The British had also become more powerful. The immediate object of Tipu’s early military operation was to subjugate and retake the principalities which had revolted against the Mysore suzerainty immediately after the departure of Hyder Ali Khan from Malabar. So far, the Brahmins who were by nature quiet and honest, were usually and customarily sent as messengers to high places. But because of Tipu’s orders to “seize, circumcise and convert the Brahmins to Islam”, they started refusing to carry his messages to Malabar. They refused to oblige even the British who had extended and promised full protection to them. It had been confirmed from Calicut that 200 Brahmins had been “seized, confined, made Muslims and forced to eat beef and do other things contrary to their customs” (p. 507).
According to the official report of Col. Fullarton of the British forces stationed in Mangalore, worst type of brutalities on Brahmins were committed by Tipu Sultan in 1783 during his siege of Palghat Fort which was being defended by the Zamorin and his Hindu soldiers. “Tipu’s soldiers daily exposed the heads of many innocent Brahmins within sight from the fort for Zamorin and his Hindu followers to see. It is asserted that the Zamorin rather than witness such enormities and to avoid further killing of innocent Brahmins, chose to abandon the Palghat Fort” (p. 500).
As he proceeded with his Islamic wars against the Hindu population in Kerala, Tipu Sultan committed many more brutalities. The Rajas were unable to resist. But they did not like to be mute witnesses to brutalities perpetrated by the Muslim army of Tipu. As a consequence, the Kadathanad and Kottayam Rajas sent requests to the English Company at Tellicherry for protection, stating that “they could no longer trust Tipu Sultan and beseeching the Company to take the Brahmins, the poor and the whole kingdom under their protections” (p. 507).
But the British did not render any help to the Hindu Rajas. Tipu’s brutalities were against all sections – Brahmins, Nairs and Thiyyas of Hindu community, not excluding even women and children. Even Christians were not spared.
“It was not only against the Brahmins who were thus put in a state of terror of forcible circumcision and conversion; but against all sections of Hindus. In August, 1788, a Raja of the Kshatriya family of Parappanad and also Trichera Thiruppad, a chieftain of Nilamboor, and many other Hindu nobles who had been carried away earlier to Coimbatore by Tipu Sultan, were forcibly circumcised and forced to cat beef. Nairs in desperation, under the circumstances, rose up against their Muslim oppressors under Tipu’s command in South Malabar and the Hindus of Coorg in the North also joined them (p. 507).
“The revolt in the South Malabar was led by Ravi Varma of the Zamorin family. Though Tipu conferred on him a jaghire (vast are of tax-free land) mainly to appease him, the Zamorin prince, after promptly taking charge of the jaghire, continued his revolt against the Mysore power, more vigorously and with wider support. He soon moved to Calicut, his traditional area of influence and authority, for better co-ordination. Tipu sent a large Mysore army under the command of M. Lally and Mir Asrali Khan to chase and drive out the Zamorin prince from Calicut. However, during the above operations, Ravi Varma assisted not less than 30,000 Brahmins to flee the country and take refuge in Travancore” (p. 508).
It may be pointed out here that almost all female members and many male members of different royal families such as Chirackal, Parappanad, and Calicut, and chieftains’ families like Punnathoor, Nilamboor, Kavalapara, Azhvancherry Thamprakkal etc., fled to Travancore to escape the brutalities of Tipu’s army and temporarily settled down in different parts of Travancore. Even after the fall of Tipu Sultan’s regime in Srirangapatanam, many of these families, wholly or partly, preferred to stay back in Travancore because of the Mappilas’ atrocities in the past.
The continued resistance and revolt by the Nairs and other chieftains enraged Tipu Sultan who gave strict orders to his army under M. Lally and Mir Asrali Khan to “surround and extricate the whole race of Nairs from Kottayam to Palghat” (p. 508). After entrusting Calicut to a powerful army contingent, he instructed it “to surround the woods and seize the heads of all Nair factions”. He then proceeded to North Malabar to suppress the spreading revolt under Kadathanad and Pazhassi Rajas. Prior to this, Tipu had sent a formal request to the English Company at Tellicherry asking them “not to give protection and shelter to Nairs fleeing from South Malabar” (p. 509). A similar letter had been sent to the English Company in Tellicherry by Hyder Ali Khan in 1764 before he launched his Malabar invasion (Kerala History by A.S. Sreedhara Menon, p. 372). These letters clearly show that neither Hyder Ali nor Tipu was at war with the British.
It was at Kuttipuram, the headquarters of the Kadathanad Rajas, that the huge army of Tipu Sultan with a large number of field-guns surrounded an old fort defended by a small contingent of Nairs. After several days of resistance, and finding it difficult to defend the fort any longer, the Nairs submitted to the usual terms of surrender – “a voluntary profession of the Mohammadan faith or a forced conversion with deportation from the native land… In short, either way they had to embrace Mohammadan faith!… The unhappy Nair captives gave a forced consent and on the next day, the Islamic initiation rite of circumcision was performed on all male members, closing the ceremony after every individual of both sexes was forced to eat beef”(p. 510).
If this was not an Islamic war, what else was it? Do forcible circumcision and feeding of beef form any part of normal wars of territorial aggression? The War that Tipu Sultan waged in Kerala, was a cruel Islamic war against the Hindu population, mainly for conversion of Hindus by force. Yet there are degenerate Hindus in Kerala who admire Tipu Sultan as a hero!
The doings of Tipu Sultan were held out as an example which other detachments of the Mysore army followed. An original order sent to various army contingents by Tipu was found among the records from Palghat Fort, after its capture by the English Company in 1790. It has been reproduced as a footnote on page 510 of the Malabar Manual: “It directed (all military detachments) that every being in the district should be honoured with Islam, that they should be traced to their hiding places, and that all means, truth or falsehood, fraud or force, should be employed to effect their universal conversion to Islam.”
While escaping from Tipu’s army, one of the princes of the Chirackal Royal family in North Malabar was captured and killed in an encounter after a chase of few days. As per the accounts of Tipu’s own diary and as confirmed by the English Company records, the body of the unfortunate prince was treated with great indignities by Tipu Sultan. “He had the dead body of the prince dragged by elephants through his camp and it was subsequently hung up on a tree along with seventeen of his followers who had been captured alive” (p. 512). Another chieftain, Korangoth Nair, who had resisted Tipu, was finally captured with the help of the French and hanged.
Such was the treatment meted out to Hindu nobles, chieftains and their followers by Tipu Sultan of Islamic faith. He was no different from other Muslim tyrants who had played havoc in North India such as Mahmud Ghaznavi, Nadir Shah, Timur, Aurangzeb and Kala Pahar of Bengal.
After solemnising the marriage2 between the daughter of Arackal Bibi and his son, Abdul Khalic, and conferring a portion of the Chirackal principality on her, Tipu Sultan proceeded to the South to subjugate Travancore and convert more Hindus to Islam. The persuasions and threats he delivered to the Zamorin and the Cochin Raja to wage wars against Travancore, either directly or on his behalf, did not succeed because Tipu was regarded by all Hindu Rajas and nobles as a fanatic Muslim. The Cochin Raja, though a tributary to Mysore, avoided meeting Tipu, fearing forcible conversion when invited for a special meeting. At the same time, he continued to send his tribute to Tipu as usual while secretly assisting Travancore to build and strengthen the long defence line (Nedunkotta Fort) through Cochin territory against the Mysore army (p. 516).
INVASION OF TRAVANCORE
Travancore had an alliance (Treaty of Mangalore) with the English Company according to which “an aggression against Travancore would be viewed as equivalent to declaration of war against the English” (p. 566). The Dutch who were afraid of Tipu also agreed to transfer the Kodungallur Fort to Travancore, mainly as a strategy to involve the more powerful British in case of war with Travancore on that account. Since Cochin was considered a tributary to Mysore, Tipu objected to the transfer of Kodungallur Fort which was part of Cochin territory before its occupation by the Dutch. Therefore, Tipu Sultan demanded of Travancore to (i) allow free access to Kodungallur because the Travancore defence line had stretched and passed through Cochin territory, and (ii) surrender all Hindu Rajas and nobles from Malabar who had taken refuge in Travancore. But the demand was rejected. That was his pretext for waging a war against the Travancore State. In the meantime, the Cochin Raja, who was under the guidance and protection of the weak Dutch, openly shook off his tributary links with Tipu and aligned with Travancore after the firm offer of support and protection by the British. It may be noted here that Tipu never fought against the British in Kerala. He fought only against the Hindu Rajas. His hostilities against the British were stepped up only when his ally, the French, waged wars against the British in Europe or his own kingdom was threatened.
TIPU CRIPPLED AND DEFEATED
The Travancore Raja replied to Tipu explaining that he did what he did as per the advice of the British (p. 517). That provoked Tipu. He launched an attack against Travancore but was defeated in January, 1790. 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, and was rendered permanently lame during the counter-attack by the Travancore forces.
Tipu and his army were camping on the banks of the Alwaye river before launching the attack on the Travancore defence lines (Nedunkotta Fort). The Travancore army was no match for the huge Mysore army and the monsoon season was four or five months away. Therefore, under the guidance of Raja Kesavadas, the Prime Minister of Travancore, a temporary bund was constructed way up on the stream by a team headed by Kalikutty Nair. When the Mysore army launched its assault and Nedunkotta was penetrated, the temporary bund was breached in the midst of heavy fighting, causing an unexpected flood which drowned many Mysore soldiers and rendered the gunpowder wet and useless. The result was panic and confusion in the Mysore army. The triumphant Nair forces of Travancore inflicted heavy casualties on the- invading army. But the valiant Kalikutty Nair was also drowned in the sudden surge of water and became a martyr.
That was the first time, January 1, 1790, when Tipu Sultan tasted a humiliating defeat. It is recorded in Travancore history and 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 and left quickly (p. 518). The brave Nair soldier could have easily killed the unconscious Tipu as many Muslims have done to a Hindu in similar circumstances; but his Hindu values of life prompted him to deposit the helpless victim near the Muslim camp.
According to authentic historical records, the Nair forces of Travancore attacked the Mysore army which was crossing the defence fortification, and inflicted heavy casualties on it. The sudden and unexpected attack made the Mysore Army panicky, and 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. Later on, the Travancore forces recovered from the ditch the sword, the pallanquin, the dagger, the ring and many other personal effects of Tipu and presented them to the Dharma Raja. Some of Tipu’s personal weapons and 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).
TIPU’S SECOND DEFEAT
Tipu retreated and sent for reinforcements from Coimbatore and Srirangapatanam. He also “recalled all his Muslim troops despatched earlier to different parts of South Malabar to hunt down and forcibly circumcise the Hindus and convert them” (p. 518). After regrouping and reinforcing his army, Tipu mounted another attack in March 1790 in order to demolish the Travancore defence line. He reached upto Veropally (Varapuzha) near Alwaye. Meanwhile, following firm assurance of support and protection by the English Company who had by this time extended their military power and political influence to the entire West Coast and South India, some of the important Malabar Rajas such as Pazhassi Raja, Kolathiri Raja and Kadathanad Raja, returned to their respective kingdoms and asserted their independence from Mysore suzerainty. The Cochin Raja shook off his tributary link with Mysore. The Zamorin and the Palghat Raja were promised help by the British in their opposition to the Mysore Sultan, with the promise of restoring their lost territories to them after the defeat of Tipu. All the Hindu Rajas and nobles had thus joined hands with the British against the war efforts of Tipu mainly because of his Islamic atrocities against the Hindus in Kerala. Revolt against the Mysore occupation forces broke out all over Malabar and spread to Coorg with the return of the chieftains to their respective areas. Before the end of 1790, the British captured Palghat Fort and secured the communication channel from Coimbatore to the West Coast for assisting the Travancore forces against the Mysore army. All along, Tipu’s forces assisted by the Mappilas were devastating and plundering the entire country as per the recorded version of Martab Khan, Commander of the Mysore army.
By the time Tipu Sultan launched his second attack and demolished parts of Nedungotta in May 1790, heavy monsoon rains caused the Alwaye river to flood the countryside. Since the Mysore army was not accustomed to fighting during rainy season, it was easy for the Travancore army to defeat Tipu’s army. That was the second defeat Tipu suffered near Alwaye in 1790.
In the meantime, Lord Cornwallis, the Governor General, himself assumed the command of the British forces and pushed forward towards Srirangapatanam, headquarters of Tipu Sultan. Simultaneously, the Maratha and the Nizam’s forces also advanced from different directions. The final assault was mounted and Srirangapatanam surrounded in January-February 1791 by a combined army consisting of the British, Maratha and the Nizam’s forces. Tipu Sultan, who-rushed to Srirangapatanam, abandoning his military operations against Travancore, was forced to sign a treaty in 1792 ceding the entire West Coast and half of his other possessions to the Allies, thus relieving the Hindus of Kerala from further Islamic brutalities.
ROLE OF THE BRITISH
It may be noted here that the Maharaja of Travancore had kept the British Governor of Madras informed about the political developments and the imminent military operations of Tipu Sultan against Travancore. But the then Governor of Madras, Mr. Holland, in spite of the obligations under the Treaty of Mangalore, specifically instructed the British contingents sent to the Travancore borders, not to assist the Travancore forces in case of war. When the Governor General, Lord Cornwallis, heard about Travancore’s victory over Tipu’s forces, he assumed at first that it was due to the active assistance rendered by the English Company. But later on, he came to know about the dubious actions and the corrupt character of Mr. Holland. The Governor of Madras was believed to be in the pay of Tipu Sultan. So he was relieved of his responsibilities and Lord Cornwallis himself assumed command of the Madras Army. The military operations against Srirangapatanam culminated in Tipu’s surrender and the Treaty of Srirangapatanam signed in 1792. But as far as Tipu’s defeat and humiliation on the borders of Travancore were concerned, the British played no role; the entire credit for the victory goes to the strategy of Raja Kesava Das and the valiant soldiers of the Travancore army. The British not only did not keep their solemn promise to the Malabar kings and chieftains, but also insisted that Travancore should pay heavily for the British “help”.
DEATH OF TIPU SULTAN
The death scene of Tipu Sultan in 1799 has been completely distorted in Gidwani’s infamous novel. He projects Tipu as a hero and a martyr. But as per recorded documents and official versions, Tipu, deserted by his generals and surrounded by the Allied forces, mounted a horse and tried to escape in the night like a coward. He was hit in the crossfire between his personal guards and tile enemy forces, and fell down from the rampart in the midst of dead bodies of common soldiers. Later in the evening, a search was made for Tipu’s body with the help of torches. His body was finally recovered by one of his slaves and identified by the Khilledar (Tipu Sultan X-rayed by Dr. I.M. Muthanna, p. 386).
Another version (by C.R.N. Murthi) is that while a bullet hit Tipu who was lying helplessly in a semi-conscious state, one of his lieutenants tried to rob the emerald chain from his turban. Tipu seized a sword and cut off the leg of the robber who, in turn, shot his master dead (Tipu Sultan X-rayed by Dr. I.M. Muthanna, p. 392).
END OF THE USURPER DYNASTY
It may be recalled here that the members of the overthrown Wodeyar Royal Family were kept prisoners in their palaces all through the reign of Hyder Ali Khan and Tipu Sultan. Tipu did not kill them because of his fear of a popular uprising against him. His eleventh and only surviving son, Prince Ghulam Muhammad, was exiled by the British to Calcutta and the Mysore Kingdom which had been usurped by Hyder Ali Khan, was restored to the Wodeyars. However, Prince Ghulam Muhammad was allowed to take away with him a part of the wealth looted from Malabar and carried to Srirangapatanam by Tipu. He was also given a substantial pension by the English. Even today, the family trust created by Ghulam Muhammad out of this looted wealth is the largest Muslim trust in Calcutta.
During the notorious Padayottakkalam from 1783 to 1792, Tipu Sultan had committed a variety of atrocities against the Hindus and Christians in Kerala. Some of them as narrated by the Christian victims are vividly described by the famous traveller and historian, Fra Bartolomaco, in his well-known book, Voyage to East India. Following is the verbatim description of the atrocities by a Christian victim as given in the book:
“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 Sultan was riding on an elephant behind which another army of 30,000 soldiers followed. Most of the men and women were hanged in Calicut. First mothers were hanged with children tied to the necks of their mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move about till the bodies of the helpless victims were tom to pieces. Temples and Churches were ordered to be burnt, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Muhammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry Muhammadan women. Those Christians who refused to be ‘honoured’ with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging then and there. The above version of the atrocities was obtained from the sorrowful narration by the victims who escaped from Tipu’s army and reached Varapuzha (near Alwaye) which is the centre of Carmichael Christian Mission. I myself helped many victims to cross the Varapuzha river by boats” (Cited in Cochin History by K.P. Padmanabha Menon, p. 573).
It may be noted here that Fra Bartolomaeo was in the West Coast around March, 1790. Evidence of Tipu’s atrocities against Christians are also available from the records of churches in Mangalore, Calicut and Varapuzha.
It would be very relevant to reproduce here some of the letters which, Tipu Sultan had sent to his army commanders in different parts of Kerala and outside. Following are from the research articles published by Sardar K.M. Panicker in the Bhasha Poshinimagazine of Chingam 1099 of the Malayalam Era corresponding to August, 1923. They were obtained by him from The India Office Library in London during his intensive research regarding Kerala history. Tipu’s real character is revealed here.
1. Letter dated March 22, 1788, to Abdul Kadir: “Over 12,000 Hindus were ‘honoured’ with Islam. There were many Namboodiris (Brahmins) among them. This achievement should be widely publicised among the Hindus. There the local Hindus should be brought before you and then converted to Islam. No Namboodiri (Brahmin) should be spared. Also they should be confined there till the dress materials sent for them, reach you.”
2. Letter dated December 14, 1788, to his Army Chief in Calicut: “I am sending two of my followers with Mir Hussain Ali. With their assistance, you should capture and kill all Hindus. Those below 20 may be kept in prison and 5,000 from the rest should be killed by hanging from the tree-tops. These are my orders.”
3. Letter dated December 21, 1788, to Sheik Kutub: “242 Nairs are being sent as prisoners. Categorise them according to their social and family status. After honouring them with Islam, sufficient dress materials may be given to the men and their women.”
4. Letter dated January 18, 1790, to Syed Abdul Dulai: “With the grace of Prophet Muhammed and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only a few are still not converted on the borders of Cochin State. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I consider this as Jehad to achieve that object.”
5. Letter dated January 19, 1790, to Badroos Saman Khan: “Don’t you know that I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over 4 lakh Hindus were converted to Islam. I am now determined to march against that ‘Cursed Raman Nair’ without delay. (Reference is to Rama Varma Raja of Travancore State who was popularly known as Dharma Raja for giving shelter in his state to all those who fled Malabar.)
Thinking that he and his subjects would be soon converted to Islam, I am overjoyed and hence abandoned the idea of returning to Srirangapatanam.”
The last two letters quoted above were written after the first major defeat of Tipu Sultan near Alwaye on January 1, 1790. All these letters clearly betray the real character of Tipu Sultan whom a Kerala Muslim historian, Dr. C.K. Kareem, describes as of ‘Sufi’ traditions! If this is Sufism, what about Koranic Islam?
TEMPLES DESTROYED BY TIPU
The Mysore Gazetteer says that the ravaging army of Tipu Sultan had destroyed more than 8000 temples in South India. The temples of Malabar and Cochin principalities had to bear the brunt of plunder and destruction. The History of Cochin by K.P. Padmanabha Menon and History of Kerala by A. Sreedhara Menon narrate some of them:
“In the month of Chingam 952, Malayalam Era (corresponding to August, 1786) Tipu’s Army destroyed idols of the famous Perumanam Temple and desecrated all the temples between Trichur and Karuvannur river.
“Irinjalakuda and Thiruvanchikulam temples were also defiled and damaged by Tipu’s Army.”
Some of the other famous temples looted and desecrated were as follows: Triprangot, Thrichembaram, Thirunavaya, Thiruvannoor, Calicut Thali, Hemambika Temple, the Jain Temple in Palghat, Mammiyur, Parambatali, Venkitangu, Pemmayanadu, Tiruvanjikulam, Terumanam, Vadakhumnnathan Temple of Trichur, Belur Siva Temple, Shri Veliyanattukava, Varakkal, Puthu, Govindapuram, Keraladhiswara, Trikkandiyur, Sukapuram, Maranehei Temple of Aaalvancheiri Tambrakkal, Vengara Temple of Aranadu, Tikulam, Ramanathakra, Azhinjalam Indiannur, Mannur Narayan Kanniar and Vadukunda Siva Temple of Madai.
The Trikkavu Temple of Ponnani was converted into Military Garrison. The Christian Pilgrimage centre of Palayur Church and Varapuzha Church and Mission buildings were among the several churches destroyed by the ravaging army of Tipu.
In the case of Triprayar Temple, the main deity was shifted temporarily to Gnanappilly Mana situated in a remote village, and in the case of Guruvayoor Temple, the idol was shifted to Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple in Travancore State before the barbarian army of Tipu Sultan reached there. However, both of them were brought back and ceremoniously installed after the withdrawal of Tipu from Malabar towards the end of 1790. The Guruvayoor Temple was destroyed only partly because of the pleadings by Hydrose Kutty who was a favourite of Hyder Ali Khan besides being a devotee of Lord Krishna before his conversion. The damage that can be seen even today on the installed presiding deity of Triprayar Temple is believed to have been caused by Tipu Sultan’s army.
According to certain personal diary notes of Tipu Sultan, the Chirackal Raja offered to pay over Rs. 4 lakh in gold and silver to save the destruction of the local Hindu temples by Tipu’s army. But, true to his character, Tipu replied that “even if the entire world is offered to me, I will not desist from destroying Hindu temples” (Freedom Struggle by Sardar Panicker). It was the reply of a typical Islamic ruler!
TIPU’S LAND-GRANTS AND PUJAS
With this background in mind, we may now have a look at the circumstances that prompted the Islamic bigot, Tipu Sultan, to offer land-grants and financial assistance to some Hindu temples, particularly the Sringeri Mutt.
When the astrologers predicted an approaching malefic period from 1790 onwards and the combined forces of the British, the Nizam and the Marathas started surrounding Srirangapatanam, Tipu Sultan panicked and therefore did some good deeds – offering land-grants and even pujas and feeding Brahmin – mainly to ward off the evil effects and to get assistance from his Hindu subjects in his war efforts. He was reported to have even fallen prostrate before His Holiness Sringeri Shankaracharya and sought the latter’s pardon and blessings (Sakthan Thampuran by P. Raman Menon, and History of Mysore by Lewis Rice).
RESULT OF TIPU’S INVASION-HINDU EXODUS
The widespread atrocities committed by the Islamic tyrant and his equally cruel army of Muslim converts in Kerala, can be understood only from the authentic records available from various sources. According to them, about half the Hindu population of Kerala fled the country to the forests or Tellicherry and Travancore State. They included most of the Hindu Rajas and chieftains who could not stand upto the mighty army of barbarians and the powerful field-guns of the French. Important royal families which migrated to Travancore State were those of Chirackal, Parappanad, Ballussery, Kurumbranad, Kadathanad, Palghat and Calicut. The chieftain families which did the same were those of Punnathur, Kavalappara, Azhvancherry Thamprakkal, etc. Even the Cochin royal family moved to Vaikkom Palace near the famous Shiva Temple when Tipu’s army reached Alwaye.
Many members of the royal families of Malabar who migrated to Travancore State preferred to stay back even after the withdrawal of Tipu’s army and restoration of peace, because of their nightmarish experience and the peculiar psyche of the forcibly converted Muslim population in Malabar. The prominent royal families were (1) Neerazhi Kovilakam, (2) Gramathil Kottaram, (3) Paliyakkara, (4) Nedumparampu, (5) Chempra Madham, (6) Ananthapuram Kottaram, (7) Ezhimatoor Palace, (8) Aranmula Kottaram, (9) Varanathu Kovilakam, (10) Mavelikkara, (11) Ennakkadu, (12) Murikkoyikkal Palace, (13) Mariappilly, (14) Koratti Swaroopam, (15) Kaippuzha Kovilakam, (16) Lakshmipuram Palace, and (17) Kottapuram. The secularist admirers of Tipu Sultan have not even heard about the records available from these Malabar families.
The nightmarish results of Tipu’s invasion of Kerala have been aptly described by the former editor of Gazetteer of Kerala and the renowned historian A. Sreedhara Menon. They state as follows:
“Hindus3, especially Nairs and chieftains who resisted Islamic cruelties, were the main targets of Tipu’s anger. Hundreds of Nair women and children were abducted to Sreerangapatanam or sold as slaves to the Dutch. Nairs were hunted down and killed and also deprived of all traditional and social privileges. Thousands of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Nairs and other respected classes of Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam or driven out of their traditional ancestral homes. Thousands sought refuge in Travancore State while hundreds fled to forests and hills to escape Tipu’s atrocities which had completely shaken their sense of security.”
“The new phase of Mysore administration in Kerala resulted in unending wars. Extreme cruelties of the invading army had badly affected every section of the society, leading to the mass exodus of people from Malabar.”
“Many Hindu temples, royal houses and chieftain families were destroyed and plundered. The exodus of Brahmins and Kshatriyas who were the patrons and custodians of traditional arts and culture, resulted in stagnation in the cultural field also.”
“Many prosperous towns were destroyed while the local and foreign trade collapsed. Peasants who had to bear the brunt of army cruelties and coercive taxation policies, sought refuge in forests and mountains. In many areas, cultivation of pepper stopped resulting in the collapse of pepper trade. Consequent to the stoppage of foreign trade coupled with the precipitate fall in cultivation and local trade, economy of the country was also shattered; and major sections of the people were reduced to poverty. Thus every section of society was badly affected by the military regime of the mysore rulers.”
“Huge amount of wealth in the form of gold and silver accumulated through centuries of foreign trade, vanished from the country as a result of loot and plunder during the chaotic period of the military regime of Hyder Ali Khan and his son, Tipu Sultan. Another serious development which had long term bad effects was that Malabar Muslims joined hands with the ranks of cruel invading Mysore army and proved their loyalty to Islamic faith by committing various atrocities against Malabar Hindus. This earned them enmity of Hindus. To gain political advantage, they resorted to forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam and also widespread destruction and plunder of Hindu temples. The Mysore administration under the Muslim rulers had not only encouraged such cruelties against the Hindu population but also gave the local Muslim converts special privileges and tax exemptions, leading to serious cleavage and enmity for the first time, between the two communities, Hindus and Muslims, in Kerala.”
MAPPILA OUTRAGES OF 1921
According to the widely respected Congressman and freedom-fighter, K. Madhavan Nair, “the notorious Mappila Lahala (Khilafat Riots) of 1921 in Malabar could be easily traced to the after-effects of widespread forcible conversions and cruelties committed by Tipu Sultan during the Padayottakkalam”. Thus Tipu Sultan was considered and depicted by all the well-known historians from Kerala and elsewhere as an evil genius and Islamic tyrant, much worse than even the notorious Aurangzeb who beheaded Guru Teg Bahadur, destroyed thousands of Hindu temples including Vishwanath Temple at Kashi and Sri Krishna Temple at Mathura, and forcibly converted lakhs of Hindus in North India.
PROOFS OF ISLAMIC ATROCITIES
Tipu Sultan was like the notorious Kala Pahar – a renegade Brahmin convert from Bengal – who used to celebrate every time he killed or forcibly converted 10,000 Hindus. The darkest period in the history of Kerala was the period of Hyder Ali Khan and Tipu Sultan from 1766 to 1792 – socially, culturally and politically. Ruins of hundreds of Hindu temples destroyed by Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali Khan are the standing witnesses to their brutalities in Kerala. One also finds a heavy concentration of Mappilas along the invasion routes of Tipu’s army, including the places of its temporary occupation, as in Mangalore, Cannanoor, Ponnani, Kondotty, Malappuram, Calicut, Kodungallur, Chawakat, Alwaye, Coimbatore, and Dindigal. This is another proof of forcible circumcision and conversion of helpless Nairs, defenceless Thiyyas and poor Cherumans on a mass scale. Even today, the origin of many Kshatriya, Nair and Brahmin families settled in Travancore and Cochin can be traced back to their ancestral families in Malabar – yet another proof of the severity of Tipu’s atrocities against Hindus during his Islamic wars in Kerala.
If Tipu Sultan had done any good deeds, there should have been some references to them in the authentic historical documents of that period. The admirers of Tipu Sultan have never cited any authentic references. They quote some observations and comments made by historians or political thinkers of North India, especially of Jawaharlal Nehru University, or Aligarh Muslim University, or some other Marxist school. They have never bothered to study the voluminous documents available in Kerala, Coorg and Karnataka. Their ignorance of South Indian history and traditions is no justification for glorifying a cruel and fanatic Islamic tyrant that was Tipu Sultan. He was a despicable character, an Islamic fiend, and a national villain in the eyes of the proud Malayalees and the valiant Coorgis.
TIPU – A CURSED NAME
If Tipu Sultan was a much-loved and respected Muslim ruler, as claimed by his present-day admirers, why is it that even Muslim do not name their children as Tipu, either in Mysore or in Malabar? Obviously, the name itself is a cursed name. Anyway, that is the belief in the entire West Coast and Mysore.
If such a notorious character is presented on the official network of Doordarshan as preaching patriotism, nationalism, high principles of Hindu religion, and human welfare, that is not only a national scandal but also a provocation for the Hindu community throughout the country. It is better to bury deep and forget the repulsive memories of Tipu Sultan and save the South from communal conflicts. The Hindus of Kerala who were the victims of the Islamic atrocities of Tipu Sultan, do not want to be reminded of him, just as the Jews do not want to be reminded of Hitler, or the Romanians of Ceasesescu, or the Russians of Stalin.
DON’T FABRICATE HISTORY
Historical truth should not be allowed to be suppressed, or distorted, or falsified in order to project a national villain as a national hero. Today it is Tipu Sultan, tomorrow it will be Aurangzeb or Nadir Shah. If a renegade Indian glorifies the notorious Tipu Sultan today through a “historical novel”, tomorrow the same or some other motivated authors will produce more and better “historical novels” extolling Mahmud Ghaznavi, Malik Kafur, Aurangzeb, and Nadir Shah for a tele-serial. As Dr. I.M. Muthanna says in his famous book, Tipu Sultan X-rayed, “such dubious and mischievous historians and novelists should be prosecuted through judicial commissions so that at least in future such blatant lies and invented stories will not be sold or published as history or historical novels”. If in spite of the voluminous evidences to the contrary, the Doordarshan authorities agree to telecast anti-national and anti-Hindu serials on its official network, consequences will be terrible in the long run.
BURY THE SWORD
Every Hindu in Kerala knows that Tipu’s slogan was “Sword” (death) or “Cap” (forcible conversion). The “Sword” symbolises death to Hindus. Thus the very title of the novel and the serial, “The Sword of Tipu Sultan”, is offensive and provocative. No self-respecting Hindu will tolerate such an insult to his religion, culture and national pride.
There was only one Aurangzeb and one Nadir Shah. And also one Tipu Sultan! Project them to the local people as known from authentic historical records. Otherwise the very purpose for which the official media of Radio and Doordarshan have been set up – to disseminate and present correct information and not lies and untruths – will be defeated. Let us hope that the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will insist that the Doordarshan abides by the national motto – SATYAMEVA JAYATE.
The secularist Government and parties refuse to see reason and insist on projecting Tipu Sultan as a national hero. This shows their respect for truth, history and sentiments of the Hindu community. The rise of Hindu anger in the South, as witnessed in the recent past, is a direct result.
1. Malabar Manual by William Logan (Printed and published by Charitram Publications under the editorship of Dr. C.K, Kareem, Trivandrum).
2. Voyage to East Indies by Fra Bartolomaeo (Portuguese Traveller and Historian).
3. Historical Sketches by Col. Wilks, Vol. II.
4. A Journey from Madras through the counties of Mysore, Canara and Malabar by Dr. Francis Buchanan Hamilton, Vol. II.
5. Mysore History by Lewis Rice.
6. Selected Letters of Tipu Sultan to various Functionaries by William Kirkpatrick, published in London, 1811.
7. History of Kerala by A. Sreedhara Menon.
8. History of Cochin State by K.P. Padmanabha Menon, Mathrubhoomi Publication, 1989.
9. Cochin State Manual by C. Achuta Menon.
10. State Manual of Travancore by T.K. Velu Pillai.
11. Freedom Struggle in Kerala by Sardar K.M. Panicker.
12. Sakthan Thampuran by P. Raman Menon, Mathrubhoomi Publication, 1989.
13. Life of Raja Kesavadas by V.R. Parameswaran Pillai, N.B.S. Publications, Kottayam, 1973.
14. Chronicles and Reports originating from Trippunithura, Calicut, Palghat and other seats of Kerala Royal families and from Temples of Trichur and Carmichael Christian Mission, Varappuzha.
15. Bhasha Poshini of Chingam 10, 1099 (August, 1923), Article on Tipu Sultan by Sardar K.M. Panicker.
16. Malabar Kalapam of 1921 by K. Madhavan Nair.
17. Travancore History by P. Sankrunni Menon.
18. Tipu Sultan X-rayed by Dr. I.M. Muthanna, Usha Press, Mysore 1980.
19. Archeology of Coorg with special reference to Megaliths by Dr. Subbiah of Karnataka, Doctoral Thesis, Pune University, 1978.
20. Itihas Ani Kalpit (History and Myth) by Setu Madhavrao Pagdi.
21. Articles, literary works etc. of Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, Vadakkumkoor Raja Raja Varma, and Shri Govinda Pillai.
22. Mappila Outrage of 1921 by K. Madhavan Nair.
23. Zamorins in Kerala by K.V. Krishna Iyer.
24. Tipu Sultan by B.N. Jog.
1 Dr. Kareem is a scholar and has secured his Ph.D from Aligarh Muslim University with a research thesis on Administration of Kerala under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. He has also written a number of articles exonerating Mahmud Ghaznavi, Nadir Shah and Aurangzeb of their well-recorded atrocities, forcible conversions and temple-destructions in India. He believes that pious and magnanimous Muslim rulers, could never do such things!
2 This marriage alliance was formed by Tipu in order to gain the confidence and support to the Mappilas.
3 Irrespective of caste groups, all Hindus are generally referred to as only Nairs in all the records of Mysore and European administrations.