Tuesday 10 November 2015

Tipu Jayanti Celebrations

VHP activists are protesting against the Tipu Jayanti celebrations in Madikeri, Karnataka. One person is said to have died

 What is the truth about Tipu Sultan ? Was he secular or communal ? Before we consider this question we must know some facts.

The initial Muslim invaders who came into India no doubt broke a lot of Hindu temples, like for instance, Mahmood Ghazni who broke the Somnath temple.

However, their descendants ( e.g.Akbar, who was not an invader, though his grandfather Babur was ) who became local Muslim rulers in India, far from breaking temples used to give grants to temples and celebrated Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali.

 The descendants of those invaders who became local Muslim rulers ruled over populations of which about 80-90% were Hindus. They knew that if they broke temples there would be revolts and turmoils which no ruler wants.   So in their own interest almost every one of the local Muslim rulers fostered communal harmony, they gave grants to Hindu temples, they celebrated Hindu festivals, e.g. the Mughal Emperors ( there is a controversy about Aurangzeb, about whom I have written a blog which may be seen on justicekatju.blogspot.in ), the Nawabs of Avadh, Murshidabad, Arcot, etc.  For instance, the Nawab of Avadh used to organize Ramleela, and celebrate Holi and Diwali.  Tipu Sultan used to give annual grants to 156 Hindu Temples, his Prime Minister was a Hindu called Punaiya his commander-in-chief, was a Hindu called Krishna Rao.  Tipu Sultan sent 30 respectful letters with grants to the Shankaracharya of Shringeri (see online ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’ which is a speech given by Prof. B. N. Pandey in  the Rajya Sabha in 1977).  They were almost all secular rulers.

            Now the first part, that the Muslim invaders broke temples, has been mentioned in our history books, but the second part, which is of ten times longer duration, that the descendants of these invaders, who were local rulers used to foster communal harmony, they used to give land grants for building Hindu temples, they celebrated and organized Hindu festivals, etc. has been deliberately suppressed by the British from our history books, the whole game being divide and rule to create communal hatred and make Hindus and Muslims fight each other.

 If one goes online and reads the speech ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’ by Professor B. N. Pandey, one will read how the British policy was to make Hindus and Muslims inimical to each other.  For instance, Dr. Pandey has mentioned that in 1928 when he was a Professor of History in Allahabad University some students came to him with a book written by one Professor Harprasad Shastri, Professor of Sanskrit of Calcutta University in which it was mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000 Brahmins to convert to Islam otherwise they will be killed, and those 3000 Brahmins committed suicide rather than becoming Muslims. On reading this Professor B. N. Pandey wrote to Professor Harprasad Shastri asking him the source of his information?  Prof. Shastri wrote back that his source of information was the Mysore Gazetteer.  Then Prof.  Pandey wrote to Prof. Shrikantia, Professor of History in Mysore University asking him whether it is correct that in Mysore Gazetteer it is mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000 Brahmins to convert to Islam. Prof. Shrikantia  wrote back that this is totally false, he had worked  in this field and there is no such mention in the Mysore Gazetteer, rather the correct version was just the reverse, namely, that  Tipu Sultan used to give annual grants to 156 Hindu Temples, he used to send grants to the  Shankaracharya of Shringeri, etc.  Far from being communal, Tipu was thoroughly secular.

In 1791, Parshuram Bhave (Bhau), the Maratha General marched on Tipu’s richest province, Bednur. Here, Maratha horsemen under the command of Raghunathrao Patwardhan plundered the Shringeri Monastery of all of it’s valuables, killed and wounded many people and desecrated and committed sacrilege at the Holy shrine of Sri Sharada Devi.

 Shocked by the Maratha vandalism, the then Jagadguru of Shringeri, Sri Sacchidananda Bharati III was forced to leave the place and live at Karkala, another temple town about 50 miles south of Shringeri. Helpless and despondent in the face of this aggression, the first ever recorded sack of the temple town, The Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu Sultan for help.

 Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid and wrote to the Shankaracharya ::

"People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kali age in accordance with the Sanskrit verse: "Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudadbhir-anubhuyate" (People do evil deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying)."
Tipu Sultan immediately ordered his army to repulse the Maratha invaders, and sent to the Jagadguru Shankaracharya a letter dated July 6, 1791, which is given below :.

The Honourable Shankaracharya Shringeri Shri Sacchidananda Swamigal, bestowed with Shrimat Param Hansa.

We received your letter and have understood the gravity of the matter. We have noted that the cavalry of the Maratha king attacked Sringeri and beat the Brahmins and the other people, removed the idol of the Goddess Sharda Ammanavaru (Mother) and also looted the valuables belonging to the Shringeri Math. We have also noted that four disciples belonging to the Shringeri Math had to take shelter at Karkala and that the idol of Shringeri Sharda Ammanavaru was consecrated in ancient times, and if this idol has to be consecrated again, the support of the government is needed. The reconsecration of the deity will be performed along with mass feeding by requisite amount provided by the Government.

Those who have committed such atrocities will suffer the consequences as stated in the Sanskrit shloka  ‘People do evil smiling but will suffer the penalty in torments of agony – Hasadhvi Kriyathe Karma Raudhrir Anubhuyathe’.

On hearing of the attack, the Sarkar has sent an elephant with it’s Mahavat, Ahammed. The Asaf of the city has been ordered to get a palanquin made for the Math and pay 200 rahathis in cash and 200 rahathis for paddy for the consecration of the idol of Sri Sharada Ammanavauru, and carry out appropriate measures for the consecration of the idol of the Ammanavaru idol. He shall send me a report immediately. .

We are sending a heavy sari (worked in gold) and a blouse piece for the Goddess Sharada Ammanavaru, and a pair of shawls for you. Please write on receiving them. An order is sent to the Asaf of the town to deal with the problems of the Math. Contact him.
Date 26, month Samarisala Babarabadhi, Year San 1219, Mahammad, Virodhikrita Samvat Ashadha Bahula 12. Writer Narasaiah   Signed Nabi Malik

This particular incident that transpired during the 3rd Anglo Mysore war is well documented and known to historians and laymen alike.   A bunch of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which were exchanged between Tipu Sultan's court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore

Tipu’s close relationship with Shringeri did not begin with the sack of Shringeri by the Marathas but had begun much earlier in 1785 A.D. when Tipu issued a ‘Nirupa’ – Decree regranting the Shringeri Matha with a new ‘patte’ or ‘document’ which confirmed that Shringeri would continue as time honoured ‘Sarvamanya’ and free from all trouble. ‘Sarvamanya’ meant that the territory under it’s jurisdiction was tax free and it would enjoy all rights with regard to taxation and law within it’s territory.

Just prior to the actual  sacking of the town and Math , Tipu had been exchanging letters (April, June 1791) with the Jagadguru assuring him that the Mysorean army was in battle with the enemy who had ‘transgressed the boundaries of his kingdom and assaulted the people’.  Tipu firmly believed that the blessings of the Shankaracharya would result in bringing happiness and prosperity in his kingdom. In one of such letters Tipu writes that it is because of saints like the Shankaracharya in his kingdom that there is prosperity, there are good rains and harvests, etc.

There is a huge ancient Vishnu Hindu temple, built around 1000 A.D. known as the Ranganath Swamy Temple near Tipu's palace at Seringapatam, and I have personally visited it. If Tipu was communal, would he not have demolished it ? Instead he gave many costly gifts to it.

Tipu Sultan's treasurer was Krishna Rao, Shamaiya Iyengar was his Minister of Post and Police, his brother Ranga Iyengar was also an officer, and Purnaiya held the very important post of "Mir Asaf". Moolchand and Sujan Rai were his chief agents at the Mughal court, and his chief "Peshkar", Suba Rao, was also a Hindu.

The Editor of Mysore Gazetteer Prof. Srikantaiah has listed 156 temples to which Tipu regularly paid annual grants. There is such evidence as grant deeds, and correspondence between his court and temples, and his having donated jewellery and deeded land grants to several temples.. Between 1782 and 1799 Tipu Sultan issued 34 "Sanads" (deeds) of endowment to temples in his domain, while also presenting many of them with gifts of silver and gold plate. The Srikanteswara Temple in Nanjangud still possesses a jewelled cup presented by the Sultan. He also gave a greenish linga; to Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatnam and donated seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner. This temple was hardly a stone's throw from his palace from where he would listen with equal respect to the ringing of temple bells and the muezzin's call from the mosque; To the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale he gifted four cups, a plate and spitoon in silver.

 B.A. Saletare has described Tipu Sultan as a defender of the Hindu dharma, who also patronised other temples including one at Melkote, for which he issued a Kannada decree that the Shrivaishnava invocatory verses there should be recited in the traditional form. The temple at Melkote still has gold and silver vessels with inscriptions indicating that they were presented by the Sultan. Tipu Sultan also presented four silver cups to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale

 Now one can imagine what mischief has been done.  Deliberately our history books have been falsified so that the mind of a child at an impressionable age is poisoned so that a Hindu child should start hating Muslims in India, and a Muslim child in Pakistan should start hating Hindus. The poison put in the mind of an impressionable age is very difficult to remove at a later age.  All our history books have been falsified in this manner.

Why was Tipu, a staunch secular king, later demonised and branded as communal? Obviously because he fought against the British to the last. It is British historians and their faithful Indian followers who have done this mischief.

 It is time we re-write our history books correctly and show that in fact upto 1857 there was no communal problem at all in India.  A composite culture in India had developed by then.  Hindus used to participate in Eid and Muharram, and Muslims used to participate in Holi, Diwali etc.

Communalism was injected into our body politic by the British policy of divide and rule, after suppressing the Great Mutiny of 1857 in which Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the British. Details of how this was done have been given in my article ' The Truth about Pakistan ' (which can be seen online), and that policy is being continued by certain vested interests even after 1947


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  2. The Nizam of Hyderabad also regularly sent tributes to the Ram Temple at Bhadrachalam and also installed many Kayasth Hindus in zamindaris, etc. But at the same time he suppressed the native languages, favoured his own community and made Urdu compulsory and only medium for all. And we know the anti-Nizam struggle in Telangana was not only economic but socio-religious too, at least in the beginning. It was more clearly linguistic. And Nizam of Hyderabad and so his people here generally hated Tipu Sultan and fought with him. If the French were stronger by that time, Tipu would have certainly taken the French aid against Nizam. Tipu, as you have quoted, might have revered and helped Hindu religious priests in his own region but as all kings on invasions he certainly committed atrocities against the Hindus, Christians and Mappillas (Muslims included) of Kerala and the adjoining Mangalore. So you cannot say Tipu was communal outright but also cannot say he was secular. But to the credit of Tipu it seems he was influenced by French revolutionary ideals in his last days. Be that as it may, celebrating Tipu Jayanti officially is not warranted and that is just a vote bank political decision by the incumbent Congress government there. The celebrations should have been left to those who admire Tipu to be done privately.

  3. Comments about maratha king is totally false. Maratha were the first to fight against invaders and monsters like Aurangzeb. How they can invade shrungeri muth.its false logically

  4. I don't think comments against Maratha invaders are false. Maratha bands ravaged the South and also Bengal with extreme ferocity and cruelty and extorted Chauth and Sardeshmukhi taxes from those regions as compromise moneys. That is a well know fact of history. So in that course they might have raided Shringeri Math also. In olden times every invader raided the rich temples of other states and regions and looted them. In fact some idols were uprooted, brought to the invader's region and installed there even!
    As for Tipu Sultan's atrocities, this piece may be revealing: http://www.bangalorefirst.in/?p=15413

  5. So, the following reports are false?

    1. "Kill all non-believer" was written on his sword.
    2. He killed lot of people after capturing.
    3. He forced lot of people to convert.

    I wish somebody answer.

  6. Mr Katju should read this post also: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/why-the-coorg-are-upset-with-tipu-sultan-and-the-karnataka-governments-efforts-to-honour-him-2502144.html

  7. Let us not Resurrect the Past at the cost of Present. Let us be rational in our thought and deed. 'Hatred does not cease by hatred it ceases by loving.'

  8. A comment on a thread: In 1788, Tipu marched into Coorg and burnt down entire
    towns and villages. Mir Hussein Kirmani, Tipu’s courtier-cum-biographer
    describes how the raid resulted in the burning down of villages in
    Kushalapura (today’s Kushalnagar), Talakaveri, Madikeri, and other
    places. Additionally, Tipu in a letter to the Nawab of Kurnool, Runmust
    Khan describes how he took 40,000 Coorgis as prisoners and forcibly
    converted them to Islam and “incorporated them with our Ahmadi corps.”
    Already a thinly-populated country, Tipu’s brutal raid followed by
    large-scale prisoner-taking depopulated Coorg of its original
    inhabitants to a severe extent. To Islamise Coorg, he transported about
    7,000 Muslim families belonging to the Shaikh and Sayyid sects to Coorg
    from elsewhere.

    The intensity of Tipu’s raid was so terrifying that
    hundreds of temple priests fled to Mangalore along with their families.
    Worship came to a permanent halt in several temples. Some temples were
    covered with leaves in order to conceal their presence. The Maletirike
    Bhagavati temple at Virajpet is a good example of this. Equally, the
    renowned Omkareshwara temple in Madikeri was about to meet the same fate
    — the then ruler at Madikeri panicked at the approach of Tipu, removed
    its tower and replaced it with a dome so that it looked like a mosque
    from afar. The temple continues to retain this appearance till date. In
    his raid of Napoklu near Madikeri, Tipu destroyed the temples in the
    surrounding villages of Betu and Kolakeri.

    Remnants of Tipu Sultan’s savage raid of Coorg survive even
    today — the forcibly converted Coorgis are today known as Kodava
    Mapilas (Coorg Muslims) whose last/family names are still Hindu —
    representative examples are surnames like Kuvalera, Italtanda,
    Mitaltanda, Kuppodanda, Kappanjeera, Kalera, Chekkera, Charmakaranda,
    Maniyanda, Balasojikaranda, and Mandeyanda.

  9. 2. Like in Coorg, remnants of Tipu’s disastrous campaigns in
    the Malabar can be seen even today in the region. The city that bore the
    brunt of his excesses in the Malabar is Kozhikode (Calicut). William
    Logan’s Malabar Manual, the Malabar Gazetter, the
    Portuguese missionary Fr Bartholomew’s Voyage to East Indies, the German
    missionary Guntest and accounts by various contemporary British
    military officers contain first-hand accounts of how Tipu razed the city
    to the ground. An excerpt from Bartholomew provides us a representative

    First a corps of 30,000 barbarians who butchered
    everybody on the way… followed by the field-gun unit… Tipu 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 their children tied to their necks. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied
    the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the
    elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn
    to pieces. Temples and churches were ordered to be burned down,
    desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry
    Mohammadans and 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 and reached Varappuzha, which is the centre of Carmichael
    Christian Mission. I myself helped many victims to cross the Varappuzha
    River by boats.

    The devastation in Calicut was so comprehensive that it
    changed the character of the place forever. Calicut was home to more
    than 7,000 Brahmin families. Thanks to Tipu, more than 2,000 of these
    were wiped out, and the remaining fled to the forests. In the words of
    the German missionary Guntest, “[A]ccompanied by an army of 60,000, Tipu
    Sultan came to Kozhikode [Calicut] in 1788 and razed it to the ground.
    It is not possible even to describe the brutalities committed by that
    Islamic barbarian from Mysore."

    3. Tipu Sultan in letters to Syed Abdul Dulai and his officer Budruz Zaman Khan respectively gloats thus:

    "With the grace of prophet mohammed and allah, almost
    all Hindus in Calicut are converted to islam. Only on the borders of
    Cochin State a few are still not converted. I am determined to convert
    them also very soon. I consider this as Jehad to achieve that object.

    Your two letters, with the enclosed memorandums of the
    Naimar (or Nair) captives, have been received. You did right in ordering
    a hundred and thirty-five of them to be circumcised, and in putting
    eleven of the youngest of these into the Usud Ilhye band (or class) and
    the remaining ninety-four into the Ahmedy Troop…

    I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and
    over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam. I am now determined to
    march against the cursed Raman Nair."

    4. from Life of Tipu Sultan published by the Pakistan Administrative Staff College, Lahore in 1964:

    Tipu imprisoned and forcibly converted more than a lakh
    Hindus and over 70,000 Christians in the Malabar region (they were
    forcibly circumcised and made to eat beef). Although these conversions
    were unethical and disgraceful, they served Tipu’s purpose. Once all
    these people had been cut off from their original faith, they were left
    with no option but to accept the very faith to which their ravager
    belonged, and they began to educate their children in Islam. They were
    later enlisted in the army and received good positions. Most of them
    morphed into religious zealots, and enhanced the ranks of the faithful
    in Tipu’s kingdom. Tipu’s zeal for conversion was not limited only to
    the Malabar region. He had spread it all the way up to Coimbatore.

  10. Why is it one man why isn't it a hindu died why double standards sir please behave like a superhuman why isint it communal why not blame the k government please sir.when are the others returning their awards.

  11. Sir, this is a very important material in this situation. Please allow me to translate it in tamil and post in my blog

  12. Sir, Requesting you to read about Tipu's dual personality on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipu_Sultan

    An excerpt:
    "Historian C. Hayavadana Rao wrote about Tipu in his encyclopaedic court history of Mysore. He asserted that Tipu's "religious fanaticism and the excesses committed in the name of religion, both in Mysore and in the provinces, stand condemned for all time. His bigotry, indeed, was so great that it precluded all ideas of toleration". He further asserts that the acts of Tipu that were constructive towards Hindus were largely political and ostentatious rather than an indication of genuine tolerance."

  13. A very timely and needed article by one of our Respected Ex-Supreme Court Judge Katju Sir. Thanks for that.

    Dear Friends,
    Firstly we all believe that History is something of the past and not being witnessed as a first person by those reading it now.
    We need to understand that ‘History’ is written by ‘n’ number of individuals with different perspectives, sources (they use to write), intentions (good or bad), prejudices (in some cases) and intellect which often needs to be subjected to critics, scrutiny and verification by later generations and more so in case where the individual whose history we read happens to be a controversial or a sensitive figure !!

    Of course, History is no Science or Astronomy where the facts claimed by one can be verified with some litmus test in a lab or with a telescope on the tower.
    If we are really seriously to form an honest opinion on any claim in History…….it is incumbent on us to read as many sources in History available for that claim before forming our own opinion and conclusions.

    Relying on some tit bits or only ‘selected few’ versions of Historic narrations found somewhere on internet or news or fed by some hate mongers, it could always potentially lead us to biased conclusions ……giving ourselves easily into the hands of those who used this tool of History manipulation to serve their own communal agendas.

    In one of the session I happened to attend of Dr. Ram Puniyani (former IIT-Bombay professor & renowned social activist), he explained this very phenomenon of how History has been the play of those communal/divisive forces (ex: for British in pre-independence era and other fascist forces in post-independent era) where even the general incidents and stories (in History) are being painted in a communal color just to get the political and divisive benefits out of it. He said they intentionally mix politics and religion ignoring all other facts.

    Since, there is a huge percentage of masses, which tend to go by these misconstrued narratives or tit bits and lack the appetite of research before forming any opinion, end up serving the purpose of those who intended the same.
    I believe that we being an educated lot in largely illiterate population in our country, it will be un-intellectual to base all our opinion on some Wikipedia tit bits (knowing well that even you or me can edit it) or some other versions.
    (Also it is not rocket science to understand…..those writing books of history can ofcourse try to propagate their versions easily through internet sources like Wikipedia,websites etc. ]
    Like ex….It is very easy for them to tone down a fact about gesture of a genuine tolerance or being constructive, as being as ill-intentioned and political in nature….just because they can no more deny it.

    So lastly…. I personally don’t believe much on harping too much or defending blindly any figure just because He/She happens to share the same faith as I do.

    To me priority is on discussing and solving real societal issues which are more pertinent and relevant to all of us living as one Indian community. Employment, Corruption Free, Safety, Peace and Harmony, Pluralism, Mutual Respect ….is something we all NEED to survive and effect us on DAILY BASIS. Not what Tipu or some Historic figure did or didn’t did.
    We have to get out of this suicidal caste/religion politics using history to our political benefit while ignoring real questions of human rights, economic development, public health and a million others.