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Tipu Sultan:A Great Vedic Muslim

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The story of a Patriotic Martyr

By Dr. B. N. Pande


"...the Prime Minister of Tipu Sultan was a Brahmin, named Purnea

and his Commander-in-Chief was also a Brahmin, named Krishna Rao. He

supplied me with the list of 156 termples to which Tipu Sultan used

to pay annual grants."


In 1927-28 I was doing some research on Tipu Sultan at Allahabad.

One day some office-bearers of Anglo-Bengali college students' union

approached me with a request to inaugrate their history Association.

They had directly come from the college with their text - books.

Incidently, I glanced through their text book. I opened the chapter

on Tipu Sultan. One of the sentences that struck me deeply, was:

"Three thousand Brahmins commited sucide as Tipu wanted to convert

them forcibly into the fold of Islam"

The author of the text-book was Mahamahopadhyaya Dr.Har Prasad

Shastri, Head ofi the Department of Sanskrit, Calcutta University. I

immediateiy wrote to Dr. Shastri for the source of his information.

After many reminders came the reply that he had taken the fact from

the Mysore Gazetteer. The Mysore Gazetteer was not available either

at AIlahabad or at the imperial Library, Calcutta. So I wrote to Sir

Brijendra Nath Seal, the then Vice Chancellor of Mysore Univeisity

seeking a confirmation of the statement of Dr. Shastri. Sir

Brijendra Nath Seal forwarded my letter to Prof. Srikantia, who was-

then busy editing a new edition of the Mysore Gazetteer.

Prof. Srikantia informed me that "the episode of the suicide of

3,000 Brahmins is nowhere in the Mysore Gazetteer and he, as student

of history of Mysore, was quite certain that no such incident had

taken place." He further informed me that the Prime Minister of Tipu

Sultan was a Brahmin, named Purnea and his Commander-in-Chief was

also a Brahmin, named Krishna Rao. He supplied me with the list of

156 termples to which Tipu Sultan tssd to pay annual grants. He sent

me 30 photostat copies of Tipu Sultan's letters addressed to the

then Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math with whom Tipu Sultan

and his father Haider Ali had very cordial relations. Tipu Sultan,

as was customary with the rulers of Mysore, daily visited the temple

of Lord Ranganatha located inside the fort of Srirangapatnam before

taking his breakfast.

Dr. Shastri's book was approved as a course book af history for High

Schools in Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, U P, M P and Rajasthan, I

approached the then Vice - Chancellor of Calcutta University and

sent him al the correspondence that I had exchanged with Dr.

Shastri, with Mysore University, Vice Chancellor, Sir Brijendra Nath

Seal, and Prof. Srikantia, with the request to take proper action

against the offending passages in the text-book. Prompt came the

reply from the Vice-Chancellor, that the history book by

Dr.H.P.Shastri has been put out of course.

IN YOUNG INDIA, edited by Mahatma Gandhi dated January 23, 1930, on

page 31 appeared the foltowing item :

Fatehali Tipu Sultan of Mysore is represented by foreign historians

as a fanatic who oppressed his Hindu subjects and converted them to

Islam by force. But he was nothing of the kind. On the other hand

his relations with his Hindu subjects were of a perfectly cordial

nature. The Archeaological Department of Mysore State is in

possession of over thirty letters by Tipu to the Shankaracharya of

Shringeri Math. These letters are written in the Kannada characters.

ln one of the letters written to the Shankaracharya in 1793 Tipu

acknowledges receipt of the Shankaracharya's letter and requests him

to perform TAFAS (i.e., to undergo self - purificatory discipline)

and to offer prayers for the welfare and prosperity of his own realm

as for that of the whole universe. And finaly he asks the

Shankaracharya to return to Mysore, for the presence of good men in

a country brings down rain and makes for good cultivations and

plenty. This letter deserves to be printed in letters of gold in

every history of India, and no apology need therefore be offered for

reproducing in Devanagari characters the original Kannada which is

full of Sanskrit words, some of these being printed here :

Tipu made lavish gifts of land and other things to Hindu temples and

temples dedicated to Shri Venkataramanna, Shrinivas and Shri

Ranganath and located in the vicinity of Tipu's palaces still bear

testimony to his broad-minded toleration, and indicate that great

martyr at any rate for a real martyr he was in the cause of liberty

was not disturbed in his prayers by the Hindu bells calling people

to worship the same Allah whose devotee he was.

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