Tipu Sultan had ruled over Malabar for about 36 years. He had introduced many administrative reforms in the land especially issues relating to land distribution. The land owning class could not tolerate his welfare approach towards the poor farmers. Hence, during the Mysore Rule, they took refuge with the Thiruvidamkur kingdom. It was natural for the oppressive landlords to hate and oppose the support of Tipu Sultan towards the oppressed class of the society.

Tipu’s army consisted of many communities and the Muslims of Malabar were active in his Kerala section of the kingdom. It is highly possible that the fearless Tipu may have met the versatile Umar Qazi, although history does not offer any solid evidence for this.

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When the oppressive British rule was imposed on Malabar in 1792, the landlords, who were earlier in exile, returned. The British was prepared to install them as full-fledged landlords. Before leaving for exile, the landlords had sold their land for a meager price to the Muslims of the place. When they returned, the land they had sold had become evergreen with coconuts and other crops. In the clashes that followed between the two parties, the British sided with the landlords. The only king who fought until death despite being sure of his defeat

The Anglo Mysore War

Two centuries ago, Tipu Sultan fell martyred in the Srirangam fort marking the end of Anglo Mysore war. He could have remained safe in the invincible fort had he stayed back. The war had begun at a time least expected by Tipu. The English East India Company had declared war at a time when they were sure of no support would come to Tipu from neither the French nor the help from Persia or Afghanistan nor any kind of assistance from the native kingdoms. They began attacking with no reason. Although East India Company and allies were confident of defeating Tipu, they were doubtful of entering the Srirangam fort. By repairing the damages without further ado, the Mysore army remained invincible in terrifying the enemies. The treacherous men in Tipu’s army

As was their usual practice, the British finally chose to bribe Tipu’s generals and guards. Although, generals close to Tipu had informed him about the treacherous men, the great patriotic son of India was not ready to accept his men as unfaithful. Hence the fort praised for its security was easily accessible to the enemies. 

Mir Sadiq, the chief conspirator, started to give away the pay to the soldiers when the enemies entered the fort. 

Allama Iqbal has referred to this traitor in the following couplet :
Jafar of Bengal and Sadiq of Deccan
Are a shame on humanity
Shame on religion and shame on country.

A heart-breaking scene

Tipu was having lunch when he heard some clatter not far away. Sensing some danger, he rushed to the scene like a fearless lion. What he saw was a heat-breaking scene – The British had entered the fort unscathed. Realizing the bitter truth that he and his men were victims of cold-blooded betrayal, the Mysore Hero could have still escaped through the secret pathways along with his family, like other kings have always done in history. Or else he could have made peace signing a treaty and thereby saving his and family’s life. But here lies the greatness of the patriotic warrior of Indian independence. In midst of battle, he was offered the chances for treaty with the British. But his chivalrous reply became the slogan of bravery for all time to come : “One day’s life of a lion is preferable to hundred years’ of a jackal”.  

The sword of Tipu Sultan

What inspired Bhagvan Gidwani to write ‘ The sword of Tipu Sultan’ was this unfailing courage of Tipu. This is how he explains the reason for conducting research on Tipu and writing his books: A French research colleague came running from the rain to stand under he same umbrella while coming out of the Indian House in London. When Gidwani solicited him about the topic of research, the colleague replied, ‘my purpose is to explore history in search of a king who fought until death in spite of being certain of his defeat. When the author asked him to name the kings he had found, the reply he received was astonishing: “What I understand from my studies is that there was only one king who fulfilled such a condition: It was your Tipu Sultan.’

Struck with pride and embarrassment (embarrassed because Tipu was virtually unknown in his homeland), Gidwani set out to study on this brave king with an open-minded approach. Despite the author’s claim his book is not a historic novel, the work has received extraordinary acceptance from the laymen as well scholars.

The author is not a partisan of Mysore sentiment. His father was the president of Hindu Maha Sabha and as himself an officer of high standing. He was successful in rightly identifying the distorted facts the historical facts penned down by Anglo historians and those who followed them to deliberately malign the Mysore rulers. His victory lies in overcoming these distorted tales and rewriting the true story based on authentic records.

Tipu: A large hearted ruler

Gidwani tells us that Tipu was never a fanatic, neither a temple demolisher nor a bloody dictator rather he was a large-hearted ruler who practiced religious tolerance, respected all religions and its institutions alike and also gave grants for building their places of worship. Gidwani, a Hindu devotee and leader, need not take the sides with Haider Ali or Tipu Sultan. 

But unfortunately, many of us have not yet fully reckoned to the accounts of this sincere historian. About 35 editions have come out of this bestseller book. A Calicut based publisher has also brought out a Malayalam version.

Even the so-called historians are adopting a fascist communal approach towards these facts on the great Hero of Indian freedom struggle. Tipu Sultan, who never destroyed a single temple, gave hundreds of acres of land as grants to temples and religious heads.

Had Tipu been a fanatic

Had Tipu Sultan been a cruel and fanatic king, people would only be happy on his death. Instead, as witnesses Lieutenant Colonel C. Patrick and Lieutenant Colonel Beatson reports, both the sides of the road were filled with crowd, weeping and beating their chests, mourning the death of their great leader. The two officers also say that the funeral procession had brought the traffic to a standstill.

The Legendary Tipu in the hearts of Mysoreans

‘As Tipu Sultan was buried, the atmosphere blackened and dark clouds hung over the place. A fierce storm followed and heavy thunders terrified the area. Three officers were killed hit by thunder’ says Chric Patrick and Beatson.

Due to this incident, the Mysore residents attributed legendary devotion to Tipu Sultan. His tomb in Lal Bagh is visited by hundreds of devotees, the majority of whom are Hindus and other communities.

Wanted: Humans with rationality.

We should approach these fats with an open mind. When we see facts as facts, we are only being just to our homeland and its people. It adds to our national integrity. 

Finally, it is not the politicians or their vested interests that should judge these matters, rather the human beings, who have not lost their rationality.

This is an abridged version of an essay by CK Kareem, a senior historian. Edited by Jaihoon.

The last will of Tipu Sultan – Allama Muhammad Iqbal