Tipu Sultan: Life Of The Ruler And Controversy Around Him

Tipu Sultan is popularly known as the Tiger of Mysore and Tipu Sahib

Tipu Sultan was born as Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu on November 10, 1750 in Devanahalli, present-day Bangalore. He was born to Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa and Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore. Tipu Sultan succeeded his father in 1782. The 18th century ruler is popularly known as the Tiger of Mysore and Tipu Sahib.

His reign is remembered for many technological and administrative innovations. Among them was introduction of new coin denominations and new coin types. He also introduced a luni-solar calendar.

Tipu Sultan is revered as a pioneer in the use of rocket artillery. He expanded the use of rockets, deploying as many as 5,000 rocketeers at a time. Rocket innovation during his time used iron tubes that could hold the propellant and enabled higher thrust and longer range of missiles.  He deployed the rockets against advances of British forces and their allies during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. The rockets used during the Battle of Pollilur in 1780 and Siege of Seringapatam in 1799 were said to be more advanced than the British had previously seen.

During his rule, he introduced a land revenue system which gave a boost to the Mysore silk industry and helped in establishing Mysore as a major economic power.

Tipu Sultan had great love for horticulture and gardening. His father and him have been credited for establishing the 40-acre Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bengaluru.

He fought several wars against the Marathas and the British and came out victorious. In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War between 1798-99, however, he was defeated when the forces of the British East India Company, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad came together. He was killed on May 4, 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna, present-day Mandya in Karnataka.

Tipu Jayanti And The Controversy

In 2015, the government of Karnataka, under the leadership of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, decided to celebrate his birth anniversary – describing him as one of the earliest freedom fighters.
However, this decision was caught under a major controversy.

Many critics from the right wing have come out and called Tipu Sultan an intolerant ruler who forcefully converted Hindus and persecuted Christians.

V Nagaraj, a senior RSS pracharak had said, “Tipu was a ruler of Mysore but he was also the most intolerant king recorded by history. You can go through recorded history, his own statements, and what was written on his sword. On his sword it was clearly mentioned that it was meant to kill the kafirs (infidel).”

Tipu Sultan was also described as a “brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist” by Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde of the BJP.

The Congress had scoffed at the description, saying Tipu Sultan deserves to be counted among the greatest rulers of the country.

President Ramnath Kovind, in his speech on 60th anniversary of the Vidhana Soudha, had described Tipu Sultan as a man who died a historical death. “Tipu Sultan died a historic death fighting the British,” Mr Kovind had said. To this, the BJP alleged that President Kovind’s speech was scripted by the Congress.

These war of words among the parties has resulted in a complex image of the leader. The first year of Tipu Jayanti saw violent protests in which two people died. Last year’s celebrations were rather peaceful, although protests continued with a lot of security in place.

Historian NV Narasimhaiah, in his earlier interview with NDTV had said, “Tipu brought sericulture to Karnataka, banned intoxicating liquor”. There was a practice in Kerala that lower caste women were not allowed to wear blouses. When Tipu learnt this, he supplied the blouses.”

“Tipu Sultan was known for his self-respect and patriotism. He said, ‘I can’t be a servant of the Britishers, I can’t surrender to you’,” Mr Narasimhaiah added.

The Ancient Times

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