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Who is afraid of Tipu Sultan?

January 26, 2013

Ravi said the state government is not ready to name the university after Tipu Sultan. If they are going to set up a non-religious university then the name should be non-controversial…. Like British, Tipu is also a foreigner for us and we will not accept his name.

CT Ravi, higher education minister, Karnataka, Jan 25, 2013, 16:38 IST , DNA)

The fast changing political developments in Karnataka has rather overshadowed the manner in which Tipu Sultan- who died fighting the Britishers at Srirangapatna (4 th May 1799) – is being denigrated by people owing allegiance to Sangh Parivar. The latest in series happens to be the higher education minister of Karnataka Mr C T Ravi, who claimed that for them ‘Tipu is also a foreigner’ like the British.

The immediate context of this Tipu bashing is the decision by the central ministry of minority affairs to set up ‘Tipu Sultan University’ at Srirangapatna. In fact, it’s the name which has raised the hackles of them, though they are not averse to another university being set up in Karnataka. As a recap of the unfolding events it may be underlined here that two months back the ministry decided to set up such universities under ‘public-private partnership’ in five different states – Karnataka, Jammu Kashmir, Bihar, Bengal and Madhya Pradesh – under article 31 of the constitution (rights to minorities to start educational institutions) where fifty per cent seats would be reserved for religious minorities – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists etc. A panel was also constituted to prepare a feasibility report for the five universities, draw up the syllabus and submit it to the ministry by February.

A section of the media has also faithfully joined this denigration of Tipu Sultan ‘Tiger of Mysore’ – as he is widely known – who was a ruler much ahead of his times. A sample of this bias could be had from a recent incident on a Kannada TV channel which held panel discussion on the Tipu University issue. While Pramod Muthalik – of the SriRam Sene fame, Chidananda Murthy and advocate Devaraju spoke on behalf of Sangh Parivar, C S Dwarakanath and Murulasiddappa spoke in favour of Tipu Sultan. The TV show anchor was so partial that he did not give any opportunity to Dwarakanath and Murulasiddappa to speak at all and he ended the programme by letting Muthalik and Chidananda Murthy have the last word.  It was a different matter that Dwarakanath and Murulasiddappa stated in the end that no matter who opposes the proposal, the said University will come up.

People conversant with Karnataka politics can recall that it is not for the first time that Sangh people are doing this. Few years back when BJP was sharing power with JD(S) in the state, the then higher education minister D.H. Shankarmurthy – a RSS Swayamsevak from his school days – had similarly tried to recast Karnataka history books in the Sangh Parivar’s mould and had announced his move to obliterate the great Tipu Sultan’s name from the pages of Kannada history. Under the false pretext that Tipu did not give due importance to the Kannada language and rather promoted Persian language he had asserted that Tipu Sultan should not be glorified. ‘Most of the history text books in the country depict Tipu Sultan, Akbar, Aurangazeb Alexander and others as patriots but the real ones are never brought to light,’ Murthy had observed then. For him the alleged neglect of Kannada language by Tipu Sultan was reason enough that the great warrior of all times who even sacrificed his children to end colonial rule be obliterated from Karnataka’s history. The pretext of anti-Kannada bias in Tipu Sultan ran hollow when one knew that 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.

For C.T. Ravi today or for Shankarurthy few years back it was minor matter that Tipu sensed the designs of the British and tried to forge broader unity with the domestic rulers and even tried to connect with French and the Turks and the Afghans to give a fitting reply to the hegemonic designs of the British. Definitely the Sangh Swayamsevaks do not want the future generations to even know that Tipu defeated the British army twice with his superior planning and better techniques and who died in the battlefield itself fighting the Britishers again with his sword in his hand.

It may be recalled here that Tipu was an apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity, was fond of new inventions, and is called innovator of the world’s first war rocket, who felt inspired by the French Revolution and despite being a ruler called himself Citizen and even planted the tree of ‘Liberty’ in his palace. As an aside it may be mentioned here that Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the then President of India, in his Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture in Bangalore called Tipu Sultan the innovator of the world’s first war rocket. Two of these rockets, captured by the British at Srirangapatna, are displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum in London.

Of course the move to declare him a ‘foreigner’ or a failed attempt to obliterate the name of the warrior from history books, whose martyrdom fighting the Britishers preceded the historic revolt of the 1857 by around 50 years does not appear surprising as far as the whole trajectory of the RSS is concerned. The eighty plus year old history of the ‘cultural organisation’ is replete with facts which show how they have discovered cowardice as a virtue. Thousands of pages have been written about the way they kept themselves aloof from the historic anti-colonial struggle of the Indian people under the excuse that they want to unify the Hindus. Enough has been written on the way they tried to break the wider anti-colonial unity by pitting Hindus against Muslims. Perhaps it is high time to emphasise the fact the ideologues of the Hindutva brigade were ‘pioneers’ as far as claiming that Hindus and Muslims were two nations.

At times it is baffling to know the extent to which the falsification of history has been attempted to suit the ‘divide’ and ‘rule policy of the Britishers. In one of his speeches given in 1977 in the Rajya Sabha, titled ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’  Professor B. N. Pandey, Professor of History in Allahabad University, who later became Governor of Orissa, had narrated his experience. In his speech he mentioned how way back in 1928 “..[w]hen 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 on what basis have you written this? What is the source of your information? Prof. Harprasad Shastri wrote back that the source of information is 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 Shringheri, etc.”

It is now history how the colonials distorted our history to suit their imperial interests. One very well knows they called our uprisings as mutinies, our heroes as villains, and our freedom fighters as usurpers and terrorists. It is understandable why the colonialists reviled Tipu, who proved to be a formidable rival who refused to become a tributary of the British Company. The move to declare him a ‘foreigner’ and refusing to honour the sacrifices he made fighting the Britishers is just another indication that Sangh Parivar has taken it upon themselves the task left unfinished by the colonialists.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Rajab permalink
    January 27, 2013 4:21 AM

    There is another side to the debate by the Mangalorian Catholics —There are stories/memories that are related to his destroying Milagres Church and also persecuting the Christians/Catholics. These are of course kept alive by word of mouth.

  2. Ramesh Narendrarai Desai permalink
    January 27, 2013 6:30 AM

    It is a good thing if one more University comes up. Karnataka should not be touchy about names. A rose smells equally sweet even if you call it by another name. At the same time, the centre perhaps is not too eager to set up the University. Why else would they insist on a controversial name ? This is the bane of our country. We simply do not want to progress but we want to make a show of it. We also want to blame someone else for not progressing !The ;atter becomes more important for scoring brownie points. To hell with politics Now will both of you get down to setting up a University, the more important task ? Bury the hatchet, whichever way you will.

  3. January 27, 2013 11:27 AM

    For MR. D.H. Shankarmurthy then higher education minister(?)…… If you are educated then read if you can, a article on Trilingual (Persian, Kannad, Marathi) HUKUMNAMA of Tipu Sultan in Prof. A. R. Kulkarni’s Book “Exploration in the Deccan History” .

  4. Nitin permalink
    January 27, 2013 12:51 PM

    cut the crap, just name the University based on which city/town/village it is located in.

    Primary purpose of a university is meant to be education, and is not to be a memorial.

    We have enough memorials in this country.

  5. January 27, 2013 2:05 PM

    Ya, BJP-RSS guys love Scindias but not Tipu Sultan. As far as history is concerned the famous poem’s line ‘Angrezon ke dost Scindia ne Gwalior nagri chhodi thi’, was removed from the text books in Madhya Pradesh recently. The poem was Khoob ladi mardani voh to Jhansi wali rani thi….

  6. INDUS permalink
    January 27, 2013 8:47 PM

    will State of Jammu And Kashmir name their university after the name of “MISR DIWAN CHAND”(Punjabi Hindu Brahmin), who conquered Kashmir in 1819 from Afghans and ended 480 years of Islamic rule in Kashmir.(1339-1819). Misr Diwan Chand was he war minister(commander in chief) of Maharaja Ranjit Singh from 1817-1825(His death due to choldera). Will Pakistan govt name Multan University after MISR DIWAN CHAND(once again he is the same guy who conquer Multan in 1818), will Peshawar Univ be named after Misr Diwan Chand-he conquered Peshawar in 1823 leading Sikh armies. Will Attock fort be named after DIWAN MOKHAM CHAND(HINDU KHATRI) who routed sultan of Afghanistan fateh khan barakzai in 1813.

    Answer is NO.

    • Javed helali permalink
      February 14, 2013 3:06 AM

      i had expected Indians to be better than pakistanis in this regard. Als! YOU prove it is not so!
      Javed Helali

  7. Radha Krishnan permalink
    January 27, 2013 11:03 PM

    In a years time you will have elections. Everyone knows that the only way Congress can get benefit from something is through votes based on religious divide. If you want, name it Dhara Shikon University, name it Akbar University or name it Khan Abdul Gajjar Khan University, these are some of the best contributors if you really want a contributor. So far as History is concerned, ask many from Mangalore to central Kerala everyone knows the kind of brutalities that Tipu’s forces inflicted on the people. The manner in which he completely destroyed temples after temples & churches after churches from Mangalore to Central Kerala. The manner in which he slaughtered many people in the name of faith. The letter of January 19, 1790, sent to Budruz Zuman Khan by Tipu himself. says: “Don’t you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed ‘Raman Nair’ very soon (reference is to Rama Varma Raja of Travancore State who was popularly known as Dharma Raja). Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now”. Now what are you trying to say here? If even this does not satisfy you, go and investigate Historical facts from Kerala state archives, specially those belonging to the only Islamic kingdom in Kerala, the small place of Arrakal Rajas which at that point in time also had control over Lakshwadeep Islands. Again, don’t think that the place where Arrakal Rajas ruled there was no Hindu kings. There was an adjacent Hindu kingdom too – with the name of Chirakkal Royal family, but it was a relative peace between them till Tipu invaded the land the invitation of one of the Ali Rajas of Arrakal family. Tipu marched towards Malabar and destroyed the land & its culture. This is the reason, Tipu is not respected in Kerala, only a segment of Muslims talk for him. The hardened supporters are those which belong to the blood lineage of those who were part of Tipu’s cavilaries. Therefore Tipu was just another king who wanted to extend his kingdoms on the basis of faith, like a Ghori, Gazni, or Aurangazeb etc. He wanted huge areas under him so that he could collect taxes out of non-Muslims. So far as his battle’s against British are concerned, it was just like any other battles fought in those times. On one side British wanted the control over Malabar for trade, while on the other Tipu wanted the same sort of control over Malabar again for the same purpose. For this, Tipu sided with yet another invador which was the french. In all this, you cannot call him a freedom fighter just because he fought against the British at one point in time. There were many other Rajas of Kerala too who fought not just with British, but also with Tipu and Hyder Ali too & no one gives any recognition or credits to their services up in the North. Just because Tipu was a Muslim, why is there a need to project him as some sort of a freedom fighter when his contributions are much worst in various other regions of the south? Therefore, name the University anything else.Dhara Shikon, Akbar or best is Dr. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. The Governer might have said something that does not mean he has sat and read the entire life events of Tipu. And Dr. Kalam too would have said something about the weapon system what Tipu invented – that is something else, it does not give him a clean character certificate. And it also does not mean he was either a freedom fighter or a patriot by any standards. For the sake of elections find some other issue to gain votes from. Don’t use that crooked mind in this way.

    • Ajmal permalink
      February 26, 2013 3:30 PM

      Tipu came to Kerala not only for stablizing his revenue resources but for checking enemy advancement through Malabar coast. After he reached Malabar he realized the real face of exploitation by desi zamindars (Janmis) and upper caste Brahmins over lower caste vessals. He determined to change this religio-economic exploitation by declaring land to the workers and prohibit religious exploitation like untouchability, breast covering of lower caste etc. Through his reforms a lot of lower caste Hindus (who was not considered even as Hindus)had converted to Islam. These activities created fury among upper caste Hindus, and the Manuvadis still propogating the upper caste worries. All their claims over Tipus Malabar invation has been disproved by researches but Manuvadis not ready to accept.

  8. noname permalink
    January 29, 2013 12:04 AM

    I hope one day University bearing Tipu’s name will come up and students who have intellect and technological inventiveness as Tipu Sultan will study there. He was a marvelous engineer, innovator and accomplished soldier too!!

  9. January 29, 2013 9:05 AM

    Being a secular country we have to think above the releigion, Tipu sultan is one of our prominent national hero, made the sginificant contribution to fight against britisher to liberate our country. this will be a tribute for the tipu sultan to keep the name of the university with his name. which remind our new genration to remember the brave hero and freedom fighter.

  10. January 31, 2013 1:47 PM

    @ taj..”brave hero and freedom fighter”…these are the sort of lies that you and many others have been fed by our “secular” psuedo liberals whose aim is to hide and distort the facts.

    Tipu record on religious tolerance was questionable. Just like Tipu is a hero for you and many others, he is also a villian to many others.

    An university named after Tipu will serve no purpose. It will only inflame opinions and sow further seeds of religious divide.

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