Who Was Tipu Sultan?? The Truth Which History Books Will Never Tell You!!

These two photos of Tipu Sultan speak volumes on how he actually was & how he is shown to be. From a dark, fanatic Islamic crusader to a fair, handsome King who fought against the British.


He is romanticized and presented as a Tiger who fought against invaders, whereas the truth is that he was a plunderer and one of the cruel kings that India has ever seen. In fact, he took the help of the British and sided with them when it suited him, to kill, torture and loot Hindus, in Kerala and Karnataka. It was only in later years, when the Britishers decided to help the Hindus on their pleading (to save them from the cruel Tipu) that Tipu Sultan took the help of the French to fight the British. This fact is conveniently hidden from our history books, in an attempt to glorify the Muslim ruler of South India. So evil and cruel was he, that till today Muslim parents in Kerala and Karnataka don’t name their children ‘Tipu’. Remembering him by his Sword is apt because he offered the people of Kerala and Karnataka only two choices – ‘Sword’ or ‘Cap’ i.e. either they had to convert themselves into Muslims or they had to face the sword. But yes, he was ‘fair’. He tortured and killed not just the Hindus, but Christians too, with equal brutality.


Writings in the Malabar Manual of William Logan, Historical Sketches of Mark Wilks, Indian historians like K.P. Padmanabha Menon, Sardar K.M. Panicker, Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, the records of Chirackal, Zamorin and Palghat royal families besides those from Trichur, Guruvayoor, Thirunavaya and Perumanam temples, clearly and conclusively depict Tipu Sultan as the most intolerant, cruel, and fanatic Muslim ruler in the South. He wanted to subjugate the whole of Kerala and convert its Hindu population to Islamic faith by force. For this, his most dependable and obedient accomplices were his equally cruel and treacherous coreligionists – the Mappilas (local Muslim converts) of North Malabar. The ruins of hundreds of Hindu temples destroyed, and a heavy concentration of Mappilas, all along the invasion routes of Tipu’s army, are proof of the brutalities and atrocities committed by the fanatic Tipu Sultan in Kerala.

His father Hyder Ali Khan, had in the past attempted and to some extent succeeded in converting a sizeable section of Hindus in Kerala, especially Nairs and Thiyyas, to Islam by force and treachery. When Hyder Ali died, all Hindu Rajas, Chieftains and Nairs revolted and asserted their independence. In 1782 Tipu Sultan succeeded Hyder Ali in Srirangapatanam, and he wanted to teach a lesson to these people. According to the official report of Col. Fullerton of the British forces stationed in Mangalore, the worst type of brutalities on Brahmins was committed by Tipu Sultan in 1783 during his siege of Palghat Fort which was being defended by the Zamorin and his Hindu soldiers. “Tipu’s soldiers daily exposed the heads of many innocent Brahmans within sight from the fort for Zamorin and his Hindu followers to see. It is asserted that the Zamorin rather than witness such enormities and to avoid further killing of innocent Brahmins, chose to abandon the Palghat Fort” (p. 500). He is said to have instructed the British that they should not offer protection to the fleeing Hindus from South Malabar. It is a fact that Tipu never fought against the British in Kerala and he fought only against the Hindu Rajas.

Tipu sent a letter on 19 January 1790 to the Governor of Bekal (near Kasaragod), Budruz Zuman Khan. It 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. 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.” The fleeing Hindus went to Travancore and Tipu then set his eyes on Travancore. It is here that he faced his defeats in Kerala. (Note: Hindus would love to know that an erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore had gifted his whole kingdom to Lord Anantha Padmanabha Swamy of Thiruvananthapuram, and he and all subsequent kings were ruling the kingdom as His servant). He was first defeated in January 1790 and then in May that year near Alwaye, because his army could not face the Travancore army during the heavy rains there. In the meantime, taking advantage of the situation, Lord Cornwallis of East India Company advanced upon Srirangapatnam. Joining him were the forces of the Nizam and the Marathas. Tipu Sultan had to abandon Travancore and rush to his capital. His forces were unable to fight against the combined forces and he had to sign a treaty in 1792 ceding the entire West Coast and half of his other possessions to the Allies, thus relieving the Hindus of Kerala from further Islamic brutalities. The deal that was finalized resulted in the Maratha’s recovering their territories which had been invaded by Mysore. Furthermore, the Nizam of Hyderabad received Adoni and Mysore was obligated to pay 4.8 million rupees as a war cost to the Marathas, and an annual tribute of 1.2 million rupees; in return, the Marathas recognized the rule of Tipu in the Mysore region. The ‘tiger’ had become a ‘cat’.

(*Note : When some Brahmin astrologers predicted an approaching malefic period from 1790 onwards and the combined forces of the British, the Nizam and the Marathas started surrounding Srirangapatanam, Tipu Sultan panicked and therefore did some good deeds – offering land-grants and even Pujas and feeding Brahmin – mainly to ward off the evil effects and to get assistance from his Hindu subjects in his war efforts. He was reported to have even fallen prostrate before His Holiness Sringeri Shankaracharya and sought the latter’s pardon and blessings (Sakthan Thampuran by P. Raman Menon, and History of Mysore by Lewis Rice). This action of his is now tom-tommed as Tipu Sultan being a Secular King who believed in Hindu Gods and Saints.)


If Kerala was where Tipu Sultan showed his cruelty, Karnataka was where he showed his brutality and murderous self. When Hyder Al, Tipu’s father, captured the throne of Mysore in a treacherous way from Immadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, the royal family of Mysore was kept under house arrest. But Queen Lakshmi Ammani Devi constantly made efforts for restoration of the rule of Mysore royal family after looking at various atrocities committed on the Hindu population by Hyder Ali. She started negotiating with the British in 1760s with the help of her Pradhan, Tirumala Iyengar which resulted in the imprisonment of relatives of Tirumala Iyengar by Hyder Ali. These people were called as Mandyam Iyengars and they lived between Mandya and Srirangapatnam area, mainly in Melkote. Some years later during his rule, Tipu came to know of an agreement between General Harris, the then Governor of Madras, and Tirumala Iyengar. As he already was trying to destroy the allies of the British, Tipu decided to end the other uprisings happening against his atrocities in his kingdom. Hence Tipu thought of massacring the Iyengars who were living in Melkote. The day he selected for this was Naraka Chaturdashi. When all Mandyam Iyengars were immersed in Deepavali celebrations, Tipu’s men entered Melkote and massacred at least 800 people including women and children. The survivors abandoned Melkote and ran away and the town became a ghost town. Friends and relatives of Tirumala Iyengar were killed in cold blood. Thus Naraka Chaturdashi became a black day in the history of Mandyam Iyengars belonging to Bharadwaja Gothra. After the genocide of these Brahmins of Karnataka, their descendants till date have not celebrated a single Deepavali festival. As per the reputed historian, Benjamin Lewis Rice, Tipu was a Muslim fanatic and by the time Tipu died, there were only two Hindu temples left standing within the Srirangapatanam fortress.


One Col. Kirkpatrick translated Tipu’s letters into English and one such letter states: “There are 500 Coorg prisoners, who must be thrown, in parties of fifty, into ten forts, where they must be dealt with in such a manner as shall ensure their death in the course of a month or twenty days-such of the women as are young must be given to Musselmauns; and the rest, together with their children, must be removed to, and kept in confinement, at Seringapatam, on a small allowance.” In another place Tipu Sultan writes: “By the favor of the Almighty and the assistance of the Prophet, we have arranged and adjusted the affairs of the Taalik of Zufeerabad in the most suitable [and satisfactory] manner; the tribe of Koorgs, to the number of fifty thousand men and women, having been made captive, and incorporated with the Ahmedy class.” The Ahmedy was the army of Tipu Sultan. This means that the men and women were forcibly converted into Islam; the men were then made soldiers and made to fight Hindus and the women were forcibly ‘married’ off. It must be noted that the converts were immediately circumcised and forcibly made to eat beef on conversion. He was so cruel and maniacal that he ordered that even the dead among the Coorgs were to be made Muslims.  His brutality on Coorg went on from 1785 to 1790. During this period Tipu destroyed more than 600 temples across Kodagu (Coorg).

A special note for Kannadigas : Tippu also wanted to abolish Kannada completely and hence he introduced Persian language into his administration. The Persian words like “Dhapan, Barcas and Jammabandi ” still used in our land documents at Kodagu shows Tippu at any cost wanted to eliminate Kannada from Karnataka. The fact remains that Tipu Sultan was never really able to control the brave Coorgis and he lost the battle 31 times there and killed the brave Kodava warriors by infidelity.


Tipu’s brutalities were against all sections of Hindus – Brahmins, Nairs, Thiyyas, Kodavas, not excluding even women and children. Even Christians were not spared. According to James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics, 30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly made wives of the Muslims living there. The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears. According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Srirangapatam was found, the punishment under the orders of Tipu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand. Gazetteer of South India describes Tipu Sultan forcibly circumcising 30,000 West Coast Christians and deporting them to Mysore.


How can such a cruel fanatic be adored and called a ‘Hero’ or a ‘Tiger’. Unfortunately our History books are so distorted that students are made to learn that every despot who ruled India was actually good for our country, whether it is Tipu Sultan or the Mughals or the British (our history books have pages devoted to how they ‘unified’ India and took us out of our Pagan beliefs). This fanatic Tipu Sultan of Mysore is being portrayed as a liberal and magnanimous Muslim king and a National Hero. To perpetuate the memory of this tyrant Tipu Sultan, the Central Government has released a postal stamp. Doordarshan has sanctioned a video serial to glorify the deeds and life of Tipu Sultan. And a special rehabilitation programme is being worked out for the benefit of the descendants of Tipu Sultan in Calcutta. Every year grand Tipu Jayanti celebrations are held in Karnataka. What are we celebrating? The brutal deaths and atrocities on our Kodavas, Melkote Brahmins, Hindus and Christians? It is an insult to our National Pride. It is high time that our History is correctly presented and these cruel rulers are despised, not glorified.

Rati Hegde**