Tipu Sultan: Wikis


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Tipu Sultan
Ruler of Mysore
Portrait of Tipu Sultan, 1792
Reign 1782–1799
Born 20 November 1750
Birthplace Devanahalli
Died 4 May 1799 (aged 48)
Place of death Srirangapattana
Predecessor Hyder Ali
Father Hyder Ali
Mother Fakhr-un-nissa

Sultan Fateh Ali Tipu (Kannada: ಟಿಪ್ಪು ಸುಲ್ತಾನ್, Urdu: سلطان فتح علی خان ٹیپو ) (November 1750, Devanahalli – 4 May 1799, Srirangapattana), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He was the first son of Hyder Ali by his second wife, Fatima or Fakhr-un-nissa. His full name is Sultan Fateh Ali Khan Shahab or Tipu Saheb Tipu Sultan. In addition to his role as ruler, he was a scholar, soldier, and poet. He was a devout Muslim but the majority of his subjects were Hindus. At the request of the French, he built a church, the first in Mysore. In alliance with the French in their struggle with the British both Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali did not hesitate to use their French trained army against the Marathas, Sira, Malabar, Coorg and Bednur. He was proficient in many languages.[1] He helped his father Hyder Ali defeat the British in the Second Mysore War, and negotiated the Treaty of Mangalore with them. However, he was defeated in the Third Anglo-Mysore War and in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War by the combined forces of the British East India Company, the Nizam of Hyderabad and to a lesser extent, Travancore and the Marathas. Tipu Sultan died defending his capital Srirangapattana, on 4 May 1799.

Sir Walter Scott, commenting on the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814, wrote:

Although I never supposed that he [Napoleon] possessed, allowing for some difference of education, the liberality of conduct and political views which were sometimes exhibited by old Haidar Ally, yet I did think he [Napoleon] might have shown the same resolved and dogged spirit of resolution which induced Tipu Sahib to die manfully upon the breach of his capital city with his sabre clenched in his hand.[2]


Early life

Memorial at the birth place

Tipu Sultan was born at Devanahalli, in present-day Bangalore District, some 33 km (21 mi) North of Bangalore city. The exact date of his birth is not known; various sources claim various dates between 1749 and 1753. According to one widely accepted dating, he was born on 10 November 1750 (Friday, 10th Dhu al-Hijjah, 1163 AH). His father, Hyder Ali, was the de facto ruler of Mysore. His mother Fatima or Fakhr-un-nissa was the daughter of Shahal Tariq, governor of the fort of Cuddapah. He was also a strongly religious man, there is a conflict between Sunni-Shia practice of religion.[citation needed] He went in daily to say his prayer and paid special attention to mosques in the area. While leading a predominantly Hindu country, Tipu remained strong in his faith.[3] He built a church, the first in Mysore, at the request of the French. He was a noted linguist, Islamic patriot.

His rule

Tipu Sultan's summer palace at Srirangapatna, Karnataka

During his rule, Tipu Sultan laid the foundation for a dam where the famous Krishna Raja Sagara Dam across the river Cauvery was later built.[4][5] He also completed the project of Lal Bagh started by his father Hyder Ali, and built roads, public buildings, and ports along the Kerala shoreline. His dominion extended throughout North Bangalore including the Nandi Hills, Kanivenarayanapura, and Chickballapur. His trade extended to countries which included Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, France, Turkey, and Iran. Under his leadership, the Mysore army proved to be a school of military science to Indian princes. The serious blows that Tipu Sultan inflicted on the British in the First and Second Mysore Wars affected their reputation as an invincible power. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, in his Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture in Bangalore (30 November 1991), 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. Most of Tipu Sultan's campaigns resulted in successes. He managed to subdue all the petty kingdoms in the south. He defeated the Marathas and the Nizams and was also one of the few Indian rulers to have defeated British armies. He is said to have started a coinage system, banking system, a new calendar, and a new system of weights and measures.[citation needed] He was well versed in Urdu, Kannada, Persian, and Arabic. Tipu was supposed to become a Sufi, but his father Hyder Ali insisted he become a capable soldier and a great leader.

Religious policy

Attitude towards Hindus

As a Muslim ruler in a largely Hindu domain, Tipu Sultan faced problems in establishing the legitimacy of his rule, and in reconciling his desire to be seen as a devout Islamic ruler with the need to be pragmatic to avoid antagonising the majority of his subjects. His religious legacy has become a source of considerable controversy in the subcontinent. Some groups proclaim him a great warrior for the faith or Ghazi, while a large number of groups revile him as a bigot who massacred Hindus.[6][7]

Some historians claim that he had an egalitarian attitude towards Hindus and was harsh towards them only when politically expedient.[8] In the first part of his reign in particular he appears to have been notably more aggressive and religiously doctrinaire than his father, Hyder Ali.[9] Some historians claim that Tipu Sultan was a religious persecutor of Hindus.[7] In 1780 CE he declared himself to be the Badshah or Emperor of Mysore, and struck coinage in his own name without reference to the reigning Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. H. D. Sharma writes that in his correspondence with other Islamic rulers such as Zaman Shah of Afghanistan, Tipu Sultan used this title and declared that he intended to establish an empire in the entire country, along the lines of the Mughal Empire which was at its nadir during the period in question.[10] His alliance with the French was supposedly aimed at achieving this goal by driving his main rivals, the British, out of the subcontinent.

The Second Mysore War is also remembered for alleged excesses committed by Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan in Tanjore.[11] During the period of occupation which lasted six months, Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan are believed to have impoverished the country.[11] As late as 1784, the Dutch missionary Christian Friedrich Schwarz describes Tippu's alleged abduction of 12,000 children from the region.[11] It is alleged that the invaders plundered the country and took away the cattle and grain.[11] The invasion is believed to have had such an impact on the economy of the country that it did not recover until the start of the nineteenth century.[11] The gross produce of the kingdom fell by over ninety percent between 1780 and 1781 and took over 15 years for it to reach pre-1781 levels.[12]

It is believed that Tipu ordered Shamaiya Iyengar to be blinded. However, Tipu himself forgave Shamaiya when Shamaiya's son bravely defended against the British during the last Anglo-Mysore War, dying due to a gunshot in the chest.[13] Noted historian Hayavadana C. Rao, writing for the Raja of Mysore, wrote about Tipu in his encyclopaedic work The History of Mysore. He asserted that Tipu's "religious fanaticism and the excesses committed in the name of religion, both in Mysore and in the provinces, stand condemned for all time. His bigotry, indeed, was so great that it precluded all ideas of toleration". He further asserts that the acts of Tipu that were constructive towards Hindus were largely political and ostentatious rather than an indication of genuine tolerance

Brittlebank, Hasan, Chetty, Habib and Saletare, amongst others, argue that stories of Tipu Sultan's religious persecution of Hindus and Christians are largely derived from the work of early British authors such as Kirkpatrick[14] and Wilks,[15] whom they do not consider to be entirely reliable.[16] A. S. Chetty argues that Wilks’ account in particular cannot be trusted,[17] Irfan Habib and Mohibbul Hasan argues that these early British authors had a strong vested interest in presenting Tipu Sultan as a tyrant from whom the British had "liberated" Mysore.[18] This assessment is echoed by Brittlebank in her recent work where she writes that Wilks and Kirkpatrick must be used with particular care as both authors had taken part in the wars against Tipu Sultan and were closely connected to the administrations of Lord Cornwallis and Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley.[19]

Mohibbul Hasan, Prof. Sheikh Ali, and other historians cast great doubt on the scale of the deportations and forced conversions in Coorg in particular, and Hasan says that the British versions of what happened were intended to malign Tipu Sultan, and to be used as propaganda against him.[20] He argues that little reliance can be placed in Muslim accounts such as Kirmani's Nishan-e Haidari; in their anxiety to represent the Sultan as a champion of Islam, they had a tendency to exaggerate and distort the facts: Kirmani claims that 70,000 Coorgis were converted, when forty years later the entire population of Coorg was still less than that number. According to Ramchandra Rao "Punganuri" the true number of converts was about 500.[21] The portrayal of Tipu Sultan as a religious bigot is disputed, and some sources suggest that he in fact often embraced religious pluralism.[22]

Tipu Sultan's treasurer was Krishna Rao, Shamaiya Iyengar was his Minister of Post and Police, his brother Ranga Iyengar was also an officer, and Purnaiya held the very important post of "Mir Asaf". Moolchand and Sujan Rai were his chief agents at the Mughal court, and his chief "Peshkar", Suba Rao, was also a Hindu.[23] There is such evidence as grant deeds, and correspondence between his court and temples, and his having donated jewellery and deeded land grants to several temples, which some claim he was compelled to do in order to make alliances with Hindu rulers. Between 1782 and 1799 Tipu Sultan issued 34 sanads (deeds) of endowment to temples in his domain, while also presenting many of them with gifts of silver and gold plate. The Srikanteswara Temple in Nanjangud still possesses a jewelled cup presented by the Sultan.[24]

In 1791 some Maratha horsemen under Raghunath Rao Patwardhan raided the temple and monastery of Sringeri Shankaracharya, killing and wounding many, and plundering the monastery of all its valuable possessions. The incumbent Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu Sultan for help. A bunch of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which were exchanged between Tipu Sultan's court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore. Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid, and wrote:

People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kali age in accordance with the verse: "Hasadbhih kriyate karma ruladbhir-anubhuyate" (People do [evil] deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying).[25]

He immediately ordered the Asaf of Bednur to supply the Swami with 200 rahatis (fanams) in cash and other gifts and articles. Tipu Sultan's interest in the Sringeri temple continued for many years, and he was still writing to the Swami in the 1790s CE.[26] In light of this and other events, B.A. Saletare has described Tipu Sultan as a defender of the Hindu dharma, who also patronized other temples including one at Melkote, for which he issued a Kannada decree that the Shrivaishnava invocatory verses there should be recited in the traditional form. The temple at Melkote still has gold and silver vessels with inscriptions indicating that they were presented by the Sultan. Tipu Sultan also presented four silver cups to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale.[27] Tipu Sultan does seem to have repossessed unauthorised grants of land made to Brahmins and temples, but those which had proper sanads were not. It was a normal practice for any ruler, Muslim or Hindu, on his accession or on the conquest of new territory.

The Srikanteswara temple at Nanjungud was presented with a jewelled cup and some precious stones. To another temple, Nanjundeswara, in the same town of Nanjungud, he gave a greenish linga; to Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatana he gifted seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner. This temple was hardly a stone's throw from his palace from where he would listen with equal respect to the ringing of temple bells and the muezzin's call from the mosque.[28]

Tipu sent a letter on January 19, 1790 to 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.[29]

It is hard to say, however, that Tipu was completely opposed to those with different religious beliefs. Some high officials in his government were Hindu, such as Purnaiya, Krishna Rao, Shamaiya Iyenga. Tipu even offered help and gifted lands to build temples and supported many Brahmins, even some that opposed his regime.

Attitude towards Christians

The Jamalabad fort route. Mangalorean Catholics had traveled through this route on their way to Srirangapatanam

Tipu is regarded to be anti-Christian by some historians.[30][31][32] The captivity of Mangalorean Catholics at Seringapatam, which began on 24 February 1784 and ended on 4 May 1799, remains the most disconsolate memory in their history.[33]

The Bakur Manuscript reports him as having said: "All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labor to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject."[34] Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara.[35] He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates,[36] and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route.[37] However, there were no priests among the captives. Together with Fr Miranda, all the 21 arrested priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rs 2 lakhs, and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned.[34]

Tipu ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches, all beautifully carved with statues depicting various saints. Among them included the Church of Nossa Senhora de Rosario Milagres at Mangalore, Fr Miranda's Seminary at Monte Mariano, Church of Jesu Marie Jose at Omzoor, Chapel at Bolar, Church of Merces at Ullal, Imaculata Conceiciao at Mulki, San Jose at Perar, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios at Kirem, Sao Lawrence at Karkal, Rosario at Barkur, Immaculata Conceciao at Baidnur.[34] All were razed to the ground, with the exception of the The Church of Holy Cross at Hospet,owing to the friendly offices of the Chauta Raja of Moodbidri.[38]

According to Thomas Munro, a Scottish soldier and the first collector of Canara, around 60,000 of them,[39] nearly 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, were captured, only 7,000 escaped. Francis Buchanan gives the numbers as 70,000 captured, from a population of 80,000, with 10,000 escaping. They were forced to climb nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m) through the jungles of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It was 210 miles (340 km) from Mangalore to Seringapatam, and the journey took six weeks. According to British Government records, 20,000  of them died on the march to Seringapatam. 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.[40] The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears.[41] According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Seringapatam was found, the punishment under the orders of Tipu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand.[42]

The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, "It is notoriously known in all Asia and all other parts of the globe of the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians in the Dominion of the King of Kanara, during the usurpation of that country by Tipu Sultan from an implacable hatred he had against them who professed Christianity."[34]

The British officer James Scurry, who was detained a prisoner for 10 years by Tipu Sultan along with the Mangalorean Catholics

Tipu Sultan's invasion of the Malabar had an adverse impact on the Syrian Malabar Nasrani community of the Malabar coast. Many churches in the Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the center of Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tipu's soldiers. A lot of centuries old religious manuscripts were lost forever.[43] The church was later relocated to Kottayam where it still exists to this date. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed as well. Tipu's army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Furthernmore, the Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was also destroyed. Over the course of this invasion, many Syrian Malabar Nasrani were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Most of the coconut, arecanut, pepper and cashew plantations held by the Syrian Malabar farmers were also indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army. As a result, when Tipu's army invaded Guruvayur and adjacent areas, the Syrian Christian community fled Calicut and small towns like Arthat to new centres like Kunnamkulam, Chalakudi, Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. where there were already Christians. They were given refuge by Sakthan Tamburan, the ruler of Cochin and Karthika Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore, who gave them lands, plantations and encouraged their businesses. Colonel Macqulay, the British resident of Travancore also helped them.[43]

Tipu's persecution of Christians even extended to captured British soldiers. For instance, there were a significant amount of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their disastrous defeat at the battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men along with an unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam. Of these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls or dancing girls. After the 10 year long captivity ended, James Scurry, one of those prisoners, recounted that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair and use a knife and fork. His English was broken and stilted, having lost all his vernacular idiom. His skin had darkened to the swarthy complexion of negroes, and moreover, he had developed an aversion to wearing European clothes.[44]

During the surrender of the Mangalore fort which was delivered in an armistice by the British and their subsequent withdrawal, all the Mestizos and remaining non-British foreigners were killed, together with 5,600 Mangalorean Catholics. Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. The Netravati River was so putrid with the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside homes.[34]

Tipu's right hand man

Sirdar Yaar Muhammad, the right hand man of Sultan Tipu, also known as Ghazi-e Mysore (Veteran of Mysore), was born in the 18th century in a Muslim Rajput family to Shah Muhammad, a Sufi saint. It is said that Tipu had become a disciple of Shah Muhammad. Yar joined the Army of Mysore and soon became one of the favorite generals of Tipu Sultan. Seeing his patriotic and dauntless behavior, Tipu Sultan made him his commander-in-chief. He fought dauntlessly in the Battle of Seringapatam (1799), but after Tipu's death, and later the fall of Mysore, he ran away to the Kullu hills and then to the central Punjab of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Thus, he managed to evade capture by the English. After the fall of Mysore, he was declared one of the most wanted Mysorean officers. East India Company tried its best to capture him, dead or alive, but couldn’t succeed. He carried bounty on his head. Several of Yar's family members and relatives were killed by the conquerors, however, he, along with his wife, his father, and a son Ilahi Bakhsh, escaped. He spent the rest of his life as a fugitive. General Yar Muhammad died in the first half of the 19th century. His descendants still live in Punjab, Pakistan, today.


Alexander Beatson, who published a volume on the Fourth Mysore War entitled View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun, described Tipu Sultan as follows: "His stature was about five feet eight inches; he had a short neck, square shoulders, and was rather corpulent: his limbs were small, particularly his feet and hands; he had large full eyes, small arched eyebrows, and an aquiline nose; his complexion was fair, and the general expression of his countenance, not void of dignity".[citation needed].

He was called the Tiger of Mysore. It is said that Tipu Sultan was hunting in the forest with a French friend. He came face to face with a tiger. His gun did not work, and his dagger fell on the ground as the tiger jumped on him. He reached for the dagger, picked it up, and killed the tiger with it. That earned him the name "the Tiger of Mysore".[citation needed] He had the image of a tiger on his flag. Tipu Sultan was also very fond of innovations. Beatson mentioned that Tipu Sultan was "passionately fond of new inventions. In his palace was found a great variety of curious swords, daggers, fusils, pistols, and blunderbusses; some were of exquisite workmanship, mounted with gold, or silver, and beautifully inlaid and ornamented with tigers' heads and stripes, or with Persian and Arabic verses". Tipu's Tiger, an automaton representing a tiger attacking a European soldier, made for Tipu Sultan, is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.[45] During Tipu Sultan's reign, a new calendar, new coinage, and seven new government departments, were introduced as well as innovations in the use of rocket artillery.

Early military career

Tipu Sultan was instructed in military tactics by French officers in the employment of his father, Hyder Ali (also spelled "Haidar Ali"). At age 15, he accompanied his father Haidar Ali against the British in the First Mysore War in 1766. He commanded a corps of cavalry in the invasion of Carnatic in 1767 at age 16. He also distinguished himself in the First Anglo-Maratha War of 1775–1779.

Second Mysore War

Mural of the Battle of Pollilur on the walls of Tipu's summer palace, painted to celebrate his triumph over the British.

In 1779, the British captured the French-controlled port of Mahé, which Tipu had placed under his protection,providing some troops for its defence. In response, Hyder launched an invasion of the Carnatic, with the aim of driving the British out of Madras.[46] During this campaign in September 1780, Tipu Sultan was dispatched by Hyder Ali with 10,000 men and 18 guns to intercept Colonel Baillie who was on his way to join Sir Hector Munro. In the Battle of Pollilur, Tipu decisively defeated Baillie. Out of 360 Europeans, about 200 were captured alive, and the sepoys, who were about 3800 men, suffered very high casualties. Munro was moving south with a separate force to join Baillie, but on hearing the news of the defeat he was forced to retreat to Madras, abandoning his artillery in a water tank at Kanchipuram.[47]

Tipu Sultan defeated Colonel Braithwaite at Annagudi near Tanjore on 18 February 1782. Braithwaite's forces, consisting of 100 Europeans, 300 cavalry, 1400 sepoys and 10 field pieces, was the standard size of the colonial armies. Tipu Sultan seized all the guns and took the entire detachment prisoner. In December 1781 Tipu Sultan successfully seized Chittur from the British. Tipu Sultan had thus gained sufficient military experience by the time Hyder Ali died in December 1782. Tipu Sultan realized that the British were a new kind of threat in India. Upon becoming the Sultan after his father's death later that year, he worked to check the advances of the British by making alliances with the Marathas and the Mughals.

The Second Mysore War came to an end with the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore. It was the last occasion when an Indian king dictated terms to the British, and the treaty is a prestigious document in the history of India.[48]

The Second Mysore War is also remembered for alleged excesses committed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in Tanjore.[11] During the period of occupation which lasted six months, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are believed to have impoverished the country.[11] As late as 1784, the Dutch missionary Christian Friedrich Schwarz describes Tipu's alleged abduction of 12,000 children from the region.[11] It is alleged that the invaders plundered the country and took away the cattle and grain.[11] The invasion is believed to have had such an impact on the economy of the country that it did not recover until the start of the nineteenth century.[11] The gross domestic product of the kingdom fell by over ninety percent between 1780 and 1781 and took over 15 years to again reach pre-1781 levels.[12] However, this conclusion must be considered in the light of the fact that no real effort to measure the GDP of India was ever made by the British government. The first such attempt was made by Dadabhai Nowroji in 1868 and it suffered from serious limitations. Therefore the veracity of the GDP estimate made in the 18th century is questionable.[citation needed]

Napoléon's attempt at a junction

A flintlock blunderbuss, built for Tipu Sultan in Seringapatam, 1793-94. Tipu Sultan used many Western craftsmen, and this gun reflects the most up-to-date technologies of the time.[49]

One of the motivations of Napoleon's Invasion of Egypt was to establish a junction with India against the British. Bonaparte wished to establish a French presence in the Middle East, with the ultimate dream of linking with Tippoo Sahib.[50] Napoleon assured to the Directoire that "as soon as he had conquered Egypt, he will establish relations with the Indian princes and, together with them, attack the English in their possessions."[51] According to a 13 February 1798 report by Talleyrand: "Having occupied and fortified Egypt, we shall send a force of 15,000 men from Suez to India, to join the forces of Tipu-Sahib and drive away the English."[51]

Napoleon was finally defeated by the Ottoman Empire helped with England at the Siege of Acre in 1799, and at the Battle of Abukir in 1801, so that by 1802, the French were completely vanquished in the Middle-East.[52] Soon however, from 1803, Napoleon went to great lengths to form a Franco-Ottoman alliance against the British and the Russians, sending General Horace Sebastiani as envoy extraordinary.[53] Napoleon also formed a Franco-Persian alliance in 1807, with the continuous aim of linking with India.[54]

Fourth Mysore War

After Horatio Nelson had defeated François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers at the Battle of the Nile in Egypt in 1798 CE, three armies, one from Bombay, and two British (one of which included Arthur Wellesley, the future first Duke of Wellington), marched into Mysore in 1799 and besieged the capital Srirangapatnam in the Fourth Mysore War.

There were over 26,000 soldiers of the British East India Company comprising about 4000 Europeans and the rest Indians. A column was supplied by the Nizam of Hyderabad consisting of ten battalions and over 16,000 cavalry, and many soldiers were sent by the Marathas. Thus the soldiers in the British force numbered over 50,000 soldiers whereas Tipu Sultan had only about 30,000 soldiers. The British broke through the city walls, and Tipu Sultan died defending his capital on May 4. When the fallen Tipu was identified, Wellesley felt his pulse and confirmed that he was dead. Next to him, underneath his palankeen, was one of his most confidential servants, Rajah Cawn. Rajah was able to identify Tipu for the soldiers. Tipu Sultan was killed at the Hoally (Diddy) Gateway, which was located 300 yards from the N.E. Angle of the Srirangapattana Fort. The Fort Gateway had been built only 5 Years earlier to Tipu's death.[55]. Tipu was buried the next afternoon, near the remains of his father. In the midst of his burial, a strong storm struck, with massive winds and rains. As Lieutenant Richard Bayly of the British 12th regiment wrote, "I have experienced hurricanes, typhoons, and gales of wind at sea, but never in the whole course of my existence had I seen anything comparable to this desolating visitation".[56]

Military use of rockets

Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are regarded as pioneers in the use of solid fuel rocket technology or missiles for military use. A military tactic developed by Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali was the use of mass attacks with rocket brigades on infantry formations. Tipu Sultan wrote a military manual called Fathul Mujahidin in which 200 rocket men were assigned to each Mysorean "cushoon" (brigade). Mysore had 16 to 24 cushoons of infantry. The areas of town where rockets and fireworks were manufactured were known as Taramandal Pet ("Galaxy Market"). It was only after Tipu's death that the technology eventually reached Europe.

The rocket men were trained to launch their rockets at an angle calculated from the diameter of the cylinder and the distance to the target. In addition, wheeled rocket launchers capable of launching five to ten rockets almost simultaneously were used in war. Rockets could be of various sizes, but usually consisted of a tube of soft hammered iron about 8 inches (20 cm) long and 1.5 to 3 in (3.8 to 7.6 cm) in diameter, closed at one end and strapped to a shaft of bamboo about 4 ft (1 m) long. The iron tube acted as a combustion chamber and contained well packed black powder propellant. A rocket carrying about one pound of powder could travel almost 1,000 yards. In contrast, rockets in Europe, not being iron cased, could not take large chamber pressures and as a consequence, were not capable of reaching distances anywhere near as great.[57]

Hyder Ali's father, the Naik or chief constable at Budikote, commanded 50 rocketmen for the Nawab of Arcot. There was a regular Rocket Corps in the Mysore Army, beginning with about 1200 men in Hyder Ali's time. At the Battle of Pollilur (1780), during the Second Anglo-Mysore War, Colonel William Baillie's ammunition stores are thought to have been detonated by a hit from one of Hyder Ali's rockets, contributing to a humiliating British defeat.

In 1792, during the Third Anglo-Mysore War, there was mention of two rocket units fielded by Tipu Sultan, 120 men and 131 men respectively. Lt. Col. Knox was attacked by rockets near Srirangapatna on the night of 6 February 1792, while advancing towards the Kaveri River from the north. The Rocket Corps ultimately reached a strength of about 5000 in Tipu Sultan's army. Mysore rockets were also used for ceremonial purposes. When the Jacobin Club of Mysore sent a delegation to Tipu Sultan, 500 rockets were launched as part of the gun salute.

During the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, rockets were again used on several occasions. One of these involved Colonel Arthur Wellesley, later famous as the First Duke of Wellington. Wellesley was defeated by Tipu's Diwan, Purnaiya, at the Battle of Sultanpet Tope. Quoting Forrest,

At this point (near the village of Sultanpet, Figure 5) there was a large tope, or grove, which gave shelter to Tipu's rocketmen and had obviously to be cleaned out before the siege could be pressed closer to Srirangapattana island. The commander chosen for this operation was Col. Wellesley, but advancing towards the tope after dark on the 5 April 1799, he was set upon with rockets and musket-fires, lost his way and, as Beatson politely puts it, had to "postpone the attack" until a more favourable opportunity should offer.[58]

The following day, Wellesley launched a fresh attack with a larger force, and took the whole position without losing a single man.[59] On 22 April 1799, twelve days before the main battle, rocketeers worked their way around to the rear of the British encampment, then 'threw a great number of rockets at the same instant' to signal the beginning of an assault by 6,000 Indian infantry and a corps of Frenchmen, all directed by Mir Golam Hussain and Mohomed Hulleen Mir Mirans. The rockets had a range of about 1,000 yards. Some burst in the air like shells. Others, called ground rockets, would rise again on striking the ground and bound along in a serpentine motion until their force was spent. According to one British observer, a young English officer named Bayly: "So pestered were we with the rocket boys that there was no moving without danger from the destructive missiles ...". He continued:

The rockets and musketry from 20,000 of the enemy were incessant. No hail could be thicker. Every illumination of blue lights was accompanied by a shower of rockets, some of which entered the head of the column, passing through to the rear, causing death, wounds, and dreadful lacerations from the long bamboos of twenty or thirty feet, which are invariably attached to them.

During the conclusive British attack on Srirangapattana on May 2, 1799, a British shot struck a magazine of rockets within Tipu Sultan's fort, causing it to explode and send a towering cloud of black smoke with cascades of exploding white light rising up from the battlements. On the afternoon of 4 May when the final attack on the fort was led by Baird, he was again met by "furious musket and rocket fire", but this did not help much; in about an hour's time the fort was taken; perhaps within another hour Tipu had been shot (the precise time of his death is not known), and the war was effectively over.[60]

After the fall of Srirangapattana, 600 launchers, 700 serviceable rockets and 9,000 empty rockets were found. Some of the rockets had pierced cylinders, to allow them to act like incendiaries, while some had iron points or steel blades bound to the bamboo. By attaching these blades to rockets they became very unstable towards the end of their flight causing the blades to spin around like flying scythes, cutting down all in their path.

These experiences eventually led the Royal Woolwich Arsenal to start a military rocket research and development program in 1801, based on the Mysorean technology. Their first demonstration of solid-fuel rockets came in 1805 and was followed by publication of A Concise Account of the Origin and Progress of the Rocket System in 1807 by William Congreve,[61] son of the arsenal's commandant. Congreve rockets were soon systematically used by the British during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. These descendants of Mysorean rockets were used in the 1814 Battle of Baltimore, and are mentioned in the Star Spangled Banner.

Treatment of prisoners

According to historian Professor Sheikh Ali, the Tipu "took his stand on the bedrock of humanity, regarding all his subjects as equal citizen to live in peace, harmony and concord."[28] However, during the storming of Srirangapattana by the British in 1799, thirteen murdered British prisoners were discovered, killed by either having their necks broken or nails driven into their skulls.[62]

In fiction

Family and descendants

Tipu Sultan had four wives, by whom he had 16 sons named below and at least 8 daughters.The fate of his 8 daughters is a mystery.

1. Shahzada Hyder Ali Sultan Sahib (1771-30 July 1815)

2. Shahzada Abdul Khaliq Sultan Sahib (1782-12 September 1806

3. Shahzada Muhi-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1782-30 September 1811)

4. Shahzada Mu‘izz-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1783-30 March 1818)

5. Shahzada Mi‘raj-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1784?-?)

6. Shahzada Mu‘in-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1784?-?)

7. Shahzada Muhammad Yasin Sultan Sahib (1784-15 March 1849)

8. Shahzada Muhammad Subhan Sultan Sahib (1785-27 September 1845)

9. Shahzada Muhammad Shukrullah Sultan Sahib (1785-25 September 1837)

10. Shahzada Sarwar-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1790-20 October 1833), desc

11. Shahzada Muhammad Nizam-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1791-20 October 1791)

12. Shahzada Muhammad Jamal-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1795-13 November 1842)

13. Shahzada Munir-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1795-1 December 1837)

14. His Highness Shahzada Sir Ghulam Muhammad Sultan Sahib, KCSI (March 1795-11 August 1872)

15. Shahzada Ghulam Ahmad Sultan Sahib (1796-11 April 1824)

16. Shahzada ............. Sultan Sahib (1797–1797)

Tipu Sultan's family was sent to Calcutta by the British. Noor Inayat Khan, who was a major in the British Indian army, is said to be one of Tipu Sultan's descendants who died in France under German occupation.

Sword of Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan had lost his sword in a war with the Nairs of Travancore, in which he was defeated. The Nair army under the leadership of Raja Kesavadas defeated the Mysore army near Aluva. The Maharaja, Dharma Raja, gifted the famous sword to the Nawab of Arcot, from where the sword went to London. The sword was on display at the Wallace Collection, No. 1 Manchester Square, London. At an auction in London in 2004, the industrialist-politician Vijay Mallya purchased the sword of Tipu Sultan and some other historical artifacts, and brought them back to India for public display after nearly two centuries.

The Tiger As Tipu's Symbol

Tipu was commonly known as the Tiger of Mysore and adopted this animal as the symbol of his rule. He even had French engineers build a mechanical tiger for his palace.[63] Not only did he place relics of tigers around his palace and domain, he also had the emblem of a tiger on his banners and even on some arms and weapons. Sometimes this tiger was very ornate and had inscriptions within the drawing, alluding to Tipu's faith, including phrases such as "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful" and quotations from the Qur'an.[64]

Further reading

  • Agha, Shamsu. Tipu Sultan", "Mirza Ghalib in London";, "Flight Delayed", Paperback, ISBN 0901974420
  • Ali, B Sheik. Tipu Sultan, Nyasanal Buk Trast
  • Amjad, Sayyid. ‘Ali Ashahri, Savanih Tipu Sultan, Himaliyah Buk Ha®us
  • Banglori, Mahmud Khan Mahmud. Sahifah-yi Tipu Sultan, Himālayah Pablishing Hā’ūs,
  • Bhagwan, Gidwami S. The Sword of Tipu Sultan: The Life and Legend of Tipu Sultan of India, Allied Publishers 1978
  • Bowring, Lewin. Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan and the Struggle with the Musalman Powers of the South, Asian Educational Services, India, ISBN 812061299X
  • Brittlebank, Kate. Tipu Sultan's Search for Legitimacy: Islam and Kingship in a Hindu Domain, OUP India, ISBN 0195639774
  • Buddle, Anne. Tigers Round the Throne, Zamana Gallery, ISBN 1869933028
  • Campbell, Richard Hamilton. Tippoo Sultan: The fall of Srirangapattana and the restoration of the Hindu raj, Govt. Press
  • Chinnian, P. Tipu Sultan the Great, Siva Publications
  • Habib, Irfan. State and Diplomacy Under Tipu Sultan: Documents and Essays, Manohar Publishers and Distributors, ISBN 818522952X
  • Hashimi, Sajjad. Tipu Sultan, Maktabah-yi Urdu Da®ijast
  • Home, Robert. Select Views in Mysore: The Country of Tipu Sultan from Drawings Taken on the Spot by Mr. Home, Asian Educational Services, India, ISBN 8120615123
  • Mohibbul Hasan. History of Tipu Sultan, Aakar Books, ISBN 8187879572
  • Mohibbul Hasan. Tipu Sultan's Mission to Constantinople, Aakar Books, ISBN 8187879564
  • Moienuddin, Mohammad. Sunset at Srirangapatam: After the death of Tipu Sultan, Orient Longman, ISBN 8125019197
  • Pande, B. N. Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan: Evaluation of their religious policies (IOS series), Institute of Objective Studies
  • Siddiqi, Faiz Alam. Sultan Tipu Shahid, Buk Karnar,
  • Strandberg, Samuel. Tipu Sultan: The Tiger of Mysore: or, to fight against the odds, AB Samuel Travel, ISBN 9163073331
  • Taylor, George. Coins of Tipu Sultan, Asian Educational Services, India, ISBN 8120605039
  • Wigington, Robin. Firearms of Tipu Sultan, 1783-99, J. Taylor Book Ventures, ISBN 1871224136
  • Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan and the Struggle with the Mohammadan Powers of the South, Cosmo (Publications, India), ISBN 8177554352
  • Confronting Colonialism: Resistance and Modernization Under Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan (Anthem South Asian Studies), Anthem Press, ISBN 1843310244


  1. ^ Brittlebank, Kate.. Tipu Sultan's Search for Legitimacy: Islam and Kingship in a Hindu Domain, Vol 5. Pp. 184. Oxford University Press. 
  2. ^ Lion M. G. Agrawal. Freedom fighters of India. V3. 2008, page 68
  3. ^ Economic and Political Weekly, Tipu Sultan: Giving the Devil His Due , p. 2837
  4. ^ Prof. Sheik Ali. "Tipu Sultan - Step towards Economic development". Cal-Info. http://www.tipusultan.org/biog4c.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  5. ^ "Persian script of Tipu Sultan on the gateway to Krishnaraja Sagar Dam (KRS)". Cal-Info. http://www.tipusultan.org/script1.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  6. ^ Brittlebank Tipu Sultan pp1-3; Phillip B. Wagoner "Tipu Sultan's Search for Legitimacy: Islam and Kingship in a Hindu Domain by Kate Brittlebank (Review)" The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 58, No. 2 (May, 1999) pp. 541–543
  7. ^ a b Valath, V. V. K. (1981) (in Malayalam). Keralathile Sthacharithrangal - Thrissur Jilla. Kerala Sahithya Academy. pp. 74–79. 
  8. ^ Kate Brittlebank Tipu Sultan's Search for Legitimacy: Islam and Kingship in a Hindu domain (Delhi: Oxford University Press) 1997
  9. ^ Lewin Bowring Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan and the struggle with the Musalman powers of the south (Oxford: Clarendon Press) 1893
  10. ^ Sharma, H.D. (January 16, 1991). The Real Tipu. Rishi Publications, Varanasi. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Subramanian, K. R. (1928). The Maratha Rajas of Tanjore. pp. 64. 
  12. ^ a b Subramanian, K. R. (1928). The Maratha Rajas of Tanjore. pp. 65. 
  13. ^ Bhagwan S. Gidwani, The Sword of Tipu Sultan
  14. ^ W. Kirkpatrick Select Letters of Tipu Sultan, London 1811
  15. ^ M. Wilks Report on the Interior Administration, Resources and Expenditure of the Government of Mysore under the System prescribed by the Order of the Governor-General in Council dated 4 September 1799, Bangalore 1864, and Historical Sketches of the South of India in an Attempt to Trace the History of Mysore, 2 vols, ed. M. Hammick, Mysore 1930.
  16. ^ C.C. Davies "Review of The History of Tipu Sultan by Mohibbul Hasan" in The English Historical Review Vol.68 №.266 (Jan, 1953) pp144-5
  17. ^ A. Subbaraya Chetty "Tipu's endowments to Hindus and Hindu institutions" in Habib (Ed.) Confronting Colonialism p111
  18. ^ Irfan Habib "War and Peace. Tipu Sultan's Account of the last Phase of the Second War with the English, 1783-4" State and Diplomacy Under Tipu Sultan (Delhi) 2001 p5; Mohibbul Hasan writes "The reasons why Tipu was reviled are not far to seek. Englishmen were prejudiced against him because they regarded him as their most formidable rival and an inveterate enemy, and because, unlike other Indian rulers, he refused to become a tributary of the English Company. Many of the atrocities of which he has been accused were allegedly fabricated either by persons embittered and angry on account of the defeats which they had sustained at his hands, or by the prisoners of war who had suffered punishments which they thought they did not deserve. He was also misrepresented by those who were anxious to justify the wars of aggression which the Company's Government had waged against him. Moreover, his achievements were belittled and his character blackened in order that the people of Mysore might forget him and rally round the Raja, thus helping in the consolidation of the new regime" The History of Tipu Sultan (Delhi) 1971 p368
  19. ^ Brittlebank Tipu Sultan's search for legitimacy p10-12. On p2 she writes "it is perhaps ironic that the aggressive Hinduism of some members of the Indian Community in the 1990s should draw upon an image of Tipu which, as we shall see, was initially constructed by the Subcontinent's colonisers."
  20. ^ Ali, Sheikh (2008-08-17). "Tipu had in him Italian Renaissance, German Reformation, French Revolution". TwoCircles.net. http://www.twocircles.net/2008aug17/tipu_had_him_italian_renaissance_german_reformation_french_revolution_dr_b_shaikh_ali.html. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  21. ^ Mohibbul Hasan The History of Tipu Sultan (Delhi) 1971 pp362-3
  22. ^ Sampath, Vikram (2006-10-04). "He stuck to his dream of a united Mysore". Panorama (Deccan Herald). http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/oct42006/panorama152482006103.asp. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  23. ^ Mohibbul Hasan History of Tipu Sultan (Delhi) 1971 pp357-8
  24. ^ A. Subbaraya Chetty, "Tipu's endowments to Hindus", pp. 111-115.
  25. ^ Annual Report of the Mysore Archaeological Department 1916 pp10-11, 73-6
  26. ^ Hasan Tipu Sultan p359
  27. ^ B.A. Saletare "Tipu Sultan as Defender of the Hindu Dharma" in Habib (Ed.) Confronting Colonialism, pp. 116-8
  28. ^ a b Ali, Sheikh. "Persian script of Tipu Sultan on the gateway to Krishnaraja Sagar Dam (KRS)". Biography of Tipu Sultan. Cal-Info. http://www.tipusultan.org/script1.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  29. ^ K.M. Panicker, Bhasha Poshini, August, 1923
  30. ^ Stephen Conway, The British Isles and the War of American Independence, Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0198206593, M1 Google Print, p. 342.
  31. ^ N. Shyam Bhat, South Kanara, 1799-1860: a study in colonial administration and regional response, Mittal Publications, 1998, ISBN 8170995868, M1 Google Print, p. 2.
  32. ^ J. B. Prashant More, Religion and society in South India: Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, Institute for Research in Social Sciences and Humanities of MESHAR, 2006, ISBN 8188432121, M1 Google Print, p. 117.
  33. ^ "Deportation & The Konkani Christian Captivity at Srirangapatna (1784 Feb. 24th Ash Wednesday)". Daijiworld Media Pvt Ltd Mangalore. http://www.daijiworld.com/chan/achievers_view.asp?a_id=28. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  34. ^ a b c d e Sarasvati's Children, Joe Lobo
  35. ^ Forrest 1887, pp. 314–316]
  36. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine 1833, p. 388
  37. ^ "Christianity in Mangalore". Diocese of Mangalore. http://www.dioceseofmangalore.org/history.asp. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  38. ^ John B. Monteiro. "Monti Fest Originated at Farangipet - 240 Years Ago!". Daijiworld Media Pvt Ltd Mangalore. http://www.daijiworld.com/chan/exclusive_arch.asp?ex_id=129. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  39. ^ Bowring 1997, p. 126
  40. ^ Scurry & Whiteway 1824, p. 103
  41. ^ Scurry & Whiteway 1824, p. 104
  42. ^ Account of a Surviving Captive, A Mr. Silva of Gangolim (Letter of a Mr. L.R. Silva to his sister, a copy of which was given by an advocate, M.M. Shanbhag, to the author, Severino da Silva, and reproduced as Appendix No. 74: History of Christianity in Canara (1965))
  43. ^ a b K.L. Bernard, Kerala History , pp. 78-79
  44. ^ William Dalrymple White Mughals (2006) p28
  45. ^ "Tippoo's Tiger". Victoria & Albert Museum. 2004-04-11. http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/object_stories/Tippoo's_tiger/index.html. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  46. ^ Fortescue, John William (1902). A history of the British army, Volume 3. Macmillan. pp. 431-432. http://books.google.com/books?id=1GlKAAAAYAAJ&dq=cornwallis%20medows%20mysore&lr=&pg=PA546#v=onepage&q=cornwallis%20medows%20mysore&f=false. 
  47. ^ National Galleries of Scotland
  48. ^ Tipu Sultan - Wars & Peace
  49. ^ Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  50. ^ Tricolor and crescent William E. Watson p.13-14
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  52. ^ Karsh, p.11
  53. ^ Karsh, p.11
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  56. ^ "Description of the Burial of Tipu during a Severe Thunderstorm". Macquarie University Library. http://www.lib.mq.edu.au/digital/seringapatam/other/bayly2.html. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
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  63. ^ Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India. MacMillan. http://books.google.com/books?id=xygrApPFw_4C&pg=PA67&dq=tipu+sultan+france&lr=&cd=20#v=onepage&q=tipu%20sultan%20france&f=false. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

To live like a lion for a day is far better than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.

Sultan Fateh Ali Tipu (20 November 17504 May 1799), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the de facto ruler of the Indian Kingdom of Mysore from 1782 until his death in 1799.


  • To live like a lion for a day is far better than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.
    • As quoted in Encyclopedia of Asian History (1988) Vol. 4, p. 104
    • Variants:
    • It is far better to live like a lion for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.
    • It is far better to live like a tiger for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.
      • Variant mentioned in Tipu Sultan : A Study in Diplomacy and Confrontation (1982) by B. Sheikh Ali, p. 329

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