The discovery of 1,700 Mysore rockets belonging to the 18th century gives a fillip to the argument that Tipu Sultan was a progressive king who made great advances in arms technology and was a formidable bulwark against the British East India Company in so
THE Congress-janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in Karnataka has decided to continue the commemoration of the 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan’s birthday on November 10 as Tipu Jayanti. Ever since the Tipu Jayanti celebrations began in 2015 when the Congress, headed by Siddaramaiah, was in power in the State, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and rightwing Hindutva groups that accuse Tipu Sultan of being a religious bigot have opposed them vehemently.
As preparations for this year’s event began, Pratap Simha, the BJP Member of Parliament from Mysuru, asked Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy not to go ahead with Tipu Jayanti as it hurt Hindu religious sentiments.
The allegations that Tipu Sultan was a religious bigot were examined in detail in the previous issues of Frontline. The article titled “Contested legacy” (December 11, 2015) provided an overview of Tipu Sultan’s reign and his role in fighting the British East India Company. The article “Tipu–fact & Fiction” (January 6, 2017) discussed the accusation that Tipu Sultan had forcibly converted Kodavas of Kodagu, and “Tipu in Malabar” (January 5, 2018) examined the charge that the Mysore ruler had committed religious excesses in what is today north Kerala.
Tipu Sultan and, before him, his father, Hyder Ali, ruled Mysore for a brief period, between 1761 and 1799, but left a lasting impression on society and polity in the region. Both of them consistently opposed the British and fought four wars (known as the Anglo-mysore Wars) against the East India Company. Hyder Ali was a perceptive and ambitious leader, but Tipu Sultan’s fame transcended that of his father. Tipu Sultan died on May 4, 1799, battling British soldiers, thus establishing his legacy as one of India’s earliest fighters against colonialism. It is for this reason that he is still feted.
Ever since Tipu Jayanti began to be marked, there has been an overwhelming focus on Tipu Sultan’s religious policies, with scores of articles written on the theme, but what has not been examined sub-
RUDRAPPA SHEJESHWARA , the curator of the Government Museum (Shivappa Nayaka Palace), Shivamogga, showing the rockets.