Strik­ing legacy

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.

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