Sultan Shaheed Tipu

…the brave warrior stands tall amidst bashing

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 13 2018 10:46PM | Updated Date: Nov 13 2018 10:46PM
Sultan Shaheed TipuRepresentational Pic

Every year as Tipu Jayanti approaches, Hindutva brigade starts Tipu bashing. ‘Jayanti’ denotes annual remembrance of the remarkable warrior. The year 2018 is not different from what has come to pass vis-à-vis Sultan Shaheed Tipu in previous years. Sultan Shaheed is how Allama Iqbal-the poet philosopher names him. In a moving Persian poem, Allama captions his tribute as, ‘Paigam Sultan Shaheed Ba Roud-e-Cauvery’. Translated, it means, ‘Message of Sultan Shaheed to River Cauvery’. Cauvery River flows in south of India, the part Tipu Sultan belonged to. Iqbal’s moving tribute forms a part of ‘Javid Nama’ the Persian poetic treatise, which is imaginative in context—a flight of the spirit. The poetic tribute carries the subtitle, ‘Haqeeqat-e-Hayat Va Marg Va Shahadat (Reality of life, death and martyrdom). The philosophical tribute places Sultan Shaheed on a high pedestal. Attempts by vested interests to pull down the brave warrior from his historical pedestal continue to fail. Tipu bashing is a part of a relentless tirade to paint the Muslim rulers of India in dark shades. Tipu Sultan is cast as anti-Hindu, anti-Christian as well. Evidences to the contrary continue to surface. 

In London recently a ring belonging to Tipu Sultan was sold by Christie's auction house for £145,000. The jeweled 41.2g golden ring was sold to an undisclosed bidder for almost 10 times its estimated price at the auction in central London, according to Christie's website. It is said that as the Sultan lay dead in his fort in the Seringapatnam battle, the ring was taken by a British general. On a contrary note, the auction listing noted, "It is perhaps more likely that the ring was taken from Tipu Sultan's collection." Irrespective of the fact how it was obtained, there is an interesting feature attached to the ring. It is inscribed with the name of Hindu deity—Sri Ram in raised Devanagari script. It is being widely asked, how could a person labeled as anti-Hindu by vested interests wear a ring with the name of Hindu deity inscribed on it? The query is valid, it should shame Tipu bashers. In fact, the auction note read, "It is surprising that a ring bearing the name of a Hindu god would have been worn by the great Muslim warrior.’’  

As the Tipu Jayanti approaches every year, the social networking sites get activated to carry derogatory notes on Sultan Shaheed Tipu. There are scores of positive notes as well. It is apparent that there is an organized attempt of Tipu bashing, with vile intent. Weighed against the valiant attempt by Sultan Shaheed to defend his state, in fact India against the onslaught of British East India Company, the vile attempt to denigrate Sultan Shaheed could be called ordinary, and pitied upon. Like others of his ilk, the Indian prices—the Nawabs, the Rajas and Maharajas, Sultan Shaheed could have survived, had he accepted the over-lordship of the British. It is on record however that in answer to Welsely’s last communication to him, he noted, ‘’to rule over Mysore for a day as a free ruler is better than ruling over it for hundred years in service of the British’’ [Prof. Yusuf Salim Chasti in his commentary on ‘Javid Nama’ Vol: II, page: 362). Iqbal paints the answer in poetic colours:

Zindagi Ra Che Ast Rasm Va Deen Va Kaish

Yek Dam Sheri Bahi Az Sad Sale Maish

What could be in offing, in custom, faith & belief of life?

A breath of tiger is better than hundred years of cattle-herd!

While traitors preferred to live like cattle herds in British protected principalities, Tipu Sultan lived and died like a tiger. On a contrary historical note, the vultures lived on what the British provided.

In defence of the land he ruled over, Sultan Shaheed was not recklessly brave, but a historical study of his life (1750-1799 A.D) shows him to be deft planner. Far from going head-on to take the British, he did all that was possible in given circumstances, to lend teeth to his campaign. Tipu Sultan’s planning extended from the political realm to the military sphere. He tried to work out an Indian coalition, and extended it to international sphere by seeking allies, whose interests collided with the British. In the Indian realm, Tipu sultan tried his best to convince the Hyderabad Nawab and Maratha Peshwa of the desirability of an Indian alliance to forestall British, both however spurned his offer.  Allama Iqbal viewing it wider east v/s west perspective says of Sultan:

Ankee Guftarash Hama Kirdar Bhood,

Mashriq Ander Khawab Va Ou Bedar Boodh

His narrative amply bore stamp of his character 

East was sleeping, while he was wide awake

Tipu’s efforts for stitching an eastern coalition extended to roping in Zaman Shah--the Afghan king. Zaman responded positively and set off in 1798 to stand by Tipu, however the wily British engineered a revolt in his kingdom, the accomplice being his brother-Mahmood. Zaman Shah was forced to rush back to retrieve his kingdom.    

Taking cue from Anglo-French rivalry, Tipu Sultan tapped whatever French help was possible, mainly in upgrading military technology. However, he remained focused on developing indigenous capability. India's missile man--former President Aboul Kalam paid tribute to Tipu Sultan for upgrading rocket technology. Kalam considered him to be an innovator. Sultan had an established armament industry to keep his armed forces supplied with the best available weapons, as per standards of the age. And, in spite of his regal status, he got the desired training in the use of armament.  The sultan remained an accomplished soldier, until he breathed his last:

Ruft Sultan Az in Sarai Panj-e-Roz

Naubat-e-Ou Dhur Deccan Baqi Hanouz

Translated, it means Sultan left the temporary abode; his legacy however continues to ring in Deccan.   


Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]  



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