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#SundayReading – Tipu Sultan, should he be revered or reviled?        

Portrait of Tipu Sultan once owned by Richard ...

Portrait of Tipu Sultan once owned by Richard Colley Wellsley, now in the care of the British Library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guest Post By Asad Bin Saif
The declaration on 10thth Nov. 2015 for the celebration of the Mysuru King Tipu Sultan birth anniversary by the Chief Minister of Karnataka is marred with the violence as the nation lost two precious lives in the process, at Medikari, Karnataka. This has been opposed by the VHP, RSS and other like-minded affiliates as the state government declared to official observance of the birth anniversary of the Martyred Tipu Sultan who fought against the British in 1799 at Sringapatnam and laid down his life.  
It is like maligning a freedom fighter who valiantly fought against the British colonialist in order to safeguard his country and countrymen from the tyrannical and oppressive rule of Britishers. But how can RSS and VHP tolerate to see a ruler who has a Muslim name should be given such a position of high pedestal like freedom fighter? Then it means to give them a certificate of patriotism which is highly unbecoming and contrary to their ideological moorings on which their entire survival politics lie.
It is aptly stated by the CM of Karnataka that ‘protests against Tipu jyanti are being fanned by the communal forces and the Mysore King’s contributions should have been recognized by the state government much earlier’. Noted Play Wright whose conscience remained ever alive, Mr. Girish Karnad showered paean of praise on him not merely as great political personality but also as great contributor of theatre and literature. It is a well-established fact that he was a man of letters too as his personal library contains books of diverse subjects like of history, military science, medicine, and mathematics. Mr Girish eulogized a lot and compared him as the great soul was the freedom icon, ‘what Ram Mohan Roy is to Bengal, Dr.R.Ambedkar is to Maharashra, Pandit Jawaherlal Nehru is to UP, Tipu Sultan belongs to Karnataka’. (ToI-11th Nov.2015).     
   According to him he was a freedom fighter of the highest order, no doubt about it , as he fought battles against the British, not just once or twice but four times till he died in harness. He knew that he was fighting against foreign invaders. He also supported Hindu Temples.
According to him the controversy was started by VHP, RSS and other Right-Wing groups for the last 20 years. (Interview in ToI. 12th Nov.2015) I have compiled a lot about his good deeds which subscribes his greatness. He suggested to see play made by genuine Kannada writer and folklore hero, Keremane Sitharam Shashtri. He heaped blame on the door of the incumbent central government for the series of intolerant incidents perpetrated in the country. According to the CM the opposition BJP and other organization have made allegations against Tipu in order to gain political mileage by polarizing the society and polity.
According to Tipu’s great grand son, Sahibjada Anwar Ali. who resides at Tollyganj, Kalkatta, that ‘BJP and other Sangh affiliates are playing politics of religion over Tipu Sultan which is very dangerous. According to him he remained a thorn for the British flesh for years is being unfortunately portrayed as intolerant and tyrant. He also accused the right wing affiliates to dilute his identity as ‘Indian icon’ and ‘one of the first freedom fighter’.  He debunked the propaganda onslaught unleashed by the Sangh affiliates that he was intolerant ruler and carried out atrocities against his Hindu Subjects. Some of the people is making concerted effort to dilute his identity by communalizing his legacy in order to alienate him from the people of the country, he averred.(ToI-12 Nov.2015) 
Like his father Hyder Ali, he was tolerant towards other religious groups was keeping an enlightened view about other religions. Although he was orthodox in his personal life but never crossed the line of intolerance, quite contrary to what the British has depicted about his character as fanatics. He gave money for the construction of the image of goddess Sarda in the Shrinegri Temple after the latter was looted and plundered by the Maratha Horsemen in 1791.
He regularly gave gifts to this temple as well as several other temples. The famous temple of Sri Ranganath was situated barely 100 yards from his palace. Recently a Gold ring was displayed by the Lord Wellesley relatives which was inscribed with ‘Sri Ram’ and was retrieved from his hand when he lost his life in the battle at Sringapatnam. It showed his reverence towards other religions.
M.K.Gandhi rebuked those who proclaimed about him as proselytizer and indulged into forcible conversion which was nothing but spewing canard basd on formidable lies by his opponents in order to create fissures in the society.   
As an enlightened king he was alive to the situation prevalent around his kingdom and strategize future course of action in accordance to the dominant reality. That was why he evinced keen interests in French Revolution. He planted a ‘Tree of Liberty’ at Sringapatnam and became the member of Jacobin Club. The Jacobin Club was formed with the sole aim to protect the Revolution and Republic which was facing attack from the elements within and without.  
These were the main attraction for the Tipu Sultan for being a member of the Club.  He was enthused with the development in France as the country had stripped off ordeal of ignominious and oppressive system. He foresaw the essence and ramification in the future polity of the nation as the French revolution gave him vision of nation building based on liberty, equality and fraternity. He wanted to liberate his country with the help of Napolean Bonaparte and for that matter he wrote a letter to him when he was in Egypt, but his letter was caught by the British and the person who was able to defeat Napolean Bonaparte was none other than Lord Wellesley who got the Sobriquet of Duke of Wellington (for his daring exploits) defeated Tipu Sultan too.  
He was visionary and statesman as he visualised the danger lurked around his regime and against others. He among the only rulers of India who understood the importance of economic strength as the foundation of military strength. He stood forth as the resolute enemy of the rising British power. The English in turn, considered him as their most dangerous enemy in India.
Giving real picture of his rule John Shore Governor General (1793-1798) wrote later that ‘the peasantry of his dominions are protected and their labour encouraged and rewarded’. He also utilized his acumen for the trade and industry and inaugurated modern Navy in 1796. For this purpose he built two dockyards the models of the ships had designed by the sultan himself. His infantry was armed with muskets and bayonet likes of Europeans but they were manufactured indigenously in Mysore.
The way communal polarization is getting fillip by them in order to get political dividend, the country is facing very difficult situation. Not merely layman and simple folk is being made victims of their onslaught but people of imminence and intellectuals girths too being snuffed out with ghoulish relish. As first Narendra Dabolkar, then Govind Pansare and now M.M Kalburgi were shown the heavenly door to erase whatever resistance to their unreasoned stance might be there. The ideology deserves to be blunted as it would be counterproductive as their entire approach towards society and the nation is not in tune with the just order and salubrious development. T
those who are part of their killings both overtly and covertly are earning millions by siphoning off through tricks apart from keeping the society and people regressive and retrograde it also serves glaringly for the benefit of the political parties  who thrives on their status quoist approaches.
All three were the victims because they had not only challenged their obscurantism but communalism too which is very much served the purposes and aggrandize their benefits both explicitly and implicitly. All the three have been constantly speaking and writing against the Hindutva agenda and fighting against the victimization of the Muslims made possible by the communal force.
The History of Kannada had made great injustices to the Muslims not giving genuine narrative to the Medieval history. At the time of Kalburgi’s death he was making great stride towards translating the history of Adil Shahi dynasty who had ruled the Northern Karnataka during 16th & 17th Centuries which was in the language of Persian, Arabic and Urdu (Deccani Urdu). He was thinking to change the narrative of history and in return it will jeopardize the growth of communalism. He envisioned something on how to stem the tide of the abuse of history which would help in the de-communalization of the society .
In order to keep the grimes of communalism, obscurantism, Superstition and status-quoizm intact, they snuffed out not only to Dabolkar, Pansare, M.M.Kalburgi and might be a few of others but also tried to vitiate and denigrate the legacy of the great personality like of Tipu Sultan. The nation can’t afford to adopt the ideology of hatred which is not meant to achieve inclusion and equity but instead exclusion and inequity. So, it is in our utmost interests to retrieve our democracy, the ethos of peaceful co-existence and enduring peace from their morbid stranglehold. 
Paying highest tribute to him Dr. Allama Iqbal, the great oriental Urdu Poet when visited to the Tipu Shrine in order to pay homage to the great soul, he was overwhelmed for the hallowed and revered ambience. 
Mowt Tajdeed-e-Zindagi Ka Naam Hai- Khawb Kai Pardai Main Baidari Ka Ek Paigaam Hai! ‘Death is also an aspect of life’, Dr Iqbal.
He felt Tipu as Martyr was more alive than others, who seemed to be alive. He deserves better treatment indeed from our countrymen.

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