© Amit Agarwal
It will be futile to repeat here that in South India, no one tortured Hindus like Tipu Sultan
from 1782-1799. Lakhs of people were murdered and converted; women were raped, men
were circumcised and temples were destoryed. The dreaded Mappila riots of 1921 can also be
traced to the conversions by Tipu. In many ways, he was way worse than Aurangzeb,
Mahmud Ghaznawi, Taimur and Nadir Shah.
However, he, like other Islamic invaders, could not have survived for so long without active
help from Hindus, even when he was on a killing spree of Hindus. The chief among them was
Mysore was being ruled by Wodeyars in those days. Like other Hindu kings of yore and even,
today, he had a secular outlook and gave commanding positions in the army to Muslims. One
such fellow was Tipu’s father, Hyder Ali. Since he was illiterate, he was helped by a Brahmin
named Khande Rao in accounting for the plundered money. Rao helped him accumulate
money through various means, making Ali buy more and more arms and ammunition for
Then a golden opportunity struck. In 1757, to resist the invasion of the Zamorin of Calicut,
the Palakkad Raja sought the help of Hyder Ali, who then led campaigns against the Zamorin
of Calicut and integrated it into Mysore. Similarly, a host of other states in the Malabar region
were also unified with Mysore. The king of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, was in the
seventh heaven because of the sudden expansion of their kingdom, which he didn’t even
think about in his dreams. Little did he know that one day, not far in the future, Hyder Ali
would swallow him in one go.
Mighty elated, the king rewarded Hyder Ali by granting him the title of Fath Hyder
Bahadur or Nawab Hyder Ali Khan. Ali had a meteoric rise so far, and it made the queen
mother anxious, who, with the help of Khande Rao, who had to switch alliances, imprisoned
Hyder Ali with his teenage son Tipu.
In those days, Marathas were ruling India from Afghanistan to Madurai and even the once-
mighty Mughals were at the mercy of the Peshwas. Wodeyars were small fry in comparison,
bearing the brunt of repeated Maratha attacks.
Unfortunately for India, the Marathas suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Abdali in the
third battle of Panipat in 1756 and had to remove their forces from Mysore and other places.
In this sudden development, Hyder Ali got his chance, overthrowing the Wodeyars and
imprisoning them in their own palace in Seringapatam. The king should have known that
secularism never pays, had he read the correct history.
Hyder Ali became Mysore’s king in 1761, and in the next four decades, the father-son duo
would change the demography of South India. The soul of that part of India would shiver and
wither under the unprecedented torture. Islamic cruelty would not know any limits and would
be relentless against Hindus and even Christians.
In 1766, Hyder Ali returned to Malabar, this time at the invitation of the Hindu raja of
Cannanore, who sought independence from the Zamorin, the ruler of Calicut. Zamorins were
crushed and the king himself set his palace on fire and burnt himself. In all his expeditions, his son Tipu accompanied him, learning the ropes of the art of war with attendant cruelty. In 1780, Hyder Ali was diagnosed with cancer and soon became bedridden.
At this point, in the early 1770s, Purnaiyya made the entry. He was a Maratha Brahmin, well
versed in accounting and became diwan in Hyder Ali’s administration. Probably Ali was
missing the services of his friend-turned-foe, Khande Rao. Soon, Purnaiyya would make him
forget Rao. In 1782, when Ali died, Tipu was in Malabar, plundering the countryside and
raping women, acts that every Muslim invader was fond of.
At this point, Purnaiyya would have installed Wodeyars again, taking advantage of Tipu’s
absence. But here, loyalty and magnanimity prevented him from making a rational decision.
He kept the news of his death under wraps and informed Tipu to come back immediately. In
those few days, Purnaiyya conducted the durbar as if nothing had happened, without letting
anyone know that the Sultan had died.
Tipu rushed back and became the sultan of Mysore without any hiccups, with the blessings of
Purnaiyya. On his anointment, he presented Tipu Sultan with 90,000 soldiers, three crore
rupees, and invaluable ornaments made of precious stones. So happy was Tipu that he
became tempted to rule as the Emperor of South India.
Purnaiyya was amply rewarded for his loyalty, as during the entire period of 16 years of Tipu
Sultan’s rule, the only Hindu occupying any important official position was Purnaiyya. He, in
turn, took care of his maalik in every way.
Tipu Sultan reigned over his empire for only sixteen and a half years, from 1782 to 1799.
Malabar’s territory was effectively under his control for only eight years. There would not
have been as many Muslims in Kerala and Karnataka, had he not enlisted the help of the
cunning Purnaiyya. Hindus would not have become poorer or fewer in number. Never in his
life did Purnaiyya request Tipu to stop massacring Hindus and destroying temples. At one
count, he demolished at least 8,000 temples and converted 4 lakh Hindus and Christians in
his two-decade rule.
Like other invaders, it was not difficult to defeat them with the correct strategy. Sometime in
1790, Tipu had attacked Travancore and his army was camping on the banks of the Alwaye
River before launching the attack on Nedunkotta Fort. The Travancore army was no match
for the huge Mysore army and the monsoon season was four months away. Therefore, under
the guidance of the Prime Minister of Travancore, a temporary bund was hurriedly
constructed way up on the stream. When the Mysore army launched its assault and
Nedunkotta was penetrated, the temporary bund was breached in the midst of heavy fighting,
causing an unexpected flood that drowned many Mysore soldiers and rendered the
gunpowder wet and useless.
The result was panic and confusion in the Mysore army. The victorious Nair forces of
Travancore inflicted huge casualties on the invading army. The wounded Tipu was lying
unconscious on the battlefield when he was rescued by a silly Nair soldier and deposited in
the Muslim camp. It is recorded in Travancore history and confirmed by local folklore.
Exactly 600 years ago, Mohammed Ghori was lying unconscious on the battlefield and
Prithviraj Chauhan did not find it expedient to kill him then and there. Ghori’s soldiers then
got the opportunity to take him back to Ghazni and the rest is history. Hindus are still paying
the price for that folly of Prithviraj.
Alas, Hindus would prove to be poor learners as the next nine years of Tipu’s rule would
prove costly to the Hindus of Kerala.
Purnaiyya participated in every military campaign led by Tipu against the Hindu kings of
Kerala. However, in the last and fourth Anglo-Mysore war, Tipu asked Purnaiyya to take care
of his eldest son at home. Tipu was defeated and killed by the British in 1799. The Hindus
breathed a big sigh of relief. However, even then, Purnaiyya still did not have his fill, as he
wanted to install Tipu’s eldest son as the next Sultan, but the British would have none of it.
Finally, the child king, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, became king of Mysore. Since Tipu fought
with the British, he was declared the first freedom fighter of India, of which seculars never
tire of singing. It is another matter that he took the help of the French and even sent his
ambassadors to Turkey and Kabul to request that the Sultans invade India.
He became a firm believer in Hindu astrology when, earlier, many of the predictions by
Brahmins came true; he spared two temples at Seringapatam Fort and gave some grants too.
The leftists also went gaga over it and presented it as evidence of his love for Hindus.
At every juncture, Hindus kept helping Tipu, but he never returned the gesture. No other
community would be so foolish for so long.
Unfortunately, the situation has not changed at all, even today, with Hindus still failing to