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Tolerant vs Oppressor: When Tipu Sultan's Scion Found Stark Difference in Views of Gandhi & BJP

The descendants of Tipu Sultan in Kolkata expressed their displeasure over BS Yediyurappa government banning Tipu Jayanti in Karnataka.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:November 8, 2019, 11:37 AM IST
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Tolerant vs Oppressor: When Tipu Sultan's Scion Found Stark Difference in Views of Gandhi & BJP
Anwar Ali Shah (left) and Shahid Alam (right), the descendants of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.

Kolkata: In the midst of controversy over BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government’s decision to ban the official celebrations of Tipu Jayanti in Karnataka on November 10 – his descendant in Kolkata want them to read an article published in ‘Young India’ on ‘Fatehali Tipu Sultan of Mysore’ edited by late Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on January 30, 1930.

The ‘Young India’ was an English weekly journal published by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from 1919 to 1931.

Speaking to News18.com, secretary of Mysore Family Fateha Fund Committee Waqf Estate and co-trustee of Prince Gholam Mohammad Waqf Estate, Md. Shahid Alam said, “Amid criticism, I started reading more about Tipu Sultan. While collecting more historical facts about him, to counter what the BJP government in Karnataka is claiming, I came across a book called ‘Islam and Indian culture’ written by B N Pande. In the book I found mention of Gandhi’s ‘Young India’ who described Tipu as a great ruler in page numbers 38, 39, 40.”

“I found it interesting. I went to the National Library and I was excited to find the copy of ‘Young India’ where Gandhi ji had published a long article on Tipu. I bought a photo copy of January 23, 1930 edition of ‘Young India’ and very impressed with the article. Gandhi ji in his ‘Young India’ mentioned that Tipu’s relations with Hindus were of a perfectly cordial nature. I want the Karnataka government to go through the article published in ‘Young India’. The BJP government in Karnataka projected Tipu as anti-Hindu ruler but in ground realties it was wrong,” Alam said, while adding that if required they will send photo copies of ‘Young India’, having an article on Tipu Sultan, to BJP leaders in Karnataka.

The descendants of Tipu Sultan in Kolkata expressed their displeasure over BS Yediyurappa government in Karnataka for banning Tipu Jayanti and their plans to remove Tipu Sultan from middle school history textbooks.

His descendants claimed that the move is nothing but a political drama by a section of leaders in Karnakata.

Tipu was 18th-century Mysuru ruler. Prince Mooniruddin and Prince Golam Muhammed were two of Tipu’s sons who were deported to Kolkata by the British and Shahid Alam is a co-trustee of wakf estate of Prince Golam Mohammed.

Another descendant of Tipu Sultan, Anwar Ali Shah said, “I personally feel that political parties are dragging Tipu’s name for their political interest. They use Nathuram Godse for political mileage who killed Gandhi ji. Then they celebrate Gandhi Jayanti also. I don’t want to demean our great ruler Tipu by giving much importance to such decision.”

The Tipu Jayanti celebration was observed in the month of November every year and it was started in 2015 as an annual event under the previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah.

The ‘Young India’ article on Tipu Sultan published on January 23, 1930 (edited by M K Gandhi) with a headline ‘A monument of Hindu-Muslim Unity’, says, “Fatehali Tipu Sultan of Mysore is represented by foreign historians as a fanatic who oppressed his Hindu subjects and converted them to Islam by force. But he was nothing of the kind. On the other hand his relations with his Hindu subjects were of a perfectly cordial nature. And it is a rare pleasure to dwell upon them at a time when Hindus and Musalmans, all oblivious of the presence of the 'enemy within their gate, are ready to fly at one another's throats and have lost all power of clear thinking.”

It further says, “The great Sultan's prime minister was a Hindu, who, be it acknowledged with shame, betrayed that great lover of 'independence' into the hands of the enemy. The Archaeological Department of Mysore State is in possession of over thirty letters written by Tipu to the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math. These letters are written in the Kannada characters. Tipu was an absolute monarch, but even then he not only never so much as dreamt of compelling Hindu tenders to keep their accounts in the Arabic script, but he did not mind getting letters written in the national language and the national script.”

As per ‘Young India’, In one of the letters written to the Shankaracharya in 1793 Tipu acknowledges receipt of the Shankaracharya's letter and requests him to perform 'Lapas' (i.e., to undergo self-purificatory discipline) and to offer prayers for the welfare and prosperity of his own realm as for that of the whole universe. And, finally he asks the Shankarcharya to return to Mysore, for the presence of good men in a country brings down rain and makes for good cultivation and plenty. This letter deserves to be printed in letters of gold in every history of India, and no apology need therefore be offered for reproducing in Devanagari characters the original Kannada which is full of Sanskrit words.

“Tipu made lavish gifts of land and other things to Hindu temples and temples dedicated to Shri Venkatramanna, Shrinivas and Shriranganath and located in the vicinity of Tipu's palaces still bear testimony to his broad-minded toleration, and indicate that great martyr at any rate - for a real martyr he was in the cause of liberty - was not disturbed in his prayers by the Hindu bells calling people to worship the same Allah whose devotee he was. Let us remember the following seasonable words of Tipu: "Better a lion's life for two days than a dog's life for two hundred years”, excerpts from Young India reads.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court has asked the state government to reconsider its decision to ban the official celebrations of Tipu Jayanti in the state. The court, however, has not revoked the ban on the government celebrating ruler Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary on November 10.

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