Ravi said the state government is
not ready to name the university after Tipu Sultan. If they are
going to set up a non-religious university then the name should be
non-controversial.... Like British, Tipu is also a foreigner for
us and we will not accept his name.
CT Ravi, higher education minister, Karnataka
(Quoted in Jan 25, 2013, 16:38 IST , By DNA)
The fast changing political developments in Karnataka has rather
overshadowed the manner in which Tipu Sultan- who died fighting
the Britishers at Srirangapatna (4 th May 1799) - is being
denigrated by people owing allegiance to Sangh Parivar. The latest
in series happens to be the higher education minister of Karnataka
Mr C T Ravi, who claimed that for them 'Tipu is also a foreigner'
like the British.
The immediate context of this Tipu bashing is the decision by the
central ministry of minority affairs to set up 'Tipu Sultan
University' at Srirangapatna.
In fact, it’s the name which has
raised the hackles of them, though they are not averse to another
university being set up in Karnataka.
As a recap of the unfolding
events, it may be underlined here that two months back the ministry
decided to set up such universities under 'public-private
partnership' in five different states - Karnataka, Jammu Kashmir,
Bihar, Bengal and Madhya Pradesh - under article 31 of the
constitution (rights to minorities to start educational
institutions) where fifty per cent seats would be reserved for
religious minorities - Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists etc.
A panel was also constituted to prepare a feasibility report for
the five universities, draw up the syllabus and submit it to the
ministry by February.
A section of the media has also faithfully joined this denigration
of Tipu Sultan 'Tiger of Mysore' - as he is widely known - who was
a ruler much ahead of his times.
A sample of this bias could be
had from a recent incident on a Kannada TV channel which held
panel discussion on the Tipu University issue.
Muthalik - of the Sri Ram Sene fame, Chidananda Murthy and advocate
Devaraju spoke on behalf of Sangh Parivar, C S Dwarakanath and
Murulasiddappa spoke in favour of Tipu Sultan.
The TV show anchor
was so partial that he did not give any opportunity to Dwarakanath
and Murulasiddappa to speak at all, and ended the programme by
letting Muthalik and Chidananda Murthy have the last word.
a different matter that Dwarakanath and Murulasiddappa stated in
the end that no matter who opposes the proposal, the University will come up.
People conversant with Karnataka politics can recall that it is
not for the first time that Sangh people are doing this.
back when BJP was sharing power with JD(S) in the state, the then
higher education minister D.H. Shankarmurthy - a RSS Swayamsevak
from his school days, had similarly tried to recast Karnataka
history books in the Sangh Parivar's mould and had announced his
move to obliterate the great Tipu Sultan's name from the pages of
Under the false pretext that Tipu did not give
due importance to the Kannada language and rather promoted Persian
language, he had asserted that Tipu Sultan should not be glorified.
'Most of the history text books in the country depict Tipu Sultan,
Akbar, Aurangazeb Alexander and others as patriots but the real
ones are never brought to light,' Murthy had observed then.
him the alleged neglect of Kannada language by Tipu Sultan was
reason enough that the great warrior of all times who even
sacrificed his children to end colonial rule be obliterated from
The pretext of anti-Kannada bias in Tipu
Sultan ran hollow when one knew that the Archaeological Department
of Mysore State is in possession of over thirty letters by Tipu to
the Shankaracharya of Shringeri Math. These letters are written in
the Kannada characters.
For C.T. Ravi today or for Shankarurthy few years back it was
a minor matter that Tipu sensed the designs of the British and tried
to forge broader unity with the domestic rulers, and even tried to
connect with French and the Turks and the Afghans to give a
fitting reply to the hegemonic designs of the British.
the Sangh Swayamsevaks do not want the future generations to even
know that Tipu defeated the British army twice with his superior
planning and better techniques and who died in the battlefield
itself fighting the Britishers again with his sword in his hand.
It may be recalled here that Tipu was an apostle of Hindu-Muslim
unity, was fond of new inventions, and is called innovator of the
world’s first war rocket, who felt inspired by the French
Revolution, and despite being a ruler called himself Citizen and
even planted the tree of 'Liberty' in his palace.
As an aside, it
may be mentioned here that Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the then President
of India, in his Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture in Bangalore
called Tipu Sultan the innovator of the world's first war rocket.
Two of these rockets, captured by the British at Srirangapatna,
are displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum in London.
Of course the move to declare him a 'foreigner' or a failed
attempt to obliterate the name of the warrior from history books,
whose martyrdom fighting the Britishers preceded the historic
revolt of the 1857 by around 50 years does not appear surprising
as far as the whole trajectory of the RSS is concerned.
plus year old history of the 'cultural organisation' is replete
with facts which show how they have discovered cowardice as a
Thousands of pages have been written about the way they
kept themselves aloof from the historic anti-colonial struggle of
the Indian people under the excuse that they want to unify the
Enough has been written on the way they tried to break the
wider anti-colonial unity by pitting Hindus against Muslims.
Perhaps it is high time to emphasise the fact the ideologues of
the Hindutva brigade were 'pioneers' as far as claiming that
Hindus and Muslims were two nations.
At times it is baffling to know the extent to which the
falsification of history has been attempted to suit the 'divide'
and 'rule policy of the Britishers.
In one of his speeches given
in 1977 in the Rajya Sabha, titled 'History in the Service of
Imperialism' Professor B. N. Pandey, Professor of History in
Allahabad University, who later became Governor of Orissa, had
narrated his experience.
In his speech he mentioned how way back
in 1928 "..[w]hen he was a Professor of History in Allahabad
University some students came to him with a book written by one
Professor Harprasad Shastri, Professor of Sanskrit of Calcutta
University in which it was mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000
Brahmins to convert to Islam otherwise they will be killed, and
those 3000 Brahmins committed suicide rather than becoming
On reading this Professor B. N. Pandey wrote to Professor
Harprasad Shastri asking him on what basis have you written this?
What is the source of your information?
Prof. Harprasad Shastri
wrote back that the source of information is the Mysore Gazetteer.
Then, Prof. Pandey wrote to Prof. Shrikantia, Professor of History
in Mysore University asking him whether it is correct that in
Mysore Gazetteer it is mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000
Brahmins to convert to Islam.
Prof. Shrikantia wrote back that
this is totally false, he had worked in this field and there is no
such mention in the Mysore Gazetteer, rather the correct version
was just the reverse, namely, that Tipu Sultan used to give annual
grants to 156 Hindu Temples, he used to send grants to the
Shankaracharya of Shringheri, etc."
It is now a history how the colonials distorted our history to suit
their imperial interests. One very well knows they called our
uprisings as mutinies, our heroes as villains, and our freedom
fighters as usurpers and terrorists.
It is understandable why the
colonialists reviled Tipu, who proved to be a formidable rival who
refused to become a tributary of the British Company.
The move to
declare him a 'foreigner' and refusing to honour the sacrifices he
made fighting the Britishers is just another indication that Sangh
Parivar has taken it upon themselves the task left unfinished by
Subhash Gatade is a Writer and social activist based in New delhi.
Subhash also edits a Hindi Journal Sandhan. His most recent book
is "Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India" Email. :