28 December, 2007

Watergate -- srirangapattana

Sally port where Tipu fell

Water gate 1938

May 5, 1799: He was still trapped in the courtyard with a handful of faithful followers and surrounded by the British soldiers. They fought for a long time.Three horses were shot from under Tipu. He, along with four other bodyguards, killed a record 4,500 British soldiers-about fifteen British were left alive and Wellesley was thinking about surrendering when a British bullet hit Tipu on his arm. Another hit his temple and the Tiger of Mysore, the hope of Indian freedom, the great nationalist who sacrificed every thing for his dream of British-free India, fell. And along with him, shattered the dream of Indian independence-one that will not be able to be achieved till 150 years later by the endless efforts of Ghandi and Nehru and Jinnah-just because some greedy men sold their soul for a few gold. Tipu's body was given a military burial and he was buried by his father's side in Lal Bagh.

The following text is borrowed from:
On the evening of May 3rd, British guns breached the ramparts, and at half past one on the following afternoon, General Baird led the forward storming party.

The fighting was fierce. The Sultan himself stood with those who were attempting to hold the breach, firing with his own hand. When it became evident they could not stem the invasion, he turned abruptly, and attempted to force his way through the press on horseback, toward the Zenana. According to Rajah Khan, the only person to have been at his side the whole afternoon, the thought of the ladies of the household had been in his mind since the moment when he realised the fort was going to fall, and he had considered it his duty to put them to the sword with his own hand, lest they be exposed to outrage in the tumult.

The great gateway, when the Sultan and Rajah Khan reached it, presented already a scene of carnage. Trying to push his way through a melee, in which British soldiers and his own were closely mingled, the Sultan was wounded, first in his breast, then in his right side. Rajah Khan, seeing how heavily he was afflicted, cried out to him that he should make his identity known to the British soldiers, who would surely treat his person with respect.

"Are you mad?" shouted Tippu. "Be silent!" Rajah Khan attempted to disengage him from the saddle and they both fell to the earth together. Rajah Khan, wounded in the leg himself, was yet able to drag the Sultan a little to one side, and so prop him up under the relative shelter of a the arch of the great gate. An English soldier, catching sight of the rich gold buckle with which the Sultan's belt was fastened, stooped and tried to take it off him. Tippu, however, was not dead yet. So many bodies had fallen across his own that he could not get to his feet, being pinned amongst the dead and dying; but he reached out with his hand, laterally, plucked a sword from one of those who had fallen, and struck upwards, slashing the grenadier across the knee. The grenadier, incensed, raised his musket, put it straight to the Sultan's temple, not knowing who he was, and shot him.

Death of Tipu at the taking of Srirangapattana

Death of Tipu by Henry Singleton

Even in death, wrote one present, he carried such a vivacity of hatred that Arthur Wellesley, standing over him in the flickering torchlight, could not believe him dead till he had felt the heart and pulse.

He was dressed in a white linen jacket, and loose drawers of flowered chintz, with a crimson cloth of silk and cotton round the waist. He was of small stature, a trifle corpulent, very dark of complexion, with aqualine nose, bold eyes and prominent chin. His brows were finely arched, and his hands and feet remarkably small and delicately shaped.

Finding body of Tipu -- coloured engraving by Samuel William Reynolds London 1800

Sir David Baird discovering the body of Tipu Sultan; by Sir David Wilkies

The following day, four companies of Europeans marched with his bier. It was borne by his personal attendants, and accompanied by the Kazi, chanting verses from the Koran. Thousands of the faithful prostrated themselves as the Sultan passed on his last journey through the streets toward Lal Bang, where they laid him with his father; the occasion of the last obsequies being rendered more awful by the bursting of an almighty thunderstorm.

The foregoing was quoted from the book:
"Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan, GC, MBE, CdG, by British Author,
Jean Overton Fuller.

There are several stories as to how Tipu was defeated. One version of the story portrays Mir Sadiq as the traitor who sold his mother land while another version portrays Purnayya as the traitor who negotiated the life of his Muslim ruler with the British.

The British promised Mir Sadiq that in return for helping them, they would make him the ruler of Mysore. Also involved in this plot was Pandit Purnia, Tipu's Secretary of Treasury. He was promised the post of prime-minister. They tried various things on Tipu. During a highly important conflict, Purnia told the soldiers to come collect their wages. The soldiers left the cannons and went for their pay and the British were able to destroy parts of the fort wall. Also, empty cannonballs were provided to the soldiers. In the fort, Mir Sadiq declared that Tipu had abducted. However, one of Tipu's loyal followers attacked and killed Mir Sadiq.

In actual fact, Tipu's minister of finance, Mir Sadiq, who was a muslim, informed on Tipu to the British. Tipu did have a confidant, a Brahmin minister named Purnaiah, who remained loyal to him until the very end and who was appointed by the British to rule Mysore after Tipu's death until the legitimate Hindu King of Mysore came of age.

According to historical facts, Tipu did inded suspect Mir Sadiq of treason and intended to hang him before the fortress fell, but did not succeed. Forrest confirms that it was Mir Sadiq who betrayed Tipu to the British. He also believes that Mir Sadiq was killed by his own troops as a traitor and his corpse savagely mangeled.

The following text is borrowed from:

Ordinary soldier:
When we speak of traitors or betrayers, the name of Mir Sadik comes to our mind instantaneously. He was an ordinary soldier in the army of Hyder Ali. By hard work and courage he attained superior position in the administration. Mir Sadik showed the same courage during Tipu's regime. Unsuspecting Tipu promoted him and made him the chief of revenue and finance. He remained faithful to Tipu till 1792. When British gained an upper hand, Mir Sadik understood that Tipu was not a winning horse and that there is no use in supporting him any longer. Overnight he changed his loyalty to the British but kept it as a secret and pretended loyalty to Tipu. He selected his own men and sent secret information to British Governor Cornwallis. He used code words and if by chance the messenger was caught, he would be killed immediately.

Evil designs:
Tipu was a sharp and shrewd Sultan and he came to know of the evil designs of Mir Sadik. He was arrested and kept in prison. But Mir Sadik explained that this was the work of some other soldiers and he was following them to find out the truth. Thus he pleaded his innocence and took an oath to be faithful and obedient to Tipu. Unfortunately Tipu believed him and released him from prison.

Breach of trust:
As soon as he came out of the prison, he continued his breach of trust against the Sultan with greater caution. He told the Sultan that he would be freely moving with the British officers and soldiers only to find out their secrets. Actually he was acting on the contrary. The British promised him wealth and the headship of the Mysore kingdom if Tipu was defeated. Again Tipu came to know of this treachery and prepared a list of persons to be hanged. The first name in this list was that of Mir Sadik. One of his friends informed this to Mir Sadik. He immediately became alert and before Tipu could act, the British were made to attack and Tipu could never come out of the fort of Srirangapattana.

On 22, May 1799 when the battle was going on, Mir Sadik invited all the soldiers of Tipu Sultan who were guarding the fort of Srirangapattana, to come out for a negotiation regarding the increase in their salary as per the order of Tipu. The soldiers believed it and left the fort and went out for negotiations. Now the British had no opposition except for Tipu and some commanders. Tipu was taken aback by this development. Immediately Mir Sadik as planned earlier gave the signal through a white handkerchief to the British soldiers to enter the fort. Immediately the British entered the fort.

Tipu look – alike:
As a strategy many soldiers were dressed like Tipu to confuse the British. It was difficult for them to identity the real Tipu and were struggling to find out the truth. At this juncture Mir Sadik told the British officers that he would go near the real Tipu in the battlefield and bend before him as if showing respect to the Sultan and the British should take the clue from this. He did like this and the British had no difficulty in recognising Tipu Sultan on the battlefield and killing him. Thus Mir Sadik fulfilled his desire of helping the British to eliminate Tipu, his own master who trusted him and promoted him, and even released him from prison, and saved his life. But Mir Sadik showed his gratitude in this way!

But the soldiers of Tipu and people came to know of the treachery of Mir Sadik, attacked him and killed him when he was on his way to join the British. British intervened and buried his body in Srirangapattana itself. But the people were so furious against Mir Sadik and decided that this treacherous person should not be allowed to rest in peace even after death. They exhumed his body from the grave and showed their indignation by throwing human excreta on the body. At this juncture the British intervened and reburied the body at the same place. This is how contemporary people showed their anger and contempt against Mir Sadik who symbolized treachery and betrayal against his own kingdom, master and mentor.

Mir Sadikism:
Even today when tourists go to Srirangapattana to see the Palace of Tipu and his tomb, the guide who explains the history of Tipu Sultan shows the tomb of Mir Sadik and vividly describes the betrayal of Mir Sadik in a highly emotional way. Some tourists even throw stones on his grave and feel justified in doing so. Thus Mir Sadik has become a symbol of treachery or betrayal in our history.

Mir Sadik is dead but his character “Mir Sadikism” still continues in various forms. If a friend or a relative behaves in a treacherous way and betrays the trust deposed in him or her, such a person is referred to as Mir Sadik. Thus Mir Sadik has unfortunately become immortal in history for his notorious character. That is the defect of history. The betrayer is dead but betrayal continues just like the demon Raktabijasura of our puranas!

Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy,
Former Head,
Department of Ancient History & Archaeology,
University of Mysore.


Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Narasimha Murthy,
Your description of the 1799 battle leading to the martydom of Tipu is an eye opener. I had viewed the painting of Henry Singleton of the stroming of seringapatma of 1799 and had observed the ferocious soldiers of Tipu in that painting. The point that Tipu and his 4 bodyguards killed 4500 british soldiers on 5th may 1799 in the courtyard at the breach is worth recognition even by the Govt. of India. I feel you should use your good offices to suggest such a recognition to Tipu for that valiant show of bravery. - Kriteen

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that Purnaiah was also a traitor and with Mir Sadiq as we can see the British made him Dewan and also the incident where the soldiers leaving their positions for salary and the British then Capturing the Fort.All suspicions fall on Purnaiah and Mir Sadiq

Anish Bhandarkar said...

A descendent of Purnaiah told me that indeed it was purnaiah who helped the brits..

Revenge is a dish best served cold, its said. Tipu is said to have molested two of Purnayya's young daughters, who commited suicide. When Purnayya came to know of this on his return, he was enraged and asked tipu for justice..
but tipu feigned ignorance. and hanged a random criminal to death after making him confess falsely.

In the final battle, Purnayya helped the brits identify the tipu among the fake ones, and led to his death..

for his service and statesmanship, he was made a diwan by the Brits, eventhough he was the PM of the enemy kingdom !

The psyche of tipu is unclear to the present day reader. maybe, purnayya wanted to punish an unjust ruler..


Anonymous said...

I can guess mr bhandarkar's favourite cold dish is ice cream.he need to eat more of it.so that he go back to his senses at least to make his story look like a story.tippu was the king it is as simple if he wanted to have a beautiful girl he can get it easily any girl from any part of the world,even as far from france.why only purnaiyas daughter.tippu was not that kind of personality to molest women,this are the stories made by the betrayers against him.it is as clear you can see how come purnaiya became a dewan even after his king and kingdom was defeated by british,still purniya got rewarded.

Ahmar Siddiqui said...

Hail the tiger of mysore....

Anonymous said...

Examining the premise that Purnaiah betrayed Tipu Sultan objectively, without bringing personal prejudices or emotions into play, we have three options.

1. Purnaiah did not betray Tipu and was loyal to the end. If this was the case, the British as atrocious and shrewd as they were would simply not install someone like Purnaiah to quash any hint of a rebellion, regardless of his wisdom and accomplishments. In fact his personal traits would be a good reason not to instill him as Dewan.

2. Purnaiah betrayed Tipu to avenge his daughters. If this was the case, the British would no doubt use this incident to malign Tipu's image, yet we hardly find any documented source, apart from accusations. Lowering him in the eyes of the people of the kingdom would undoubtedly affect morale and quell resistance.

3. Purnaiah was neutral. Again the British in this case would likely be suspicious of someone trusted by the sultan. They might choose him for a dewan due to this abilities, but the Brits were not known for working in favour of the locals. They prioritized one who would work for the British interests over others.

4. Purnaiah betrayed Tipu in promise for a reward by the British. As history turns out, he was indeed instilled as the dewan following Tipu's demise. In this case, betrayal is ultimate proof of loyalty towards the British. Of course, one who betrays Tipu can also betray the British later, but a dewan is no military figure and less likely to rebel. This holds the most weight among the options and likely the case.

Given these options, the

Satish Kumar said...

Its only your guess.. please visit Tipu ka maqbara in Vellore ( graves of tipu family members).. you will find Purnaiah's daughter grave built in hoyasla/ hindu architecture. Circumtancial evidence proves mr. Bhandarkar's version

Satish Kumar said...

Please visit Tipu ka maqbara in Vellore.. the evidence is clearly visible.