"People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kali age in accordance with the verse: "Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudadbhir-anubhuyate" (People do [evil] deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying)."
Tipu Sultan was born on 20 November 1750 (Friday, 20th Dhu al-Hijjah, 1163 AH) at Devanahalli, in present-day Bangalore Rural district, about 33 km (21 mi) north of Bangalore city. He was named "Tipu Sultan" after the saint Tipu Mastan Aulia of Arcot. Tipu was also called "Sultan Sayyid walShareef Fateh Ali Khan Tipu" after his grandfather Fath Muhammad. Tipu was born at Devanhalli in a Najeeb AlTarfayn Sayyid family meaning having ancestry to both Imams Hassan and Hussain, as the son of Hyder Ali. Being illiterate, Hyder was very particular in giving his eldest son a prince's education and a very early exposure to military and political affairs. From the age of 17 Tipu was given independent charge of important diplomatic and military missions. He was his father's right arm in the wars from which Hyder emerged as the most powerful ruler of southern India.
Tipu's father, Hyder Ali, was a military officer in Service to the Kingdom of Mysore; he rapidly rose in power, seized power and became the de facto ruler of Mysore in 1761. Hyder himself claimed descent from the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe of Arabs, the tribe of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad through his ancestor Sayyid walShareef Hassan bin Yahya who was the Sherif of Makkah. Hyder's father, Fath Muhammad, was born in Kolar, and served as a commander of 50 men in the bamboo rocket artillery (mainly used for signalling) in the army of the Nawab of Carnatic. Fateh Muhammad eventually entered the Service of the Wodeyar Rajas of the Kingdom of Mysore. Tipu's mother Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa was the daughter of Mir Muin-ud-Din, the governor of the fort of Kadapa. Hyder Ali appointed able teachers to give Tipu an early education in subjects like Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Kannada, Quran, Islamic jurisprudence, riding, shooting and fencing.
The Maratha Empire, under its new Peshwa Madhavrao I, regained most of Indian subcontinent, twice defeating Tipu's father, who was forced to accept Maratha Empire as the supreme power in 1764 and then in 1767. In 1767 Maratha Peshwa Madhavrao defeated both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and entered Srirangapatna, the capital of Mysore. Hyder Ali accepted the authority of Madhavrao who gave him the title of Nawab of Mysore.
In 1766, when Tipu Sultan was just 15 years old, he got the chance to apply his military training in battle for the first time, when he accompanied his father on an invasion of Malabar. After the incident- Siege of Tellicherry in Thalassery in North Malabar, Hyder Ali started losing his territories in Malabar. Tipu came from Mysore to reinstate the authority over Malabar. After the Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789–90), due to the monsoon flood, the stiff resistance of the Travancore forces and news about the attack of British in Srirangapatnam he went back.
In 1779, the British captured the French-controlled port of Mahé, which Tipu had placed under his protection, providing some troops for its defence. In response, Hyder launched an invasion of the Carnatic, with the aim of driving the British out of Madras. During this campaign in September 1780, Tipu Sultan was dispatched by Hyder Ali with 10,000 men and 18 guns to intercept Colonel Baillie who was on his way to join Sir Hector Munro. In the Battle of Pollilur, Tipu decisively defeated Baillie. Out of 360 Europeans, about 200 were captured alive, and the sepoys, who were about 3800 men, suffered very high casualties. Munro was moving south with a separate force to join Baillie, but on hearing the news of the defeat he was forced to retreat to Madras, abandoning his artillery in a water tank at Kanchipuram.
Tipu's persecution of Christians even extended to captured British Soldiers. For instance, there were a significant number of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their disastrous defeat at the 1780 Battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men along with an unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam. Of these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British regimental Drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls or dancing girls. After the 10-year-long captivity ended, James Scurry, one of those prisoners, recounted that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair and use a knife and fork. His English was broken and stilted, having lost all his vernacular idiom. His skin had darkened to the swarthy complexion of negroes, and moreover, he had developed an aversion to wearing European clothes.
Editor of Mysore Gazettes spondence between his court and temples, and his having donated jewellery and deeded land grants to several temples, which he was compelled to do to make alliances with Hindu rulers. Between 1782 and 1799 Tipu Sultan issued 34 "Sanads" (deeds) of endowment to temples in his domain, while also presenting many of them with gifts of silver and gold plate. The Srikanteswara Temple in Nanjangud still possesses a jeweled cup presented by the Sultan. He also gave a greenish linga; to Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatna he donated seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner. This temple was hardly a stone's throw from his palace from where he would Listen with equal respect to the ringing of temple bells and the muezzin's call from the mosque; to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale he gifted four cups, a plate and Spitoon in silver.
The Barcoor Manuscript reports him as having said: "All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject." Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara. He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates, and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route. However, there were no Priests among the captives. Together with Fr. Miranda, all the 21 arrested Priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rupees 200,000, and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned.
The war is also noted for excesses committed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in Tanjore. During the period of occupation, which lasted six months, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are believed to have impoverished the country, destroying crops and cattle. As late as 1785, the Dutch missionary Christian Friedrich Schwarz describes Tipu's alleged abduction of 12,000 children from the region. The economic output of Tanjore is estimated to have fallen by 90% between 1770 and 1782. The ravages of Hyder and Tipu were followed by alleged expeditions of plunder launched by the Kallars. The economic devastation wrought by these attacks was so severe that Tanjore's economy did not recover until the start of the 19th century; the era is referred to in local folklore as the Hyderakalam.
In 1786 Tipu Sultan, again following the lead of his father, decided to build a navy consisting of 20 battleships of 72 cannons and 20 frigates of 62 cannons. In the year 1790 he appointed Kamaluddin as his Mir Bahar and established massive dockyards at Jamalabad and Majidabad. Tipu Sultan's board of admiralty consisted of 11 commanders in Service of a Mir Yam. A Mir Yam led 30 admirals and each one of them had two ships. By the year 1789 most of Tipu Sultan's ships had copper-bottoms, an idea that increased the longevity of the ships and was introduced to Tipu by Admiral Suffren.
Conflict ended with Treaty of Gajendragad in March 1787, as per which Tipu returned all the territory captured by Hyder Ali to Maratha Empire. Tipu agreed to pay four year arrears of tribute which his father Hyder Ali had agreed to pay to Maratha Empire (4.8 million rupees), The Marathas agreed to address Tipu Sultan as "Nabob Tipu Sultan Futteh Ally Khan".
In 1788, Tipu ordered his governor in Calicut Sher Khan to begin the process of converting Hindus to Islam, and in July of that year, 200 Brahmins were forcibly converted.
Tipu Sultan had lost his sword in a war with the Nairs of Travancore during the Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789), in which he was forced to withdraw due to the severe joint attack from Travancore army and British army. The Nair army under the leadership of Raja Kesavadas again defeated the Mysore army near Aluva. The Maharaja, Dharma Raja, gave the famous sword to the Nawab of Arcot, from whom the sword was taken away forcibly by the British after annexing Arcot and sent to London. The sword was on display at the Wallace Collection, No. 1 Manchester Square, London.
Tipu Sultan's invasion of the Malabar had an adverse impact on the Syrian Malabar Nasrani community of the Malabar coast. Many churches in the Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the center of Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tipu's Soldiers. A lot of centuries old religious manuscripts were lost forever. The church was later relocated to Kottayam where it still exists to this date. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed as well. Tipu's army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Furthernmore, the Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was also destroyed. Over the course of this invasion, many Syrian Malabar Nasrani were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Most of the coconut, arecanut, pepper and cashew plantations held by the Syrian Malabar farmers were also indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army. As a result, when Tipu's army invaded Guruvayur and adjacent areas, the Syrian Christian community fled Calicut and small towns like Arthat to new centres like Kunnamkulam, Chalakudi, Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. where there were already Christians. They were given refuge by Sakthan Tamburan, the ruler of Cochin and Karthika Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore, who gave them lands, plantations and encouraged their businesses. Colonel Macqulay, the British resident of Travancore also helped them.
In 1791 his opponents advanced on all fronts, with the main British force under Cornwallis taking Bangalore and threatening Srirangapatna. Tipu harassed the British supply and communication and embarked on a "scorched earth" policy of denying local resources to the invaders. In this last effort he was successful, as the lack of provisions forced Cornwallis to withdraw to Bangalore rather than attempt a siege of Srirangapatna. Following the withdrawal, Tipu sent forces to Coimbatore, which they retook after a lengthy siege.
The 1792 campaign was a failure for Tipu. The allied army was well-supplied, and Tipu was unable to prevent the junction of forces from Bangalore and Bombay before Srirangapatna. After about two weeks of siege, Tipu opened negotiations for terms of surrender. In the ensuing treaty, he was forced to cede half his territories to the allies, and deliver two of his sons as hostages until he paid in full three crores and thirty lakhs rupees fixed as war indemnity to the British for the campaign against him. He paid the amount in two instalments and got back his sons from Madras.
In 1794, with the support of French Republican officers, Tipu helped found the Jacobin Club of Mysore for 'framing laws comfortable with the laws of the Republic'. He planted a Liberty Tree and declared himself Citizen Tipoo.
During a search of his palace in 1795, some gold medals were found in the palace, on which the following was inscribed on one side in Persian: "Of God the bestower of blessings", and the other: "victory and conquest are from the Almighty". These were carved in commemoration of a victory after the war of 1780.
Horatio Nelson defeated François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers at the Battle of the Nile in Egypt in 1798. Three armies marched into Mysore in 1799—one from Bombay and two British, one of which included Arthur Wellesley. They besieged the capital Srirangapatna in the Fourth Mysore War. There were more than 26,000 Soldiers of the British East India Company, approximately 4,000 Europeans and the rest Indians. A column was supplied by the Nizam of Hyderabad consisting of ten battalions and more than 16,000 cavalry, and many Soldiers were sent by the Marathas. Thus, the Soldiers in the British force numbered more than 50,000, whereas Tipu Sultan had only about 30,000.
According to Historian Professor Sheikh Ali, Tipu "took his stand on the bedrock of humanity, regarding all his subjects as equal citizen to live in peace, harmony and concord." However, during the storming of Srirangapatna by the British in 1799, thirteen murdered British prisoners were discovered, killed by either having their necks broken or nails driven into their skulls.
The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, "It is notoriously known in all Asia and all other parts of the globe of the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians in the Dominion of the King of Kanara, during the usurpation of that country by Tipu Sultan from an implacable hatred he had against them who professed Christianity."
The incumbent Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu Sultan for help. A bunch of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which were exchanged between Tipu Sultan's court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore. Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid:
Tipu had several wives. One of his wives quite renowned for her beauty and intelligence was Sindh Sahiba whose grandson was Sahib Sindh Sultan also known as His Highness Shahzada Sayyid walShareef Ahmed Halim-az-Zaman Khan Sultan Sahib. Tipu Sultan's family was sent to Calcutta by the British. A descendent of one of Tipu Sultan's uncles Noor Inayat Khan was a British Special Operations Executive agent during the Second World War, murdered in the German Dachau concentration camp in 1944. Many other descendants continue to live in Kolkata.
Tipu Sultan was one of the first Indian kings to be killed on the battlefield while defending his Kingdom against the Colonial British. Tipu has been recognized as a freedom fighter by the Government of Karnataka and has been treated as one of the national heroes. A 1990 television series was based on him, The Sword of Tipu Sultan, directed by Sanjay Khan and based on a historical novel by Bhagwan Gidwani.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, in his Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture in Bangalore (30 November 1991), called Tipu Sultan the innovator of the world's first war rocket. Two of these rockets, captured by the British at Srirangapatna, were displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum in London. According to Historian Dr Dulari Qureshi Tipu Sultan was a fierce warrior king and was so quick in his movement that it seemed to the enemy that he was fighting on many fronts at the same time. Tipu managed to subdue all the petty kingdoms in the south. He defeated the Nizams and was also one of the few Indian rulers to have defeated British armies. He is said to have started a new coinage, calendar, and a new system of weights and measures mainly based on the methods introduced by French technicians.
The last sword used by Tipu in his last battle, at Sri Rangapatnam, and the ring worn by him were taken by the British forces as war trophies. Till April 2004, they were kept on display at the British Museum London as gifts to the museum from Maj-Gen Augustus W.H. Meyrick and Nancy Dowager. At an auction in London in April 2004, Vijay Mallya purchased the sword of Tipu Sultan and some other historical artefacts, and brought them back to India.
In October 2013, another sword owned by Tipu Sultan and decorated with his babri (tiger stripe motif) surfaced and was auctioned by Sotheby's. It was purchased for £98,500 by a telephone bidder.
On 10 November 2017, the Government of Karnataka under the leadership of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah celebrated Tipu's birth anniversary but BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh protested against this move due to the persecution of Hindus by Tipu Sultan.
After Haider Ali led a coup, after being appointed the military chief of Hindu Wadiyar dynasty of Mysore, the Lingayats of Karnataka came under Islamic rule in the late 18th century. During this period, the followers of Lingayatism were persecuted. A British source claimed that Tipu Sultan found the practice of Lingayat women of being topless, offensive and ordered the mutilation of breasts of a Lingayat woman, as a result, wearing of long garments came into use by Hindu women.