R Krishna Kumar
MYSORE – The Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Sultan Jayanti has triggered opposition among the detractors of the 18th century ruler of Mysore, who had challenged British supremacy. But experts have described such opposition as being clouded by communal view devoid of knowledge of history, according to the Hindu newspaper.
This is the second time in the recent past that the enigmatic ruler had evoked strong sentiments more than 200 years after his death, when he fell fighting the British on May 4, 1799 at Srirangapatna.
It was two years ago that a similar furor was witnessed when the government decided to establish a central university near Mysuru named after the warrior ruler and was opposed by BJP leaders.
N.S. Rangaraju, retired professor of history from the University of Mysore, told The Hindu that those opposing Tipu Sultan do not have adequate historical knowledge of the ruler.
“He is the only ruler who fought the British opposing their imperialism and died valiantly,” he said.
Taking on BJP leaders, some of whom have coloured Tipu Sultan as indulging in forcible conversion, Prof. Rangaraju said religious conversion was not something unique only to Tipu Sultan and existed in India since historical times.
“There was large scale conversion to Buddhism during the period of Asoka in 2nd Century B.C., while Hinduism got State patronage during the Gupta era from 4th Century A.D. to 6th Century A.D. In later centuries, Sri Ramanujacharya converted Bittideva of Hoysala dynasty from Jainism to Sri Vaishnavism and he assumed the name of Vishunvardhana,” said Prof. Rangaraju and pointed out that incidents of conversion cannot be the only criterion to judge Tipu Sultan. There are records that he helped Sringeri Mutt, which had come under attack of the Marathas while he contributed to the maintenance of Sri Ranganathswamy temple at Srirangapatna and Srikanteshwara temple at Nanjangud, Prof. Rangaraju said.
Historian Sheikh Ali, former Vice-Chancellor, Universities of Mangalore and Goa and an authority on the subject, has aired his views in the past as to how Tipu Sultan was ahead of his time and was also a reformer and stern with his enemies, be they Hindu or Muslim.–The Hindu