Tipu Sultan controversy: Important to read why President Kalam called him hero of warfare rocketry


Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ has triggered fresh controversy with the RSS and its affiliate groups vehemently protesting against it.

The RSS has vowed to disrupt the celebrations calling the famous ruler of Mysore a ‘tyrant.’

V Nagraj, an RSS pracharak said, “You can go through recorded history, his own statements, and what was written on his sword. On his sword it was clearly mentioned it was meant to kill the kaffirs.”

While the debate over whether Tipu Sultan was a tyrant or one of the first freedom fighters who gave grief to the British rulers rages on, the famous historian, Irfan Habib, on Tuesday, reminded what the former President APJ Abdul Kalam had written about Tipu in his book, Wings of Fire.

Habib tweeted;

Kalam, a remarkably revered personality for the BJP whose ideological mentor is the RSS, had mentioned an interesting experience while visiting NASA facility in Maryland(USA) as part of a training program on sounding rocket launching techniques.

He wrote in his book, “Here, I saw a painting prominently displayed in the reception lobby. It depicted a battle scene with a few rockets flying in the background. A painting with this theme should be the most commonplace thing at a Flight Facility, but the painting caught my eye because the soldiers on the side launching the rockets were not white , but dark-skinned, with the racial features of people found in South Asia.

“One day, my curiosity got the better of me, drawing me towards the painting. It turned out to be Tipu Sultan’s army fighting the British. The painting depicted a fact forgotten in Tipu’s own country but commemorated here on the other side of the planet. I was happy to see an Indian glorified by NASA as a hero of warfare rocketry.”

Kalam’s awe for the famous ruler of Mysore aside, the historians of eminence too have showered praises on Tipu for his contribution to promote communal harmony.

Historian NV Narasimhaiah said, “Tipu brought sericulture to Karnataka, banned intoxicating liquor. There was a practice in Kerala that lower caste women were not allowed to wear blouses. When Tipu learnt this, he supplied the blouses.”

“Tipu Sultan was known for his self-respect and patriotism. He said, ‘I can’t be a servant of the Britishers, I can’t surrender to you’,” he added.

It seems not all BJP lawmakers appear to be in agreement of the RSS’ understanding of Tipu. Abdul Azeem, a BJP lawmaker, said, “Tipu Sultan was very secular and gave equal treatment to Hindus and Muslims. Not only mosques but also temples were looked after.”



  1. Tiger of Mysore as a Scientist par excellence:

    Mysore Missiles, the Father of Congreve Rockets

    Tiger of Mysore as a Secular Human Being:

    1. Temples and officers in Mysore

    Tipu Sultan’s treasurer was Krishna Rao, Shamaiya Iyengar was his Minister of Post and Police, his brother Ranga Iyengar was also an officer, and Purnaiya held the very important post of “Mir Asaf”.

    Moolchand and Sujan Rai were his chief agents at the Mughal court, and his chief “Peshkar”, Suba Rao, was also a Hindu.

    Editor of Mysore Gazettes Srikantaiah has listed 156 temples to which Tipu regularly paid annual grants. There is such evidence as grant deeds, and correspondence between his court and temples, and his having donated jewellery and deeded land grants to several temples

    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 jewelled 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.

    2. Sringeri incident

    In 1791, Maratha army raided the temple and matha of Sringeri Shankaracharya, killing and wounding many, and plundering the monastery of all its valuable possessions.

    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:

    “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).”

    He immediately ordered the Asaf of Bednur to supply the Swami with 200 rahatis (fanams) in cash and other gifts and articles. Tipu Sultan’s interest in the Sringeri temple continued for many years, and he was still writing to the Swami in the 1790s CE.

    3. Tipu Sultan as a defender of the Hindu dharma

    In light of this and other events, B.A. Saletare has described Tipu Sultan as a defender of the Hindu dharma, who also patronised other temples including one at Melkote, for which he issued a Kannada decree that the Shrivaishnava invocatory verses there should be recited in the traditional form. The temple at Melkote still has gold and silver vessels with inscriptions indicating that they were presented by the Sultan. Tipu Sultan also presented four silver cups to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale.

    Tipu Sultan does seem to have repossessed unauthorised grants of land made to Brahmins and temples, but those which had proper sanads were not. It was a normal practice for any ruler, Muslim or Hindu, on his accession or on the conquest of new territory.

    In the annals of history, Tipu Sultan stands tall as a secular leader par excellence embracing religious pluralism.

  2. S it’s true & he is great freedom fighter of India and no one as brave had born like this. Bravary grateful man of mysore
    he is scintiest come ruler. One make history and his birth place devanahalli wer airport is. Constructed pls put tipu airport I request all Indian pls obey him respect him name him