Tipu Sultan is born, 1750 CE, a short biography

 Portrait of Tipu Sultan | Photo: Internet
Portrait of Tipu Sultan | Photo: Internet

Today on the 20th of November in 1750 CE, the Sultan of the Kingdom of Mysore and an indomitable opponent of the colonial regime, Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu was born in Devanahalli (now in Bangalore, India). Known as the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu succeeded his father Hyder Ali in 1782 CE.

According to Kate Brittlebank, at the time when he was killed by the British, Tipu Sultan was the most famous Indian in Britain. Celebrations erupted when Tipu was killed by the troops of General George Harris. Tipu has also been described as the father of rocket artillery innovations.

According to Indian aerospace scientist Roddam Narasimha, the rockets of Tipu Sultan were much more advanced than what the British had seen or known, chiefly because of the use of iron tubes for holding the propellant; this enabled higher bursting pressures in the combustion chamber and hence higher thrust and longer range for the missile. 

Rockets, or ‘fire-arrows’ in some form, have been known for a long time: the Chinese are recorded as having used them in 1232 CE. After having fallen into disuse with the invention and improvement of cannon, rockets reemerged in the Mysore of Hyder and Tipu in the second half of the 18th century.

A painting showing the Britsh forces confronted with Mysorean rockets | Wikimedia

The reemergence of the rocket as a significant military weapon during the 18th century Mysore of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan was a fascinating achievement.

Birth of Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan was the son of Hyder Ali and his second wife Fakhr-un-Nissa. Mohibbul Hasan writes, Hyder’s first wife was the daughter of Sayyid Shahbaz, commonly known as Shah Mian Saheb, a pirzada of Sira. She gave birth to a daughter but, while in child-birth, she was attacked with dropsy which made her paralytic for the rest of her life.

Hyder then married Fatima, also called Fakhr-un-Nissa, who was the daughter of Mir Muin al-Din, for some years the Governor of the fort of Cuddapah. When she became pregnant, she, with her husband, paid a visit to the tomb of Sufi saint Tipu Mastan Aulia in Arcot and prayed for her safe and easy delivery and for the birth of a son.

Her prayers were answered and on Friday, the 20th Dhu al-Hijjah, 1163 A.H. (November 20, 1750) a son was born to her at Devanhalli, where she had been living ever since its capture by the Mysoreans in 1749. The newly born son was named Tipu Sultan after the name of the saint. He was also called Fath Ali after his grandfather Fath Muhammad.

Among his many innovations, Tipu introduced new coin denominations and new coin types, including this handsome copper double paisa weighing over 23 gm. The coin on the left also contains the emblem of the Sultanate of Mysore. | Wikimedia

Tipu Sultan is remembered for a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including a new land revenue system that initiated the growth of the Mysore silk industry. He was vigorous, brave, and a skilled warrior. When the other petty Indian states were in decline, Tipu emerged as a real threat to British colonialism.

Tipu Sultan’s forces during the Siege of Srirangapatna | Wikimedia

Death of Tipu Sultan

During the fourth Anglo-Mysore war, the British decided to take over Tipu and end this threat forever. Therefore, the British besieged the fortress of Tipu at Seringapatam on 5 April 1799. The British had sought the assistance of Tipu Sultan’s Chief Minister Mir Sadiq in order to take over the fortress.

The spot in Srirangapatana where Tipu’s body was found | Wikimedia

Mir Sadiq betrayed and withdrew his troops stationed at the breach. British troops were assembled in the trenches waiting for such a signal. Thus British breached the fortress and Tipu Sultan lost his life while protecting his soil.

The tomb of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatna | Wikimedia

According to Muhammad Iqbal, “Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq were a disgrace to faith, a disgrace to humanity, and a disgrace to the motherland, who were instrumental in the defeat and death of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah of Bengal and Tipu Sultan of Mysore respectively by betraying them for the benefit of the British”.

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