The Sringeri Mutt possesses 47 letters addressed by Tipu Sultan to the then Shankaracharya Sri Sacchidananda Bharati III (1770 – 1814). Dr. A. K. Shastry has in his book ‘The records of the Sringeri Dharmasamsthana’, translated and commented upon these letters.
These letters are important not only because they record Tipu’s deep affection for the Mutt and the then Shankaracharya but also because some of the letters bring out important facets of Tipu’s character hitherto not seen or discussed earlier. While Tipu’s letters to the then Shankaracharya condemning the Maratha raid on the Mutt and Tipu’s help in the reinstallation of the holy idol there is well known, I will now bring to your notice another letter from Tipu to the Shankaracharya that Dr. A. K. Shastry terms his favourite as well as Tipu’s message to the world, and I can only agree with him here.
This letter was written by Tipu on Wednesday, June 24th, 1795 (8th day of the dark half of Jyestha, Raksasa Samvata of the Hindu calendar) in Kannada and bore at the top, his round emblem with tiger stripes. The letter begins with a salaam to the Guru.
Tipu says that he depends on 3 sources of strength (‘Mooru Bala’ in Kannada).
The first being the belief that God is merciful (‘Eeshwara Dayapurnavagide’ in Kannada).
The second being the blessings of teachers like the Shankaracharya (‘Nimmantha Gurugala Ashirvada’ in Kannada).
The third being the prowess of arms (‘Ayudhabala’ in kannada).
Tipu believed that God is merciful and will come to the aid of those who go to him, pray to him, seek his aid. So belief in a higher being if important. But, it by itself is not enough.
Tipu also believed that along with God’s mercy, the blessings of one’s teachers, elders is also important. One cannot not be blessed unless he follows on the right path set by his elders. But, this blessing by itself is not enough.
And finally, Tipu believes that mere faith in God and the good wishes of one’s elders is not enough. The most important component of any successful enterprise will be the strength in one’s own arms, self confidence and independence.
Tipu ends the letter with the gift of a crystalline Linga to the Guru and a request to the Guru to worship it. The letter ends with Tipu Sultan’s seal and signature.
This was what set Tipu apart from other Indian monarchs most of whom were full of piety and made large donations to temples, mosques and religious figures. But they lacked belief in themselves and did not strive to be self dependent in policy, weaponry or statecraft. This belief in the 3rd strength was why Tipu’s Mysore remained as India’s paramount power through the last 3 decades of the 18th century.