A Sringeri letter : The three sources of strength of Tipu Sultan

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.


About Olikara

An engineer, history buff, collector of South Indian antiques.
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17 Responses to A Sringeri letter : The three sources of strength of Tipu Sultan

  1. Sam says:

    This is a nice article, came to know many new things in this,Thank you. Keep up the good work!
    In my opinion if Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan would not have negotiated with British in Madras,and Managalore ,the story and history would have been different , the British were stranded in Fort George(Madras) and Tipu Sultan was kicking butts of British on the gates of Fort George and sending rockets inside the fort and many British official were running in despair where to go and Mohammed Ali of Karnatak was also with them (cowards) and took refuge in the ships which was anchored some what further away from Madras. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were in complete control and it was so easy to them to annihilate British completely,instead they negotiated with British which and in return they never upheld their promises as usual and the result was disastrous. why on earth did they negotiated with people who are not trust worthy, invaders, thieves ,robbers, vagabonds and very much less in strength in every way, why would anyone on earth would negotiate with thief who came to rob you and who is not powerful in anyway and you have all the power and strength ? I BELIEVE BECAUSE OF THIS BIGGEST MISTAKE THEY LOST THE WAR!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with Sam, it indeed would have changed the face of the war. Another factor was the constant betrayal of the Nizam & Maratthas despite several generous overtures of peace and tributes they continued to the rock in the works of rooting out the British.

    • ibrahim says:

      Here I totally agree with Sam, Hyder Ali had the chance of dislodging the British from Madras and had he done so history would have been different.

  2. cbkwgl says:

    Great one. Again, victor’s justice right…Tipu killed Christians and Christians led the final assault against him. So, he is a religious bigot. Travancore didn’t submit to him, so he attacked the kingdom. Since that kingdom is full of Hindus, instead of terming it as a war between two nations, it’s termed as clash of religions. The actual ruling family of Mysore, his political successor, opposed him and whatever potrays him in the wrong light is the only thing we know, not the other side of the picture. Sringeri correspondence is very famous which shows him in other light. Even forgetting everything, his capital city in itself is a major Hindu piligrimage centre, but he left the temple unmolested. Does that say he is a bigot?
    Also, like to see some articles over Tipu’s French Embassy if possible.

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  4. If Hyder Ali had lived a little longer, the British might very well have returned to their homes sooner.

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  7. Srinidhi says:

    I must admit that this is not the real truth of Tipu and it is unfortunate that the our leaders are projecting him as a nationalist. I guess everyone knows the atrocities which had taken place in Coorg and travancore where he imprisoned about 50,000 and converted them to Islam and vandalized around 8000 temples during third Mysore war – He was well known as Islamic zealot. After he was defeated in 3rd Mysore war where he ended up in a treaty of Seringapattanam according to which Tipu had to surrender half of his kingdom to english and send his two sons to them as hostages of war. Deeply upset with this Tipu sends “Kanike” to Sringeri mutt in order to gain Hindu’s sentiments as he had lost the real confidence in his ability to put up the fight against English. It’s all of a political move..

    As you have quoted some letters, there are other letters as well which is worth to read once..

    “I am sending two of my followers with Mir Hussain Ali. Along with them you should capture and kill all Hindus. Those below 20 years may be kept in prison and 5000 from the rest should be killed by hanging from tree tops. These are my orders.”
    —Letter dated 14th December, 1766 from Tipu to his army commander in Calicut

    “242 Nairs are being sent as prisoners. Categorize them ordering to their social and family status. After honoring m with Islam, sufficient cloth material may be given to and women.”
    —Letter dated 21st December, 1788 sent to Sheikh Kutub

    ..and many more such letters

    During 17-18th century India is so divided into small states and nobody in those days though of “fighting for india”. Tipu was not fighting for india but was fighting for himself.

    Reference: The real Tipu by HD Sharma

    • Anonymous says:

      srinidhi just do not make fake comments read the history once and leave comments and click the above link of harihareshwara temple and read it twice u will come to know k

      • Anonymous says:

        Everyone knows the history. And the truth. There are enough evidences to prove that he is a fake and false hero. I guess you lack the knowledge of history. Go and read few books related to tipu. Some ref: Tyrant of Mysore by Sandeep balakrishna, Real tipu by H D Sharma, Tipu sultana swatantrya veerana? by MP Pratap Simha…

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  13. Shahil says:

    Simply just don’t copy paste the foolish comments. Read the finest biography written by bhagwan gidwan who researched for 20years over tipus life. And get some light. In it all the sri ranga patana people were cursing british for killing god like person and giving the governance to wodeyars. They referred them in kannada as thola. Simply don’t listen or read inauthentic history bro. Who simply bluff.

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