Thursday, 25 July 2019

Tipu Sultan of Mysore and 60000 Mangalorean Catholic captives

Tipu Sultan, Seringapatam captivity of Mangalore Christians. en wikipedia org.
Since Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan's death on the battlefield at Srirangapatna in 1799 against the East India company's Army led by Wellesly,  220 years have gone by so far, many historians,  a section of Hindus of Kerala and  Karnataka,  Mangalore Christians of Karnataka and Syrian Christians of Kerala  are of the opinion that Tipu's  reign was not a comfortable one  for the non-Muslims, particularly, the followers of Christ.  However, the ruler was far better than the Portuguese Jesuits of Goa, in particular Rev. Francis Xavier, who recommended the King of Portugal to introduce inquisition  (forced conversion of natives to Christianity using extremee violence, including death) in Goa in 1520 to put the heretics, pagans  and  native Christian converts  on the right path of Christianity. Karnataka state's decision to celebrate ''Tipu Jayanthi'' (birth anniversary) every year drew a lot of criticism as Tipu, a Muslim warrior of repute  was dragged into a subject of discussion and debate.
Hyder Ali had a close relationship with Mangalorean Catholics. en wikipedia org.
A big blot on Tipu Sultan's  reign  was the destruction of Syrian Christian churches and Hindu temples in Kerala.  The ''Captivity of Mangalorean Catholics'' at Seringapatam (1784–1799) -15 long years  of imprisonment is not a palatable chapter in Indian history  The de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. had  60,000 captives, including Malayali Christians, and Tamil Christians from the Tamil regions  in his fort, as stated by Tipu in the Sultan-ul-Tawarikh. Equally disturbing  is the fact that it marks the  wretched  part of the history of Mangalore Christians. Though the root cause of this prolonged imprisonment for no reasons is a disputed one, three reasons may be worth mentioning.  First, Tipu hated the British company and the  wily officials whose faith was Christianity and their eating habits.  Secondly, he was  quite suspicious  that the native Christians were not trust-worthy and wee more loyal to the British than to  his kingdom. Thirdly, historians are of the opinion  that it was purely due to religious reasons, as Tipu  himself stated: "To spare them was mercy, to honor them with Islam a favor. No fault being imputed except them being Christians." His war expeditions into Kerala and elsewhere, destruction of temples and churches and conversions of thousands under duress, historians point out, bear testimony to his 'Islamic' ambition. 
Mangalore city map, Karnataka, S. India.ftd.travel
During the reign of Hyder Ali, the  Mangalorean Catholic community in Mangalore had nothing to fear. Hyder Aki had Catholics in his administration and also in the  army. The  ruler  allowed Christians to build a church within the Seringapatam Fort where French generals (Hyder Ali had an alliance withe the French Army) offered prayers. Tipu had also taken part in the conquest of Mangalore in 1768, and  was aware how badly the Canara Muslims  were treated by the Portuguese clergy, and was at cross road with his father's favourable policy towards the Mangalorean Catholics. No sooner had Tipu Sultan taken over the control (he was just 31 years old)  from his father and  inherited the territory in January 1784, than he issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates, and send them to Seringapatam. His orders were carried out  and on 24 February 1784  they took effect.  Tipu accused the Mangalorean Catholics of treachery towards the sovereign, as well as their having helped the British. In March 1783, when the British  took over the Mangalore fort, many catholics joined the British army and acted as spies for them  and this act of treason angered Tipu. Praxy Fernandes, historian has mentioned that  the Christians helped  British Colonel Campbell in the Mangalore fort and had close contacts with Mysore traitors Kasim Ali and Mohammed Ali, who were enemies of Tipu  and had plotted with the English to overthrow him. Fernandes  pointed out that the head of the Congregation of Monte Mariano Church at Farangipet, near Mangalore, provided the British garrison with 1,000 bags of rice. Historian Thomas Paul is of the view that  Tipu shifted his hatred for the British to the Mangalorean Catholics and other South Indian Christian communities.  Historian Sita Ram Goel, about religious conversion, has mentioned that  Tipu's justification for the conversion was that during the Portuguese domination, many Muslims were forcibly converted to Christianity under threats of death and torture Tipu justified his actions as a punishment for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity in Goa and elsewhere. 

After a peace treaty with the British, the Mangalore Fort was delivered to Tipu in January 1784. Tipu never pardoned the Christians for their betrayal  and owing their  allegiance to the British. He expelled 13 Goan priests from his kingdom to Goa and told them they would face death if ever returned.  Upon receiving highly exaggerated reports about the role of the Christians and their help to the British during the Second Anglo-Mysore War, Tipu wanted to minimise the threat to his kingdom from the British and banish the Christians of Canara. They were issued with orders of expulsion to Goa and would be fined Rs. 200,000, and threatened with death by hanging if they ever returned.

Built by Tipu.  Idgah mosque, Mangalore en.wikipedia.org
 Above image: It is widely mentioned that  the Idgah mosque in Mangalore across St. Aloysius College ( Private, co-educational Jesuit college with 4299 UG students and 1530 PG students) was built by Tipu Sultan with stones taken from the destroyed Milagres Church. It was built in 1680 by Bishop Thomas de Castro, a Theatine from Divar, Goa.....................................

The long march from Mangalore to Srirangapatne  began  on 
Ash Wednesday 24 February 1784, Tipu  herded them to his capital at Seringapatam. In the same year, he also pulled down 27 churches including the Milagres Church. During the long march to Srirangapatnam in the most painful  and stressful time, twenty thousand Christians died  with no basic medical care. It is  
reported that they poignantly underwent  extreme  hardships, persecutions, torture and  death. Many Christians were forced to convert to Islam and the Mangalore Christians, with no hope to get free almost faced near extermination.  The  dungeons in the fort were used by Tipu to imprison Hindus and Christians who did not convert. When Srirangapatnam came under the control of the British after  Tipu's death at the Battle of Seringapatam on 4 May 1799, during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, of the 60,000–80,000 Christians captives, only 15,000–20,000 remained alive 
and retained their original faith.  The bi-centennial anniversary of the Christians' release from captivity was celebrated across the region on 4 May 1999.
Tit-bits:
Catholics under the Mangalore Diocese, are referred to  as Mangalorean Catholics who are are Konkani people whose mother tongue is the Konkani language. Unfortunately the records of South Canara's Christian community were lost during the tumultuous time of their deportation by Tipu in 1784. Though it is not known when Christianity came to Canara for the first time, however it was after the arrival of the Portuguese in 1498  when de Gama landed on   St Mary's Islands in South Canara and planted a cross there in 1500s,the Cristianity had taken roots there After  the Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived at Anjediva in North Canara with eight Franciscan missionaries, conversion began and in  1526, during the viceroyship of Lopo Vaz de Sampaio, the Portuguese captured  Mangalore and soon Portuguese Franciscans began slowly spreading Christianity in Mangalore.  As for Mangalorean Chritians, originally many of them were ''Saraswat Brahmins'' who were forced by the Portuguese to convert to Christianity during the Goa inquisition. These converts, to avoid threats and persecution left Goa for good and settle down in Mangalore in the 16th century.  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captivity_of_Mangalorean_Catholicsat_Seringapatam
https://ratthes.blogspot.com/2013/02/tipus-fanaticism-and-cruelty.html