Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
Sultan Tippu, generally known in the vernacular as Tippu Sulthaan or Tippu Saib.


He was not his father’s favourite. There was another person, whose close association with his father did create sharp envy in him. This individual was Shaikh Ayaz. He was actually a Nair boy of exquisite personal beauty. He became a Muslim under the forced conversion programme of Hyder Ali. See the quote below:

QUOTE: The noble port, ingenuous manners, and singular beauty of the boy attracted general attention ; and when at a more mature age he was led into the field, his ardent valour and uncommon intelligence recommended him to the particular favour of Hyder, who was an enthusiast in his praise, and would frequently speak to him, under the designation of “his right hand in the hour of danger.” . . . .In the conversation of Muhammadan chiefs, a slave of the house, far from being a term of degradation or reproach, uniformly conveys the impression of an affectionate and trustworthy humble friend, and such was Ayaz in the estimation of Hyder. END OF QUOTE.

On his father’s death, Tippu did unsuccessfully try to kill him.

Sultan Tippu have been as much or even more purposeful in seeing to it that the Hindus (Brahmins) and the Nayars are degraded to levels below that of the pariahs and pulayas. And he also wanted to see that the lower castes are relocated on the top scales of the social system.

If the English Company had not been there, in all probability, as of now the Hindus (Brahmins) and the Nayars would have been the lowest of the castes in Malabar. May be in Travancore also, something similar might have happened. Beyond that the Padmanabhapuram Temple would have been plundered and the fabulous wealth stored since antiquity inside the secret chambers inside the Temple would have been literally splattered on the streets.

QUOTE: Among other prisoners taken at the raising of the siege of Tellicherry in 1782, the Kurangoth Nayar, chief of a portion of the petty district of Iruvalinad, lying between the English and French settlements, had ever since remained a prisoner at Tellicherry. ................

The Nayar appears to have been set free, but in 1787 he was seized by Tippu, who hanged him and in spite of French remonstrances annexed his territory to the Iruvalinad collectorship. END OF QUOTE

There are ample contemporary records that attest to the fact that the people on Sultan Tippu’s side were extremely barbarous. See this quote from Travancore State Manual, as to what King Marthanda Varma said about him:

QUOTE from Travancore State Manual: ...........but when he has taken some of my people he has been so base to cut off their noses and ears and sent them away disgracefully. END OF QUOTE.

More or less the same thing is substantiated by James Scurry, an English sailor who had been handed over to Tippu’s people by the French after they had attacked his ship and imprisoned him.

QUOTE: Tippu’s affairs were not well managed in Malabar when he recovered possession of it. The exactions of his revenue collectors appear to have driven the people into rebellion. Ravi Varma of the Zamorin’s house received in 1784 a jaghire in order to keep him quiet, and even Tippu’s Mappilla subjects in Ernad and Walluvanad rebelled. END OF QUOTE.

Tippu’s rule in Malabar might have been just a version of the same old sultry rule in the subcontinent that had continued since times immemorial. Just collect the tax and squeeze the tenants.

QUOTE: On the 25th May 3 1788, the factors at Tellicherry received proposals from the Bibi of Cannanore to take her under their protection ; and her message stated that Tippu had advised her to make up her quarrel with the Kolattiri prince and to pick one with the English. END OF QUOTE.

These kinds affections were mere shifting affections, more or less just to tide over a difficult time.

QUOTE: On Tippu's inhuman treatment of his prisoners, it is unnecessary to dwell. Beginning with the brave Captain Rumley, he had already poisoned, or destroyed in other ways, all whom he thought from their gallantry or abilities would be dangerous opponents in a future struggle. END OF QUOTE.

There are enough and more illustrative eye-witness narrations of these horrible deeds.

QUOTE: Tippu complained bitterly of this evasion, and, on the 25th May, the Chief at Tellicherry had a letter from him complaining further that the Cannanore fort had been looted of everything, “and the said fort made empty as a jungul, and then your troops went away. END OF QUOTE.

This is with regard to the handing over of the Cannanore fort to Tippu by the English Company. The English side simply vacated the place, without waiting for Tippu’s soldiers to arrive. By the time Tippu’s men had arrive, the local populace of Cannanore had more or less looted the fort totally clean.

QUOTE: It was, on July 14th, that the next most important item of news reached the factors. They wished to send an express messenger overland with news of their situation to the Anjengo settlement for communication to Madras and Calcutta. Such messages had heretofore been safely entrusted to Brahmans who, from the sanctity of their caste, had hitherto been permitted to come and go without hindrance. But the factors now learnt that Brahman messengers were no longer safe ; a Brahman selected to convey the message refused to go ; and assigned as his reason that there was “a report prevailing that the Nabob had issued orders for all the Brahmans on the coast to be seized and sent up to Seringapatam.” END OF QUOTE.

This is was the state of the land. The distances are very small in modern perspective. However, no one can move beyond his own homeland without adequate protection. Literally anything can happen.

However, generally Brahmins were safe. Due to their being accorded the highest of ‘respects’.

QUOTE: And on the 20th continuation of the fact was received from Calicut, where “200 Brahmans had been seized and confined, made Mussulmen, and forced to eat beef and other things contrary to their caste.” END OF QUOTE.

It would be quite curious to think as to why they should remain Islam when the terror is over. It is generally mentioned that it is because their own caste would not accept them back. However, there might not be any problem in coming out of Islam and remaining as a different caste.

There might be some unmentioned item about this. The experience of being an Islam would in most probability give these ‘forced into Islam’ persons a lot of worldly experiences beyond the narrow confines of their home. Moreover, the experience in eating tasty ‘forbidden’ food articles would also be too alluring to leave.

QUOTE: First, a corps of “30,000 barbarians,” who butchered everybody “who came in their way next, Lally with the guns ; then, Tippu himself riding on an elephant, and finally another corps of 30,000 men. His treatment of the people was brutal in the extreme. At Calicut he hanged the mothers, “and then suspended the children from their necks.” Naked Christians and Hindus were dragged to pieces tied to the feet of elephants. All churches and temples were destroyed. Christian and pagan women were forcibly married to Muhammadans. END OF QUOTE

That was Fra Bartolomæo’s graphic account Sultan Tippu’s ways and manners in his expeditions.

QUOTE: Parappanad, also "Tichera Terupar, a principal Nayar of Nelemboor” and many other persons, who had been carried off to Coimbatore, were circumcised and forced to eat beef. END OF QUOTE.

In a way these are welcome pieces of information for current-day Muslims. The earlier statements that a lot Cherumar and Makkathaya Thiyyas had converted into Islam would have a very depressing effect on those who wish to connect to the highest classes of people, who they believe are the Hindus (Brahmins) and the Nayars.

QUOTE: On May 27th the Kolattiri or Chirakkal prince began to show his zeal for Tippu’s cause by demanding a settlement of accounts with the factors, and by asking for an immediate payment of one lakh of rupees, for which purpose he sent one of his ministers with orders to remain at Tellicherry till he was paid that sum. The factors were astonished at the demand since the accounts showed that the prince was over four lakhs in the debt of the Honourable Company. The Chief stopped the minister’s “diet money,” invariably paid while such officers remained in the Company’s settlement, and the minister after some demur departed. END OF QUOTE.

This is a very surprising feature of feudal languages. When it suddenly dawns that the ‘revered’ individual or institution is going to slip into ‘no respect’, then the persons who had till then being very submissive will start acting in a dominating manner bordering on rascality.

QUOTE: While these operations were in progress no less than 30,000 Brahmans with their families, it is said, fled from the country, assisted by Ravi Varmma, and took refuge in Travancore. END OF QUOTE.

It transpires that the great warrior class Nayars who are repeatedly mentioned in this book, Malabar, had no stamina for a fight. Beyond that, the tall claims of north Malabar being the homeland of Kalari, the fabulous Marital arts of unknown origin, also stood erased. There was no protection against the hordes that came rushing in from Mysore. The only unwavering entity that stood forth as a protective force was the feeble English Company at Tellicherry.

It should be quite a wonder that individuals who are quite effeminate, soft, detached, reclusive and of feeble sound and utterances could actually form a more powerful protective force than all the semi-barbarians who spontaneously made terrible noises and clamour.

QUOTE: The unhappy captives gave a forced assent, and on the next day the rite of circumcision was performed on all the males, every individual of both sexes being compelled to close the ceremony by eating beef.” END OF QUOTE.

The forced eating of beef might be mentioned again and again as a very repulsive event for the higher castes, especially the Brahmins and the Ambalavasis. Yet, once they experience the Muslim culinary skills, this very repulsive practise might entice them in.

QUOTE: Hereafter you must proceed in an opposite manner ; dwell quietly, and pay your dues like good subjects : and since it is a practice with you for one woman to associate with ten men, and you leave your mothers and sisters unconstrained in their obscene practices, and are thence all born in adultery, and are more shameless in your connexions than the beasts of the field : I hereby inquire you to forsake those sinful practices, and live like th