The Dreams of Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan

It was about six years ago, on a sunny afternoon, that Madame History Teacher (read My Dearest Mater) and I decided to explore another Historical Treasure which, despite being located so very near to our place of residence, had never been visited by us.

So off we went, traversing the busy streets of my beloved city on a two-wheeler (my TVS Scooty PEP, if my memory serves me right) and arrived at the Palace of one of our favourite figures in history, one of the bravest rulers who ever lived, one of the best statesmen, a true patriot and one of India’s greatest secularists, TIPU SULTAN.

Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan, Bangalore

We marveled, for a while, at the architecture, wondering how the palace must have been put to use back then; we climbed the steep staircases, clicked a few photographs in the well-maintained lawns and then proceeded to peruse the exhibits within the palatial chambers.

Among those objects of factual importance and historical interest (which included the blood-stained clothing of the great Sultan, his swords, armour etc), the one thing that caught our attention was a red-coloured, framed plaque which described, in impeccable English, the existence of a sort of personal diary, maintained by the extraordinary ruler in which he recorded his dreams, in his own handwriting, in the Persian language, sometimes even going ahead and interpreting them himself. The plaque also illustrated two entries from the mentioned journal –one of which was a dream related to his kingdom and the other was a spiritual one.

It appeared to me that after traversing the forests and high hills, my army had encamped. On the way and near the place of encampment,  I saw a cow with its calf, resembling a big striped tiger; its countenance, teeth, etc., looked like those of a tiger; its forelegs were like those of a cow; it had no hind-legs at all; its forelegs were in slight motion; and it was causing injury to the best of its ability. Having closely examined it, I reached the camp and directed several persons to prepare themselves and accompany me. I said to them: ” God-willing, on arriving near this cow which looks like a tiger, I shall with my own hand cut it along with its calf into pieces.” Having said that, I reviewed my household stud and gave orders for two grey horses to be quickly saddled and brought. At this moment, morning appeared and I woke up.

At that very moment,  the following interpretation of the dream suggested itself to my mind: that the British of the hills are like the cow with its calf with the appearance of tigers; and by the favour of God and through the felicity and aid of the Prophet, the place mentioned will be reduced with ease and all of the British will be slain. The slight motion of the forelegs, I interpreted to mean that they would make an attempt to wage war, and the absence of hind-legs indicated that no one would afford them any help and that none from my army would receive any injury at their hands. Through the aid of God, be it so.

Tipu Tiger Organ

On the 21st of the month Haidari, of the year Busd in accordance with the Zar evaluation, the fortieth year of the cycle, at the place where I had halted, on the farther side of the Tungabhadra, I had this dream:

It appeared to me as if it was the Day of Judgement when no one would be interested in anyone else. At that time a stranger of great strength and commanding stature with a bright face and red beard and moustache came to me and taking my hand in his, said to me: “Do you know who I am?” I told him I did not. He then said to me, “I am Ali, and the Messenger of God has said and is still repeating that he would not set his foot in Paradise without you and would wait for you and enter Paradise with you.” I felt so happy and woke up. God is all powerful,  and the Messenger is the intercessor. This suffices.

On a recent bout of my amateur research, I stumbled across more information on the Dreams of Tipu Sultan and have since been impatient to share it with others.

This manuscript of his dreams was, apparently, discovered by the British in the Sultan’s palace at Seringapatam, which was subjected to a thorough search after the infamous betrayal that led to the martyrdom of the Sultan and the subsequent fall of Seringapatam to the British in May 1799.

Mausoleum of Tipu Sultan & his parents at present-day Srirangapatnam, Karnataka

This well-guarded and well-concealed manuscript was a well-kept secret by the Sultan. Written over a period of thirteen years, between 1785 and 1798, it contained thirty-seven dreams, of which the majority were concerned with his wars against the British and their allies; several other dreams gave glad tidings of general success and victory in war, and some others pointed to his intense love and reverence for the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace & blessings of God Almighty be on him), Hadrat Ali (may God Almighty be pleased with him), and other Saints and Sufis.

On the 25th of the month Rahmani, on Friday, the night of Saturday, 1225, from the birth of Muhammad, in the  hours of the morning, I had a dream: I saw Hadrat Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of God Almighty be on him), bestowing on me a green turban and asking me to bind it on my head. I did it accordingly. Then Hadrat Bandah-Nawaz bestowed a turban and asked me to put it on my head which I did. Then Hadrat Ahmad (probably refers to Mujaddid-i-Alf-i-Thani) bestowed a turban and I bound it on my head. On the top of the mountain was an excellent fort. I was looking at it when I woke up. My interpretation of the dream is that God Almighty and our Prophet have conferred the empire of the seven climes upon me.

In addition to dreams, it contained other memoranda and an entry of a report received from the “mofussil” about the discovery of enormous footprints in a field –written in a hand which was not Tipu’s own.

The dominant note throughout his dreams was what was uppermost in Tipu Sultan’s mind –how to free his country from foreign enslavement.

There seemed to be a big temple, the back portion of which was slightly damaged. It contained several large idols. I went into the temple along with a few other men and noticed that the idols were seeing like human beings and their eyes were in motion. I was surprised to see the eyes of the idols moving like those of the living and wondered what could it be due to. Then I approached them. In the last row, there were two female idols. One of these stated that both of them were women while the rest of the idols were the images of men and other objects. She added that they had been praying to God for a long time and everyone ought to nourish oneself. I said to her, “That is fine. Do keep yourself occupied with the remembrance of God.” Having said that,  I ordered my men to repair the dilapidated building. In the meantime, I woke up.

Lately, there has been an immense surge of communal & racial hatred worldwide and there couldn’t be a more opportune occasion to highlight the dire need for communal harmony on the lines of that followed by wise kings like Tipu Sultan, who are maligned today by society, which reeks of spitefulness, merely because their ideologies in terms of religion & worship were different from their own.

With information & excerpts from The Dreams of Tipu Sultan, translated from Persian by Prof. Mahmud Husain

Copyright © Sara Ali 2015

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