Captivity of Kodavas at Seringapatam
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The Captivity of Kodavas at Seringapatam (also known as the Captivity of Coorgis at Seringapatam) speaks chiefly of the capture and imprisonment of Kodava Hindus by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, during a number of attempts to suppress their rebellion in the 1780s. These captives were forcibly deported, some of them were converted and some were killed. The estimated numbers of the captives vary according to different sources, from 500 (according to Punganuri) to 85,000 (according to B. L. Rice). During the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789–1792) 5,000 Coorg men along with their families, amounting to 12,000 people escaped from prison in Seringapatam (Srirangapatna) and came back into Coorg.
- 1 Background
- 2 Captivity by Tipu Sultan
- 3 Arabic and Farsi Inscriptions Record
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 Citations
- 7 References
Hyder Ali's invasion
The conquest of Coorg, by Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore and father of Tipu Sultan, lasted 3 months and eight days. The fort of Coorg surrendered in 1765 and the Raja had previously fled into Malabar region. Hyder conquered Coorg from its king and placed his garrison in its capital Madikeri (Mercara). He gave gifts to the twelve barons who had been under the king, levied money from them and returned to his capital Seringapatam (Srirangapatna) in Mysore. When Hyder Ali unexpectedly invaded Coorg, some Coorgs were assembled on a wooded hill when Hyder's troops encompassed it. Hyder offered five rupees for every head of a Coorg (Kodava) that was brought before him. After some time when his soldiers brought him 700 heads, Hyder got the carnage stopped.
Coorg was again invaded by Hyder in 1773 at the invitation of Linga Raja who claimed the throne for his nephew Appaji Raja against Devappa Raja of Horamale. In 1774, Devaya (Devappa Raja of Horamale) the Raja of Kodagu (called 'Coorgman' or 'Koduguwala' by Punganuri) rebelled, made his escape and hid in Basavapatnam (a place located between Chitradurga and Ikkeri). He was traced, caught and imprisoned in Srirangapatna. Hyder had him punished and had eminent men hanged. After occupying the country, Hyder gave it to Appaji Raja, the leading man,appointed him the 'Raja of Great Coorg', collected annual tribute  and established a garrison there under a Commandant. Appaji died in 1776 and Linga Raja, his uncle, succeeded him.
Linga Raja died in 1780 leaving behind his young sons, the eldest being (Dodda) Vira Rajendra. As they were young, Hyder became their guardian and took over Coorg completely. Instead of setting a son of the previous Raja, Hyder Ali made a priest (Subbarasaya) the ruler in Coorg. The Coorgs were enraged with this and hence revolted in June 1782. Hyder got the princes removed from Madikeri (Mercara) to Goruru (in Hassan region) so as to deprive the Coorgs of a rallying point.
Rebellion during Tipu Sultan's reign
The Coorgs had rebelled and driven out the Sultanate's forces. When Tipu became ruler of Mysore he ordered the princes removed from Goruru and placed in Periapatam (Periyapatna in Mysore). Then he sent Hyder Ali Beg and Raja Kankeri to suppress the Coorg rebels. At first they achieved some success but were then defeated by the Coorgs. Beg fled while Raja Kankeri was killed.
In 1785 Tipu marched into Coorg and defeated the stiff resistance of the rebels. Tipu occupied Mercara renamed it Zafarabad, appointed Zain ul Abidin Mahdavi (also called Zain-ul-Abedin Khan Mehdivi) the faujdar in charge of Coorg and Tipu returned to Seringapatam(Srirangapatna). But when Tipu left, two Nairs (Munmate and Ranga) came to Coorg, occupied it and prepared to take Mercara. They incited the Coorgs and rebellion again broke out in Kodagu that same year (1785). The faujdar then appealed to Tipu for help. In response Tipu sent some troops with general Janulabdin (also called Zain-ul-Abidin Shushtary or Zain-ul-Abedin Shustri) into Coorg to the Faujdar's relief. (According to Moegling,p. 95 and Tarikh-i-Coorg, 15,000 soldiers were sent but according to Kirmani,p. 292 2,000 soldiers were sent) They were defeated at Ulugulli village by 4000–5000 Coorgs. Janulabdin reached the fort at Mercara but finding it hard to hold on he tried to escape to Bettadapura in Mysore. While retreating, at Ulugulli he again suffered a loss, the rebels pursued him, captured his baggage and killed many of his men. The fleeing army of Tippu Sultan left behind a large cache of arms and ammunition, including cannonballs imported from France.
Captivity by Tipu Sultan
Coorgs held captive
He came to terms with the Coorgs and camped for six weeks in Ulugulli in the neighbourhood of Mercara where he celebrated Muharram. After Muharram Tipu proceeded to Mercara. Troops and provisions were dispatched to relieve the garrison of Mercara. Tipu had also been to Talakaveri (Thul Kaveri, according to Kirmani) where he camped for a while. The Queen of Cannanore came to visit him in Talakaveri and pay her tribute money to him.
Tipu then camped at Devatu Parambu. He first negotiated with the Coorgs worked an amicable settlement and made them feel secure. But then suddenly Tipu seized men, women and children and carried them captive to Seringapatam (Srirangapatna) in Mysore. Tipu sent out detachments under four generals: Lallee the Frenchman, Husain Ali Khan, Mir Mahmud and Imam Khan in different directions to crush the Coorgs (Kirmani p. 297). Tipu gave the task of implementing the orders to Runmust Khan, the Nawab of Kurnool. This task was accomplished when a surprise attack was launched upon the Kodava Hindus who were besieged by the invading army. 500 were killed and over 40,000 Kodavas fled to the woods and concealed themselves in the mountains. The Coorgs had fought with great courage but were defeated and a large number of them had been taken captive. The actual number of Kodavas that were captured in the operation is unclear. The British administrator Mark Wilks gives it as 70,000, Historian Lewis Rice arrives at the figure of 85,000, while Mir Kirmani's score for the Coorg campaign is 80,000 men, women and child prisoners.
Thousands of Kodava Hindus were seized and held captive at Seringapatam. They were also subjected to forcible conversions to Islam, death, and torture. Tipu Sultan's return from Coorg to Srirangapatna his capital took place in January. When Tipu arrived in Seringapatam, all the prisoners taken in Coorg were made Musalmans and styled Ahmadees (Ahmadis). According to Wilks, in one day on an auspicious moment Tipu had the great mass of Coorgs circumcised. There Tipu separated them into groups and made them Muslims. The young men were all forcibly circumcised and incorporated into the Ahmedy Corps. They were trained and made to form 8 Assad Ilahi (Asadulai) and Ahmadi Risalas (or regiments). Among the leaders of the captives, Mumoti Nair died and Ranga Nair was made Muslim and appointed as an officer.
Mohibbul Hasan, Prof. Sheikh Ali, and other historians cast great doubt on the scale of the deportations and forced conversions in Coorg in particular. Hassan says that it is difficult to estimate the real number of Coorgs captured by Tipu. He argues that little reliance can be placed in Muslim accounts such as Kirmani's Nishan-e Haidari; in their anxiety to represent the Sultan as a champion of Islam, they had a tendency to exaggerate and distort the facts: Kirmani claims that 70,000 Coorgis were converted, when forty years later the entire population of Coorg was still less than that number. According to Ramchandra Rao Punganuri the true number of converts was about 500.
To prevent further uprisings the Coorgs had been transported to Mysore. Wilks says that the prisoners were about 70,000. According to Punganuri, only about 500 souls (men, women and children) whom Tipu caught in Coorg were all made Asadulahi/Asadulai (converts) and sent (captives) to Bangalore, Seringapatam, Chitradurga, Colaram, Hosakote and Nandidurga in different groups. According to Kirmani, 80,000 Coorgs were captured and deported.
Tipu had transplanted Kodavas outside Coorg and into Mysore while he brought people from elsewhere into Coorg. In the place of the deported Coorgs were brought new settlers from Adwani in Bellary. They were settled on farm lands and advanced loans. But some of them returned to Mysore because the climate of Coorg didn't suit them. Nagappayya, a nephew of Subbarasaya, was appointed Faujdar in charge of Coorg.  But these measures failed to crush the Coorgs who rose in rebellion again.
With Coorg depopulated of its original inhabitants, Tipu sought to islamize it with Muslim settlements. To this end, he brought in 7,000 men from the Shaikh and Sayyid clans, along with their families. However, this attempt proved to be partly successful, as many of them were eventually slain or fled after Tipu lost Coorg. The Coorg capital of Madikeri had been renamed to Zafarabad. The Muslim descendants of the Kodavas who were forcibly converted into Islam, after Tipu Sultan's army on various forays into Coorg had captured them and thrown them into the Seringapatam prison, are called Kodava Maaple.
Nagappayya, Subbarasaya's nephew who was in-charge of Coorg (Kodagu), was found guilty of corruption and so condemned to the gallows by Tipu. He then fled and found refuge with the Kote Raja of nearby Waynad in Malabar. In December 1788 Vira Raja (Dodda Vira Rajendra, son of Linga Raja) the Kodagu Raja who was detained at Periyapatna escaped with help from his Coorg friends. A dispute rose between the Kodagu Raja and Kote Raja who was aided by Nagappayya. Nagappayya however was later captured by the Kodagu Raja. Meanwhile, the Kodagu Raja also engaged Tipu's troops and send them away from Coorg, its extremes being Bisle ghat in the North to Manantvadi in the South. By defeating Tipu he repossessed himself of his kingdom.
In 1789 Tipu sent Gulam Ali, Gaji Khan and Darvedil Khan with troops into Coorg by way of Siddhesvara. They took up strong positions in Coorg, seized grain, men, women and children while burning houses that they pillaged. They set fire to the Padinalkanadu temple. Later the 'Maleyalam' (Malabar) people joined the Coorgs. Tipu sent Gulam Ali into Malabar but en route Gulam was attacked by the Coorgs. Gulam managed to reach Malabar where he burnt down the Payyavur temple and attacked that region.
When Tipu was marching against the Nairs at Calicut who had become rebellious, he heard of another rebellion in Coorg. He sent a force towards Coorg under Burhan ud Din and Sayed Hamid. Tipu himself marched through Tamrachadi pass and entered Malabar where he halted. There he ordered some of the inhabitants to be made Asadulai (captured and converted), placed Officer Ghafar in command there and had a wooden fort or stockade built.
In a letter to Runmust Khan, in early 1786, Tipu himself stated:
"We proceeded with the utmost speed, and, at once, made prisoners of 40,000 occasion-seeking and sedition-exciting Koorgs (Coorgis), who alarmed at the approach of our victorious army, had slunk into woods, and concealed themselves in lofty mountains, inaccessible even to birds. Then carrying them away from their native country (the native place of sedition) we raised them to the honour of Islam, and incorporated them into our Ahmedy corps."
Col. Kirkpatrick translated Tipu's letters into English. At one time he writes: "There are 500 Coorg prisoners, who must be thrown, in parties of fifty, into ten forts, where they must be dealt with in such a manner as shall insure their death in the course of a month or twenty days-such of the women as are young must be given to Musselmauns; and the rest, together with their children, must be removed to, and kept in confinement, at Seringapatam, on a small allowance."
In another place he writes: "By the favor of the Almighty and the assistance of the Prophet, we have arranged and adjusted the affairs of the Taalik of Zufeerabad in the most suitable [and satisfactory] manner; the tribe of Koorgs, to the number of fifty thousand men and women, having been made captive, and incorporated with the Ahmedy class."
The dead among the Coorgs were also ordered to be made Muslims. To Meer Zynul Aabideen (Mir Zain-ul-Abidin), he writes: "You are, in conjunction with him, to make a general attack on the Koorgs; when, having put to the sword, or made prisoners of, the whole of them, both the slain and the prisoners are to be made Musulmans."
To Budruz Zuman Khan he writes:"What you write, concerning the death of five hundred Koorgs from the small-pox, is understood. The whole country [thereabouts] is covered with underwood. They [i.e. the Koorgs] must be kept where the climate [literally, the water and air] may best agree with them." Again to Budruz Zuman Khan he writes:"You will also make a daily allowance of one pice to such of the children of the Koorgs, between five and ten years old, as you may think proper."
The following is a translation of an inscription on a stone found at Seringapatam, which was situated in a conspicuous place in the fort:
"Oh Almighty God! dispose the whole body of infidels! Scatter their tribe, cause their feet to stagger! Overthrow their councils, change their state, destroy their very root! Cause death to be near them, cut off from them the means of sustenance! Shorten their days! Be their bodies the constant object of their cares (i.e., infest them with diseases), deprive their eyes of sight, make black their faces (i.e., bring shame)."
Escape of the captives
In 1790, Dodda Vira Rajendra signed a treaty with the British, who promised to protect his kingdom against Tipu’s onslaught. In 1792, Coorg became independent of Mysore once again. Eventually, Kodagu backed the British troops and Tipu fell on 4 May 1799. According to the 1799 Asiatic Annual Register, the Assud Illahee (Asadulai) of Srirangapatana (Seringapatam) were converts and of two kinds: Ahmadis who were Carnatic Christians and the Mohammadies who were Coorgs. Wilks also speaks of the Asadulai.
During the Mysore War (1789–1792) in 1791, one night the British attacked the Sultan's army which fled. That day the Asadullai (converts) who were seized at Coorg and other places along with the Neze Cardar (lancers) all numbering ten thousand people escaped with their weapons to Coorg. Tipu's batteries were taken and there was confusion among Tipu's troops during that nightly encounter. According to Moegling, 5000 Coorgs, who had been carried away by Tippu with their wives and children, altogether 12,000 souls, made their escape and returned to their native country (Coorg). These Kodava Muslim converts remained Muslims as they could not be reconverted to Hinduism, even if they had so desired. Their descendants, many of them now inter-married with the Mappilas and Bearys, are known as Kodava Maaple and constitute a very small minority in modern Kodagu. In spite of their change in faith, they maintained their original Kodava clan names and dress habits and speak Kodava language, although now they do follow some Mappila–Beary customs also.
Arabic and Farsi Inscriptions Record
(Arabic) Khaulahu Ta'ala :—va anzalallazina zaharuhum min ahhlkitabi min syasihim va khazafa fi khulu-bihimurroba farikhan takhtaliin va tusiruna farikhan va avarasakum arzahum va diyarahum va amvalahum va arzan lam tatavha va kanallahu 'ala kuUi shayin khadira.
(Persian) B'adaz fararl kuffar hukm shud ki baharbi Bani Khuraiza ravand ki 'ahad shikasta madadgariahzab namudand : lashkari Islani ishanra panzda shaban roz mahasaru kardand va kar bar ishan tang shud va bar hukrai S'ad-bin-M'aaz farod amadand. Va Sad hukra kavd ki mardani ishanra bakushand va zanan va kodakani ishanrA Itarda girand va amvali ishanra bar Musalmanan khismat kuuand. Hazrat risalat, salairahii 'alailii va sallani, farmiid ki ai S'acl M'aaz hukm karJi ki Khiiclai T'aala bar balai haft asman hukm karda biid: va Hakh Subhanahu azin vakh'aa khabar midehad: va farmud farod avard Khuda ananra ki yiiri dadand ahzabra va ham pushti ishan gashtand az ahl Tavarait y'ani Yahud kharizara farod avard az kharahai ishan va afgand dar dilhai ishan tars az paighambar va lashkari u giirohera ki kushidande noh-sad tan bekushtand ya haft-sad tan va barda migired gurohera y'ani farzandan va zauani ishanra va miras dad shumara zamini ishan y'ani mazar'ay va hadaikh va sarahai ishan y'ani liusun va khaVa va malhai ishan az nak'aud va amt'aa va niav'ashi va arazi va bashaina dLid zamin ra ki berafta aid daian ya maUki an buded murad Khaiber ast ya dayaro Piiun ya mumahki Faris: va gufta and har zaminke bahavze Islam darayed ta khiyamat dariu dakhil ast: va hast Khuda bar har chiz khadir va tuvana.
God Almighty hath said :—"And he caused such of those who have received tho Scriptures, and assisted the confederates, to come down out of their fortresses, and he cast into their hearts terror and dismay : a part of them you slew, and a part you made captives ; and God caused you to inherit their land, and their houses, and their wealth, and a land on which you had not trodden ; for God is Almighty." After the flight of the infidels it was ordered that war should be continued with the Bani Khuraiza,^ as they had assisted the confederates, breaking their league with the Muslims. The Muslim army besieged them for fifteen days and nights and reduced them to distress. They came down at the order given them by Saad bin Maaz, who adjudged that the males should be put to the sword, the women and children made slaves, and their goods divided among the Muslims. The Prophet (the blessing and peace of God be on him !) addressing Saad, said, "0 Saad Maaz—you have pronounced that which the Most High had ordered above the seven skies." God refers to this event when He says that He brought them out of their fortresses as they had assisted the confederates and protected them. These were believers in the Old Testament, namely, Jews. God cast into their hearts terror of the Prophet and his army, and those who were killed numbered between seven and nine hundred, and their women and children were made slaves. You inherited their land, gardens, fields and houses, their fortified places, and their property consisting of money and cattle. All these were given you by God. And this saying likewise applies to the Kliaiber, to Turkey, or to Persia. It is also spoken in order that whatever country the Muslims may hereafter be in possession of, until the last day, may also be included in the above passage. God is almighty.
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