By Dr Sowmya Dechamma
As responsible elders in Kodava Society, I feel all of you can make a difference, although I don’t exactly know how.
For me, Tipu Sultan has become more of an emotional issue rather than one that is historical or socially relevant. All kinds of political parties have been using this issue just to raise quick emotional points towards their own political ends. Unfortunately, it is the people of Kodagu — Kodavas, Kodava Mapales and others who are caught in this emotional politics.
I think we need to be clear where we stand. I hope I will be able to make myself clear as to why we need to be careful in talking about Tipu.
All kings, all over the world have been tyrannical. That is the nature of monarchy. Hindu kings have looted other Hindu kings, Muslim kings have destroyed other Muslim kings, Hindu kings have completely destroyed Buddhists and Jain kings and so on…So to flag Tipu as Hindu-hater is not exactly accurate. Kingdoms largely worked on economic and political bargains and religion was a side-issue.
If only we remember how Lingayat kings from far away Haleri without any connection in Coorg, ruled coorg for 200 years and was so brutal to all Nayakas who rebelled against them. These Nayakas were killed. Every family had to send a soldier to the Lingayat King as ‘hitti-bitti’ chakri.
This slavery and brutality is not only forgotten but we flaunt their fort/Gaddiges as part of ‘our’ history.
I totally agree forcible conversion/any violence is wrong at any period in history. But then, it was not the fault of the people. I have always wondered — when these ‘converted’ Kodavas were sent to Kodagu, why didn’t Kodavas accept them back as their own people? Accept them as Kodavas again? If they were accepted back to the community, history would have been different.
People knew ‘converted’ Kodavas had gone through so much violence. Why then even today, we do not accept them?
Just because someone’s ancestors were forcibly converted, I don’t understand how and why their present generation who believe in Islam should be hated, should be talked about as if they were outsiders. They are as insiders as anyone else in Kodagu.
In fact, if I am right, Kodagu had no history of communal riots until 1980s, a period that saw the rise of BJP’s divisive politics. From 1790s when Tipu converted people until 1980s, Kodagu was largely peaceful. This should say a lot.
My worry is this — how our hatred for Tipu extends to our hatred of our own people (Kodava Mapales). Especially because we are relatively more dominant community in the region, the way we understand the minority, negotiate with them must be very sensitive and nuanced.
I strongly believe there can never be a history that can be unquestioned. I apologise again for this outpouring. If you think it is worth, please use these arguments in whatever platform.
NOTE: The editor of this portal does not subscribe to the views expressed by the author.
About the author:
Dr. Sowmya Dechamma, of the Centre for Comparative Literature, School of Humanities, has done research in Indian Literature, Minority Identities and Discourse, Translation Studies, Kodava Language and Cultural Discourse.
Dr Sowmya Dechamma, the daughter of Chotteyandamada Chengappa and Shanthi (Kambeyanda), is a faculty member, Comparative Literature, University of Hyderabad.