Purniah - page1

Purniah was born in 1746 in a taluk of Coimbatore district. His father, Krishnacharya was a Madhava Brahmin well versed in Sanskrit literature and the philosophy of Madhavacharya. Lakshmi Bai was the mother of Purniah. He had a younger brother, Venkata Rao. Purniah lost his father when he was 11 years old. In 1760 the family moved out to a larger town where Purniah got a job with a merchant who was who was supplying  ancillaries to the military stores of Hyder Ali in the Palace and other merchants in Seringapatnam. Purniah started with "accounts" and soon he became indispensable to the merchant in many ways as the latter's business started growing. About 1764, when Purniah was hardly 18, he impressed other merchants with his shrewdness and skill. He joined the leading merchant and soon entered Hyder Ali's treasury department, became a junior treasury officer, ultimately coming into personal contact with Hyder Ali himself to clarify the accounts. In 1770 he was made Treasury Clerk. ( Note: Hyder Ali was illiterate but had an excellent memory and grasp of details. Purniah could not read or write in English, though he could understand the language. He knew Kannada, Sanskrit and Persian !). Soon Hyder Ali made him his Head Accountant and finally a trusted member of the Nawab's Darbar. He impressed Haider so much that he was presented with a golden umbrella. The next stage was to accompany Hyder to the battle field as officer in charge of the Commissariat .(Head of Army Supplies and Logistics).

From then onwards , his life upto 1799 was made up in serving Hyder Ali and later his son Tipu Sultan in their fight against the British. During Tipu's time he helped Tipu to draft treaties and both soon had total faith in each other. Thereafter he served the Raja of Mysore as Regent, as senior most Minister and as Dewan.. The history of Purniah will not be complete unless we know about the 4 wars fought against the British . Since Purniah was one of their chiefs serving as their Head of Army Supplies, Finance and Emissary, apart from being a Dewan, these 4 wars will enable you to understand his ability; especially so since he was a Brahmin serving the Mohammedan King.

( See the HYPERLINK HISTORY for a fuller account of the 4 wars)

The First Mysore War:1767-69 : Here the British concluded a humiliating pact with Hyder Ali.
After the death of the Raja of Mysore in 1760, Hyder Ali, a commander-in-chief of Mysore army, became the de facto ruler of  Mysore. He extended his territories by conquering several local chieftains & tribal leaders of south India. The growing power of Hyder Ali excited jealousy from the Nizam of  Hyderabad, the Marathas and the English. In 1767, all three made a triple alliance against Hyder. He finally bought the Marathas, allured the Nizam with territorial gains and together with the latter launched an attack on Arcot.The fight continued for a year and half and the British suffered heavy losses. The panic-stricken British had to sue for peace. A treaty was signed on April 4,1769. It was a defensive alliance, as the English promised to help Hyder in case he was attacked by any other power. Thus ended the First Mysore War.

The Second  Mysore War (1780-1784) : The British defeat Hyder Ali.
However the terms of the treaty were not fulfilled by the Madras Government. The British refused to help Hyder Ali when Mysore was attacked by the Marathas in 1771. Hyder found that the French gave more support in terms of his military demands. So in 1780 when the English wanted to attack the French at Mahe, Hyder Ali did not permit it. Consequently the English declared war against Hyder Ali. Hyder Ali arranged a joint front with the Nizam and the Marathas & in July 1780, Hyder Ali attacked Carnatic. In October 1780 he captured Arcot, defeating an English army. The fortunes of the English in India had fallen to their lowest watermark. In 1774 Warren Hastings was appointed the Governor General and straightaway took interest in the war. Undaunted, Hyder Ali boldly continued the war with the British.  Unfortunately Hyder was not destined to fight further. On December 7, 1782, Hyder Ali died , at the age of 60 of a septic carbuncle near Chitoor. As he was approaching his death , Hyder sent for his confidants like Purniah and through them transmitted the news that he was dying, to his son, Tipu. Purniah thus played a key role in keeping the news of Hyder's death in 1782 confidential, as many adversaries could have seized this advantage, forl Tipu  was in Malabar at that time. Purniah thus paved the way for the succession of Tipu without bloodshed. In the final analysis the Second Mysore War ended with the British defeating Hyder Ali.

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