Purniah -Page 2
valued Purniah's loyalty, faith and ability in such matters of diplomacy and strategy and
even expressed his gratitude to him by referring publicly to him as
"chitcha" (uncle) .While Hyder built up the State of Mysore, Tipu was
responsible for its destruction. Hyder knew that the English with their naval power could
defeat him if they wished, but Tipu hated the English so much that he even sought foreign
help from the Governments of France, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan to oust the British
from the country. Another hang-up of Tipu was he never trusted a Brahmin. Only Purniah was
an exception though Tipu once proposed to him to embrace Islam. Purnaiya's reply "I
am already your slave" saved further embarrassment.
The Third Mysore War (1790-1792) From 1782 till 1790, when the Third Mysore War between the British and Tipu took place, there was relative inactivity except Tipu attempting to convert Hindus and Christians to the Mohammedan faith, some fighting with the Marathas and "flirting" with Turkey and France. Tipu (and Hyder ) had long desired to annex Travancore to Mysore as the former had a long coast line for trade and import of weapons, arms and ammunition. Tipu thought that 1789 provided an opportunity. Lord Cornwalllis was then the Governor General of India.(1786). He tried to get a reconciliation between Tipu and the Raja of Travancore, but it failed. This triggered off the Third Mysore War with the British. Cornwallis personally assumed supreme command in January 1791 and started off with a brilliant example of diplomacy. Since the Raja of Travancore was entitled to the protection of the English, the English made a triple alliance with the Nizam and the Marathas to attack Tipu. By March the British army reached Bangalore and soon besieged the Fort. Though Tipu's weaponry were superior and cast under French supervision and his army well-equipped and disciplined, Cornwallis easily captured the Bangalore Fort. Tipu did make the mistake of awaiting French help from Pondicherry but the main circumstance tipping the scales in favour of the British was treachery and betrayalof Tipu from his ranks . Tipu with his natural distrust for Brahmins "found" evidence . One was circumcised and Krishna Rao ( Purniahs equal in service and rank) thrown in into a boiling cauldron of oil, without any trial. Purniah kept aloof of all this as he knew Tipu had total faith in him and he in his master.
After capturing Bangalore , Cornwallis resolved to move onto Srirangapatnam. Now, Tipu displayed great strategic skill in cutting off supplies to Cornwallis and forced him to retreat to Bangalore. However,after a thorough analysis of the situation and positioning the allied armies of the English, Marathas and the Nizam , Cornwallis decided to attack Tipu on 6th Feb 1792. Seeing the writing on the wall Tipu negotiated for peace. At this juncture Purniah played his part , in that, though he was injured badly by a musket ball ,he managed, by dodging the English troops ,to take away a number of camels with money bags loaded on them without loss to Tipu. Tipu sued for peace The treaty resulted in the surrender of nearly half of the Mysorean territory to the victorious allies. The British, the Marathas and the Nizams acquired territories. Tipu also had to pay a war indemnity of over three millions pounds and hand over his two sons as hostages till the payment was made.
Tipu had no option. It took him 2 years (1794) to discharge this obligation to get his sons back- and he got the money in the harshest way possible by coercion and extraction of his subjects and his army. Personally , he abandoned his bed to sleep on pieces of coarse cloth and that too for a few hours a day. He took the surrender and his sons as hostages to heart so much that his hatred for the British became intense.