Monday, February 19, 2018

King Marthanda Varma's army of Travancore (Kerala) defeated Dutch in 1741; its Dutch leader became Varma's commander-in-chief! Travancore Hindu kingdom provided protection to Hindu culture and religion till 1949

I would like to first say that I believe in Shirdi Sai Baba's teaching of "Sabka Maalik Ek" (The master of all is ONE). In other words, I believe in ONE GOD with various religions including Islam being various paths/ways to worship and merge in that ONE GOD. Specifically, I am not against Islam, and am actually supportive of it, so long as it does not interfere in the right of others (like me, a Hindu) to practise their faiths which are different from Islam (e.g. Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism). Shirdi Sai Baba used to say "Allah Maalik" (Allah/God is the master) very often; I revere the same Shirdi Sai Baba,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi, and try to follow His teachings.

Some info. about the South Indian Hindu kingdom of Travancore which comes under the modern state of Kerala, from its wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travancore :

The Kingdom of Travancore was an Indian kingdom from 1729 until 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruvananthapuram. At its zenith, the kingdom covered most of modern-day central and southern Kerala with the Thachudaya Kaimal's enclave of Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikkam temple in the neighbouring Kingdom of Cochin, as well as the district of Kanyakumari, now in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

--- end Travancore wiki extract ---

Some info. about Marthanda Varma from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marthanda_Varma :

Marthanda Varma (born Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma; 1705 – 7 July 1758) was ruler of the southern Indian state of Travancore from 1729 until his death in 1758. He is most celebrated for crushing the Dutch expansionist designs at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. Marthanda Varma, then adopted a European mode of martial discipline and expanded his domain to encompass what became the modern state of Travancore.

--- end Marthanda Varma wiki extract ---

BTW my mother's family were the subjects of the Travancore kings before India's independence. And my mother's grandfather, a Sanskrit pandit (scholar, teacher), was gifted some large gold coin (or something similar) when he sang/chanted a Sanskrit poem about the Travancore king then (in front of him, according to the family story, if I recall correctly). So this matter is of keen interest to me.

Some extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Colachel :

The Battle of Colachel (or Battle of Kulachal) was fought on 10 August 1741 [O.S. 31 July 1741] between the Indian kingdom of Travancore and the Dutch East India Company, during the Travancore-Dutch War. The Dutch never recovered from the defeat; and no longer posed a large colonial threat to India.
...

In addition to the destruction of the Dutch East India Company's designs in the Malabar coast, the capture of the leaders of the expedition, Eustachius De Lannoy and his second in command Donadi, were very beneficial to the kingdom of Travancore. When De Lannoy and Donadi were paroled, they took up service with Travancore and modernized the Travancore Army (which, till then, had been armed mainly with melee weapons) into an effective fighting force. De Lannoy was initially entrusted with the training of a few companies of the Maharajah's bodyguards and he did this with such an excellence that he was entrusted with modernizing the entire Travancore army. De Lennoy modernized the existing firearms and introduced better artillery and, more importantly, trained the Travancore army in the European style of military drill and military tactics. He carried out his orders with such sincerity and devotion that he rapidly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the "Valia Kapitaan" (Commander in Chief) of the Tranvancore military and was given the Udayagiri Fort, locally known as the "Dillanai kotta" (De Lennoy's fort), near Padmanabhapuram, to reside. He was one of the commanders of the Tranvancore army during the decisive battle of Ambalapuzha where his erstwhile employers were fighting on behalf of Cochin and her allies. Following Travancore's victory over Cochin and her allies, the Dutch signed a peace treaty with Travancore and later sold their forts which were incorporated by De Lannoy into the Northern Lines (the Nedumkotta) that guarded the northern border of Travancore. The Travancore military that De Lannoy was instrumental in modernizing, went on to conquer more than half of the modern state of Kerala, and the Nedumkotta forts De Lannoy had designed, held up the advance of Tipu Sultan's French trained army during the Third Anglo-Mysore War in 1791 AD till the British East India Company joined the war in support of Travancore. Donadi ended up as an officer in the Travancore army and it seems that the rest of the Dutch prisoners took up service with the Maharajah's forces and their descendants were present up to 1878 in Travancore

--- end extracts ---

Another article on it: How 275 years ago an Indian prince defeated the Dutch East India Company, https://www.dailyo.in/politics/indian-freedom-struggle-british-dutch-east-india-company-travancore-carnatic-nawab-hyder-ali-tipu-sultan-colachel-day/story/1/12198.html, 5 Aug. 2016

Ravi: So this is a fascinating case of a Dutch military officer and some of the troops under him, after surrender to the South Indian king Marthanda Varma of Travancore, becoming troops for the South Indian king. The Dutch military leader De Lannoy modernised the Travancore army and rose to be its commander-in-chief! Wow! I did not know this.

Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, the Muslim rulers of Mysore, were the major threat. Tipu Sultan was aided by the French! Travancore kingdom got into a military alliance with the British!

An extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Nedumkotta :

The Battle of the Nedumkotta took place on 28 December 1789, and was a reason for the opening of hostilities in the Third Anglo-Mysore War. Forces of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, attacked the fortified line known as the Nedumkotta in Thrissur district that protected the Kingdom of Travancore and allied southern parts of Cochin Kingdom. an ally of the British East India Company. Despite heavy losses, Tipu Sultan broke through the Northern lines and captured the northern extremities of Travancore. Following the declaration of war by Travancore's British allies, Tipu retreated to Mysore to prepare for the British attack and the hard won territories were recaptured by Travancore.

--- end wiki extract ---

Eventually the British defeated Tipu Sultan and their ally, the king(s) of Travancore were relieved of this big Muslim ruler threat. Also the British seem to have demanded tribute/subsidies from Travancore which would have been given (after some initial reluctance which would have got settled with British use of force), and so even when Britain established itself as India's ruler in the mid 1800s it did not directly administer Travancore, viewing it as a princely state that accepted British overlordship.

Thus Travancore region continued to be a Hindu kingdom throughout, without coming under direct Muslim rule or direct British rule till India incorporated all princely states into its democratic country, a few years after 1947.

I must say here that from a freedom to practise Hindu faith point of view, the British would have been preferred as the overlord power than Muslim sultans. As far as I know the British never used the sword or the gun to force conversions of Hindus to Christians. They seemed to have used the missionary route for conversion to Christianity which would have been far more easier to counter than the sword route of Tipu Sultan for conversion to Islam.

My father's side of my family were based in the town of Irinjnalakuda, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irinjalakuda, in Thrissur district of Kerala, and were associated with the Koodalmanikkam temple, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koodalmanikyam_Temple, in Irinjnalakuda which is specifically mentioned in the above wiki extract as part of Travancore kingdom. Other than the Koodalmanikkam temple, the town of Irinjnalakuda would have come under the Hindu Kingdom of Cochin, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Cochin. This Cochin kingdom was a protectorate of the Portuguese, the Dutch and then the British at different times. It too did not seem to have direct British rule. But it seems to have paid tribute to Mysore Muslim sultans, Hyder Ali and/or Tipu Sultan. Travancore kingdom never did that. Perhaps Travancore is the only Hindu kingdom in Kerala that did not pay tribute to or come under the sway of any Muslim ruler.

So my family which hails from Kerala (Tamil Hindu Brahmins who seem to have migrated to Kerala from Tamil Nadu some centuries ago), seems to have largely had a protected Hindu kingdom lifestyle till the Republic of India was formed around 1950! I mean, both my father and my mother would have been born in such Hindu kingdoms and raised there, before they moved out of Kerala to Bombay (and other places my father was deputed to as an Indian Railways employee; mother joining my father after marriage which would have been a little before 1950). [I was born in Bombay in 1962.]

In other words, my Hindu family going back many generations did not come under Muslim kingdom rule! But I think my father's father moved to Bombay when it was under British rule. So from my father's family side, including my father, they would have lived under British rule in Bombay for some years. However, I don't think the British interfered in the practise of Hinduism or persecuted Hindus like Tipu Sultan is said to have done. So I think my father's family in Bombay under British rule would not have had any interference from the British in them practising the Hindu faith and them following Hindu Brahmin rituals.

Perhaps all this helped my family to freely have faith in Hinduism, study and practise Hindu Brahmin religious rituals and traditions, and hand them down over generations.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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