Tippu Sultan, though called an intolerant bigot, by some historians incorrectly, had unusual respect and devotion to the Sringeri Math and its Swamiji.
Twenty three letters written by Tippu Sultan addressed to Sri Sachchidananda Bharati Swamiji, the contemporary Guru of Sringeri, have come to light during the recent repairs to the records room of the Math. All the letters bear the signature of Tippu Sultan along with the official seal of the Mysore Palace.
Even the formal part of the address to the Guru in his letters reveals Tippu’s reverence to him. Invariably, they contain the full honouric titles of the Swamiji followed by the word ‘Salam’ showing the respectful salutations. All the letters have been written in chaste Sanskrit langauage, now and then using the local Urdu and Kannada words.
In the year 1793 A.D., the Swamiji had been on tour cum lecture programme to Poona. His work there could not be finished in time and so he did not return to Sringeri as per the original schedule. In those days the communication system was very inefficient and information used to take considerable time to reach from one place to another.
Tippu Sultan began to express anxiety and concern for the Swamiji. Immediately he sent a group of his devoted men and made arrangements for the return journey of the Swamiji. He wrote in his letter, “You are a great Jagadguru. The place where you dwell is blessed. There will be timely rains, crops and prosperity. Why should you choose to stay in a neighbouring country leaving us here? Pray for your earliest return”.
On another occasion, Tippu wrote to the Swamiji, “We are proud of three things; the grace of God Almighty, your blessings and the strength of our arms. God’s Grace will be showered only through your benedictions”.
In 1791 A.D., a Maratha army chief entered Sringeri, plundered the temple and carried away a huge amount of about 60 lakhs of rupees along with many valuable ornaments of gold and silver. On learning of this sad event, Tippu Sultan expressed his profound regret, “People do evil smiling but suffer the consequences weeping. Those who sin against the holy places and saints are certainly destined to suffer the consequences; their wealth and family will be ruined”.
Tippu Sultan requested the Guru to perform the ‘Sahasra Chandi Japa’ for the welfare of the country and the ruin of his enemies. He deputed Mahommad Raza, an officer of his army, to render the necessary help. At frequent intervals, he wrote to the Guru asking for information regarding the progress of the function.
After completion, he received the ‘prasada’ sent by the Guru, with great reverence, and requested him to send his best wishes in his military ventures. Shortly afterwards. Tippu acknowledged the benevolent effects of the ‘Japa’ in his enterprise and requested the Guru to be kind enough to perform the ‘Chandi Homa’ also.
Some time later on, Tippu Sultan presented the Guru with a beautiful ‘Sphatika Linga’ (crystal Linga) and requested him to worship it constantly. Even to this day, this gift of Tippu is worshipped by the head of the Math personally.
In addition to this gift, Tippu Sultan endowed the Math with liberal donations and arranged for the proper conduct of the daily affairs and funcitons of the Math. He expressed a desire to visit Sringeri in 1795 A.D., and pay his personal respects. Unfortunately he could not visit Sringeri due to the emergent situations that followed, till his death at Srirangapattana in the year 1799 A.D.