Ballads project Tipu as a hero

The laavanis about Tipu primarily speak about his love for Kannada, his valour, and his pro-people initiatives.

The laavanis about Tipu primarily speak about his love for Kannada, his valour, and his pro-people initiatives.  

At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party and right-wing groups are opposing Tipu Jayanti and questioning his legacy, laavanis (folk ballads), which continue to live in our oral tradition, project Tipu Sultan as a “hero” who fought the British.

According to noted folk scholar and chairperson of the Kannada Studies Chair at JNU, Purushottama Bilimale, the laavanis about Tipu, still rendered in some part of Srirangapatna, primarily speak about his love for Kannada, his valour and his pro-people initiatives. “There are at least six laavanis that are still being sung in and around Mysuru. Nowhere do they talk about religious fanaticism during his tenure as being alleged by right-wing groups now,” says Prof. Bilimale.

Noted scholar the late Lingadevaru Halemane, who has compiled the laavanis, also wrote the script for the sound and light show for the Mysuru palace. In fact, there was opposition to this on the ground that it focused more on Tipu than on the Mysore maharajas. But Halemane stood his ground.

Similar was the opinion of Talakaadu Chikkarange Gowda, who has researched on Tipu and published three works so far.

L. Gundappa had also collected laavanis about Tipu in the early 50s and there are over 150 laavanis available.

“There are more number of laavanis about Tipu compared to any other person in Karnataka,” said Mr. Gowda, who has researched about Tipu for more than two decades. They project Tipu as a “pro-people ruler”, he said.

Like the way Tipu became firmly embedded in folklore, he is also well represented in novels and plays. The Dreams of Tipu Sultan by Girish Karnad emphasises the need to project Tipu in Karnataka history as a visionary and a patriot. Sultan Tipu is another important play by noted playwright H.S. Shivaprakash.

Similarly, listed among the best works in recent times are Krishnamurthy Hanur’s novel Ajnaatanobbana Atmacharitre that has generated a lot of excitement in literary circles. Tipu here is not the protagonist, but forms its backdrop. It tells the story of Dalavayi, the head of Tipu’s army. A folk scholar, who has travelled extensively in Karnataka and produced over 40 works, Mr. Hanur describes Tipu as a “person of contradictions”. “He had strengths and weaknesses like any other ruler of Karnataka,” he said.

‘Six laavanis, still being sung in and around Mysuru, nowhere talk about religious fanaticism’

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 11:11:22 PM |

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