[Entry of Europeans] Thuggee in British India, Whistleblower Maharaja Nandakumar, Tipu Sultan

Warren Hastings Maharaja Nandkumar

[Entry of Europeans] Thuggee in British India, Whistleblower Maharaja Nandakumar, Tipu Sultan

  1. Prologue
  2. Thuggee in British India
  3. Maharaja Nandakumar: 1st Whistleblower of India?
  4. Tipu Sultan and his Ring vs. East India Company


  • I’m in process of restructuring new and old articles to make site more revision friendly. You can see the entire Archive at Mrunal.org/history
  • In this page, I’m combining topics of “Entry of Europeans and upto 1857 Mutiny“. For background theory, refer to Class11 Tamilnadu historybook from download section.

Anyways, three topics in (Hindu) news, from that “Entry of Europeans” section:

  • Sep 2014: Thuggee in British India
  • Sep 2014: Maharaja Nandkumar
  • May 2014: Tipu Sultan and his ring.

Thuggee in British India


  • UPSC’s fondness for asking random GK type Qs once in a while- e.g. was Hiuen Tsang robbed or not?
  • Oneliner fodder for the essay: “India has benefitted from Colonialism” (because thuggy was abolished) and even its counterargument – because thugs joined that profession due to heavy debt / jobloss under British raj.
Famous persons vs Thugs
Hiuen Tsang Bandits attacked his caravan near Ganges. Wanted to sacrifice him to their goddess. (7th Cent)
Jalaluddin Khilji Expelled ~1000 thugs from Delhi (1920)
Kabir Used thugs as metaphors to show God’s deceit.
Nanak His Janamsakhi texts also mention thuggary.
Augrangzeb Ordered execution of Phansigar.

Who were these thugs?

  • Roamed on highways. Trapped victims with drug-laced laddu, looted their belongings and murdered.
  • Main targets: Company sepoys, merchants and pilgrims.
  • Looted horses and weapons given to local rulers for “protection”, and even bribed the city officials.
  • Even used the loot, to repay their agriculture debt to Zamindars!
  • Thugs came From all strata of society. They were not limited to a single caste or religion.
  • Many of them were sepoys in Mughal army, who lost jobs under British Empire.
  • Thuggee was a “seasonal occupation”. They left the village after the autumn harvest (Oct-Nov) and returned June-July before the rains.

Thuggee in British India

How did the British wiped out thuggee in India?
1810 East India Company passed a regulation. If Zamindar did not inform the company about thug activities, he’d be punished.
1930 Government authorised Captain Sleeman to wipe out thugs.
1839 Captain Sleeman succeeded but jailing and hanging most of the thugs.

Ref: September 2014, TheHindu review of a book “Thuggee: Banditry and the British in Early Nineteenth-Century India: Kim A. Wagner”.

Maharaja Nandakumar: 1st Whistleblower of British India?

Warren Hastings Maharaja Nandkumar

  • He was a revenue officer under the Nawab of Bengal
  • Helped British during Battle of Plassey (1757),
Year 1775
Nandakumar Made allegations that Governor General Hastings accepted bribes from Nawab and others.
Hasting No, Nandakumar himself paying bribes to others, to malign my image!
  • Later, company officials arrange a ‘puppet’ Indian to file a forgery case against Nandakumar.
  • During that era, Indian vs. Indian cases were not to be heard by British judges.
  • But still a British judge presided over Nandakumar forgery case and awarded death sentence. (Curiously that judge was a close friend of Hastings)
  • Maharaja Nandakumar was hanged in full public view at the Hoogly river banks near Kolkata.
  • Edmund Burke, Lord Macaulay and other eminent British described Nandakumar’s hanging as a ‘judicial murder’.
  • Moral of the story: unless there is a whistleblower protection act, you shouldn’t take on your boss.
  • Why in news: His turban will be displayed in Kolkata’s Victoria’s hall. (September 2014)

Tipu Sultan vs. East India Company

  • Father: Haidar Ali
  • Tipu Named after Sufi Saint Tipu Sultan Auliya. Nickname” Tiger of Mysore”.
  • Kingdom: Mysore, Karnataka
  • Capital: Shri Rangapatnnam.
  • Tipu was a Muslim, but THEHINDU (May 13, 2014) claims he was “Catholic in his religious outlook!

Tipu buildings:

  • Summer palace at Bangalore
  • Tipu did not build the Sri Rangpatnam. It was built by a Feudal lord in 16th century

Tipu Military prowess

  • Wrote a military manual: Fathul Mujhahidin
  • Manufactured rockets, artillery and firearms.
Anglo Mysore Wars
Year Outcome
1767 Haidar Ali defeated British
  • Maratha, Nizam and Haider formed tripartite alliance to protect French at Mahe against the British
  • But Maratha (Bhosle & Scindia) and Nizam made peace with British & left fight.
  • Hairdar died, Tipu carried the fight & defeated the British =>Treaty of Manglore 1784. It restored status quo.
  • Governor General Cornwallis made alliance with Marathas and Nizam, finally defeated Tipu
  • Treaty of Shri Rangpatanam, where Tipu gave 50% of his territory, 3 crore rupees and 2 sons to Lord Cornwallis as hostages (to ensure 3 crores were paid in regular installments.)
  • Tipu tried to set alliance with Arab, Turks and Afghans to defeat the British but failed.
  • To create alliance with the French, Tipu setup a Jacobian club of republican ideas. Napoleon was pleased & sent a friendly letter, later a few soldiers came to aid Tipu in fourth war.
  • Wellesley asked Tipu to join subsidiary alliance, but he declined. This led to fourth Anglo Mysore war, Tipu died defeating Fort Sri Rangapattinam.

Tipu Sultan Ring

  • Arthur Wellesley (Lord Wellesley’s brother) took away Tipu’s ring, made of gold, has written “Ram” in Hindi.
  • Later, the British deported Tipu’s family to Calcutta, distributed part of the territory to Nizam, & setup a 5 year old puppet king Manmohan Singh Krishnaraja III @Mysore, and signed subsidiary alliance with him.
Auction of Tipu’s ring and swords
2003 Vijay Mallya purchased Tipu’s sword from a London auction for ~1.5 crore rupees
2014 An unknown bidder purchased Tipu’s ring from a London auction for ~1.4 crore rupees.

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