From his title, I thought Tipu Sultan was a sultan (king). However, I've read a little about Mysore Kingdom, found that it was ruled by Wodeyar family and once upon a time the kings were puppet kings under Haider Ali and then Tipu Sultan.

  1. Were Tipu Sultan and his father kings or just chief ministers?
  2. Did Tipu Sultan or his father rebel against the king of Mysore and throne him/themselves?
  • This looks a bit too "broad" in the topics -- without the Mughal side-question, it could be rephrased as "What was the relationship between Haider Ali and Tipu and the the Wodeyar family?" or "Was Haider Ali ever crowned Sultan?". Either way, the two were both generals (by virtue of leading armies and Haider was the C-in-C) and Sarvadhikari. – gktscrk May 28 '20 at 4:59
  • Also there's also this tantalizing sentence: Sarvādhikārī was the office Tipu Sultan succeeded his father Hyder Ali and established a Muslim empire called Khudadad" (unsourced WP, quick Google didn't find anything useful). – gktscrk May 28 '20 at 5:01
  • @gktscrk I've edited and narrow down the topic – fikr4n May 28 '20 at 5:08

This is a very complex time and period. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the same things regarding the Maratha (who, from looking at the evidence, had a Emperor dethroned by a Chief Minister who was then dethroned with the previous offices continuing but powerless). Mysore seems to be in a mostly similar position.

Maharaja of Mysore

In the beginning of the 18th century, Mysore was ruled by a maharaja. There were four maharajas under the reigns of Haider Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan (from WP):

  • (Immadi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar II (1734–1766), puppet ruler under Hyder Ali from 1761
  • Nanjaraja Wodeyar (1766–1772), puppet ruler under Hyder Ali
  • Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII (1772–1776), puppet ruler under Hyder Ali
  • Khasa Chamaraja Wodeyar IX (1776–1796), puppet ruler under Hyder Ali until 1782, then under Tipu Sultan until his deposition in 1796.

By Tipu's wish, there was no maharaja, traditionally of the Wadiyar dynasty, from 1796 to 1799. Krishnaraja Wadiyar III succeeded after Tipu's overthrow in 1799 at the age of five.

Chief Minister

Haider Ali was the Sarvādhikārī of Mysore from 1761 onwards, and Tipu Sultan took over this title on his father's death:

Sarvādhikārī is a title with diverse uses in India, including an old title for the Chief minister of a southern Indian ruler, notably of the hereditary Maharaja of Mysore; this was the office Tipu Sultan succeeded his father Hyder Ali and established a Muslim empire called Khudadad.

WP's source describes Haider Ali's styling:

H.E. Shams ul-Mulk, Amir ud-Daula, Nawab Hyder 'Ali Khan Bahadur, Hyder Jang, Nawab of Hydernagar, Subadar of the Carnatic Balaghat, Suba of Sira, and Sarvadhikari of Mysore .... Sipah Salar (C-in-C) after 19th June 1758, and Suba of Sira from 1761. ... Effectively seized power and adopted the title of Sarvadhikari or Chief Minister of Mysore 1761. ... Prom. to the titles of Shams ul-Mulk, Amir ud-Daula, Hyder Jang and Subadar of the Carnatic Balaghat* ...

* these titles are assigned to Hyder 'Ali by Kirmani on the title page of his Hishan-i-Hyduri, but no other evidence has been found, either in the Mughal records or those of Hyderabad and Mysore.

Taking Power

The same site also details the process of annexation, and how Haider Ali formally continued to rule through the succession of maharajas (spelling from the original):

A military genius, he rose to high commands under his masters, and for his efforts received extensive lands, honours and offices. Through guile and intrigue, he established control over the whole administration of the state, effectively seizing power in 1761 through appointment to the office of Sarvadhikari. He increased his powers further when the old Maharaja died, leaving three minor sons. The eldest of these succeeded under a regency headed by Hyder, who poisoned of his charge four years later, just before the regency was due to end. His younger brother followed, only to suffer the same fate. A third regency follwed when a young scion of the family succeeded through adoption by the mother of the recently two deceased, childless princes.

Which implies that it was relatively bloodless. Dalrymple's 'The Anarchy' refers to this as:

In the early 1760s he [Haidar Ali] deposed the reigning Wodiyar Raja of Mysore and seized control of his state in what today might be called a military coup...

Tipu Sultan started by continuing with his father's offices.

Tipu the Emperor

The same page also continues on how Tipu deposed the maharaja in 1786 (spelling from the original):

Tipu Sultan succeeded his father as Savadhikari in 1782. ... His administration set about eradicating Hindu influence throughout the region, traditional rulers were deposed, dispossessed or murdered and their territories seized, place names changed to Islamic derivatives, Muslim laws declared paramount, conversions "encouraged", a new calendar invented. Seing no use in continuing the charade of a regency, he deposed the Maharaja in 1786, assumed complete power and renamed his state Khudadad. Within a year, he had thrown off any semblance of allegiance to the Mughal Emperor, substituted his own name at Friday prayers, and proclaimed himself Padshah, declaring that the Emperor was now a prisoner of Scindia and a mere cipher.

A partisan "side" seems to have been taken in this description -- Dalrymple's 'The Anarchy' notes how Tipu Sultan offered many grants and donations to Hindu temples and brahmins (but it is outside the scope of this question). However, this is Dalrymple on the ascension of Tipu:

... Tipu then decided to break off relation with Shah Alam, so becoming the first Indian ruler formally to disown even a nominal sovereignty to the Mughal Emperor. He ordered that the Friday sermon, the khutbah, should be read in his own name not that of the Emperor...

Wodeyar Resurgence

The Wodeyar family were definitely not happy with this overthrow, as evidenced by his grandmother's (Maharani Lakshmi Ammani Devi) scheming to get Krishnaraja Wadiyar III re-appointed as the maharaja after the British took down Tipu.


I think that the Sultan in "Tipu Sultan" is part of his name and not part of his title.

With Muslim rulers, with a lavish use of titles as part of their names, it is often hard for nonexperts like me to tell where the name ends and the title begins.

For example:

alāl al-Dawla Mu'izz al-Dunyā Wa'l-Din Abu'l-Fatḥ ibn Alp Arslān (8 August 1055 – 19 November 1092,

Is better known by his throne name, Malik Shah. Malik is Arabic for king and Shah is persian for king, so his throne name was "King King", He was the Sultan of the Great Seljuk Empire from 1072-1092.


Sultan Husayn (1668-1726) was not a sultan. He was theShahanshah or King of Kings of the Persian Empire from 1694-1722.


It was rather common for Islamic governors to make their positions hereditary and for their families to gradually stop being governors and start being independent monarchs without changing their titles, so various Islamic titles have different meanings in different situations.

The specific title of sultan had several meanings. In the Ottoman Empire the rulers used the title of emir first and later sultan, And in later times the ruler used titles like Padishah, Khagan, Caliph, etc., and every member of the dynasty, male or female, used the title of sultan. So in the later Ottoman period the title of sultan meant prince or princess.

In any case, I think that the sultan in "Tipu Sultan" was part of his name, not his title.

Krisnaraja Wodeyar II (1728-1766) was Maharaja (great king) of Mysore from 1736 to 1766. Hyder Ali came to dominate the government more and more, and became the Sharvadhikari or chief minster by 1761.

When Krisnaraja Wodeyar II died his son Nanjaraja Wodeyar (1748-1770) became Maharaja of Mysore and Hydar Ali continued to rule. When Nanjaraja Wodeyar died his younger brother Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII (1759-1776) became the Maharaja of Mysore. He was succeeded as Maharaja by Chamaraja Wodeyar XI (1774-1796).

Hyder Ali died in 1782 and his son Tipu Sultan succeeded him as the ruler of Mysore.

Tipu Sultan (1750-1799) was born as Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu.


Tipu Sultan took the title of Padishah, thus claiming to be independent of the Great Mughal, the first Muslim ruler in India to do so. I think that at that time only the Ottoman monarch, the Great Mughal, and then Tipu Sultan used the title of Padishah. No doubt his English opponents thought that it was appropriate that the Indian version of Padishah was "Badshah".

So for some years Mysore had both a padishah or emperor and a maharaja or great king.

When Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII died in 1796 Tipu Sultan did not choose a replacement maharaja, deposing the Wodeyar Dynasty. But after Tipu Sultan was defeated in 1799, the British restored the Wodeyar Dynasty to the throne of Mysore with Krisnaraja Wodeyar III (1794-1868).

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