– Dr. Rahul A. Shastri, President, Samvit Kendra

The idea that those who hold other countries to be their fatherland, or consider them to be holy, have dual loyalties and therefore can be unreliable patriots was not an invention of Veer Savarkar. Two hundred and forty years before Savarkar, Akkanna articulated this understanding in a letter to Abul Hasan, Sultan of Golkonda:

“… for  you yourself can imagine which government serves the king best, ours or that of the Moors; ours being fullheartedly devoted to the welfare of the country, while we are not people who have or seek other countries, but that of the Moors  is  only  to  the  end  of  becoming  rich  and  then  to  leave  for  those places which they consider to be either their fatherland or holy.” [Kruijtzer 2008: 247]

By “moors or mooren” Akkanna meant those of foreign descent who served Golkonda, and he seems to have tried to unite Deccani Muslims and Hindus against these foreigners. The historian A.M. Siddiqui concludes that ” “Madanna  seems  to  have  been  animated  by  ultra-patriotic  favour  tinged  with  a  regional  bias”  by  supporting  Hindus  and Deccani  Muslims  against  the  Foreigners” [ibid.: 246].

It may be recalled that Hyderabad was founded and ruled by the Qutb Shahi Sultans. They were Shiahs and had over time developed good relations with Telugu and Hindu subjects, patronised Telugu literature, were supported by a number of subordinate nayakas and Hindu kings. However  “anti-kufr” sentiments remained deeply embedded even in their psyche as some examples from the famous kulliyat of Mohammad Quli show.

Thus Muhammad Quli writes in his kulliyat “Muhammad’s faith is paramount, so set the Hindu hordes to flight!” [Kulliyat 44].  Another such line (about breaking or raping kufr in the name of Ali) is quoted in Masud Husain Khan and Ghulam Omer Khan eds. Dakani Urdu ki lughat (Classical Dakani Urdu Dictionary) (Hyderabad, 1969) [Kruijtzer 2008: 266].

Thus in mobilising Deccani patriotism, Akkanna and Madanna were skating on thin ice, that was bound to break some time. Also fragile was Abul Hasan’s patronage. Further, the two brothers did not try to broad-base an alliance with Hindu nayakas and zamindars, and may have alienated many with their revenue reforms. Their efficiency deprived them of wider social support.

However, Aurangzeb’s policies gave them some initial advantages. In 1636 (or 56?), acting on behalf of Shah Jehan, Aurangzeb reduced Qutb Shahis to submission and replaced in the qutbas, the twelve Shi imams with the four Caliphs, thereby humiliating the Shias who deserted all mosques [Kruijtzer 2008: 91,95].  Later in 1656, he destroyed Golkonda. Because of Moghal aggression, Shivaji was given a grand welcome in Hyderabad in 1677 by Abul Hasan who had made Akkanna and Madanna ministers, although Muslims with foreign affiliations – ‘mooren’ as Akkanna called them, were unhappy [ibid: 247,179].

Some years later, Aurangzeb sent his army under his son, along with word that the power of Akkanna and Madanna be curbed. Africans and Arabs then beheaded the two ministers, robbed and massacred brahmins as far as Masulipatnam and destroyed the magnificent Shiva temple complex at Maheshwaram [ibid.: 240-41].

This loot and massacre of Brahmins is the first reported instance of Hindu-muslim “riots” in Hyderabad, which had seen only Shia-sunni riots earlier [ibid.: 9, 91]. This was Aurangzeb’s first gift to Hyderabad – and his son got the heads of Akkanna and Madanna in return.


Kruijtzer Gijs (2009) Xenophobia in Seventeenth Century India, Leiden University Press