BEFORE I could proceed in the translation of the following letters, it was necessary that I should acquire some insight into the construction of the Kalendar instituted by Tippoo Sultan, and always employed by him, excepting in his correspondence with persons not subjected to his authority, when he condescended to use the common Mahommedan reckoning. Till I could attain this knowledge, it would neither be possible for me to rectify the confusion in the arrangement of the manuscript, occasioned by the accident noticed in the Preface, nor to convert the Sultan’s dates into the corresponding English dates. Of the necessity of the first of these operations, or the classing of the letters in the order of time, there could be no doubt, since this was absolutely necessary to the right understanding of many of them; while the utility of others, in an historical view, depended, in some measure, on the degree of accuracy with which the dates of the original might be reduced to our chronology.

When, however, I came to examine the means I possessed for this purpose, I found that they were much more scanty than I had supposed them to be: nor have I been so fortunate as to supply the deficiency, by such enquiries as it has been in my power to make in this country. No doubt, the requisite information might have been obtained from India; but the fact is, that it was not until very lately that I discovered the want of any. As it is, I trust that I have, at least, made such an approx­imation to the truth (if I have not actually arrived at it), as will sufficiently answer the main ends in view.

I have no means of ascertaining with precision, at what period of his reign Tippoo Sultan introduced his first innovation in the Kalendar; but there is good reason to believe, that it was about a year after his accession to the Musnud. The earliest document in my possession, dated according to his new Kalendar, is an edict, or regulation, of the 15th Jaafury of the year Uzl (or thirty-eighth of the cycle hereafter explained), corresponding, as I reckon, to the 10th of June 1784: but another, issued about six months anterior to this, or in January 1784, shows that the reformed Kalendar was not in use at the latter period, since the edict in question bears no other date than the Mahom­medan one of Zilhijjeh, A.H. 1197.* From these data it may be inferred, that the new Kalendar was established some time between January and June 1784.

There is no doubt, that this Kalendar was founded on the reckoning in common use in Mysore, which was that of the Malabar cycle of sixty years. To the years composing this cycle, the Sultan gave new names; as he did to the months of the year. But though he took the Hindoo computation for his ground-work, he would not appear to have adhered strictly to it, since disagreements between the two reckonings sometimes occur. Thus the 14th Tûlooey (or 9th month of Tippoo Sultan’s year), which was the Sultan’s birth-day, did not coincide with the 14th, but with the 17th of Mârgaiser or Ughun (9th month of the Hindoo year). The cause of this discrepancy may probably be traced in the following division of the year, according to the Sultan’s first regulation of it.

Order of the Month.Name.Number of Days.Corresponding with the
Hindoo MonthZodiacal Sign.
1st<Arabic> Ahmedy,29Choiter,Aries.
2d<Arabic> Behâry,30Bysâk,Taurus.
3d<Arabic> Jaafury,30Joister (Jait),Gemini.
4th<Arabic> Dârâey,29Âsâr,Cancer.
5th<Arabic> Hâshimy,29Sâwun or Srâwun,Leo.
6th<Arabic> Wâsaaey,30Bhâdon or Bhâder,Virgo.
7th<Arabic> Zuburjudy,29Âsin,Libra.
8th<Arabic> Hydery,30Kârtic,Scorpio.
9th<Arabic> Tûlooey,29Mârgaiser or Ughun,Sagittarius.
10th<Arabic> Yoosûfy,30Poos,Capricornus.
11th<Arabic> Eezidy,29Mâgh,Aquarius.
12th<Arabic> Byâzy,* 30Phâgûn,Pisces.

Though the foregoing names are not absolutely unmeaning, yet they would not appear to have had any appropriate signification attached to them; with the exception of the first, called by one of the names of Mahommed, and of the eighth, or Hydery, which might possibly have been so denominated in honor of the Sultan’s father, as Tûlooey might likewise have been, in allusion to its being the month in which the Sultan himself arose, or was born. Whether Behâry had any reference to the spring, in which season it always occurred, is uncertain. Of the whole of these months it is, however, to be observed, that the initial letter of each denotes its place in the Kalendar, according to the well-known notation called <Arabic> or Ubjud, which assigns a certain numerical power to every letter in the alphabet.* There being no single letter to express either 11, or 12, the two first letters of Eezidy and Byâzy, added together, denote the place of each, respectively, in the order of months, viz. 1 + 10 = 11. 2 + 10 = 12.

I cannot state positively, whether or not these months invariably consisted of the same number of days; but, as far as the documents in my possession enable me to judge, it would not appear that any fluctuation took place in this respect. It is here, however, proper to notice, that in the Appendix to Colonel Beatson’s book, a memorandum of the Sultan’s appears (respecting the battle of Suddasir), according to which the month of Râzy would seem to have consisted of thirty, whereas my table assigns to it only twenty-nine days. I have not the means, at present, of consulting the original document; but it occurs to me as being possible, that the Sultan may have written <Arabic> Sulkh, or, “the last day,” and that the translator may have supposed the thirtieth to be meant. If this should not be the case, it will not be easy to reconcile the disagreement in question.

The names given to the years of the cycle were formed also on the principle of the Ubjud notation, with the exception of the two first years, which were denominated <Arabic> Ahd (one or unity), and <Arabic> Ahmed (Mahommed), in honor of God and the Prophet; and implying that the latter was the second, as the Almighty was the first object of veneration. The rest of the names, though like those of the months, not entirely destitute of meaning, had no specific import. They merely denoted the order of each year in the cycle, which was found by adding together the numerical powers of the several letters composing the name, the amount being the number of the year. Thus <Arabic> Uzl (the name of the year with which the following correspondence commences) is equivalent to 38 (1+7+30), and denotes that the year, so called, is the thirty-eighth of the cycle (corresponding to A.D. 1784-5.)

But this arrangement was, after some time, superseded by another; the Sultan having, as there is reason to believe, made a second reform of the Kalendar, in the forty-first year of the cycle (or AD. 1787-8). The latter alteration, however, would not appear to have extended further than to the substitution of new names to the months and years, in the place of those first assigned to them. These new names pos­sessed the same property as the old; namely, that of severally indicating the number of the year, and the order of the month, by virtue of their numerical power. The notation, however, now used was different from the Ubjud, and has been called by some Ubtus (an unmeaning word, formed by a combination of the first four letters of the alphabet*); but is, by the Sultan himself, in one of the letters of the present collection, denominated (if there be no error in the manuscript) <Arabic> Zur, and derived by him, but I do not distinctly understand how, from the Koran. The difference between the two schemes consists in this: in the Ubjud, the numerical powers of the letters depend on the order of the latter in the arbitrary verse already referred to; whereas, in the Ubtus, or Zur, they depend on the order of the letters of the alphabet: as


If, as there is reason to think, and as I shall presently endeavour to show, the new era invented by the Sultan, and which he sometimes called the era of Mahommed, and sometimes the Mowloody, or era of the birth (i. e. of Mahommed), was introduced at the same time with the change in the names of the years and months, just described; his motive for the latter innovation was not, perhaps, entirely capricious, but may be safely referred, in some measure, to his zeal for the glory of his religion. As the new epoch was, no doubt, designed to do honor to the Prophet, whom he seems to have thought degraded by the designation given to that in common use,* so, probably, were the new names of the years and months, which, instead of being formed upon a vulgar or profane practice, were now constituted upon a principle, sanctified, as it would seem, by the word of the law. Be this, however, as it may, there are good grounds for believing, that the new era, and the second regu­lation respecting the names of the years and months, took place together, and that the use of both commenced with the forty-first year of the Malabar cycle.

It happens unfortunately, that one of the chasms in the following correspondence occurs at that very period; there not being a single letter of the forty-first year in the collection, nor any document whatever, of that date, among the papers in my possession. But though we are, by this means, deprived of any direct or positive proof on the subject, yet there are not wanting circumstances that afford, what will probably be deemed a sufficient presumption in favor of the opinion I have offered.

1st. In a letter to his diplomatic agents at Dehli, dated in Hy­dery (or eighth month) of the fortieth year (Dullo), the Sultan enumerated the names of the years and months, according to the second or new arrangement, which he had then probably determined on, but which he certainly did not carry into effect during the remainder of the fortieth year, as abundantly appears from existing documents. The letter here referred to is manifestly imperfect; otherwise we might have learnt from it, why the arrangement in question was announced so long before the period of its actual adoption. Possibly the great distance of Dehli may have suggested the expediency of an anticipated commu­nication.

2d. It is established by a variety of documents, that both the new nomenclature and the new era were in use in the forty-second year of the cycle, which was accordingly called Sârâ; whereas, under the preceding arrangement, it would have been named Kubk.

3d. It is improbable, that the Jultan, after announcing the new no­menclature, so early as Hydery of the fortieth year, should have delayed the introduction of it till the forty-second year, or Jârâ: it is, therefore, most likely, that it commenced with the forty-first year, which, in this case, would be called Shâ, while, according to the former rule, it would be Mâ.

4th. In a letter, dated the 29th Eezidy (eleventh month) of Dullo, or the fortieth year, the Sultan directs an enquiry to be instituted among the learned men in different parts of his dominions, for the pur­pose of ascertaining, with exactness, the respective dates of the birth, mission, and flight of the Prophet. An explanation of the cause of the Higera, or flight, is also required by this letter. This investigation seems to have been preparatory to the establishment of the epoch under consideration.

5th. But the most unequivocal proof of the Mowloody era having been established in the forty-first year, is furnished by a decree, or regulation, of the year Râsikh, or forty-eighth of the cycle (corresponding to the 1209th year of the Higera), to which a seal is affixed, bearing the date 1215.* Now as this date could not be meant for the Higera, it must, of necessity, have been intended to denote the year of Mahommed. The 1215th year of Mahommed co-incided with the forty-first of the cycle: and as we know that the Mowloody era was not in use during the fortieth of the cycle (or Dullo), it necessarily follows, that the seal in question was engraved in the first year of the institution of that epoch.

I will add here the few remaining observations that I have to make on the subject of the Mowloody era, and then return to the consideration of the Kalendar.

As this era was not adopted till after the time to which the letters in the present volume reach, it was not absolutely necessary to my imme­diate purpose, to have offered any explanation of it: but being upon the subject of the Sultan’s Kalendar, I thought it right to state what I knew, respecting so prominent an article of it. Even in the later documents, wherein it pretty constantly occurs, it is of little or no use in fixing the date of any letter, regulation, or transaction; since it is generally, if not invariably, accompanied by the year of the cycle. The first time that I meet with it is in an edict of the year Sârâ, or forty-second of the cycle (and 1216 of Mahommed). It is continually employed, however, in the Sultan’s Memoir of his own reign, where it is applied even to events which took place many years before its actual introduction. Thus, among other instances, Hyder Ali Khân is said to have died on Satur­day, the 3d of Zâkiry “of the year of Mahommed 1209.” But of these Memoirs it is to be observed, that they bear internal evidence of having been composed subsequently to the peace of Seringapatam, in 1792.

The term Mowloody, strictly considered, is certainly not applicable to the era in question; according to which there would appear to have been no more than an interval of thirteen years between the birth and flight of Mahommed. It has been conjectured, that, instead of the birth, this era was, in fact, reckoned from the mission of Mahommed, or the period when he first announced himself as the messenger of God: and this notion receives some countenance, from the tenor of the enquiry spoken of above, which strongly implies a dislike of the term Higera, and an intention to sink the event it alludes to, in a reference to one of a more dignified and memorable kind. But, even in this view of the matter, it is difficult to account for the new era being called Mowloody, rather than Nûboowet; unless it be supposed, that the birth was put as a metonymy for the regeneration of the Prophet, which might be reckoned from the commencement of his mission.

I now resume my account of the Kalendar, which was interrupted by this digression concerning the Mowloody era.

The names of the months, according to the second and latest arrange­ment, became as follows:

1st month<Arabic>Ahmedybeing the same as in the former scheme.
2d month<Arabic>Behâry
3d month<Arabic>Tuky. 
4th month<Arabic>Sumry. 
5th month<Arabic>Jaafury,being the third month of the former scheme.
6th month<Arabic>Hydery,being the eighth do. of ...... do.
7th month<Arabic>Khûsrowy. 
8th month<Arabic>Deeny. 
9th month<Arabic>Zâkiry.*  
10th month<Arabic>Rehmâny. 
11th month<Arabic>Râzy. 
12th month<Arabic>Rubbâny. 

The eleventh and twelfth months are here indicated, as in the former scheme, by the first two letters of their respective names, <Arabic> (râ), being 10+1; and <Arabic> r(u)b, 10+2.

Although I could present the reader with a table, exhibiting the names of every year in the cycle, according to both the schemes which have been described, yet it would answer no useful purpose, that will not be equally accomplished by the following abridgement, including only the years of Tippoo Sultan’s reign.

Year of the Cycle.Name according to the First Scheme.Name according to the Second Scheme.Corresponding with A.D.
36<Arabic> Jebâl<Arabic> Rub-tâz1782-3.
37<Arabic> Zuky<Arabic> Sukh1783-4.
38<Arabic> Uzl<Arabic> Sukhâ1784-5.
39<Arabic> Jullo<Arabic> Durâz1785-6.
40<Arabic> Dullo<Arabic> Busd1786-7.
41<Arabic> <Arabic> Shâ1787-8.
42<Arabic> Kubk<Arabic> Sârâ1788-9.
43<Arabic> Jum<Arabic> Surâb1789-90.
44<Arabic> Jâm<Arabic> Shetâ1790-1.
45<Arabic> Adam<Arabic> Zuburjud1791-2.
46<Arabic> Wuly<Arabic> Sehr1792-3.
47<Arabic> Wâly<Arabic> Sâhir1793-4.
48<Arabic> Kaukub<Arabic> Râsikh1794-5.
49<Arabic> Kuwâkib<Arabic> Shâd1795-6.
50<Arabic> Yum<Arabic> Hirâset1796-7.
51<Arabic> Duwâm<Arabic> Sâz1797-8.
52<Arabic> Humd<Arabic> Shâdâb1798-9.
53<Arabic> Hâmid<Arabic> Bârish1799.

It is worthy of remark, that the name of the last of these years, or Bârish, signifying rain, was changed by the Sultan, only a short time before his death, to Bâshir;* which meaning joyful, or auspicious, he thought a word of better omen than the other. But it did not prove such to him; for on the last day of Ahmedy (first month) of that very year, he lost his life, and the sovereignty of Mysore passed away from the Khodâdâd Sircar,* to the hands of those, towards whom he ever cherished the most deep and irreconcileable hatred; paralleled, perhaps, only by that borne, in ancient times, by Hannibal against the Romans.

It will be seen, by the table of months inserted at page xxvii, that the Sultan’s year, though considered by him as solar, consisted of no more than three hundred and fifty-four days. In order, therefore, to correct this reckoning, and to approximate it to the true solar time, he occasionally added a thirteenth month to the year. I say, occasionally; because I have not been able to discover (if, as is probable, there existed) any fixed rule for determining either the return of the leap year, or the period of such year, at which the intercalary or supplementary month was to be introduced. It is stated in some of my notes, collected at Seringapatam, that every third year was considered as embolismal, and that the supplementary month was always inserted, according to one account, after the tenth, and, according to another, after the eleventh month. But each of these statements is clearly proved to be wrong by a variety of authentic documents, showing that the thirty-ninth, forty-fourth, forty-seventh, forty-ninth and fifty-second of the cycle were leap years. On what year, between thirty-nine and forty-four, leap year fell is not known, owing to the want of documents for that period: but whether we suppose it to have been the forty-first or forty-second year, it will be equally manifest, that the embolismal year did not uniformly occur every third year. The same thing is shown by the fact of the forty-seventh and forty-ninth years having both been leap years.

It is a known rule, that to make the solar and lunar years accord, seven returns of the intercalary, or supplementary month, are required in the course of nineteen years, Now from the thirty-fifth to the fifty-third year of the cycle (both inclusive) is a period of nineteen years, in the course of which seven leap years occur, (viz. five which are clearly ascer­tained, and two which have been assumed). But, notwithstanding this apparent conformity, the two reckonings do not co-incide, when, accord­ing to this rule, they might be expected to do so. The reason of this dis­agreement, no doubt, is, that though the months established by Tippoo were ordinarily called lunar, they were not strictly so; six of the twelve months of the year having consisted of thirty, and the other six of twenty-nine days each: the common year, therefore, comprizing three hundred and fifty-four days, was, in fact, neither lunar nor solar.

The documents abundantly prove, that the intercalary, or supplemen­tary month, called by the Sultan <Arabic> Zâid (as zâid Ahmedy; zâid Behâry, &c. according to the month before* which it was inserted) was not added at any fixed or regulated period of the year, but, apparently, according to his fancy: at least I have not met with any clue to the principle (if principle there was) on which it was arranged. All that is certain is, that in the thirty-ninth year the Zâid, or adscititious month, was Ahmedy; in the forty-fourth year, Sumry; in the forty-seventh year, Behâry; in the forty-ninth year, Hydery; and in the fifty-second year, Jaafury: by which unquestionable facts it appears, that in no one instance, in so many years, did it happen to fall either on the tenth or eleventh month.

But although so much uncertainty prevails on this article, yet being apprized, as we are, that the first day of the fifty-third year co-incided with the 6th April 1799, and knowing, also, both the names of the leap-years, and of the supplementary months which occurred between that time and the forty-fourth year, inclusive, we are fortunately enabled to convert the Sultan’s dates, during that period, with sufficient accuracy, into our own. It is after passing, in a retrogade progression, the forty-fourth year, that the principal difficulty commences; since there are, at present, no means of ascertaining in what year, between that and the thirty-ninth, the leap-year occurred, or at what period of such year the intercalary month was added.

In this difficulty I could only arrive at the fortieth and thirty-ninth years (so essential to my immediate purpose, on account of the principal portion of the following letters belonging to those years) by assuming, at a venture, one of the intervening years, between forty-four and thirty-nine, as the leap-year. I therefore fixed upon Sârâ, or the forty-second year, by which means something like system and regularity is made to appear in the recurrence of the embolism; which, by this distribution, would seem to have returned (as far as our materials enable us to judge) alternately, every third and every second year: that is to say, in the thirty-ninth, forty-second, forty-fourth, forty-seventh, forty-ninth, and fifty-second. With regard to the supplementary month of the assumed leap-year, I was obliged to resort to the same expedient; and, accordingly, fixed on the third month, or Tuky. By this means, each of the first six months of the year (though not in regular succession) will appear to have served as the intercalary months, three of them being months of thirty days, and the three others months of twenty-nine days. Hence the leap years, thirty-nine, forty-four, and fifty-two, are made to contain each three hundred and eighty-three days; and the leap years, forty-two, forty-seven, and forty-nine, each three hundred and eighty-four days.*

Having constructed my table of corresponding dates in the best manner I could, with the imperfect materials in my possession, I was, fortunately, enabled to verify or correct the same, by means of a practice occasionally observed by the Sultan, of giving the day of the week along with the day of the month. An instance of this kind occurs in Letter CCCIV, which led to the discovery of an error I had committed, in converting the 18th of Jaafury of the year Dullo into our reckoning. I had made it agree with the 20th June, which fell on a Tuesday; while the 18th of Jaafury being expressly stated to have been a Wednesday, must, of course, have co-incided with the 21st June 1786. The detection of this mistake necessarily led to an alteration of the whole series of my dates for the two years comprized in the present volume, every one of which it became requisite to advance one day. This correction leaves scarcely any doubt of the perfect accuracy of the dates as now adjusted. The only point in which any mistake can have occurred, is in the number of days assigned to extra Ahmedy of the year Jullo: for though it is known, that regular Ahmedy consisted of twenty-nine days, it is not certain, (however probable) that the extra, or supplementary month, always had the same num­ber of days as the regular month of the like name.

This is all that it has been in my power to do, with a view to the attain­ment of the accuracy so desirable on the present occasion. I trust I have not fallen into any material error. For the rest, I rely on the indulgence of the reader.