History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1988: Q.1 (a)
Q.1 (a) “Whatever might have been its original character, it (Rebellion of 1857) soon became a symbol of challenge to the mighty British power in India.” Comment.
There has been a great controversy amongst the scholars over the character of the1857 rebellion.
1. Most of the British historians considered it a “Sepoy Mutiny” and they considered its immediate cause the greased cartridges only.
2. Some other foreign historians hold it to be a Muslim Conspiracy against the British and its aim was to re-establish the Mughal Empire under the leadership of Bahadur Shah Zafar while others considered it a religious war against the Christians or the conflict between Civilisation and Barbarism.
3. The opinion of some historians is that it was feudal in nature because by means of this revolt all those discontented native rulers and landlords wanted to regain their jagirs and pensions which the various Governor-Generals had confiscated.
4. Majority of Indian historians considered it the first war of Indepndence.
The rebellion of 1857 was a glorious mark in the India’s history in as much as Hindus and Muslims fought shoulder to shoulder against the mighty British. Though the revolt was unsuccessful, it contained the seeds of ultimate success. In spite of the failure of the revolt, the spirit of the people remained unshaken which slowly gave rise to nationalism. The rebellion had shown that the mighty British can be challenged and became a precursor for several revolts of Indian struggle for independence. It left an indelible impression on the minds of the Indian people and paved the way for the rise of a strong national movement and finally independence in 1947.
The rebellion was used as a source of inspiration and a symbol of challenge to British power by the later nationalist leaders like Jawahar Lal Nehru who termed it as the first war of independence.
According to the historian Majumdar, just like Julius Caesar was was more powerful when dead than when he was alive, in the same way, whatever may be the original character of the rebellion, it soon became a symbol of challenge to the mighty British power. It remained a shining example before the nascent nationalism in India in its struggle for freedom from British Yoke.