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The Great Revolt of 1857- Part I

The Great Revolt of 1857- Part I

  • The effect of British expansionist policies, economic exploitation. and administrative innovations over the year had adversely affected the position of all-rulers of Indian states, sepoys, zamindars, peasants, traders, pundits, moulvies etc., excepting the Western educated class in towns who owed their ‘position’ to the Company’s Government.
  • The Lucknow Proclamation pinpointed that British rule had endangered all the four things dear to Hindus and Muslims alike-religion, honour, life and property.
  • The resentment of the Indians had found expression in a number of mutinies and insurrections from time to time in different parts of the country which arose out of a wide range of political, economic and administrative causes; like
    • the mutiny at Vellore in 1806,
    • the mutiny at Barrackpore in 1824,
    • the mutiny at Ferozepur in February 1842
    • the mutiny of 7th Bengal Cavalry and 64th Regiment, 22nd mutiny of 22nd N. I. in 1849, of the 66th N. I. in 1850, the 38th N. I. in 1852 etc.,
    • the Bareilly rising of 1816,
    • the Kol insurrection of 1931 32,
    • the 1848 revolt of the Rajas of Kangta, Jaswar and Datarpur,
    • the Santhal rising of 1855 56 etc.,
  • The simmering discontent burst out into a violent storm in 1857 which shook the British empire in India to its very foundations.

Causes of Revolt:

  • Earlier historians have greatly emphasised the importance of military grievances and the greased cartridges affair as the most potent causes which led to the great rising of 1857. But ‘the greased canridge‘ was not the only cause, nor even the most important of them.
  • The causes of the Rebellion lay deeper and are to be found in the history of the hundred years of British rule from the Battle of Plassey (June 1757) to the rebellion of Mangal Pandey when on March 29, 1857, he murdered an English Adjutant.
    • The greased cartridge and the Mutiny of soldiers was merely the match stick which exploded the inflammable material which had gathered in heap on account of a variety of causes political, social, religious and economic.
  • Economic causes:
    • The colonial policies of the East India Company destroyed the traditional Indian trade and industry.
    • Writing in 1853 Karl Marx remarked: “It was the British intruder who broke up the Indian hand loom and destroyed the spinning wheel. England began with depriving the Indian cottons from the European market; it then introduced twist into Hindustan and in the end inundated the very mother country of cotton with cottons”.
    • Ruination of industry and increased the pressure on agriculture and land resulted in pauperization of the country.
    • Peasantry:
      • Unpopular revenue settlement + loans from moneylenders/traders (led to their eviction from land).
      • Money lender became new zamindaar.
    • Artisans and handicraftsmen:
      • Loss of Patronage + British policy discouraged Indian handicrafts and promoted British goods.
      • The destruction of Indian handicrafts was not accompanied by the development of modern industries.
    • Zamindars:
      • They were the traditional landed aristocracy, often saw their land rights forfeited with frequent use of a quo warranto (by what authority someone has an office) by the administration.
      • In Awadh, the storm center of the revolt, 21,000 taluqdars had their estates confiscated and suddenly trapped into extreme poverty.
      • These people were looking for opportunity which was presented by the sepoy revolt to oppose the British and regain what they had lost.
  • Political causes:
    • Loss of political prestige of East India Company due to their greedy policy and frequent breaking of pledges and oaths.
      • Policies such as ‘Effective Control’, ‘Subsidiary Alliance’ under Lord Wellesley and ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ under Dalhousie .
        • Dalhousie’s annexations and the Doctrine of lapse had caused suspicion and uneasiness in the minds of almost all ruling princes in India.
      • The right of succession was denied to Hindu princes.
      • The distinction between ‘dependent states’ and “protected allies‘ was very thin. In case of disputed interpretation, the decision of the East India Company was binding and that of the Court of Directions final. There was no Supreme Court to give an impartial verdict on questions of right and wrong.
        • While the Panjab, Pegu, Sikkim had been annexed by the ‘Right of Conquest’, Satara, Jaipur, Sambhalpur, Baghat, Udaipur, Jhansi and Nagpur were annexed by the application of the Doctrine of Lapse.
        • Oudh was annexed on the pretext of “ the good of the governed”.
        • Regal titles of the Nawabs of Carnatic and Tanjore were abolished and the pension of Peshwa Baji Rao’s adopted son was stopped.
        • The Indians held that the existence of all states was threatened and absorption of all states was a question of time.
      • Sir Charles Napier, who wrote: “Were I Emperor of India for twelve years… no India prince should exist. The Nizam should no more be heard of.. Nepal would be ours…”
      • House of Mughal was humbled:
        • Bahadur Shah II, the Mughal Emperor, was an old man and might die any moment. Lord Dalhousie had recognised the succession of Prince Faqir ul Din, but imposed many strict conditions on him.
        • After Prince Faqiruddin’s death (whose succession had been recognized conditionally by Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856) ) in 1856, Lord Canning announced that the next prince on succession would have to renounce the regal title and the ancestral Mughal palaces, in addition to renunciations agreed upon by Prince Faqiruddin.
        • These acts greatly unnerved the Indian Muslims.
      • All these caused suspicion in the minds of almost all ruling princes in India.
      • The ‘absentee soverieigntyship’ of the British rule in India was an equally important political factor which worked on the minds of the Indian people against the British.
        • The Pathans and the Mughals who had conquered India had, in course of time, settled in India and become Indians. The revenues collected from the people were spent this very country.
        • In the case of the British, the Indians felt that they were being ruled from England from a distance of thousands miles and the country was being drained of her wealth.
        • Besides, the policy of Pax Britanicia pursued by the British during the past four decades had led to the disbanding of Pindaris, Thugs, and irregular soldiers who formed the bulk of the native armies.
          • These people had lived mostly on plunder, and when deprived of the means of livelihood by the British, they formed the nucleus of antisocial elements in different areas.
          • When in 1857, there occurred some disturbances they swelled the ranks of the rebels.
  • Administrative causes:
    • The Indian aristocracy was deprived of power and position. It found little chance to gain the same old position in the new administrative set-up, as under the British rule all high posts, civil and military, were reserved for the Europeans.
      • In the military services, the highest post attainable by an Indian was that of a Subedar on a salary of Rs. 60 or Rs. 70 and in the civil services that of Sadr Amin on a salary of Rs. 500 per month.
      • The chances of promotion were very few.
      • Sir Thomas Munro, pleading for the employment of Indians, wrote in 1817, “Foreign conquerors have treated the natives with violence, and often with cruelty, but none has treated them with so much scorn as we; none has stigmatized the whole people as unworthly of trust, as incapable of honestly and as fit to be employed only where we cannot do without them. It seems to be not only ungenerous, but impolite, to debase the character of the people fallen under our dominion...”
      • Despite the recommendations contained in the Charter Act of 1833, the policy had remained more or less the same.
    • The administrative machinery of the East India Company was ‘inefficient and insufficient’.
      • The land revenue police was most unpopular.
      • Many districts in the newly annexed states were in permanent revolt and military had to be sent to collect the land revenue.
        • In the district of Panipat, for example, 136 horsemen were maintained for the collection of land revenue, while only 22 were employed for the performance of police duties.
      • At the out break of the Rebellion, Sir Henry Lawrence is reported to have remarked: “It was the Jackson, the John Lawrence, the Thomason, the Edmonstones who brought India to this.”
      • In the land revenue settlement newly acquired territories, the English administration had eliminated the middleman by establishing direct contact with the peasants. Many talukdars, the hereditary landlords (and tax collectors for the Government) were deprived of their positions and gains. The taluqdars of Oudh were the hardest hit.
      • Many holders of rent free tenures were dispossessed by the use of a quo warranto-requiring the holders of such lands to produce evidence like title deeds by which they held that land.
      • Large estates were confiscated and sold by public auction to the highest bidders. Such estates were usually purchased by speculators who did not understand the tenants and fully exploited them.
      • It was Coverly Jackson’s policy of disbanding the native soldiers and of strict inquiry into the titles of the talukdars of Oudh that made Oudh the chief centre of the Rebellion.
      • The Inam Commission appointed in 1852 in Bombay confiscated as many as 20,000 estates.
      • Thus, the new land revenue settlements made by the East India Company in the newly annexed states drove poverty in the ranks of the aristocracy without benefiting the peasantry which groaned under the weight of heavy assessments and excessive duties.
      • The peasants whose welfare was the chief motive of the new revenue policy did not like the passing of the old ways.
        • They fell in the clutches of unprincipled moneylenders; they often expressed their sympathy for their dispossessed landlords.
    • Rampant corruption
    • Above features gave foreign and alien look to in the eyes of Indians.
  • Socio-religious causes:
    • Racial overtones and a superiority complex.
      • The rulers followed a policy of contempt towards the Indians and described the Hindus as barbarians with hardly any trace of culture and civilisation, while the Muslims were dubbed as bigots, cruel and faithless.
      • The Indian was spoken as nigger and addressed as a suar or pig, an epithet most resented by the Muslims.
      • The European juries, which alone could try such cases, acquitted European criminals with light or no punishment. Such discrimination rankled in the Indian mind.
      • It may be easy to withstand physical and political injustices but religious persecution touches tender conscience and forms complexes that are not easy to eradicate.
    • The activities of Christian missionaries.
      • One of the aims of the English in Indian was to convert the Indians to Christianity.
      • Major Edwards had openly declared that “the Christianization of India was to be the ultimate end of our continued possession of it.“
      • Sepoys were promised promotions if they accepted the True Faith.
      • The missionaries were given ample facilities and the American Missionary Society at Agra had set up an extensive printing press.
      • Idolatry was denounced, Hindu gods and goddesses ridiculed, Hindu superstitions dubbed as ignorance.
      • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan mentions that “it has been commonly believed that government appointed missionaries and maintained them at its own cost.”
      • The Evangelical opinion was voiced by Lord Shattesbury who believed that the failure to Christianize India was the cause of the whole trouble.
    • The attempts at socio-religious reform such as abolition of sati, support to widow-remarriage and women’s education → All these seen as interference in the social and religious domains of Indian society.
    • Government’s decision to tax mosque and temple lands
    • Religious Disabilities Act, 1856:
      • It modified Hindu customs.
      • It declared that a change of religion did not debar a son from inheriting the property of his heathen father.
  • Influence of outside events:
    • British suffered serious losses—the First Afghan War (1838-42), Punjab Wars (1845-49), Crimean Wars (1854-56), Santhal rebellion (1855-57).
    • These had obvious psychological repercussions.
  • Military Causes:
    • Since the Afghan adventure of Lord Auckland, the discipline in the army had suffered a serious set back.
      • Lord Dalhousie had written to the Home authorities that “the discipline of the army from top to bottom officers and men alike, is scandalous”.
      • The Bengal Army was “a great brotherhood in which all the members felt and acted in union”, and service in the army was hereditary.
      • Three fifth of the recruits of the Bengal Army were drawn from Oudh and the North Western Provinces and most of them came from high caste Brahmin and Rajput families who were averse to accepting that part of the army discipline which treated them on par with the low caste recruits.
      • During the Governor Generalship of Lord Dalhousie three mutinies had occurred in the army.
    • The Bengal Army sepoys reflected all the feelings of the civil population of Oudh.
      • In the opinion of Maulana Azad, the annexation of Oudh “marked the beginning of a rebellious mood in the army generally and in the Bengal army in particular.“
      • It gave a rude shock to the people. They suddenly realised that the power which the Company had acquired through their service and sacrifice was utilised to liquidate their own king.
    • The extension of British dominion in India had adversely affected the service condition of the sepoys.
      • They were required to serve in area away their homes without the payment of extra bhatta.
      • emoluments << British counterpart.
      • The sepoys yearned for the good old days when the Indian rulers used to crown their meritorious deeds by bestowing jagirs and other prizes upon them whereas their victories in Sind and the Panjab had brought worse days for them.
      • In 1824 the sepoys at Barrackpore had refused to serve across the seas in Burma.
      • In 1844 four Bengal regiments had refused to moved to Sind till extra bhatta was sanctioned.
      • More recently there was order that they would not be given the foreign service allowance (Matta) when serving in Sindh or in Punjab.
      • The Indian sepoy was made to feel a subordinate at every step and was discriminated against racially and in matters of promotion and privileges.
      • The sepoy was a ‘peasant in uniform‘ whose consciousness was not divorced from that of the rural population.So, There grievances was not limited to matters of military. It reflected the general disenchantment with and opposition to British rule.
      • There had been a long history of revolts in the British Indian Army— in Bengal (1764), Vellore (1806), Barrackpore (1825) and during the Afghan Wars (1838-42) are few among many others.
    • The conditions of service came into conflict with the religious beliefs and prejudices of the sepoys.
      • Restrictions on wearing caste and sectarian marks.
      • Rumors of proselytizing.
    • In 1856 Canning’s government passed the General Service Enlistment Act which decreed that all future recruits for the Bengal army would have to give an undertaking to serve anywhere their service might be required by the Government.
      • For Hindus crossing the seas meant loss of caste
      • Those soldiers who had been sent in the army of invasion of Afghanistan during 1839-42 had not been taken back in the folds of the caste.
    • The privilege of free postage so long enjoyed by the sepoys was withdrawn with the passing of the Post Office Act of 1854.
    • Besides, the disparity in numbers between European and Indian troops had lately been growing greater.
      • In 1856, the Company’s army consisted of 238,000 native and 45,322 British soldiers.
      • This disproportion was rendered more serious by the deficiency of good officers in the army, most of whom were employed in administrative posts in the newly annexed states and the frontier.
      • The distribution of the troops was also faulty.
      • Moreover, disasters in the Crimean war had lowered the general moral of the British soldiers.
      • All these factors made the Indian soldiers feel that if they had struck at that hour, they had reasonable chances of success.
      • So they were waiting only for an occasion which was provided by the ‘greased cartridge’ incidents.
    • The greased cartridges did not Create a new causes of discontent in the army, but supplied the occasion when the underground discontent came out in the open.
      • In 1856 the Government decided to replace the old fashioned musket, ‘Brown Bess’ by the ‘Enfield rifle’.
      • The training for the use of the new weapon was to be imparted at Dum Dum, Ambala and Sialkot.
      • The loading process of the Enfield rifle involved bringing the cartridge to the mouth and biting off the top paper with mouth.
      • In January 1857 a story got currency in the Bengal regiments that the greased cartridge contained the fat of pig and cow.
      • At once a denial was issued by the military authorities without investigating into the matter.
      • Assurances of superior officers and slight concessions proved of no avails.
      • The sepoys become convinced that the introduction of greased cartridges was a deliberate move to defile their religion.
  • Beginning (Immediate cause):
    • The reports about the mixing of bone dust in atta (flour) and the introduction of the Enfield rifle enhanced the sepoys’ growing disaffection with the Government.
    • Administration did nothing to allay these fears and the sepoys felt their religion was in grave danger.

Beginning and Spread

  • The revolt began at Meerut on May 10,1857 and soon embraced a vast area from the Punjab in the north and the Narmada in the south to Bihar in the east and Rajputana in the west.
  • Sequence of events till capture of delhi :
    • At Berhampur Infantry refused to use enfield rifle (with greased cartridges) and broke out in mutiny (feb-1857), regiment was disbanded → Mangal Pande (34th Native Infantry, Barrackpore) fired at the sergeant major. He was executed on April 6 and regiment was disbanded in May → 7th Awadh Regiment which defied its officers on May 3 met with a similar fate.
    • And then came the explosion at Meerut. On April 24, ninety men of 3rd Native Cavalry refused to accept the greased cartridges → On May 9, eighty-five of them were dismissed, sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and put in fetters→ On May 10, Indian soldiers released their imprisoned comrades, killed their officers and unfurled the banner of revolt.
    • On 11 May 1857, a band of Sepoys from Meerut marched to the Red Fort. They made appeal to Bahadur Shah II to become their leader, thus, give legitimacy to their cause.
    • Below two events gave positive political meaning to the revolt :
      • Bahadur Shah was proclaimed Shahenshah-e-Hindustan : the long reign of Mughal dynasty had become the traditional symbol of India’s political unity. With this single act, the sepoys had transformed a mutiny of soldiers into a revolutionary war, while all Indian chiefs who took part in the revolt hastened to proclaim their loyalty to the Mughal emperor.
        • Though Bahadur Shah vacillated as he was neither sure of the intentions of the sepoys nor of his own ability to play an effective role, He was however persuaded, if not coerced.
        • wrote letters to all the chiefs and rulers of India urging them to organize a confederacy of Indian states to fight and replace the British regime.
      • The sepoys captured delhi :
        • Simon Fraser, the Political Agent and several other Englishmen were killed. The public offices were either occupied or destroyed.
  • Very soon the rebellion spread throughout Northern and Central India at Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Bareilly, Banaras in parts of Bihar, Jhansi and other places.
  • Storm centres and leadership: Thus, Delhi became the centre of the Great Revolt and Bahadur Shah its symbol. Within a month of the capture of Delhi, the revolt spread to different parts of the country.
    • Delhi:
      • Real commmand was under General Bakht Khan. He had led the revolt of Bareilly troops and brought them to Delhi.
      • Weak personality, old age and lack of leadership qualities of Bahadur Shah created political weakness at the nerve centre of the revolt and did incalculable damage to it.
    • Kanpur:
      • Leader was Nana Saheb , the adopted son of the last Peshwa, Baji Rao II. He was refused the family title and, banished from Poona, was living near Kanpur.
      • Nana Saheb expelled the English from Kanpur, proclaimed himself the Peshwa, acknowledged Bahadur Shah as the emperor of India and declared himself to be his governor.
      • General Sir Hugh Wheeler, commanding the station, surrendered on June 27. Some Europeans, men women and children, were murdered.
      • At Kanpur Nana Sahib was joined by his able and experienced Lieutenant, Tantia Tope.
    • Lucknow:
      • Leader was Begum Hazrat Mahal took over the reigns at Lucknow where the rebellion broke out on June 4, 1857 and popular sympathy was overwhelmingly in favour of the deposed Nawab.
      • Her son, Birjis Qadir, was proclaimed the Nawab.
      • Henry Lawrence, the British Resident, the European inhabitants and a few hundred loyal sepoys took shelter in the Residency. The Residency was besieged by the Indian rebels and Sir Henry was killed during the siege.
    • Bareilly:
      • Leader was Khan Bahadur, a descendant of the former ruler of Rohilkhand.
      • He proclaimed himself the Nawab Nazim.
    • Bihar:
      • The revolt was led by Kunwar Singh, the zamindar of Jagdishpur.
    • Faizabad:
      • Leader was Maulvi Ahmadullah.
    • Jhansi:
      • Leader was Rani Laxmibai.
      • In the beginning of June 1857 the troops at Jhansi mutinied Rani Lakshmi Bai, the widow of the late Raja Gangadhar Rao, was proclaimed the ruler of the state
      • After the loss of Kanpur, Tantia Tope joined the Rani.
    • Gwalior:
      • The Rani of Jhansi and Tantia tope marched towards Gwalior where they were hailed by the Indian soldiers, The Sindhia however, decided to remain loyal to the English and took shelter at Agra.
      • Nana Sahib was proclaimed the Peshwa and plans were chalked our for a march into the South.
  • The revolt of the sepoys was accompanied by a rebellion of the civil population, particularly in the north-western provinces and Awadh.
  • Real strength : It is the widespread participation in the revolt by the peasantry, the artisans, shopkeepers, day laborers, zamindars, religious mendicants, priests and ‘civil servants which gave it real strength as well as the character of a popular revolt.
    • Here the peasants and petty zamindars gave free expression to their grievances by attacking the moneylenders and zamindars who had displaced them from the land. They destroyed the moneylenders’ account books and debt records. They also attacked the British-established law courts, revenue offices (tehsils), revenue records and police stations
  • At Banaras a rebellion had been organised which was mercilessly suppressed by Colonel Neill.

Suppression of Revolt

  • The revolt was finally suppressed.
  • Delhi:
    • The recapture of Delhi could be of great psychological importance and English efforts were directed towards that end.
    • Troops from the Punjab were rushed and took their position to the north of Delhi.
    • In September 1857 Delhi was recaptured by the English, but John Nicholson, the hero of the siege, was badly wounded during the operations and succumbed to his injuries.
    • The Emperor was arrested. Terrible vengeance was wrecked on the inhabitants of Delhi. Two sons and a grandson of the Emperor were publicly shot by Lieut Hodson himself.
  • Lucknow:
    • The early attempts of Havelock and Outram to recover Lucknow met with no success.
    • Some relief came in November 1857 when Sir Colin Campbell, the new Commander in Chief, sent from England entered the city with the help of Gorkha regiments and evacuated the Europeans. In March 1858 the city was finally reduced.
  • Kanpur:
    • The military operations for the recapture of Kanpur were closely associated with the recovery of Lucknow.
    • Sir Campbell occupied Kanpur on December 6. Tantia Tope escaped and joined the Rani of Jhansi.
    • Nana Saheb, defeated at Kanpur, escaped to Nepal in early 1859, never to be heard of again.
  • Jhansi:
    • Sir Hugh Rose recaptured Jhansi by assault on 3rd April 1958.
  • Gwalior:
    • Gwalior was recaptured by the English in June 1858, the Rani of Jhansi died fighting.
    • Tantia Tope escaped southward; in April 1859 he was captured by one of Sindhia’s feudatory who handed him over to the British to be hanged.
  • By 1859, Kunwar Singh, Bakht Khan, Khan Bahadur Khan of Bareilly, Rao Sahib (brother of Nana Saheb) and Maulvi Ahmadullah were all dead, while the Begum of Awadh was compelled to hide in Nepal.
  • By July 1858 the rebellion had been almost completely suppressed.
  • The British Government had to pour immense supplies of men, money and arms into the country.
    • Indians had to repay the entire cost through their own suppression.

Causes of the Failure of the Revolt

  • Limited territorial spread:
    • The Revolt of 1857 was localized, restricted and poorly organised.
    • The eastern, southern and western parts of India remained more or less unaffected.
    • The Bombay and the Madras armies remained loyal.
    • India south of the Narmada was very little disturbed.
    • Sind and Rajasthan remained quiet and Nepal’s help proved of great avail in the suppression of the Revolt.
    • Dost Mohammad, the ruler of Afghanistan, remained friendly.
    • The Punjab was effectively controlled by John Lawrence.
    • The worst affected area were Western Bihar, Oudh, Rohilkhand, Delhi, and the territory between the Chambal and the Narbada.
  • Certain classes and groups did not join and, in fact, worked against the revolt.
    • Big zamindars acted as “breakwaters to storm”; even Awadh tahacildars backed off once promises of land restitution were spelt out.
    • Moneylenders and merchants suffered the wrath of the mutineers badly and anyway saw their class interests better protected under British patronage.
    • Modern educated Indians viewed this revolt as backward looking, and mistakenly hoped the British would usher in an era of modernisation.
    • Most Indian rulers refused to join and often gave active help to the British (e.g Scindhia). By one estimate, not more than one-fourth of the total area and not more than one-tenth of the total population was affected.
  • Poorly equipped Indian soldiers and better equipped British:
    • The resources of the British Empire were far superior to those of the rebels.
    • Luckily for the British the Crimean and the Chinese wars had been concluded by 1856, and British troops numbering 1,12,000 poured into India from all parts of the world.
    • About 3,10,000 additional Indian soldiers were recruited in India.
    • The Indian soldiers had very few guns and muskets and mostly fought with swords and spears.
    • On the other hand, the European soldiers were equipped with the latest weapons of war like the Enfield rifle about which Nana Sahib said: “The blue cap kills before they fire”.
    • Better communication among British:
      • The electric telegraph kept the commander-in-chief informed about the movements and strategy of the rebels.
  • The Revolt was poorly organised:
    • The leader of the Revolt were not lacking in bravery, but were deficient in experience, organising ability and concerted operations.
    • Surprise attacks and guerilla tactics could not win them their lost independence.
    • The various commissions and boards appointed by the Government of India and provincial governments alter the suppression of the rebellion could not find any plan behind the rebellion or any scheme on which the movement was launched.
    • The trial of Bahadur Shah proved that the rebellion was as much a surprise to him as to the British.
  • Leadership:
    • The principal rebel leaders—Nana Saheb, Tantia Tope, Kunwar Singh, Laxmibai—were no match to their British opponents in generalship.
    • The East India Company was fortunate in having the services of men of exceptional abilities in the Lawrence brothers, Nicholson, Outram, Havelock, Edwards etc. They fought the toughest battles in the initial stages of the Revolt and controlled the situation till reinforcements were received from abroad.
  • The mutineers lacked a clear understanding of colonial rule; nor did they have a forward looking programme, a coherent ideology, a political perspective or a societal alternative.
    • The rebels represented diverse elements with differing grievances and concepts of current politics.
    • The rebels had no common ideal before them except the anti-foreign sentiments.
      • Bahadur Shah II was declared the Emperor at Delhi, while at Kanpur and Gwalior Nana Sahib was proclaimed the Peshwa. Hindu Muslim differences lay dormant against the common enemy, but were not dead.
    • The peasants and the inferior castes showed no active sympathies; the soldiers in the Bombay and Madras armies were recruited from the lower castes and they remained loyal.
  • The revolt of 1857 was mainly feudal in character carrying with it some nationalistic elements.
    • The feudal elements of Oudh, Rohilkhand and some other pans of Northern India led the rebellion; other feudal prices like the Rajas of Patiala, Jhind, Gwalior, Hyderabad helped in its suppression.
    • European historians have greatly praised Sir Dinkar Rao, the Minister of Gwalior, and Salar Jang, the Wazir of Hyderabad, for their loyalty.
    • Canning acted very wisely when he gave solemn assurances to the Indian princes and thus won over their support.
    • The Indian princes were amply rewarded after the suppression of the Rebellion.
      • The districts of Berar were restored to the Nizam and his debts remitted.
      • Nepal was rewarded by the cession of some Oudh territory.
      • The Sindhia, the Gaikwar and the Rajput princes also received some rewards or concessions.
  • Lack of unity among Indians: Modern nationalism was yet unknown in India.
    • In fact, the revolt of 1857 played an important role in bringing the Indian people together and imparting to them the consciousness of belonging to one country.

Hindu-Muslim unity

  • During the entire revolt, there was complete cooperation between Hindus and Muslims at all levels—people, soldiers, leaders. All rebels acknowledged Bahadur Shah Zafar, a Muslim, as the emperor.
  • Rebels and sepoys, both Hindu and Muslim, respected each other’s sentiments.
    • Immediate banning of cow slaughter was ordered once the revolt was successful in a particular area.
  • Both Hindus and Muslims were well represented in leadership
    • Nana Saheb had Azimullah, a Muslim and an expert in political propaganda, as an aide,
    • Laxmibai had the solid support of Afghan soldiers.
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