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Indian Rebellion of 1857
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Indian Rebellion of 1857
A 1912 map showing the centres of the rebellion
Date:10 May 1857 – 1 November 1858 (1 year and 6 months)
Location: India
Result: British victory; Suppression of revolt; Formal end of the Mughal Empire; End of Company rule in India; Transfer of rule to the British Crown
Territorial changes: British Raj created out of former East India Company territory (some land returned to native rulers, other land confiscated by the British crown)
Belligerents: Sepoy Mutineers; Mughal Empire; Oudh; Jagdishpur; Gwalior factions; Forces of Rani Lakshmibai, the deposed ruler of Jhansi; Forces of Nana Sahib Peshwa; Forces of Rao Tula Ram, Raja of Rewari; Nawab of Banda; Various Rajas, Nawabs, Zamindars, Thakurs, Taluqdars, Sardars, and chieftains; East India Company; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; Kingdom of Nepal; 5 Princely States: Kapurthala; Nabha; Patiala; Rampur; Jodhpur
Commanders and leaders: Bahadur Shah Zafar; Nahar Singh; Bakht Khan †; Nana Sahib; Kunwar Singh; Tatya Tope (Executed); Rao Tula Ram; Ali Bahadur II Nawab of Banda; Umrao Singh Bhati; Rani Lakshmibai †; Begum Hazrat Mahal; Birjis Qadr; Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo (Executed); Pandey Ganpat Rai (Executed); Tikait Umrao Singh (Executed); Sheikh Bhikhari (Executed); Lord Canning; George Anson (d. May 1857); Patrick Grant; Colin Campbell (from August 1857); John Nicholson †; Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana[1]; Dhir Shamsher Kunwar Rana[2]; Randhir Singh
Casualties and losses: 6,000 Europeans killed[3]; As many as 800,000 Indians and possibly more, both in the rebellion and in famines and epidemics of disease in its wake, by comparison of 1857 population estimates with Indian Census of 1871.[3]

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a major, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising in India in 1857–58 against the rule of the British East India Company, which functioned as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown.[4][5] The rebellion began on 10 May 1857 in the form of a mutiny of sepoys of the Company's army in the garrison town of Meerut, 40 mi (64 km) northeast of Delhi (now Old Delhi). It then erupted into other mutinies and civilian rebellions chiefly in the upper Gangetic plain and central India,[a][6][ b][7] though incidents of revolt also occurred farther north and east.[c][8] The rebellion posed a considerable threat to British power in that region,[d][9] and was contained only with the rebels' defeat in Gwalior on 20 June 1858.[10] On 1 November 1858, the British granted amnesty to all rebels not involved in murder, though they did not declare the hostilities to have formally ended until 8 July 1859. Its name is contested, and it is variously described as the Sepoy Mutiny, the Indian Mutiny, the Great Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Indian Insurrection, and the First War of Independence.[e][11]

The Indian rebellion was fed by resentments born of diverse perceptions, including invasive British-style social reforms, harsh land taxes, summary treatment of some rich landowners and princes,[12][13] as well as scepticism about the improvements brought about by British rule.[f][14] Many Indians rose against the British; however, many also fought for the British, and the majority remained seemingly compliant to British rule.[g][14] Violence, which sometimes betrayed exceptional cruelty, was inflicted on both sides, on British officers, and civilians, including women and children, by the rebels, and on the rebels, and their supporters, including sometimes entire villages, by British reprisals; the cities of Delhi and Lucknow were laid waste in the fighting and the British retaliation.[h][14]

After the outbreak of the mutiny in Meerut, the rebels quickly reached Delhi, whose 81-year-old Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was declared the Emperor of Hindustan. Soon, the rebels had captured large tracts of the North-Western Provinces and Awadh (Oudh). The East India Company's response came rapidly as well. With help from reinforcements, Kanpur was retaken by mid-July 1857, and Delhi by the end of September.[10] However, it then took the remainder of 1857 and the better part of 1858 for the rebellion to be suppressed in Jhansi, Lucknow, and especially the Awadh countryside.[10] Other regions of Company controlled India—Bengal province, the Bombay Presidency, and the Madras Presidency—remained largely calm.[ i][7][10] In the Punjab, the Sikh princes crucially helped the British by providing both soldiers and support.[j][7][10] The large princely states, Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, as well as the smaller ones of Rajputana, did not join the rebellion, serving the British, in the Governor-General Lord Canning's words, as "breakwaters in a storm."[15]

In some regions, most notably in Awadh, the rebellion took on the attributes of a patriotic revolt against European oppression.[16] However, the rebel leaders proclaimed no articles of faith that presaged a new political system.[k][17] Even so, the rebellion proved to be an important watershed in Indian- and British Empire history.[l][11][18] It led to the dissolution of the East India Company, and forced the British to reorganize the army, the financial system, and the administration in India, through passage of the Government of India Act 1858.[19] India was thereafter administered directly by the British government in the new British Raj.[15] On 1 November 1858, Queen Victoria issued a proclamation to Indians, which while lacking the authority of a constitutional provision,[m][20] promised rights similar to those of other British subjects.[n][o][21] In the following decades, when admission to these rights was not always forthcoming, Indians were to pointedly refer to the Queen's proclamation in growing avowals of a new nationalism.[p][22][q][23]

East India Company's expansion in India

Main article: Company rule in India

India in 1765 and 1805, showing East India Company-governed territories in pink

India in 1837 and 1857, showing East India Company-governed territories in pink

Although the British East India Company had established a presence in India as far back as 1612,[24] and earlier administered the factory areas established for trading purposes, its victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 marked the beginning of its firm foothold in eastern India. The victory was consolidated in 1764 at the Battle of Buxar, when the East India Company army defeated Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. After his defeat, the emperor granted the Company the right to the "collection of Revenue" in the provinces of Bengal (modern day Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha), known as "Diwani" to the Company.[25] The Company soon expanded its territories around its bases in Bombay and Madras; later, the Anglo-Mysore Wars (1766–1799) and the Anglo-Maratha Wars (1772–1818) led to control of even more of India.[26]

In 1806, the Vellore Mutiny was sparked by new uniform regulations that created resentment amongst both Hindu and Muslim sepoys.[27]

After the turn of the 19th century, Governor-General Wellesley began what became two decades of accelerated expansion of Company territories.[28] This was achieved either by subsidiary alliances between the Company and local rulers or by direct military annexation. The subsidiary alliances created the princely states of the Hindu maharajas and the Muslim nawabs. Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir were annexed after the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849; however, Kashmir was immediately sold under the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar to the Dogra Dynasty of Jammu and thereby became a princely state. The border dispute between Nepal and British India, which sharpened after 1801, had caused the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16 and brought the defeated Gurkhas under British influence. In 1854, Berar was annexed, and the state of Oudh was added two years later. For practical purposes, the Company was the government of much of India.[29]

Causes of the rebellion

Main article: Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 occurred as the result of an accumulation of factors over time, rather than any single event.

The sepoys were Indian soldiers who were recruited into the Company's army. Just before the rebellion, there were over 300,000 sepoys in the army, compared to about 50,000 British. The forces were divided into three presidency armies: Bombay, Madras, and Bengal. The Bengal Army recruited higher castes, such as Rajputs and Bhumihar, mostly from the Awadh and Bihar regions, and even restricted the enlistment of lower castes in 1855. In contrast, the Madras Army and Bombay Army were "more localized, caste-neutral armies" that "did not prefer high-caste men".[30] The domination of higher castes in the Bengal Army has been blamed in part for initial mutinies that led to the rebellion.

Two sepoy officers; a private sepoy, 1820s

In 1772, when Warren Hastings was appointed India's first Governor-General, one of his first undertakings was the rapid expansion of the Company's army. Since the sepoys from Bengal – many of whom had fought against the Company in the Battles of Plassey and Buxar – were now suspect in British eyes, Hastings recruited farther west from the high-caste rural Rajputs and Bhumihar of Awadh and Bihar, a practice that continued for the next 75 years. However, in order to forestall any social friction, the Company also took action to adapt its military practices to the requirements of their religious rituals. Consequently, these soldiers dined in separate facilities; in addition, overseas service, considered polluting to their caste, was not required of them, and the army soon came officially to recognise Hindu festivals. "This encouragement of high caste ritual status, however, left the government vulnerable to protest, even mutiny, whenever the sepoys detected infringement of their prerogatives."[31] Stokes argues that "The British scrupulously avoided interference with the social structure of the village community which remained largely intact."[32]

After the annexation of Oudh (Awadh) by the East India Company in 1856, many sepoys were disquieted both from losing their perquisites, as landed gentry, in the Oudh courts, and from the anticipation of any increased land-revenue payments that the annexation might bring about.[33] Other historians have stressed that by 1857, some Indian soldiers, interpreting the presence of missionaries as a sign of official intent, were convinced that the Company was masterminding mass conversions of Hindus and Muslims to Christianity.[34] Although earlier in the 1830s, evangelicals such as William Carey and William Wilberforce had successfully clamoured for the passage of social reform, such as the abolition of sati and allowing the remarriage of Hindu widows, there is little evidence that the sepoys' allegiance was affected by this.[33]

However, changes in the terms of their professional service may have created resentment. As the extent of the East India Company's jurisdiction expanded with victories in wars or annexation, the soldiers were now expected not only to serve in less familiar regions, such as in Burma, but also to make do without the "foreign service" remuneration that had previously been their due.[35]

A major cause of resentment that arose ten months prior to the outbreak of the rebellion was the General Service Enlistment Act of 25 July 1856. As noted above, men of the Bengal Army had been exempted from overseas service. Specifically, they were enlisted only for service in territories to which they could march. Governor-General Lord Dalhousie saw this as an anomaly, since all sepoys of the Madras and Bombay Armies and the six "General Service" battalions of the Bengal Army had accepted an obligation to serve overseas if required. As a result, the burden of providing contingents for active service in Burma, readily accessible only by sea, and China had fallen disproportionately on the two smaller Presidency Armies. As signed into effect by Lord Canning, Dalhousie's successor as Governor-General, the act required only new recruits to the Bengal Army to accept a commitment for general service. However, serving high-caste sepoys were fearful that it would be eventually extended to them, as well as preventing sons following fathers into an army with a strong tradition of family service.[36]

There were also grievances over the issue of promotions, based on seniority. This, as well as the increasing number of European officers in the battalions,[37] made promotion slow, and many Indian officers did not reach commissioned rank until they were too old to be effective.[38]

The Enfield rifle

The final spark was provided by the ammunition for the new Enfield Pattern 1853 rifled musket.[39] These rifles, which fired Minié balls, had a tighter fit than the earlier muskets, and used paper cartridges that came pre-greased. To load the rifle, sepoys had to bite the cartridge open to release the powder.[40] The grease used on these cartridges was rumoured to include tallow derived from beef, which would be offensive to Hindus,[41] and lard derived from pork, which would be offensive to Muslims. At least one Company official pointed out the difficulties this may cause:

unless it be proven that the grease employed in these cartridges is not of a nature to offend or interfere with the prejudices of religion, it will be expedient not to issue them for test to Native corps.[42]

However, in August 1856, greased cartridge production was initiated at Fort William, Calcutta, following a British design. The grease used included tallow supplied by the Indian firm of Gangadarh Banerji & Co.[43] By January, rumours were abroad that the Enfield cartridges were greased with animal fat.

Company officers became aware of the rumours through reports of an altercation between a high-caste sepoy and a low-caste labourer at Dum Dum.[44] The labourer had taunted the sepoy that by biting the cartridge, he had himself lost caste, although at this time such cartridges had been issued only at Meerut and not at Dum Dum.[45] There had been rumours that the British sought to destroy the religions of the Indian people, and forcing the native soldiers to break their sacred code would have certainly added to this rumour, as it apparently did. The Company was quick to reverse the effects of this policy in hopes that the unrest would be quelled.[46][47]

On 27 January, Colonel Richard Birch, the Military Secretary, ordered that all cartridges issued from depots were to be free from grease, and that sepoys could grease them themselves using whatever mixture "they may prefer".[48] A modification was also made to the drill for loading so that the cartridge was torn with the hands and not bitten. This however, merely caused many sepoys to be convinced that the rumours were true and that their fears were justified. Additional rumours started that the paper in the new cartridges, which was glazed and stiffer than the previously used paper, was impregnated with grease.[49] In February, a court of inquiry was held at Barrackpore to get to the bottom of these rumours. Native soldiers called as witnesses complained of the paper "being stiff and like cloth in the mode of tearing", said that when the paper was burned it smelled of grease, and announced that the suspicion that the paper itself contained grease could not be removed from their minds.[50]

Civilian disquiet

The civilian rebellion was more multifarious. The rebels consisted of three groups: the feudal nobility, rural landlords called taluqdars, and the peasants. The nobility, many of whom had lost titles and domains under the Doctrine of Lapse, which refused to recognise the adopted children of princes as legal heirs, felt that the Company had interfered with a traditional system of inheritance. Rebel leaders such as Nana Sahib and the Rani of Jhansi belonged to this group; the latter, for example, was prepared to accept East India Company supremacy if her adopted son was recognised as her late husband's heir.[51] In other areas of central India, such as Indore and Saugar, where such loss of privilege had not occurred, the princes remained loyal to the Company, even in areas where the sepoys had rebelled.[52] The second group, the taluqdars, had lost half their landed estates to peasant farmers as a result of the land reforms that came in the wake of annexation of Oudh. As the rebellion gained ground, the taluqdars quickly reoccupied the lands they had lost, and paradoxically, in part because of ties of kinship and feudal loyalty, did not experience significant opposition from the peasant farmers, many of whom joined the rebellion, to the great dismay of the British.[53] It has also been suggested that heavy land-revenue assessment in some areas by the British resulted in many landowning families either losing their land or going into great debt to money lenders, and providing ultimately a reason to rebel; money lenders, in addition to the Company, were particular objects of the rebels' animosity.[54] The civilian rebellion was also highly uneven in its geographic distribution, even in areas of north-central India that were no longer under British control. For example, the relatively prosperous Muzaffarnagar district, a beneficiary of a Company irrigation scheme, and next door to Meerut, where the upheaval began, stayed relatively calm throughout.[55]

Charles Canning, the Governor-General of India during the rebellion.

Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856, who devised the Doctrine of Lapse.

Lakshmibai, the Rani of Maratha-ruled Jhansi, one of the principal leaders of the rebellion who earlier had lost her kingdom as a result of the Doctrine of Lapse.

Bahadur Shah Zafar the last Mughal Emperor, crowned Emperor of India, by the Indian troops, he was deposed by the British, and died in exile in Burma

"Utilitarian and evangelical-inspired social reform",[56] including the abolition of sati[57][58] and the legalisation of widow remarriage were considered by many—especially the British themselves[59]—to have caused suspicion that Indian religious traditions were being "interfered with", with the ultimate aim of conversion.[59][60] Recent historians, including Chris Bayly, have preferred to frame this as a "clash of knowledges", with proclamations from religious authorities before the revolt and testimony after it including on such issues as the "insults to women", the rise of "low persons under British tutelage", the "pollution" caused by Western medicine and the persecuting and ignoring of traditional astrological authorities.[61] European-run schools were also a problem: according to recorded testimonies, anger had spread because of stories that mathematics was replacing religious instruction, stories were chosen that would "bring contempt" upon Indian religions, and because girl children were exposed to "moral danger" by education.[61]

The justice system was considered to be inherently unfair to the Indians. The official Blue Books, East India (Torture) 1855–1857, laid before the House of Commons during the sessions of 1856 and 1857, revealed that Company officers were allowed an extended series of appeals if convicted or accused of brutality or crimes against Indians.

The economic policies of the East India Company were also resented by many Indians.[62]

The Bengal Army

A scene from the 1857 Indian Rebellion (Bengal Army).

Each of the three "Presidencies" into which the East India Company divided India for administrative purposes maintained their own armies. Of these, the Army of the Bengal Presidency was the largest. Unlike the other two, it recruited heavily from among high-caste Hindus and comparatively wealthy Muslims. The Muslims formed a larger percentage of the 18 irregular cavalry units[63] within the Bengal Army, whilst Hindus were mainly to be found in the 84 regular infantry and cavalry regiments. The sepoys were therefore affected to a large degree by the concerns of the landholding and traditional members of Indian society. In the early years of Company rule, it tolerated and even encouraged the caste privileges and customs within the Bengal Army, which recruited its regular soldiers almost exclusively amongst the landowning Brahmins and Rajputs of the Bihar and Awadh regions. These soldiers were known as Purbiyas. By the time these customs and privileges came to be threatened by modernising regimes in Calcutta from the 1840s onwards, the sepoys had become accustomed to very high ritual status and were extremely sensitive to suggestions that their caste might be polluted.[64]

The sepoys also gradually became dissatisfied with various other aspects of army life. Their pay was relatively low and after Awadh and the Punjab were annexed, the soldiers no longer received extra pay (batta or bhatta) for service there, because they were no longer considered "foreign missions". The junior European officers became increasingly estranged from their soldiers, in many cases treating them as their racial inferiors. In 1856, a new Enlistment Act was introduced by the Company, which in theory made every unit in the Bengal Army liable to service overseas. Although it was intended to apply only to new recruits, the serving sepoys feared that the Act might be applied retroactively to them as well.[65] A high-caste Hindu who travelled in the cramped conditions of a wooden troop ship could not cook his own food on his own fire, and accordingly risked losing caste through ritual pollution.[66]

Onset of the Rebellion

Indian mutiny map showing position of troops on 1 May 1857

Several months of increasing tensions coupled with various incidents preceded the actual rebellion. On 26 February 1857 the 19th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) regiment became concerned that new cartridges they had been issued were wrapped in paper greased with cow and pig fat, which had to be opened by mouth thus affecting their religious sensibilities. Their Colonel confronted them supported by artillery and cavalry on the parade ground, but after some negotiation withdrew the artillery, and cancelled the next morning's parade.[67]

Mangal Pandey

Main article: Mangal Pandey

On 29 March 1857 at the Barrackpore parade ground, near Calcutta, 29-year-old Mangal Pandey of the 34th BNI, angered by the recent actions of the East India Company, declared that he would rebel against his commanders. Informed about Pandey's behaviour Sergeant-Major James Hewson went to investigate, only to have Pandey shoot at him. Hewson raised the alarm.[68] When his adjutant Lt. Henry Baugh came out to investigate the unrest, Pandey opened fire but hit Baugh's horse instead.[69]

General John Hearsey came out to the parade ground to investigate, and claimed later that Mangal Pandey was in some kind of "religious frenzy". He ordered the Indian commander of the quarter guard Jemadar Ishwari Prasad to arrest Mangal Pandey, but the Jemadar refused. The quarter guard and other sepoys present, with the single exception of a soldier called Shaikh Paltu, drew back from restraining or arresting Mangal Pandey. Shaikh Paltu restrained Pandey from continuing his attack.[69][70]

After failing to incite his comrades into an open and active rebellion, Mangal Pandey tried to take his own life, by placing his musket to his chest and pulling the trigger with his toe. He managed only to wound himself. He was court-martialled on 6 April, and hanged two days later.

The Jemadar Ishwari Prasad was sentenced to death and hanged on 22 April. The regiment was disbanded and stripped of its uniforms because it was felt that it harboured ill-feelings towards its superiors, particularly after this incident. Shaikh Paltu was promoted to the rank of havildar in the Bengal Army, but was murdered shortly before the 34th BNI dispersed.[71]

Sepoys in other regiments thought these punishments were harsh. The demonstration of disgrace during the formal disbanding helped foment the rebellion in view of some historians. Disgruntled ex-sepoys returned home to Awadh with a desire for revenge.

Unrest during April 1857

During April, there was unrest and fires at Agra, Allahabad and Ambala. At Ambala in particular, which was a large military cantonment where several units had been collected for their annual musketry practice, it was clear to General Anson, Commander-in-Chief of the Bengal Army, that some sort of rebellion over the cartridges was imminent. Despite the objections of the civilian Governor-General's staff, he agreed to postpone the musketry practice and allow a new drill by which the soldiers tore the cartridges with their fingers rather than their teeth. However, he issued no general orders making this standard practice throughout the Bengal Army and, rather than remain at Ambala to defuse or overawe potential trouble, he then proceeded to Simla, the cool "hill station" where many high officials spent the summer.

Although there was no open revolt at Ambala, there was widespread arson during late April. Barrack buildings (especially those belonging to soldiers who had used the Enfield cartridges) and European officers' bungalows were set on fire.[72]


"The Sepoy revolt at Meerut," from the Illustrated London News, 1857

An 1858 photograph by Felice Beato of a mosque in Meerut where some of the rebel soldiers may have prayed

At Meerut, a large military cantonment, 2,357 Indian sepoys and 2,038 British soldiers were stationed along with 12 British-manned guns. The station held one of the largest concentrations of British troops in India and this was later to be cited as evidence that the original rising was a spontaneous outbreak rather than a pre-planned plot.[73]

Although the state of unrest within the Bengal Army was well known, on 24 April Lieutenant Colonel George Carmichael-Smyth, the unsympathetic commanding officer of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, ordered 90 of his men to parade and perform firing drills. All except five of the men on parade refused to accept their cartridges. On 9 May, the remaining 85 men were court martialled, and most were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment with hard labour. Eleven comparatively young soldiers were given five years' imprisonment. The entire garrison was paraded and watched as the condemned men were stripped of their uniforms and placed in shackles. As they were marched off to jail, the condemned soldiers berated their comrades for failing to support them.

The next day was Sunday. Some Indian soldiers warned off-duty junior European officers that plans were afoot to release the imprisoned soldiers by force, but the senior officers to whom this was reported took no action. There was also unrest in the city of Meerut itself, with angry protests in the bazaar and some buildings being set on fire. In the evening, most European officers were preparing to attend church, while many of the European soldiers were off duty and had gone into canteens or into the bazaar in Meerut. The Indian troops, led by the 3rd Cavalry, broke into revolt. European junior officers who attempted to quell the first outbreaks were killed by the rebels. European officers' and civilians' quarters were attacked, and four civilian men, eight women and eight children were killed. Crowds in the bazaar attacked off-duty soldiers there. About 50 Indian civilians, some of them officers' servants who tried to defend or conceal their employers, were killed by the sepoys.[74] While the action of the sepoys in freeing their 85 imprisoned comrades appears to have been spontaneous, some civilian rioting in the city was reportedly encouraged by kotwal (local police commander) Dhan Singh Gurjar.[75]

Some sepoys (especially from the 11th Bengal Native Infantry) escorted trusted British officers and women and children to safety before joining the revolt.[76] Some officers and their families escaped to Rampur, where they found refuge with the Nawab.

The British historian Philip Mason notes that it was inevitable that most of the sepoys and sowars from Meerut should have made for Delhi on the night of 10 May. It was a strong walled city located only forty miles away, it was the ancient capital and present seat of the nominal Mughal Emperor and finally there were no British troops in garrison there in contrast to Meerut.[73] No effort was made to pursue them.


Massacre of officers by insurgent cavalry at Delhi

Early on 11 May, the first parties of the 3rd Cavalry reached Delhi. From beneath the windows of the King's apartments in the palace, they called on him to acknowledge and lead them. Bahadur Shah did nothing at this point, apparently treating the sepoys as ordinary petitioners, but others in the palace were quick to join the revolt. During the day, the revolt spread. European officials and dependents, Indian Christians and shop keepers within the city were killed, some by sepoys and others by crowds of rioters.[77]

The Flagstaff Tower, Delhi, where the European survivors of the rebellion gathered on 11 May 1857; photographed by Felice Beato

There were three battalion-sized regiments of Bengal Native Infantry stationed in or near the city. Some detachments quickly joined the rebellion, while others held back but also refused to obey orders to take action against the rebels. In the afternoon, a violent explosion in the city was heard for several miles. Fearing that the arsenal, which contained large stocks of arms and ammunition, would fall intact into rebel hands, the nine British Ordnance officers there had opened fire on the sepoys, including the men of their own guard. When resistance appeared hopeless, they blew up the arsenal. Six of the nine officers survived, but the blast killed many in the streets and nearby houses and other buildings.[78] The news of these events finally tipped the sepoys stationed around Delhi into open rebellion. The sepoys were later able to salvage at least some arms from the arsenal, and a magazine two miles (3 km) outside Delhi, containing up to 3,000 barrels of gunpowder, was captured without resistance.

Many fugitive European officers and civilians had congregated at the Flagstaff Tower on the ridge north of Delhi, where telegraph operators were sending news of the events to other British stations. When it became clear that the help expected from Meerut was not coming, they made their way in carriages to Karnal. Those who became separated from the main body or who could not reach the Flagstaff Tower also set out for Karnal on foot. Some were helped by villagers on the way; others were killed.

The next day, Bahadur Shah held his first formal court for many years. It was attended by many excited sepoys. The King was alarmed by the turn events had taken, but eventually accepted the sepoys' allegiance and agreed to give his countenance to the rebellion. On 16 May, up to 50 Europeans who had been held prisoner in the palace or had been discovered hiding in the city were killed by some of the King's servants under a peepul tree in a courtyard outside the palace.[79][80]

Supporters and opposition

States during the rebellion

The news of the events at Meerut and Delhi spread rapidly, provoking uprisings among sepoys and disturbances in many districts. In many cases, it was the behaviour of British military and civilian authorities themselves which precipitated disorder. Learning of the fall of Delhi, many Company administrators hastened to remove themselves, their families and servants to places of safety. At Agra, 160 miles (260 km) from Delhi, no less than 6,000 assorted non-combatants converged on the Fort.[81]

The military authorities also reacted in disjointed manner. Some officers trusted their sepoys, but others tried to disarm them to forestall potential uprisings. At Benares and Allahabad, the disarmings were bungled, also leading to local revolts.[82]

Troops of the Native Allies by George Francklin Atkinson, 1859.

Most Muslims did not share the rebels' dislike of the British administration[83] and their ulema could not agree on whether to declare a jihad.[84] There were Islamic scholars such as Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi and Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi who took up arms against the colonial rule.[85] But a large number of Muslims, among them ulema from both the Sunni and Shia sects, sided with the British.[86] Various Ahl-i-Hadith scholars and colleagues of Nanautavi rejected the jihad.[87] The most influential member of Ahl-i-Hadith ulema in Delhi, Maulana Sayyid Nazir Husain Dehlvi, resisted pressure from the mutineers to call for a jihad and instead declared in favour of British rule, viewing the Muslim-British relationship as a legal contract which could not be broken unless their religious rights were breached.[88]

Although most of the mutinous sepoys in Delhi were Hindus, a significant proportion of the insurgents were Muslims. The proportion of ghazis grew to be about a quarter of the local fighting force by the end of the siege and included a regiment of suicide ghazis from Gwalior who had vowed never to eat again and to fight until they met certain death at the hands of British troops.[89]

The Sikhs and Pathans of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province supported the British and helped in the recapture of Delhi.[90][91] Historian John Harris has asserted that the Sikhs wanted to avenge the annexation of the Sikh Empire eight years earlier by the Company with the help of Purbiyas ('Easterners'), Biharis and those from the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh who had formed part of the East India Company's armies in the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars. He has also suggested that Sikhs felt insulted by the attitude of sepoys who, in their view, had beaten the Khalsa only with British help; they resented and despised them far more than they did the British.[92]

Sikh Troops Dividing the Spoil Taken from Mutineers, circa 1860

The Sikhs feared reinstatement of Mughal rule in northern India[93] because they had been persecuted heavily in the past by the Mughal dynasty.

Sikh support for the British resulted from grievances surrounding sepoys' perceived conduct during and after the Anglo-Sikh Wars. Firstly, many Sikhs resented that Hindustanis/Purbiyas in service of the Sikh state had been foremost in urging the wars, which lost them their independence. Sikh soldiers also recalled that the bloodiest battles of the war, Chillianwala and Ferozeshah, were won by British troops, and they believed that the Hindustani sepoys had refused to meet them in battle. These feelings were compounded when Hindustani sepoys were assigned a very visible role as garrison troops in Punjab and awarded profit-making civil posts in Punjab.[93]

In 1857, the Bengal Army had 86,000 men, of which 12,000 were European, 16,000 Sikh and 1,500 Gurkha. There were 311,000 native soldiers in India altogether, 40,160 European soldiers and 5,362 officers.[94] Fifty-four of the Bengal Army's 74 regular Native Infantry Regiments mutinied, but some were immediately destroyed or broke up, with their sepoys drifting away to their homes. A number of the remaining 20 regiments were disarmed or disbanded to prevent or forestall mutiny. In total, only twelve of the original Bengal Native Infantry regiments survived to pass into the new Indian Army.[95] All ten of the Bengal Light Cavalry regiments mutinied.

The Bengal Army also contained 29 irregular cavalry and 42 irregular infantry regiments. Of these, a substantial contingent from the recently annexed state of Awadh mutinied en masse. Another large contingent from Gwalior also mutinied, even though that state's ruler supported the British. The remainder of the irregular units were raised from a wide variety of sources and were less affected by the concerns of mainstream Indian society. Some irregular units actively supported the Company: three Gurkha and five of six Sikh infantry units, and the six infantry and six cavalry units of the recently raised Punjab Irregular Force.[96][97]

On 1 April 1858, the number of Indian soldiers in the Bengal army loyal to the Company was 80,053.[98][99] However large numbers were hastily raised in the Punjab and North-West Frontier after the outbreak of the Rebellion. The Bombay army had three mutinies in its 29 regiments, whilst the Madras army had none at all, although elements of one of its 52 regiments refused to volunteer for service in Bengal.[100] Nonetheless, most of southern India remained passive, with only intermittent outbreaks of violence. Many parts of the region were ruled by the Nizams or the Mysore royalty, and were thus not directly under British rule.

The varied groups in the support and opposing of the uprising is seen as a major cause of its failure.

The Revolt

Initial stages

Fugitive British officers and their families attacked by mutineers.

An etching of Nynee Tal (today Nainital) and accompanying story in the Illustrated London News, August 15, 1857, describing how the resort town in the Himalayas served as a refuge for British families escaping from the rebellion of 1857 in Delhi and Meerut.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed the Emperor of the whole of India. Most contemporary and modern accounts suggest that he was coerced by the sepoys and his courtiers to sign the proclamation against his will.[101] In spite of the significant loss of power that the Mughal dynasty had suffered in the preceding centuries, their name still carried great prestige across northern India.[102] Civilians, nobility and other dignitaries took an oath of allegiance. The emperor issued coins in his name, one of the oldest ways of asserting imperial status. The adhesion of the Mughal emperor, however, turned the Sikhs of the Punjab away from the rebellion, as they did not want to return to Islamic rule, having fought many wars against the Mughal rulers. The province of Bengal was largely quiet throughout the entire period. The British, who had long ceased to take the authority of the Mughal Emperor seriously, were astonished at how the ordinary people responded to Zafar's call for war.[102]

Initially, the Indian rebels were able to push back Company forces, and captured several important towns in Haryana, Bihar, the Central Provinces and the United Provinces. When European troops were reinforced and began to counterattack, the mutineers were especially handicapped by their lack of centralized command and control. Although the rebels produced some natural leaders such as Bakht Khan, whom the Emperor later nominated as commander-in-chief after his son Mirza Mughal proved ineffectual, for the most part they were forced to look for leadership to rajahs and princes. Some of these were to prove dedicated leaders, but others were self-interested or inept.

Attack of the mutineers on the Redan Battery at Lucknow, 30 July 1857

In the countryside around Meerut, a general Gurjar uprising posed the largest threat to the British. In Parikshitgarh near Meerut, Gurjars declared Choudhari Kadam Singh (Kuddum Singh) their leader, and expelled Company police. Kadam Singh Gurjar led a large force, estimates varying from 2,000 to 10,000.[103] Bulandshahr and Bijnor also came under the control of Gurjars under Walidad Khan and Maho Singh respectively. Contemporary sources report that nearly all the Gurjar villages between Meerut and Delhi participated in the revolt, in some cases with support from Jullundur, and it was not until late July that, with the help of local Jats, and the princely states so the British managed to regain control of the area.[103]

The Imperial Gazetteer of India states that throughout the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Gurjars and Ranghars (Muslim rajputs) proved the "most irreconcilable enemies" of the British in the Bulandshahr area.[104]

Mufti Nizamuddin, a renowned scholar of Lahore, issued a Fatwa against the British forces and called upon the local population to support the forces of Rao Tula Ram. Casualties were high at the subsequent engagement at Narnaul (Nasibpur). After the defeat of Rao Tula Ram on 16 November 1857, Mufti Nizamuddin was arrested, and his brother Mufti Yaqinuddin and brother-in-law Abdur Rahman (alias Nabi Baksh) were arrested in Tijara. They were taken to Delhi and hanged.[105] Having lost the fight at Nasibpur, Rao Tula Ram and Pran Sukh Yadav requested arms from Russia, which had just been engaged against Britain in the Crimean War.


Main article: Siege of Delhi

Assault of Delhi and capture of the Cashmere Gate, 14 September 1857

The British were slow to strike back at first. It took time for troops stationed in Britain to make their way to India by sea, although some regiments moved overland through Persia from the Crimean War, and some regiments already en route for China were diverted to India.
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Part 2 of 3

Capture of Delhi 1857.

It took time to organise the European troops already in India into field forces, but eventually two columns left Meerut and Simla. They proceeded slowly towards Delhi and fought, killed, and hanged numerous Indians along the way. Two months after the first outbreak of rebellion at Meerut, the two forces met near Karnal. The combined force including two Gurkha units serving in the Bengal Army under contract from the Kingdom of Nepal, fought the main army of the rebels at Badli-ke-Serai and drove them back to Delhi.

The Company established a base on the Delhi ridge to the north of the city and the Siege of Delhi began. The siege lasted roughly from 1 July to 21 September. However, the encirclement was hardly complete, and for much of the siege the Company forces were outnumbered and it often seemed that it was the Company forces and not Delhi that were under siege, as the rebels could easily receive resources and reinforcements. For several weeks, it seemed likely that disease, exhaustion and continuous sorties by rebels from Delhi would force the Company forces to withdraw, but the outbreaks of rebellion in the Punjab were forestalled or suppressed, allowing the Punjab Movable Column of British, Sikh and Pakhtun soldiers under John Nicholson to reinforce the besiegers on the Ridge on 14 August.[106][107] On 30 August the rebels offered terms, which were refused.[108]

The Jantar Mantar observatory in Delhi in 1858, damaged in the fighting

Mortar damage to Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, 1858

Hindu Rao's house in Delhi, now a hospital, was extensively damaged in the fighting

Bank of Delhi was attacked by mortar and gunfire

An eagerly awaited heavy siege train joined the besieging force, and from 7 September, the siege guns battered breaches in the walls and silenced the rebels' artillery.[109]:478 An attempt to storm the city through the breaches and the Kashmiri Gate was launched on 14 September.[109]:480 The attackers gained a foothold within the city but suffered heavy casualties, including John Nicholson. The British commander wished to withdraw, but was persuaded to hold on by his junior officers. After a week of street fighting, the British reached the Red Fort. Bahadur Shah Zafar had already fled to Humayun's tomb. The British had retaken the city.

Capture of Bahadur Shah Zafar and his sons by William Hodson at Humayun's tomb on 20 September 1857

The troops of the besieging force proceeded to loot and pillage the city. A large number of the citizens were killed in retaliation for the Europeans and Indian civilians that had been slaughtered by the rebels. During the street fighting, artillery was set up in the city's main mosque. Neighbourhoods within range were bombarded; the homes of the Muslim nobility that contained innumerable cultural, artistic, literary and monetary riches were destroyed.

The British soon arrested Bahadur Shah, and the next day the British agent William Hodson had his sons Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khazir Sultan, and grandson Mirza Abu Bakr shot under his own authority at the Khooni Darwaza (the bloody gate) near Delhi Gate. On hearing the news Zafar reacted with shocked silence while his wife Zinat Mahal was content as she believed her son was now Zafar's heir.[110] Shortly after the fall of Delhi, the victorious attackers organised a column that relieved another besieged Company force in Agra, and then pressed on to Cawnpore, which had also recently been retaken. This gave the Company forces a continuous, although still tenuous, line of communication from the east to west of India.

Cawnpore (Kanpur)

Main article: Siege of Cawnpore

Tatya Tope's Soldiery

A memorial erected (circa 1860) by the British after the Mutiny at the Bibighar Well. After India's Independence the statue was moved to the All Souls Memorial Church, Cawnpore. Albumen silver print by Samuel Bourne, 1860

In June, sepoys under General Wheeler in Cawnpore (now Kanpur) rebelled and besieged the European entrenchment. Wheeler was not only a veteran and respected soldier but also married to a high-caste Indian woman. He had relied on his own prestige, and his cordial relations with the Nana Sahib to thwart rebellion, and took comparatively few measures to prepare fortifications and lay in supplies and ammunition.

The besieged endured three weeks of the Siege of Cawnpore with little water or food, suffering continuous casualties to men, women and children. On 25 June Nana Sahib made an offer of safe passage to Allahabad. With barely three days' food rations remaining, the British agreed provided they could keep their small arms and that the evacuation should take place in daylight on the morning of the 27th (the Nana Sahib wanted the evacuation to take place on the night of the 26th). Early in the morning of 27 June, the European party left their entrenchment and made their way to the river where boats provided by the Nana Sahib were waiting to take them to Allahabad.[111] Several sepoys who had stayed loyal to the Company were removed by the mutineers and killed, either because of their loyalty or because "they had become Christian". A few injured British officers trailing the column were also apparently hacked to death by angry sepoys. After the European party had largely arrived at the dock, which was surrounded by sepoys positioned on both banks of the Ganges,[112] with clear lines of fire, firing broke out and the boats were abandoned by their crew, and caught or were set[113] on fire using pieces of red hot charcoal.[114] The British party tried to push the boats off but all except three remained stuck. One boat with over a dozen wounded men initially escaped, but later grounded, was caught by mutineers and pushed back down the river towards the carnage at Cawnpore. Towards the end rebel cavalry rode into the water to finish off any survivors.[114] After the firing ceased the survivors were rounded up and the men shot.[114] By the time the massacre was over, most of the male members of the party were dead while the surviving women and children were removed and held hostage to be later killed in the Bibighar massacre.[115] Only four men eventually escaped alive from Cawnpore on one of the boats: two private soldiers, a lieutenant, and Captain Mowbray Thomson, who wrote a first-hand account of his experiences entitled The Story of Cawnpore (London, 1859).

During his trial, Tatya Tope denied the existence of any such plan and described the incident in the following terms: the Europeans had already boarded the boats and Tatya Tope raised his right hand to signal their departure. That very moment someone from the crowd blew a loud bugle, which created disorder and in the ongoing bewilderment, the boatmen jumped off the boats. The rebels started shooting indiscriminately. Nana Sahib, who was staying in Savada Kothi (Bungalow) nearby, was informed about what was happening and immediately came to stop it.[116] Some British histories allow that it might well have been the result of accident or error; someone accidentally or maliciously fired a shot, the panic-stricken British opened fire, and it became impossible to stop the massacre.[117]

The surviving women and children were taken to the Nana Sahib and then confined first to the Savada Kothi and then to the home of the local magistrate's clerk (the Bibighar)[118] where they were joined by refugees from Fatehgarh. Overall five men and two hundred and six women and children were confined in The Bibigarh for about two weeks. In one week 25 were brought out dead, from dysentery and cholera.[113] Meanwhile, a Company relief force that had advanced from Allahabad defeated the Indians and by 15 July it was clear that the Nana Sahib would not be able to hold Cawnpore and a decision was made by the Nana Sahib and other leading rebels that the hostages must be killed. After the sepoys refused to carry out this order, two Muslim butchers, two Hindu peasants and one of Nana's bodyguards went into The Bibigarh. Armed with knives and hatchets they murdered the women and children.[119] After the massacre the walls were covered in bloody hand prints, and the floor littered with fragments of human limbs.[120] The dead and the dying were thrown down a nearby well. When the 50-foot (15 m) deep well was filled with remains to within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the top,[121] the remainder were thrown into the Ganges.[122]

Historians have given many reasons for this act of cruelty. With Company forces approaching Cawnpore and some believing that they would not advance if there were no hostages to save, their murders were ordered. Or perhaps it was to ensure that no information was leaked after the fall of Cawnpore. Other historians have suggested that the killings were an attempt to undermine Nana Sahib's relationship with the British.[123] Perhaps it was due to fear, the fear of being recognised by some of the prisoners for having taken part in the earlier firings.[115]

Photograph entitled, "The Hospital in General Wheeler's entrenchment, Cawnpore". (1858) The hospital was the site of the first major loss of European lives in Cawnpore

1858 picture of Sati Chaura Ghat on the banks of the Ganges River, where on 27 June 1857 many British men lost their lives and the surviving women and children were taken prisoner by the rebels.

Bibigarh house where European women and children were killed and the well where their bodies were found, 1858.

The Bibighar Well site where a memorial had been built. Samuel Bourne, 1860.

A contemporary image of the massacre at the Satichaura Ghat

The killing of the women and children hardened British attitudes against the sepoys. The British public was aghast and the anti-Imperial and pro-Indian proponents lost all their support. Cawnpore became a war cry for the British and their allies for the rest of the conflict. Nana Sahib disappeared near the end of the Rebellion and it is not known what happened to him.

Other British accounts[124][125][126] state that indiscriminate punitive measures were taken in early June, two weeks before the murders at the Bibighar (but after those at both Meerut and Delhi), specifically by Lieutenant Colonel James George Smith Neill of the Madras Fusiliers, commanding at Allahabad while moving towards Cawnpore. At the nearby town of Fatehpur, a mob had attacked and murdered the local European population. On this pretext, Neill ordered all villages beside the Grand Trunk Road to be burned and their inhabitants to be killed by hanging. Neill's methods were "ruthless and horrible"[127] and far from intimidating the population, may well have induced previously undecided sepoys and communities to revolt.

Neill was killed in action at Lucknow on 26 September and was never called to account for his punitive measures, though contemporary British sources lionised him and his "gallant blue caps".[128] When the British retook Cawnpore, the soldiers took their sepoy prisoners to the Bibighar and forced them to lick the bloodstains from the walls and floor.[129] They then hanged or "blew from the cannon", the traditional Mughal punishment for mutiny, the majority of the sepoy prisoners. Although some claimed the sepoys took no actual part in the killings themselves, they did not act to stop it and this was acknowledged by Captain Thompson after the British departed Cawnpore for a second time.


Main article: Siege of Lucknow

The interior of the Secundra Bagh, several months after its storming during the second relief of Lucknow. Albumen silver print by Felice Beato, 1858

Very soon after the events at Meerut, rebellion erupted in the state of Awadh (also known as Oudh, in modern-day Uttar Pradesh), which had been annexed barely a year before. The British Commissioner resident at Lucknow, Sir Henry Lawrence, had enough time to fortify his position inside the Residency compound. The defenders, including loyal sepoys, numbered some 1700 men. The rebels' assaults were unsuccessful, so they began a barrage of artillery and musket fire into the compound. Lawrence was one of the first casualties. He was succeeded by John Eardley Inglis. The rebels tried to breach the walls with explosives and bypass them via tunnels that led to underground close combat.[109]:486 After 90 days of siege, the defenders were reduced to 300 loyal sepoys, 350 British soldiers and 550 non-combatants.

On 25 September, a relief column under the command of Sir Henry Havelock and accompanied by Sir James Outram (who in theory was his superior) fought its way from Cawnpore to Lucknow in a brief campaign, in which the numerically small column defeated rebel forces in a series of increasingly large battles. This became known as 'The First Relief of Lucknow', as this force was not strong enough to break the siege or extricate themselves, and so was forced to join the garrison. In October, another larger army under the new Commander-in-Chief, Sir Colin Campbell, was finally able to relieve the garrison and on 18 November, they evacuated the defended enclave within the city, the women and children leaving first. They then conducted an orderly withdrawal, firstly to Alambagh 4 miles (6.4 km) north where a force of 4,000 were left to construct a fort, then to Cawnpore, where they defeated an attempt by Tantia Tope to recapture the city in the Second Battle of Cawnpore.

In March 1858, Campbell once again advanced on Lucknow with a large army, meeting up with the force at Alambagh, this time seeking to suppress the rebellion in Awadh. He was aided by a large Nepalese contingent advancing from the north under Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana.[130] General Dhir Shamsher Kunwar Rana, the youngest brother of Jung Bahadur, also led the Nepalese forces in various parts of India including Lucknow, Benares and Patna.[2][131] Campbell's advance was slow and methodical, with a force under General Outram crossing the river on cask bridges on 4 March to enable them to fire artillery in flank. Campbell drove the large but disorganised rebel army from Lucknow with the final fighting taking place on 21 March.[109]:491 There were few casualties to Campbell's own troops, but his cautious movements allowed large numbers of the rebels to disperse into Awadh. Campbell was forced to spend the summer and autumn dealing with scattered pockets of resistance while losing men to heat, disease and guerrilla actions.


Main article: Central India Campaign (1858)

Jhansi Fort, which was taken over by rebel forces, and subsequently defended against British recapture by the Rani of Jhansi

Jhansi State was a Maratha-ruled princely state in Bundelkhand. When the Raja of Jhansi died without a biological male heir in 1853, it was annexed to the British Raj by the Governor-General of India under the doctrine of lapse. His widow Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, protested against the denial of rights of their adopted son. When war broke out, Jhansi quickly became a centre of the rebellion. A small group of Company officials and their families took refuge in Jhansi Fort, and the Rani negotiated their evacuation. However, when they left the fort they were massacred by the rebels over whom the Rani had no control; the Europeans suspected the Rani of complicity, despite her repeated denials.

By the end of June 1857, the Company had lost control of much of Bundelkhand and eastern Rajasthan. The Bengal Army units in the area, having rebelled, marched to take part in the battles for Delhi and Cawnpore. The many princely states that made up this area began warring amongst themselves. In September and October 1857, the Rani led the successful defence of Jhansi against the invading armies of the neighbouring rajas of Datia and Orchha.

On 3 February, Sir Hugh Rose broke the 3-month siege of Saugor. Thousands of local villagers welcomed him as a liberator, freeing them from rebel occupation.[132]

In March 1858, the Central India Field Force, led by Sir Hugh Rose, advanced on and laid siege to Jhansi. The Company forces captured the city, but the Rani fled in disguise.

After being driven from Jhansi and Kalpi, on 1 June 1858 Rani Lakshmi Bai and a group of Maratha rebels captured the fortress city of Gwalior from the Scindia rulers, who were British allies. This might have reinvigorated the rebellion but the Central India Field Force very quickly advanced against the city. The Rani died on 17 June, the second day of the Battle of Gwalior, probably killed by a carbine shot from the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars according to the account of three independent Indian representatives. The Company forces recaptured Gwalior within the next three days. In descriptions of the scene of her last battle, she was compared to Joan of Arc by some commentators.[133]


Colonel Henry Marion Durand, the then-Company resident at Indore, had brushed away any possibility of uprising in Indore.[134] However, on 1 July, sepoys in Holkar's army revolted and opened fire on the cavalry pickets of the Bhopal Contingent (a locally raised force with British officers). When Colonel Travers rode forward to charge, the Bhopal Cavalry refused to follow. The Bhopal Infantry also refused orders and instead levelled their guns at European sergeants and officers. Since all possibility of mounting an effective deterrent was lost, Durand decided to gather up all the European residents and escape, although 39 European residents of Indore were killed.[135]


See also: Siege of Arrah

The rebellion in Bihar was mainly concentrated in the Western regions of the state; however, there were also some outbreaks of plundering and looting in Gaya district.[136] One of the central figures was Kunwar Singh, the 80-year-old Rajput Zamindar of Jagdispur, whose estate was in the process of being sequestrated by the Revenue Board, instigated and assumed the leadership of revolt in Bihar.[137] His efforts were supported by his brother Babu Amar Singh and his commander-in-chief Hare Krishna Singh.[138]

On 25 July, mutiny erupted in the garrisons of Danapur. Mutinying sepoys from the 7th, 8th and 40th regiments of Bengal Native Infantry quickly moved towards the city of Arrah and were joined by Kunwar Singh and his men.[139] Mr. Boyle, a British railway engineer in Arrah, had already prepared an outbuilding on his property for defence against such attacks.[140] As the rebels approached Arrah, all European residents took refuge at Mr. Boyle's house.[141] A siege soon ensued – eighteen civilians and 50 loyal sepoys from the Bengal Military Police Battalion under the command of Herwald Wake, the local magistrate, defended the house against artillery and musketry fire from an estimated 2000 to 3000 mutineers and rebels.[142]

On 29 July, 400 men were sent out from Danapur to relieve Arrah, but this force was ambushed by the rebels around a mile away from the siege house, severely defeated, and driven back. On 30 July, Major Vincent Eyre, who was going up the river with his troops and guns, reached Buxar and heard about the siege. He immediately disembarked his guns and troops (the 5th Fusiliers) and started marching towards Arrah, disregarding direct orders not to do so.[143] On 2 August, some 6 miles (9.7 km) short of Arrah, the Major was ambushed by the mutineers and rebels. After an intense fight, the 5th Fusiliers charged and stormed the rebel positions successfully.[142] On 3 August, Major Eyre and his men reached the siege house and successfully ended the siege.[144][145]

After receiving reinforcements, Major Eyre pursued Kunwar Singh to his palace in Jagdispur; however, Singh had left by the time Eyre's forces arrived. Eyre then proceeded to destroy the palace and the homes of Singh's brothers.[142]

In addition to Kunwar Singh's efforts, there were also rebellions carried out by Hussain Baksh Khan, Ghulam Ali Khan and Fateh Singh among others in Gaya, Nawada and Jehanabad districts.[146]

In Lohardaga district of South Bihar (now in Jharkhand), a major rebellion was led by Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo who was part of the Nagavanshi dynasty.[147] He was motivated by disputes he had with the Christian Kol tribals who had been grabbing his land and were implicitly supported by the British authorities. The rebels in South Bihar asked him to lead them and he readily accepted this offer. He organised a Mukti Vahini (people's army) with the assistance of nearby zamindars including Pandey Ganpat Rai and Nadir Ali Khan.[147]

Other regions


Execution of mutineers at Peshawar

What was then referred to by the British as the Punjab was a very large administrative division, centred on Lahore. It included not only the present-day Indian and Pakistani Punjabi regions but also the North West Frontier districts bordering Afghanistan.

Much of the region had been the Sikh Empire, ruled by Ranjit Singh until his death in 1839. The kingdom had then fallen into disorder, with court factions and the Khalsa (the Sikh army) contending for power at the Lahore Durbar (court). After two Anglo-Sikh Wars, the entire region was annexed by the East India Company in 1849. In 1857, the region still contained the highest numbers of both European and Indian troops.

The inhabitants of the Punjab were not as sympathetic to the sepoys as they were elsewhere in India, which limited many of the outbreaks in the Punjab to disjointed uprisings by regiments of sepoys isolated from each other. In some garrisons, notably Ferozepore, indecision on the part of the senior European officers allowed the sepoys to rebel, but the sepoys then left the area, mostly heading for Delhi.[148] At the most important garrison, that of Peshawar close to the Afghan frontier, many comparatively junior officers ignored their nominal commander, General Reed, and took decisive action. They intercepted the sepoys' mail, thus preventing their coordinating an uprising, and formed a force known as the "Punjab Movable Column" to move rapidly to suppress any revolts as they occurred. When it became clear from the intercepted correspondence that some of the sepoys at Peshawar were on the point of open revolt, the four most disaffected Bengal Native regiments were disarmed by the two British infantry regiments in the cantonment, backed by artillery, on 22 May. This decisive act induced many local chieftains to side with the British.[149]

Marble Lectern in memory of 35 British soldiers in Jhelum

Jhelum in Punjab saw a mutiny of native troops against the British. Here 35 British soldiers of Her Majesty's 24th Regiment of Foot (South Wales Borderers) were killed by mutineers on 7 July 1857. Among the dead was Captain Francis Spring, the eldest son of Colonel William Spring. To commemorate this event St. John's Church Jhelum was built and the names of those 35 British soldiers are carved on a marble lectern present in that church.

The final large-scale military uprising in the Punjab took place on 9 July, when most of a brigade of sepoys at Sialkot rebelled and began to move to Delhi.[150] They were intercepted by John Nicholson with an equal British force as they tried to cross the Ravi River. After fighting steadily but unsuccessfully for several hours, the sepoys tried to fall back across the river but became trapped on an island. Three days later, Nicholson annihilated the 1,100 trapped sepoys in the Battle of Trimmu Ghat.[151]

The British had been recruiting irregular units from Sikh and Pakhtun communities even before the first unrest among the Bengal units, and the numbers of these were greatly increased during the Rebellion, 34,000 fresh levies eventually being raised.[152]

Lieutenant William Alexander Kerr, 24th Bombay Native Infantry, near Kolapore, July 1857

At one stage, faced with the need to send troops to reinforce the besiegers of Delhi, the Commissioner of the Punjab (Sir John Lawrence) suggested handing the coveted prize of Peshawar to Dost Mohammed Khan of Afghanistan in return for a pledge of friendship. The British Agents in Peshawar and the adjacent districts were horrified. Referring to the massacre of a retreating British army in 1842, Herbert Edwardes wrote, "Dost Mahomed would not be a mortal Afghan ... if he did not assume our day to be gone in India and follow after us as an enemy. Europeans cannot retreat – Kabul would come again."[153] In the event Lord Canning insisted on Peshawar being held, and Dost Mohammed, whose relations with Britain had been equivocal for over 20 years, remained neutral.

In September 1858 Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal, head of the Khurrul tribe, led an insurrection in the Neeli Bar district, between the Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab rivers. The rebels held the jungles of Gogaira and had some initial successes against the British forces in the area, besieging Major Crawford Chamberlain at Chichawatni. A squadron of Punjabi cavalry sent by Sir John Lawrence raised the siege. Ahmed Khan was killed but the insurgents found a new leader in Mahr Bahawal Fatyana, who maintained the uprising for three months until Government forces penetrated the jungle and scattered the rebel tribesmen.[154]

Bengal and Tripura

In September 1857, sepoys took control of the treasury in Chittagong.[155] The treasury remained under rebel control for several days. Further mutinies on 18 November saw the 2nd, 3rd and 4th companies of the 34th Bengal Infantry Regiment storming the Chittagong Jail and releasing all prisoners. The mutineers were eventually suppressed by the Gurkha regiments.[156] The mutiny also spread to Kolkata and later Dacca, the former Mughal capital of Bengal. Residents in the city's Lalbagh area were kept awake at night by the rebellion.[157] Sepoys joined hands with the common populace in Jalpaiguri to take control of the city's cantonment.[155] In January 1858, many sepoys received shelter from the royal family of the princely state of Hill Tippera.[155]

The interior areas of Bengal proper were already experiencing growing resistance to Company rule due to the Muslim Faraizi movement.[155]


In central and north Gujarat, the rebellion was sustained by land owner Jagirdars, Talukdars and Thakors with the support of armed communities of Bhil, Koli, Pathans and Arabs, unlike the mutiny by sepoys in north India. Their main opposition of British was due to Inam commission. The Bet Dwarka island, along with Okhamandal region of Kathiawar peninsula which was under Gaekwad of Baroda State, saw a revolt by the Vaghers in January 1858 who, by July 1859, controlled that region. In October 1859, a joint offensive by British, Gaekwad and other princely states troops ousted the rebels and recaptured the region.[158][159][160]

British Empire

The authorities in British colonies with an Indian population, sepoy or civilian, took measures to secure themselves against copycat uprisings. In the Straits Settlements and Trinidad the annual Hosay processions were banned,[161] riots broke out in penal settlements in Burma and the Settlements, in Penang the loss of a musket provoked a near riot,[162] and security was boosted especially in locations with an Indian convict population.[163]


Death toll and atrocities

"The Relief of Lucknow" by Thomas Jones Barker

Both sides committed atrocities against civilians.[r][14]

In Oudh alone, some estimates put the toll at 150,000 Indians were killed during the war, with 100,000 of them being civilians. The capture of Delhi, Allahabad, Kanpur and Lucknow by British forces were followed by general massacres.[164]

Another notable atrocity was carried out by General Neill who massacred thousands of Indian mutineers and Indian civilians suspected of supporting the rebellion.[165]

The rebels' murder of British women, children and wounded soldiers (including sepoys who sided with the British) at Cawnpore, and the subsequent printing of the events in the British papers, left many British soldiers outraged and seeking revenge. As well as hanging mutineers, the British had some "blown from cannon," (an old Mughal punishment adopted many years before in India), in which sentenced rebels were tied over the mouths of cannons and blown to pieces when the cannons were fired.[166][167] A particular act of cruelty on behalf of the British troops at Cawnpore included forcing many Muslim or Hindu rebels to eat pork or beef, as well as licking buildings freshly stained with blood of the dead before subsequent public hangings.[168]

Practices of torture included "searing with hot irons...dipping in wells and rivers till the victim is half suffocated...sequencing the testicles...putting pepper and red chillies in the eyes or introducing them into the private parts of men and women...prevention of sleep...nipping the flesh with pinners...suspension from the branches of a tree...imprisonment in a room used for storing lime..."[169]

British soldiers also committed sexual violence against Indian women as a form of retaliation against the rebellion.[170][171] As towns and cities were captured from the sepoys, the British soldiers took their revenge on Indian civilians by committing atrocities and rapes against Indian women.[172][173] As one account reads,

The [British] victors retaliated against the civilians [at Fatehpur) by sacking villages, raping women, killing children and hanging hundreds of men. When the people of Cawnpore [Kanpur] heard this, they feared similar retaliation..... At Fatehgarh, for example, when the English defeated the enemy, their officers ordered a mass scale killing [of] the rebels and the citizens on the spot. General Neill had also ordered Hanging parties.... No evidence was sought and none given before executing the victim.... When the [78th] Highlanders moved to another village, they caught about 140 men, women and children. They selected sixty men from the group, forced them to build the gallows of wooden logs taken from the burning homes. They then chose ten men of the group [and] hanged them without any evidence or trial. For others, they had reserved flogging and beating to teach them a lesson..... At one of the villages, about two thousand villagers armed only with their lathis [wooden canes] turned out in protest. They stood up to face the [78th] Highlanders. The British troops surrounded them and set their village on fire.... The villagers trying to escape were shot to death. One soldier describes the incident thus: 'We took eighteen of them prisoners; they were all tied together, and we fired a volley at them and shot them on the spot' .... Stringing and shooting the men in front of their family was a sport the troops enjoyed. Watching women stooping and begging for the lives of their men seemed to thrill the young soldiers and their officers. The prisoners were made to stand under the hot summer sun for hours till they fainted. It was easy to flog them when they were half-conscious, otherwise, they would squirm and make it hard to strike. Flogging invariably ended in killing of the victims. The English wanted to break the faith of their Hindu and Muslim prisoners.[174][175][176]

Most of the British press, outraged by the stories of alleged rape committed by the rebels against British women, as well as the killings of British civilians and wounded British soldiers, did not advocate clemency of any kind towards the Indian population.[177] Governor General Canning ordered moderation in dealing with native sensibilities and earned the scornful sobriquet "Clemency Canning" from the press[178] and later parts of the British public.

In terms of sheer numbers, the casualties were much higher on the Indian side. A letter published after the fall of Delhi in the Bombay Telegraph and reproduced in the British press testified to the scale of the Indian casualties:

.... All the city's people found within the walls of the city of Delhi when our troops entered were bayoneted on the spot, and the number was considerable, as you may suppose, when I tell you that in some houses forty and fifty people were hiding. These were not mutineers but residents of the city, who trusted to our well-known mild rule for pardon. I am glad to say they were disappointed.[179]

British soldiers looting Qaisar Bagh, Lucknow, after its recapture (steel engraving, late 1850s)

From the end of 1857, the British had begun to gain ground again. Lucknow was retaken in March 1858. On 8 July 1858, a peace treaty was signed and the rebellion ended. The last rebels were defeated in Gwalior on 20 June 1858. By 1859, rebel leaders Bakht Khan and Nana Sahib had either been slain or had fled.

Edward Vibart, a 19-year-old officer whose parents, younger brothers, and two of his sisters had died in the Cawnpore massacre,[180] recorded his experience:

The orders went out to shoot every soul.... It was literally murder... I have seen many bloody and awful sights lately but such a one as I witnessed yesterday I pray I never see again. The women were all spared but their screams on seeing their husbands and sons butchered, were most painful... Heaven knows I feel no pity, but when some old grey bearded man is brought and shot before your very eyes, hard must be that man's heart I think who can look on with indifference ...[181]

Execution of mutineers by blowing from a gun by the British, 8 September 1857.

Some British troops adopted a policy of "no prisoners". One officer, Thomas Lowe, remembered how on one occasion his unit had taken 76 prisoners – they were just too tired to carry on killing and needed a rest, he recalled. Later, after a quick trial, the prisoners were lined up with a British soldier standing a couple of yards in front of them. On the order "fire", they were all simultaneously shot, "swept... from their earthly existence".

The aftermath of the rebellion has been the focus of new work using Indian sources and population studies. In The Last Mughal, historian William Dalrymple examines the effects on the Muslim population of Delhi after the city was retaken by the British and finds that intellectual and economic control of the city shifted from Muslim to Hindu hands because the British, at that time, saw an Islamic hand behind the mutiny.[182]

Approximately 6,000 of the 40,000 Europeans living in India were killed.[3]

Reaction in Britain

Justice, a print by Sir John Tenniel in a September 1857 issue of Punch

The scale of the punishments handed out by the British "Army of Retribution" were considered largely appropriate and justified in a Britain shocked by embellished reports of atrocities carried out against British and European civilians by the rebels.[183] Accounts of the time frequently reach the "hyperbolic register", according to Christopher Herbert, especially in the often-repeated claim that the "Red Year" of 1857 marked "a terrible break" in British experience.[179] Such was the atmosphere – a national "mood of retribution and despair" that led to "almost universal approval" of the measures taken to pacify the revolt.[184]

Incidents of rape allegedly committed by Indian rebels against European women and girls appalled the British public. These atrocities were often used to justify the British reaction to the rebellion. British newspapers printed various eyewitness accounts of the rape of English women and girls. One such account was published by The Times, regarding an incident where 48 English girls as young as 10 had been raped by Indian rebels in Delhi. Karl Marx criticized this story as false propaganda, and pointed out that the story was written by a clergyman in Bangalore, far from the events of the rebellion, with no evidence to support his allegation.[185] Individual incidents captured the public's interest and were heavily reported by the press. One such incident was that of General Wheeler's daughter Margaret being forced to live as her captor's concubine, though this was reported to the Victorian public as Margaret killing her rapist then herself.[186] Another version of the story suggested that Margaret had been killed after her abductor had argued with his wife over her.[187]

During the aftermath of the rebellion, a series of exhaustive investigations were carried out by British police and intelligence officials into reports that British women prisoners had been "dishonored" at the Bibighar and elsewhere. One such detailed enquiry was at the direction of Lord Canning. The consensus was that there was no convincing evidence of such crimes having been committed, although numbers of European women and children had been killed outright.[188]

The term 'Sepoy' or 'Sepoyism' became a derogatory term for nationalists, especially in Ireland.[189]


Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last Mughal emperor) in Delhi, awaiting trial by the British for his role in the Uprising. Photograph by Robert Tytler and Charles Shepherd, May 1858

The proclamation to the "Princes, Chiefs, and People of India," issued by Queen Victoria on November 1, 1858. "We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligation of duty which bind us to all our other subjects." (p. 2)

Bahadur Shah was arrested at Humanyun's tomb and tried for treason by a military commission assembled at Delhi, and exiled to Rangoon where he died in 1862, bringing the Mughal dynasty to an end. In 1877 Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India on the advice of Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.

The rebellion saw the end of the East India Company's rule in India. In August, by the Government of India Act 1858, the company was formally dissolved and its ruling powers over India were transferred to the British Crown.[190] A new British government department, the India Office, was created to handle the governance of India, and its head, the Secretary of State for India, was entrusted with formulating Indian policy. The Governor-General of India gained a new title, Viceroy of India, and implemented the policies devised by the India Office. Some former East India Company territories, such as the Straits Settlements, became colonies in their own right. The British colonial administration embarked on a program of reform, trying to integrate Indian higher castes and rulers into the government and abolishing attempts at Westernization. The Viceroy stopped land grabs, decreed religious tolerance and admitted Indians into civil service, albeit mainly as subordinates.

Essentially the old East India Company bureaucracy remained, though there was a major shift in attitudes. In looking for the causes of the Rebellion the authorities alighted on two things: religion and the economy. On religion it was felt that there had been too much interference with indigenous traditions, both Hindu and Muslim. On the economy it was now believed that the previous attempts by the Company to introduce free market competition had undermined traditional power structures and bonds of loyalty placing the peasantry at the mercy of merchants and money-lenders. In consequence the new British Raj was constructed in part around a conservative agenda, based on a preservation of tradition and hierarchy.

On a political level it was also felt that the previous lack of consultation between rulers and ruled had been another significant factor in contributing to the uprising. In consequence, Indians were drawn into government at a local level. Though this was on a limited scale a crucial precedent had been set, with the creation of a new 'white collar' Indian elite, further stimulated by the opening of universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, a result of the Indian Universities Act. So, alongside the values of traditional and ancient India, a new professional middle class was starting to arise, in no way bound by the values of the past. Their ambition can only have been stimulated by Queen Victoria's Proclamation of November 1858, in which it is expressly stated, "We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to our other is our further will that... our subjects of whatever race or creed, be freely and impartially admitted to offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability and integrity, duly to discharge."

Acting on these sentiments, Lord Ripon, viceroy from 1880 to 1885, extended the powers of local self-government and sought to remove racial practices in the law courts by the Ilbert Bill. But a policy at once liberal and progressive at one turn was reactionary and backward at the next, creating new elites and confirming old attitudes. The Ilbert Bill had the effect only of causing a white mutiny and the end of the prospect of perfect equality before the law. In 1886 measures were adopted to restrict Indian entry into the civil service.

Military reorganisation

Captain C Scott of the Gen. Sir. Hope Grant's Column, Madras Regiment, who fell on the attack of Fort of Kohlee, 1858. Memorial at the St. Mary's Church, Madras

Memorial inside the York Minster

The Bengal army dominated the Indian army before 1857 and a direct result after the rebellion was the scaling back of the size of the Bengali contingent in the army.[191] The Brahmin presence in the Bengal Army was reduced because of their perceived primary role as mutineers. The British looked for increased recruitment in the Punjab for the Bengal army as a result of the apparent discontent that resulted in the Sepoy conflict.[192]

The rebellion transformed both the native and European armies of British India. Of the 74 regular Bengal Native Infantry regiments in existence at the beginning of 1857, only twelve escaped mutiny or disbandment.[193] All ten of the Bengal Light Cavalry regiments were lost. The old Bengal Army had accordingly almost completely vanished from the order of battle. These troops were replaced by new units recruited from castes hitherto under-utilised by the British and from the minority so-called "Martial Races", such as the Sikhs and the Gurkhas.

The inefficiencies of the old organisation, which had estranged sepoys from their British officers, were addressed, and the post-1857 units were mainly organised on the "irregular" system. From 1797 until the rebellion of 1857, each regular Bengal Native Infantry regiment had had 22 or 23 British officers,[194] who held every position of authority down to the second-in-command of each company. In irregular units there were fewer European officers, but they associated themselves far more closely with their soldiers, while more responsibility was given to the Indian officers.

The British increased the ratio of British to Indian soldiers within India. From 1861 Indian artillery was replaced by British units, except for a few mountain batteries.[195] The post-rebellion changes formed the basis of the military organisation of British India until the early 20th century.


Victoria Cross

Medals were awarded to members of the British Armed Forces and the British Indian Army during the rebellion. The 182 recipients of the Victoria Cross are listed here.

Indian Mutiny Medal

290,000 Indian Mutiny Medals were awarded. Clasps were awarded for the siege of Delhi and the siege and relief of Lucknow.[196]

Indian Order of Merit

A military and civilian decoration of British India, the Indian Order of Merit was first introduced by the East India Company in 1837, and was taken over by the Crown in 1858, following the Indian Mutiny of 1857. The Indian Order of Merit was the only gallantry medal available to Native soldiers between 1837 and 1907.[197]


Main article: Names of India's First War of Independence

There is no universally agreed name for the events of this period.

In India and Pakistan it has been termed as the "War of Independence of 1857" or "First War of Indian Independence"[198] but it is not uncommon to use terms such as the "Revolt of 1857". The classification of the Rebellion being "First War of Independence" is not without its critics in India.[199][200][201][202] The use of the term "Indian Mutiny" is considered by some Indian politicians[203] as belittling the importance of what happened and therefore reflecting an imperialistic attitude. Others dispute this interpretation.

In the UK and parts of the Commonwealth it is commonly called the "Indian Mutiny", but terms such as "Great Indian Mutiny", the "Sepoy Mutiny", the "Sepoy Rebellion", the "Sepoy War", the "Great Mutiny", the "Rebellion of 1857", "the Uprising", the "Mahomedan Rebellion", and the "Revolt of 1857" have also been used.[204][205][206] "The Indian Insurrection" was a name used in the press of the UK and British colonies at the time.[207]


See also: Panic of 1857

The Mutiny Memorial in Delhi, a monument to those killed on the British side during the fighting.

Adas (1971) examines the historiography with emphasis on the four major approaches: the Indian nationalist view; the Marxist analysis; the view of the Rebellion as a traditionalist rebellion; and intensive studies of local uprisings.[208] Many of the key primary and secondary sources appear in Biswamoy Pati, ed. 1857 Rebellion.[209][210]

Suppression of the Indian Revolt by the English, which depicts the execution of mutineers by blowing from a gun by the British, a painting by Vasily Vereshchagin c. 1884. Note: This painting was allegedly bought by the British crown and possibly destroyed (current whereabouts unknown). It anachronistically depicts the events of 1857 with soldiers wearing (then current) uniforms of the late 19th century.

Thomas Metcalf has stressed the importance of the work by Cambridge professor Eric Stokes (1924–1981), especially Stokes' The Peasant and the Raj: Studies in Agrarian Society and Peasant Rebellion in Colonial India (1978). Metcalf says Stokes undermines the assumption that 1857 was a response to general causes emanating from entire classes of people. Instead, Stokes argues that 1) those Indians who suffered the greatest relative deprivation rebelled and that 2) the decisive factor in precipitating a revolt was the presence of prosperous magnates who supported British rule. Stokes also explores issues of economic development, the nature of privileged landholding, the role of moneylenders, the usefulness of classical rent theory, and, especially, the notion of the "rich peasant".[211]

To Kim Wagner, who has conducted the most recent survey of the literature, modern Indian historiography is yet to move beyond responding to the "prejudice" of colonial accounts. Wagner sees no reason why atrocities committed by Indians should be understated or inflated merely because these things "offend our post-colonial sensibilities".[212]

Wagner also stresses the importance of William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857. Dalrymple was assisted by Mahmood Farooqui, who translated key Urdu and Shikastah sources and published a selection in Besieged: Voices from Delhi 1857.[213] Dalrymple emphasized the role of religion, and explored in detail the internal divisions and politico-religious discord amongst the rebels. He did not discover much in the way of proto-nationalism or any of the roots of modern India in the rebellion.[214][215] Sabbaq Ahmed has looked at the ways in which ideologies of royalism, militarism, and Jihad influenced the behaviour of contending Muslim factions.[216]

Almost from the moment the first sepoys mutinied in Meerut, the nature and the scope of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 has been contested and argued over. Speaking in the House of Commons in July 1857, Benjamin Disraeli labelled it a 'national revolt' while Lord Palmerston, the Prime Minister, tried to downplay the scope and the significance of the event as a 'mere military mutiny'.[217] Reflecting this debate, an early historian of the rebellion, Charles Ball, used the word mutiny in his title, but labelled it a "struggle for liberty and independence as a people" in the text.[218] Historians remain divided on whether the rebellion can properly be considered a war of Indian independence or not,[219] although it is popularly considered to be one in India. Arguments against include:

• A united India did not exist at that time in political, cultural, or ethnic terms;
• The rebellion was put down with the help of other Indian soldiers drawn from the Madras Army, the Bombay Army and the Sikh regiments; 80% of the East India Company forces were Indian;[220]
• Many of the local rulers fought amongst themselves rather than uniting against the British;
• Many rebel Sepoy regiments disbanded and went home rather than fight;
• Not all of the rebels accepted the return of the Mughals;
• The King of Delhi had no real control over the mutineers;[221]
• The revolt was largely limited to north and central India. Whilst risings occurred elsewhere they had little impact because of their limited nature;
• A number of revolts occurred in areas not under British rule, and against native rulers, often as a result of local internal politics;
• "The revolt was fractured along religious, ethnic and regional lines.[222]

The hanging of two participants in the Indian Rebellion, Sepoys of the 31st Native Infantry. Albumen silver print by Felice Beato, 1857.

A second school of thought while acknowledging the validity of the above-mentioned arguments opines that this rebellion may indeed be called a war of India's independence. The reasons advanced are:

• Even though the rebellion had various causes, most of the rebel sepoys who were able to do so, made their way to Delhi to revive the old Mughal empire that signified national unity for even the Hindus amongst them;
• There was a widespread popular revolt in many areas such as Awadh, Bundelkhand and Rohilkhand. The rebellion was therefore more than just a military rebellion, and it spanned more than one region;
• The sepoys did not seek to revive small kingdoms in their regions, instead they repeatedly proclaimed a "country-wide rule" of the Mughals and vowed to drive out the British from "India", as they knew it then. (The sepoys ignored local princes and proclaimed in cities they took over: Khalq Khuda Ki, Mulk Badshah Ka, Hukm Subahdar Sipahi Bahadur Ka – "the people belong to God, the country to the Emperor and authority to the Sepoy Commandant"). The objective of driving out "foreigners" from not only one's own area but from their conception of the entirety of "India", signifies a nationalist sentiment;
• The mutineers, although some were recruited from outside Oudah, displayed a common purpose.[223]
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Part 3 of 3

150th anniversary

The National Youth rally at the National Celebration to Commemorate 150th Anniversary of the First War of Independence, 1857 at Red Fort, in Delhi on 11 May 2007

The Government of India celebrated the year 2007 as the 150th anniversary of "India's First War of Independence". Several books written by Indian authors were released in the anniversary year including Amresh Mishra's "War of Civilizations", a controversial history of the Rebellion of 1857, and "Recalcitrance" by Anurag Kumar, one of the few novels written in English by an Indian based on the events of 1857.

In 2007, a group of retired British soldiers and civilians, some of them descendants of British soldiers who died in the conflict, attempted to visit the site of the Siege of Lucknow. However, fears of violence by Indian demonstrators, supported by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, prevented the British visitors from visiting the site.[224] Despite the protests, Sir Mark Havelock was able to make his way past police to visit the grave of his ancestor, General Henry Havelock.[225]

In popular culture


Henry Nelson O'Neil's 1857 painting Eastward Ho! depicting British soldiers say farewell to their loved ones as they embark on a deployment to India.

• Light of India - A 1929 short American silent film directed by Elmer Clifton and filmed in Technicolor, depicts the rebellion.
• Bengal Brigade – A 1954 film: at the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny. A British officer, Captain Claybourne (Hudson), is cashiered from his regiment over a charge of disobeying orders, but finds that his duty to his men is far from over
• Shatranj Ke Khilari – A 1977 Indian film directed by Satyajit Ray, chronicling the events just before the onset of the Revolt of 1857. The focus is on the British annexation of Oudh, and the detachment of the nobility from the political sphere in 19th-century India.
• Junoon (1978 film) – Directed by Shyam Benegal, it is a critically acclaimed film about the love affair between a Pathan feudal chief and a British girl sheltered by his family during the revolt.
• Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005) – Ketan Mehta's Hindi film chronicles the life of Mangal Pandey.
• The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) features a sequence inspired by the massacre at Cawnpore.
• Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – During the dinner scene at the fictional Pankot Palace, Indiana Jones mentions that Captain Blumburtt was telling him about the role which the palace played in "the mutiny" and Chattar Lal complains, "It seems the British never forget the Mutiny of 1857".
• The Last Cartridge, an Incident of the Sepoy Rebellion in India (1908) – A fictionalized account of a British fort besieged during the Rebellion.
• Victoria & Abdul (2017) – Queen Victoria embarrasses herself by recounting to the court the one-sided account of the Indian Mutiny that Abdul had told her, Victoria's faith and trust in him are shaken and she decides he must go home. But soon after, she changes her mind and asks him to stay.[citation needed]
• Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi , a 2019 Hindi film chronicles the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai.


• 1857: Ek Safarnama – A play by Javed Siddiqui, set during the Rebellion of 1857 and staged at Purana Qila, Delhi.[226]


• Malcolm X's autobiography The Autobiography of Malcolm X details his first encounters with atrocities in the non-European world and his reaction to the rebellion and massacres in 1857.
• John Masters's novel Nightrunners of Bengal, first published by Michael Joseph in 1951 and dedicated to the Sepoy of India, is a fictionalised account of the Rebellion as seen through the eyes of a British Captain in the Bengal Native Infantry who was based in Bhowani, itself a fictionalised version of the town of Jhansi. Captain Savage and his turbulent relationship with the Rani of Kishanpur form an analogous interrelationship of the Indian people and the British and sepoy regiments at that time.
• J. G. Farrell's 1973 novel The Siege of Krishnapur details the siege of the fictional Indian town of Krishnapur during the Rebellion.
• George MacDonald Fraser's 1975 novel Flashman in the Great Game deals with the events leading up to and during the Rebellion.
• Two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, The Sign of the Four and "The Adventure of the Crooked Man," feature events that took place during the Rebellion.
• Michael Crichton's 1975 novel The Great Train Robbery mentions the Rebellion and briefly details the events of the Siege of Cawnpore, as the Rebellion was happening in tandem with the trial of Edward Pierce.[227]
• The majority of M. M. Kaye's novel Shadow of the Moon is set between 1856–58, and the Rebellion is shown to greatly affect the lives of the main characters, who were inhabitants of the Residency at Lunjore (a fictional town in north India). The early chapters of her novel The Far Pavilions take place during the Rebellion, which leads to the protagonist, a child of British ancestry, being raised as a Hindu.
• Indian writer Ruskin Bond's fictional novella A Flight of Pigeons is set around the Indian Rebellion of 1857. It is from this story that the film Junoon was later adapted in 1978 by Shyam Benegal.
• The 1880 novel The Steam House by Jules Verne takes place in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
• Jules Verne's famous character Captain Nemo, originally an Indian prince, fought on the side of the rebels during the rebellion (as stated in Verne's later novel The Mysterious Island).
• E. M. Forster's 1924 novel A Passage to India alludes several times to the Mutiny.
• Flora Annie Steel's novel On the Face of the Waters (1896) describes incidents of the Mutiny.
• The plot of H. Beam Piper's science fiction novel Uller Uprising is based on the events of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
• Rujub, the juggler and In Times of Peril: A tale of India by G.A. Henty are each based on the Indian Rebellion of 1857[148][148]

See also

• Vellore Mutiny
• Political warfare in British colonial India
• Bengal Native Infantry
• Barrackpore Mutiny of 1824


1. "The 1857 rebellion was by and large confined to northern Indian Gangetic Plain and central India."[6]
2. "The revolt was confined to the northern Gangetic plain and central India."[7]
3. Although the majority of the violence occurred in the northern Indian Gangetic plain and central India, recent scholarship has suggested that the rebellion also reached parts of the east and north."[8]
4. "What distinguished the events of 1857 was their scale and the fact that for a short time they posed a military threat to British dominance in the Ganges Plain."[9]
5. "The events of 1857–58 in India (are) known variously as a mutiny, a revolt, a rebellion and the first war of independence (the debates over which only confirm just how contested imperial history can become) ...(page 63)"[11]
6. "Indian soldiers and the rural population over a large part of northern India showed their mistrust of their rulers and their alienation from them. ... For all their talk of improvement, the new rulers were as yet able to offer very little in the way of positive inducements for Indians to acquiesce in the rule."[14]
7. "Many Indians took up arms against the British, if for very diverse reasons. On the other hand, a very large number actually fought for the British, while the majority remained apparently acquiescent. Explanations have therefore to concentrate on the motives of those who actually rebelled."[14]
8. The cost of the rebellion in terms of human suffering was immense. Two great cities, Delhi and Lucknow, were devastated by fighting and by the plundering of the victorious British. Where the countryside resisted, as in parts of Awadh, villages were burnt. Mutineers and their supporters were often killed out of hand. British civilians, including women and children, were murdered as well as the British officers of the sepoy regiments."[14]
9. "The south, Bengal, and the Punjab remained unscathed, ..."[7]
10. "... it was the support from the Sikhs, carefully cultivated by the British since the end of the Anglo-Sikh wars, and the disinclination of the Bengali intelligentsia to throw in their lot with what they considered a backward Zamindar revolt, that proved decisive in the course of the struggle.[7]
11. "(they) generated no coherent ideology or programme on which to build a new order."[17]
12. "The events of 1857–58 in India, ... marked a major watershed not only in the history of British India but also of British imperialism as a whole."[11]
13. "Queen Victoria's Proclamation of 1858 laid the foundation for Indian secularism and established the semi-legal framework that would govern the politics of religion in colonial India for the next century. ... It promised civil equality for Indians regardless of their religious affiliation, and state non-interference in Indians' religious affairs. Although the Proclamation lacked the legal authority of a constitution, generations of Indians cited the Queen's proclamation in order to claim, and to defend, their right to religious freedom." (page 23)[20]
14. The proclamation to the "Princes, Chiefs, and People of India," issued by Queen Victoria on 1 November 1858. "We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligation of duty which bind us to all our other subjects." (p. 2)
15. "When the governance of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown in 1858, she (Queen Victoria) and Prince Albert intervened in an unprecedented fashion to turn the proclamation of the transfer of power into a document of tolerance and clemency. ... They ... insisted on the clause that stated that the people of India would enjoy the same protection as all subjects of Britain. Over time, this royal intervention led to the Proclamation of 1858 becoming known in the Indian subcontinent as 'the Magna Carta of Indian liberties', a phrase which Indian nationalists such as Gandhi later took up as they sought to test equality under imperial law" (pages 38–39)[21]
16. "In purely legal terms, (the proclamation) kept faith with the principles of liberal imperialism and appeared to hold out the promise that British rule would benefit Indians and Britons alike. But as is too often the case with noble statements of faith, reality fell far short of theory, and the failure on the part of the British to live up to the wording of the proclamation would later be used by Indian nationalists as proof of the hollowness of imperial principles. (page 76)"[22]
17. "Ignoring ...the conciliatory proclamation of Queen Victoria in 1858, Britishers in India saw little reason to grant Indians a greater control over their own affairs. Under these circumstances, it was not long before the seed-idea of nationalism implanted by their reading of Western books began to take root in the minds of intelligent and energetic Indians."[23]
18. The cost of the rebellion in terms of human suffering was immense. Two great cities, Delhi and Lucknow, were devastated by fighting and by the plundering of the victorious British. Where the countryside resisted, as in parts of Awadh, villages were burnt. Mutineers and their supporters were often killed out of hand. British civilians, including women and children, were murdered as well as the British officers of the sepoy regiments."[14]


1. The Gurkhas by W. Brook Northey, John Morris. ISBN 81-206-1577-8. p. 58.
2. Tyagi, Sushila (1974). Indo-Nepalese Relations: (1858 - 1914). India: Concept Publishing Company.
3. Peers 2013, p. 64.
4. Marshall 2007, p. 197
5. David 2003, p. 9
6. Bose & Jalal 2004, pp. 72–73
7. Marriott, John (2013), The other empire: Metropolis, India and progress in the colonial imagination, Manchester University Press, p. 195, ISBN 978-1-84779-061-3
8. Bender, Jill C. (2016), The 1857 Indian Uprising and the British Empire, Cambridge University Press, p. 3, ISBN 978-1-316-48345-9
9. Bayly 1990, p. 170
10. Bandyopadhyay 2004, pp. 169–172, Brown 1994, pp. 85–87, and Metcalf & Metcalf 2006, pp. 100–106
11. Peers, Douglas M. (2006), "Britain and Empire", in Williams, Chris (ed.), A Companion to 19th-Century Britain, John Wiley & Sons, p. 63, ISBN 978-1-4051-5679-0
12. Metcalf & Metcalf 2006, pp. 100–103.
13. Brown 1994, pp. 85–86.
14. Marshall, P. J. (2001), "1783–1870: An expanding empire", in P. J. Marshall (ed.), The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, Cambridge University Press, p. 50, ISBN 978-0-521-00254-7
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200. In the light of the available evidence, we are forced to the conclusion that the uprising of 1857 was not the result of careful planning, nor were there any master-minds behind it. As I read about the events of 1857, I am forced to the conclusion that the Indian national character had sunk very low. The leaders of the revolt could never agree. They were mutually jealous and continually intrigued against one another. ... In fact these personal jealousies and intrigues were largely responsible for the Indian defeat.Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Surendranath Sen: Eighteen Fifty-seven (Appx. X & Appx. XV).
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210. For the latest research see Crispin Bates, ed., Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857: Volume I: Anticipations and Experiences in the Locality (2013).
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215. See also Kim A. Wagner (2010), The Great Fear Of 1857: Rumours, Conspiracies and the Making of the Indian Uprising, Peter Lang, p. 26, ISBN 9781906165277
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219. V.D. Savarkar argues that the rebellion was a war of Indian independence. The Indian War of Independence: 1857 (Bombay: 1947 [1909]). Most historians have seen his arguments as discredited, with one venturing so far as to say, 'It was neither first, nor national, nor a war of independence.' Eric Stokes has argued that the rebellion was actually a variety of movements, not one movement. The Peasant Armed (Oxford: 1980). See also S. B. Chaudhuri, Civil Rebellion in the Indian Mutinies 1857–1859(Calcutta: 1957).
220. The Indian Mutiny, Spilsbury Julian, Orion, 2007.
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222. The communal hatred led to ugly communal riots in many parts of U.P. The green flag was hoisted and Muslims in Bareilly, Bijnor, Moradabad, and other places the Muslims shouted for the revival of Muslim kingdom." R. C. Majumdar: Sepoy Mutiny and Revolt of 1857 (pp. 2303–31).
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Text-books and academic monographs

• Alavi, Seema (1996), The Sepoys and the Company: Tradition and Transition 1770–1830, Oxford University Press, p. 340, ISBN 978-0-19-563484-6.
• Anderson, Clare (2007), Indian Uprising of 1857–8: Prisons, Prisoners and Rebellion, New York: Anthem Press, p. 217, ISBN 978-1-84331-249-9.
• Bandyopadhyay, Sekhara (2004), From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India, New Delhi: Orient Longman, p. 523, ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2.
• Bayly, Christopher Alan (1988), Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire, Cambridge University Press, p. 230, ISBN 978-0-521-25092-4.
• Bayly, Christopher Alan (2000), Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, c 1780–1870, Cambridge University Press, p. 412, ISBN 978-0-521-57085-5.
• Bose, Sugata; Jalal, Ayesha (2004), Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (2nd ed.), London: Routledge, p. 253, ISBN 978-0-415-30787-1.
• Brown, Judith M. (1994), Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 480, ISBN 978-0-19-873113-9.
• Greenwood, Adrian (2015), Victoria's Scottish Lion: The Life of Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde, UK: History Press, p. 496, ISBN 978-0-75095-685-7.
• Harris, John (2001), The Indian Mutiny, Ware: Wordsworth Editions, p. 205, ISBN 978-1-84022-232-6.
• Hibbert, Christopher (1980), The Great Mutiny: India 1857, London: Allen Lane, p. 472, ISBN 978-0-14-004752-3.
• Jain, Meenakshi (2010), Parallel Pathways: Essays On Hindu-Muslim Relations (1707–1857), Delhi: Konark, ISBN 978-8122007831.
• Judd, Denis (2004), The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600–1947, Oxford University Press, xiii, 280, ISBN 978-0-19-280358-0.
• Keene, Henry George (1883), Fifty-Seven. Some account of the administration of Indian Districts during the revolt of the Bengal Army, London: W.H. Allen, p. 145.
• Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (2004), A History of India (4th ed.), London: Routledge, xii, 448, ISBN 978-0-415-32920-0.
• Leasor, James (1956), The Red Fort, London: W. Lawrie, p. 377, ISBN 978-0-02-034200-7.
• Ludden, David (2002), India And South Asia: A Short History, Oxford: Oneworld, xii, 306, ISBN 978-1-85168-237-9.
• Majumdar, R.C.; Raychaudhuri, H.C.; Datta, Kalikinkar (1967), An Advanced History of India (3rd ed.), London: Macmillan, p. 1126.
• Markovits, Claude, ed. (2004), A History of Modern India 1480–1950, London: Anthem, p. 607, ISBN 978-1-84331-152-2.
• Marshall, P. J. (2007), The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America c.1750–1783, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press., p. 400, ISBN 978-0-19-922666-5
• Metcalf, Barbara D.; Metcalf, Thomas R. (2006), A Concise History of Modern India (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 337, ISBN 978-0-521-68225-1.
• Metcalf, Thomas R. (1990), The Aftermath of Revolt: India, 1857–1870, New Delhi: Manohar, p. 352, ISBN 978-81-85054-99-5.
• Metcalf, Thomas R. (1997), Ideologies of the Raj, Cambridge University Press, p. 256, ISBN 978-0-521-58937-6.
• Mukherjee, Rudrangshu (2002), Awadh in Revolt 1857–1858: A Study of Popular Resistance (2nd ed.), London: Anthem, ISBN 978-1-84331-075-4.
• Palmer, Julian A.B. (1966), The Mutiny Outbreak at Meerut in 1857, Cambridge University Press, p. 175, ISBN 978-0-521-05901-5.
• Peers, Douglas M. (2013), India Under Colonial Rule: 1700–1885, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-317-88286-2
• Ray, Rajat Kanta (2002), The Felt Community: Commonality and Mentality before the Emergence of Indian Nationalism, Oxford University Press, p. 596, ISBN 978-0-19-565863-7.
• Robb, Peter (2002), A History of India, Basingstoke: Palgrave, p. 344, ISBN 978-0-333-69129-8.
• Roy, Tapti (1994), The politics of a popular uprising: Bundelkhand 1857, Delhi: Oxford University Press, p. 291, ISBN 978-0-19-563612-3.
• Spear, Percival (1990) [First published 1965], A History of India, Volume 2, New Delhi and London: Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-14-013836-8.
• Stanley, Peter (1998), White Mutiny: British Military Culture in India, 1825–1875, London: Hurst, p. 314, ISBN 978-1-85065-330-1.
• Stein, Burton (2001), A History of India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, p. 432, ISBN 978-0-19-565446-2.
• Stokes, Eric (1980), The Peasant and the Raj: Studies in Agrarian Society and Peasant Rebellion in Colonial India, Cambridge University Press, p. 316, ISBN 978-0-521-29770-7.
• Stokes, Eric; Bayly, C.A. (1986), The Peasant Armed: The Indian Revolt of 1857, Oxford: Clarendon, p. 280, ISBN 978-0-19-821570-7.
• Taylor, P.J.O. (1997), What really happened during the mutiny: a day-by-day account of the major events of 1857–1859 in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, p. 323, ISBN 978-0-19-564182-0.
• Wolpert, Stanley (2004), A New History of India (7th ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 530, ISBN 978-0-19-516678-1.

Articles in journals and collections

• Alam Khan, Iqtidar (May–June 2013), "The Wahabis in the 1857 Revolt: A Brief Reappraisal of Their Role", Social Scientist, 41 (5/6): 15–23, JSTOR 23611115
• Alavi, Seema (February 1993), "The Company Army and Rural Society: The Invalid Thanah 1780–1830", Modern Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, 27 (1): 147–178, doi:10.1017/S0026749X00016097, JSTOR 312880
• Baker, David (1991), "Colonial Beginnings and the Indian Response: The Revolt of 1857–58 in Madhya Pradesh", Modern Asian Studies, 25 (3): 511–543, doi:10.1017/S0026749X00013913, JSTOR 312615
• Blunt, Alison (July 2000), "Embodying war: British women and domestic defilement in the Indian "Mutiny", 1857–8", Journal of Historical Geography, 26 (3): 403–428, doi:10.1006/jhge.2000.0236
• English, Barbara (February 1994), "The Kanpur Massacres in India in the Revolt of 1857", Past & Present, Oxford University Press, 142 (1): 169–178, doi:10.1093/past/142.1.169, JSTOR 651200
• Hasan, Farhat; Roy, Tapti (1998), "Review of Tapti Roy, The Politics of a Popular Uprising, OUP, 1994", Social Scientist, 26 (1): 148–151, doi:10.2307/3517586, JSTOR 3517586
• Klein, Ira (July 2000), "Materialism, Mutiny and Modernization in British India", Modern Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, 34 (3): 545–580, JSTOR 313141
• Lahiri, Nayanjot (June 2003), "Commemorating and Remembering 1857: The Revolt in Delhi and Its Afterlife", World Archaeology, Taylor & Francis, 35 (1): 35–60, doi:10.1080/0043824032000078072, JSTOR 3560211
• Mukherjee, Rudrangshu (August 1990), "'Satan Let Loose upon Earth': The Kanpur Massacres in India in the Revolt of 1857", Past & Present, Oxford University Press, 128 (1): 92–116, doi:10.1093/past/128.1.92, JSTOR 651010
• Mukherjee, Rudrangshu (February 1994), "The Kanpur Massacres in India in the Revolt of 1857: Reply", Past & Present, Oxford University Press, 142 (1): 178–189, doi:10.1093/past/142.1.178, JSTOR 651201
• Nanda, Krishan (September 1965), The Western Political Quarterly, 18, University of Utah on behalf of the Western Political Science Association, pp. 700–701.
• Roy, Tapti (February 1993), "Visions of the Rebels: A Study of 1857 in Bundelkhand", Modern Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, 27 (1): 205–228 (Special Issue: How Social, Political and Cultural Information Is Collected, Defined, Used and Analyzed), doi:10.1017/S0026749X00016115, JSTOR 312882
• Stokes, Eric (December 1969), "Rural Revolt in the Great Rebellion of 1857 in India: A Study of the Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar Districts", The Historical Journal, Cambridge University Press, 12 (4): 606–627, doi:10.1017/s0018246x00010554, JSTOR 2638016
• Washbrook, D. A. (2001), "India, 1818–1860: The Two Faces of Colonialism", in Porter, Andrew (ed.), Oxford History of the British Empire: The Nineteenth Century, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 395–421, ISBN 978-0-19-924678-6
• Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman (2008), "1857 ki Jung-e Azadi main Khandan ka hissa", Hayat Karam Husain (2nd ed.), Aligarh/India: Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences, pp. 253–258, OCLC 852404214

Historiography and memory

• Bates, Crispin, ed. Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857 (5 vol. Sage Publications India, 2013–14). online guide; With illustrations, maps, selected text and more.
• Chakravarty, Gautam. The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
• Deshpande, Prachi. "The Making of an Indian Nationalist Archive: Lakshmibai, Jhansi, and 1857." journal of Asian studies 67#3 (2008): 855–879.
• Erll, Astrid (2006). "Re-writing as re-visioning: Modes of representing the 'Indian Mutiny' in British novels, 1857 to 2000" (PDF). European Journal of English Studies. 10 (2): 163–185. doi:10.1080/13825570600753485.
• Frykenberg, Robert E. (2001), "India to 1858", in Winks, Robin (ed.), Oxford History of the British Empire: Historiography, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 194–213, ISBN 978-0-19-924680-9
• Pati, Biswamoy (12–18 May 2007). "Historians and Historiography: Situating 1857". Economic and Political Weekly. 42 (19): 1686–1691. JSTOR 4419570.
• Perusek, Darshan (Spring 1992). "Subaltern Consciousness and the Historiography of the Indian Rebellion of 1857". NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction. Duke University Press. 25 (3): 286–301. doi:10.2307/1345889. JSTOR 1345889.
• Wagner, Kim A. (October 2011). "The Marginal Mutiny: The New Historiography of the Indian Uprising of 1857". History Compass. 9 (10): 760–766. doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2011.00799.x.

Other histories

• Dalrymple, William (2006), The Last Mughal, Viking Penguin, ISBN 978-0-670-99925-5
• David, Saul (2003), The Indian Mutiny: 1857, London: Penguin Books, p. 528, ISBN 978-0-14-100554-6
• David, Saul (2007), Victoria's Wars, London: Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-141-00555-3
• Mishra, Amaresh. 2007. War of Civilisations: The Long Revolution (India AD 1857, 2 Vols.), ISBN 978-81-291-1282-8
• Ward, Andrew. Our Bones Are Scattered. New York: Holt & Co., 1996.

First person accounts and classic histories

• Parag Tope, "Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus", Publisher: Rupa Publications India
• Anderson, Clare. The Indian Uprising of 1857–8: Prisons, Prisoners, and Rebellion. London, 2007.
• Barter, Captain Richard The Siege of Delhi. Mutiny memories of an old officer, London, The Folio Society, 1984.
• Campbell, Sir Colin. Narrative of the Indian Revolt. London: George Vickers, 1858.
• Collier, Richard. The Great Indian Mutiny. New York: Dutton, 1964.
• Forrest, George W. A History of the Indian Mutiny, William Blackwood and Sons, London, 1904. (4 vols)
• Fitchett, W. H., B.A., LL.D., A Tale of the Great Mutiny, Smith, Elder & Co., London, 1911.
• Inglis, Julia Selina, Lady, 1833–1904, The Siege of Lucknow: a Diary, London: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., 1892. Online at A Celebration of Women Writers.
• Innes, Lt. General McLeod: The Sepoy Revolt, A.D. Innes & Co., London, 1897.
• Kaye, John William. A History of the Sepoy War In India (3 vols). London: W.H. Allen & Co., 1878.
• Kaye, Sir John & Malleson, G. B.: The Indian Mutiny of 1857, Rupa & Co., Delhi, (1st edition 1890) reprint 2005.
• Khan, Syed Ahmed (1859), Asbab-e Baghawat-e Hind, Translated as The Causes of the Indian Revolt, Allahabad, 1873
• Malleson, Colonel G. B. The Indian Mutiny of 1857. New York: Scribner & Sons, 1891.
• Marx, Karl & Freidrich Engels. The First Indian War of Independence 1857–1859. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1959.
• Pandey, Sita Ram, From Sepoy to Subedar, Being the Life and Adventures of Subedar Sita Ram, a Native Officer of the Bengal Native Army, Written and Related by Himself, trans. Lt. Col. Norgate, (Lahore: Bengal Staff Corps, 1873), ed. James Lunt, (Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1970).
• Raikes, Charles: Notes on the Revolt in the North-Western Provinces of India, Longman, London, 1858.
• Roberts, Field Marshal Lord, Forty-one Years in India, Richard Bentley, London, 1897
• Forty-one years in India at Project Gutenberg
• Russell, William Howard, My Diary in India in the years 1858–9, Routledge, London, 1860, (2 vols.)
• Sen, Surendra Nath, Eighteen fifty-seven, (with a foreword by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad), Indian Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Delhi, 1957.
• Thomson, Mowbray (Capt.), The Story of Cawnpore, Richard Bentley, London, 1859.
• Trevelyan, Sir George Otto, Cawnpore, Indus, Delhi, (first edition 1865), reprint 2002.
• Wilberforce, Reginald G, An Unrecorded Chapter of the Indian Mutiny, Being the Personal Reminiscences of Reginald G. WIlberforce, Late 52nd Infantry, Compiled from a Diary and Letters Written on the Spot London: John Murray 1884, facsimile reprint: Gurgaon: The Academic Press, 1976.

Tertiary sources

• "Indian Mutiny." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Online. 23 March 1998.
• "Lee-Enfield Rifle." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 March 1998.

Fictional and narrative literature

• Conan Doyle, Arthur. The Sign of the Four, featuring Sherlock Holmes, originally appearing in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine 1890.
• Farrell, J. G.. The Siege of Krishnapur. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1985 (orig. 1973; Booker Prize winner).
• Fenn, Clive Robert. For the Old Flag: A Tale of the Mutiny. London: Sampson Low, 1899.
• Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman in the Great Game. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1975.
• Grant, James. First Love and Last Love: A Tale of the Mutiny. New York: G. Routledge & Sons, 1869.
• Kaye, Mary Margaret. Shadow of the Moon. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.
• Kilworth, Garry Douglas. Brothers of the Blade: Constable & Robinson, 2004.
• Leasor, James. Follow the Drum. London: Heinemann, 1972, reissued James Leasor Ltd, 2011.
• Masters, John. Nightrunners of Bengal. New York: Viking Press, 1951.
• Raikes, William Stephen. 12 Years of a Soldier's Life In India. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1860.
• Julian Rathbone, The Mutiny.
• Rossetti, Christina Georgina. "In the Round Tower at Jhansi, 8 June 1857." Goblin Market and Other Poems. 1862.
• Anurag Kumar. Recalcitrance: a novel based on events of 1857–58 in Lucknow. Lucknow: AIP Books, Lucknow 2008.
• Stuart, V. A.. The Alexander Sheridan Series: # 2: 1964. The Sepoy Mutiny; # 3: 1974. Massacre at Cawnpore; # 4: 1974. The Cannons of Lucknow; 1975. # 5: The Heroic Garrison. Reprinted 2003 by McBooks Press. (Note: # 1 – Victors & Lords deals with the Crimean War.)
• Valerie Fitzgerald "Zemindar": 1981 Bodley Head. historic novel.
• Frédéric Cathala, 1857, KDP, 2017, historical novel.

External links

• Detailed Map: The revolt of 1857–1859, Historical Atlas of South Asia, Digital South Asia Library, hosted by the University of Chicago
• Development of Situation-January to July 1857 – Maj (Retd) AGHA HUMAYUN AMIN from WASHINGTON DC
• The Indian Mutiny
• Karl Marx, New York Tribune, 1853–1858, The Revolt in India
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 22, 2020 11:13 pm

Gopi Mohan Tagore
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Raja Gopi Mohan Tagore (1760–1819) was scion of the Pathuriaghata Tagore family and noted zamindar and philanthropist from Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent.[1]

He was son of Darpanarayan Tagore, who branched and founded Pathuriaghata branch of Tagore family. He knew Sanskrit, French, Portuguese, English, Persian and Urdu languages.[1] Gopi Mohan Tagore was well known for his wealth and in 1812, made what may be the largest ever gift of gold to the Kali temple at Kalighat.[2]


Kalighat Kali Temple is a Hindu temple in Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal, India dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas.

Kalighat was a Ghat (landing stage) sacred to Kali on the old course (Adi Ganga) of the Hooghly river (Bhāgirathi) in the city of Kolkata. The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. The river over a period of time has moved away from the temple. The temple is now on the banks of a small canal called Adi Ganga which connects to the Hooghly. The Adi Ganga was the original course of the river Hooghly. Hence the name Adi (original) Ganga.

-- Kalighat Kali Temple, by Wikipedia

He was one of the founders of Presidency College, Kolkata, the institution that initiated western education in the country. He was fluent in English, and familiar with French, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu, apart from Bengali.[3] His donation for founding of Presidency College later known as Hindu College was second largest, next only to Maharaja of Burdwan and a marble tablet was erected of him in Library Hall of College to commemorate it.[1] He was later appointed Governor of Hindu College and instituted a scholarship in his name for the eligible students.[1]

Goopi Mohan celebrated Durga Pujo with grandeur ...

Goddess Durga- Early 1900 print Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion and with many arms, each carrying a weapon to defeat Mahishasura or the buffalo demon

Durga Puja (pronounced [dʊrɡaː puːdʒaː]), also called Durgotsava (pronounced [dʊrɡoːtsəʋə]), is an annual Hindu festival originating in the Indian subcontinent which reveres and pays homage to the Hindu goddess, Durga. It is particularly popular in the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Tripura, and Odisha, the country of Bangladesh, and the diaspora from this region, and also in Nepal, where it is celebrated as Dashain. The festival is observed in the Indian calendar month of Ashwin, which corresponds to the months of September–October in the Gregorian calendar, and is a ten-day festival, of which the last five are of significance. The puja is performed in homes and in the public, the latter featuring temporary stage and structural decorations (known as pandals). The festival is also marked by scripture recitations, performance arts, revelry, gift giving, family visits, feasting, and public processions. Durga puja is an important festival in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.

As per mythology, the festival marks the victory of goddess Durga in her battle against the shape-shifting asura, Mahishasura.

Demon Mahishasura statue in Mysuru, Karnataka, India

Mahishasura was a buffalo demon in Hindustory. He is known among most sections of Hindus for his deception and as someone who pursued his evil ways by shape shifting into different forms. He was ultimately killed by Goddess Durga getting named Mahishasuramardini. It is an important symbolic legend in Hindu mythology, particularly Shaktism. The legendary battle of Mahishasura as evil and Durga as good is narrated in many parts of South Asian and Southeast Asian Hindu temples, monuments and texts such as the Devi Mahatmya. The story is also told in the Sikh text Chandi di Var, also called Var Durga di, which many in Sikh tradition believe was included in the Dasam Granth by Guru Gobind Singh.

-- Mahishasura, by Wikipedia

Thus, the festival epitomises the victory of good over evil, though it is also in part a harvest festival celebrating the goddess as the motherly power behind all of life and creation. Durga puja coincides with Navaratri and Dussehra celebrations observed by other traditions of Hinduism, in which the Ram lila dance-drama is enacted, celebrating the victory of Rama against Ravana, and effigies of Ravana are burnt.

Though the primary goddess revered during Durga puja is Durga, the celebrations also include other major deities of Hinduism such as Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth, prosperity), Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge and music), Ganesha (the god of good beginnings), and Kartikeya (the god of war). In Bengali traditions, these deities are considered to be Durga's children and Durga puja is believed to commemorate Durga's visit to her natal home with her children. The festival is preceded by Mahalaya, which is believed to mark the start of Durga's journey to her natal home. Primary celebrations begin on the sixth day (Shasthi), on which the goddess is welcomed with rituals. The festival ends on the tenth day (Vijaya dashami), when devotees embark on a procession carrying the worshipped clay sculpture-idols to a river, or other water body, and immerse them, symbolic of her return to the divine cosmos and her marital home with Shiva in Kailash. Regional and community variations in celebration of the festival and rituals observed exist.

Durga puja is an old tradition of Hinduism, though its exact origins are unclear. Surviving manuscripts from the 14th—century provide guidelines for Durga puja, while historical records suggest that the royalty and wealthy families were sponsoring major Durga puja festivities since at least the 16th-century. The prominence of Durga puja increased during the British Raj in the provinces of Bengal and Assam. In today's time, the importance of Durga puja is as much as a social and cultural festival as a religious one, wherever it is observed. Over the years, Durga puja has become an inseparable part of Indian culture with innumerable people celebrating this festival in their own unique way while pertaining to tradition.

-- Durga Puja, by Wikipedia

and many Europeans including General Wellesly attended the festival and dinner hosted by him.[1]

The Duke of Wellington, by Thomas Lawrence. Painted c. 1815–16, after the Battle of Waterloo

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as Prime Minister. He won a notable victory against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Wellesley was born in Dublin into the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. He was commissioned as an ensign in the British Army in 1787, serving in Ireland as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland. He was also elected as a Member of Parliament in the Irish House of Commons. He was a colonel by 1796 and saw action in the Netherlands and in India, where he fought in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War at the Battle of Seringapatam. He was appointed governor of Seringapatam and Mysore in 1799 and, as a newly appointed major-general, won a decisive victory over the Maratha Confederacy at the Battle of Assaye in 1803.

Wellesley rose to prominence as a general during the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars, and was promoted to the rank of field marshal after leading the allied forces to victory against the French Empire at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. Following Napoleon's exile in 1814, he served as the ambassador to France and was granted a dukedom. During the Hundred Days in 1815, he commanded the allied army which, together with a Prussian Army under Blücher, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Wellington's battle record is exemplary; he ultimately participated in some 60 battles during the course of his military career.

Wellington is famous for his adaptive defensive style of warfare, resulting in several victories against numerically superior forces while minimising his own losses. He is regarded as one of the greatest defensive commanders of all time, and many of his tactics and battle plans are still studied in military academies around the world. After the end of his active military career, he returned to politics. He was twice British prime minister as a member of the Tory party: from 1828 to 1830, and for a little less than a month in 1834. He oversaw the passage of the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, but opposed the Reform Act 1832. He continued as one of the leading figures in the House of Lords until his retirement and remained Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death.

-- Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Wikipedia

He was a great patron of art, music, Sanskrit learning and athletic sports and used to donate generously for this purpose.[1] The famous wrestler, Radha Gowla, was in his pay role.[1] Among others in his pensioners were Lakhi Kanta, the noted Bengali lyricist and Kali Mirza, the noted singer of that time.[1]

He was a close friend of Raja Raj Krishna Deb of Sovabazar Raj.[1]

Built by Khwaja Abdul Ghani in 1872 and named after his son Khwaja Ahsanullah, the Nawab of Dhaka. Post independence it gradually fell into disrepair. It was only in 1985 that the place was acquired and renovated by the Government of Bangladesh and is now a museum. Made some perspective and color correction to the original photo. The original was stitched together from two separate photos. Taken on my Dec 2007 visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Sourav Das from Santa Barbara, USA - Ahsan Manzil, Dhaka

The Sovabazar Raj family, seated at Sovabazar Palace were the Zamindars of Shobhabazar. The clan begins with a Maharaja Naba Krishna Deb Bahadur left behind two sons, adopted son Raja Gopimohan Deb (1768) and his own son Raja Raj Krishna Deb. Raja Gopimohan Deb was founder director of Hindu College and founder of famous Dharma Sabha. He offered much precious gold and silver to Maa Kali of Kalighat. A very well known scholar in Hindi, Parsi, and English. His son was Radhakanta Deb, whereas Raja Rajkrishna Deb (1782–1823) had eight sons: Shiv Krishna; Kali Krishna; Debi Krishna; Apurba Krishna; Kamal Krishna; Madhab Krishna; Narendra Krishna Deb

The Zamindari consisted more than half of Sutanuti and thousands of acres of lands in several districts of Bengal (now parts of West Bengal and Bangladesh).

-- Sovabazar Raj, by Wikipedia

He once assisted father of Raja Baroda Kanta Roy of Jessore.[1]

He had begun the Tagore family's art collection with the assistance of the British artist George Chinnery, who had visited Calcutta in 1803,[4][1] which was later expanded by his great-grandson, Prodyot Coomar Tagore.

Self-portrait, c. 1840

George Chinnery (Chinese: 錢納利; 5 January 1774 – 30 May 1852) was an English painter who spent most of his life in Asia, especially India and southern China.

Chinnery was born in London, where he studied at the Royal Academy Schools...George Chinnery moved in 1796 to Ireland, where he enjoyed some success as an artist, and married Marianne (née Vigne) on 19 April 1799 in Dublin.

Chinnery returned to London in 1801 without his wife and two infant children. In 1802 he sailed to Madras (Chennai) on the ship Gilwell. He established himself as a painter there and then in Calcutta (Kolkata), where he became the leading artist of the British community in India.

By 1813 Chinnery was a freemason, listed as a member of Calcutta's well-to-do masonic lodge Star in the East. This was one of three masonic lodges in that city which took part in the official welcome for Lord Moira (1754-1826), also a freemason, on his arrival there (1813) as the new Governor-General of India.
Chinnery's masonic career is otherwise little documented, and its connection with his artistic output unexplored.

Some of his most famous paintings are of the Indian family of Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick British Resident to the Nizam of Hyderabad who had set up home, to some scandal among his fellow Europeans, with the Indo-Iranian great niece of the Nizam of Hyderabad's chief minister. He painted The Kirkpatrick Children presenting them " [with a] sympathy that is rare in portraiture of the period; the boy looking straight at the viewer with a self-conscious stance, hand on hip, while the girl looks uncomfortably at the floor." Mounting debt prompted a move in 1825 to southern China.

From 1825 until his death in 1852 Chinnery based himself in Macau, but until 1832 he made regular visits to Canton (now Guangzhou). He painted portraits of Chinese and Western merchants, visiting sea-captains, and their families resident in Macau. His work in oil paint was closely imitated by the Cantonese artist Lam Qua, who himself became a renowned portrait painter. Chinnery also painted landscapes (both in oils and in watercolours), and made numerous drawings of the people of Macau engaged in their daily activities.

In 1846 he made a six-month visit to Hong Kong, where he suffered from ill health but made detailed studies of the newly founded colony. He died in Macau on 30 May 1852 and is buried in the Old Protestant Cemetery there.

-- George Chinnery, by Wikipedia

He was the founder of Shyamnagar Mulajore Kali Temple at Shyamnagar. He founded it in mid May 1802.

He had six sons and a daughter. Surji Kumar, Chandra Kumar, Nanda Kumar, Kali Kumar, Hara Kumar and Prassana Kumar.,[1] of which Hara Kumar Tagore and Prasanna Kumar Tagore both of whom carried forward legacy of Tagore family, were noted.[1]


1. The Modern History of the Indian Chiefs, Rajas, Zamindars, &c. J.N. Ghose. 1881. p. 163. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
2. Dutta, Kalyani, "Kalighat", in "Calcutta, the Living City", Vol I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, p 25, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1.
3. Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali, p 141
4. Prodyot Coomar Tagore, Catalogue of the Pictures and Sculptures in the Collection of the Maharajah Tagore, Thacker, Spink Calcutta, 1905.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 22, 2020 11:27 pm

Gnanendramohan Tagore [G.M. Tagore]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Gnanendramohan Tagore
Born: 24 January 1826, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died: 5 January 1890 (aged 63), England
Occupation: Barrister
Spouse(s): Kamalmani

Gnanendramohan Tagore (also Gyanendramohan Tagore) (24 January 1826 – 5 January 1890) was the first Bengali, Indian or Asian to be called to the bar in England, in 1862.[1]

Early life

Gnanendramohan Tagore was the son of Prasanna Coomar Tagore and grandson of Gopi Mohan Tagore one of the founders of Hindu College, of the Pathuriaghata branch of the Tagore family. He had won a scholarship of Rs. 40 per month and joined Calcutta Medical College in 1842, but did not complete his medical education. While a student of Hindu College, amongst his classmates were Rajnarain Bose and Gobinda Chandra Dutt (father of Toru Dutt).[1]

When Hindu College was opened, orthodox sections of Hindu society thought that western education would not affect the rigid structure of Hindu society.[2] They had even forced Ram Mohan Roy to stay out of it.[3] However, ‘the contradictions between the College’s name and its secular curriculum soon became evident’ and many students of Hindu College embraced Christianity.[2]

Gnanendramohan converted to Christianity in 1851, under the influence of his mentor, Krishna Mohan and married his daughter Kamalmani.[1] As a result, he was disowned by his father and deprived of his inheritance.
[4] Prasanna Coomar Tagore left his vast landed estates to his nephew, Maharaja Bahadur Sir Jatindramohan Tagore.[5] Gnanendramohan later regained some of the inheritance through court.[1]

Later life

In 1859, Gnanendramohan Tagore went to England, with his wife, for medical treatment. On being cured he joined the University of London as professor of Hindu Law and Bengali. In 1861, he was living at Kensington Park Gardens, where he was visited by student and diarist Rakhal Das Haldar on 28 May.[6] He passed the law examinations and was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1862, being the first Asian to be so called.[1] He returned to India in 1864 and joined Calcutta High Court in 1865.[1] After his wife's death in 1869, he went back to England with his two daughters, Bhabendrabala and Satyendrabala, and died there subsequently. He was buried in Brompton Cemetery.[1][7] When Gynandanandini, wife of Satyendranath Tagore, went with her children to England in 1877, Gnanendramohan received them and was their host for some time.[8]


1. Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, 1976/1998, (in Bengali), p. 184, Sahitya Sansad, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
2. Raychoudhuri, Subir, The Lost World of the Babus, in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, p. 73, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1
3. Collet, Sophia Dobson, The Life and Letters of Raja Rammohun Roy, 1900/1988, p. 76, Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.
4. Deb, Chitra, Jorasanko and the Thakur Family, in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, p. 65, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1
5. Cotton, H.E.A., Calcutta Old and New, 1909/1980, p. 345, General Printers and Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
6. Haldar, Rakhal Das (1903). The English Diary of an Indian Student. Dacca: The Asutosh Library. pp. 23.
7. "বাঙালির ১৩০ বছরের ভুলের বোঝা কমল (Bengali)". Retrieved 27 June 2019.
8. Devi Choudhurani, Indira, Smritisamput, (in Bengali), Rabindrabhaban, Viswabharati, pp. 3-4
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 22, 2020 11:48 pm

Rajnarayan Basu [Rajnarain Bose] [Rishi Rajnarayan Basu]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Rajnarayan Basu
রাজনারায়ণ বসু
শ্রী রাজনারায়ণ বসু
Born: 7 September 1826, Boral, 24 Parganas, Bengal, British India
Died: 18 September 1899, Midnapore, Bengal, British India
Nationality: Indian
Other names: Rishi Rajnarayan Basu
Education: Hare School
Occupation: Writer
Spouse(s): Prasannamoyee Basu (nee Mitra), Nistarani Basu (nee Dutta)
Children: Swarnalata Ghosh
Parent(s) : Nanda Kishore Basu (father)

Rajnarayan Basu (Bengali: রাজনারায়ণ বসু) (1826–1899) was an Indian writer and intellectual of the Bengal Renaissance. He was born in Boral in 24 Parganas and studied at the Hare School and Hindu College, both premier institutions in Kolkata, Bengal at the time. A monotheist at heart, Rajnarayan Basu converted to Brahmoism at the age of twenty.[1] After retiring, he was given the honorary title of Rishi or sage. As a writer, he was one of the best known prose writers in Bengali in the nineteenth century, writing often for the Tattwabodhini Patrika, a premier Brahmo journal.[2] Due to his defence of Brahmoism, he was given the title "Grandfather of Indian Nationalism"[3][4]

Birth and early life

Rajnarayan Basu was born on 7 September 1826 in the Boral village of South 24 Parganas of West Bengal. His father Nanda Kishore Basu was a disciple of a Raja Ram Mohan Roy and later one of his secretaries. A bright student since childhood, Rajnarayan was brought to Calcutta (modern Kolkata) and was admitted to Hare School Society's School (later known as Hare School). He studied there till the age of 14, and was notified by the teachers for his brilliance and intellect.

He married Prasannamoyee Mitra in 1843. After the death of his first wife, he married Nistarini Dutta daughter of Shri Abhayacharan Dutta of the Hatkhola Dutta family in 1847.


Rajnarayan Basu was an enemy of Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a prominent poet of the time, and the introducer of free verse in Bengali. Both were responsible for introducing classical Western elements into Bengali literature.[1] He briefly tutored Asia's first Nobel Prizewinner, Rabindranath Tagore and spent three years translating the Upanishads into English on the earnest request and co-operation of Debendranath Tagore. As a member of Young Bengal, Rajnarayan Basu believed in "nation-building" at the grassroots level. To do his part, after teaching at Vidyasagar's Sanskrit College as the second master of the English Department, he moved to Midnapore to teach in the mofussil district town.[1] He served as the headmaster of Midnapore Zilla School (later known as Midnapore Collegiate School) which was also the forerunner of Midnapore College.

Work life in Midnapore

He had joined the school on 21 February 1851 preceded by Mr. Sinclare, during whose time the school lost its glory and was in a deplorable condition. Rajnarayan's first goal was to reestablish the school in the firmament of education. The great teacher and educationist took some wonderful steps:

1. He had abolished corporal punishment and introduced a friendly and cooperative atmosphere among the teachers and students to make education more interesting to them.
2. He had immense hatred against the well-practiced procedure of "committing to memory and vomiting to paper". He always followed the rule of teaching through interaction of both students and teachers. His eloquent speeches with humorous jokes gradually attracted even the heart of the most dull student in the class. He put stress on interrogative teaching, so that the fundamentals of the student becomes strong.
3. He understood that the students also need place for physical exercise and sports so that there mental and physical power can be properly manifested, so he made a Lawn Tennis Court and a Gymnasium in the school premises.
4. He wanted students to be educated in "Character Making Education", so he advised teachers to look after the moral development of the students, so that they can be "Man in a true sense."
5. He observed that students sitting in benches without back-support, cannot keep there back straight, so their attention span becomes shorter while studying. So he introduced sits with back-supports for the first time.
6. Being an active leader of Young Bengal, he was moved by the 'Academic Association' of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. So he also introduced Debate Associations and Mutual Improvement Association in school level.

He also established the first arch of women education in Midnapore, the first girls school and a night school for educating the illiterates. He established a public library that is still in use, although now it is known as the Rishi Rajnarayan Basu Smriti Pathagar (Rishi Rajnaraya Basu Memorial Library) which is the oldest public library in West Bengal. He was the first person to suggest using Bengali at meetings of the Vangiya Sahitya Parishad (Bengali literature society).[5] The Parishad was established to promote Bengali language literature yet ironically conducted meetings in English until Basu's request.

As an intellectual, he founded the Brahmo Samaj house and inaugurated Nabagopal Mitra's Hindu Mela, an organisation created to spread nationalist feelings among Indians.[1]

Hindu Mela was a political and cultural festival started in 1867 in Calcutta. Its primary objective was to instill a sense of national pride among the city-dwellers to indigenous handmade products rather than imported British-made products. It included the display of swadeshi wrestling, swadeshi art and recital and performances of swadeshi poetry and songs. The mela met regularly until 1880 after which it lost its importance due to the establishment of other institutions.

-- Hindu Mela, by Wikipedia

He was a member of the Indian Association and a member of a political group called the Sanjibani Sabha. He also lamented that there were no schools promoting the learning of Indian music among the middle-class[6] and he himself started one in Midnapore. In 1868, he retired and moved to Deoghar where he spent the last years of his life. His grandson, eminent philosopher and freedom-fighter, Sri Aurobindo has inscribed his tribute to Rajnarayan in a beautiful sonnet.

My Grandfather—Rajnarayan Bose[1826–1899]

Not in annihilation lost, nor given.
To darkness art thou fled from us and light,
O strong and sentient spirit; no more heaven
of ancient joys, no silence eremite
received thee; but the omnipresent thought
of which thou was a part and earthly hour,
took back its gift. Into that splendour caught
thou hast no lost thy special brightness.Power
remains with thee and old genial force
unseen for blinding light; not darkly larks;
as when a sacred river in its course
dives into ocean, there its strength abides
Not less because with because with vastness wed and works
unnoticed in the grandeur of the tides.

-- Sri Aurobindo

Select bibliography

In Bengali

• Brahmo Sadhon (Serving Brahmoism)(1865)
• Dharmatatvo Dipika (The Light of Religious Theory) (1866–67)
• Hindudhormer srestotto (The superiority of Hinduism)(1873)
• Sekal aar eikaal (Then and now) (1873)
• Hindu othoba Presidency College-er itibritto (A history of the Hindu or Presidency College) (1876)
• Bibidho probondho (Various essays) (1882)
• Rajnarayan Basur Attocharit (Autobiography) (1909)

In English

• A defence of Brahmoism and the Brahmo Samaj (1863)
• Brahmic Advice, Caution, and Help (1869)
• The Adi Brahmo Samaj, its views and principles (1870)
• The Adi Brahmo Samaj as a Church (1873)
==Trivia He was the maternal grandfather of Sri Aurobindo, whose mother was Swarnalata Bose (married to Dr.Krishnadhan Ghose)


1. Murshid, Ghulam (2012). "Basu, Rajnarayan". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
2. Devnath, Samaresh (2012). "Tattvabodhini Patrika". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
3. "The Brahmo Samaj and the shaping of the modern Indian mind By David Kopf", page 315,
4. "Makers Of Indian Literature Prem Chand By Prakash Chandra Gupta", back cover,
5. Chaudhuri, Indrajit (2012). "Sahitya Parisad Patrika". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
6. Microsoft Word – front.doc Archived 7 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine

External links

• Chronology of Life-events
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sat May 23, 2020 12:00 am

Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee
Born: 29 December 1844, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died: 21 July 1906 (aged 61), Croydon, London, England
Nationality: British Indian
Alma mater: Middle Temple
Occupation: Lawyer
Known for: Co-founder and First president of Indian National Congress
Political party: Indian National Congress
Spouse(s): Hemangini Motilal (m. 1859)

Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee (or Umesh Chandra Banerjee by current English orthography of Bengali names) (29 December 1844 – 21 July 1906) was an Indian barrister. He was the co-founder and first president of Indian National Congress.[1]

Born on 1844 at Calcutta he studied at the Oriental Seminary and the Hindu School. His career began in 1862 when he joined the firm of W. P. Gillanders, attorneys of the Calcutta Supreme Court, as a clerk where he acquired a knowledge of law. In 1864 he was sent to England where he joined the Middle Temple and was called to the Bar in June, 1867. He returned to Calcutta in 1868 and within a few years he became the most sought after barrister in the High Court. He was the first Indian to act as a Standing Counsel, in which capacity he officiated four times — 1882, 1884, 1886-87. In 1883 he defended Surendranath Banerjee in contempt of court case against him in the Calcutta High Court. He was the fellow of Calcutta University and was the president of its law faculty. He retired from the Calcutta bar in 1901.

He presided over the first session of the Indian National Congress held at Bombay in 1885 from 28 December to 31 December. In the 1886 session held at Calcutta, he proposed the formation of standing committees of the Congress in each province for the better co-ordination of its work and it was on this occasion that he advocated that the Congress should confine its activities to political matters only. He was the president of the Indian National Congress again in the 1892 session in Allahabad where he denounced the position that India had to prove for worthiness of political freedom.

He moved to Britain and practiced before the Privy Council. He financed the British Committee of Congress and its journals in London. In 1865 Dadabhai Naoroji founded the London Indian society and Bonnerjee was made its general secretary. When Bonnerjee became the Congress president, Naoroji along with him, Eardley Norton and William Digby opened The Congress Political Agency, a branch of Congress in London. He unsuccessfully contested the 1892 United Kingdom general election as a Liberal party candidate for the Barrow and Furness seat. In 1893, Naoroji, Bonnerjee and Badruddin Tyabji founded the Indian Parliamentary Committee in England.

Early days

Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee was born on 29 December 1844 at Calcutta (now Kolkata), in the present-day state of West Bengal.[2] He studied at the Oriental Seminary and the Hindu School.[2] In 1859, he married Hemangini Motilal. His career began in 1862 when he joined the firm of W. P. Gillanders, attorneys of the Calcutta Supreme Court, as a clerk. In this post he acquired a good knowledge of law which greatly helped him in his later career. In 1864 he was sent to England through a scholarship from Mr. R. J. Jijibhai of Bombay[2] where he joined the Middle Temple and was called to the Bar in June, 1867.[3] On his return to Calcutta in 1868, he found a patron in Sir Charles Paul, Barrister-at-Law of the Calcutta High Court.[2] Another barrister, J. P. Kennedy, also greatly helped him to establish his reputation as a lawyer. Within a few years he became the most sought after barrister in the High Court. He was the first Indian to act as a Standing Counsel, in which capacity he officiated four times — 1882, 1884, 1886-87. In 1883 he defended Surendranath Banerjee in the famous contempt of court case against him in the Calcutta High Court. He was the fellow of Calcutta University and was the president of its law faculty[2] and often represented it in the legislative council.[3] He retired from the Calcutta bar in 1901.[2]

As president of Indian National Congress

He presided over the first session of the Indian National Congress held at Bombay in 1885[3] from 28 December to 31 December and attended by 72 members.[4] In the 1886 session held at Calcutta, under the presidency of Dadabhai Naoroji, he proposed the formation of standing committees of the Congress in each province for the better co-ordination of its work and it was on this occasion that he advocated that the Congress should confine its activities to political matters only, leaving the question of social reforms to other organisations. He was the president of the Indian National Congress again in the 1892 session in Allahabad[3] where he denounced the position that India had to prove for worthiness of political freedom.[5] He moved to Britain and practiced before the Privy Council.[3] He financed the British Committee of Congress and its journals in London.[3] In 1865 Dadabhai Naoroji founded the London Indian society and Bonnerjee was made its general secretary. In December 1866, Naoroji dissolved the society and formed East India Association.[6] When Bonnerjee became the Congress president Naoroji along with him, Eardley Norton and William Digby opened The Congress Political Agency, a branch of Congress in London.[6] He lived in Croydon and named his residence after his birthplace Khidirpur.[6] The Liberal party made him his candidate for the Barrow and Furness seat in 1892. Bonnerjee was defeated by Charles Cayzer, a Tory candidate. In the same elections Naoroji won the Finsbury Central constituency and defeated his nearest rival by a narrow margin of only 5 votes. Naoroji became the first Indian member of the British Parliament. In 1893, Naoriji, Bonnerjee and Badruddin Tyabji founded the Indian Parliamentary Committee in England.[6]

Personal life

His daughter Janaki Bonnerjee studied natural science, chemistry, zoology and physiology at Newnham College, Cambridge University.[7]


1. Nanda, B. R. (2015) [1977], Gokhale: The Indian Moderates and the British Raj, Legacy Series, Princeton University Press, p. 58, ISBN 978-1-4008-7049-3
2. Buckland, CE (1906). Dictionary of Indian Biography. London: Swan Sonnenshein & Co. p. 48.
3. Sayed Jafar Mahmud (1994). Pillars of Modern India, 1757–1947. APH Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 978-81-7024-586-5.
4. "Sonia sings Vande Mataram at Congress function". Rediff. 28 December 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
5. Lacy, Creighton (1965). The Conscience Of India – Moral Traditions In The Modern World, Holt, New York: Rinehart and Winston, p. 123
6. Faruque Ahmed. Bengal Politics in Britain. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-557-61516-2.[self-published source]
7. Susheila Nasta (2012). India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858-1950. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-230-39272-4.

External links

• Indian National Congress Website
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sat May 23, 2020 12:24 am

Badruddin Tyabji
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Badruddin Tyabji
Badruddin Tyabji, c. 1917
President of the Indian National Congress
In office: 1887
Preceded by: Dadabhai Naoroji
Personal details:
Born: 10 October 1844, Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died: 19 August 1906 (aged 61), London, United Kingdom
Relations: Tyabji family
Alma mater: University of London; Middle Temple
Occupation: Lawyer, activist, politician

Badruddin Tyabji (10 October 1844 – 19 August 1906) was an Indian lawyer, activist and politician during British Raj. Tyabji was the first Indian to practice as a barrister of the High Court of Bombay who served as the third President of the Indian National Congress.[1] He was one of the founding member and first Muslim president of Indian National Congress.[1]

Early life


Tyabji was born on 10 October 1844 in Bombay, part of the Bombay Presidency of British India. He was the son of Mullah Tyab Ali Bhai Mian, a member of the Sulaimani Bohra community, and a scion of an old Cambay emigrant Arab family.[2]

The Sulaymani branch of Tayyibi Isma'ilism is an Islamic community, of which around 70 thousand members reside in Yemen, while a few thousands of Sulaymani Bohras can be found in India. The Sulaymanis are headed by a da'i al-mutlaq from the Makrami family.

Sulaymani, by Wikipedia

His father had sent all of his seven sons to Europe for further studies, at a time when English education was considered anathema for Muslims in India. His elder brother, Camruddin, had been the first Indian solicitor admitted in England and Wales, and inspired the 15-year-old Badruddin to join the Bar.[1]


After learning Urdu and Persian at Dada Makhra's Madrassa, he joined the Elphinstone Institution (now Elphinstone College) in Bombay, ...

Elphinstone College is an institution of higher education now part of Dr. Homi Bhabha State University who was affiliated to the University of Mumbai till 2019.[1] Established in 1856, it is one of the oldest colleges of the University of Mumbai. Alumni include Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Virchand Gandhi, Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta, Nanabhai Haridas, Kashinath Trimbak Telang and Jamsetji Tata and teachers include Dadabhai Naoroji. It has played a key role in the spread of Western education in the Bombay Presidency.

-- Elphinstone College, by Wikipedia

after which he was sent to France for eye treatment. In 1860, at the age of sixteen, he joined Newbury High Park College in London.[3]

Whilst in England, his father gave him letters of introduction to Lord Ellenborough, the retired Governor-General of India[1]

Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough, GCB, PC (8 September 1790 – 22 December 1871), was a British Tory politician. He was four times President of the Board of Control and also served as Governor-General of India between 1842 and 1844...

His Indian administration of two and a half years, or half the usual term of service, was from first to last a subject of hostile criticism. His own letters sent monthly to the Queen, and his correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, published in 1874, afford material for an intelligent and impartial judgment of his meteoric career. The events chiefly in dispute are his policy towards Afghanistan and the army and captives there, his conquest of Sind, and his campaign in Gwalior.

Ellenborough went to India to "restore peace to Asia" but the whole term of his office was occupied in war. On his arrival there the news that greeted him was that of the massacre of Kabul, and the sieges of Ghazni and Jalalabad, while the sepoys of Madras were on the verge of open rebellion. In his proclamation of 15 March 1842, as in his memorandum for the queen, dated the 18th, he stated with characteristic clearness and eloquence the duty of first inflicting some signal and decisive blow on the Afghans, and then leaving them to govern themselves under the sovereign of their own choice.
Unhappily, when he left for upper India, and learned of the failure of General England, he instructed George Pollock and William Nott, who were advancing triumphantly with their avenging columns to rescue the British captives, to fall back. The army proved true to the governor-general's earlier proclamation rather than to his later fears; the hostages were rescued, the scene of Sir Alexander Burnes's murder in the heart of Kabul was burned down.

Dost Mahommed Khan was quietly released from a prison in Calcutta to the throne in the Bala Hissar, and Ellenborough presided over the painting of the elephants for an unprecedented military spectacle at Ferozepur, on the south bank of the Satluj. When Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1024, sacked the Hindu temple of Somnath on the north-west coast of India, he carried off the richly-studded sandalwood gates of the fanes and set them up in his capital of Ghazni. The Muslim puppet of the English, Shah Shuja, had been asked, when ruler of Afghanistan, to restore them to India; and what he had failed to do the Christian ruler of opposing Muslim and Hindus resolved to effect in the most solemn and public manner. In vain had Major (afterwards Sir Henry) Rawlinson proved that they were only reproductions of the original gates, to which the Ghazni moulvies clung merely as a source of offerings from the faithful who visited the old conqueror's tomb. In vain did the Hindu sepoys show the most chilling indifference to the belauded restoration. Ellenborough could not resist the temptation to copy Napoleon's magniloquent proclamation under the pyramids. The fraudulent folding doors were conveyed on a triumphal car to the fort of Agra, where they were found to be made not of sandalwood but of deal. That Somnath proclamation (immortalized in a speech by Macaulay) was the first step towards its author's recall.

Hardly had Ellenborough issued his medal with the legend "Pax Asiae Restituta" when he was at war with the amirs of Sind. The tributary amirs had on the whole been faithful, for Major James Outram controlled them. He reported some opposition, and Ellenborough ordered an inquiry, but entrusted the duty to Sir Charles Napier, with full political as well as military powers. Mir Au Morad intrigued with both sides so effectually that he betrayed the amirs on the one hand, while he deluded Napier on the other. Ellenborough was led on till events were beyond his control, and his own instructions were forgotten. Sir Charles Napier made more than one confession like this: "We have no right to seize Sind, yet we shall do so, and a very advantageous, useful and humane piece of rascality it will be." The battles of Meeanee and Hyderabad followed; and the Indus became a British river from Karachi to Multan.

Sind had hardly been disposed of when troubles arose on both sides of the governor-general, who was then at Agra. On the north the disordered kingdom of the Sikhs was threatening the frontier. In Gwalior to the south, the feudatory Mahratta state, there were a large rebellious army, a Ranee only twelve years of age, an adopted chief of eight, and factions in the council of ministers. These conditions brought Gwalior to the verge of civil war. Ellenborough reviewed the danger in the minute of 1 November 1845, and told Sir Hugh Gough to advance. Further treachery and military licence rendered the battles of Maharajpur and Punniar (fought on the same day), inevitable though they were, a surprise to the combatants. The treaty that followed was as merciful as it was wise. The pacification of Gwalior also had its effect beyond the Sutlej, where anarchy was restrained for yet another year, and the work of civilization was left to Ellenborough's two successors. But by this time the patience of the directors was exhausted. They had no control over Ellenborough's policy; his despatches to them were haughty and disrespectful; and in June 1844 they exercised their power of recalling him.

-- Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough, by Wikipedia

After Newbury, Tyabji enrolled at the University of London and Middle Temple in 1863.[1] Suffering from deteriorating eyesight he returned to Bombay in late 1864 but resumed his studies at the Middle Temple in late 1865 and was called to the Bar in April 1867.


Return to India

On his return to Bombay in December 1867, Tyabji became the first Indian barrister in the High Court of Bombay.[1]

Tyabji was nominated to the Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1873. He was a member of the University of Bombay senate between 1875–1905 and appointed to the Bombay Legislative Council in 1882, resigning in 1886 owing to ill health.[1] Along with Pherozeshah Mehta and Kashinath Trimbak Telang, he was largely responsible for forming the Bombay Presidency Association in 1885, a body which championed Indian interests and hosted the first meeting of the Indian National Congress in Bombay at the end of 1885.[1]

Involvement with Indian National Congress

Badruddin and his elder brother Camruddin were deeply involved in the founding of the Indian National Congress. Tyabji was instrumental in building the national scope of the Congress by working to gain support from both Hindus and Muslims and during his time as President of the Indian National Congress between 1887–88, he focused on uniting the Muslim community.[4] To promote social interaction among the city's Muslims, Tyabji was instrumental in founding both the Islam Club and the Islam Gymkhana.[1]

Islam Gymkhana, is a gymkhana (social and sporting club) located along Marine Drive in Mumbai. Land for the gymkhana was allotted by the then Governor of Bombay, Lord Harris in 1890. Until 1942, the gymkhana was the headquarters of the Bombay Cricket Association of which it is a founding member. It is the headquarters of the Maharashtra State Billiards Association.

Islam Gymkhana as seen from Marine Drive.

The gymkhana membership is open to people from all communities and is no longer restricted to Muslims. However, the gymkhana still hosts meetings of Muslim organisations. Islam Gymkhana fielded the Mohammedan XI during the Bombay Quadrangular and its successor Bombay Pentangular cricket tournaments.

During World War II, the government occupied the gymkhana premises as well as that of Parsi Gymkhana, forcing the adjacent Hindu Gymkhana to offer membership to Muslims and Parsis as an "emergency measure". The gymkhana has been identified as a Heritage Grade IIA structure.

-- Islam Gymkhana, Mumbai, by Wikipedia

In response to criticisms that Muslims should boycott the Congress, Tyabji declared that he had denounced all communal and sectarian prejudices.[5] To further conciliate Muslims and bring them into the Congress fold, Tyabji introduced Resolution No. XIII at the 1888 Allahabad Congress stating stated, "That no subject shall be passed for discussion by the Subject Committee, or allowed to be discussed at any the introduction of which the Hindu or Mahomedan Delegates as a body object...provided that this rule shall refer only to subjects in regard to which the Congress has not already definitely pronounced an opinion."[6] This measure was introduced with intention of appealing to Muslims by limiting the scope of Congress activities to only those items that both Muslims and Hindus agreed upon.

Despite these overtures, many Muslim leaders were still sceptical of Congress's ability to represent them. Chief among these critics was Syed Ahmad Khan, who in an open letter to Tyabji, wrote, "I ask my friend Budruddin Tyabji to leave aside those insignificant points in the proposals of the Congress in which Hindus and Mahomedans agree (for there are no things in the world which have no points in common -- there are many things in common between a man and a pig), and to tell me what fundamental political principles of the Congress are not opposed to the interests of Mahomedans."[7]

Despite these criticisms, Tyabji continued to believe in Congress as a capable institution for forwarding the collective interests as Indians as a whole and he sought to set the example for cross-communal cooperation. In his Presidential Address to the 1887 Madras Congress, Tyabji reassured members of his faith, stating, "I, at least, not merely in my individual capacity but as representing the Anjuman-i-Islam of Bombay, do not consider that there is anything whatever in the position or the relations of the different communities of India -- be they Hindus, Musalmans, Parsis, or Christians -- which should induce the leaders of any one community to stand aloof from the others in their efforts to obtain those great general reforms, those great general rights, which are for the common benefit of us all; and which, I feel assured, have only to be earnestly and unanimously pressed upon Government to be granted to us."[8] He was considered among the moderate Muslims during the freedom movement of India.[2]

Later life

In June 1895 Tyabji was made a judge of the Bombay High Court, the first Muslim and the third Indian to be so elevated. In 1902, he became the first Indian to hold the post of Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. Tyabji was also active in women's emancipation and worked to weaken the zenana system. He sent all of his daughters to be educated in Bombay and in 1904 he sent two of them to boarding school in Haslemere in England.

Zenana (Persian: زنانه‎, Bengali: জেনানা, Urdu: زنانہ‎, Hindi: ज़नाना) literally meaning "of the women" or "pertaining to women," in Persian language contextually refers to the part of a house belonging to a Hindu or Muslim family in the Indian subcontinent which is reserved for the women of the household. The zenana are the inner apartments of a house in which the women of the family live. The outer apartments for guests and men are called the mardana. Conceptually in those that practise purdah, it is the equivalent in the Indian subcontinent of the harem.

Christian missionaries were able to gain access to these Indian girls and women through the zenana missions; female missionaries who had been trained as doctors and nurses were able to provide them with health care and also evangelise them in their own homes.

-- Zenana, by Wikipedia


While on a year's furlough in London, England in 1906, Badruddin Tyabji died suddenly of a heart attack.[1]


He was married to Rahat-un-Nafs and together they had eighteen children.[9] His nephew was Abbas Tyabji. His grandsons included Saif Tyabji, Azim Tyabji and Badruddin Tayyabji[10] His great granddaughter is Laila Tyabji.[11]


1. "Badruddin-Tyabji profile". The Open University website. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
2. Anonymous (1926). Eminent Mussalmans (1 ed.). Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co. pp. 97–112.
3. Wacha, D E; Gokhale, Gopal Krishna (1910). Three departed patriots : Sketches of the lives and careers of the late Ananda Mohun Bose, Badruddin Tyabji, W. C. Bonnerjee with their portraits and copious extracts from their speeches and with appreciations. Madras: G. A. Natesan and Company. pp. 19–50.
4. Karlitzky, Maren (1 January 2004). "Continuity and Change in the Relationship between Congress and the Muslim Élite: A Case Study of the Tyabji Family". Oriente Moderno. 23 (84): 161–175. JSTOR 25817923.
5. "Profile of Badruddin Tyabji". Indian National Congress website. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
6. Robinson, Francis (1974). Separatism among Indian Muslims: The politics of the United Provinces' Muslims 1860-1923. Cambridge University Press. pp. 116–117.
7. Khan, Sayyid Ahmad. "Sir Syed Ahmed's Reply to Mr. Budruddin Tyabji". Retrieved 1 May 2017.
8. Tyabji, Badruddin. "Presidential speech to the Indian National Congress, 1887". Retrieved 1 May 2017.
9. A. G. Noorani. "Builders Of Modern India (Badruddin Tyabji)". GoogleBooks website. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
10. Shruti Pillai. "This Woman Made A Big Contribution In Designing The Indian Flag And Sadly, No One Knows Who She Is". website. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
11. Brussels in winter
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sat May 23, 2020 1:58 am

Surendranath Banerjee
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Sir Surendranath Bannerjee
Born: 10 November 1848, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, Company Raj (now Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Died: 6 August 1925 (aged 76), Barrackpore, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India (now Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Nationality: Indian
Alma mater: University of Calcutta; University College London; Middle Temple
Occupation: Academician, politician, ICS
Known for: Founder of Indian Liberation Federation and Indian National Association; Co-founder of Indian National Congress
Political party: Indian National Congress

Sir Surendranath Banerjee (Bengali: সুরেন্দ্রনাথ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়) (10 November 1848 – 6 August 1925) was one of the earliest Indian political leaders during the British Raj. He founded the Indian National Association, through which he led two sessions of the Indian National Conference in 1883 and 1885, along with Anandamohan Bose. Banerjee later became a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. Surendranath welcomed Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms, unlike Congress, and with many liberal leaders he left Congress and founded a new organisation named Indian National Liberation Federation in 1919. He was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress.

Banerjee on a 1983 stamp of India

Early life

Surendranath Banerjee was born in Calcutta (Kolkata), in the province of Bengal to a Bengali Brahmins family. He was deeply influenced in liberal, progressive thinking by his father Durga Charan Banerjee, a doctor.[1] After graduating from the University of Calcutta, he travelled to England in 1868, along with Romesh Chunder Dutt and Behari Lal Gupta, to compete in the Indian Civil Service examinations.[2] He cleared the competitive examination in 1869, but was barred owing to a claim he had misrepresented his age. After clearing the matter in the courts by arguing that he calculated his age according to the Hindu custom of reckoning age from the date of conception rather than from birth,[3] Banerjee cleared the exam again in 1871 and was posted as assistant magistrate in Sylhet.[4] Banerjee also attended classes at University College, London. He took his final exams in 1871 and returned to India in August 1871. In 1874, Banerjee returned to London and became a student at the Middle Temple.[5]

Banerjee was soon dismissed for making a minor judicial error. He went to England to appeal his discharge, but was unsuccessful because, he felt, of racial discrimination. He would return to India bitter and disillusioned with the British.[6] During his stay in England (1874–1875), he studied the works of Edmund Burke and other liberal philosophers. These works guided him in his protests against the British. He was known as the Indian Burke.

Surendranath was influenced by the writings of Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini. He studied the writings of Mazzini in his stay in England (1874-1875) on Anandmohan's suggestion.[7]

Political career

Upon his return to India in June 1875, Banerjee became an English professor at the Metropolitan Institution [Vidyasagar College],...

Vidyasagar College, named after its founder Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, is a government-sponsored college, affiliated to the University of Calcutta in North Kolkata, India. The college was founded in 1872 and it was the first private college in India which was purely an Indian-run institution. It was formerly known as Metropolitan Institution.

-- Vidyasagar College, by Wikipedia

the Free Church Institution [Scottish Church College][8]...

Scottish Church College is a premier institute for pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies and is the oldest continuously running Christian liberal arts and sciences college in India...

The origins are traceable to the life of Alexander Duff (1806–1878), the first overseas missionary of the Church of Scotland, to India. Known initially as the General Assembly's Institution, it was founded on 13 July 1830.

-- Scottish Church College

and at the Rippon College [Surendranath College], now Surendranath College, founded by him in 1882.[9]

Surendranath College is an undergraduate college affiliated to the University of Calcutta, in Kolkata, India. It was founded in 1884 by the nationalist leader and eminent scholar Surendranath Banerjee.

The Women's section of the college was founded in 1931 by Mira Datta Gupta, its first Principal.

For much of its history it was known as Ripon College, named for the British Viceroy Lord Ripon, but in 1948-1949 it was renamed for its founder. Swami Vivekananda delivered his first address in Calcutta from the rostrum of this college on his return from Chicago after his famous deliverance at the Parliament of the World's Religions..

-- Surendranath College, by Wikipedia

He began delivering public speeches on nationalist and liberal political subjects, as well as Indian history. He founded the Indian National Association with Anandamohan Bose, one of the earliest Indian political organizations of its kind, on 26 July 1876.[10]

The Indian National Association also known as Indian Association was the first avowed nationalist organization founded in British India by Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose in 1876. The objectives of this Association were "promoting by every legitimate means the political, intellectual and material advancement of the people". The Association attracted educated Indians and civic leaders from all parts of the country, and became an important forum for India's aspirations for independence. It later merged with the Indian National Congress.

-- Indian National Association, by Wikipedia

In 1878 in a meeting to preach the Indian people he said "The great doctrine of peace & goodwill between Hindus & Musulmans, Christians & Paresees, aye between all sections of our country's progress. Let the word "Unity" be inscribed therein characters of glittering gold........There may be religious difference between us. There may be social difference between us. But there is a common platform where we may all meet, the platform of our country's welfare". He used the organization to tackle the issue of the age-limit for Indian students appearing for ICS examinations. He condemned the racial discrimination perpetrated by British officials in India through speeches all over the country, which made him very popular.

In 1879, he founded the newspaper, The Bengalee[3] In 1883, when Banerjee was arrested for publishing remarks in his paper, in contempt of court, protests and hartals erupted across Bengal, and in Indian cities such as Agra, Faizabad, Amritsar, Lahore and Pune. The INC expanded considerably, and hundreds of delegates from across India came to attend its annual conference in Calcutta. After the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885 in Bombay, Banerjee merged his organization with it owing to their common objectives and memberships in 1886. He was elected the Congress President in 1895 at Poona and in 1902 at Ahmedabad.[11]

Surendranath was one of the most important public leaders who protested the partition of the Bengal province in 1905.[3] Banerjee was in the forefront of the movement and organized protests, petitions and extensive public support across Bengal and India, which finally compelled the British to reverse the bifurcation of Bengal in 1912. Banerjee became the patron of rising Indian leaders like Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Sarojini Naidu. Banerjee was also one of the senior-most leaders of the moderate Congress — those who favoured accommodation and dialogue with the British — after the "extremists" – those who advocated revolution and political independence — led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak left the party in 1906.[3] Banerjee was an important figure in the Swadeshi movement – advocating goods manufactured in India against foreign products — and his popularity at its apex made him, in words of admirers, the uncrowned king of Bengal.

Later career

The declining popularity of moderate Indian politicians affected Banerjee's role in Indian politics. Banerjee supported the Morley-Minto reforms 1909 -– which were resented and ridiculed as insufficient and meaningless by the vast majority of the Indian public and nationalist politicians.[12] Banerjee was a critic of the proposed method of civil disobedience advocated by Mahatma Gandhi, the rising popular leader of Indian nationalists and the Congress Party.[3] Surendranath Banerjee, a moderate and veteran leader of Congress were in favour to accept the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. They left the Congress and founded Indian Liberation Federation. They were termed as Liberals and they lost their relevance in Indian National Movement thereafter.[13] Accepting the portfolio of minister in the Bengal government earned him the ire of nationalists and much of the public, and he lost the election to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1923 to Bidhan Chandra Roy, the candidate of the Swarajya Party[14] – ending his political career for all practical purposes. He was knighted for his political support of the British Empire. Banerjee made the Calcutta Municipal Corporation a more democratic body while serving as a minister in the Bengal government.[15]

He is remembered and widely respected today as a pioneer leader of Indian politics — first treading the path for Indian political empowerment. The British respected him and referred to him during his later years as Surendranath Banerjee. But nationalist politics in India meant opposition, and increasingly there were others whose opposition was more vigorous and who came to center stage. Banerjee could accept neither the extremist view of political action nor the noncooperation of Gandhi, then emerging as a major factor in the nationalist movement. Banerjee saw the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms of 1919 as substantially fulfilling Congress's demands, a position which further isolated him.[3] He was elected to the reformed Legislative Council of Bengal in 1921, knighted in the same year[16] and held office as minister for local self-government from 1921 to 1924.[3] His defeat at the polls in 1923 brought his political career to a close and he went on to write the widely acclaimed A Nation in Making, published in 1925. After Surendranath died at Barrackpore on 6 August 1925.

Statue of Surendranath Banerjee


His name is commemorated in the names of the following institutions: Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College, Raiganj Surendranath Mahavidyalaya, Surendranath College, Surendranath College for Women, Surendranath Evening College, Surendranath Law College (formerly Ripon College) and the Surendranath Centenary School in Ranchi.


1. Mukherjee, Soumyen (1996). "Raja Rammohun Roy and the Status of Women in Bengal in the Nineteenth Century". Sydney Studies in Society and Culture. 13: 44.
2. ... injustice/
3. "Sir Surendranath Banerjea | Indian politician". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
4. Jayapalan, N. (2000). Indian Political Thinkers: Modern Indian Political Thought. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 55. ISBN 9788171569298.
5. "Surendranath Banerjee profile". The Open University website. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
6. Khan, Ataur Rahman (2001). "The Language Movement and Bengali Nationalism". In Ahmed, Rafiuddin (ed.). Religion, Identity & Politics: Essays on Bangladesh. Colorado Springs, CO: International Academic Publishers. pp. 168–169. ISBN 1-58868-080-0. In the end, Banerjea lost his job by committing a serious judicial mistake, dismissing a case recording the complainant and his witnesses absent while whey were actually present in his court. Banerjea went to England to lodge an appeal ... He concluded that his appeal failed because he was an Indian. This was the basic reason for his becoming a nationalist.
7. Asoka Kr. Sen, The Educated Middle Class and Indian Nationalism, (Progressive Publishers, 37 A college street, Cal- 73, 1988), p. 102.
8. Staff List: Free Church Institution and Duff College (1843–1907) in 175th Year Commemoration Volume. Scottish Church College, April 2008. page 570
9. "Brief History | Surendranath College". Retrieved 19 April2017.
10. Mittal, Satish Chandra (1986). Haryana, a Historical Perspective. Atlantic Publishers & Distri. p. 80.
11. "Indian National Congress". Indian National Congress. Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
12. Das, M. N. (2017). India Under Morley and Minto: Politics Behind Revolution, Repression and Reforms. Routledge. p. 120. ISBN 9781351968898.
13. ... -NCERT.pdf, pg 263
14. Laha, MN (March 2015). "Bidhan Chandra Roy & National Doctors Day" (PDF). Journal of the association of physicians of india. 63: 104.
15. "Kolkata – A Municipal History". Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Retrieved 26 January 2016. Democracy was ushered into the Municipal Government of Kolkata by making provision for election of a Mayor annually, by Sir Surendranath Banerjee, who as the first Minister of Local Self-Government in Bengal was the architect of Calcutta Municipal Act of 1923.
16. ... h-Banerjea

External links

• Roy, Ranjit (2012). "Banerjea, Surendranath". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
• As Congress President[permanent dead link]
• Postage stamp issued by India Post on Surendranath
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sat May 23, 2020 2:29 am

Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

The Government of India Act of 1919 is outstanding in many ways. It is the most drastic and most important reform made in Indian government in the whole period from 1861 to the achievement of self-government. Its provisions for the central government of India remained in force, with only slight changes, from 1919 to 1946. It is the only one of these acts whose "secret" legislative background is no longer a secret. And it is the only one which indicated a desire on the part of the British government to establish in India a responsible government patterned on that in Britain.

The legislative history of the Act of 1919 as generally known is simple enough. It runs as follows. In August 1917 the Secretary of State for India, Edwin S. Montagu, issued a statement which read: "The policy of H.M. Government, with which the Government of India are in complete accord, is that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-government institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire." The critical word here is responsible government, since the prospect of eventual self-government had been held out to India for years. In accordance with this promise, Montagu visited India and, in cooperation with the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, issued the Montagu-Chelmsford Report, indicating the direction of future policy. This report became the basis for the bill of 1918, which, after a certain amount of amendment by Lord Selborne's Joint Select Committee, came into force as the Government of India Act of 1919.

The secret history of this Act is somewhat different, and begins in Canada in 1909, when Lionel Curtis accepted from his friend William Marris the idea that responsible government on the British pattern should be extended to India. Two years later, Curtis formed a study group of six or eight persons within the London Round Table Group. We do not know for certain who were the members of the study group, but apparently it included Curtis, Kerr, Fisher, and probably Brand. To these were added three officials of the India Office. These included Malcolm Seton (Sir Malcolm after 1919), who was secretary to the Judicial Department of the India Office and joined Curtis's group about 1913; and Sir William Duke, who was Lieutenant Governor of Bengal in 1911-1912, senior member of the council of the Governor of Bengal in 1912-1914, and a member of the Council of India in London after 1914. At this last date he joined the Curtis group. Both of these men were important figures in the India Office later, Sir William as Permanent Under Secretary from 1920 to his death in 1924, and Sir Malcolm as Assistant Under Secretary (1919-1924) and Deputy Under Secretary (1924-1933). Sir Malcolm wrote the biographical sketch of Sir William in the Dictionary of National Biography, and also wrote the volume on The India Office in the Whitehall Series (1926). The third member from this same source was Sir Lionel Abrahams, Assistant Under Secretary in the India Office.

The Curtis study group was not an official committee, although some persons (both at the time and since) have believed it was. Among these persons would appear to be Lord Chelmsford, for in debate in the House of Lords in November 1927 he said:

"I came home from India in January 1916 for six weeks before I went out again as Viceroy, and, when I got home, I found that there was a Committee in existence at the India Office, which was considering on what lines future constitutional development might take place. That Committee, before my return in the middle of March gave me a pamphlet containing in broad outline the views which were held with regard to future constitutional development. When I reached India I showed this pamphlet to my Council and also to my noble friend, Lord Meston, who was then Lieutenant Governor of the United Provinces. It contained, what is now known as the diarchic principle.... Both the Council and Lord Meston, who was then Sir James Meston, reported adversely on the proposals for constitutional development contained in that pamphlet."

Lord Chelmsford then goes on to say that Austen Chamberlain combated their objections with the argument that the Indians must acquire experience in self- government, so, after the announcement to this effect was made publicly in August 1917, the officials in India accepted dyarchy.

If Lord Chelmsford believed that the pamphlet was an official document from a committee in the India Office, he was in error. The other side of the story was revealed by Lionel Curtis in 1920 in his book Dyarchy. According to Curtis, the study group was originally formed to help him write the chapter on India in the planned second volume of The Commonwealth of Nations. It set as its task "to enquire how self-government could be introduced and peacefully extended to India." The group met once a fortnight in London and soon decided on the dyarchy principle. This principle, as any reader of Curtis's writings knows, was basic in Curtis's political thought and was the foundation on which he hoped to build a federated Empire. According to Curtis, the study group asked itself: "Could not provincial electorates through legislatures and ministers of their own be made clearly responsible for certain functions of government to begin with, leaving all others in the hands of executives responsible as at present to the Government of India and the Secretary of State? Indian electorates, legislatures, and executives would thus be given a field for the exercise of genuine responsibility. From time to time fresh powers could be transferred from the old governments as the new elective authorities developed and proved their capacity for assuming them." From this point of view, Curtis asked Duke to draw up such "a plan of Devolution" for Bengal. This plan was printed by the group, circulated, and criticized in typical Milner Group fashion. Then the whole group went to Oxford for three days and met to discuss it in the old Bursary of Trinity College. It was then rewritten. "No one was satisfied." It was decided to circulate it for further criticism among the Round Table Groups throughout the world, but Lord Chelmsford wrote from New South Wales and asked for a copy. Apparently realizing that he was to be the next Viceroy of India, the group sent a copy to him and none to the Round Table Groups, "lest the public get hold of it and embarrass him." It is clear that Chelmsford was committed to a program of reform along these or similar lines before he went out as Viceroy. This was revealed in debate in the House of Lords by Lord Crewe on 12 December 1919.

After Chelmsford went to India in March 1916, a new, revised version of the study group's plan was drawn up and sent to him in May 1916. Another copy was sent to Canada to catch up with Curtis, who had already left for India by way of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This itinerary was undoubtedly followed by Curtis in order to consult with members of the Group in various countries, especially with Brand in Canada. On his arrival in India, Curtis wrote back to Kerr in London:

"The factor which impressed me most in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia was the rooted aversion these peoples have to any scheme which meant their sharing in the Government of India.... To these young democratic communities the principle of self- government is the breath of their nostrils. It is almost a religion. They feel as if there were something inherently wrong in one people ruling another. It is the same feeling as that which makes the Americans dislike governing the Philippines and decline to restore order in Mexico. My first impressions on this subject were strongly confirmed on my recent visit to these Dominions. I scarcely recall one of the numerous meetings I addressed at which I was not asked why India was not given self-government and what steps were being taken in that direction."

Apparently this experience strengthened Curtis's idea that India must be given responsible government. He probably felt that by giving India what it and the Dominions wanted for India, both would be bound in loyalty more closely to Britain. In this same letter to Kerr, Curtis said, in obvious reference to the Round Table Group:

"Our task then is to bring home to the public in the United Kingdom and the Dominions how India differs from a country like Great Britain on the one hand and from Central Africa on the other, and how that difference is now reflected in the character of its government. We must outline clearly the problems which arise from the contact of East and West and the disaster which awaits a failure to supply their adequate solution by realizing and expressing the principle of Government for which we stand. We must then go on to suggest a treatment of India in the general work of Imperial reconstruction in harmony with the facts adduced in the foregoing chapters. And all this must be done with the closest attention to its effects upon educated opinion here. We must do our best to make Indian Nationalists realize the truth that like South Africa all their hopes and aspirations are dependent on the maintenance of the British Commonwealth and their permanent membership therein."

This letter, written on 13 November 1916, was addressed to Philip Kerr but was intended for all the members of the Group. Sir Valentine Chirol corrected the draft, and copies were made available for Meston and Marris. Then Curtis had a thousand copies printed and sent to Kerr for distribution. In some way, the extremist Indian nationalists obtained a copy of the letter and published a distorted version of it. They claimed that a powerful and secret group organized about The Round Table had sent Curtis to India to spy out the nationalist plans in order to obstruct them. Certain sentences from the letter were torn from their context to prove this argument. Among these was the reference to Central Africa, which was presented to the Indian people as a statement that they were as uncivilized and as incapable of self-government as Central Africans. As a result of the fears created by this rumor, the Indian National Congress and the Moslem League formed their one and only formal alliance in the shape of the famous Lucknow Compact of 29 December 1916. The Curtis letter was not the only factor behind the Lucknow agreement, but it was certainly very influential. Curtis was present at the Congress meeting and was horrified at the version of his letter which was circulating. Accordingly, he published the correct version with an extensive commentary, under the title Letters to the People of India (1917). In this he said categorically that he believed: "(1) That it is the duty of those who govern the whole British Commonwealth to do anything in their power to enable Indians to govern themselves as soon as possible. (2) That Indians must also come to share in the government of the British Commonwealth as a whole." There can be no doubt that Curtis was sincere in this and that his view reflected, perhaps in an extreme form, the views of a large and influential group in Great Britain. The failure of this group to persuade the Indian nationalists that they were sincere is one of the great disasters of the century, although the fault is not entirely theirs and must be shared by others, including Gandhi.

In the first few months of 1917, Curtis consulted groups of Indians and individual British (chiefly of the Milner Group) regarding the form which the new constitution would take. The first public use of the word "dyarchy" was in an open letter of 6 April 1917, which he wrote to Bhupendra Nath Basu, one of the authors of the Lucknow Compact, to demonstrate how dyarchy would function in the United Provinces. In writing this letter, Curtis consulted with Valentine Chirol and Malcolm Hailey. He then wrote an outline, "The Structure of Indian Government," which was revised by Meston and printed. This was submitted to many persons for comment. He then organized a meeting of Indians and British at Lord Sinha's house in Darjeeling and, after considerable discussion, drew up a twelve-point program, which was signed by sixty-four Europeans and ninety Indians. This was sent to Chelmsford and to Montagu.

In the meantime, in London, preparations were being made to issue the historic declaration of 20 August 1917, which promised "responsible" government to India. There can be no doubt that the Milner Group was the chief factor in issuing that declaration. Curtis, in Dyarchy, says: "For the purpose of the private enquiry above described the principle of that pronouncement was assumed in 1915." It is perfectly clear that Montagu (Secretary of State in succession to Austen Chamberlain from June 1917) did not draw up the declaration. He drew up a statement, but the India Office substituted for it one which had been drawn up much earlier, when Chamberlain was still Secretary of State. Lord Ronaldshay (Lord Zetland), in the third volume of his Life of Curzon, prints both drafts and claims that the one which was finally issued was drawn up by Curzon. Sir Stanley Reed, who was editor of The Times of India from 1907 to 1923, declared at a meeting of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1926 that the declaration was drawn up by Milner and Curzon. It is clear that someone other than Curzon had a hand in it, and the strongest probability would be Milner, who was with Curzon in the War Cabinet at the time. The fact is that Curzon could not have drawn it up alone unless he was unbelievably careless, because, after it was published, he was horrified when the promise of "progressive realization of responsible government in India" was pointed out to him.

Montagu went to India in November 1917, taking Sir William Duke with him. Curtis, who had been moving about India as the guest of Stanley Reed, Chirol, Chelmsford, Meston, Marris, and others, was invited to participate in the Montagu-Chelmsford conferences on several occasions. Others who were frequently consulted were Hailey, Meston, Duke, and Chirol. The Montagu-Chelmsford Report was written by Sir William Marris of Milner's Kindergarten after Curtis had returned to England. Curtis wrote in Dyarchy in 1920: "It was afterwards suggested in the press that I had actually drafted the report. My prompt denial has not prevented a further complaint from many quarters that Lord Chelmsford and Mr. Montagu were unduly influenced by an irresponsible tourist.... With the exception of Lord Chelmsford himself I was possibly the only person in India with firsthand knowledge of responsible government as applied in the Dominions to the institutions of provinces. Whether my knowledge of India entitled me to advance my views is more open to question. Of this the reader can judge for himself. But in any case the interviews were unsought by me." Thus Curtis does not deny the accusation that he was chiefly responsible for dyarchy. It was believed at the time by persons in a position to know that he was, and these persons were both for and against the plan. On the latter side, we might quote Lord Ampthill, who, as a former acting Viceroy, as private secretary to Joseph Chamberlain, as Governor of Madras, and as brother-in-law of Samuel Hoare, was in a position to know what was going on. Lord Ampthill declared in the House of Lords in 1919: "The incredible fact is that, but for the chance visit to India of a globe- trotting doctrinaire, with a positive mania for constitution-mongering, nobody in the world would ever have thought of so peculiar a notion as Dyarchy. And yet the Joint Committee tells us in an airy manner that no better plan can be conceived."

The Joint Committee's favorable report on the Dyarchy Bill was probably not unconnected with the fact that five out of fourteen members were from the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group, that the chairman had in his day presided over meetings of the Round Table Groups and was regarded by them as their second leader, and that the Joint Committee spent most of its time hearing witnesses who were close to the Milner Group. The committee heard Lord Meston longer than any other witness (almost four days), spent a day with Curtis on the stand, and questioned, among others, Feetham, Duke, Thomas Holland (Fellow of All Souls from 1875 to his death in 1926), Michael Sadler (a close friend of Milner's and practically a member of the Group), and Stanley Reed. In the House of Commons the burden of debate on the bill was supported by Montagu, Sir Henry Craik, H. A. L. Fisher, W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, and Thomas J. Bennett (an old journalist colleague of Lord Salisbury and principal owner of The Times of India from 1892). Montagu and Craik both referred to Lionel Curtis. The former said: "It is suggested in some quarters that this bill arose spontaneously in the minds of the Viceroy and myself without previous inquiry or consideration, under the influence of Mr. Lionel Curtis. I have never yet been able to understand that you approach the merits of any discussion by vain efforts to approximate to its authorship. I do not even now understand that India or the Empire owes anything more or less than a great debt of gratitude to the patriotic and devoted services Mr. Curtis has given to the consideration of this problem."

Sir Henry Craik later said: "I am glad to join in the compliment paid to our mutual friend, Mr. Lionel Curtis, who belongs to a very active, and a very important body of young men, whom I should be the last to criticize. I am proud to know him, and to pay that respect to him due from age to youth. He and others of the company of the Round Table have been doing good work, and part of that good work has been done in India."

Mr. Fisher had nothing to say about Lionel Curtis but had considerable to say about the bill and the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. He said: "There is nothing in this Bill which is not contained in that Report. That Report is not only a very able and eloquent State Paper, but it is also one of the greatest State Papers which have been produced in Anglo-Indian history, and it is an open-minded candid State Paper, a State Paper which does not ignore or gloss over the points of criticism which have since been elaborated in the voluminous documents which have been submitted to us." He added, a moment later: "This is a great Bill." (2) The Round Table, which also approved of the bill, as might be imagined, referred to Fisher's speech in its issue of September 1919 and called him "so high an authority." The editor of that issue was Lionel Curtis.

In the House of Lords there was less enthusiasm. Chief criticism centered on two basic points, both of which originated with Curtis: (1) the principle of dyarchy — that is, that government could be separated into two classes of activities under different regimes; and (2) the effort to give India "responsible" government rather than merely "self- government" — that is, the effort to extend to India a form of government patterned on Britain's. Both of these principles were criticized vigorously, especially by members of the Cecil Bloc, including Lord Midleton, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Selborne, Lord Salisbury, and others. Support for the bill came chiefly from Lord Curzon (Leader in the Upper House) and Lord Islington (Under Secretary in the India Office).

As a result of this extensive criticism, the bill was revised considerably in the Joint Committee but emerged with its main outlines unchanged and became law in December 1919. These main outlines, especially the two principles of "dyarchy" and "responsibility," were, as we have said, highly charged with Curtis's own connotations. These became fainter as time passed, both because of developments in India and because Curtis from 1919 on became increasingly remote from Indian affairs. The refusal of the Indian National Congress under Gandhi's leadership to cooperate in carrying on the government under the Act of 1919 persuaded the other members of the Group (and perhaps Curtis himself) that it was not possible to apply responsible government on the British model to India. This point of view, which had been stated so emphatically by members of the Cecil Bloc even before 1900, and which formed the chief argument against the Act of 1919 in the debates in the House of Lords, was accepted by the Milner Group as their own after 1919. Halifax, Grigg, Amery, Coupland, Fisher, and others stated this most emphatically from the early 1920s to the middle 1940s. In 1943 Grigg stated this as a principle in his book The British Commonwealth and quoted with approval Amery's statement of 30 March 1943 to the House of Commons, rejecting the British parliamentary system as suitable for India. Amery, at that time Secretary of State for India, had said: "Like wasps buzzing angrily up and down against a window pane when an adjoining window may be wide open, we are all held up, frustrated and irritated by the unrealized and unsuperable barrier of our constitutional prepossessions." Grigg went even further, indeed, so far that we might suspect that he was deprecating the use of parliamentary government in general rather than merely in India. He said:

"It is entirely devoid of flexibility and quite incapable of engendering the essential spirit of compromise in countries where racial and communal divisions present the principal political difficulty. The idea that freedom to be genuine must be accommodated to this pattern is deeply rooted in us, and we must not allow our statesmanship to be imprisoned behind the bars of our own experience. Our insistence in particular on the principle of a common roll of electors voting as one homogeneous electorate has caused reaction in South Africa, rebellion or something much too like it in Kenya, and deadlock in India, because in the different conditions of those countries it must involve the complete and perpetual dominance of a single race or creed."

Unfortunately, as Reginald Coupland has pointed out in his book, India, a Re- statement (1945), all agreed that the British system of government was unsuited to India, but none made any effort to find an indigenous system that would be suitable. The result was that the Milner Group and their associates relaxed in their efforts to prepare Indians to live under a parliamentary system and finally cut India loose without an indigenous system and only partially prepared to manage a parliamentary system.

This decline in enthusiasm for a parliamentary system in India was well under way by 1921. In the two year-interval from 1919 to 1921, the Group continued as the most important British factor in Indian affairs. Curtis was editor of The Round Table in this period and continued to agitate the cause of the Act of 1919. Lord Chelmsford remained a Viceroy in this period. Meston and Hailey were raised to the Viceroy's Executive Council. Sir William Duke became Permanent Under Secretary, and Sir Malcolm Seton became Assistant Under Secretary in the India Office. Sir William Marris was made Home Secretary of the Government of India and Special Reforms Commissioner in charge of setting up the new system. L. F. Rushbrook Williams was given special duty at the Home Department, Government of India, in connection with the reforms. Thus the Milner Group was well placed to put the new law into effect. The effort was largely frustrated by Gandhi's boycott of the elections under the new system. By 1921 the Milner Group had left Indian affairs and shifted its chief interest to other fields. Curtis became one of the chief factors in Irish affairs in 1921; Lord Chelmsford returned home and was raised to a Viscounty in the same year; Meston retired in 1919; Marris became Governor of Assam in 1921; Hailey became Governor of the Punjab in 1924; Duke died in 1924; and Rushbrook Williams became director of the Central Bureau of Information, Government of India, in 1920.

This does not indicate that the Milner Group abandoned all interest in India by 1924 or earlier, but the Group never showed such concentrated interest in the problem of India again. Indeed, the Group never displayed such concentrated interest in any problem either earlier or later, with the single exception of the effort to form the Union of South Africa in 1908-1909.

The decade 1919-1929 was chiefly occupied with efforts to get Gandhi to permit the Indian National Congress to cooperate in the affairs of government, so that its members and other Indians could acquire the necessary experience to allow the progressive realization of self-government.

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

The Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms or more briefly known as Mont-Ford Reforms were reforms introduced by the colonial government in British India to introduce self-governing institutions gradually in India. The reforms take their name from Edwin Montagu, the Secretary of State for India during the latter parts of the First World War and Lord Chelmsford, Viceroy of India between 1916 and 1921. The reforms were outlined in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report prepared in 1918 and formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1919. These are related to constitutional reforms. Indian nationalists considered that the reforms did not go far enough while British conservatives were critical of them. The important features of this act were as follows:

1. The Imperial Legislative Council was now to consist of two houses- the Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of State.

2. The provinces were to follow the Dual Government System or Dyarchy.


Edwin Montagu became Secretary of State for India in June 1917 after Austen Chamberlain resigned following the capture of Kut by the Turks in 1916 and the capture of an Indian army staged there. He put before the British Cabinet a proposed statement regarding his intention to work towards the gradual development of free institutions in India with a view to ultimate self-government. Lord Curzon thought that this gave Montagu too much emphasis on working towards self-government and suggested that he work towards increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire. The Cabinet approved the statement with Curzon's amendment incorporated in place of Montagu's original statement.[1]


Lord Chelmsford was Viceroy of India.

Edwin Samuel Montagu was Secretary of State for India

In late 1917, Montagu went to India to meet Lord Chelmsford, the Viceroy of India, and leaders of Indian community, to discuss the introduction of limited self-government to India, and the protection rights of minority communities. He drew up a report, with Bhupendra Nath Bose, Lord Donoghmore, William Duke and Charles Roberts.[2]

The Report went before Cabinet on 24 May and 7 June 1918 and was embodied in the Government of India Act of 1919. These reforms represented the maximum concessions the British were prepared to make at that time. The franchise was extended, and increased authority was given to central and provincial legislative councils, but the viceroy remained responsible only to London.[3]

The changes at the provincial level were very significant, as the provincial legislative councils contained a considerable majority of elected members. In a system called "dyarchy," the nation-building departments of government were placed under ministers who were individually responsible to the legislature. The departments that made up the "steel frame" of British rule were retained by executive councilors who were nominated by the Governor. They were often, but not always, British and who were responsible to the governor. The Act of 1919 introduced Diarchy in the provinces. Accordingly, the Rights of the Central and Provincial Governments were divided in clear-cut terms. The central list included rights over defence, foreign affairs, telegraphs, railways, postal, foreign trade etc. The provincial list dealt with the affairs like health, sanitation, education, public work, irrigation, jail, police, justice etc. The powers which were not included in the state list vested in the hands of the Centre. In case of any conflict between the 'reserved' and 'unreserved' powers of the State (the former included finance, police, revenue, publication of books, etc. and the latter included health, sanitation, local-self government etc.), the Governor had its final say. In 1921, the "Diarchy" was installed in Bengal, Madras, Bombay, the United Provinces, the Central Provinces, the Punjab, Bihar and Orissa, and Assam; in 1932 it was extended to the North-West Frontier Province.[4]

In 1921 another change recommended by the report was carried out when elected local councils were set up in rural areas, and during the 1920s urban municipal corporations were made more democratic and "Indianized.

The main provisions were the following:

1. The secretary of state would control affairs relating to Government of India.
2. The Imperial Legislative Council would comprise two chambers- the Council of State and the Central Legislative Assembly.
3. The Imperial Legislative Council was empowered to enact laws on any matter for whole of India.
4. The Governor General was given powers to summon, prorogue, dissolve the Chambers, and to promulgate Ordinances.
5. The number of Indians in Viceroy's Executive Council would be three out of eight members.
6. Establishment of bicameral Provincial Legislative councils.
7. Dyarchy in the Provinces-
1. Reserved subjects like Finance, Law and Order, Army, Police etc.
2. Transferred subjects like Public Health, Education, Agriculture, Local Self-government etc.
8. There would henceforth be direct election and an extension of Communal franchise.[5]
9. A council of princes was also set up with 108 members to allow princes to debate matters of importance. But it had no power and some princes didn't even bother to attend what was little more than a 'talking shop'[6]

Reception in India

Many Indians had fought with the British in the First World War and they expected much greater concessions.[7] The Indian National Congress and the Muslim League had recently come together demanding self-rule. The 1919 reforms did not satisfy political demands in India. The British repressed opposition, and restrictions on the press and on movement were re-enacted through the Rowlatt Acts introduced in 1919. These measures were rammed through the Legislative Council with the unanimous opposition of the Indian members. Several members of the council including Jinnah resigned in protest. These measures were widely seen throughout India as a betrayal of the strong support given by the population for the British war effort.[2]

Gandhi launched a nationwide protest against the Rowlatt Acts with the strongest level of protest in the Punjab. The situation worsened in Amritsar in April 1919, when General Dyer ordered his troops to open fire on demonstrators hemmed into a tight square, resulting in the deaths of 379 civilians. Montagu ordered an inquiry into the events at Amritsar by Lord Hunter.[8] The Hunter Inquiry recommended that General Dyer, who commanded the troops, be dismissed, leading to Dyer's sacking. Many British citizens supported Dyer, whom they considered had received unfair treatment from the Hunter Inquiry. The conservative Morning Post newspaper collected a subscription of £26,000 for General Dyer and Sir Edward Carson moved a censure motion on Montagu which was nearly successful. Montagu was saved largely due to a strong speech in his defence by Winston Churchill.[3]

The Amritsar massacre further inflamed Indian nationalist sentiment ending the initial response of reluctant co-operation.[9] At the grass roots level, many young Indians wanted faster progress towards Indian independence and were disappointed by lack of advancement as Britons returned to their former positions in the administration. At the Indian National Congress annual session in September 1920, delegates supported Gandhi's proposal of swaraj or self-rule – preferably within the British Empire or out of it if necessary. The proposal was to be implemented through a policy of non-cooperation with British rule meaning that Congress did not field candidates in the first elections held under the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms in 1921.[5]


The Montagu-Chelmsford report stated that there should be a review after 10 years. Sir John Simon headed the committee (Simon Commission) responsible for the review, which recommended further constitutional change. Three round table conferences were held in London in 1930, 1931 and 1932 with representation of the major interests. Mahatma Gandhi attended the 1931 round table after negotiations with the British Government. But Jinnah's communal attitude was a hindrance to any decision being taken. The major disagreement between the Indian National Congress and the British was separate electorates for each community which Congress opposed but which were retained in Ramsay MacDonald's Communal Award. A new Government of India Act 1935 was passed continuing the move towards self-government first made in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report.[5]


1. Chandrika Kaul (2004). Montagu, Edwin Samuel (1879–1924). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.
2. Dixon, William Macneile. "Summary of Constitutional Reforms for India : being proposals of Secretary of State Montagu and the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford". New York: G. G. Woodwark. p. 24. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
3. Ryland, Shane (1973). "Edwin Montagu in India, 19174918: Politics of the Montagu‐Chelmsford report". South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 3: 79–92. doi:10.1080/00856407308730678.
4. Woods, Philip (1994). "The Montagu‐Chelmsford reforms (1919): A re‐assessment". South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 17: 25–42. doi:10.1080/00856409408723196.
5. Madan Mohan Malaviya (2009). A criticism of Montagu-Chelmsford proposals of Indian constitutional reform. Chintamani. Columbia University Libraries Collection. pp. 1-8
6. The history and culture of Pakistan by Nigel Kelly page 62
7. "From the Archives (December 2, 1919): Mr. Tilak on Reforms". The Hindu. 2 December 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
8. Nigel Collett (15 October 2006). The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer. A&C Black. p. 263.
9. "From the Archives (January 21, 1920): Montagu Must Go". The Hindu. 21 January 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 January 2020. The India writes: The most horrifying and amazing fact about the Amritsar Massacre after the vile deed itself, is that it has been possible to conceal it for exactly eight months from the British people. For that concealment the Secretary of State for India cannot possibly evade their responsibility

Further reading

• Montagu Millennium entry on Montagu-Chelmsford Report
• One Scholar’s Bibliography
• Britannica Encyclopaedia: Montagu-Chelmsford Report
• Puja Mondal, Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms and the Government of India Act, 1919.
• Self study history: Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
• Paul Johnson (1991). A History of the Modern World: from 1917 to the 1990s. Weidenfeld and Nicolson London.
• Merriam-Webster's Biographical Dictionary entry on Edwin Montagu (1995). Merriam-Webster
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