Rani lakshmibai Essay

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Rani lakshmibai

L.K. Advani�s suggestion to jointly celebrate the uprising of 1857 by India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is utterly ill-advised. It betrays, apart from our misplaced understanding of history, an obsequious mentality towards Muslims. In independent India, we preserved the myth sedulously cultivated by Gandhi, that everything that was anti-British was patriotic. Adolf Hitler, by that logic, should be our greatest hero because he dealt the biggest blow to the British Empire. We adore a demonic Tipu Sultan, who claimed to have converted hundred thousand Hindus to Islam in a day, simply because he fought against the British.

Advani should admit that, by extension of the same logic, RSS is an unpatriotic organization because it took no part in freedom movement. In reality, the RSS founder Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, who had brush with revolution and experience of Non-Cooperation Movement, was a sagacious man. He understood that the need of the hour was to strengthen and reorganize the Hindu society under British rule. Under Mughals, such organizations could not have been raised except under the shade of the sword like Khalsa by Guru Govind Singh.

1857, although it was more than army mutiny, was not the �First War of Independence�. This term was coined by a young Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who celebrated its 50th anniversary in London. 1857, in reality, was the last war of Islamic resistance. It was an attempt to overthrow the British East India Company and reestablish the Muslim rule. It is for this reason that Bengal, whose Hindus have been benefited by liberal British education, shunned the uprising completely. Sikhs, persecuted by Mughals throughout their history, had little sympathy towards Bahadur Shah Zafar.

Some Hindus have created a myth that 1857 was a golden period of Hindu-Muslim amity. R.C. Mazumdar writes-�There was communal tension even in Delhi, the centre of the great movement. But it was not confined to that city. We learn from an official report on the night of the Mutiny (June, 4) at Varanasi that news was received by some Mussalmans had determined to raise the Green Flag in the temple of Bisshessur�.

The communal hatred led ugly communal riots in many parts of U.P. Green Flag was hoisted and bloody wars were fought between Hindus and Muslims in Bareilly, Bijnor, Mordabad and others places where Muslims the Muslims shouted for the revival of the Muslim kingdom. The communal discord was supplemented by racial animosity of long standing produced by historical causes. The Muslims in Hyderabad were excited by events of North India and developed strong anti-British feeling, but they were more hostile to the Marathas and would have gladly fought under the British under Holkar and Sindhia� (British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance-I p.618-History and Culture of the Indian People Vol. IX)

Gandhi tried to rope in Muslims in Non Co-operation movement for Swaraj on quid pro quid basis with Khilafat movement. To ordinary Muslims, Swaraj became co-terminus with reestablishment of Muslim rule in India. Its most eminent example is the Mopla riots (1920) in Malabar. Not a single British life was lost in anti-British uprising by Moplas. But it led to death, rape, mutilation of thousands of Hindus in addition to plunder and desecration of temples. We saw, in recent past, how anti-Bush and anti-cartoon rallies by Muslims had turned into attacks upon Hindus. Today to remind Muslims of their �glorious� role in anti-British struggle is to encourage more suicide bombers to emerge against the Londoners. 0

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#82 ramana

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Posted 20 June 2006 – 10:17 PM
More from Deccan Chronicle, 20 June 2006 Sunday Section.
QUOTE
Deciding on a title for 1857

Itihaas: By Akhilesh Mithal

The year 2007 will mark the 150th anniversary of the greatest up-surge in nearly two centuries (1757-1947) of British rule in India. The memories of the episode are distorted because the British won and victors usually angle history to serve their own narrow, partisan ends.

The Indians who �collaborated� and helped the British quell the uprising became the major beneficiaries and joined the rulers in erasing and distorting all positive memories of the revolt. Many of these toady families continue to be rich and close to power centers in the Congress and the BJP. Their views colour Indian perceptions along the lines that Britishers had laid down.

It has come to such a pass that even the images of the most important leaders such as Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi and Nana Dhondho Pant Peshwa have got lost. The portraits that exist are �mushkook� or �suspect� and no schoolchild is familiar with the real appearance of these heroes and heroines.

Although the rebel soldiers (nearly 1,00,000) were joined by the Emperor of India, the Peshwa of the Maratthas, the Begum of Awadh; numerous Nawabs, Rajas and Ranis besides peasants, traders and shopkeepers, the title �mutiny� continues to prevail.

The emperor�s gardens, palaces, mosques and seminaries received special attention from the sappers and miners. The entire villages were burnt down and the ruined mud walls razed to the ground. The heart of Delhi and the center of Lucknow were gouged out. Shahjahanabad Delhi was depopulated and its status reduced to a lowly district headquarters in the Province of the Punjab.

Lucknow lost its place as capital of Awadh. Allahabad was the new capital from which Lord Canning announced that Queen Victoria had assumed direct rule.

Many �leftist� historians talk of the uprising as an attempt to re-establish �feudalism� while ignoring the fact that the British Raj was a military dictatorship displaying the worst aspects of racist Nazism and Fascism while operating under a thin civilian veneer.

The British prevarication on the subject of sharing power with Indians is a matter of record. The 20th Century British attempt to pass off bogus and impotent legislatures in India as an experiment in democracy, was exposed by Bhagat Singh and his group when they threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly and followed it up with a shower of pamphlets spelling out the deception being practised.

Independence saw an India with 10 per cent literacy, an average expectancy of age at 29, and a franchise covering less than 13 per cent of the population. The country was ruled by the British civil military junta from Shimla or Delhi with collaborators from amongst the Indians helping them justify every outrage and cover up the failures.

The British-officered Indian army was posted at strategic bases and could be summoned out at short notice. The army shooting to kill unarmed civilians protesting slavery in Jallianwala Bagh in 1942 are amongst the darkest chapters of British rule.

The British claim to have �trained� Indians in the practice of democracy. In point of fact, their rule in India spawned not Indian democracy but military dictatorship in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It should be remembered that the second most powerful person in India during British Rule was the Commander-in-Chief in India. His lakh rupee salary made him the highest paid man in uniform in the whole Empire including the �sceptred� Island. (For those born after the dissolution of the Empire �sceptred� were the title the British gave to their home.)

The use of the epithet �Great� for Britain and �sceptred� for the island helped the British forget all the want, misery deprivation and suffering they had caused in India during their rule.

The revisit to 1857 should include inputs from what is now Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Nepal under the Ranas came to the help of the British, took its share of loot, established a foothold of Gurkhas in the army, which lasts and they should have interesting material in their records. Both Nana Saheb and Begum Hazrat Mahal died in Nepal and it would be interesting to know the fate of their treasure.

Perhaps the Pakistanis should be asked to concentrate on the Bengal infantry regiment revolts in the Punjab and in the NWFP to bring these facts out of obscurity. There also is the story of the rebel leader Ahmad Shah of Nilibar. He exists in folklore and should come out into history texts. We shall talk about NWFP and 1857 in another column.

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#83 acharya

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Posted 24 June 2006 – 11:44 PM

Rising, Falling
As we enter the 150th anniversary of 1857, William Dalrymple casts a new look at one of Indian history’s most enigmatic episodes, and its aftermath WILLIAM DALRYMPLE
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In June 1858, the Times correspondent William Howard Russell�a man now famous as the father of war journalism�arrived in the ruins of Delhi, recently recaptured by the British from the rebels after one of the bloodiest sieges in Indian history. Skeletons still littered the streets, and the domes and minars of the city were riddled with shell holes; but the walls of the Red Fort, the great palace of the Mughals, still looked magnificent: “I have seldom seen a nobler mural aspect,” wrote Russell in his diary, “and the great space of bright red walls put me in mind of (the) finest part of Windsor Castle.”

Russell’s ultimate destination was, however, rather less imposing. Along a dark, dingy back passage of the fort, Russell was led to the cell of a frail 83-year-old man who was accused by the British of being one of the masterminds of the Great Rising, or Mutiny, of 1857, the most serious armed act of resistance to Western imperialism ever to be mounted anywhere in the world. “He was a dim, wandering-eyed, dreamy old man with a feeble hanging nether lip and toothless gums,” wrote a surprised Russell. “Not a word came from his lips; in silence he sat day and night with his eyes cast on the ground, and as though utterly oblivious of the conditions in which he was placed…. His eyes had the dull, filmy look of very old age…. Some heard him quoting verses of his own composition, writing poetry on a wall with a burned stick.”

“He was a dim, wandering-eyed, dreamy old man with a feeble hanging nether lip and toothless gums,” the Times correspondent William Russell wrote of Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1858. The last emperor of the Mughals, a direct but all-too-remote descendant of Genghis Khan.

The prisoner was Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, direct descendant of Genghis Khan and Tamburlane, of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan. As Russell himself observed, “He was called ungrateful for rising against his benefactors. He was no doubt a weak and cruel old man; but to talk of ingratitude on the part of one who saw that all the dominions of his ancestors had been gradually taken from him until he was left with an empty title, and more empty exchequer, and a palace full of penniless princesses, is perfectly preposterous.”

Zafar was born in 1775, when the British were still a relatively insignificant coastal power clinging to three enclaves on the Indian shore.

In his lifetime he saw his own dynasty reduced to humiliating insignificance, while the British transformed themselves from servile traders into an aggressively expansionist military force.

British residents ride behind emperor Akbar II and his sons in 1815

Zafar came late to the throne, succeeding his father only in his mid-60s, when it was already impossible to reverse the political decline of the Mughals. But despite this he succeeded in creating around him in Delhi a court of great brilliance. Personally, he was one of the most talented, tolerant and likeable of his dynasty: a skilled calligrapher, a profound writer on Sufism, a discriminating patron of miniature painters and an inspired creator of gardens.

Most importantly, he was a very serious mystical poet, who wrote not only in Urdu and Persian but Braj Bhasha and Punjabi, and partly through his patronage there took place arguably the greatest literary renaissance in modern Indian history.Himself a ghazal writer of great charm and accomplishment, Zafar’s court provided a showcase for the talents of India’s greatest love poet, Ghalib, and his rival Zauq�the Mughal poet laureate, and the Salieri to Ghalib’s Mozart. 0

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#84 acharya

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Posted 24 June 2006 – 11:45 PM

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#85 acharya

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Posted 24 June 2006 – 11:45 PM

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#86 acharya

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Posted 24 June 2006 – 11:48 PM
This fast emerging middle-class India is a country with its eyes firmly fixed on the coming century. Everywhere there is a profound hope that the country’s rapidly rising international status will somehow compensate for a past often perceived as a long succession of invasions and defeats at the hands of foreign powers.Whatever the reason, the result is a tragic neglect of Delhi’s magnificent past.

Sometimes it seems as if no other great city of the world is less loved, or less cared for�as the tone of the recent Outlook cover story highlighted. Occasionally there is an outcry as the tomb of the poet Zauq is discovered to have disappeared under a municipal urinal or the haveli courtyard house of his rival Ghalib is revealed to have been turned into a coal store; but by and large the losses go unrecorded.

I find it heartbreaking: often when I revisit one of my favourite monuments it has either been overrun by some slum, unsympathetically restored by the asi or, more usually, simply demolished. Ninety-nine per cent of the delicate havelis or Mughal courtyard houses of Old Delhi have been destroyed, and like the city walls, disappeared into memory.

According to historian Pavan Verma, the majority of the buildings he recorded in his book Mansions at Dusk only 10 years ago no longer exist. Perhaps there is also a cultural factor here in the neglect of the past: as one conservationist told me recently: “You must understand,” he said, “that we Hindus burn our dead.” Either way, the loss of Delhi’s past is irreplaceable; and future generations will inevitably look back at the conservation failures of the early 21st century with a deep sadness.’ Rising, Falling

Rising, Falling
As we enter the 150th anniversary of 1857, William Dalrymple casts a new look at one of Indian history’s most enigmatic episodes, and its aftermath WILLIAM DALRYMPLE

In June 1858, the Times correspondent William Howard Russell�a man now famous as the father of war journalism�arrived in the ruins of Delhi, recently recaptured by the British from the rebels after one of the bloodiest sieges in Indian history. Skeletons still littered the streets, and the domes and minars of the city were riddled with shell holes; but the walls of the Red Fort, the great palace of the Mughals, still looked magnificent: “I have seldom seen a nobler mural aspect,” wrote Russell in his diary, “and the great space of bright red walls put me in mind of (the) finest part of Windsor Castle.” Russell’s ultimate destination was, however, rather less imposing.

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#87 Mudy

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Posted 27 June 2006 – 09:33 PM
QUOTE
Title A HISTORY OF THE SEPOY WAR IN INDIA 1857-1858. (VOL II) Author1 JOHN WILLIAM KAYE
Author2 `
Subject HISTORY
Language English
Barcode 2020050020626
Year 1927

Online book are available on this site.
http://dli.iiit.ac.in/

They have excellent collection of books.
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#88 acharya

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Posted 15 July 2006 – 08:15 AM

Chauhan sees a major flaw in textbook

Staff Correspondent

Referring 1857 War of Independence as mutiny a big mistake, Chief Minister tells Manmohan Singh

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has brought to the notice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the social science textbook for Class X prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) refers to the 1857 War of Independence as mutiny and said that this flaw should be rectified immediately.

According to information received here, Mr. Chauhan raised the issue at a meeting called by the Prime Minister at his residence in New Delhi on Thursday to chalk out the plan for the 150th anniversary celebrations of the 1857 War of Independence. The meeting was attended by members of the Union Cabinet, senior members of political parties, Chief Ministers, Governors, historians and intellectuals.

Drawing attention to the “fact” that it was Veer Sawarkar who had called it the First War of Independence, the Chief Minister regretted that the CBSE syllabus continues to describe the 1857 War of Independence as mutiny. The Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to have this flaw corrected and requested that a stipend be sanctioned for the descendants of those who had fought the 1857 War.

He asserted that textbooks should be used effectively to impart knowledge about the struggle for Independence. This he emphasised by recounting the sacrifice of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Rani Avantibai of Ramgarh, Raja Bhaktbali of Shahgarh, Raja Shankar Shah of Jabalpur and Raghunath Shah in the 1857 War of Independence. He said his government had declared awards in memory of Shankar Shah and Raghunath Shah — two heroes of the 1857 War of Independence from Madhya Pradesh.

A proposal to increase the pension of freedom fighters is under consideration in the State. Mr. Chauhan said many functions were being organised in the State to celebrate the centenary of Chandra Shekhar Azad. He also informed that every month, on the first working day, Vande Mataram is sung by the Chief Minister, Ministers and all State Government employees.

The word “mataram” gets repeated four times in the Bangladesh national anthem but nobody in that country objects to it whereas the pseudo-secular elements in this country try to create unnecessary confusion about Vande-Mataram, he
said.

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#89

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Posted 15 July 2006 – 09:20 AM
If I am right –

– Mangal Pandey triggers the war in March, 1857 in Barrakpur Cantt near Kolkata. – Uprising began in Meerut on May 10, 1857.

I would like to know about two things:

– What went on between March and May of 1857.
– What triggered the events at Meerut.

I also would ike to know some more facts about Oudh (Awadh) Annexation. Awadh was not a total region controlled by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah from Lucknow. In the interiors of Oudh there were independent Hindu princes and independants as well. While Wajid Ali Shah was based in Lucknow (and Faizabad), there were Hidu princes in interiors like Gonda, Balrampur, Tulsipur, Naugarh, Manikapur and various other smaler areas on the borders of Nepal and today’s Uttar Pradesh.

Having once lived in that region of UP I had heard some folklores which talked about some of these princes and even one queen having led their people into fighting bravely with British forces. Some other stories are about very active support from Nepal’s kingdm. I also heard stories of bravery of Begum Hazrat Mahal of Lucknow having led the resistance. Though I have not learnt what does “official” history say…anyone knows?

Also king of Banaras and people of some towns in Bihar gave stiff resistance
to British, which is not well registered?

Regards
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#90 Mudy

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Posted 15 July 2006 – 10:33 AM
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– What went on between March and May of 1857.
– What triggered the events at Meerut.

here is link-
Link

Read first page.
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#91

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Posted 06 August 2006 – 01:38 AM
QUOTE(pulikeshi @ Jul 11 2004, 10:45 AM)
Interesting thread… but should’nt we change the name or the thread to say something like: “Indian war for independence – 1857”.

I think it is to fall victim of British propaganda to call 1857 as ‘Indian war of Independence’. If the warring parties would have won against the

British, individual rulers would have got their own lands, there was no ‘independence of india’ at stake in 1857. this tag was given to nail in the fact that indians historically lack unity. when ever we talk of unity in present day India, inveriably 1857 war is brought up as an example of Indian�s historic lack of unity. that is most ridiculous. war of 1857 had nothing to do with Indian unity. simply because there was no notion of India. It was war of ‘moghal allies’ against ‘britis allies’. the major strength of british army was due to Sikhs and Gorkhas.

which were at that time british allies, but in history they are seen as british subordinates. Sikhs had much greater scorn for moghals then for british, to support them in the 1857 war. British allies had no way to know at that time, that british would enslave whole of india and their own allies for 200 years. for them the atrocities of the Muslims were known. the British seemed to be a better choice. 0

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#92 ramana

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Posted 08 August 2006 – 08:56 PM
x-posted
Book review In Pioneer, 8 August 2006
QUOTE
Rising for a lesser cause

If one believes the account of Field Marshal Lord Roberts, the revolt of 1857 was nothing more than the last and desperate attempt by Muslims to reimpose their superiority over Indian politics, write Prafull Goradia and KR Phanda

An Eye Witness Account of The Indian Mutiny, Field Marshall Lord Roberts of
Kandahar; Mittal Publications, $60

This book, An Eye Witness Account of the Indian Mutiny, by Field Marshal Lord Frederick Roberts of Kandahar needs to be read for more than one reason. First, it proves that the 1857 uprising was a sepoy mutiny. Second, it was the last attempt by Muslims to recover their own rule from the British. The epicentre of the mutiny was the erstwhile kingdom of Oudh.

The role of the Hindu princes was only peripheral. Third, the decision of the Government of India to celebrate now the Mutiny as the First War of Independence would amount to heaping insult on the sacrifices made by the Rajputs, the Marathas, the Jats and the Sikhs to throw out the Muslim invaders from India.

Between Lord Roberts and his father Major General Sir Abraham Roberts, they had spent almost 90 years in India. Frederick was in India from 1852 to 1893. He participated in quelling the mutiny at several places including Delhi. In his own words:

“The first threatening of coming trouble were heard in the early part of 1857. During the months of February, March and April rumours reached us at Peshwar of mysterious chapattis (unleavened cakes) being sent about the country with the object, it was alleged, of preparing the natives for some forthcoming event. We heard that the 19th Native Infantry at Berhampore, a military station about 100 miles from Calcutta, had broken open the bells-of-arms… that a sepoy named Mangal Pandey at Barrackpore had wounded the Adjutant and Sergant Major of his regiment; and that Sepoys at the Schools of Musketry had objected to use the cartridges served out with new rifles” (p-34).

As the news spread, the native regiments based in Peshwar, Naushera, Umbala, Mian Mir (Lahore), Multan, Ferozpore and other places were disarmed. The happenings at Meerut triggered the revolt elsewhere; and, it is from there that the sepoys marched to Delhi and declared Bahadur Shah as badshah. Soon, thereafter, some 85 soldiers refused to receive the rifle cartridges on the suspicion that these were greased with lard and cow fat. On enquiry, they were found guilty and punished severely. In retaliation, the British officers, their wives and children and every European on the outskirts of the Meerut Cantonment were massacred. Meanwhile, Delhi fell into Muslim hands. It took three months before General Wilson established his headquarters at the Red Fort. “Every eye,” Lord Canning wrote, “is upon Oudh as it was on Delhi.”

The Gurkhas and the Sikhs helped in the recapture of the Imambara in Lucknow. The city was recaptured on March 14, 1858. But for the sagacity of diplomacy and the cleverness of strategy, the British would not have been able to recapture north-west India. They received cooperation from the Amir of Afghanistan, the Sikhs and the Gurkhas of Nepal. Commissioner of Lahore Division Sir John Lawrence had strongly advocated the policy of trusting the Maharaja of Patiala and the Rajas of Jind and Nabha. Douglas Forsyth, the Deputy Commissioner of Ambala, met the Maharaja and addressed him thus:

“Maharaja Sahib answer me one question: Are you for us or against us?” The Maharaja’s reply was: “As long as I live, I am yours.”

To the question what brought about the cataclysm, Roberts says: “The causes which brought about the mutiny were so various and some of them of such long standing, that it is difficult to point them out as concisely as I could wish. Mahommedans looked back to the days of their empire in India but failed to remember how completely. Their maulvis taught them it was only lawful for true Mussalmans to submit to the rule of an infidel if there was no possibility of successful revolt, and they watched for the chance of again being able to make Islam supreme. The late Sir George Campbell says that the mutiny was a sepoy revolt, not a Hindu rebellion” (p-231-24).

The annexation of Oudh by the British was considered unjust by Muslims. Their other grievance was the treatment meted out to Bahadur Shah, the last Mughal emperor. In this context, it needs to be pointed out that when Lord Lake captured Delhi in 1803, it was made clear to him that his place of residence would be shifted out of the Red Fort; and his successors would not be called badshah. Thus, the Muslims were aggrieved on several counts and the Meerut mutineers marched to Delhi and proclaimed him as the badshah of India.

Indian historical episodes have seldom been looked upon from the Hindu, as distinct from the Muslim, view point. Most of the time studies have been as if the communities were incidental and they were actually one people with a common heritage. If anything, it is the British who did not hesitate to make distinction. For example, Roberts quotes Sir John Campbell summing up that the mutiny was not a Hindu rebellion. On the other hand, the author himself has highlighted that other than the sepoys, the two great political causes were Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah and the Nawab of Oudh, both Muslim and both perceived to have been deprived of their hereditary thrones.

Although it was not the soldier’s business to analyse politics, a professional historian should not miss the point that the primary losers at the hands of the British were Muslims and not Hindus. Most of north India, except Rajasthan, was ruled by a badshah or a nawab who, in turn, had gifted large tracts of lands to his allies and satellites who were also mostly Muslim. The Hindu, on the other hand, had benefited from the advent of the East India Company, which demonstrated since the Battle of Plassey, 1757, that it had the military capability to defeat nawabs.

True, the sepoys must have had their grievances such as the new Enfield cartridges, but the substantive economic interests that were lost had belonged to Muslims. Due to the permanent land settlement of Lord Cornwallis, most of the zamindaris that were auctioned were taken up by Hindus, although earlier most of the land had been the jagirs of Muslims.

The book is, in any case, a ready diary on he basis of which those decades of Indian history can be interpreted by students of history.

It is in this context that W.W. Hunter’s book on the “Indian Mussalman” and Edmund Blunt’s book and the Pakistan project have to be understood. 0
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#93

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Posted 09 August 2006 – 03:32 AM
QUOTE(ramana @ Aug 8 2006, 08:48 PM)

Indian historical episodes have seldom been looked upon from the Hindu, as distinct from the Muslim, view point. Most of the time studies have been as if the communities were incidental and they were actually one people with a common heritage. If anything, it is the British who did not hesitate to make distinction.

For example, Roberts quotes Sir John Campbell summing up that the mutiny was not a Hindu rebellion. On the other hand, the author himself has highlighted that other than the sepoys, the two great political causes were Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah and the Nawab of Oudh, both Muslim and both perceived to have been deprived of their hereditary thrones.

Bravo my friend. for years we hindus have suffered in guilt and incapabiity of mughals. it is very nessasary that indian history be seen separatly through hindu point of view. Hindus’ weekness is not the lack of unity but readiness to befriend unworthy foes. This is virtue while dealing among hindus, it is a weekness when dealing with other cultures. 0

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#94 ramana

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Posted 10 August 2006 – 02:30 AM
BTW, The above is a quote from a book review and not my ideas.

While at it if one studies the colonial period by confining to geographical India only then it doesnt make sense. The key to understand it is that it is a chronicle of British Imperialism and the rest(French, Dutch,
Danes(Tranquebar) etc) followed to keep pace in Europe or else they would become beggars. Ever wonder where the Russian colonies were? Central Asia!!! What about the Swedes? None they were Johnny come latelies and the French already took them over by then. 0

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#95 ramana

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Posted 14 August 2006 – 12:47 AM
Deccan Chronicle, 13 August 2006
QUOTE
1857 Ghadar & Madan Lal

Itihaas: By Akhilesh Mithal

How significant 1857 was for the Indians and the British in pre-independence India can be judged from the following facts. �May 10, the anniversary of the Uprising, saw all adult British males carrying personal arms and forts were kept ready as the rallying point for British women and children in case of necessity. Half a century ago, in this very week, we bravely defended our empire.� � The Daily Telegraph of May 7, 1907 stated.

The Indian perception was just as clear. At the beginning of May 1909, a circular invited Indian students to a meeting in the �India House� to observe the 51st anniversary of the Ghadar on May 10, which, propitiously, was also a Sunday as had been May 10 in 1857. The circular, titled �Bande Mataram� stated: �To commemorate the Indian National Rising of 1857, a meeting of Indians in England will be held at India House on sunday 10th may 1908, at 4 pm precisely. You and your friends are cordially invited to
attend.�

The purpose of the meeting, printed at the back of the notice, was stated as being one of holding up to admiration, martyrs and the principal leaders of the rebellion including Nana Saheb. According to the folklore of the Indian Freedom Struggle, the founder of the India House in London, Shyamaji Krishna Verma had met Nana Saheb in his hideout in the Nepat Terai, thus forging a link between 1857 and the nascent freedom movement of India.

Thus readers can see for themselves that for freedom fighters of the 19th century and also for the British the 1857 uprising was something of abiding significance. For Indians, it gave something to look back upon for inspiration while for the British, it was something to fill the mind with alarm fear and trepidation.The story of an Indian living in England in 1909 will illustrate the tension between Indians and the British.

Madan Lal Dhingra was the son of a prominent medical practitioner of Punjab. His elder brother had been called to the Bar and was practising law in Lahore. Madan Lal was drawn to the freedom struggle by exposure to firebrands like Har Dayal. He appeared in class at the University College wearing a badge inscribed with names of the martyrs and leaders of 1857 supplied by the organisers of the May 10, 1909 meeting.

In the class, he was ordered to remove the badge, to which he refused. This led to him being ragged by the British students and Madan Lal was so incensed by the leader of the raggers that he offered to cut his throat. When news of this incident reached home, his father requested Curzon Wylie, an official appointed for counselling Indian students and keeping an eye on them, to help recover Madan Lal to the cause of loyalty to the Empire. Curzon Wylie had retired from the Indian Army to become political A.D.C. to the Secretary of State for India in 1901. Madan Lal was infuriated and wrote home to say that he deplored an attitude which asked Anglo-Indians like Curzon Wylie to interfere in what were essentially India�s private affairs.

Madan Lal bought a Colt revolver and also a Belgian weapon and started practising shooting at a private range. The National Indian Association had its annual general meeting on July 1, 1909. After dining at the Savoy, Curzon Wylie proceeded to the Association�s �At Home� in Jahangir Hall of the Imperial institute. When the programme concluded, Wylie was seen descending from the staircase. Madan Lal engaged him in conversation and, then, suddenly, pulled out the revolver and fired five shots into his face at point blank range. As Wylie fell down, a Parsi, Cowas Lalkaka tried to shield the victim. The sixth bullet killed him. When overpowered by the crowd Madan Lal tried to shoot himself but there were no more bullets left.

In his statement, Madan Lal said, �I am a patriot working for the emancipation of the motherland from the foreign yoke. I object to the term �murderer� to me because I am fully justified in what I have done. The English would have done the same thing had the Germans been in occupation of England.� Madan Lal was tried and sentenced to death. He was hanged on August 17, 1909. Thus the link between the Ghadar of 1857 and the freedom movement of the 19th century was clear in the mind of many who took part and risked their all for the freedom of their beloved motherland.

This shows link between 1857 and the revolutionary part of the Indian freedom struggle. I think through Tilak and Gandhi the link to the tradtional freedom movement has to be documented so that it clears any persistent cobwebs in the minds. 0

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#96

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Posted 14 August 2006 – 01:33 AM
QUOTE(ramana @ Aug 14 2006, 12:39 AM)
I think through Tilak and Gandhi the link to the tradtional freedom movement has to be documented so that it clears any persistent cobwebs in the minds.

There cannot be any doubt that the failed 1857 revolt had nothing to do with
indian independence. it was only later on when the british crimes became worst than the memories of the mughal crimes that 1857 revolt was seen as inspiring event for indian freedom fighters. 0

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#97 Bharatvarsh

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Posted 14 August 2006 – 11:36 PM
QUOTE
the indian war of independence 1857

vinayak damodar savarkor

http://dli.iiit.ac.i…e=2020050057563

I have to agree with jayashastri, the 1857 rebellion was by no means a war for independence, obviously when Savarkar wrote this he was in his younger days of militant nationalism and wanted these events to serve as an inspiration for future freedom fighters (and they did so) but back then he wasn’t so aware of Islam either and thought that Hindus and Muslims could forge a common bond (which was rejected by him later on if we take his later day speeches and writings as evidence), the 1857 rebellion had a lot of vested interests (jihadis) that had no other motive than to establish Mughal empire again and there were even Hindu-Muslim riots in places where the rebellion succeeded so it can’t really be described as a movement for independence but it served as a catalyst for the beginnings of Indian nationalism and doubtless there were many noble souls who were genuine freedom fighters (they may not have had the conception of a Pan Indian nationhood yet) but they may have fought for local independence from the
British. Sita Ram Goel also does not consider it as a movement for independence, here are his comments regarding 1857: QUOTE

This jih�d which was joined by Hindu rebellions on the fringes was named as The Indian War of Independence, 1857 (London, 1909) by V.D. Savarkar. He had yet to learn the history of Islam in India. It is significant that �secularists� and Muslim who hate Savarkar, hail the book as well as its name.

http://www.voiceofdh…/tfst/appi1.htm

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#98 Hauma Hamiddha

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Posted 15 August 2006 – 05:35 AM
QUOTE
There cannot be any doubt that the failed 1857 revolt had nothing to do with indian independence.

I believe this is simply too extreme a characterization. It was definitely a widespread movement expressedly aimed at driving out the White man from India. However, in India then as now the heathen interests where not strongly aligned, and then there were the Musalmans. -The Hindus across a wide swath of society from backward classes to the brahmins fought in this war. -Many saw the danger possed by Christianity in damaging the Hindu ethos, however many of the Hindu elite were in the fight due to their personal situation. Many like Nana, Rani Lakshmibai etc led the revolt because of personal interests. Nevertheless others like Tatya Tope, Kunwar
Singh were fired by Hindu nationalism.

Nevertheless, I agree that the Hindus foolishly thought they could make a common cause with the Islamic elite that had independently called Jihad because Christianity and the British overbearance were intruding into their religious as well as personal sphere. Thus Nana sent a letter calling for the Moslem Jihad to make common cause with the Hindu struggle. It is not some miracle that he succeeded, but merely that the two happened to align due to a common enemy. This did not happen earlier in the Karnatic where Tipu Sultan and Hyder with very ambiguous attitudes towards the Hindus were not aligned in their interest with the Hindu elite. Tipu saw the Maharattas as much or more an Enemy than Christian White men.

All said, we must keep in mind the following: 1) Prior to 1857 and immediately after it there were a string of anti-British rebellions throughout the country. The Balwant Phadke rebellion, the Vellore rebellion, the tribal revolt, the Velu Thampi rebellion are all examples. 1857 was merely one of the largest of those. In these rebellions there was disconnect in the firing between the North and South of India. South fired before North and each was quiet when the other was firing. South was no very well-knit in terms of Hindu military leadership so it lacked the coordination seen in the North mainly directed by Maharatta leaders was lacking.

In light of this the BJP idea of celebrating 1857 in common with the TSPians and BDs is ridiculous. 0
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#99 mitradena

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Posted 15 August 2006 – 10:19 AM
Hauma,

What is your opinion about Mangal Pandey’s role in this?

Was he fired by Hindu nationalism or just an emotional guy reacting to an insult (Beef laced cartridges)? 0
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#100

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Posted 15 August 2006 – 06:04 PM
QUOTE(Hauma Hamiddha @ Aug 15 2006, 05:27 AM)
QUOTE
There cannot be any doubt that the failed 1857 revolt had nothing to do with indian independence.

I believe this is simply too extreme a characterization.

No. I think it is very simple and obvious point. Those who were fighting the revolt were not fighting for Indian independence. The 1857 revolt and the ‘(gandhian) fight for Indian independence’ were fought for 2 totally different objectives. and thus could not be considered as one being the precursor to another. yes inspirations were drawn from individual valor of the 1857 revolt, simply because the enemy was the same, not because the cause was the same. The danger of believing so will lead us to false conclusions that Indians were not united in 1857 but became united later.

The unity, of mainly Hindu kings, should not come into question because there was no call for their unity. No one single obvious cause under which they needed to unite, other than Hinduism. and Hindus unlike other religions are taught to act according to their own Dharma/role/job. where the dharma of Hindus who were Brits allies was to stay loyal to their words the Dharma of those fighting against Brits was to fight for injustice done to their people. It is only in Islam and then later in Christianity (during crusades, only 1000 year after conception of christianity) that there exist a clause to fight in the name of religion. This in fact is main cause why there is so much, unending Islamic terrorism. According to Muslim scriptures it is paramount that every Muslim take on himself for fight for the injustice don’t to other Muslims. it does not matter if the other Muslims was right or wrong, as long as he is threatened by a non Muslim he must be supported. 0

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