Indian Rebellion of 1857

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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.


  • And just as there are instances of the Muslims in India resorting to Hijrat, there are instances showing that they have not hesitated to proclaim Jihad. The curious may examine the history of the Mutiny of 1857; and if he does, he will find that, in part, at any rate, it was really a Jihad proclaimed by the Muslims against the British, and that the Mutiny so far as the Muslims were concerned was a recrudescence of revolt which had been fostered by Sayyed Ahmad who preached to the Musalmans for several decades that owing to the occupation of India by the British the country had become a Dar-ul-Harb. The Mutiny was an attempt by the Muslims to reconvert India into a Dar-ul-lslam.
    • BR Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • Today is the 10th of May! It was on this day that, in the ever memorable year of 1857, the first campaign of the War of Independence was opened by you, Oh Martyrs, on the battlefield of India . . . all honour be to you, Oh Martyrs; for it was for the preservation of the honour of the race that you performed the fiery ordeal of a revolution . . . this day . . . we dedicate, Oh Martyrs, to your inspiring memory! It was on this day that you raised a new flag to be upheld, you uttered a mission to be fulfilled, you saw a mission to be realized . . . We take up your cry, we revere your flag, we are determined to continue that fiery mission of ‘away with the foreigner’, which you uttered, amidst the prophetic thunderings of the Revolutionary war. Revolutionary, yes, it was a Revolutionary war . . . No, a revolutionary war knows no truce, save liberty or death! Indians, these words must be fulfilled! Your blood, oh Martyrs, shall be avenged! . . . For the War of 1857 shall not cease till the revolution arrives, striking slavery into dust, elevating liberty to the throne. Whenever a people arises for its freedom, whenever that seed of liberty gets germinated in the blood of its fathers, whenever there remains at least one true son to avenge that blood of his fathers, there never can be an end to such a war as this.
    • From a speech by V.D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • The British Raj in India has treated Savarkar’s book as most dangerous for their existence here. So it has been banned. But it has been read by millions of our countrymen including my humble self. In trying to elevate the events of 1857, which interested historians and administrators had not hesitated to call for decades as an ‘Indian Mutiny’, to its right pose of Indian War of Independence, albeit a foiled attempt at that, it is not a work of patriotic alchemist turning base mutineering into noble revolutionary action. Even in these days, what would the efforts of Subhas Bose’s Azad Hind Fouj be called if Savarkar’s alchemy had not intervened? True, both the 1857 and 1943 ‘wars’ have ended in failure for our country. But the motive behind—was it mere mutineering or War of Independence? If Savarkar had not intervened between 1857 and 1943, I am sure that the recent efforts of the Indian National Army would have been again dubbed as an ignoble mutiny effectively crushed by the valiant British-cum-Congress arms and armlessness. But thanks to Savarkar’s book, Indian sense of a ‘mutiny’ has been itself revolutionized. Not even Lord Wavell, I suppose can now call Bose’s efforts as a mutiny. The chief credit for the change of values must go to Savarkar, and to him alone. But the greatest value of Savarkar’s book lies in its gift to the nation of that Torch of Freedom in whose light a humble I and a thousand other Indians have our dear daughters named after Laxmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi. Even Netaji Bose in a fateful hour had to form an army of corps after Rani of Jhansi. But for Savarkar’s discovery of that valiant heroine, Rani of Jhansi should have been a long-forgotten ‘mutineer’ of the nineteenth-century.
    • Subbarao about the book by V.D. Savarkar, quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)

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