The Sepoy Mutiny Of 1857 Research Essay

The Sepoy Mutiny Of 1857 Essay, Research Paper

As with any struggle or contention there are ever two sides

to the argument, and the events in India during 1857 are surely no

exclusion. Given the state of affairs in India during the 19th century

it is barely surprising that such a polarization of sentiment exists

sing the context of the rebellious events during that twelvemonth. The

British being in control of the subcontinent and their sense of

high quality over their Indian topics, would of course seek to

downplay any Acts of the Apostless of rebellion. While the Indian topics on the other

manus would arguably wish to overstate and over emphasise the

importance of these events, as a agency of advancing the patriot

cause for self finding. The truth of the events themselves, does

it lie towards the British history or the Indian pro chauvinistic

side, or could at that place be a certain sum of truth in both sides of the


Metcalf in his history citations three incontestable factors behind

the eruption of rebellion in 1857. Primarily he sees `accumulating

grudges of the Sepoy Army of Bengal & # 8217 ; as the most of import factor.

The grounds behind this `deterioration of morale & # 8217 ; amongst the ground forces ballad

with several grounds. Much of the Sepoy ground forces was comprised of

`Brahmins and other high caste Hindus & # 8217 ; who assisted in advancing a

`focus of sedition & # 8217 ; . The `generally hapless criterion of British

officers & # 8217 ; , plus the deficiency of betterment to the overall place of

those work forces functioning in the ground forces besides increased the degree of tenseness. At

this point it should be remembered that the `Bengal Army differed from

those of Bengal and Madras & # 8217 ; , as the Bombay and Madras ground forcess took no

portion in the rebellion of 1857. But the more marked military factor

was the deficiency of British military personnels in the `Gangetic field & # 8217 ; meant that many

countries were `virtually denuded of British troops & # 8217 ; .

These military grudges which although important were non

themselves plenty to motivate rebellion, as it took a sensed onslaught

on the Sepoy spiritual establishments to trigger of the rebellion. The

foremost of these perceived menaces was that the British authorities was

fixing to level the caste system and `convert them forcibly to

Christianity & # 8217 ; . Although non based on fact the actions of some `pious

British officers did nil to chase away & # 8217 ; the rumor to the reverse.

Added to this British lassitude was the Brahmans who tended to be

`peculiarly alert for possible menaces to their faith and

caste & # 8217 ; .

Second, the debut in 1857 of the `new Enfield rifle & # 8217 ;

with its distinguishable ammo, which required the slug to be `bitten

before lading & # 8217 ; . Rumor that the lubricating oil used on the slugs was

either from the fat of cowss or hogs, which either proved `sacred to

Hindus & # 8217 ; or `pollution to Muslims & # 8217 ; , was interpreted as assailing at the

nucleus of the Hindu and Muslim spiritual beliefs. These rumors unlike

those sing the transition to Christianity and dismantlement of the

caste system, did turn out to hold a factual footing, as the British

authorities `withdrew the obnoxious lubricating oil & # 8217 ; . This tardy action

proved futile as the harm had already been done.

However this lone histories for the military facets of the

originating which display the version of events `accepted in official

circles [ as ] fundamentally army mutinies & # 8217 ; . This version preferred by the

British fails to admit the degree of `widespread agitation among the

civilian population & # 8217 ; , who saw much of the British authorities & # 8217 ; s actions

as amounting to interference and contempt for the `long established

regulations and imposts & # 8217 ; .

Disraeli saw the causes of the rebellion as non being the

`conduct of work forces who were & # 8230 ; the advocates of general discontent & # 8217 ;

amongst the Bengal ground forces. For Disraeli the root cause was the overall

disposal by the authorities, which he regarded as holding

`alienated or alarmed about every influential category in the state & # 8217 ; .

Yet other British saw the overall societal state of affairs and

authorities disposal as holding no consequence in doing the rebellion.

For functionaries like Sir John Lawrence the `immediate cause of the

rebellion & # 8217 ; was the concerns held by Sepoys over the new ammo for

the Enfield rifles. However, he sees this as merely the trigger

incident, with the root cause being the long term decrease in

subject in the ground forces and the hapless criterion of officers in bid.

The British point of view is to see the events of 1857 as a

mutiny. This is right as there was a mutiny by subdivisions of the

military, yet this fails to include the subdivisions of the civilian

population who besides engaged in civil agitation. For most of the British

authors and perceivers of the events, they are agreed in naming it a

mutiny because of the weaknesss of the ground forces, in footings of subject and


The term mutiny besides conjures up images of comparatively little,

disorganised and non really widespread activities of noncompliance

towards British authorization. This is a more accurate description of the

events given that the `whole of India did non take part in the

rebellion & # 8217 ; . Added to this the `large organic structures of Punjabi Sikh military personnels

[ who ] served under British command & # 8217 ; and some `of the Indian princes & # 8217 ;

it seems difficult to warrant the term used by the Indian patriots to

depict the events of 1857.

Although non accepted by all Indian historiographers, the traditional

Indian nationalist position of the events of 1857 are that it was non as

the British believe, a series of stray and uncoordinated mutinies.

It was a war of independency, the first act by Indians to derive ego

regulation. That twelvemonth represented a turning point in which the `nationalist

feelings, long suppressed by the British business, flared into

force & # 8217 ; . For half a century after 1857 the composing on the rebellion

were fundamentally confined to British perceivers and bookmans.

The first nationalist reading appeared in 1909. Savarkar

is really passionate in his pro nationalist stance, he treats with

contempt the British averment of the lubricated slugs as triping the

`war & # 8217 ; . He inquiries that if the slugs were the cause why did the

likes of `Nana Sahib, the Emperor of Delhi, the Queen of Jhansi & # 8230 ;

articulation in & # 8217 ; . To Savarkar the fact that these persons participated and

the contending continued after the `English Governor General issued a

announcement & # 8217 ; to retreat the offending greased slugs, shows in his

mind the battle was for an India free from British regulation. To Savarkar

the existent cause was the actions of the British in holding `committed so

many atrociousnesss & # 8217 ; .

As noted by others was the aim of the Indians to halt the

British in their alleged `wicked desire to destruct our sanctum faith & # 8217 ; .

The patriots sought to `restore province protection to Islam and

Hinduism & # 8217 ; . Savakar & # 8217 ; s rhetoric is of a slightly extremist patriot

point of view, claiming God on the Indian side and national support to

drive the European encroacher from the sub-continent. The ability to

write old ages after the event assists in Savakar & # 8217 ; s ability to use

the nationalist sentiments of his modern-day early twentieth

century run to advance this event from half a century earlier as

the foundations of the nationalist motion.

Another position by Joshi adds to the nationalist image of the

enormous damaging consequence the British had on India & # 8217 ; s people and

civilisation. Joshi regards the events of 1857 as surely being a

war, but he sees it as being more than a war of independency, it was a

`social revolution & # 8217 ; . To both Joshi and Savakar the British were

stamp downing the truth of the rebellion, the British `exaggerated and

intentionally misrepresented the function played & # 8217 ; by spiritual factors.

They used this statement as a agency of farther control and repression

of the Indian people after 1857. Joshi is extremely critical of the

`English educated Indian intellectuals & # 8217 ; for keeping the British

prevarication, who he regards as holding `swallowed this imperialist thesis

uncritically & # 8217 ; .

One position which leans towards the side if construing the events

of 1857 as a war of independency, instead than a mutiny, is that of

Gupta. Although he takes a less nationalist and more


attack. He argued the name of the events, which is what parties for

both sides have continuously argued over, are entitled to be called

the `Great Indian Outbreak & # 8217 ; . For Gupta the name is non being pro

Indian patriot in the description of the events, which he regards

as holding `possessed the trademarks of a truly national rebellion & # 8217 ; . He

sought to compare these events on an equal terms with European events

of a similar nature. `If the limited and unfruitful consequences of 1830

and 1848 in Central and Southern European states have been regarded

as national rebellions & # 8217 ; , Gupta sees the Indians as justifiably giving

the events of 1857 a similar rubric.

The two histories by Joshi and Savarkar are surely for the

pro-nationalist motion, who of class would wish to portray the

events of 1857 in a visible radiation that was directed towards the patriot

motion & # 8217 ; s aims. Gupta although evading to this point of view is far

less pro patriot and more balanced in his attack.

As Metcalf points out the `most permeant bequest of the mutiny

can be found possibly in the domain of human dealingss & # 8217 ; . Quite merely

the manner in which the British and Indians interacted, was particularly

the manner the British felt towards the Indians altered markedly.

While there is no inquiry refering the British as the swayers of

India for a century, the mode of disposal prior to the mutiny

of 1857 was less as the function of master. After the mutiny it became

much sterner with the British playing as `clearly an busying power,

garrisoning a hostile land & # 8217 ; . The British saw the demand to cut down the

hazard of a 2nd rebellion and to cut down the chance the `Government

of India adopted the policy of making division and disunion in the

civil ranks & # 8217 ; .

In footings of interaction the mutiny saw `the romanticism of

orientalists and the optimism of reformists [ giving ] manner to a

pessimistic stance that emphasised military security and cautious

policies & # 8217 ; . This saw the British impetus `into insular small

communities & # 8217 ; . As portion of this different military and administrative

attack there was a important restructuring of the military, `the

Indian component in the ground forces was drastically reduced ( from 238,000 in

1857 to 140,000 in 1863 ) and the European portion increased ( from 45,000

to 65,000 ) & # 8217 ; . As portion of restructuring forces Numberss, ratios were

introduced where in the `Punjab the ratio of British to native military personnels

should usually be one to two, & # 8230 ; [ while ] in Bombay and Madras & # 8230 ;

one to three & # 8217 ; . In an effort to further cut down any opportunity of another

mutiny happening the `native Artillery was abolished & # 8230 ; [ and ] the

corps of Bengal, Madras and Bombay Artillery and Engineers were

amalgamated with the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers & # 8217 ; .

The decennaries prior to the mutiny saw no efforts by the British

to sort the Indians into `racial classs or rank them as

superior or inferior & # 8217 ; . But by the center of the 19th century the

divisions of `race was a popular subject in Victorian England & # 8217 ; . The

construct of high quality and lower status reached such degrees that the

`concept of lasting racial high quality & # 8230 ; underlay much of

post-Mutiny British thought about India & # 8217 ; .

The footing for these positions were no longer regarded as merely

being `emotional sentiment, it was a scientific fact & # 8217 ; , or more

accurately pseudo-science. While the theories of racial high quality

were nil new to the people of Victorian England. The racially

based thoughts were given much greater acceptance to those who supported

them, by the `publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin & # 8217 ; s, Origin of the

Speciess [ which ] accelerated this displacement from the commonalties of the

human race to a distinction of races & # 8217 ; .

These racially based beliefs in high quality and lower status were

the footing, for the protagonists of such beliefs, in the ground behind

the British triumph in 1857, as the `white race was dominant because

it was more advanced and adaptable & # 8217 ; . The moves by the British towards

admiting the assorted racial groups in India and hence the

qualities of each was an country which holding been neglected before the

mutiny became an country of acute involvement. The `martial races became a

concern instantly after the eruption of the Sepoy Rebellion & # 8217 ; . The

British disposal the `Peel Commission concluded & # 8230 ; had been

unaware of the true soldierly properties possessed by assorted Indian

cultural groups & # 8217 ; .

The willingness of the British to acknowledge to the good

qualities of certain cultural groups showed that, although they did non

respect such groups as being anyplace near the peer of the white race.

They could be categorised as being the superior members of an inferior

race. The findings of the enquiry saw the British topographic point certain

racial groups out of favors, while supplying greater credence of


The Brahmins were characterised as `scheming and dishonest & # 8217 ; , and

it was the `high caste Hindus of Oudh and neighboring countries & # 8230 ;

adjudged responsible for the undermining of subject of the sepoys

of the Native Army & # 8217 ; . While others like the `Guhkas, Sikhs, Marathas

and Rajputs & # 8230 ; understood the significance of honor, and responsibility & # 8217 ; , hence

the British decision makers saw these races as being `India & # 8217 ; s genuinely

soldierly peoples & # 8217 ; . The enlisting into the ground forces of members of these

societal groups was made authorities policy and `a series of enchiridions on

the soldierly races [ produced ] for the benefit of enrolling officers & # 8217 ; .

Aside from the overall impairment in dealingss between the

British and their Indian topics after the rebellion, there was besides

an impact on the Indians themselves. With the Muslims losing much of

the influence and power they held before the rebellion, and the

Hindus make fulling the vacuity left by the Muslims. While the British

attitude changed radically towards the Indians the `most bitter and

widespread ill will was reserved for the Muslim community & # 8217 ; . They were

blamed by the British for much of the rebellious activity, which the

British saw as an effort to `restore the authorization of the Moghul

emperor & # 8217 ; .

Because `Muslims stood prejudiced against western instruction & # 8217 ;

they `had to stay in the background for some clip & # 8217 ; , while the Hindus

who were more favorable in the acceptance of this western manner of

instruction and larning English benefited under the authorities. An

illustration which shows how the Muslims declined so to a great extent and the Hindus

benefited after the mutiny, is in the instance of `judicial places

unfastened to Indians & # 8217 ; . `Although Muslims comprised merely 12 per cent of the

population in the North Western Provinces, they held 72 per cent of

places & # 8217 ; prior to 1857. The station 1857 effects saw this

disproportional portion of judicial place diminish to a state of affairs

where in `1886 they could claim merely 9 stations out of a sum

of 284 & # 8242 ; . This state of affairs of a Muslim diminution in influence had long term

effects on the Muslim community right up until the early portion of the

20th century.

As each side of the argument is so fixed in their sentiment on this

topic that no consensus of all time seems likely to be reached. For the

Indians the events assist in heightening the nationalist subject of

fring the sub-continent of the British. To the patriots the

events of 1857 are the first measure in a procedure that took ninety old ages

to accomplish the end of an India ruled by Indians. However the grounds

of the events clearly comes down on the side of the British sentiment.

The events were non a war of independency but a military and

civilian mutiny.

Given that the `entire South of India took no portion in the

rebellion & # 8217 ; it seems impossible to warrant the claim that the events

were a war of independency. Added to this, the aid

provided by certain elements of Indian society to the British further

reduces the patriot claims. The deficiency of cardinal co-ordination

amongst the Rebels barely inspires assurance in them prosecuting in a

struggle to derive independency. Clearly the argument comes closer to the

British point of view of 1857 being a twelvemonth of mutinies in the Indian

sub-continent, and non the first efforts by the Indians to seek