Vis-a-vis a plethora of event specific studies of the Revolt of 1857 we have in this book an all comprehensive idea-specific study of the event. Here events and cross-events sink. Historians crowd corridors of understanding. The ideas they muse, the reflections they cast and the influences they spread-all have been combined into a unity of historiographical culture so much so that the Revolt of 1857 ceases to be a distant affair and becomes a part of a cultural valley that is still green. The Part-I of the book consisting of three chapters has brought all hitherto available perspectives of the Revolt into a corridor of retrospection. Dialogues with contemporary minds-media minds and literary minds-are the presiding themes of the Part-II of the book. News paper reflections, travelogues and autobiographical sketches have been sheltered into two well set chapters in this part. Part-Ill of the book is a compound of two chapters where an exposition of two classical Indian minds has shown as to how Indian historical writings could at once both be a bridgehead and a spearhead vis-a-vis the western appreciation of the Indian Revolt of 1857. Part-IV of the book is a quest for light, the sort of quest Karl Marx initiated and his followers in India continued. The quest was about the world of 1857 in India where imperial impingements met their response in colonial outbursts. With all these the book is a performing modesty in coronating truth and also in battling against its travesty.
Snigdha Sen, M.A. Ph. D. is the Lecturer in History, Savitri Girls College, Culcutta 700007.
One way of appreciating history is to understand the minds of historians and see how they address themselves to the unfolding of events, their cause-and-effect relations and the truth towards which they roll in a broken or unbroken succession. In other words this is the way of appreciating the ideas that lie at the back of the minds of historians and the ideas which their efforts produce in a given scale of time and within a given framework of a general understanding of the progress of civilisation. This is the subject of historiography and it has supplied the ingredients with which the subject of the present book has been formed. Taking the Revolt of 1857 as an event, unique in Indian History in many ways, attempts have been made here to decipher as to how contemplating talents of history-writers have contributed to the meaningful exposition of a mass human rising against alien domination within the historical limits set by 19th century colonialism in India. Rebellion as a phenomenon is commonplace in history and rebellion is replete in the, history of the subject people here and elsewhere, and in this the Revolt of 1857 assumes the status of a global phenomenon taking rank at par with some other Asian uprisings like the Taiping Rebellion of China in the mid 19th century. The minds of those who ruled India and those who were ruled had reacted to this phenomenon and the focus of interactions differed from age to age within the varying contexts of time. Sometimes historians supplied ideas with which this incident was judged. Sometimes the event itself had supplied mood to historians as it had done .in the case of Savarkar. The minds of European thinkers had reacted to this incident in a way which do not always agree to what the Indian minds had thought to be true. Even though there were many points at which the Indian and the European minds concurred yet there were a vast terrain where the minds of oriental and accidental observers merely met in a balance of antithetical adjustment. It is not that all these ideas have been incorporated in the present thesis. No single work can be all comprehensive and in the present case also certain specific ideas have been accepted for a general sample survey from which in later years competent minds of able researchers would discover the standard trends of historical thinking with regard to the Revolt of 1857.
Given the above, the present work should be judged not on the basis of, bat it has left out but simply on the basis of what it has taken in. It is an idea-specific study of the Revolt of 1857 and its only surd, first and last, seems to be humility. It has tried to understand certain observations of historians complementing and contradicting each other. In that it had searched the truth that lies concealed beyond the apparent margin of historians' own world of thinking. Ignorance has many forms and one task of historians is to train human understanding in a way that it may detect what the truth is beyond apparent ignorance. The present thesis has tried to find out as to how much and in what way we are indebted to historians for the: light which has now been introduced into the dark areas of our understanding of the Revolt of I857.
In writing the present thesis assistance and co-operation were made available from many quarters. All remain the invisible part of the iceberg only the top of which the present thesis seems to be. To them I owe a world of gratitude.
My thanks are due to Dr. Sunil Dutt, Professor of History, Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta who gave me the institutional umbrella under which my research work could proceed.
My friends Sri Amalendu Mitra and Srimati Kalpana Sengupta were with me in all prosaic moments of my research. They gave me profound ancillary supports from procuring books for me to correcting typed research leaves. There were others in multitude my friends Srimati Reeta Banerjee of Darjeeling Loreto College and Dr. Bejoy Deb of National Library Calcutta, all my colleagues at the Savitri Girls' College, Calcutta, my researcher friend Sri Shyamal Guha from the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation, my typist and my septuagenarian well-wisher, Sri Janakinath Choudburi and all who belong to the staff of the two Calcutta Libraries, the National Library and the Secretariat Library. To all of them I owe a world of gratitude. I am grateful also to my son, Shubhrajit, who did not agitate at moments when I failed to be in my routine cares about him. My husband Dr. Ranjit Sen, had always been my real inspiration is historical research. But for his inspiration I would not have the courage to set foot on areas where even competent persons have feared to tread. It is his architecture that with this book in print I have appeared to be a historical researcher.
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