Rebellion 1857

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Item Code: IDK544
Author: P. C. Joshi
Publisher: National Book Trust, India
Language: English
Edition: 2007
Pages: 382
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"
Weight 500 gm
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Book Description

Back of The Book

Popularly know as the first Indian war of Independence, the Rebellion of 1857 was a significant moment in the political history of modern India. Despite the broad consensus of opinion about the national character of the movement, yet this uprising still remains mired in controversies. Through extensive references to first hand accounts and other historical document, the essays in this volume while bringing, together varied sholarship, analyse the nature, causes, its impact on the national literature of India as well as the interest it generated abroad. The National book trust, India is proud to present this unique document on the occasion of the 150 year of the national uprising.

P.C. Joshi was the General Secretary of the Communist party of India from 1935 to 1948. He had made a special study of 1857 and brought together a brilliant team of scholars to compile this volume for a discerning readership.


The people's Publishing House decided to publish a Memorial Volume on the 1857 uprising as its contribution to the centenary celebration. Despite a very broad agreement about the national character of this century-old uprising among our patriotic intellectuals, it remains, unfortunately enough, one of the unresolved controversies of Indian history. This volume, therefore, is in the nature of a symposium and the views of each contributor are his own.

Talmiz Khaldun is an old research worker who has worked on the subject in the National Archives. Dr. K. M. Ashraf of Delhi University has described the outlook and contribution of the Wahabis who were an organised influential group and represented the viewpoint of the background to the critical negative attitude of the Bengali intelligentsia, which represented the then new intelligentsia endowed with modern education. I have tried to deal with the controversies with which the 1857 the uprising is shrouded. I am not a professional historian and had to resort to the old-fashioned method of speaking through lengthy quotations. If I anyone the modern stylist, my only defence is that I am supplying the younger readers my only documentation from older books, etc. which are not easily available to them.

The 1875 heritage played a big part in giving a patriotic orientation to Indian national literature in our various languages. It has supplied the Indian writers with dramatic incidents of suffering, struggle and sacrifice and noble patriotic themes. In the literary section, Professor P.C. Gupta of the Allahabad University has dealt with the impact of 1875 on the Hindi literature, and Professor Ehtesham Husain of the Lucknow University on the Urdu literature. Dr. K. M. Ashraf has contributed a paper on Ghalib. Gopal Haldar, Bengali literary critic and author, has dealt with contemporary Bengali literature.

We express our heartfelt gratitude to the foreign scholars who have contributed valuable papers on the impact of 1875 in their own countries. Of special mention in this regard is James Bryne, the author of the paper on British reactions, whose sudden death has deprived us all of a keen, sympathetic and intelligent student of our history. These papers, results of painstaking research, reveal that in all these foreign lands the 1857 uprising was hailed as a national uprising of the Indian people for liberation from the British yoke and stirred feelings of solidarity in the democratic circles. We hope these foreign papers will help to write a hitherto unknown chapter in Indian 's national history.

We thank our contributors who have made the publication of this Memorial Volume possible. Many other friends have contributed plenty of their labour of love before this volume could be got ready for the press. Our thanks to them all.

Now that the country is observing the 150th anniversary of the Revolt of 1857 it is fitting that the National Book Trust, India should bring, out a new edition of an important volume that was published a fifty years ago to commemorate the first centenary of 1857, Edited by the Communist leader P.C. Joshi, it is a collection of essays almost all of which retain their value today.

There are two essays which discuss the general nature of the revolt. "Talmiz Khaldun" contributes an essay that is rich in reference to both archival and printed material. The argument advanced is that it was, in the end, "a peasant war against indigenous landlordism and foreign imperialism". P.C. Joshi 's own essay, longer and based on a wide reading of printed material, present, it seems to me, a far more persuasive interpretation, in which the concept of 1857 as unfolding an anti-feudal "peasant war" is firmly rejected. Joshi had the advantage of access to Berlin to the writings by Marx on the Rebellion that had appeared anonymously in the New York daily Tribune, and his perception of it as a "national revolt" noticeably influenced Joshi. (To ordinary readers these writings of Marx become available only in 1959 when a collection containing them was published from Moscow under the title, The first Indian War of Independence) Joshi also took issue with certain misrepresentations of the conduct of the rebels and of their leaders which had become accepted shibboleths of colonial writing.

While Joshi gives a reasonable explanation of the place of religion in the Rebel's ideological platform, K. M. Ahsraf 's essays takes up the interesting question of the extent of participation of the "Wahabis" in the Revolt. It seems to me that identification of mujahids, or nonsepoy Muslim Volunteers, exclusively with such Wahabis, lacks convincing substantiation, so also do such statements as that the sepoy general, Bakht Khna, was "a confirmed and fanatical Wahabi".

One section of the volume is devoted to the effects of 1857 on Hindi and Urdu literature. The essays here are informative; and Joshi himself contributes a pioneering essay on the Folk Songs on 1857. In the essays on Hindi and Urdu literatures, the pro-British "loyalist" trend, which seems to have become louder after 1857 than it was before, should perhaps have merited greater attention. The lack reference to the post-Mutiny verses of 'Zafar is also rather puzzling, though this may just be due to an accident omission on the part of both P.C. Gupta and Ehtesham Husain.

Two essays, one by Benoy Ghose and the other by Gopal Haldar, deal with the response to the Revolt among the intelligentsia and litterateurs of Bengal. Ghose explains why the middle classes of Bengal, otherwise ready to criticize the British government on issues of reform, saw "no hope (for themselves) in the 1857 Revolt"; and Gopal Haldar comments on the equivocalness of the literary response in Bengali to 1857, even after decades had passed since the Rebellion.

The last part of the volume deals with reaction to the Revolt felt in foreign countries. James Bryne dwells not only on the imperialist outcries for retribution in British, but also and, at some length, on the lonely Chartist figure of Ernst Jones, boldly supporting the rebels and denouncing the British atrocities. Indian has yet to pay adequate tribute to Ernst Jones' memory. There was a certain amount of sympathy for the Indian rebels among Italian patriots and Russian democrats at the end of the volume two Chinese scholars, Yu Sheng-Wu and Chang Chen-Kun, tell us of the hopes entertained in China, itself engaged in the Second Opium War with British for the success of the Indian revolt. They also produce tantalizing information about Indians who joined the Taiping Revolution during the years 1860-63. Were they some deserting Indian sepoys who had been stationed in China?

There is, then, much, in this volume for a reader to think about; and on many aspects of the Rebellion it remains an indispensable repository of information.


preface vii
foreword ix
part I1
"Talmiz Khaldun":
The Great Rebellion3
K. M Ashraf
Muslim Revivalists and the revolt of 185778
Benoy Ghosh
The Bengali Intelligentsia and the revolt 112
P.C. Joshi
1857 In our history 129
Part II
P.C. Gupta
1857 And Hindi Literature 243
S. Ehtesham Husain
Urdu literature and the revolt256
K. M. Ashraf
Ghalib and the Revolt of 1857 265
Gopal Haldar
Bengali literature Before and after 1857278
P.C. Joshi
Folk songs on 1857292
Part III
James Bryne
British Opinion and the Indian revolt 313
Charles Fournian
Contemporary French Press 337
Liliana Dalle Nogare
Echoes of 1857 in Italy 346
P. Shastiko
Russian press on 1857356
Yu Sheng-Wu & Chang Chen-Kun
China and India in Mid-19th Century 361
Chronological Table 379
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