Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Sepoy Jihad Of 1857

"..but it is now unambiguously clear that the rebels saw themselves as fighting a war to preserve their religion, and articulated it as such."
BBC has an interview with writer-historian William Dalrymple, in which he talks about the role of religion, "suicide ghazis" and rebellion in the so-called "First war of Indian Independence".

10 comments:

MockTurtle said...

Does that mean that the old story of beef and pork encased shell casings is actually true?
I always thought that was more myth than history.
-MT

Joy Forever said...
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Joy Forever said...

That was a very interesting read. Thanks for the link. We were taught in school that the cartridge issue was responsible for the immediate starting of the mutiny, but there were other deep rooted social and economic causes that would have started it anyway, sooner or later. But now it seems the cartridge issue was important after all.
And thanks for that DesiPundit nomination! :)

Joy Forever said...
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km said...

MT and Joy: Yeah, even I was a bit surprised to learn that the old story about the "kartoos" is true. Dalrymple has hinted at a few other undercurrents in the interview and his new book should be a gripping read.

Alok said...

thanks for the link! it was a good read. well the cartridge story is an established fact.

the main controversy regarding this is, whether it indeed was a war of "indepedence" since all major players were acting in their own narrow self-interest and out of personal grievances without any nationalist consciousness. also whether it was good that the rebellion was crushed because it was essentially reactionary and feudalist in character. a few economic historians claim that the feudal system prior to the british rule was even more exploitative and inefficient.

it would be interesting what Dalrymyple has to say. but he is already too much in the I-love-india mode so it shouldn't be surprising :)

Outlook had published a long extract from his book some time last month. can't find it on the site now.

km said...

Alok, your new blog keeps eating my comments. If you plan to be there for the Mizoguchi film on 16th, let me know - maybe we can meet up there. (I am not 100% certain yet if I can make it to the city that weekend...will know next week.)

Why don't more writers and historians explore the "self-interest versus freedom" angle, I wonder?

Alok said...

16th should be okay. still one more week to go so let's keep it tentative :)

why don't you switch to blogger beta, i think these guys are playing around with the user accounts. i have to post here without logging in too, using the "other" option.

GhostOfTomJoad said...

Haven't been to the link in your post yet but, from my history books in Class XII, I remember that the cartridge issue was a very real cause of discontent. As far as self-interest is concerned, the best example is Mangal Pandey, often portrayed as the first hero of the first war for independence. However, he was no more than an ordinary soldier who was punished for indiscipline...apparently he assaulted a superior officer because, among other things, he was denied leave. And, if I remember correctly, he was actually hanged in March 1857, which was more than two months before the real mutiny is said to have broken out.

Tabula Rasa said...

very interesting interview. such cool data!!