Indian Revolt of 1857




When the sepoys approached the last Mughal emperor on May 11, 1857, Zafar said to them, “I have neither troops, magazine or treasury. I am not in a condition to join anyone.” They said, “Only give us your blessing. We will provide everything else.” (Dalrymple, p. 162) How significant do you think this moment was for the Revolt of 1857? What does it tell you about the political consciousness of the sepoys? Consider the Revolt of 1857 from different perspectives/sources/points of view.

Submitted By: Vasundhara Prasad
Banner ID: B00380670
Professor: Vazira Zamindar

Word Count: 2409

One of the primary and severe outbursts of resentment against the British rule in India came in the form of the Revolt of 1857. While the sepoys who worked for the East India Company started the revolt, it was later spread across the country by peasants, artisans and soldiers who emerged as an important part of the popular insurgency. This paper claims that Bahadur Shah Zafar’s move to give his ‘blessings’ to the rebellion among the Company’s own troops proved to be highly significant for the Revolt of 1857 as it successfully transformed an army mutiny into a huge uprising. Furthermore, the decision to proclaim the insipid Mughal ruler as the Emperor of India betrayed the political consciousness of the revolting sepoys and their sense of allegiance to the pre-colonial polity. In an effort to better understand the Revolt of 1857, this paper analyses not only the different debates on how to characterize the uprising, but also evaluates the historiography to arrive at a comprehensive explanation for the events that transpired.
May 1857 saw an initial mutiny of sepoys in Meerut, sparked by the East India Company’s policy of using cow or pig fat to grease the cartridges of the new Pattern 1853 Enfield rifles. Sepoys refusing to use the cartridges, as judged by Hindu and Muslim beliefs to...