The following were the main causes for the 1857 Revolt:
1. Political causes of the Revolt of 1857
Following are some of the major political causes for the Revolt of 1857:
- The unjust policy of Clive, Hastings and Wellesley etc. had created great dissatisfaction among the kings and Muslim subedars and Mughal emperors etc.
- Clive’s intervention in the Nawabi of Bengal,
- Hastings’ misbehavior with Chet Singh and the Begums of Awadh,
- Insult of the Nawabs and Kings across the country by the Subsidiary Alliance of Lord Wellesley
- Dalhousie’s Imperial Policy,
- Swallowing different states one by one and the British Resident guarding their chest and loading the British army at their own expense,
- Dethrone of King or Nawab.
These are some Political causes of the Revolt of 1857 that resulted in the awakening of political upheaval and discontent all over the country against the black rule of the East India Company.
Not only this, due to Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse, the states of many native kings had become a part of the British state. As a result of all these things and the misbehavior of the British, the native kings here – whether Hindus or Muslims – all became fierce enemies of the foreign East India Company.
Also read: Establishment of British Rule in India
Misbehavior with the Mughal emperor
Due to the unjust treatment of the Mughal emperor, there was great discontent among the Muslims. Muslims were also disgraced by the elimination of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in the south by the Company. The Muslims of the East were also fed up with the British due to the unjust treatment of Mir Jafar and Mir Qasim in Bengal.
According to James Outram, “It was the result of a Mohammadan conspiracy making capital of Hindu grievances.”
Discontent among Hindus
Not only this but in the same way, the Hindu caste was also made their enemy by the British.
- Jhansi, Satara, and Nagpur were the victims of the imperialist policy of the Company.
- The Jagir of Babu Kunwar Singh of Shahabad district in Bihar was confiscated by the Board of Revenue.
- In South India, almost twenty thousand small zamindaris were confiscated on the orders of Dalhousie.
Discontent against Company’s Employee
The rich and wealthy were fed up with the misbehavior of the company’s employees. The people working in the high positions of the native states and the Nawabs were facing unemployment because the company itself had become the owner by annexing the native states and British officers were reinstated in all the high positions. As a result, the working class also became a known enemy of British rule.
Thus, it becomes clear from the above quotes that political instability and discontent was the first and most important cause of the Sepoy Mutiny, which contributed to this rebellion.
2. Economic Causes of 1857 Revolt
The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 AD can also be said to be the result of economic reasons. Due to the economic plunder of the East India Company, the merchants and artisans here were looted. Many people became unemployed. Due to the zamindari being snatched from countless small zamindars, their livelihood was destroyed. Apart from this, many Indian soldiers who used to work with the native kings were dismissed due to sudden departure. In this way, their life was also destroyed. As a result, the dire problem of poverty and unemployment had appeared before most of the people of all classes. Thus, the economic distress was also the reason behind the seed of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 AD.
3. Religious and Social Causes
Some of the reasons for the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 were actually religious and some were social and some of the reasons were misunderstood as religious.
Promotion of English education
English education was promoted in this country during the reign of Lord Bentinck. The pundits and clerics of the old tradition observed that religious texts had no place in the curriculum of public schools. In their place, foreign language and literature studies have started. As a result, it was speculated that future generations would drift away from their cultural education and would easily become Christian. Therefore, the wave of discontent among the general public started igniting.
Tradition of Sati
The company had made the law and declared the practice of Sati illegal. Along with a few people, the priests also considered it religious interference. As a result, the law of the abolition of the practice of Sati also made the wave of discontent in the life of the common man even more intense.
The company legalized widow marriage by making a law. This angered some old-minded people. As a result, widow marriage also intensified the wave of discontent in the life of the common man.
The company accepted the same right in the family property of the people who converted to Christianity as it was before. This made people very angry. In people’s minds, the impression began to become firm that the foreign government was encouraging people by facilitating them to become Christians. Even Hindus and Muslims got spoiled by this.
Similarly, the promotion of rail and telegraph, etc. was not well understood by the people and was considered as an attack on the feelings of caste and untouchability. It was clear that the hypocrisy of untouchability in trains could not be maintained as much as it was possible in homes. Therefore, the people of the old thought considered it a means to corrupt the religion.
Propagation of Christianity
Despite the above reasons, Christian clergy began to openly propagate their religion among Hindus and Muslims, and due to a few reasons, they started getting some success. In fact, these priests had the shadow of the British rulers. Therefore, the religious ideologues understood very well that the foreign rule of the East India Company is at the root of all these ills. Its interference will continue in the religious field, directly or indirectly, till they are not eradicated. Therefore, this section of the society also became biased to put an end to the Company’s rule, as it was convinced that the Company would eventually convert everyone to Christianity.
Thus, due to the reasons mentioned above, the fire of rebellion arose which came to be known as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 or Revolt of 1857.
4. Military causes for the Revolt of 1857
Centuries of discontent and disorder took the form of a rebellion in 1857. Since it was received or led by soldiers, we know it as Sepoy Mutiny. Indian soldiers were fed up with the white officers of the Company.
- They could not reach high positions even after working with a lot of honesty.
- High posts were reserved for the British.
- Not only this, Indian soldiers were not trusted. All the main things like arms and ammunition etc. were under British officers. It was natural for these Indian soldiers to consider it an insult.
- The salary and allowances etc. were very less for the Indian soldiers as compared to the British soldiers and officers. This angered the Indian soldiers – which was natural.
Indian soldiers were much more in number than British soldiers and officers. In fact, there was only one main pillar of the British in India. Still, they did not have the respect that Ghori Paltan had. Every day they had to drink a sprinkling of humiliation.
Apart from these things, there was also the matter that the religious sentiments of the Indian soldiers were not taken care of. Many soldiers in the Company’s army belonged to the upper classes and were aristocrats. They believe in the idea of untouchability and this could not be protected in the army.
According to the ancient customs, they had been considered prohibited to travel the sea. Now the company government made it a rule that any soldier will have to work in the war zone by going across the sea, inside or outside the country. As long as the East India Company continued to spread its legs within this country, this problem did not arise, but when the conquest of India was over their eyes fell on the frontier countries like Burma and Afghanistan. Then there was a need to send Indian troops abroad. In fact, the hunger of the empire posed this problem. With the introduction of this new rule, a feeling arose in the hearts of the Indian soldiers that the Company was deliberately interfering in their religion.
What was the immediate cause of the revolt of 1857?
Not only this, Indian soldiers were given a new type of cartridges that had to be bitten for use. At that time a few people spread the rumor that the new cartridges were filled with the fat of cow and pig so that the religion of both Hindu and Muslim soldiers would be destroyed simultaneously. Hindu and Muslim soldiers believed this rumor. Now it was believed that the British company would leave them all as Christians one day or the other. Indian soldiers were already angry and humiliated by the British and this rumor act as a spark.
Rumors were spreading among the soldiers against biting a cartridge made of cow and boar fat with their teeth, while in the meantime a rumor also spread that the British Empire would end a hundred years after the Battle of Plassey. This prophecy appeared as a bitter truth in 1857.
But according to Sir John Lawrence “The Mutiny had its origin in the army and its proximate cause was the cartridge affair nothing else.”
In this way, the discontent gathered over the centuries took the form of the Revolt in 1857 which was lead by Indian soldiers. Consequently, we know it as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
In conclusion, on the basis of the above statements, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the above reasons were the main reasons for the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, which resulted in the 1857 Revolt in India.