india's freedom fighter
Nana Saheb Peshve and his kingdom
Nana Saheb was one of the most influential rulers after the reign of Shivaji. He was also called Balaji Bajirao. When Chattrapati Shahu died in 1749 he made the Peshwas the rulers of the Maratha Empire. He did not have an heir to his kingdom so he appointed the brave Peshwas as the heir to his kingdom, Nana Saheb had two brothers, Raghunathrao and Janardan. Raghunathrao betrayed the Marathas by joining hands with the British, and Janardan, died in his early youth. Nana Saheb ruled the Maratha kingdom for 20 years (1740 to 1761).
Being a ruler of the Maratha Empire, Nana Saheb contributed heavily to the development of the city of Pune. During his reign, he totally changed Poona from a village into a city. He gave the city a new look by establishing new neighborhoods, temples, and bridges. He also set up a reservoir in the town of Katraj. Nana Saheb was a very ambitious ruler and a man with a multifaceted personality. In 1741, his uncle Chimnaji died, as a result he returned from the northern districts and spent about a year to improve the civil administration of Pune. In the Deccan, the period from 1741 to 1745 was considered a period of calm and peace. He encouraged agriculture, gave protection to the villagers and brought a considerable improvement in the state.
In 1761, at the third Battle of Panipat, the Marathas were defeated against Ahmedshah Abdali, who was a great warrior from Afganistan. Marathas tried to save Mughal rule and also their power in the north.. In the battle Nanasaheb's cousin, Sadashivrao Bhau (the son of Chimaji Appa), and his eldest son, Vishwasrao, were killed. The early demise of his son and cousin was a severe shock for him. After that Nana Saheb also did not survive for a long period. His second son Madhavrao Peshwa succeeded to the throne after his death.
Dadabhai Naoroji was born at Nasik on the 4th of September 1825. He was the son of a Parsi priest. At the age of 27, he became Professor of Mathematics at Elphinstone Institution, Bombay. He left for England at the age of 30 to start a career in Business. In 1855 he became a partner in an important Parsi Commercial Firm in London and later he set up his own commercial house there. On 31st October 1861, an association was founded in the name of “The London Anjuman” and Dr.Dadabhai Naoroji was its patron, founder, and first President.
In 1859 he started a campaign of agitation about injustice in the system of recruiting for the Indian Civil Service. He was the first to work systematically for the intellectual uplift of the Indian public.
In 1862, he founded the influential East Indian Association to educate the English public on Indian affairs. The purpose of the Association was to keep Britain well informed of India’s plight and needs and to secure fair treatment to the Indians. He presented to the British people the “Drain Theory” which put before them the facts and figures illustrating systematic bleeding of the wealth and resources of India. He returned to India in 1874, having been appointed Dewan of Baroda state. But he went back to England in 1886 with the idea of getting into the British Parliament.
He was elected to the Parliament on the 5th of July 1892. He entered as a Liberal into the House of Commons representing the Central Finsbury Constituency. Thus he became the First Indian member of the British Parliament. He was renowned as the founding father of Indian Nationalism.
Dadabhai is considered as one of the founder of the Indian National Congress. He was thrice elected as the President of Congress. He chose the Moderate path to attain freedom during the formative years of the Congress. He trusted the British. He began to despair after experiencing the British political system which increased disillusionment. In 1904, he demanded ‘Swaraj’. The younger generation of nationalist leaders, including Gopala Krishna Gokhale and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, regard him as their mentor, and he was affectionately hailed as the Grand Old Man of India.
A great life nobly lived, spanning nearly a whole century, great in simplicity, purity, and lofty in its concept of Man’s mission on earth, came to an end on 30th June 1917. Dadabhai passed away at a ripe age of 93.
He once said “Be united, persevere, and achieve self-government, so that the millions now perishing by poverty, famine, and plague may be saved, and India may once more occupy her proud position of yore among the greatest and civilized nations of the world”.
1. His classic study ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India’ (1901), played an important in arousing and stimulating economic nationalism in India.
2. He was the founder of the Raft Goftar newspaper in England.
3. He started two religious magazines- Dharma Marg Darshak and Raft Goftar to educate Parsis about their religion.
Ramachandra Pandurang Tope (1814 - 18 April 1859), also known as Tatya Tope (pronounced Toh-pey), was an Indian leader in the First War of Indian Independence of 1857. He was a personal adherent of Nana Sahib of Kanpur. He progressed with the Gwalior contingent after the British reoccupation of Kanpur and forced General Windham to retreat from Kanpur. Later on, he came to the rescue of Rani Laxmi Bai. However he was defeated by General Napier`s troops and was executed by the British Government at Shivpuri on 18th April 1859.
Born in village Yeola in Maharashtra, he was the only son of Pandurang Rao Tope and his wife Rukhmabai, an important noble at the court of the Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II. His father shifted his family with the Peshwa to Bithur where his son became the most intimate friend of the Peshwa's adopted son, Nana Dhondu Pant (known as Nana Sahib) and Maharaja Madhav Singhji.
In 1851, when Lord Dalhousie deprived Nana Sahib of his father's pension, Tatya Tope also became a sworn enemy of the British. In May 1857, when the political storm was gaining momentum, he won over the Indian troops of the East India Company, stationed at Kanpur (Cawnpore), established Nana Sahib's authority and became the Commander-in-Chief of his forces.
Fight against the British
Tantia Tope's Soldiery
When Nana Sahib's forces attacked the British entrenchment in June, 1857, General Wheeler's contingent incurred heavy losses as a result of successive bombardments, sniper fire, and assault. Also slow supplies of food, water and medicine added to their misery and they decided to surrender, in return for a safe passage to Allahabad. But despite Nana Sahib's arrangements, some confusion at the Satichaura ghat led to attacks on the departing British by the rebel sepoys, and were either killed or captured.The surviving British women and children were moved from the Savada House to Bibighar ("the House of the Ladies"), a villa-type house in Kanpur. Retaliation occurred as Company forces started approaching Kanpur, and Nana Sahib's bargaining attempts had failed(in exchange for hostages). Nana Sahib was informed that the British troops led by Havelock and Neill were indulging in violence against the Indian villagers.Nana Sahib, and his associates, including Tatya Tope and Azimullah Khan, debated about what to do with the captives at Bibighar. Some of Nana Sahib's advisors had already decided to kill the captives at Bibighar, as revenge for the murders of Indians by the advancing British forces. The details of the incident, such as who ordered the massacre, are not clear.
Rani Lakshmi Bai
Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leading warriors of the India's first struggle of independence. She is a symbol of bravery, patriotism and honor. She was born on 19th November, 1835 at Poona. Her father Moropant Tabme was a court advisor, and mother Bhagirathi was a scholarly woman. At a very early age she lost her mother. Her father raised her in an unconventional way and supported her to learn to ride elephants and horses and also to use weapons effectively. She grew up with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, who were active participants in the first revolt of independence.
In 1842, Rani Lakshmibai was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao who was the Maharaja of Jhansi. After the marriage to Gangadhar Rao she was called Lakshmi Bai. In 1851, she gave birth to a son but unfortunately he died in his fourth month. After this tragic incident, Damodar Rao was adopted by Maharaja of Jhansi as his son. Moved by the death of his son and his poor health, Maharaja Gangadhar Rao also died on 21st November 1853. When the Maharaja died, Rani Lakshmi Bai was just eighteen years old, but she didn't lose her courage and took up her responsibility.
Lord Dalhousie, the Governor -General of India at that time, was a very shrewd person who tried to take advantage of the misfortune of Jhansi to expand the British Empire. The British rulers did not accept little Damodar Rao, as the legal heir of late Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and Rani Lakshmi Bai. Their plan was to annexe Jhansi on the ground that it did not have any legal heir. In March 1854 Rani of Jhansi was granted an annual pension of 60,000 and was ordered to leave the Jhansi fort. She was firm on the decision not to give up the dominion of Jhansi to Britishers.
For strengthening the defense of Jhansi Rani Lakshmibai assembled an army of rebellions, which also included women. For this great cause she was supported by brave warriors like Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, Sunder-Mundar, Kashi Bai, Lala Bhau Bakshi, Moti Bai, Deewan Raghunath singh and Deewan Jawahar Singh. She assembled 14,000 rebels and organized an army for the defense of the city.
In March 1858, when the Britishers attacked Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai's army decided to fight and the war continued for about two weeks. The army fought very bravely, even though Jhansi lost to the British forces. After a fierce war when the British army entered Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai, tied her son Damodar Rao to her back fought bravely using two swords with both her hands. She escaped to the fortress of Kalpi under the cover of darkness and was accompanied by many other rebellions. She departed to Gwalior and a fierce battle was fought between the British and the Rani's army. On the unfortunate day of 18th June of 1858, this great warrior martyred her life for India's freedom.
Bal Gandadhar Tilak (1856 - 1920) was born in Maharashtra. Tilak had many admirers and they named him Lokmanya (admired by the people) Tilak. He joined the Indian National Congress and was among its first militant leaders who attacked the British rule and demanded self-rule for India. He blamed the British that they were exploiting India for their economical gain while they completely neglected the basic needs of the Indians. He was the first Indian leader who moved the Indian independence cause from the closed rooms of the intellectuals to the ordinary people of India. Some of the main nationalist slogans used by Indians during their struggle for independence were slogans coined by him. One of his famous sentences was "Swaraj (self rule) is my birthright and I shall have it". Other of his important concepts utilized later on by Mahatma Gandhi were boycott of foreign goods and use of the term 'Swadeshi', meaning 'of our country' or 'self reliance'.
Tilak supported and introduced social and religious reforms in Indian society, but at the same time he was also a Hindu nationalist and proud about India's past. He tried different ways to gather the different Indian communities together and start unifying them. He started two festivals, which even today exist in India. In these festival patriotic songs were sung and a platform was establish for exhibition of Indian arts and cultures. One festival is of Lord Ganesh – the God with the elephant head - in which the idol of Ganesh is immersed in the sea. The other festival is Shivaji festival - Shiv Jayanti. Shivaji was a Hindu king who rebelled against Moghuls- Muslims who arrived to India from outside India (see India in the past). Tilak also established newspapers and schools. He succeeded in arousing major uprisings against the British and was titled by the western press in 1907 as the ‘father of Indian uprising’.
Tilak and his associates were considered by the British as dangerous and as the main cause for the violence against them and therefore they arrested and deported them. Tilak was deported to Burma in 1907. In Burma he wrote a new commentary on the holy Bhagwad Gita. He claimed that the main message of the Gita was action. With this commentary he tried to convince Indians to rise and fight for their rights. Tilak returned from his deportation in 1915 and became the leader of the Indian nationalism. He managed to bridge between the extremes and liberals in the Congress and also succeeded in signing a cooperation agreement with another nationalist organization in British India, Muslim League.
Lokmanya Tilak died in 1920 and was replaced by Mahatma Gandhi as the leader of India's freedom struggle.