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Books > History > Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus (The Tope Family Presents The Story of Tatya and The Anglo-Indian War of 1857)
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Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus (The Tope Family Presents The Story of Tatya and The Anglo-Indian War of 1857)
Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus (The Tope Family Presents The Story of Tatya and The Anglo-Indian War of 1857)
Description
About the Book

Tatya Tope’s operation Red Lotus is a quest to understand the real history of the Anglo Indian War of 1857. A quest by the contemporary members of the Tope family which led to the discovery of the dramatic battle man oeuvres of their ancestor the legendary Tatya Tope, as well as the true import of the war.

Despite India defeat this war significantly reversed the course of event and allowed the survival of the world solidest living civilization. A war that has been wished away behind the smokescreen of euphemisms: rebellion revolt uprising and most famously the sepoy mutiny.

Operation Red Lotus is the first detailed account of Tatya Tope that covers his entire campaign from the planning of the war until his death; and offers a surprising answer to the generation old question was the man hanged on 18 April 1859,Tatya Tope.

It covers the detailed planning of the ward and the logistical issues that were overcome to allow the Indian troops to march over a million man miles in the early months of the war. Hundreds of Urdu letters written to Tatya during the war, which have never been published before were translated to demonstrate Tatya administrative acumen in running a ful-fledged government in parallel.

Fascinating troop movements and battles are illustrated using several dozen military style maps and schematics, offering the reader a near ringside experience of Tatya chess like moves and counter moves. Yes, operation Red Lotus is not just a military chronicle limited by the period it covers; it also addresses issues of modern relevance. It offers an Indic paradigm to what freedom really means. It provides platform for the dream of a resurgent India and its charisma as the eternal nation.

About the Author

Based in USA, Parag is the founder and part owner of Vistarus (www.vistarus.com). A relentless passion for history combined with a masters degree in engineering and an MBA in strategy makes parag the chief architect of the book. Parag applied his analytical skills to brings a refreshing perspective to the reconstruction of historical events.

Preface

History is always written with an agenda. There are times when the agenda is benign but far too often it is not. Dig deeper put the context in perspective and very often a dark underbelly reveals itself. In that darkness exist many real stories that were not only covered up or buried but also distorted and destroyed.

So what was our agenda? To resolve a long standing dichotomy between stories passed down in the family about Tatya Tope and coming to terms with a history written by aliens and to uncover and reconstruct the real story of 1857.

Understandably English historian had a biased view on this subject. A common thread running through most English narratives is to either trivialize facts, prejudice the reader by giving an unsightly physical description of natives or pass off undecipherable event as religious rituals! What about Indian historian? Did they simply lack the will or the ability to synthesize facts? Were they more concerned with pleasing those who controlled their purse strings?

As much as academic historians either English or Indian claim to be objective about the question remains whether it is really possible. In the introduction to 1857 in India Ainslee T. embree of Columbia University writes in reference to various narratives on the subject the writer have proclaimed their freedom form prejudice and their intention of treating their materials with objectivity yet their biases are strikingly evident in both the selection of evidence and in the value judgment they apply to it. In many cases when certain subjective evidence is available historians have two options one accept that it is authentic or two say is questionable and therefore reject it. When objective criteria to assess the veracity of that piece of information are lacking it is often the prerogative of the historians to make that interpretation.

In making that interpretation context is everything.

In our quest to unravel to real story of Tatya Tope we stumbled upon the hidden history of 1857. Tucked away in the archives and the libraries is a plethora of information either overlooked side stepped or misrepresented. Add to these the original and never before translated letters written in Urdu, the letter in Bundeli eye witness accounts in Marathi English reports viewed from a different context and we have a dramatically different story. Within the new context these nuggest of information became the missing pieces in the mosaic of the war of 1857. While the red lotus flower has a symbolic meaning representing Indic ideas and ideals this book demonstrates that the red lotus represented something far more specific during the war of 1857.

While this book is the most detailed account yet of Tatya Tope’s contribution to 1857 presenting nearly all his movements and battles during his incredibly long campaign it is certainly not definitive. At a minimum it enforces the argument that Indian history particular that of 1857 needs significant reassessment. We hope that his makes a case and encourages Indian academics to relinquish their revisionist outlook and takes a fresh look at Indian history.

Illustrations are an integral part of the narrative and they have been used to represent the complicated troops movements in the various phases of the war as well as schematically describe the battles; all of which the English claims to have won. The base map was created electronically from publicly available information. All troops’ movement and analysis was overlaid on the base map based on the various sources as cited in the text. No modern political boundaries are represented because they are not relevant to the topic.

In the context of spellings for the names of towns our primary goals was effective communication. The approach to the spellings of Indian words was premised on overcoming the inability of the Roman scripts to represent Indian sounds. We have used spelling generally based on phonetic conventions that have evolved in a post British India. Many maps have been annotated with information from various reports showing the town of Deohati is annotated as November 29, 1858: Tatya Tope at Dewhuttee. This attempts to bridge the gap between in narratives of 1857 and the modern spelling of various town in many cases decoding the English spellings and studying the maps was like solving a puzzle that involved guessing what the original Indian name would be based on how the English were likely to have pronounced it and then locating it on the map. While words like Raatghur for Rahatgarh were easy Saltol for sarthal were frustrating. Poonah for Pahoona were confusing and sooseneer for susner were amusing. And of course we have an entire chapter dedicated to ‘Cawnpore’.

A significant amount of effort went into compiling the movement of the troops in the early part of the war. The troop movement table is a compilation of the main infantry and cavalry regiments of the Bengal and the Gwalior armies. It summarises where each of the regiment were stationed the date when they overpowered that local English army and more importantly their destination. This table summreises the initial theatre of the war and most of the action in the early stages of the war. Our focus on the subsequent phases of the war was on Tatya Tope movement. The many battle fought in other parts of India are reflect to only when the context demanded it.

We have referred to the war of 1857 as an Anglo Indian war. Regardless of the ethnic identities of the soldier who fought the battles there were clearly two sides in this war. Tatya Tope and other Indian leaders were fighting to rid India of the English on the other hand were willing to pay anyone and everyone who would allow them to continue their plunder of India. While many earlier narratives have used the words British European or white as being more representative of the personal that were involved they camouflage something very important. Whether the soldiers were Irish Scottish or mercenaries of other ethnic identities they all were being paid by their English masters. They were fighting a war that represented English interests and the English empire where the Irish the Scottish and other were amongst those oppressed. Therefore we have often used the word English to represent what many other narratives have chosen to use the word British.

We the contributors are graduates and post graduates in disciplines as diverse as psychology computer science engineering, medicine, military history, business and finance from universities in India Ireland and the united states. Research skill from our respective subject areas were now applied to the context of history.

We spent more than two years in and out of various archives and libraries poring over volumes of source material translating original letters picking up the threads of a scattered Tatya Tope family and in deciphering the tiresome English lexicon used for what was a massive cover up operation presented as history.

While Parag Tope is the author and architect of this work this project was the brainchild of Rupa Tope-Joshi it was her challenge to Parag to full that launce in this period of Indic history. With his incisive analysis and an ability to alter the context the author created a new dimension to view the event of 1857 and Tatya Tope’s campaigns.

Sourcing some of this information from various libraries and archives was the responsibility of Nandita. She has a secret source of energy which she and in caring for her little children. Nandita early finding from her trips to various archives and libraries gave the project a strong momentum.

Painstakingly poring over mounds of paper making meticulous notes and following up with translation were Rupa and Dr Rajesh Tope. In fact so unwavering was Rajesh focus that we had a bizarre instance cf him flitting in and out of the operation theatre in his surgical mask spending time with our Urdu translator confined in the anesthetists office in the hospital. Rupa was always a constant source of encouragement.

Dhananjay is the wordsmith who was not only critical in the editing process but was also responsible for contributing to half a dozen sections in the book. He is an alumnus for contributing to half a dozen sections wellington and spent the better part of his youth in service to India. He now teaches at an international school in Mumbai.

Prabhakar Tope Baba to all of us is the senior patriarch. His razor sharp memory that spans more than eighty five years makes portions of this narrative personal. While visiting Parag in San Diego Baba spent many hours a day for several months painstakingly going over books and maps and providing valuable input to parag. From his childhood in the trying times of Yoga to the run up of the fateful event that shaped today India. As a practicing architect Baba always encouraged his children to use illustration to visually express ideas. The several dozen maps in the books that illustrate various troop movement and reconstruct historical events were a result of Baba training.

We owe his work to the next generation our children: Abhineet Divij Eira Saoirse and naosie and we dedicate this work to Aai who introduced us a children to what freedom really means. Aai is no longer with us but we know that we makes her proud. We bow to her using the words of Sri Aurobindo who translated Bankimchandra beautiful poem.

Introduction

Forty thousand men are ready to take on the real Tantia Tope and five thousand of his sepoys was the summary of a letter from major general G.S.P Lawrence to the secretary to the government of India.

This letter would have been otherwise routine fare during the war of 1857 however this was written on 29 June 1863 four years after the war was over! Such was the panic the name Tatya Tope struck in the hearts of the English even years after he was allegedly executed by the English themselves. Tatya campaigns had become legendary during the war.

Generation later the legend lives on. The name of Tatya Tope remains in the hearts and minds of the people of India in particular even today. In 2007 a newborn baby in a village near central India in particular Pradesh), was named after Tatya Tope in honour of the hero.

Tatya used to store ammunition here...,’ someone whispered as the author and his family peered down the dark tunnel leading to the basement of an old house. The place was yeola in northern Maharashtra about thirty five kilometers from shirdi. The legend was alive in the family as well. It was this small house where the author father prabhakar Tope spent his childhood years. Tatya Tope the Tope family ancestor also spent his childhood in Yeola in a house nearby before moving a bithur (near Kanpur) with his family.

Tatya Tope was not just one of the important leaders of the war of 1857; but as this book demonstrates a central figure. During his times he was a strategist whose electrifying marches very nearly reversed the outcome of the war; and later a legend admired by subsequent generation. Tatya later campaigns in 1858 indeed brought him to northern Maharashtra however Tatya was never near yeola to have stored any ammunition in this ancestral home. Family folklore had that Tatya once visited this house disguised as a sadhu several months after he was executed by English. Then there were stories of Tatya receiving messages in lotuses and sending messages in chapattis shortly before the war stated. While many of these stories were largely myths buried within these myths were nuggets of information that helped the author unravel a couple of puzzles that had remained unsolved for over 150 years.

The author learnt about Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 in his history lessons during secondary schools. While Tatya Tope name stood out in history books Tatya real role in the war and the story of 1857 remained muddled in the presentation.

The historiography of 1857 first penned by the victors of the war presented an obvious Anglo-centric bias. Although challenged in 1908 most subsequent narratives remained largely loyal to the Victorian presentations. There were minor semantic changes and the role of the civilians was amplified to synchcronise with political views; yet the historiography remained largely revisionist in its outlook. Recent attempts to challenges the biases history have been attacked as rebelling against history by entrenched academics who have made a career defending this history.

The author is of the opinion that the real historiography of 1857 remains blurred with these revisionist lenses and what is required to bring clarity is not just a rebellion but a war on the history of 1857. The continuation of a war that was first declared over a hundred years ago.

The War on ‘History
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was the first person to challenge the historiography of 1857 when he published the Indian war of independence 1857.

Writing in 1908 Savarkar was not attempting to be an academic in search of coveted scholarship or to win accolades and laurels. Neither was he hankering for the label of a great historian nor looking to earn fellowships in England. His goal was simply to liberate India and the book was written to inspire Indians to rise against the English. Referring to the Indian nation Savarkar wrote;

…Within her heart whose treasure is all forbearing calmness besides concealed the terrible power of vengeance too… hast thou ever beheld a volcano! Apparently it is clothed with soft green vegetarian: but let it once open its jaws and then all sides will begins to pour forth boiling lava…

As a later chapter in the book discusses this volcano erupted on 18 February 1946 and changed India history forever.

Beyond the inspirational elements of his book savarkar viewed 1857 in a completely different context. Considering that he was only twenty four when he wrote this book Savarkar showed an extraordinary insight into understanding the potency of the events of 1857. He challenged the premise of 1857 as sepoy Mutiny and urged his readers to view the real history of 1857 writing.

…to write a full history of a revolution means necessarily the tracing of all the events of that revolution back to their source the motive the innermost desire of those who brought it about. This is the telescope which will show clearly the lights and shadows obscured by the blurred presentation of partial and prejudiced historians. When a beginning is made in this manner order appears in the apparent chaos of inconsistent facts crooked lines become straight and straight lines appear crooked light appeared ugly becomes fair and what looked beautiful is seen to be deformed. And expectedly or unexpectedly but in a clear form the revolution comes into the light of real history.

Savarkar had scratched the surface when he demonstrated that a significant reassessment of 1857 was required for a more complete understanding of the events of 1857. His job relative to the historiography of 1857 remains unfinished thanks to the continuation of partial and prejudiced historians and academics who chose not to further study savarkar underlying thesis. Regardless of savarkar rigour and objectivity in writing 1857 in indeed a very difficult subject particularly from an Indian perspective. John kay a Victorian historian who wrote three volume of the history of 1857 commented in his preface about the surface. It is a long a laborious task to exhume it. Despite their obvious biases the task for the Victorian historian was therefore of exhuming what was buried beneath the surface.

For the Indian however history was literally and figuratively cremated when India lost the war. What survived and was published as history s highly based account which were largely rubber stamped by later Indian academics and official historians on the subject. The task today of finding the truth, therefore, is not simple about exhumation of history but that of reconstructing it.

History was cremated because most of the communication between the Indian leaders of the war was destroyed. So was objectivity. Amongst what the over a survived or any communication with any Indian leaders of the war are over a hundred letters in Urdu written to Tatya Tope. Tatya Tope was a mentor no Nana Saheb Peshwa who was amongst the main leaders of the war. These previously unpublished letters mostly written over a three week period in early 1858 give us an insight into the government of Nana Saheb Peswa that was established in Budnelkhand in 1857 until the fall of Jhansi and Kalpi in 1858. In the last chapter of his book Savarkar underscores the advanced planning that took place prior to the war and follows up with a question;

Answering his own question Savarkar opines that:

…the chief reason appears to be this. Though the plan of the destructive part of the Revolution was complete its creative part was not attractive enough. Nobody was against destroying the English rule but what about the future?

At the present book argues India lost the war for reason far less abstract than Savarkar conclusions. Considering his motivations in 1908 it is not difficult to see that savarkar was projecting his personal experiences that he needed to address to what happened in 1857 as a twenty four years old revolutionary. Savarkar faced the paradox of destructive versus the creative elements of a revolution which he attributes to 1857. Savarkar thrust was to inspire other Indians for an armed revolt against the English his challenge as he attempted to inspire people around him was indeed what about the future? This book demonstrates the existence of both the destructive and the creative elements of 1857. Therefore the challenge of 1857 were very different than 1908.

The 125 Urdu letters represent only a small fraction of the communication that was taking place. As a later chapter in the book discusses Tatya Tope as the representative for a independent Indian government demonstrated remarkable ability to manage multiple civil and military functions simultaneously. Savarkar was not privy to this creative side of 1857 when he ascribed India defeat on that particular point.

Undoubtedly new source materials such as these provide an important insight into the event of 1857. Yet a real wealth of information stares us in the face in what is already published. This treasure can be uncovered by simply analyzing and assessing the information from another context.

There are a few critical elements essential in understanding the history of any war more so that of 1857. These include the study of troop movements their logistics and most importantly their supply lines. Despite the large body of work that has been published on this subject one find precious little information on the aforementioned topics especially the troop movements. Thousands upon thousands of Indian soldiers marched millions of man-miles in the period which remains largely ignored. A study of Tatya Tope movement after June 1858 uncovers a dramatic story that has never been told. Operation Red Louts is an attempts to view the events of the war of 1857 from a vantage point that is vastly different from what has been presented so far.

Most narratives describe the battle based on reports filled by English officers and generals. These narratives have an obvious bias: Indian strengths are exaggerated defeats are presented as victories and pages upon pages are dedicated to British courage and bravery. However a study of the troop movement before and after the battles often exposes English mendacity in the account. The analysis in this book focuses primarily on the movement of the troops and other events rather than accepting English narratives at face value to reconstruct the reality of 1857.

A few months before the war stated red lotus flowers mysteriously began to appear in the garrisons where Indian soldiers were stationed. This was followed by a chain of chapattis that were travelling from village to village. Savarkar beautifully expresses the symbolism of the red lotuses that were making the rounds of the garrisons prior to the war; that were carrying an inspirational message.

A lotus flower! The symbol the poet appointed symbol of purity, victory light! And its colour red. Vivid red!... what a tumult of thoughts must be ranging in the mind of every sepoy when he touched the red flower! That courage which it would have been impossible for the eloquence of orators to inspire was imparted in those warlike fellows by the dumb lotus flower and by eloquence of its red color.

While Savarkar accurately recognized the symbolism of the red lotus these red lotuses were not mute. They actually carried an important numerical message and spoke back to their senders. This book attempts to hear what these mute flowers relayed and to solve the 150 years old puzzle of the red lotuses and the mysterious chapattis. As this book demonstrates there was a direct link between the red lotuses the chapattis and the real cause of India defeat.

As the significant event of 18 February 1946 unfolded Savarar primary goal of liberating the country was achieve; however the history of 1857 remains incomplete. Savarkar declared a war on history when he successfully published his book despite being proscribed by the English in many countries. At the centennial years of Savarkar groundbreaking book on 1857 the Tope family is attempting to carry forward Savarkar task when he wrote the Indian war of independence 1857 with a focus on Tatya Tope role in the war.

Many Indian historians have difficulty in understanding the real history of 1857 primarily because they use yardsticks defined by the English. Obviously these criteria betray an Anglo centric point of view. By changing the vantage point the same information yields dramatically different results.

A renowned Indian historian on the subject insisted that 1857 was not a war but purely a mutiny of the sepoys primarily because the existence of a nation was a prerequisite for a war The Indian nation in his opinion never existed until the twentieth century. The biases in the history of 1857 emerge from a foundation that is built on a fundamentally flawed axiom. The foundation of the Anglo Indian War of 1857 is rooted in how one views India the country and India the nation.

The forever nation
European polity has dominated modern discourse in recent times. Western notions of a nation evolved from their tribal roots where linguistic and cultural identities eventually defined their political units as nations. Influence of the three Semitic religion during varying periods reinforced this rigidity. These religions derive their own identity from books each considered as the final word from God therefore unique and superior to others. Tribal identities and later religious dogmas eventually emerged as the glue that bound these European tribes. Europe evolved from large collection of warring tribes to a smaller collection of warring states that had distinct individual identities. This became Europe definition of a nation state. Recently there has been an attempt in European to reassess the imp liability of these attributes. Since the late twentieth century Europe is making an attempt to politically unite these disparate nations.

Indic polity however is in complete contrast to these western experiment in nation building. Western ideas of a nation can therefore never apply to India history not a single major empire ever was limited to one language group or a sectarian association. While hundred of sects have existed within the framework of Indic thought one existence was never considered a threat by others. From emperor Ashoka to the times of the Marathas and Mughals empires enlarged and shrunk but language and sects were never a primary criteria in their identity neither the vijayanagar empire nor the Marathas. For the English and other European intellectuals in their own sense of logic the Indian identity was too nebulous to be considered a nation. The same applied to faith that have originated in India the world though factory.

Unfortunately historian like R.C. Majumdar and many other who viciously refute the existence of the Indian nation during 1857 view India from these European lenses.

The words nation and country are often used interchangeably; however there is an important distinction between the two geographical boundaries only define a country as a political unit. The Indian nation however is defined by a few core attributes such as traditions stores that are narrated across generations and the faiths that have originated on its soil.

Unlike many modern nations that came into prominence in the second millennium the political boundaries of ancient nations such as India of china spanned across their diverse cultures and language. The current process of the attempted unification of Europe was in many ways already mature in nations such as India and china a few thousand years ago. Whether empires in India shrank or expanded or their names changed with time the concept of a common polity which we describe as a nation was always well recognized both within and outside.

India as a nation has an unique place in world history it is the only nation in the world that has successfully defended the continuity of the core attributes that define it. India is the only living ancient civilization in the world. India continuity in its history culture and polity is unmatched by many other great nations. Not china Japan or Egypt. Not Greece or Rome; neither Mesopotamia sumeria nor Europe. Not any nation in the America, Africa or southeast Asia.

To be able to successfully defend the nation and its core beliefs in addition to military prowess economic freedom and more importantly political freedom is a prerequisite.

Despite a few hiccups India to its credit has had the longest winning streak in its ability to remain both a free nation and a free country five thousand years as a nation and nearly for thousand years as a country this is not to suggest that everything in India is five thousand years old but that the continuous evolution of ideas stories faith and philosophies from ancient times until today continued on its own terms and even thrived despite the advent of foreign political and religious influences.

As a free country if one measures the continuity of political freedom India winning streak saps from its beginning which predated until significant part of northern India fell to invader around no other nation in the world has ever successfully defended itself militarily for this long. There has to be something about its people that makers India unique unfortunately too many historian are unwilling to recognize this fact.

Even after while northern India kept up its spirited resistance against the invaders southern India flourished and in fact continued to dominate the oceans southern India via its large seaboard was the primary channel for a very large export market of textile spices and other goods. The empire of Vijayanagar was thriving spices and other goods. The empire of Vijaynagar was thriving even as the northern states came under foreign political rule all the way until the 1500s.

This was no easy achievement.

Ocean trade was disrupted when state sanctioned European piracy that started in the sixteenth century shortly after India was discovered strengthened in the seventeenth century. This had a significant impact on India ability to control the supply chain of the products it exported. There was a large scale trade diversion primarily by means of force in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. This shifted significant profits and surplus away from India to Europe. Rapid erosion in this profitability had an ominous impact on its domestic socio-economic conditions.

This period from the 1500s to 1818 was perhaps the most dramatic transition for India than any other nation. Even as the socio-economic conditions rapidly declined and the odds were heavily stacked against India its people put up an incredible resistance. All the way from the north to the south and along a coastline that extends to more than 7600 kilometers they defended every port protected their trade and markets and most significantly their way of life.

Trade along the southern half of India west coast was protected by a Samuthiris (Anglicised as Zamorins). The Marathas, under Shivaji, defended the northern half of the west coast. Shivaji rebuilt the navy first to protect its ports and second to protect trade routes. He encouraged innovation in the ship building industry and oversaw the building or smaller and more navigable ships to replace the much larger but sluggish cargo ships to outrun the European pirates in the open seas. As different ports fell to the European he would reconquer them right from surat and along the konkan coast. Shivaji did not limit himself to the west. Shivaji last major campaign was in the south as he engaged the French near puducerry (earlier Pondicherry).

As the mughals crumbled in the eighteenth century the Marathas ruled over this empire with a proxy government that paid the emperor of Delhi and annual pension of Rs. 13 Lakhs (1.3 million). It controlled large parts of India from Orissa in the east to the Indus in the west and put up a spirited resistance to defend this young empire under the leadership of Mahadi Shinde. This period of expansion of the Maratha empire in the late eighteenth century is very relevant to the events of 1857 especially in the context of the Mughal Maratha relations and will be discussed in detail later. After a near half century of controlling and area that was nearly the size of Ashoka empire the Marathas finally fell in the early nineteenth century.

This was a period of transition when the last of a major Indian resistance was defeated and English rule was taking hold. However it was not that this transition went unchallenged. Scores of battles were fought all over India even after the fall of the Marathas in the period that spanned from 1818 to 1857. These battles continued until something significant happened again in the 1840s. the wars in the Punjab the second one in particular at chillianwala (1848-9), demonstrated that the British were vulnerable. Taking a cue from Chillianwala event were set in motion no challenge the enemy one again but on a much larger scale.

What stated in 1857 was the continuation of India obsession to be free.

India defeat in this war meant that India as political unit remained under that tyranny of the English until events of 1946. However Tatya dramatic resurgence in the October of 1858 forced the English to make an important concession. They rolled back their policies to subvert India as a nation. England backed off from its attempts to destroy the core attributed that have defined core attributes that have defined India for the longest of times. As a country India remained in chains but a nation India survived.

There were many heroes who shared this obsession. An obsession to protect India traditions its stories its languages its faiths is markets and its economy. India has had many heroes who laid down their lives for this freedom. This book attempts to analyse and narrate the stories of Tatya and his times the war between the English and the India from 1857-9 which inspired the events of 1946 and re-established India unique place in the world and history. This book is a tribute to the heroes of 1857 who inspired the unnamed leaders of 1946. Thanks to them India remains today the forever nation.

Eighteen Fifty-Seven and the Triad of freedom
The Indian leaders to the War of 1857 including Tatya Tope, Nana Saheb Peshwa as well as Bahadur Shah Zafar the emperor of Delhi under whose name the war was fought made various proclamations during the war. One such proclamation was made by the forces that liberated Azamgarh sixty miles north of Varanasi by Bahadur Shah grandson. The proclamation was made with a specific purpose of encouraging the Indian population in this cause of freedom and seeking their support during difficult times. The following is a summary of the key points made in the five section of the proclamation.

The people of India are keenly aware of the tyranny and oppression of the English I the grandson of Bahadur Shah have come here to declare that we will rid India of the English ad will liberate the poor people who are groaning under their icon rule. I present this proclamation to all the people of India so that they can understand the polices that the Badshahi government will enact. This will bring reform and freedom to the people in the following five key areas.

1. Taxation
India has been reeling from the heavy taxation the British have imposed on all the landed people of India who in return tax the rest I commit to lower the taxes to preserve the dignity and honor of the people.

2. Trade and Commerce
The English government has monopolized the grade of all the fine and valuable goods that India manufactures. Products such as textiles indigo and other articles that India has exported in the past are now a complete monopoly of the English. This leaves only the trade of trifles to the people and even in this they are not without their share of profits by means of high customs stamps and bureaucracy that is entrenched in limiting freedom in trade.

My government will abolish these fraudulent practices and open the trade of every article without exception both land and water to all India merchants. The government will support this trade with steam vessles and steam carriages for their merchandise. Merchants with little or no capital of their own shall have access to capital at lower costs with the assistance of the government treasury as necessary.

3. Public Servants
Today India official in the British government have a limited scope for growth the highest level they can reach is that of subhedar with a salary of no more than Rs 60 or Rs 70 per month. All the officers under my government will have stating salaries of Rs 200 to Rs 300 per month with the promise of reaching higher levels in public service. Understandably if they cannot publicly proclaim their support to my government today I ask them help my government indirectly and help assist us to free India from the British.

4. Industry
The British economic policies have thrown India skilled workforce into a life to shoemakers have all lost their livelihood under this oppressive rule of the British. Support us in this effort ad help us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and economic freedom for eternal prosperity.

5. Personal Freedom
The British have imposed and forced Christianity upon us Hindus and the Muslims alike. I urge the guardians of both faiths to join me in this effort to rid India of British and to create a nation that freely practices its faiths and its culture.

At the core of this proclamation was the message that can be paraphrased as help us political freedom so you can enjoy economic and personal freedom. This simple message is the summary of the manifesto presented by the leaders of 1857. With this the leaders displayed can understanding of the triad of freedom discussed below and the government role in ensuring freedom for its subjects. They specifically indicted in English for the state interference in these areas.

European historian invented the concept of the Oriental Despot free who they were saving the natives. A proclamation made in 1857 demonstrates that far from being despot Indian rulers were very aware of the important of government principle that ensured political and personal freedom for economic prosperity.

The leaders of 1857 demonstrated that they understood the foundations of the Indian nation. A foundation that existed in the form of an implicit charter that governed organized society.

The charter that has historically existed in Indic polity for many millennia is not only the least understood of all Indian history but also perhaps the most misunderstood. While India remains the only nation in the world which had evolved ideas and maintained a cultural continuity for the longest of times may ideas that allowed India to be a prosperous and free nation in the past have dramatically dimmed during the last millennium. Although these ideas were embedded in tradition they were either lost or dismantled over a long period of foreign political rule.

The foundation of Indic polity displays a fundamental understanding of what freedom really means. Freedom in one sense comprises three mutually exclusive but interdependent attributes political economic and personal. In any organized society these attributes correspond to some core functions that exist in society. They correspond to administrative and military functions commercial and financial functions and theological and philological functions respectively.

At the root of Indic polity were embedded rules that would limit the privileges of these functions. Historically without these limits these position have lent themselves to abuse and misappropriation of power. While representatives in each of these three functional categories have a potential to misuse their power the abuse gets worse when two or more of these groups connive under the pretext of collaboration. Historically in India traditions and precedence served as a broad charter that would restrict their power at many levels. This implicitly served as the Indic conditions.

Western history is replete with examples of one or more of these functions grossly abusing their powers. At the point the Roman Catholic church not had its army it also connived with mercantile interests.

This represent the conglomeration of all these sources of power in the hands of a few. Protestantism emerged as a form of rejecting papal authority and doctrine.

Learning from these lessons the founders of the United states of America separated the powers of the church and the state in the America constitution. While this concept was an important first step for western civilization Indic thought was not only rooted in these ideals it had additional limits on power of the state policy they specifically censured the interference of the state in economic affairs as well. In fact there of the five sections have an emphasis on economic freedom. This message was potent and has been at the foundation of the Indian nation for the longest of times. The leaders of 1857 demonstrated a definitive understanding of Indian polity.

Despite celebrating ideals of democracy western societies have been unable to separate economic power from the state jurisdiction. While the constitution of the united state set out to limit the power of the government the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 went against the spirit of the US constitution. Many other nations followed and all powerful central banks became the central authority in defining monetary policies. In continuation of their mercantile history trade and monetary policies today remain to be the cornerstone of political power in the west. Although these principles are in complete contradiction to India long history modern India embraced these principles under the pretext of a benevolent government.

Of the three primary goals of the war of 1857 as present in the manifesto of 23 August 1857 Tatya Tope achieved one monumental goal on 1 November 1858. As a later chapter discusses India succeeded in taking one important step toward freedom. The next step was taken on 18 February 1946. However in view of the triad of freedom Tatya task remains unfinished. The book later discusses some important additional steps India must take to achieve book later discusses some important additional steps India must take to achieve complete freedom in this context.

Understand 1857 is critical for India to build on its current system to allow its people to live their lives freely and enjoy the fruits of their labour to create a government that neither abuses its power nor interferes in economic and personal freedom of its subject.

Only with the understanding can India truly celebrate its unbroken streak as the world only ancient living civilization and the world only forever nation.

Contents

PrefaceIV
AcknowledgementXV
IntroductionXIX
Prologue1
1The flickering flame8
2Penumbra17
3The Rule of Darkness28
4The freedom foundation42
5The planned war53
6The planned war: Logical inferences65
7The operation: Trails to freedom89
8The flame of Liberty103
9The figure of eight115
10Deconstructing133
11The Unwithered Lotus144
12A new war A new Capital162
13Nuclear Defence179
14Reconstructing Jhansi194
15Reversal of fortune221
16Reigniting freedom236
17Fractional freedom264
18Flicker280
Epilogue301
Conclusion: Hindsight Foresight308
Appendix: Chapter Zero The Rear view mirror317
Endnotes355
Index423

Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus (The Tope Family Presents The Story of Tatya and The Anglo-Indian War of 1857)

Item Code:
NAF236
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2010
ISBN:
978812915621
Language:
English
Size:
9.5 inch X 6.5 inch
Pages:
454 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
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Weight of the Books : 830 gms
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$35.00   Shipping Free
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Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus (The Tope Family Presents The Story of Tatya and The Anglo-Indian War of 1857)

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About the Book

Tatya Tope’s operation Red Lotus is a quest to understand the real history of the Anglo Indian War of 1857. A quest by the contemporary members of the Tope family which led to the discovery of the dramatic battle man oeuvres of their ancestor the legendary Tatya Tope, as well as the true import of the war.

Despite India defeat this war significantly reversed the course of event and allowed the survival of the world solidest living civilization. A war that has been wished away behind the smokescreen of euphemisms: rebellion revolt uprising and most famously the sepoy mutiny.

Operation Red Lotus is the first detailed account of Tatya Tope that covers his entire campaign from the planning of the war until his death; and offers a surprising answer to the generation old question was the man hanged on 18 April 1859,Tatya Tope.

It covers the detailed planning of the ward and the logistical issues that were overcome to allow the Indian troops to march over a million man miles in the early months of the war. Hundreds of Urdu letters written to Tatya during the war, which have never been published before were translated to demonstrate Tatya administrative acumen in running a ful-fledged government in parallel.

Fascinating troop movements and battles are illustrated using several dozen military style maps and schematics, offering the reader a near ringside experience of Tatya chess like moves and counter moves. Yes, operation Red Lotus is not just a military chronicle limited by the period it covers; it also addresses issues of modern relevance. It offers an Indic paradigm to what freedom really means. It provides platform for the dream of a resurgent India and its charisma as the eternal nation.

About the Author

Based in USA, Parag is the founder and part owner of Vistarus (www.vistarus.com). A relentless passion for history combined with a masters degree in engineering and an MBA in strategy makes parag the chief architect of the book. Parag applied his analytical skills to brings a refreshing perspective to the reconstruction of historical events.

Preface

History is always written with an agenda. There are times when the agenda is benign but far too often it is not. Dig deeper put the context in perspective and very often a dark underbelly reveals itself. In that darkness exist many real stories that were not only covered up or buried but also distorted and destroyed.

So what was our agenda? To resolve a long standing dichotomy between stories passed down in the family about Tatya Tope and coming to terms with a history written by aliens and to uncover and reconstruct the real story of 1857.

Understandably English historian had a biased view on this subject. A common thread running through most English narratives is to either trivialize facts, prejudice the reader by giving an unsightly physical description of natives or pass off undecipherable event as religious rituals! What about Indian historian? Did they simply lack the will or the ability to synthesize facts? Were they more concerned with pleasing those who controlled their purse strings?

As much as academic historians either English or Indian claim to be objective about the question remains whether it is really possible. In the introduction to 1857 in India Ainslee T. embree of Columbia University writes in reference to various narratives on the subject the writer have proclaimed their freedom form prejudice and their intention of treating their materials with objectivity yet their biases are strikingly evident in both the selection of evidence and in the value judgment they apply to it. In many cases when certain subjective evidence is available historians have two options one accept that it is authentic or two say is questionable and therefore reject it. When objective criteria to assess the veracity of that piece of information are lacking it is often the prerogative of the historians to make that interpretation.

In making that interpretation context is everything.

In our quest to unravel to real story of Tatya Tope we stumbled upon the hidden history of 1857. Tucked away in the archives and the libraries is a plethora of information either overlooked side stepped or misrepresented. Add to these the original and never before translated letters written in Urdu, the letter in Bundeli eye witness accounts in Marathi English reports viewed from a different context and we have a dramatically different story. Within the new context these nuggest of information became the missing pieces in the mosaic of the war of 1857. While the red lotus flower has a symbolic meaning representing Indic ideas and ideals this book demonstrates that the red lotus represented something far more specific during the war of 1857.

While this book is the most detailed account yet of Tatya Tope’s contribution to 1857 presenting nearly all his movements and battles during his incredibly long campaign it is certainly not definitive. At a minimum it enforces the argument that Indian history particular that of 1857 needs significant reassessment. We hope that his makes a case and encourages Indian academics to relinquish their revisionist outlook and takes a fresh look at Indian history.

Illustrations are an integral part of the narrative and they have been used to represent the complicated troops movements in the various phases of the war as well as schematically describe the battles; all of which the English claims to have won. The base map was created electronically from publicly available information. All troops’ movement and analysis was overlaid on the base map based on the various sources as cited in the text. No modern political boundaries are represented because they are not relevant to the topic.

In the context of spellings for the names of towns our primary goals was effective communication. The approach to the spellings of Indian words was premised on overcoming the inability of the Roman scripts to represent Indian sounds. We have used spelling generally based on phonetic conventions that have evolved in a post British India. Many maps have been annotated with information from various reports showing the town of Deohati is annotated as November 29, 1858: Tatya Tope at Dewhuttee. This attempts to bridge the gap between in narratives of 1857 and the modern spelling of various town in many cases decoding the English spellings and studying the maps was like solving a puzzle that involved guessing what the original Indian name would be based on how the English were likely to have pronounced it and then locating it on the map. While words like Raatghur for Rahatgarh were easy Saltol for sarthal were frustrating. Poonah for Pahoona were confusing and sooseneer for susner were amusing. And of course we have an entire chapter dedicated to ‘Cawnpore’.

A significant amount of effort went into compiling the movement of the troops in the early part of the war. The troop movement table is a compilation of the main infantry and cavalry regiments of the Bengal and the Gwalior armies. It summarises where each of the regiment were stationed the date when they overpowered that local English army and more importantly their destination. This table summreises the initial theatre of the war and most of the action in the early stages of the war. Our focus on the subsequent phases of the war was on Tatya Tope movement. The many battle fought in other parts of India are reflect to only when the context demanded it.

We have referred to the war of 1857 as an Anglo Indian war. Regardless of the ethnic identities of the soldier who fought the battles there were clearly two sides in this war. Tatya Tope and other Indian leaders were fighting to rid India of the English on the other hand were willing to pay anyone and everyone who would allow them to continue their plunder of India. While many earlier narratives have used the words British European or white as being more representative of the personal that were involved they camouflage something very important. Whether the soldiers were Irish Scottish or mercenaries of other ethnic identities they all were being paid by their English masters. They were fighting a war that represented English interests and the English empire where the Irish the Scottish and other were amongst those oppressed. Therefore we have often used the word English to represent what many other narratives have chosen to use the word British.

We the contributors are graduates and post graduates in disciplines as diverse as psychology computer science engineering, medicine, military history, business and finance from universities in India Ireland and the united states. Research skill from our respective subject areas were now applied to the context of history.

We spent more than two years in and out of various archives and libraries poring over volumes of source material translating original letters picking up the threads of a scattered Tatya Tope family and in deciphering the tiresome English lexicon used for what was a massive cover up operation presented as history.

While Parag Tope is the author and architect of this work this project was the brainchild of Rupa Tope-Joshi it was her challenge to Parag to full that launce in this period of Indic history. With his incisive analysis and an ability to alter the context the author created a new dimension to view the event of 1857 and Tatya Tope’s campaigns.

Sourcing some of this information from various libraries and archives was the responsibility of Nandita. She has a secret source of energy which she and in caring for her little children. Nandita early finding from her trips to various archives and libraries gave the project a strong momentum.

Painstakingly poring over mounds of paper making meticulous notes and following up with translation were Rupa and Dr Rajesh Tope. In fact so unwavering was Rajesh focus that we had a bizarre instance cf him flitting in and out of the operation theatre in his surgical mask spending time with our Urdu translator confined in the anesthetists office in the hospital. Rupa was always a constant source of encouragement.

Dhananjay is the wordsmith who was not only critical in the editing process but was also responsible for contributing to half a dozen sections in the book. He is an alumnus for contributing to half a dozen sections wellington and spent the better part of his youth in service to India. He now teaches at an international school in Mumbai.

Prabhakar Tope Baba to all of us is the senior patriarch. His razor sharp memory that spans more than eighty five years makes portions of this narrative personal. While visiting Parag in San Diego Baba spent many hours a day for several months painstakingly going over books and maps and providing valuable input to parag. From his childhood in the trying times of Yoga to the run up of the fateful event that shaped today India. As a practicing architect Baba always encouraged his children to use illustration to visually express ideas. The several dozen maps in the books that illustrate various troop movement and reconstruct historical events were a result of Baba training.

We owe his work to the next generation our children: Abhineet Divij Eira Saoirse and naosie and we dedicate this work to Aai who introduced us a children to what freedom really means. Aai is no longer with us but we know that we makes her proud. We bow to her using the words of Sri Aurobindo who translated Bankimchandra beautiful poem.

Introduction

Forty thousand men are ready to take on the real Tantia Tope and five thousand of his sepoys was the summary of a letter from major general G.S.P Lawrence to the secretary to the government of India.

This letter would have been otherwise routine fare during the war of 1857 however this was written on 29 June 1863 four years after the war was over! Such was the panic the name Tatya Tope struck in the hearts of the English even years after he was allegedly executed by the English themselves. Tatya campaigns had become legendary during the war.

Generation later the legend lives on. The name of Tatya Tope remains in the hearts and minds of the people of India in particular even today. In 2007 a newborn baby in a village near central India in particular Pradesh), was named after Tatya Tope in honour of the hero.

Tatya used to store ammunition here...,’ someone whispered as the author and his family peered down the dark tunnel leading to the basement of an old house. The place was yeola in northern Maharashtra about thirty five kilometers from shirdi. The legend was alive in the family as well. It was this small house where the author father prabhakar Tope spent his childhood years. Tatya Tope the Tope family ancestor also spent his childhood in Yeola in a house nearby before moving a bithur (near Kanpur) with his family.

Tatya Tope was not just one of the important leaders of the war of 1857; but as this book demonstrates a central figure. During his times he was a strategist whose electrifying marches very nearly reversed the outcome of the war; and later a legend admired by subsequent generation. Tatya later campaigns in 1858 indeed brought him to northern Maharashtra however Tatya was never near yeola to have stored any ammunition in this ancestral home. Family folklore had that Tatya once visited this house disguised as a sadhu several months after he was executed by English. Then there were stories of Tatya receiving messages in lotuses and sending messages in chapattis shortly before the war stated. While many of these stories were largely myths buried within these myths were nuggets of information that helped the author unravel a couple of puzzles that had remained unsolved for over 150 years.

The author learnt about Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 in his history lessons during secondary schools. While Tatya Tope name stood out in history books Tatya real role in the war and the story of 1857 remained muddled in the presentation.

The historiography of 1857 first penned by the victors of the war presented an obvious Anglo-centric bias. Although challenged in 1908 most subsequent narratives remained largely loyal to the Victorian presentations. There were minor semantic changes and the role of the civilians was amplified to synchcronise with political views; yet the historiography remained largely revisionist in its outlook. Recent attempts to challenges the biases history have been attacked as rebelling against history by entrenched academics who have made a career defending this history.

The author is of the opinion that the real historiography of 1857 remains blurred with these revisionist lenses and what is required to bring clarity is not just a rebellion but a war on the history of 1857. The continuation of a war that was first declared over a hundred years ago.

The War on ‘History
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was the first person to challenge the historiography of 1857 when he published the Indian war of independence 1857.

Writing in 1908 Savarkar was not attempting to be an academic in search of coveted scholarship or to win accolades and laurels. Neither was he hankering for the label of a great historian nor looking to earn fellowships in England. His goal was simply to liberate India and the book was written to inspire Indians to rise against the English. Referring to the Indian nation Savarkar wrote;

…Within her heart whose treasure is all forbearing calmness besides concealed the terrible power of vengeance too… hast thou ever beheld a volcano! Apparently it is clothed with soft green vegetarian: but let it once open its jaws and then all sides will begins to pour forth boiling lava…

As a later chapter in the book discusses this volcano erupted on 18 February 1946 and changed India history forever.

Beyond the inspirational elements of his book savarkar viewed 1857 in a completely different context. Considering that he was only twenty four when he wrote this book Savarkar showed an extraordinary insight into understanding the potency of the events of 1857. He challenged the premise of 1857 as sepoy Mutiny and urged his readers to view the real history of 1857 writing.

…to write a full history of a revolution means necessarily the tracing of all the events of that revolution back to their source the motive the innermost desire of those who brought it about. This is the telescope which will show clearly the lights and shadows obscured by the blurred presentation of partial and prejudiced historians. When a beginning is made in this manner order appears in the apparent chaos of inconsistent facts crooked lines become straight and straight lines appear crooked light appeared ugly becomes fair and what looked beautiful is seen to be deformed. And expectedly or unexpectedly but in a clear form the revolution comes into the light of real history.

Savarkar had scratched the surface when he demonstrated that a significant reassessment of 1857 was required for a more complete understanding of the events of 1857. His job relative to the historiography of 1857 remains unfinished thanks to the continuation of partial and prejudiced historians and academics who chose not to further study savarkar underlying thesis. Regardless of savarkar rigour and objectivity in writing 1857 in indeed a very difficult subject particularly from an Indian perspective. John kay a Victorian historian who wrote three volume of the history of 1857 commented in his preface about the surface. It is a long a laborious task to exhume it. Despite their obvious biases the task for the Victorian historian was therefore of exhuming what was buried beneath the surface.

For the Indian however history was literally and figuratively cremated when India lost the war. What survived and was published as history s highly based account which were largely rubber stamped by later Indian academics and official historians on the subject. The task today of finding the truth, therefore, is not simple about exhumation of history but that of reconstructing it.

History was cremated because most of the communication between the Indian leaders of the war was destroyed. So was objectivity. Amongst what the over a survived or any communication with any Indian leaders of the war are over a hundred letters in Urdu written to Tatya Tope. Tatya Tope was a mentor no Nana Saheb Peshwa who was amongst the main leaders of the war. These previously unpublished letters mostly written over a three week period in early 1858 give us an insight into the government of Nana Saheb Peswa that was established in Budnelkhand in 1857 until the fall of Jhansi and Kalpi in 1858. In the last chapter of his book Savarkar underscores the advanced planning that took place prior to the war and follows up with a question;

Answering his own question Savarkar opines that:

…the chief reason appears to be this. Though the plan of the destructive part of the Revolution was complete its creative part was not attractive enough. Nobody was against destroying the English rule but what about the future?

At the present book argues India lost the war for reason far less abstract than Savarkar conclusions. Considering his motivations in 1908 it is not difficult to see that savarkar was projecting his personal experiences that he needed to address to what happened in 1857 as a twenty four years old revolutionary. Savarkar faced the paradox of destructive versus the creative elements of a revolution which he attributes to 1857. Savarkar thrust was to inspire other Indians for an armed revolt against the English his challenge as he attempted to inspire people around him was indeed what about the future? This book demonstrates the existence of both the destructive and the creative elements of 1857. Therefore the challenge of 1857 were very different than 1908.

The 125 Urdu letters represent only a small fraction of the communication that was taking place. As a later chapter in the book discusses Tatya Tope as the representative for a independent Indian government demonstrated remarkable ability to manage multiple civil and military functions simultaneously. Savarkar was not privy to this creative side of 1857 when he ascribed India defeat on that particular point.

Undoubtedly new source materials such as these provide an important insight into the event of 1857. Yet a real wealth of information stares us in the face in what is already published. This treasure can be uncovered by simply analyzing and assessing the information from another context.

There are a few critical elements essential in understanding the history of any war more so that of 1857. These include the study of troop movements their logistics and most importantly their supply lines. Despite the large body of work that has been published on this subject one find precious little information on the aforementioned topics especially the troop movements. Thousands upon thousands of Indian soldiers marched millions of man-miles in the period which remains largely ignored. A study of Tatya Tope movement after June 1858 uncovers a dramatic story that has never been told. Operation Red Louts is an attempts to view the events of the war of 1857 from a vantage point that is vastly different from what has been presented so far.

Most narratives describe the battle based on reports filled by English officers and generals. These narratives have an obvious bias: Indian strengths are exaggerated defeats are presented as victories and pages upon pages are dedicated to British courage and bravery. However a study of the troop movement before and after the battles often exposes English mendacity in the account. The analysis in this book focuses primarily on the movement of the troops and other events rather than accepting English narratives at face value to reconstruct the reality of 1857.

A few months before the war stated red lotus flowers mysteriously began to appear in the garrisons where Indian soldiers were stationed. This was followed by a chain of chapattis that were travelling from village to village. Savarkar beautifully expresses the symbolism of the red lotuses that were making the rounds of the garrisons prior to the war; that were carrying an inspirational message.

A lotus flower! The symbol the poet appointed symbol of purity, victory light! And its colour red. Vivid red!... what a tumult of thoughts must be ranging in the mind of every sepoy when he touched the red flower! That courage which it would have been impossible for the eloquence of orators to inspire was imparted in those warlike fellows by the dumb lotus flower and by eloquence of its red color.

While Savarkar accurately recognized the symbolism of the red lotus these red lotuses were not mute. They actually carried an important numerical message and spoke back to their senders. This book attempts to hear what these mute flowers relayed and to solve the 150 years old puzzle of the red lotuses and the mysterious chapattis. As this book demonstrates there was a direct link between the red lotuses the chapattis and the real cause of India defeat.

As the significant event of 18 February 1946 unfolded Savarar primary goal of liberating the country was achieve; however the history of 1857 remains incomplete. Savarkar declared a war on history when he successfully published his book despite being proscribed by the English in many countries. At the centennial years of Savarkar groundbreaking book on 1857 the Tope family is attempting to carry forward Savarkar task when he wrote the Indian war of independence 1857 with a focus on Tatya Tope role in the war.

Many Indian historians have difficulty in understanding the real history of 1857 primarily because they use yardsticks defined by the English. Obviously these criteria betray an Anglo centric point of view. By changing the vantage point the same information yields dramatically different results.

A renowned Indian historian on the subject insisted that 1857 was not a war but purely a mutiny of the sepoys primarily because the existence of a nation was a prerequisite for a war The Indian nation in his opinion never existed until the twentieth century. The biases in the history of 1857 emerge from a foundation that is built on a fundamentally flawed axiom. The foundation of the Anglo Indian War of 1857 is rooted in how one views India the country and India the nation.

The forever nation
European polity has dominated modern discourse in recent times. Western notions of a nation evolved from their tribal roots where linguistic and cultural identities eventually defined their political units as nations. Influence of the three Semitic religion during varying periods reinforced this rigidity. These religions derive their own identity from books each considered as the final word from God therefore unique and superior to others. Tribal identities and later religious dogmas eventually emerged as the glue that bound these European tribes. Europe evolved from large collection of warring tribes to a smaller collection of warring states that had distinct individual identities. This became Europe definition of a nation state. Recently there has been an attempt in European to reassess the imp liability of these attributes. Since the late twentieth century Europe is making an attempt to politically unite these disparate nations.

Indic polity however is in complete contrast to these western experiment in nation building. Western ideas of a nation can therefore never apply to India history not a single major empire ever was limited to one language group or a sectarian association. While hundred of sects have existed within the framework of Indic thought one existence was never considered a threat by others. From emperor Ashoka to the times of the Marathas and Mughals empires enlarged and shrunk but language and sects were never a primary criteria in their identity neither the vijayanagar empire nor the Marathas. For the English and other European intellectuals in their own sense of logic the Indian identity was too nebulous to be considered a nation. The same applied to faith that have originated in India the world though factory.

Unfortunately historian like R.C. Majumdar and many other who viciously refute the existence of the Indian nation during 1857 view India from these European lenses.

The words nation and country are often used interchangeably; however there is an important distinction between the two geographical boundaries only define a country as a political unit. The Indian nation however is defined by a few core attributes such as traditions stores that are narrated across generations and the faiths that have originated on its soil.

Unlike many modern nations that came into prominence in the second millennium the political boundaries of ancient nations such as India of china spanned across their diverse cultures and language. The current process of the attempted unification of Europe was in many ways already mature in nations such as India and china a few thousand years ago. Whether empires in India shrank or expanded or their names changed with time the concept of a common polity which we describe as a nation was always well recognized both within and outside.

India as a nation has an unique place in world history it is the only nation in the world that has successfully defended the continuity of the core attributes that define it. India is the only living ancient civilization in the world. India continuity in its history culture and polity is unmatched by many other great nations. Not china Japan or Egypt. Not Greece or Rome; neither Mesopotamia sumeria nor Europe. Not any nation in the America, Africa or southeast Asia.

To be able to successfully defend the nation and its core beliefs in addition to military prowess economic freedom and more importantly political freedom is a prerequisite.

Despite a few hiccups India to its credit has had the longest winning streak in its ability to remain both a free nation and a free country five thousand years as a nation and nearly for thousand years as a country this is not to suggest that everything in India is five thousand years old but that the continuous evolution of ideas stories faith and philosophies from ancient times until today continued on its own terms and even thrived despite the advent of foreign political and religious influences.

As a free country if one measures the continuity of political freedom India winning streak saps from its beginning which predated until significant part of northern India fell to invader around no other nation in the world has ever successfully defended itself militarily for this long. There has to be something about its people that makers India unique unfortunately too many historian are unwilling to recognize this fact.

Even after while northern India kept up its spirited resistance against the invaders southern India flourished and in fact continued to dominate the oceans southern India via its large seaboard was the primary channel for a very large export market of textile spices and other goods. The empire of Vijayanagar was thriving spices and other goods. The empire of Vijaynagar was thriving even as the northern states came under foreign political rule all the way until the 1500s.

This was no easy achievement.

Ocean trade was disrupted when state sanctioned European piracy that started in the sixteenth century shortly after India was discovered strengthened in the seventeenth century. This had a significant impact on India ability to control the supply chain of the products it exported. There was a large scale trade diversion primarily by means of force in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. This shifted significant profits and surplus away from India to Europe. Rapid erosion in this profitability had an ominous impact on its domestic socio-economic conditions.

This period from the 1500s to 1818 was perhaps the most dramatic transition for India than any other nation. Even as the socio-economic conditions rapidly declined and the odds were heavily stacked against India its people put up an incredible resistance. All the way from the north to the south and along a coastline that extends to more than 7600 kilometers they defended every port protected their trade and markets and most significantly their way of life.

Trade along the southern half of India west coast was protected by a Samuthiris (Anglicised as Zamorins). The Marathas, under Shivaji, defended the northern half of the west coast. Shivaji rebuilt the navy first to protect its ports and second to protect trade routes. He encouraged innovation in the ship building industry and oversaw the building or smaller and more navigable ships to replace the much larger but sluggish cargo ships to outrun the European pirates in the open seas. As different ports fell to the European he would reconquer them right from surat and along the konkan coast. Shivaji did not limit himself to the west. Shivaji last major campaign was in the south as he engaged the French near puducerry (earlier Pondicherry).

As the mughals crumbled in the eighteenth century the Marathas ruled over this empire with a proxy government that paid the emperor of Delhi and annual pension of Rs. 13 Lakhs (1.3 million). It controlled large parts of India from Orissa in the east to the Indus in the west and put up a spirited resistance to defend this young empire under the leadership of Mahadi Shinde. This period of expansion of the Maratha empire in the late eighteenth century is very relevant to the events of 1857 especially in the context of the Mughal Maratha relations and will be discussed in detail later. After a near half century of controlling and area that was nearly the size of Ashoka empire the Marathas finally fell in the early nineteenth century.

This was a period of transition when the last of a major Indian resistance was defeated and English rule was taking hold. However it was not that this transition went unchallenged. Scores of battles were fought all over India even after the fall of the Marathas in the period that spanned from 1818 to 1857. These battles continued until something significant happened again in the 1840s. the wars in the Punjab the second one in particular at chillianwala (1848-9), demonstrated that the British were vulnerable. Taking a cue from Chillianwala event were set in motion no challenge the enemy one again but on a much larger scale.

What stated in 1857 was the continuation of India obsession to be free.

India defeat in this war meant that India as political unit remained under that tyranny of the English until events of 1946. However Tatya dramatic resurgence in the October of 1858 forced the English to make an important concession. They rolled back their policies to subvert India as a nation. England backed off from its attempts to destroy the core attributed that have defined core attributes that have defined India for the longest of times. As a country India remained in chains but a nation India survived.

There were many heroes who shared this obsession. An obsession to protect India traditions its stories its languages its faiths is markets and its economy. India has had many heroes who laid down their lives for this freedom. This book attempts to analyse and narrate the stories of Tatya and his times the war between the English and the India from 1857-9 which inspired the events of 1946 and re-established India unique place in the world and history. This book is a tribute to the heroes of 1857 who inspired the unnamed leaders of 1946. Thanks to them India remains today the forever nation.

Eighteen Fifty-Seven and the Triad of freedom
The Indian leaders to the War of 1857 including Tatya Tope, Nana Saheb Peshwa as well as Bahadur Shah Zafar the emperor of Delhi under whose name the war was fought made various proclamations during the war. One such proclamation was made by the forces that liberated Azamgarh sixty miles north of Varanasi by Bahadur Shah grandson. The proclamation was made with a specific purpose of encouraging the Indian population in this cause of freedom and seeking their support during difficult times. The following is a summary of the key points made in the five section of the proclamation.

The people of India are keenly aware of the tyranny and oppression of the English I the grandson of Bahadur Shah have come here to declare that we will rid India of the English ad will liberate the poor people who are groaning under their icon rule. I present this proclamation to all the people of India so that they can understand the polices that the Badshahi government will enact. This will bring reform and freedom to the people in the following five key areas.

1. Taxation
India has been reeling from the heavy taxation the British have imposed on all the landed people of India who in return tax the rest I commit to lower the taxes to preserve the dignity and honor of the people.

2. Trade and Commerce
The English government has monopolized the grade of all the fine and valuable goods that India manufactures. Products such as textiles indigo and other articles that India has exported in the past are now a complete monopoly of the English. This leaves only the trade of trifles to the people and even in this they are not without their share of profits by means of high customs stamps and bureaucracy that is entrenched in limiting freedom in trade.

My government will abolish these fraudulent practices and open the trade of every article without exception both land and water to all India merchants. The government will support this trade with steam vessles and steam carriages for their merchandise. Merchants with little or no capital of their own shall have access to capital at lower costs with the assistance of the government treasury as necessary.

3. Public Servants
Today India official in the British government have a limited scope for growth the highest level they can reach is that of subhedar with a salary of no more than Rs 60 or Rs 70 per month. All the officers under my government will have stating salaries of Rs 200 to Rs 300 per month with the promise of reaching higher levels in public service. Understandably if they cannot publicly proclaim their support to my government today I ask them help my government indirectly and help assist us to free India from the British.

4. Industry
The British economic policies have thrown India skilled workforce into a life to shoemakers have all lost their livelihood under this oppressive rule of the British. Support us in this effort ad help us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and economic freedom for eternal prosperity.

5. Personal Freedom
The British have imposed and forced Christianity upon us Hindus and the Muslims alike. I urge the guardians of both faiths to join me in this effort to rid India of British and to create a nation that freely practices its faiths and its culture.

At the core of this proclamation was the message that can be paraphrased as help us political freedom so you can enjoy economic and personal freedom. This simple message is the summary of the manifesto presented by the leaders of 1857. With this the leaders displayed can understanding of the triad of freedom discussed below and the government role in ensuring freedom for its subjects. They specifically indicted in English for the state interference in these areas.

European historian invented the concept of the Oriental Despot free who they were saving the natives. A proclamation made in 1857 demonstrates that far from being despot Indian rulers were very aware of the important of government principle that ensured political and personal freedom for economic prosperity.

The leaders of 1857 demonstrated that they understood the foundations of the Indian nation. A foundation that existed in the form of an implicit charter that governed organized society.

The charter that has historically existed in Indic polity for many millennia is not only the least understood of all Indian history but also perhaps the most misunderstood. While India remains the only nation in the world which had evolved ideas and maintained a cultural continuity for the longest of times may ideas that allowed India to be a prosperous and free nation in the past have dramatically dimmed during the last millennium. Although these ideas were embedded in tradition they were either lost or dismantled over a long period of foreign political rule.

The foundation of Indic polity displays a fundamental understanding of what freedom really means. Freedom in one sense comprises three mutually exclusive but interdependent attributes political economic and personal. In any organized society these attributes correspond to some core functions that exist in society. They correspond to administrative and military functions commercial and financial functions and theological and philological functions respectively.

At the root of Indic polity were embedded rules that would limit the privileges of these functions. Historically without these limits these position have lent themselves to abuse and misappropriation of power. While representatives in each of these three functional categories have a potential to misuse their power the abuse gets worse when two or more of these groups connive under the pretext of collaboration. Historically in India traditions and precedence served as a broad charter that would restrict their power at many levels. This implicitly served as the Indic conditions.

Western history is replete with examples of one or more of these functions grossly abusing their powers. At the point the Roman Catholic church not had its army it also connived with mercantile interests.

This represent the conglomeration of all these sources of power in the hands of a few. Protestantism emerged as a form of rejecting papal authority and doctrine.

Learning from these lessons the founders of the United states of America separated the powers of the church and the state in the America constitution. While this concept was an important first step for western civilization Indic thought was not only rooted in these ideals it had additional limits on power of the state policy they specifically censured the interference of the state in economic affairs as well. In fact there of the five sections have an emphasis on economic freedom. This message was potent and has been at the foundation of the Indian nation for the longest of times. The leaders of 1857 demonstrated a definitive understanding of Indian polity.

Despite celebrating ideals of democracy western societies have been unable to separate economic power from the state jurisdiction. While the constitution of the united state set out to limit the power of the government the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 went against the spirit of the US constitution. Many other nations followed and all powerful central banks became the central authority in defining monetary policies. In continuation of their mercantile history trade and monetary policies today remain to be the cornerstone of political power in the west. Although these principles are in complete contradiction to India long history modern India embraced these principles under the pretext of a benevolent government.

Of the three primary goals of the war of 1857 as present in the manifesto of 23 August 1857 Tatya Tope achieved one monumental goal on 1 November 1858. As a later chapter discusses India succeeded in taking one important step toward freedom. The next step was taken on 18 February 1946. However in view of the triad of freedom Tatya task remains unfinished. The book later discusses some important additional steps India must take to achieve book later discusses some important additional steps India must take to achieve complete freedom in this context.

Understand 1857 is critical for India to build on its current system to allow its people to live their lives freely and enjoy the fruits of their labour to create a government that neither abuses its power nor interferes in economic and personal freedom of its subject.

Only with the understanding can India truly celebrate its unbroken streak as the world only ancient living civilization and the world only forever nation.

Contents

PrefaceIV
AcknowledgementXV
IntroductionXIX
Prologue1
1The flickering flame8
2Penumbra17
3The Rule of Darkness28
4The freedom foundation42
5The planned war53
6The planned war: Logical inferences65
7The operation: Trails to freedom89
8The flame of Liberty103
9The figure of eight115
10Deconstructing133
11The Unwithered Lotus144
12A new war A new Capital162
13Nuclear Defence179
14Reconstructing Jhansi194
15Reversal of fortune221
16Reigniting freedom236
17Fractional freedom264
18Flicker280
Epilogue301
Conclusion: Hindsight Foresight308
Appendix: Chapter Zero The Rear view mirror317
Endnotes355
Index423
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