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Main Currents of Indian History
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Main Currents of Indian History
- Main Currents of Indian History
- Indus and the Vedic Culture – Basic Features
- Early Vedic Civilization (2500 -1500 B.C.)
- Later Vedic Civilization (1500-600 B.C.)
- Maurya Dynasty (322-184 BC)
- Religious Movement – Basic Teaching of Buddhism and Jainism
- Medieval India – Sultanate and the Mughal rule state and Administration
- Colonial times – 19th Century Reform and Constitutional Development
- Nineteenth-Century Reforms and Constitutional Developments Till 1935
- Freedom Struggle of India – Major Phases
- Indian National Congress
- Partition of Bengal and Swadeshi Movement
Indus and the Vedic Culture – Basic Features
- States in Early India – Mahajanapadas and Empires – Maurya and Gupta
- Religious Movements – Basic Teachings of Buddhism and Jainism
- Medieval India – Sultanate and the Mughal rule – State and Administration
- Colonial Times – 19th-century reforms and Constitutional Developments till 1935
- Freedom Struggle of India – Major Phases
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300-1300 BC mature period 2600-1900 BC) in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly present-day Pakistan and northwest India. Flourishing around the Indus River basin, the civilization extended east into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the upper reaches Ganges-Yamuna Doab; it extended west to the Makrancoast of Balochistan, north to northeastern Afghanistan and south to Daimabad in Maharashtra. The civilization was spread over some 1,260,000 km, making it the largest known ancient civilization.
The Indus Valley Civilization is also known as the Harappan Civilization, as the first of its cities to be unearthed was located at Harappa, excavated in the 1920s in what was at the time the Punjab province of British India (now in Pakistan). Excavation of Harappan sites has been ongoing since 1920, with important breakthroughs occurring as recently as 1999. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area of the Harappan Civilization. The Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures. Up to 1999, over 1,056 cities and settlements have been found out of which 96 have been excavated, mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra river and its tributaries. Among the settlements were the major urban centres of Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro, Dholavira, Kalibanga, and Rakhigarhi.
The interesting remains of the cities of Indus Valley indicate that it was an urban civilization. In other words this civilization flourished around cities. The cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa represent the noblest examples of town planning in the ancient world These indicate that the people of the Sindhu civilization had a great concern for sanitation, health and orderly life. The area of Mohenjo-daro is situated by the side of river Sindhu, and Harappan on the bank of river Ravi, a tributary of river Sindhu. Both the cities were built according to a similar plan. It is also said that Mohenjodaro was the oldest planned city of the world.
The following the main features of Indus Valley Civilization –
1. Town Planning – The Cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa represent the oldest examples of town planning in the ancient world. These indicate that the people of Indus valley civilization had a great concern for sanitation, health and orderly life.
(i) Roads – The main roads followed straight course from north to south and east to west interesting at right angles. These roads were as board as modern ones with their 10 metres width. The width of the main roads was about 35 feet, of the small roads 10 feet and of the lanes 5 feet. The most famous street called the ‘First Street’ of Mohenjodaro was 10.5 metres wide and would have accommodated seven lanes of wheeled traffic simultaneously.
(ii) Water supply – There existed public wells generally on every road Most of the private houses had wells in their compounds.
(iii) Drainage system – Every house in those cities had a bathroom and a drain to dispose of dirty water. The bathroom was usually well paved and provided with drains connected to the street system.
(iv) Houses – While planning and building the houses, more stress was hid on their artistic outlook. The dwelling houses were many in number and varied in size. These were made of well burnt brick. Almost every house had a well, a kitchen, bathroom and drain. The entrances to the house were very rare and the empty space between the walls of two houses was filled with bricks. There were no windows. Light and air seem to have been admitted chiefly through the door-way.
(a) Dustbins – To avoid uncleanliness on the roads which would have got caused by the throwing of rubbish material on them by the people, the authorities of those cities had kept public dustbins in the streets. There also existed flues (channels) for throwing out rubbish, built into the walls of the houses leading to the bins in the streets.
(b) Great Bath – The biggest architectural structure found among the ruins was the great bath of Mohenjodaro. It was actually a public bath with 180 feet length and 108 feet in breadth the actual bathing pool measures 39 feet by 23 feet with a depth of 8 feet and is situated in the middle of a quadrangle having verandas on all sides. Flights of steps at either end lead to the surface. There are side rooms for changing clothes. There is a safe bathing place for children.
(c) Bath Room – Practically every house had a bathroom which was on the street side of the building for the convenient disposal of water. The bath room was small square or rectangular with a carefully laid brick pavement sloping towards one corner. There was an outlet for the water to run outside.
(d) The Citadel and Granaries – The cities were divided into two parts. The part on high ground was called the “Citadel”. This part contained public buildings such as store houses for grain, important factories, workshops and the Great Bath.
(e) Defence Arrangement to protect these cities from the attacks of the enemies, huge castles were constructed to their western side in order to station troops and to store swords, lances etc.
2. System of the Weights and measures
(i) Weights – To manage the selling and buying of goods on proper and uniform line, the people of Mohenjodaro and Harappa had different types of weights. Their smallest weight was 0.875 gram and the largest was 10,970 grams. Within the range of these weights there were other weights. The smaller weights existed in the ratio of twos and the larger ones in tens. The smaller weights were square and the larger ones were conical in shape.
(ii) Measures – The measure of length used by these people was a cubit, which was equal to modern 20.62 inches. An shows that definite division of the inches was marked on it.
3. Social life – Due to the absence of any documentary evidence it is not possible at present to know about the human relationship and the moral practiced by the people of the society of Sindhu Civilization. Some guess about their social life however can be made with the help of the archaeological data found of that civilization
4. Political Life – Presence of a strong, efficient and firm government which enforced regularity in the construction of roads and houses and the maintenance of the system of weights is indicated in the Sindhu Civilization. Several public buildings and huge castes at Mohenjodaro and Harappa prove the possibility of a vast administrative machinery of several departments of that government.
5. Economic Life – The remains of the agricultural products, industries, trade and commerce, found in the area of the Sindhu or Indus Civilization indicate a busy and vigorous economic life of its people.
(i) Agriculture – The main occupation of the people of that civilization was agriculture. They took the crops of wheat, barley and cotton in their lands with the use of bulls in the work of agriculture. Their fertile lands yielded surplus grains to maintain a large non-agricultural population which had specialised in various crafts.
(ii) Industry – People of the Sindhu Civilization managed following industries-
(i) Metal industry
(ii) Textile industry
(iii) Brick industry
(v) Ornament Making Industry
(vii) Metal industry
(viii) Other Industries
6. Trade and Commerce
(i) Trade – Metal implements, pottery, ornaments, etc., produced by the craftsmen of Sindhu Civilization are traced in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Kathiawar in India where they seem to be in demand.
(ii) Commerce – Traders of Harappa and Mohenjodaro seem to have sent their goods to Persia, Afghanistan, and Mesopotamia by land routes and to Egypt and Crete by Sea routes.
7. Religious Life – In the absence of literary evidence of the Sindhu Civilization, it is not possible to know about the religious ideas of its people. But from its archaeological remains an idea about their faiths and beliefs can be formed.
(i) Worship of Mother Goddess – Numerous terra-cotta statues of a female found at Harappa suggest that the people of that civilization worshipped the Mother Goddess.
(ii) Worship of Lord Shiva – On a seal of the Sindhu Civilization is found engraved an image of a male deity which has three faces. It has a horned head-dress and it is shown as sitting cross-legged on a throne. It surrounded by a buffalo, tiger, elephant and rhinoceros. It is wearing a number of bangles and has a pectoral (ornamental breast-plate) round its neck. Indologists regard this deity as a Trimukha (three faced) or Yogeshwara or Mahayogi or Pashupati (Lord of animals) of Lord Shiva.
(iii) Animal, tree and bird worship – From the engravings of different animals, trees and birds traced on some seals of the Sindhu Civilization Indologists regard that the people of tat civilization worshipped those objects.
(iv) Belief in the Spirits – Several square or rectangular copper tablets with an animal or human figure on one side and an inscription on the other or an inscription on both sides, which have been found in the area of Sindhu Civilization are thought to be amulets things worn as charm against evil) by the historians. Those were worn by the people of that civilization to protect themselves from the evil spirits in which they seem to have believed.
(v) Funerary Customs – People of Sindhu Civilization followed following practices for the disposal of the dead
(i) Complete burial In this practice, the dead body of the person was buried in a grave along with the articles used by him while living. This suggests a belief of those people in the other worldly life of man.
(ii) Fractional burial in this practice the dead body was kept exposed to the wild beasts and birds. When the animals and birds consumed its flesh, its remaining bones and skull were deposited in an urn which was buried in the grave along with the material belonging to the dead.
(iii) Post-cremation burial People of that civilization cremated the dead body and deposited in an urn its bones and ashes in this practice. That urn, along with the material belonging to the dead was buried by them in the grave. These matters indicate a keen sense of hygiene and cleanliness of the people of sindhu Civilization.
8. Art of writing – About 2500 seals of the sindhu Civilization on which exist pictographs and sign-marks could not be deciphered (read) by the Indologists up to recent times. Therefore, scholars hold those pictographs and sign-marks as indicators of the efforts of Sindhu Civilization people for developing a script for writing.
Early Vedic Civilization (2500 -1500 B.C.)
After the centres of Sindhu Civilization, Mohenjodaro and Harappa went underground in 2750 BC, the contents of the Indian Civilization Became known to us through the Rigveda, a work of ten Mandalas having 1,017 hymns, of the Aryan poets, whose composition period according to the scholars is 2500 BC. As Rigveda is the earliest of the four Vedas, which are the sacred literary sources of Hinduism, the civilization depicted in it, is known as the Early Vedic Civilization. Since Rigveda is the only literary source available for the study of the Early Vedic Civilization, historians also call that civilization as the Rigvedic Civilization.
Origin of the Aryan People
There is no unanimity in the views of the scholars about the origin of the Aryan people. Some scholars feel that the Aryans of the indo-European race were the inhabitants of Central Asia, South Russia or Arctic regions, or Central Europe and some time in 3000 BC. Their tribes migrated for a better life from their territory of shortage of food and fodder to the other territories. Some of their tribes who migrated in the West developed their civilizations by settling in Greece and Italy. Their other tribes which migrated inG-9 ern direction, settled in Persia and India respectively some time in 2500 BC. and developed their civilised life in those countries. This view is based on the similarity of certain words in the Greek, Latin, English, French, German and Russian languages with the words of the Sanskrit language of the Aryans in India. Their civilization is depicted in the Rigveda as follows-
1. Political Life – The Aryans entered India through Afghanistan and the Khyber Pass, and after defeating the successors of the Sindhu Civilization, their different tribes settled in the Punjab in the form of different States.
(a) form of Aryan States
(b) Heads of the states
(C) Selection of the Head of the state
(d) The sabha and the Samiti
(e) Administrative Organisation
(f) Judicial Administration
2. Social Life – Villages in which the Aryans lived were made up of families.
(a) Family – Aryan family was patriarchal The father, who was the eldest member of the family, had power to guide and control the life of the other members of the family. Aryans followed a joint family system in which all members of the family lived in co-operation and affection with each other.
(b) Absence of the caste System – In the Rigvedic society, the Aryans did not have caste system based on the principle of birth in a particular family developed in the Indian society in the Later Vedic Age (1500-600 BC).
(c) Marriage – In the Rigvedic Society young boys and girls had freedom to choose their partners in life. In it marriages of brother and sister and father and daughter were forbidden, and the system of child marriage did not exist.
(d) Position of Women – Women were allowed to take education in; the Rigvedic society and they enjoyed a place of honour in the family of the husband Wife participated in the religious ceremonies and festivals along with the husband. Custom of Sati or widow burning did not exist in that society, and according to the practice of Niyoga (a kind of short term levirate) a childless widow was allowed to cohabit with her brother-in-law until the birth of a son.
3. Education – After their thread ceremony, boys and girls of the Aryan families were given instructions by the teacher. As the teacher gave them intellectual insight to understand human problems of life and to live properly, they regarded him as their spiritual father.
Economic Life – Till the time of their settlement in Punjab the Aryans lived a nomadic life. As a result, their economic life was simple as follows.
(i) Agriculture – Cultivation of land was the main
occupation of the Aryans in the Rigvedic Age. Soil of the farm was tilled by them with the help of wooden plough-share drawn by bulls. Their agricultural land which yielded abundant crops of cotton, barley, etc., was watered by wells, lakes and artificial canals.
(ii) Industries- Aryan craftsmen managed following simple industries.
(b) Metal Industry
5. Religious Life- Rig-Veda gives the following information about the religious life of the Aryans.
(c) No Idol Worship
(d) Belief in the Reward of Actions
(e) Performance of Sacrifices
(f) Idea of Morality- Virtue and Sin
Later Vedic Civilization (1500-600 B.C.)
By the closing period of the Rigvedic Age (1500 BC) the Aryans had expanded their rule up to the banks of river Yamuna in the eastern direction in North India and beyond the Vindhya mountains in the southern direction. Due to this expansion of political power, earlier pattern of the life and institutions of the Aryans got changed. That change in their pattern of life and institutions took place because the expansion of their political power gave rise to big states in India. That brought the Aryan people in close contact with the Dravidians on whom they happen to establish their political hold. The conquest and absorption of the Dravidian people in their states led the Aryan thinkers to follow a policy of assimilation in order to absorb them in a new pattern of social organisation known as the Hindu ‘society. That social organisation was based on the Varna and Ashrama system, which got degenerated into the hereditary caste system by 600 BC. As this pattern of life is much different than the life of the Aryan people of the Rigvedic or Early Vedic Civilization, it is called as the pattern of life of the Later Vedic Civilization. Data of that civilization are available in the literary sources which are written in a period later to the Rigvedic period (2500-500 BC) and which are known as the Later Vedic sources, namely, the Atharva Veda, the Upanishads, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, etc. from that literature we get following information about the life and institutions of the Later Vedic Civilization in India.
1. Political Life
2. Social Life
3. Economic Life
4. Religious Life
State in early India- Mahajanapadas and Empires – Maurya and Gupta
In ancient India, a number of kingdoms emerged during the Vedic Age that was spread across the Indo-Gangetic plain. These 16 kingdoms were known as the 16 Mahajanapadas. These 16 Maha Janapadas are mentioned in the ancient literature and scriptures. The term Maha Janapada actually means “great country” and is derived from Sanskrit. The sixteen Mahajanapadas rose before the start of Buddhism India.
The salient features of Mahajanapadas are-
(i) The mahajanapadas developed between c 600 BCE to 320 CE.
(ii) Their number was sixteen.
(iii) We know about these early states from Buddhist and Jain text although the list very six names such as Vajji Magdha, Koshal, Kuru, Panchal, Gandhara and Avanti occur frequently. Clearly there were amongst the most important Mahajanapadas.
(iv) While most mahajanapadas were ruled by kings, some, known as ganas and sanghas, were oligarchies, where power was shared by a number of men, often collectively called rajas. Both Mahavira and Buddha belonged to such ganas.
(v) Each mahajanapadas had a capital city, which was often fortified Maintaining these fortified cities as well as providing for incident armies and bureaucracies required resources. From sixth century BCE onwards.
(vi) Brahmanas began composing Sanskrit text known as the Dharmasutras. These laid down norms for rulers who were advised to collect taxes and tribute from cultivators, traders and artisans.
According to traditional literature following are the sixteen great states or solasa mahajanapadas that in North India during the 6th B.C.
8. Vatsa or Vamsa
11. Machcha or Matsya
13. Assaka or Asmaka
Maurya Dynasty (322-184 BC)
The foundation of the Mauryan Empire is a unique event in the Indian history, its glory enhanced by the circumstances in which it was achieved Alexander’s victorious campaign in Punjab during 326-325 B.C. had established a formidable foreign rule in the country, the six regions of greek indian being governed by Satraps appointed by Alexander himself.the battle of india’s independence against these heavy odds called for a leader of exceptional ability. Fortunately the country produced such a leader in young Chandragupta who had been prepared in advance for his great mission in life by the Brahmin Chanakya, better known as Kautilya. Chanakya superior vision and insight led him to discover in this youth the disciple who would be able, under his direction, to free the fatherland of foreign rule. The rise of Mauryas is a great land mark in Indian history. The rule of the Maurya dynasty placed India on a firm footing of political solidarity up to 184 BC.
1. Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 BC)
(i) Conquests of Chandragupta Maurya
(ii) Protection of India from foreign attack (305 BC)
(iii) Establishment of a Strong and Efficient Administration
(a) Head of the state-The King
(b) Civil Administration
(c) Judicial Administration
(d) Administration of Spy Department
(e) Military Administration
(f) Municipal Administration of Pataliputra
After giving India a strong and efficient administration which was followed generally by the rulers of the succeeding dynasties in ancient India, and making India a politically united country, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya died in 298 BC. He was succeeded by his son, emperor Bindusara.
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed from approximately 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri Gupta, the dynasty is a model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under the leadership of the Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavours. This period is called the Golden Age of India and was marked by extensive inventions and discoveries in science, technology, engineering, art dialectic, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy that crystallised the elements of what is generally known as Hindu culture. Chandra Gupta I, Samudra Gupta the Great, and Chandra Gupta Il the Great were the most notable rulers of the Gupta dynasty. The 4th century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa, credits Guptas with having conquered about twenty one kingdoms, both in and outside India, including the kingdoms of Parasites (Persians), the Hunas, the Kambojas tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys, the Kinnaras, Kiratas etc.
The Gupta Age is also known for its advances in astronomy. During the reign of the Gupta rulers, astronomers and philosophers proposed the theory that the earth was not flat but round The theory of gravity was also propounded during this time. The astronomers made a breakthrough when they found out the different planets and started to make horoscopes based on the planetary positions. The field of medicine also advanced a lot during this time and doctors used to perform operations even during that era. Since so many discoveries and advances were made in arts,medicine, literature and science during Gupta period it has been called the Golden Age of India.
Main Rulers of Gupta Age
1. Srigupta and Ghatotkacha
2. Chandragupta I (319-335 A.D.)
3. Samudragupta (335-A.D.)
4. Rama Gupta
5. Chandra Gupta II “Vikramaditya” (375-414 A.D.)
8. Decline of the empire
Religious Movement – Basic Teaching of Buddhism and Jainism
Lord Gautam Buddha (C. 567-487 B.C.), the founder of Buddhism was the son of King Shuddhodana of Kapilavastu and was known as Prince Siddhartha in his early life. Siddhartha sawin life around him things of sorrow like old age, sickness and death. That led him to think about the problems of human life in the world. To know and to solve those problems he turned to the spiritual matters. But he saw that the followers of Hinduism were mostly ignorant about the essence of its noble principles. He became unhappy as the caste system of Hinduism gave facility of acquiring spiritual knowledge only to its members of higher castes.
Though there existed Jainism which offered facility of learning spiritual matters to all in the Ardhamagadhi language, Mahavira’s direction to mortify the flesh (body) and thereby the selfish human desires for escaping the chain of rebirth was difficult for the persons of common ability to follow. As Siddhartha was not satisfied by those matters he felt an urge to find out a better way to spirituality. For that he renounced his happy family life and practised in the forest yogic methods of mortifying his flesh and his human desires. But by those matters when he did not obtain the real knowledge about God and the human life, he gave up his severe fast and took food at Gaya. By that the pains and restlessness which he was experiencing in his body due to severe fasting disappeared and he obtained the real knowledge about the problems of human life in his meditation under a Pipal tree.
As Siddhartha found out the great truth to end human sorrow in the world, people called him as the Mahatma or Buddha – the Enlightened One that is, a man who had real knowledge. As a result his religion came to be known as Buddhism, that is, the religion of the Enlightened One which had an aim to make its followers enlightened persons.
Buddha’s teaching – After acquiring the real knowledge of putting an end to human sorrow, Lord Buddha gave it to people in his First Sermon at Sarnath near Banaras by stating the Catvari Arya Satyani or the four nobler truths. Those truths were,
(i) Life (existence) is full of sorrow or suffering,
(ii) Sorrow is created in the world due to the selfish desires (Trishna) of man,
(iii) If the selfish desires of men remain unfulfilled they take rebirth in the world to fulfil them and again suffer from sorrow. Not to have rebirth and thereby suffering is the highest good that is Nirvana or Freedom. Therefore to avoid rebirth and suffering, men must give up all their selfish desires, and
(iv) Men will not have selfish desires, if they follow the Eightfold Path or the Middle Path.
The Eightfold Path: The Eightfold Path preached by Buddha was of the following matters –
(I) Right Views – The first aspect of the Eight Fold Path is right view and perception. The ability to see through things clearly will help you in instilling the right thought and right action.
(II) Right Intention – The right view leads to the right intention. This basically refers to preferences and decisions. This is the first step towards performing right action and deeds. Right intention can be explained as the feeling of dedication towards self improvement.
(III) Right Speech – Right speech is known as the first principle of moral and ethical conduct. The right speech is an integral part of the Eight Fold Path. Words should be chosen carefully so as not to cause pain to another soul Words are crucial as they can either make or break relations. Positive, warm and friendly words are the foundation of right speech.
(IV) Right Action – Right action basically refers to the deeds and bodily actions that are performed by an individual These actions should not be done with wrong intentions or with a hurtful thought. The actions that you do should bring about a positive effect or change in the life of an individual.
(V) Right Livelihood – The right kind of livelihood means that one should earn a living through ethical means, hard work and the right way. One should not indulge in wrong means of earning money like taking lives, selling animals and human trafficking, selling intoxicants or alcohol, etc.
(VI) Right Effort – The right effort is what makes all other paths worthwhile. Without effort nothing is achievable in life. Positive effort takes a person towards positive goals in life while distracted efforts take a person towards negative goals. The right kind of effort makes every action and word meaningful and worthwhile and brings you closer to Nirvana.
(VII) Right Mindfulness – The process of conceptualization with the help of active observation and controlled thoughts is known as right mindfulness. Perception induces thought and this thought is interpreted into experiences and actions. The ability to see things in a clear perspective with transparent consciousness is what right mindfulness is all about.
(VIII) Right Concentration – The final principle of the Eight Fold Path is the right concentration. The mind should be concentrated on positive forces so as to achieve positive results. If used properly, concentration of the mind is very powerful People who practise Buddhism meditate to focus their minds in order clear it from clutter (unwanted thoughts).
Sects of Buddhism – As the art of writing had not developed in India during time of Lord Buddha, what remained with his followers after his death were the oral instructions given by him. As a result, in later period difference of opinion arose in the scholars of Buddhism about the interpretation of what Buddha had preached. To settle those differences, the followers of Buddhism held the Buddhist councils. In the fourth Buddhist Council (about 100 AD) due to their difference of opinion with each other the followers of Buddhism introduced structural changes in the organisational matter of Buddhism which split Buddhism into two sects called as the-
(i) The Hinayanism Sect – The followers of the Hinayana Sector Lesser Vehicle ot he Orthodox School of Buddhism were strictly the followers of the original teachings of Buddha. They were against idol worship and the use of the Sanskrit language.
(ii) The Mahayana Sect – The Mahayana sect or the Great Vehicle was in the favour of the idol worship and wrote its literature in the Sanskrit language. Followers of this school defined Buddha and preparing his idols, started their worship by conducting elaborate ceremonies. Mahayana Sect was adopted by many foreign tribes like the Indo-Greeks and the Kushanas, who had conquered territories in India during 200 BC-300 AD. King Kanishka of the Kushana dynasty was a great patron of Mahayana Buddhism. Due to his support the Mahayana Sect spread in Central Asia.
Buddhist Sangha – Lord Buddha has established the organisation of the Buddhist Sangha or Community. It was an order of Buddhist monks and the nuns bound by strict rules of conduct and discipline. Due to the humanitarian work carried out in ancient India by the Buddhist monks and nuns, teachings of Buddha spread in almost all the parts of India.
Royal support – Buddhism was also supported in its works by Emperor Ashoka Maurya (273-233 BC) and King Milinda (Mehander of the Indo-Greek dynasty). Due to their support Buddhism spread in China, Indonesia, Korea, Burma, Ceylon and Central Asia. Hindu rulers of the Gupta dynasty gave patronage to Buddhist scholars and Buddhist learning. Hindu King, Harsha Vardhana (606-647 AD) and the rulers of the Satavahana dynasty in the Deccan had also given support to Buddhism. As a result, Buddhism was instrumental in putting on the right path of spirituality for the people of India as well as the people of the other parts of the world.
It is a common misconception among people that Jainism religion was started by Lord Mahavira. The truth is that Jainism existed long before Lord Mahavira was born. Lord Mahavira reformed Jainism and gave it more exposure. Thus, the history and origin of Jainism dates back to many centuries before Lord Mahavira was born. The religion of Jainism is based on philosophy and the concept of Dharma. Read on this section which is essentially an introduction to Jainism.
The Jains basically follow the teachings of 24 Tirthankaras or Enlightened spiritual leaders. Lord Mahavira was the 24th and last Tirthankara. He lived in approximately around 6th Century B.C. The Jains have influenced many cultures with their teachings and philosophies. They emphasise on non-violent form of living and treating all life forms with respect. They believe that self control is essential for the attainment of omniscience or infinite knowledge. The realisation of infinite knowledge leads to Moksha or Nirvana. The Jains are supposed to be the most educated religious community of India. Some of India’s oldest libraries are of the Jains, The Jains are essentially of two types.
Digambaras – Jains who believed that monks should not wear clothes
Shwetambaras – Jains who believed that monks can wear only white clothes.
Beliefs and Practices – The Jains believe in reincarnation. To free themselves of the cycle of birth and death, they practice asceticism that is stringent in nature. They basically struggle to make their present birth the last one. Their professions are chosen carefully and revolve around the protection of lives or doing good deeds for others. The ethical code followed by the Jains is very strict in nature and the ethics are followed with much dedication and sincerity. The Jains believe in the following principles and ethics.
They are recommended to lead life in four basic stages. The first stage is called Brahmacharya- ashram which means the life of a student. The second stage is called Grihastha- ashram which means having a family or leading a family life. The third stage is known as
Vanaprastha – ashram which means doing social services and finishing off family responsibilities. The last and final stage of life is known as Sanyast- ashram which means abandonment of family life and adopting the life of an ascetic or a saint.
Medieval India – Sultanate and the Mughal rule state and Administration
The Delhi Sultanate basically refers to the Muslim rulers who ruled India through Delhi. This basically came into existence after Mohammed Ghori captured Delhi after defeating Prithviraj. After Prithviraj was captured the Delhi Sultanate went into the hands of one of Ghori’s generals known as Qutub-ud-din Aibak. During the end of the 12th century, he established a series of rulers and this dynasty was called as the slave dynasty since the rulers had been military slaves. Read more about the history of the Delhi sultanate in India. The extent of Delhi sultanate was till Bengal in the east and Deccan in the south. Even such a big sultanate faced constant threats from the North West and was also under pressure from internal politics within independent nobles. There was instability and unrest in the kingdom as there five dynasties that rose and fell which includes Slave dynasty, Khilji dynasty, Tughlaq dynasty, Sayyid dynasty and Lodhi dynasty. It was under the Khilji dynasty that most of South India was conquered. The territory was never fixed and depended upon the ability of the ruler as to how much was he able to conquer and control The effectiveness of a ruler during this time depended entirely upon his ability to conquer the play that fell near military highways and trade routes, collect and tax for revenue of the state and have firm authority over military and state governors. Agriculture and its related activities were the main source of livelihood in the kingdom but due to continued political unrest and instability, the peasants suffered greatly. During this time, Persian language developed to a great extent at the places where power was concentrate.
Slave Dynasty or Mamluk Dynasty
The Indian slave dynasty lasted from 1206 to 1290. The slave dynasty was the first Muslim dynasty to rule India. It is said that Muhammad Ghori did not have a natural heir to the throne and he the habit of treating his slaves like his own children. Thus after the death of Ghori, one of the most able slaves by the name of Qutub-ud-din Aibak descended the throne. The history of the slave dynasty begins with the rule of Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
Indo Islamic Culture
With the coming of the Mughals in India and the Turkish rule, there were many developments and changes in the Indian culture. Not just culture, there were major developments in architecture and art. The indo Islamic culture was a blend of Hinduism and Islam. It was neither strict Hindu nor strict Islam.
(a) Khilji Dynasty
(b) Tughlaq Dynasty
(C) Sayyid Dynasty
(d) Lodi Dynasty
First Battle of Panipat
The first battle of Panipat was actually the event that marked the end of the Lodhi dynasty and the beginning of the Mughal dynasty in India. The 1st battle of Panipat was fought between the last ruler of Lodhi dynasty, Ibrahim Lodhi and the ruler of Kabul, Babur.
Some important rulers of sultanate period-
(a) Qutbuddin Aibak (1206-1210 AD)
(b) Shamsuddin Iltutmish (1211 – 1236 AD)
(c) Raziya (1236-1240 AD)
(d) Nasiruddin Mahmud (1246-1266 AD)
(e) Ghiyasuddin Balban (1266-1287 AD)
(f) Successor of Balban and End of the Library Dynasty (1284 – 1290 AD)
The Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire in India lasted from 1526 to 1858. The Mughal dynasty was established by able Muslim rulers who came from the present day Uzbekistan. The Mughal rule in India saw the country being united as one single unit and being administered less than one single powerful ruler. During the Mughal period, art and architecture flourished and many beautiful monuments were constructed. The rulers were skillful warriors and admirers of art as well You shall find more information about the famous Mogul rulers in our related sections.
Babur- Emperor Babur has been known as the founder of Mughal Empire in India. He was born on 14th February, 1483 at a town called Andijan that is located in the present day Uzbekistan.The eldest son of Amir Umar Shaykh Mirza, the son of Abu Sajid Mirza and his wife Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, daughter of Younus Khan, the ruler of Moghulistan. He belonged to the Mongol tribe that also embraced Turkish and Persian.
Humayun- Emperor Humayun was the second Mughal emperor who ruled India after his father succumbed to disease at the young age of forty-seven. He was named Nasiruddin Humayun and was born on 6th March, 1508. He was declared emperor in the year 1530 and ascended the throne at the age of 22. Emperor Humayun lost the kingdom as soon as he gained it as he was inexperienced in handling a large empire. Humayun lost control of his kingdom early on in his reign, but later with Persian aid,” he would eventually regain an even larger one.
Sher Shah Suri- In 1539, seeking to expand his realm, the Pashtun general Sher Khan met Humayun at the battle of Chausa; a town situated between Varanasi and Patna. Humayun was defeated and barely escaped with his own life and in the following year, 1540, his army of 40,000 was defeated by Sher Khan’s Afghan army of 15,000. A popular Pashtun general, Khulas Khan Marwat, was leading Sher Khan’s Army. This was the first military venture of Khulas Khan Marwat and soon he would prove nightmarish for the Mughals.
Akbar the Great- One of the greatest Mughal emperors to have ruled India was Akbar. He was popularly known as Akbar the Great because of his ability to rule efficiently and skillfully. Akbar was born on 23rd November, 1542 when his father Humayun and mother Hamida Bano were wandering in Iran.
Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun whose rule was interrupted by the Afghan Sur Dynasty, which rebelled against him. It was only just before his death that Humayun was able to regain the empire and leave it to his son. In restoring and expanding Mughal rule, Akbar based his authority on the ability and loyalty of his followers, irrespective of their religion. In 1564 the jizya tax on non-Muslims was abolished and bans on temple building and Hindu pilgrimages were lifted.
Jahangir- Emperor Jahangir strengthened the Mughal Empire in India after his father Akbar. Prince Salim was born on 31st August 1569 and was named Nuruddin Salim Jahangir son of a Hindu Rajput princess from Amber), who would hter be known as Emperor Jahangir showed signs of restlessness towards the end of the long reign of his father Akbar. Nuruddin has been derived from Arabic which means “light of faith”: Jahangir is a Persian word which means “world conqueror”.
Shah Jahan- Emperor Shah Jahan was the fifth Mughal ruler of India. He was born on 5th January, 1592 and it is said that during the reign of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Empire prospered greatly like never before. The name Shah Jahan has been derived from Persian and it means “Emperor of the World”.
The Taj Mahal, named for Arjuman Banu, who was called Mumtaz Mahal became one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The great Jama Masjid built by him was the largest in India at the time. He renamed Delhi after himself as Shahjahanabad. The Red Fort made of red sandstone built during his reign near Jama Masjid around the same time came to be regarded as the seat of power of India itself. The Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from the ramparts of this forton Independence day even to this age.Shah Jahan also built or renovated forts in Delhi and in Agra. White marble chambers that served as living quarters and other halls for public audiences are examples of classic Mughal architecture. Here in Agra fort, Shah Jahan would spend eight of his last years as a prisoner of his son, Aurangzeb shuffling between the hallways of the palace, squinting at the distant silhouette of his famous Taj Mahal on the banks of River Jamuna.
Aurangzeb- The sixth ruler of Mughal Empire was Emperor Aurangzeb. He was the son of emperor Shah Jahan had his wife Mumtaz Mahal He was born on 3rd November, 1618. A devout Muslim, he strictly adhered to Islam and made sure that his kingdom followed the same. Aurangzeb, who was given the title “Alamgir” or “world-seizer,” by his father, is known for expanding the empire’s frontiers and for his acceptance of Islam law. During his reign, the Mughal empire reached its greatest extent
Mughal Administration- Administration of Mughal Dynasty brought about certain fundamental changes in the administrative system of India. They introduced a number of new positions in administration in an organised way. By far the biggest change they brought with them was that of religious tolerance in administrative matters.
Administration of Mughal Dynasty was carried out by incorporating certain elementary changes in the central administration structure in India. Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire assumed the title of Badshah’ which was continued by his emperor. He declared himself the authority in case of disparity of opinions regarding Islamic laws. However, Mughal rule was not theocratic. Except Aurangzeb no other Mughal emperor attempted to carry his administration on the principles of Islam. A major change that they brought about in matters of administration was the principle of religious tolerance. These new innovations in polity set aside Mughal administration. It was Akbar who raised the structure of Mughal administration. It persisted till the reign of Aurangzeb with minor changes. The weak successors of Aurangzeb, however, could not maintain it.
Position of the Emperor in Mughal Administration- The Mughal Emperors were all powerful in administration. The Mughal emperors accepted two primary duties for themselves, Jahanbani (protection of the state) and Jahangiri (extension of the empire). Besides, they tried to generate those conditions which were conducive to economic and cultural progress of their subjects. The emperor was the head of the state. He was the law-maker, the chief executive, the commander-in-chief of the army and the final dispenser of justice. Akbar enhanced further the powers of the emperor when he himself took over the power of deciding the Islamic laws in cases of dispute. His ministers and nobles, of course, could advise him but he was the final arbiter in everything. From the time of Akbar, the emperor was regarded as God’s representative on earth. That’s why Akbar started practices like Jharokha Darshan and Tula Dan. Even Aurangzeb who was a religious extremist was fully aware of this duty towards his subjects.
Ministers in Mughal Administration – During the reign of Akbar there were only four ministers, namely Wakil, Diwan or Wazir, Mir Bakhsi and Sadr-us-Sadur. The posts of Wakil and Wazir were combined together afterwards and the hobler of the post was called Vakili-Mutlaq. Akbar gave the post of the prime minister to Bairam Khan. By virtue of this office, he was the protector of the state and o776″ and dismissing them. But no other man was given these powers after the fall of Bairam Khan. The Prime Minister was given the work of the Diwan and, later on the Diwan was titled as the Wazir or the prime minister. Primarily, the Diwan looked after the income and expenditure of the state. Besides, he looked after the administration in the absence of the emperor from the capital and commanded the army on occasions. Thus, Vakil or Wazir or prime minister was the person next to the emperor in administration. The prime minister supervised the working of other departments, collected news of provinces, dispatched orders of the emperor to governors and looked after the correspondence of the state.
Land Administration under Mughals- The Empire was divided into Subas or provinces. The most important among these were given to one of the princes, others to Subadars, or other trusted men, generally from the army or administration. The state lands were divided into Parganas for the purpose of evaluating taxation; the taxes were collected by Amirs. When Jagirs were awarded, initially the Emperor had retained the right to collect taxes, but later the Jagirdars were allowed to levy taxes themselves and to keep a portion to enable them to maintain soldiers and horses. When called upon, these trusty lieges would bring their soldiers and cavalry to fight for the Emperor, thus alleviating the need for the ruler to bear the expense of a large standing army, except that sometimes these faithful subjects proved not so loyal and keen to throw off their butelage if given the opportunity.
Mansabs in Mughal Administration- The officials of administration were the Mansabs. These were grades awarded by the Emperor for positions in the army and administration. The recipients were responsible for maintaining different numbers of soldiers.
Military Administration of Mughals- The Mir Bakhshi was in charge of the military department. He could be asked to command an army but that was not his primary duty. He managed the recruitment of the soldiers, maintained their Huliya, looked after the branding of the horses and the elephants, looked after all sorts of supplies to the army and training of the soldiers. He also deputed Mansabdars for the security of the palace and changed them every day.
Scribes in Mughal Administration- Number of scribes were delegated to keep a record of the affairs of the court and the Empire, to maintain a list of nominated officers, and to keep a record of their performance. The movements of dignitaries were also noted. Special scribes kept journals of the activities of the Emperor and the royal family. There was a Diwan of Finances to keep an account of all the expenses, and the magistrates, were responsible for justice and religious affairs, and for compiling centralised reports from all over the Empire. The Emperor was at the centre of this network of agents, functionaries, and spies, and he collected all the sifted information.
Colonial times – 19th Century Reform and Constitutional Development
It was the rich trading possibilities of India that attracted Europeans towards this country. India had a very long history of trade relations with the Europeans. But it was an indirect relation mostly guided by the Arab traders. Heavy demands for Indian commodities like different spices, calico, silk, various precious stones, porcelain, etc caught the imagination of the European traders. However, for a long period they failed to establish a direct trade relation with India as all the major land routes to India were controlled by the Arabs. The Arabs constantly resisted the European merchants to enter into the Indian markets. As a result, the western traders concentrated more on discovering a safe sea route to India. At last the Portuguese became successful in finding a direct sea route to India. In May 1498, a Portuguese sailor named Vasco- da-Gama arrived at Calicut, an important sea port of South West India. The discovery of a direct sea route also encouraged the other European nations to come and trade in India. Thus there were several European nations like Holland, Great Britain, etc. got encouragement and came to merchandise in this country.
All the aforementioned European nations successfully took part in Indian trade. Gradually, taking advantage of the weakness of the Indian rulers, they started to interfere in the internal politics of the native states. The next few sections will discuss hoe the British East India Company converted itself from a trader to a ruler of this country.
The Growth of the British East India Company
We have already discussed the coming of the Europeans. Let us now know the motive behind the formation of British East India Company.
The high profits earned by the Portuguese in Eastern trade thrilled the English traders. So in 1599, a group of English businessmen called the Merchant Adventurers formed a company popularly known as the East India Company. In December 31,1600 AD the Company was authorised by a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth to carry on exclusive trade in the East. You will be amazed to know that the Queen of England herself became a share holder of the East India Company. In 1612 the British had put their first factory at Surat India.
In 1615. Emperor James l of England sent Sir Thomas Roe to Jahangir’s court seeking more concession for the East India Company. Roe was successful in achieving a royal charter that allowed the Company to trade freely all over the Mughal Empire.
The East India Company was prospering day by day. However, it was constantly challenged by the Portuguese and the Dutch. The East India Company within a few decades of its arrival in India set a firm footing in western and Southern India.
Establishment of Company’s Rule in India- The main focus of this section will be on the transformation of the East India Company from a trading corporation to a ruling power. But before going into the depth of this subject, we should know the circumstances that helped the British to become the supreme ruler of India for the next two hundred years. Let us now look at some of the factors in brief-
- The decline of the Mughal Empire after Aurangzeb resulted in the loss of central authority in India. Taking advantage of the weakness of the later Mughal rulers, subordinate provinces like Bengal Hyderabad Oudh, etc. shake off Mughal sovereignty and declared independence. The British took full advantage of such political disunity.
- The later Mughal were worthless rulers. They failed to control the activities of the foreigners like the British and the French in their domain. On the contrary, they were often influenced by these foreigners to extend extra privileges.
- The absence of political stability caused a sense of suspicion and insecurity among the Indian rulers. For their own security they started to book for the assistance of the foreign power like the British. This offered the Britishers a golden opportunity to meddle in the internal affairs of the Indian states.
Anglo-French Rivalry in South India
The political condition of the Southern India helped the British to aspire for political power But they were not the sole aspirant. After the Portuguese and the Dutch their new rival was the French. The French East India Company came to India in 1664. In fact, the French were the first who dreamt of establishing a political empire in India.
Three long battles were fought within a period of 20 years (1744-1763) between the British East India Company and the French East India Company. The chief aim was to gain commercial as well as territorial control in India. In the final battle fought between these two companies on 22 January, 1763 at Wandiwash the French were completely defeated by the British. Thus, the dream of the French to establish a political Empire in India remained unfulfilled On the other hand the victory of the Wandiwash left the English east India Company with no European rival in India.
The British in Bengal
After gaining their ground in Western and Southern India, the Company turned its attention towards Eastern India. Bengal was the richest province of the part. Naturally, the British profit-seeking merchants were eager to establish their commercial as well as political control over Bengal.
In 1698 the east India Company purchased three villages named Sutanati, Gobindapur and Calcutta. They laid a factory there and also constructed the Fort William around the factory. On this site grew the famous city of Calcutta. In 1717, Mughal Emperor Farrukh Siyar granted the British through a royal Farman (charter) some valuable trading facilities in Bengal Through this Farman the Company was permitted to export and import their goods in Bengal without paying taxes. It also authorised the company to issue dastaks (passes) for the transportation of such goods. In this period the English maintained their outwardly innocent appearance. After the death of Bengal Nawab Alivardi Khan in 1756, the company got the opportunities to fulfil its political ambitions.
The Battle of Plassey and the Battle of Buxar- These two battles have been considered as the basis of the political supremacy of the British in India. The first battle increased the power and the prestige of the British in India and the second one placed the as the master of Bengal Bihar and Orissa.
It has already been mentioned that Alivardi Khan died in 1756. He was succeeded by his grand son Siraj-ud- Daulah. From the very beginning, the East India Company underrated the strength of the young Nawab and thus conflict between Siraj and the company. The British under the guidance of Robert Clive started a conspiracy against Siraj. The Battle between Siraj-ud-Daulah and the East India Company took place at Plassey in 23′ June, 1757 where Siraj- uddaulah was defeated at the hands of the British.
The battle of Plassey has great historical importance. This victory gave the Company and its servants a golden opportunity to collect huge wealth from Bengal Thus, the British East India Company became the king maker in Bengal.
After Plassey, the East India Company placed Mir Jafar on the throne of Bengal But he was soon replaced by his son in law Mir Qasim (1760). However, he did not want to rule under the influence of East India Company. The activities of Mir Qasim made the Company doubtful of the attitude of the Nawab and conflict started between them.
After some initial conflicts Mir Qasim formed an alliance of Indian powers with Suja-ud-dulah, the nawab of Oudh and Shah Alm II, the ruling Mughal Emperor. In October 22, 1764 the combined army met the British at a place called Buxar in Bihar. In the battle, the Indian combined force was badly defeated by the British.
The result of the battle of Buxar was a milestone in respect of the establishment of British power in India. The battle of Plassey was the result of a conspiracy. But this battle clearly proves the might of the british power over three of the strongest powers of India.
British Policy of Expansion
In the previous section we have discussed the advent, rise and growth of the British east India Company. We have also observed how these foreigners converted themselves from merchants to masters of India. Here you should be informed about some of the architect of the British empire in India, Robert Clive was one of those architects who played an important role in bringing the East India Company into the political spotlight of India. In this respect few other names also demand mention such as Warren Hastings (1772-1785), Lord Wellesley (1798-1805), Lord Hastings (1813-1823), Lord Dalhousie (18481-856), etc. Particularly, Wellesley and Dalhousie through their expansionist policies brought a huge number of indian states under the direct control of Company’s rule.
The East India Company basically was a profit loving company. The British treated India as a field for exploitation. British economic policy contributed to the decline of the Indian trade. The industrial revolution of England which started in the second half of eighteenth century affected the Indian trade and industry. Particularly the cotton textile industry of India was completely ruined.
The free trade policy announced by the British government in 1813 abolished the monopoly of East India Company in Indian trade. The policy proved disastrous for India. The export of raw materials showed tremendous increase but India’s own industrial activity was on decline.
Under the British rule there had been continuous drainage of India’s wealth. The British organised drain of wealth in three ways investment and (c) Through Home Charges. Various commodities were purchased by the company in India out of the revenues of Bengalthese purchase was called as investment by the company. A large number of money was spent every year by the British government for the maintenance of British administration of India. The money was thus spent was known as the ‘Home Charge.
Thus, the continuous drain of wealth from India impoverished the country and its people.
Nineteenth-Century Reforms and Constitutional Developments Till 1935
With the introduction of the Dual system of Government in 1765 in Bengal began a new era in the administration of East India Company. From that time, the East India Company got the ‘Diwani’ of Bengal Bihar and Orissa. The arrival of Warren Hastings in 1772 led to stabilize the British administration. The British Parliament also took several steps to regulate in structure of the Government of East India Company run in India.
Regulating Act (1773)
The Regulating Act was the first landmark in the constitutional development of India. Following were the main provisions of the Act.
(i) The Governor of Bengal was made the ‘Governor General of Bengal.
(ii) The Governor General was to be assisted by a council of four members.
(iii) The two other Presidencies of Bombay and Madras were brought under the control of Governor General in Council.
(iv) The Act provided for a supreme court with a Chief Justice and three puisne judges. Sir Elijah Impey was appointed the Chief Justice.
(v) The Act also prohibited the receiving of presents and bribes by the servants of the company.
Criticism of Regulating Act
It is universally admitted that the Regulating Act had many shortcomings
(i) The regulating Act did not define clearly the exact jurisdiction and powers of the Governor General the members of the council and the Supreme Court.
(ii) The Act failed to give the effective and decisive control of the British Government over the company.
(iii) The Act had also failed to resolve the conflict between the company and its opponents in England They were growing stronger and stronger.
Pitt’s India Act (1784)
The defects of the Regulating Act and the exigencies of the British politics necessitated the passing of another Actin 1784. The Act was known as Pitt’s India Act.
(i) A Board of control was established in England to supervise the civil and military administration of the company in India.
(ii) The Board was to consist of the chancellor of Exchequer, a secretary of state and four Privy councillors appointed by the king.
(iii) The members of the Governor General in Council were brought down to three from four with a power of casting vote to the Governor General.
(iv) The Act clearly subordinated the Bombay and Madras Presidencies to Bengal in all questions of war, diplomacy and revenues.
Thus with this Act began a new phase of the British conquest in India. The East India Company became the instrument of British national policy.
Charter Act of 1793
No major important constitutional change was effected by the charter of 1793 except the following alterations.
(i) The Governor-General and Governors were given the power to override their councils.
(ii) The control of Governor-General over the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay was re-emphasized.
(iii) The company got monopoly of trade in India for another twenty years.
Charter Act of 1813
The Act of 1813 renewed the charter of the East India Company for 20 years.
(i) This act put an end to the commercial activities of the company. Indian trade was thrown open to all the British merchants.
(ii) East India Company was allowed to enjoy monopoly trade with China for 20 years.
(iii) A sum of rupees one lakh a year was set for the improvement of literature learning and education.
(iv) The Act made special provisions for the administration of justice in cases in which British and Indians were involved.
Charter Act of 1833
Through the Act of 1833, the company became a political agent for the crown. The followings were the important provisions of the act-
(i) The Governor General of Bengal will now be Governor General of India with more increased power. Lord William Bentinck, the last Governor General of Bengal was also the first Governor General of India.
(ii) President Of The Board of Control became the Minister for Indian affairs in the British Parliament.
(ii) Bombay and Madras Presidencies were deprived of their power of law-making. The Act vested all the powers of law-making in the Governor General in Council Thus the act brought the legislature centralization.
(iv) The Act added a new member to the Executive Council of the Governor General known as the Law Member. His work was purely legislative without power to vote.
(v) The act lid down the liberal principle that neither native Indian, nor any natural-born subject of His Majesty should be disabled from holding any office by reason of his religion, place of birth, and descent of colour.
Charter Act 1853
The charter of the company was renewed again in 1853. According to this new Act.
(i) “The law member was made a full member of executive council of the Governor General.
(ii) The number of the directors of the company was reduced from 24 to 18. out of them 6 were to be nominated by the crown.
(iii) The position of the President to the Board of control was equalised with that of a Secretary of State.
(iv) Central Legislative Council was formed with one representative each from the provinces. The Chief Justice of Supreme Court will be an ex-officio member of the same. There will be two civilians also nominated by the Governor General.
(v) The Act curtailed the power of appointment of the court of Directors. All the future vacancies were to be filled by competitive Examinations.
The Act of 1858
The First War of Independence of 1857 brought the era of the East India Company to an end In 1858 the British Crown took over the rights of the Company’s Government in India in its own hands. The Act lerought substantial changes in the constitutional set-up. Some of the important changes were-
(i) it abolished the Board of Directors and the Board of Control and vested their powers in one of Her Majesty’s Secretary (a Minister in the British Cabinet),
(ii) he was designated as the Secretary of State for India and was empowered to superintend, direct and control all the governmental affairs in India,
(iii) the Secretary of State was to be assisted by a Council of India;
(iv) the GovernorGeneral and Governors of the Presidencies were to be appointed by the Crown and the members of their Councils by the Secretary of State-in Council
(v) Lieutenant Governors were to be appointed-by the GovernorGeneral subject to the approval of Her Majesty and appointments to the covenanted civil service were to be made through open competition with the assistance of the Civil service.
Indian Councils Act of 1861
In 1861 the British Government decided to expand the legislative Councils. This was done through the Indian Councils Act of 1861. The main provisions of the Act were as follows-
(i) the Governor-General’s Council was expanded for legislative purposes by adding 6-12 new members, to be nominated for two years,
(ii) prior sanction of the Governor-General was essential for introducing some measures,
(iii) every Act passed by the Legislature in India was subject to approval of Her Majesty acting through the Secretary of State-in-Council,
(iv) the GovernorGeneral was authorised to exercise a veto and issue ordinances in an emergency and
(v) the strength of the Governor-General’s Council for executive purposes was raised to five by addition of one more member.
Indian Councils Act of 1892
In 1892 another Act was passed to further expand and strengthen the legislative councils. The main features of the Act were as follows –
(i) the strength of the central and provincial legislative councils was expanded by adding 8-20 new members,
(ii) two fifth of these new additional members were to be non-officials,
(iii) the Governor-General-in-Council was authorised to make rules subject to the sanction of the Secretary of State-in Council for discussion of annual financial statements and for asking questions.
Indian Councils Act of 1909- During the beginning of the twentieth century, the British Government was confronted with three types of pressures. While on the one hand the moderates were appealing for more reforms and the extremists were agitating for getting Swarajya, the revolutionaries, on the other hand were resorting to terrorist activities to achieve their goal, i.e. end of the alien rule. In order to mollify the discontent, to some extent the government enacted the Indian council act of 1909.
The Government of India Act of 1919
During the First World War, Gandhiji had requested the nation to help the allies in their war efforts because they were fighting for the cause of democracy. After the war was over, the people were feeling that they would also get democratic reforms. The Government of India Act of 1919 was enacted to satisfy the people of India to some extent.
The Government of India Act of 1935
The three Round Table Conferences convened in London during 1930-32 had made a number of recommendations regarding constitutional reforms in India. The Government of India Act, 1935 was the result of these recommendations.
Freedom Struggle of India – Major Phases
Revolt of 1857
The Revolt of 1857 opened a glorious chapter in the history of India. This popular revolt broke out in north and central India and shook the very foundation of the British rule in India. Though it started with a mutiny of sepoys, yet soon engulfed with other regions and people.
The revolt of 1857 was not a sudden incident. For over a century popular discontent and hatred against foreign rule had been gaining strength among the different sections of Indian society. It was this discontent that burst forth into a mighty popular revolt. There are several factors which contributed to the outbreak of this revolt.
The British policy of annexation created discontent among the Indians. Lord Dalhousie evolved the policy of Doctrine of lapse’ by which he occupied the territory of Jhansi, Satara Nagpur etc. Dalhousie’s refusal to continue the pension of Nana Sahib, adopted son of ex Peswa Bajirao, was disliked by the Hindus.
The economic exploitation of the Indian people was one of the most important causes of the revolt. The economic exploitation of the country, the huge drain of wealth from Bengal and the destruction of its industry impoverished the country. The ruin of Industry and commerce turned India into an agricultural colony of the British manufacturing capitalism. It is no wonder that there prevailed grave discontent all over India.
Socio and religious causes
The introduction of the western civilization through the medium of English language created imbalance in the traditional orthodox classes of the Indians. The people were also dissatisfied with the activities of the Christian Missionaries. The government had also encouraged missionary activities. The Indians started thinking that the British government had adopted a deliberate policy to destroy their religion and culture. Moreover, the suppression of Sati and infanticide, the legislation of widow remarriage, the promotion of western education at the expense of traditional learning etc. were not welcomed by the Indians. Thus tension was inevitable when new ideas and innovations of the west were to mingle with the traditional Hindu society.
Discontent of the sepoys
Discontent of the sepoys was the most important of the revolt of 1857. The sepoys were treated roughly by the European officers. The highest post that an Indian soldier could expect was that of the Subedar. Moreover, the salaries of the Indian and the European soldiers were not equal Though the Indian soldiers were very particular in observing the caste rules, yet they were prevented to do so. They could not sectarian marks All this made the sepoys dissatisfied.
When the atmosphere was thus changed with anti-British feelings, a new type of rifle (Enfield rifle) was introduced into the Indian army.
These rifles needed a special type of cartridge which had to be loader after tearing it off by the teeth. A rumour soon spread that these cartridges contained the grease of pig and cow, which was unclean to both Hindus and Muslims. This worked as a spark in the magazine room and the revolt began.
Beginning and spread of the revolt
On May 10th, 1857 the revolution started in Meerut about 58 kilometres from Delhi. The city of Delhi was captured by the Indian sepoys. The rebels declared Bahadur Shall the then nominal Mughal Emperor, as the Emperor of India. Soon the revolution was spread to Oudh, Rohilkhand Bundelkhand, Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Jhansi and other places of northern India. At Kanpur Nana Sahib assumed the leadership of the revels. Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi led her troops heroically against the British. However, she was killed while fighting with the British forces; Kunwar Singh was another outstanding leader of the revolt of 1857. The British army however, crushed the revolt by the end of the year 1858. Bahadur Shah Il was captured by the British and was exiled to Rangoon. Nana Sahib was also defeated by the British. Thus once again the British reestablished their superiority over India.
Cases of the Failure of the Revolt
There were several causes for the failure of the revolt of 1857 The revolt of 1857-
- Remain disorganised from the very beginning
- There was no proper leader to lead the people against the British Bahadur Shah II, Lakshmi Bai, Nana Sahib all were leaders outstanding only in their respective areas.
- There was hardly any coordination among the forces fighting in different regions.
- Powerful leaders like Holkar, Sindhia, and Nawab of Bhopal etc. refused to join the revolt.
- The British were military superior then the revolting sepoys. The British force used machine-gun which helped to crush the revolt
Results of the revolt of 1857
- The British Parliament by an Act passed in 1858 formally brought an end to the East India Company’s rule in India.
- The administration of India was now directly taken over by the British Crown.
- Changes were introduced in almost all branches of the administration.
- Queen Victoria by a proclamation, announced on 1 november, 1858, at a Darbar held at Allahabad specifically mentioned the changes that would henceforth mark the British policy towards India.
Repercussion in Assam
The wave of the revolt of 1857 swept the Brahmaputra valley also. In Assam Maniran Dewan taking advantage of the situation arising out of the revolt of 1857 organised an anti-British uprising.
The British occupied Assam after the Treaty of Yandaboo. Before that the Ahoms ruled the territory British rule was initially welcomed by the people of Assam, particularly by the nobility because they lost their occupation people of Assam began to realise that they were now subjected to a new kind of oppression and exploitation. British policy adversely affected the nobility and the common people. While the peasants were burden with taxes, nobility had been brought down to the level of ordinary peasants. Under the British rule the weaving industry of Assam was also ruined Thus a discontentment arose against the British rule in Assam.
Maniram Dewan, the leader of the revolt in Assam was initially worked under the British as the Sheristadar in upper Assam. After that he joined the Assam Tea Company. He was in favour of restoration of Ahom monarchy in Assam. He wanted to reinstate Kandarpeswar Singha, a scion of the Ahom royal family as the Raja of Assam. Initially through prayer and petition he tried to persuade the British to restore monarchy but when all his attempts failed he decided to organise a rebellion. He wants to Calcutta on 1856. From there he made contact with sepoys stationed in various places of Assam. They readily responded and the Maha Ashtami day of Durga Puja falling in the October, 1857 was fixed for the outburst.
However police came to know about the conspiracy and the entire plan of Maniram Dewan fizzled out. He was arrested in Calcutta. Later on, he was brought for trail in Assam. After that Maniram Dewan and Peoli Barua, a close associate of Kandarpeswar Singha, was hanged to death in Jorhat. Thus, the attempts of Maniram and his associates ended in failure.
There were several factors for the failure of the rebellion in Assam
- Lack of coordination among the sepoys, spread in various part of Assam, contributed to the failure of the movement.
- Maniram Dewan, the chief organizer had to organize the revolution from Calcutta, which was far away from Assam.
- The rebels could not maintain secrecy which gave a deathblow to the revolution.
- No attempts were made to involve the masses in the struggle against the British. Even the support of nobility was also partial.
Significance of the revolt of 1857 in Assam
- After the revolution the people became more concern about the repressive nature of British rule. A series of popular anti British uprising took place during the period after 1857.
- The working class people became more conscious and tea garden labourers went for a strike demanding redressal of their grievances.
- The sacrifice of Maniram Dewan and Peoli Barua touched the people of Assam. Many folk songs and ballads in memory of their patriotism are popular even today.
After 1857 the spirit of nationalism grew in India. People became politically conscious and started to demand reforms in the British administration. But the continual denial of these demands by the British led the Indian mass into the path of movement. Thus, the Indian struggle for freedom from the British rule started. This introduces you to India’s struggle for freedom up to 1916.
Emergence of Nationalism
The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed the national political consciousness in India. Nationalism is a modern phenomenon. Compared with the Europeans; nationalist sentiment stimulated the Indians rather late. It was mainly the British rule which helped in the growth of nationalism among the Indians.
Following factors contributed to the emergence of nationalism in India
Consequence of foreign domination – Foreign domination is one of the most important factors for the growth of Nationalism in India. The British treated India as a field of exploitation. People came to realise that British rule was the major cause of economic backwardness of the country which made the people untied against the British rule.
Political and economic unity – Under the British rule almost the whole of India was united Nationalist sentiment could grow easily among the Indians because the British treated the whole of India as one administrative unit. They introduced the same administrative system throughout the country. At the same time they also treated the whole of India as a single economic unit. So they introduced same economic policy throughout India. All these resulted in the growth of the feeling of belongingness to one country i.e., India. All these have greatly contributed to the growth of national awakening.
Western thought and education – Spread of western education and thought during the nineteenth century was an important factor in the growth of national awakening amongst the Indians. The modern concept of democracy, nationality etc.created a deep impression in them. English became the language of educated Indians irrespective of differences in religion, caste and region. Thus it became the best link of understanding and developing close contacts with one another. These educated Indians were primarily responsible for creating political awakening and organising the political movement in India.
Revival of the glory of Ancient India – Most of the British writers and officials of the nineteenth century put forward the view that Indians were uncivilised and they were destined to be ruled by the foreigner. However, many of the nationalist leaders tried to arouse self confidence and self respect among the people of India by countering this propaganda. Many Indian scholars who investigated the past history of India revealed the past glory of India. From the study of Indian history people come to know an bout the great rulers like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Akbar and several others. All these inspired the educated Indians with a new spirit of patriotism and nationalism.
Role of press and literature – The latter half of the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented growth of Nationalist newspapers. Through these newspapers the people were asked to unite and work for national unity.
Some of the prominent nationalist newspapers of this period were- Amrita Bazar Patrika, Hindu Patriot, Indian Mirron, Sanjibani, Hindustani, Kesari, Bijuli, Jonaki etc. Newspapers like Bijuli and Jonaki played an important role in the growth of national consciousness in Assam.
National literature also played an important role in arousing national consciousness. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Rabindranath Tagore etc. in Bengali, Laksminath Bezbaruah in Assamese, Subramanya Bharali in Tamil, Bhartendu Harishchandra in hindu and Later Hussain in Urdu were some of the nationalist writers of the period.
Developed means of communication and transport – The British constructed railways, roads, provided telegraph, wireless etc. and organize postal services all over India. The Indians of distant places could get the opportunity to come closer to one another. This provided them a sense of unity which contributed to organize an all India movement.
Racial arrogance of the ruler – An important factor in the growth of national sentiments in India was the tone of racial superiority adopted by many Englishmen in their dealings with Indians. The British always claimed their superiority over the Indians and exhibited arrogance towards them. All these things were given wide publicity by Indian newspapers. That inflamed the feelings of the Indians against the British.
Indian National Congress
The foundation of Indian National Congress in 1885 is a very important event in the history of Indian politics. The foundation of Indian National Congress in 1885 was not a sudden event Setting up an all India organisation was very much in the air for a long time. The final shape of this idea was given by AO. Hume, a retired English civil servant. He is also known as the ‘father of the Indian National Congress. Hemobilized leading intellectuals of that time and organised the first session of Indian National Congress in Bombay in 1885. The first session of the Indian national Congress was attended by 72 delegates and presided over by W.C. Banerjee.
The Indian National Congress initiated its function most moderately. It formulated the following objectives in its first session-
(i) Promotion of intimacy and friendship among the earnest workers in different parts of the country, who had been working for the cause of the country.
(ii) Eradication of all possible race, creed or provincial prejudices in order to develop sentiments of national unity.
(iii) To discuss the mature opinions of the educated classes in India on important social problems.
(iv) To determine the methods of action to be pursued by the Indian politicians for public interest during the next one year.
Moderate phase – Apart from declaration of the four objectives of the Congress, the first session adopted a number of resolutions on the political and economic problems of India.
The first phase of congress (1885-1905) is known as moderate phase. During this period, the Congress worked for fulfilling limited objectives and concentrated more on building up its organisation. The national leaders like Dadabhai Nauroji, Gopal Krisna Gokhle, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Umesh Chandra Benarjee etc dominated the Congress during this period. These people were staunch believers in liberalism and moderate politics.
The moderates believed in the British sense of justice. The basic demands of the Congress at that time were mainly constitutional which stressed on larger share of the Indians in the governance of the country. The Congress also put forwarded some suggestions for the economic improvement of the country. However, the British government paid scant respect to the demands made by the congress. The early Congress leaders achieved very little of the hopes and aspirations of the Indian people. However, the moderates made a great contribution to the field of Indian National Movement. During the moderate phase for the first time there evolved a common political and ogramme around which Indian people could unite and launch a greater movement against the foreign rule.
Extremist phase – The second stage of the Congress (1905-1916) witnessed the emergence of a new and younger group and advocated the adoption of Swaraj as the goal of the Congress to be achieved by more self-reliant and independent methods. They had no faith on the British sense of justice. The Indian resentment against the British rule reached its climax during the last phase of the nineteenth century which contributed towards the growth extremism in Indian politics. This phase is known as ‘extremist phase’ Leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Lala Lajpat Rai were the important members of this group. The final stage of the Congress was dominated by the objective of Purna Swaraj complete independence to be achieved under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
Partition of Bengal and Swadeshi Movement
Partition of Bengal in 1905 and Swadeshi movement opened a new chapter in the history of the national movement in India. During that time Lord Curzon was the Viceroy of India. The worst and the most hated aspect of Lord Curzon’s administration was the partition of Bengal The plan of the partition of Bengal was announced by the government on 19th July, 1905. According to this plan a new province named ‘Eastern Bengal and Assam’ was to be set up. The new province included Assam, Chittagong, Dacca and Rajshahi, Malda and Tripura. Dacca was fixed as the capital of East Bengal and Assam. 16th October, 1905 was the day fixed by the government for the partition of Bengal.
Home Rule Movement Home Rule Movement started a new chapter in the history of India. In 1916, Mrs. Annie Besant, one of the celebrated leaders of the Indian national movement founded the Home rule League. Annie Besant was an Irish lady. In 1889, she joined the Theosophical society. The Theosophical Society established its office at Adyar near Chennai and she became the president of it. Later she got involved in the national movement in India. She thought that the best political reform of India was to grant self rule. The Home Rule league started an all India movement for the introduction of self government in India. The object of the home rule movement was to attain Home Rule within the British Empire. In the same Home Rule year in Pune, Bal Gangadhar Tilak also initiated Indian Home Rule League. Both Tilak and Besant carried out the message of the Home Rule among the masses. Both the leaders toured all over India, established branches of the league in different cities of India and carried the message through newspapers, mass meetings and distribution of leaflets etc.
Gandhiji led this movement against the British and a large number of Indian people joined this movement. While launching this movement Mahatma Gandhi asked the Indian people not to cooperate with the British government until it fulfill their demands.
Rowlatt Act and Jallianwala Bagh tragedy- The First World War and its aftermath changed the course of Indian politics. The Indian national leaders supported the British in all their war efforts. They hoped that the British will fulfil their demand of autonomy within the framework of British Empire. But what was given to them by the British was the repressive Rawat Act (1919), which within Tgns in enacting this act was to deprive the Indians of their right.
Khilafat and Non-co-operation Movement- After the First Work War, the growing discontent of the Indians against the British rule led to a series of mass movement. Khilafat movement was started by the Muslims of India in 1919. The main leaders of this movement were Maulana Muhammad Ali, Shaukat Ali etc. The main object of the Khilafat movement was to force the British government to change its attitude towards Turkey. Turkey had joined the First World War against Great Britain. After the defeat of turkey in the war, the news leaked out that the Allies were thinking of diving the Turkish Empire. Besides, the Sultan or turkey, which was the Caliph or the religious head was humiliated. This led to the Khilafat agitation.a Khilafat Committee was formed and a county wide agitation was organised Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak also joined the movement. They found it to be a good opportunity to bring the Hindus and Muslims together. In 1919, All India Khilafat Conference was held in Delhi where Gandhiji was elected its president. The Khilafat Committee launched Non Co-operation Movement of August 1920. This was endorsed by the Congress. Finally the demands of the Khilafat committee a Congress were merged and Gandhiji was asked to lead the movement.
Civil Disobedience Movement
The civil disobedience movement started a new era in the history of the national movement in India. When the political discontent was increasing in India, the British Parliament sent the Simon Commission to India on 8th November, 1927. The Simon Commission had to go into the question of further constitutional reforms and to submit a report about it.
In opposition to the appointment of the Simon Commission, all-important india leaders and parties tried to evolve an alternative scheme of constitutional reforms. Ultimately Nehru Report was finalised on August 1929, chief architect of which was Motilal Nehru. The Nehru Report asked for dominion Status. However, the All Party Convention held at Calcutta in December 1929, failed to pass the Report because some leaders belong to Muslim league and Sikh League opposed the report.
First Round Table Conference and Gandhi Irwin Pact Meanwhile The British government summoned London in 1930 for the first Round Table Conference to discuss the Simon Commission Report. But the National Congress boycotted the conference. The British government now made attempts to negotiate an agreement with the Congress so that they would attend the next Round Table Conference. Finally, Gandhi and Lord Irwin negotiated a settlement in March 1931, which came to to be known as Gandhi Irwin Pact. The Government agreed to release all the political prisoners. The Congress suspended the Civil Disobedience movement and agreed to take part in the Second Round Table conference. However, many congress leaders dissatisfied with the Gandhi Irwin Pact.
Second Round Table Conference
The Second Round Table conference was attended by Gandhiji. He was the sole representative of the Congress. This conference was held in England in September, 1931. Gandhiji was stunned when the British government refused to concede the basic nationalist demand for freedom on the basis of the immediate grant of dominion status. He returned empty handed to India. On his return to India in 1932, Mahatma Gandhi found that the Government had again embarked on its policy of repression. So he started Civil Disobedience movement. Gandhi and other congress volunteers were arrested Nationalist literature was banned The government repression succeeded in the end It created a division among the Indian leaders on communal and other questions. The Congress officially suspended the movement in May 1933 and withdrew it in May 1934.
Quit Indian Movement
The Second World War changed the political scenario of Indian politics. At this juncture Cripps Mission was sent to India. The mission failed as it did not bring the promise of independence. The failure of Cripps’s mission ushered a period of political anxiety in the country. Gandhiji openly declared that there could be no friendly understanding between Britain and India. He suggested on April 1942 the immediate withdrawal of the British from India. The ‘Quit India’ resolution was adopted by the All India Congress Committee in Bombay on 8th August 1942. Gandhiji now was in a militant mood and was in favour of a mass struggle on the widest possible scale. However, the Congress leadership got no time to implement the resolution. In the very next day all the important leaders including Gandhi were arrested Before he was arrested on 9th August, 1942, Gandhiji gave the message -“Do or Die’ to the masses.
Subhash Chandra Bose and Indian National Army
Most of you have heard the name Subhash Chandra Bose. He was revered as a national hero. He was a brilliant student of the University of Calcutta and a member of the Indian Civil Service. He resigned his attractive career to serve the cause of India’s freedom.
National Movement in Assam
Assam played a significant role in the National Movement of India. The early anti-British uprisings in this region were led by some leaders of the old Ahom nobility during 1828-30. Do you know who the Ahoms were? In the previous unit we have already mentioned about the ahoms. They ruled over Assam before the British took over its administration after 1826. Later, in 1857 Maniram Dewan tried to start a mutiny of sepoys along with other parts of north India. Afterwards a series of outbreaks by the peasants swept over Assam, which also known as “The Assam Riots’. After that till the foundation of the Provincial Congress Committee in Assam in 1921, a number of political and literary organisations were formed the early political organisation of Assam was ‘the Assam Association’.
Establishment of the Provincial Congress in Assam
The political leaders of Assam have been maintaining a close contact with the Indian National Congress from the very beginning. However, the Provincial Congress Committee was formed only in 1921. Kuladhar Chaliha was the first President of the Provincial congress of Assam. From that time the freedom struggle in Assam gained a new momentum. At that time the non cooperation movement was at its height. After the formation of the Provincial Congress committee the people of Assam could work under the direct guidance of the Indian National Congress.
Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Assam
Mahatma Gandhi first visited Assam in August 1921 and addressed a large number of public meetings. It encouraged the people of Assam to fight against the British under leadership of the Indian National Congress. His visit also helped to popularise the Khadi and Chakra. Assam’s weaving industry impressed Gandhi so much that he wrote an article in the Young India’ under the caption ‘Lovely Assam. People boycotted foreign goods. An important aspect of the non-co-operation movement in Assam was the participation of women and students and propaganda against the habit of opium. However, Gandhiji suspended the non cooperation movement in 1922 following the incident of Chauri Chaura.
Pandu Congress (1926)
The 41st session of the Indian National Congress was held at Pandu, near Guwahati in 1926. It encouraged the people of Assam and its leader got a better exposure at the national level. A veteran congress leader Srnivas Ayenger presided over the Pandu session.
Civil Disobedience Movement in Assam
Assam played an important role in the the civil disobedience Movement. There was a split among the congress leaders of Assam over the programme of the civil disobedience movement Veteran leaders like Tarun Ram phukan. Nabin Chandra Bardoloi came out of the congress. They were replaced by younger leaders like Bishnuram Medhi, Gopinath Bordoloi, and Siddhinath Sarma Ambikagiri Roychoudhury etc. Students of Assam stayed from their classes protesting against the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Students of Assam were united the ‘Assam Chatra Sanmilan-Civil disobedience movement in Assam virtually became a student movement. The echo of the civil disobedience movement was also heard in the hills of Assam. The Nagas organised themselves under their queen Gaidilieu. She was sentenced to transportation of life. Despites it the movement was formally withdrawn in 1934.
Quit India Movement in Assam
Congress adopted the resolution to start the quit India movement on 8th August 1942. In a historic speech Gandhi raised the slogan do or die’. However, the British government arrested all the important leaders including Gandhi in the early morning of 9th August. Important leaders like Gopinath Bordoloi, Md Tayyab Ullah and Siddhinath Sarma etc. were arrested People turned violent in the face of government repression. They also damaged railway and telegraph lines. Many of them sacrificed their lives for the cause of the country. The sacrifice of Kanaklata, Mukunda Kakati, and Kushal konwar has immortalised their names. Government took repressive measures. On the other hand, participation of various sections of people made it a mass movement. Many underground organisations became really active in Assam. Out of all the mass movement of India’s struggle for freedom in Assam, the Quit India movement was most widespread. At last on 15th August, after a long struggle Assam also become independent along with other parts of India.
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