Mangal Pandey: Brave Martyr Or Accidental Hero?

Front Cover
Penguin Books, 2005 - India - 109 pages
'Come out! Get ready! It's for our religion! From biting these cartridges we shall become infidels!' On a sleepy Sunday afternoon in March 1857, an agitated sepoy in the English East India Company's 34th Native Infantry marched on to the parade ground in Barrackpore, exhorting his comrades to join him in protecting their religion from the Europeans. When British officers arrived to arrest him, he drew his sword on them and then turned his musket on himself. As he was led off to the gallows a few days later, Mangal Pandey passed into history and legend as the man who single-handedly started the 1857 Rising. But who was the real Mangal Pandey? A dashing, heroic figure, as portrayed by Aamir Khan in the film The Rising? A flery patriot who embarked on a suicidal mission to defend his country's honour? Or just an ordinary sepoy who, in a state of intoxication, committed a foolhardy act for which he was hanged?Lively, thought-provoking as well as scholarly, Rudrangshu Mukherjee's analysis of this emotive episode in Indian history presents a vivid picture of life in the barracks of the East India Company's cantonments in 1857, describes the social customs and military regulations that governed the daily routines of Mangal Pandey and other Indian sepoys, and examines the controversies and unrest that foreshadowed the 1857 Rising. Uncovering the hard facts behind the myths and conjectures of popular belief, nationalist rhetoric and cinematic imagination, this book provides, for the first time, a credible portrait of Mangal Pandey as he really was.

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