BENARES REBELLION (15,AUGUST 1781)

“ANY MAN WHO TELLS YOU THAT AN ACT OF ARMED RESISTANCE-EVEN IF OFFERED BY TEN MEN ONLY-EVEN IF OFFERED BY MEN ARMED WITH STONES-ANY MEN WHO TELL YOU THAT SUCH AN ACT OF RESISTANCE IS PREMATURE,IMPRUDENT,OR DANGEROUS,ANY AND EVERY SUCH MAN SHOULD BE AT ONCE SPURNED AND SPAT AT,FOR REMARK YOU THIS AND RECOLLECT THAT SOMEWHERE AND SOME HOW AND BY SOMEBODY A BEGINNING MUST BE MADE AND THAT THE FIRST ACT OF RESISTANCE IS ALWAYS AND MUST BE EVER PREMATURE , IMPRUDENT AND DANGEROSUS”

(IRISH HEROIC T. MAXVANY)

The “Benares Rebellion” could not leave a significant mark in its history due to lack of vision and inability to take decisions in the King of Banares.

In order to shed light on this incident and its importance, I have made the basis of the letters of the British officers of that time, their statements, buildings and ruins connected with this incident in and around Benares. Indian intellectuals (especially Sampurna Nand)You were a great educationist.And was also the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the Governor of Rajasthan. (Your great-grandfather Sadanand ji was the divan of King Chet Singh.)

Warren Hasting himself wrote that “If Chet Singh had not run away at this time and would have attacked the garden of Madhodas, I would surely have been killed and thus rebellion would have spread all around”.

SELECTIONS FROM THE STATE PAPERS OF THE GOVERNORS-GENERAL OF INDIA :WARREN HASTINGS (George Forest Page 160)

IMAGE SOURCE:-(KASHI KA ITIHAS, DR. MOTICHAND) BHARAT KALA BHAVAN (B.H.U) VARANASI .CHET SINGH (MAHARAJA OF BENARES)
A locality and some buildings in Varanasi are still named after you.
IMAGE SOURCE :- (WIKIPEDIA) WARREN HASTINGS.

WARREN HASTINGS WAS THE FIRST GOVERNOR OF THE PRESSIDENCY OF FORT WILLIAM, THE HEAD OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF BENGAL, THE FIRST DE FACTO GOVERNOR GENERAL OF INDIA .WARREN HASTINGS CREDITED ALONG WITH ROBERT CLIVE FOR LAYING THE FOUNDATION OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN INDIA.

On July 7, 1781, Warren Hastings left Kolkata for Banaras (Varanasi) with his men. On the way, Warren Hasting also stopped at Bhagalpur and Buxar.
On August 15, 1781, Warren Hastings arrived in Varanasi. Warren Hasting came to Varanasi to investigate complaints against Maharaja Banaras Chet Singh.

MADHODAS BAG OR MADHODAS GARDEN HOUSE NOW KNOWN AS RADHASWAMI BAAG OR SWAMI BAAG (RADHASWAMI GARDEN OR SWAMI GARDEN)
(IMAGE:- Dinesh Seth.)

Warren Hasting reached Varanasi and stayed in a garden named Madhodas.
This garden of Madhodas is presently known as Radhaswami Bagh or Swami Bagh in Varanasi.

The inscription on the wall of Radhaswami Bagh is hidden somewhere in shops. The story of Warren Hasting’s stop at this rockplate is described.
( Image:- Dinesh Seth)

SHIVALA BHAVAN NOW KNOWN AS CHET SINGH OR CHAIT SINGH GHAT
( Image:- Dinesh Seth)
IMAGE SOURCE:- WIKIMEDIA ( SHIVALA BHAVAN, NOW KNOWN AS CHET SINGH GHAT ) WILLIAM DANIELL R A,(1769-1837)

On the banks of the Ganges, Shivala Bhavan, now known as Chet Singh Ghat, the Maharaja of Benares was arrested and detained here by order of Warren Hastings.The disobedience of Maharaj by the soldiers of Warren Hastings provoked the soldiers of Maharaj’s army and then the people also joined the soldiers of Maharaj.

The rockplate at Shivala Bhavan, from where Maharaja Benaras had escaped from Warren Hastings. (Image:-Dinesh Seth)

The english army suffered a major loss in the encounter of the english and the native army at Shivala. Some British officers, many English and native soldiers were killed. ( Image:- Dinesh Seth)

LieutT Arch.Scott 1s Battalion sepoys,

LieutT Jer Symes2nd Battalion sepoys

Lieut J Stalker Resd. Body Guard

WHO WERE KILLED WITH 200 SEPOYS AUGUST (17TH 1781)

NEAR THIS SPOT,DOING THEIR DUTY.

(SEPOY:-INDIAN FOOT -SOLDIER,esp. IN THE SERVICE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY .)

PadaavRamnagar encounter:

1-Here 30 foreign soldiers, 150 native soldiers were killed, and 100 men were wounded in the struggle between British and Maharaja Varanasi soldiers.

Only two soldiers of Maharaja Varanasi died.

2-An officer named Captain Mayfair marched into the city of Varanasi, a troop of his army, where he was surrounded, the public beaten Mayfair and his soldiers badly in the streets of Varanasi.Mayfair was killed along with 36 white soldiers, 108 native soldiers were also killed, 42 soldiers were injured.

I AM NOT AFRAID OF AN ARMY OF LIONS LED BY A SHEEP,I AM AFRAID OF AN ARMY OF SHEEP LED BY A LION.

(ALEXANDER THE GREAT)

The public was very excited by this incident and was ready to avenge the insult of the king. At this time the people needed a skilled leadership, but unfortunately the king could not lead such enthusiastic people either.

At such a time, instead of leading the public, it was very sad for the king to run away like cowards and only worry about himself and family.

This shameful attitude of Maharaja soon led to the loss of trust of the people and the army from his Majesty.

CHUNARGARH: Chunar’s ancient and historical fort( Image:-Dinesh Seth)

Warren Hastings was very frightened to see himself surrounded in Varanasi and decided to leave Varanasi at the earliest.
Decided to go to Chunar, located just a few kilometers away from Varanasi, because this fort was in the possession of the East India Company.
Warren Hasting, along with some confidant men, made the journey to Chunar in the night somehow.

IMAGE SOURCE : WIKIMEDIA NORTH VIEW OF THE FORT OF CHUNARGARH ON THE GANGES FROM ACROSS THE RIVER . IT IS IN THE MURSHIDABAD STYLE AND ON ITS BACK IS INSCRIBED ” FROM A PAINTING BY “DANIELS. DATE :1795 BRITISH LIBRARY.
This kothi was built by the company(EAST INDIA COMPANY) in Chunar Fort. Warren Hasting had to stay here until he got help from Allahabad and Kolkata. (Image Dinesh Seth.)

The problem of lack of leadership in India continued even further.

The only reason for the failure of the first freedom struggle of 1857 was the lack of skilled leadership.

Swami Vivekananda has mentioned this:-

A LEADER LEADS BY EXAMPLE:

AN English friend of mine,named General Strong, was in India during the sepoy mutiny. He used to tell many stories about it.One day, in the course of conversation,I asked him how it was that the sepoys who had enough of guns,ammunniotion, and provisions at their disposal ,and were also trained veterans, came to suffer such a defeat.

He replied that the leaders among them ,instead of advancing forward , only kept shouting from a safe position in the rear , fight on brave lads, and so forth but unless the commanding officer goes ahead and faces death , the rank and file will never fight with heart. It is the same in every branch. a captain must sacrifice his head they say. If you can laydown your life, for a cause ,then only you can be a leader . But we all want to be leaders without making the necessary sacrifice. and the result is zero-no body listen to us!.

(THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA,7:325-26 )

These major events of Indian history provide two very important lessons.

1. When the leadership becomes ill-informed, then the public should lead themselves.

2 . The immediate decision of renunciation is necessary to maintain independence. In the future, we will take care of these things only then we can maintain independence.

Author: nitinsingh

Postgraduate in International relations. Experience writing in various journals,from BBC WORLD NEWS SERVICE to India's one of the oldest hindi daily. I like to write international relations, religion, religious conflict. Social media has bridged the distance between writing and reading. Now writing is not just the expression of one's own thought, but also knowing the expression of people on various subject.

17 thoughts on “BENARES REBELLION (15,AUGUST 1781)”

  1. Excellent history lesson Nitin! I hope things are going well for you there! I found his article very interesting and it besides providing some significant history about India during the time period when America was just beginning as a Nation after its own revolutionary war with the British; this was also a lesson about independence and what it takes to achieve it requiring skilled leadership but sometimes a people must fend for themselves and solve the immediate problem. Today we are seeing many examples of bad leadership and how terrible or damaging the consequences are for the citizens of many communities. Also interesting was your mention of Chet Singh Ghat and how again your name sake or family lineage was very involved in these epic historical events.
    Thank you for this opportunity to share this knowledge that I may otherwise not have been drawn to if not for your offering it here. Take care and God bless you and yours. πŸ™ πŸ™

    Liked by 5 people

  2. “a captain must sacrifice his head they say. If you can laydown your life, for a cause ,then only you can be a leader” That’s for sure. Very figurative. If you do not talk about the issue of life and death, then the leader must, at least, be sure to work with soul and do business together with his team – only then people will obey with enthusiasm.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Thanks for visiting me today and leaving likes. Looks like you are a very knowledgeable man, but I’m not much good at reading long posts. Mine are generally quite short, less than 500 words anyway. I don’t focus long reading or writing anymore. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 3 people

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