NCERT Notes: Nana Saheb [Modern Indian History For UPSC]

NCERT notes on important topics for the UPSC Civil Services Exam. These notes will also be useful for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, state civil services exams and so on. This article talks about the contributions of the freedom fighter – Nana Saheb.

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Nana Saheb/Sahib played a pivotal role in the Indian Revolt of 1857. He led the uprising at Kanpur (Cawnpore). Further details about his role his elaborated below.

Nana Saheb (1824 – 1859)

Background
  • Born in Bithoor (Kanpur District), Uttar Pradesh in May 1824.
  • His birth name was Nana Govind Dhondu Pant.
  • His father travelled from the Western Ghats to the court of the Peshwa Baji Rao II in Pune to become a court official.
  • He and his brother were adopted by the Peshwa who was childless in 1827. Nana Saheb’s mother was the Peshwa’s sister-in-law.
  • His childhood friends were Tatya Tope and Manikarnika Tambe (later Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi).
  • Peshwa Baji Rao II had been living in an estate in Bithoor after the Third Anglo-Maratha War. He was given an annual pension by the British.
  • As per the Doctrine of Lapse established by Lord Dalhousie, any Indian State under the control of the British or any vassal of the British without its ruler having an heir would be annexed by the British.
  • After the Peshwa died, the British stopped giving pension to his adopted son Nana Saheb and refused to accept him as the heir (since he was adopted).
  • Despite being stated as the heir in the will of Baji Rao II, the British refused to accept Nana Saheb’s rightful claim to be the next Peshwa.
  • This ‘insult’ from the British led him to take part in the Revolt of 1857.

Role in the Revolt of 1857
  • In June 1857, Nana Saheb and the sepoys he led attacked the British entrenchment at Kanpur and captured it.
  • In July 1857, the British were successful in recapturing Kanpur by defeating Nana Saheb’s forces.
  • From Kanpur, Nana Saheb escaped to Bithoor.
  • The British took possession of his palace in Bithoor but could not get hold of Nana himself.
  • In 1858, Nana’s associates Rani Laxmibai and Tatya Tope proclaimed him as the Peshwa at Gwalior.
  • By 1859, he was believed to have escaped to Nepal. It is not known how, when or where he died.

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Also Read | NCERT Notes: Emperor Ashoka

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Frequently Asked Questions on Nana Saheb

Q 1. What was Nana Saheb’s role in the Revolt of 1857?

Ans. Nana Saheb was refused his claim as the Peshwa by the Britishers. This had invoked anger and led to his participation in the Revolt of 1857. He along with some sepoys had attacked the British entrenchment at Kanpur and captured it. However, Britishers had managed to recapture Kanpur after defeating Nana Saheb and his forces.

Q 2. Why was Nana Saheb denied the claim of Peshwa by the Britishers?

Ans. As per the Doctrine of Lapse established by Lord Dalhousie, any Indian state under the control of the British without a hierarchical ruler shall be annexed by the British. Nana Saheb was the adopted son of the Peshwa Baji Rao II and even on being the wilful ruler of Marathas was denied the rightful claim by the British rule.

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