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History & Politics
1857 The Real Story Of The Great Uprising is a first hand account of India's First War of Independence. In 1857, a mutiny by the sepoys of the East India Company lead to the dissolution of the organization, and India came to be governed by the British crown.
This book is Vishnu Bhatt Godshe Versaikar’s eye-witness account of the 1857 war. Bhatt, a poor Marathi Brahmin boy, travels to the north with his uncle to make a living by performing in religious rituals. However, the two of them are absolutely unaware of the bloody revolution unfolding in the rest of India. Expecting to face the usual travel issues like bad accommodation, pick pocketing, diarrhea, and bad roads, the Brahmins are shocked to learn that the army is planning a revolt over the use of cartridges greased with cow and pig fat. They try their best to steer clear of clashes, but are caught up in the Bundelkhand rising, and Rani Lakshmi Bai’s fight to defend Jhansi.
1857 The Real Story Of The Great Uprising, writing in the form of a travelogue, tells the tale of ordinary people caught in the middle of complex situations. The simple language used makes it easy to understand the author’s experiences. This book is not burdened with statistics and dates, thus giving readers an opportunity to understand the 1857 revolt from a new perspective. Bhatt’s stories are not what is found in official records or textbooks, instead it is a vibrant account of his first hand experiences of one of India’s most historic years.
1857 The Real Story Of The Great Uprising was written in Marathi, and titled Majhaa Pravaas- 1857 Chya Bandachi Hakikat. It was published in 1903, four years after the death of Bhatt. It has now been translated into English by Mrinal Pande, who deserves credit for having made Bhatt’s travelogue reachable to a much larger audience. She has also added the fascinating tale behind the publication of this book.
About Vishnu Bhatt Godshe Versaikar
Vishnu Bhatt Godshe Versaikar was born into a poor Chitpavan Brahmin family of Versai village in 1827.
1857 The Real Story Of The Great Uprising is the author’s only piece of published work.
He had was the eldest of all his siblings, that included two brothers and a sister. His own as well as his sister’s wedding, had plunged the Versaikar family into great debt. Therefore, in hopes of greener pastures, Bhatt set out in 1856 to earn money by performing religious ceremonies. Bhatt returned home after the 1857 mutiny. He started to orally recounting his travelling experiences. However, he was persuaded by a practitioner of traditional medicine, Chintamani Vaidya, to write them down instead. So Bhatt finally did pen down his adventures, but did not publish it because of his fear of the British Raj. After he passed away in 1903, Vaidya wished to get the manuscript published but as a work of fiction, to stay protected from the wrath of the foreign rulers.