The Indian War of Independence (book)

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The Indian War of Independence
AuthorVinayak Damodar Savarkar
LanguageMarathi, English
GenreHistory (Nationalist)
PublisherSethani Kampani, Bombay (reprint, India)
Publication date
1909, 1947 (First public edition, India)
Published in English

The Indian War of Independence is an Indian nationalist history of the 1857 revolt by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar that was first published in 1909.[1][2]



The book, initially written in Marathi, was penned by Savarkar in response to celebrations in Great Britain of the 50th anniversary of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 with records from India Office archives. The project received support from Indian nationalists in Britain, including the likes of Madame Cama, V.V.S. Iyer and M.P.T. Acharya, as well as Indian students who had dared not show their support or sympathy for India House openly.[3] Published during Savarkar's stay in London at the India House, it sought to bring the Indian movement to public attention in Britain as well as to inspire nationalist movements in India.


The book was influenced by histories of the French Revolution, the American Revolution and Indian histories of the Mahratta conquests.[4] Additionally, Karl Marx had published a short article named "The Indian Revolt" in the New-York Tribune in 1857 and later went on to write the book "The First Indian War of Independence 1857-58" in the coming years. Savarkar published his book later in 1909, using much the same format as Marx's work. [5]


The book, which describes the Indian Rebellion of 1857 as a unified and national uprising of India as a nation against British authority,[6] was seen at the time as highly inflammatory, and the Marathi edition was banned in British India even before its publication.[7] Publication of the English translation faltered after British printers and publishing houses were warned by the Home Office of its highly seditious content, while the British foreign office brought pressure on the French government to prevent its publication from Paris.[7] It was ultimately printed in the Netherlands in 1909, with the British government not tracing it until too late.[3][7][8] The copies were printed with false dust wrappers purporting to be copies of The Pickwick Papers and other literary classics, and large quantities were shipped to India, where it quickly became a bible of political extremists.[7] It was excluded from the catalogue of the British Library to prevent Indian students from accessing it. In India, the book remained banned till the end of the Raj forty years later.[7]


The Indian War of Independence is considered to be an influential work in Indian history and nationalist writing,[9] and also one of Savarkar's most influential works in developing and framing ideas of Hinduism.[10] While some erstwhile and modern histories draw similar conclusions as the Savarkar,[11] others, including R.C. Majumdar, disagreed with Savarkar's conclusions in his book on the national and unified character of the mutiny.[2][11][12]


  1. Savarkar, Vinayak Damodar (10 May 1909). The Indian War of Independence of 1857. London. Retrieved 9 November 2017.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vohra 2000, p. 70
  3. 3.0 3.1 Yadav 1992, p. 14
  4. Visana, Vikram (2020). "Savarkar before Hindutva: Sovereignty, Republicanism, and Populism in India, c.1900–1920". Modern Intellectual History: 1–24. doi:10.1017/S1479244320000384. ISSN 1479-2443.
  5. "V.D. Savarkar and The Indian War of Independence, 1857". University of California, Irvine. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  6. Misra 2004, p. 184
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Hopkirk 2001, p. 45
  8. "Mutiny at the Margins". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  9. Dirks 2001, p. 127
  10. Bannerjee 2005, p. 50
  11. 11.0 11.1 Hasan 1998, p. 149
  12. Nanda 1965, p. 701

Further reading[edit]

  • Bannerjee, Sikata (2005), Make Me a Man!: Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India, SUNY press, ISBN 0-7914-6367-2.
  • Dirks, Nicholas B (2001), Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-08895-0.
  • Hasan, Farhad (1998), Social Scientist, Vol. 26, No. 1/4 (Jan. - Apr., 1998), pp. 148-151.
  • Hopkirk, Peter (2001), On Secret Service East of Constantinople, Oxford Paperbacks, ISBN 0-19-280230-5.
  • Misra, Amalendu (2004), Identity and Religion: Foundations of Anti-Islamism in India, SAGE, ISBN 0-7619-3226-7.
  • Nanda, Krishan (1965), The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Sep., 1965), pp. 700-701, University of Utah on behalf of the Western Political Science Association.
  • Vohra, Ranbir (2000), The Making of India: A Historical Survey, M.E. Sharpe, ISBN 0-7656-0712-3.
  • Yadav, B.D (1992), M.P.T. Acharya, Reminiscences of an Indian Revolutionary, Anmol Publications Pvt ltd, ISBN 81-7041-470-9.
  • Visana, Vikram (2020), "Savarkar before Hindutva: Sovereignty, Republicanism, and Populism in India, c. 1900-1920," Modern Intellectual History.
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