There was no single cause of the rising in 1857. Many social, religious & political causes are responsible for the revolt of 1857. Following were the causes of the great rising.
1. Political causes
- Lord Dalhousie annexed many states to the British empire with his policy of Lapse. This dissatisfied the Indian rulers.
- Lord Dalhousie did not allow Rani Lakshmi Bai to adopt a son, So, Lakshmi Bai became an enemy of the English.
- Peshwa Baji Rao II adopted Nana Sahib as his son, but Lord Dalhousie refused to recognize him as a successor of Peshwa Baji Rao.
- The English removed the Nawab of Oudh from his position & annexed it to the British empire.
- The English also annexed the states of Sitara & Nagpur – The Marathas turned against the British.
- The English officers are ill-treated their Indian Subordinates. So, the public rose into rebellion.
- The English did not behave congenially even with the zamindars & the Taluqadars also turned hostile towards the British.
2. Social & Religious causes:
- The Christian missionaries were propagating their religion in India. The general public had been against the English.
- The English started the new educational pattern. The aim was to propagate English education. The English wanted to influence the religion, culture & civilization of the Indians. This pattern of education spread unrest.
- Lord William Bentinck had abolished the infanticide sati system etc. & allowed remarriage of widows. The orthodox opposed these tooth & nail.
- The Christian missionaries openly & publicly condemned the Hindu & Islamic religions. The people got enraged with this stand of the English officers.
- Lord Dalhousie had passed a new property rule. According to it, a person could not be deprived of his share of the parental property if he embraced another religion. The Indians thought that the English Govt. was trying to enforce Christianity on them.
3. Economic causes :
- The English were earning a lot from Indian trade & sending the money to England. England became prosperous with this money, but the Indians were rendered poor. The people could not tolerate this thing.
- The British East India Company purchased cloth at very cheaper rates from the Indian weavers was considerably reduced. They left their professions & started doing other petty jobs. Many of them became unemployed.
- The English destroyed the Indian handicrafts. They captured the market completely. India supplied raw materials to the British Industry. It was very unjust.
- The Indian rulers were big patrons of artisans, writers, talented officials & the purohits. When the Indian states were annexed to the British empire, these people became unemployed. They wanted to take revenge on the English.
- The general public was fed up with the increasing tendency of corruption. The people had lost faith in the English & co-operated with the insurgents in the great rising of 1857.
- With the new land revenue system introduced by the English, all the farmers did not remain owners of their land. The zamindars extracted huge amounts as revenue from them & they were left with little for their subsistence. All such peasants & farmers wanted to oust the English from India.
4. Military causes :
- With equal rank in the army, an Indian officer got less pay than his English counterpart. The Indian soldiers did not get promotions even for their outstanding work. When they were sent outstation on the battlefield, they did not get the soldiers’ special allowances. This was the cause of unrest among the Indian soldiers who could not tolerate this policy of discrimination.
- The Indian soldiers did not get promotions even for their outstanding work. When they did not get special allowances which the English soldiers did, this was the cause of unrest among the Indian soldiers.
- The Indian soldiers had the facility of posting their letters without affixing postage, but it was withdrawn later on. The Indian soldiers did not like it.
- A fairly bigger part of the Bengal army comprised of Brahmins & Rajput’s. They wanted special treatment for themselves as compared to those who belonged to the lower cast. But the English did not believe in the caste system & hence did not care for their sentiments.
- In the English army, the India’s were six times more in number than the English. They were sure that in case a rising broke out, they would defeat the English.
- In those days, there was a rumour that the rule changed after every hundred years. The battle of Plassey was fought in 1757. People thought that the English would be thrown out after exactly a hundred years, i. e. in 1857. The English had got their recognition as rulers in 1757 after the battle of Plassey. This aroused the feelings of the soldiers.
- In 1856, Lord Canning passed a new military rule that Indians could be sent abroad. But the Brahmins took ill of it because crossing the sea was considered to be against their religion. They thought it was an attack on their faith.
5. Immediate causes of the uprising of 1857 :
The trouble was brewing in for a long. Only a sensitive event could set the whole empire in ablaze. The cartridges with fat gave such an opportunity. The soldiers were given a special type of rifle in which a special cartridge was used which was bitten off with mouth before being loaded in the muzzle. There was a rumour that the wrapper contained fat of cow & swine. The Hindus & the Muslims got annoyed & considered that the English Govt. was bent upon destroying their religion. They thought it proper to rise in armed revolt.