The Mutiny at the Margins series takes a fresh look at the revolt of 1857 from original and unusual perspectives, focusing in particular on neglected socially marginal groups and geographic areas which have hitherto tended to be unrepresented in studies of this cataclysmic event in British imperial and Indian historiography.
Chapter 9: Veerangana Uda Devi
Veerangana Uda Devi
THE poet Ram Dayal Verma (b. 1947) was born into a Pasi (Dalit caste) family. After attending Kanpur and Lucknow Universities, he worked as a Telecommunication officer in Hardoi before becoming a published author. The extract below is from his second book. An epic poem, it emphasises the role of Dalits and women in the uprising. Like the Rani of Jhansi, Uda Devi has become a folkloric figure, representing female bravery in the uprising as a virangana or ‘warrior woman’. As a Pasi, she has been particularly championed by Dalit activists in contemporary India as providing an alternative to the high-caste figures that dominate narratives of 1857. The figure of Jhalkari, a Kori woman also mentioned in the poem ...