This thesis deals with the Nagar rebellion, in colonial South India. In late August and early September in the year 1830 disturbances broke out in the province of Nagar, a district located in the northwest corner of Mysore kingdom, a Native state under indirect British imperial rule. This small uprising soon spread to most of the districts in Mysore, and became a Kingdom wide insurrection. Most of the mass gatherings of peasants, referred to as kuttams, consisted of farmers and village servants, and were easily dispersed. However the fighting lasted for almost a year in the province of Nagar. Here the poligars, who were former chiefs and local rulers, a pretender named Buda Basveppa and adventurers joined the peasant uprising, armed with muskets and employing mercenaries recruited from Southern Maratha country. Internal conflicts and shifting alliances between leading Maratha Brahmins, the royal family and others in the administrative departments and at the king’s court worsened the situation. Brahmins are the priestly caste, regarded to be the highest ranking in the caste hierarchy.
The British East-India Company, intervened, first with advisors and non-interventional military presence, then later with active regiments of native infantry and cavalry, supported with artillery. In June 1831 most of the insurrection was quelled and on the 19th of October the same year Krishnaraja Woodeyar III – the Rajah – surrendered his rule peacefully to the Company. A British Commission of prominent Company officers took over, and Mysore was directly governed by the British for the next 50 years. In 1881 governance of Mysore was given back to limited Native State rule, controlled and supervised by the Crown.
No major full-scale study on the Nagar rebellion has been carried out. Indications are that few historians in Karnataka, South India, want to approach the subject. It seems that certain members of the royal family or other groups of prominent people, perhaps still holding influence and respect, could be embarrassed by what the sources might disclose. My study reveals the ‘voices’ of persons that participated in the incidents in Mysore, especially in Nagar District, in 1830 – 31. My contributions to the studies of 19th century South India Native States are to increase our knowledge on several areas: Firstly, we observe the details of the rebellion, given in the sources. Secondly, we identify the causes to the rebellion, and attempt to recapture them. Thirdly, we learn about the persistent resistance of former little kings, in a 19th century South Indian Native State, and similarities to contemporary processes of resistance in neighbouring areas in South India. Fourthly, we explore what the insurrection tells us about the nature of governance in Mysore. Lastly, we learn about the administration of Nagar District and recapture the conditions that made it special in a relation to the governance of Mysore.