Popular Uprisings in the 18th and 19th Centuries – Politico-Religious Movements


The 18th and 19th centuries were the periods of many movements such as Tribal movements, rebellions of peasants, Politico-Religious Movements and movements by landlords. After the Battle of Plassey, the old lifestyle was completely ruptured and every part of the society was also affected by this battle. The British government increased the amount of tax and that become the cause of some movement.

What were Politico-Religious Movements in the 18th and 19th Centuries?

Figure 1: Politico-Religious Movements in the 18th and 19th Centuries

British set up their economic and political dominance throughout a large part of India after the Plassey Battle in 1757. Huge changes happened in religious, economic, political and social domain life. As a result, many people faced poverty and which led to many revolts against the British. Many movements happened between the 18th and 19th centuries and the main reason behind these movements was religion and politics.

Politico-Religious Movements: Sanyasi Uprising

Sanyasi refers to a human free from any connection and earthly desires. Sanyasis in the 18th century went against the British. They not only included naga sadhus but they also included the ones who were permitted to marry and wore garments. These individuals were suspicious of the British and the British referred to them as gipsies of Hindustan, erratic beggars, religious vagrants, lawless mendicants and more on.

After the East India Company acquired the Diwani, the tax request increased and the local headman and landlord could not pay the British and the ascetics because the Sanyasis collected alms from these landlords during their religious journey. These landlords stopped to pay these Sanyasis because there was a small amount of substance left after giving the tax. The British treated the Sanyasis as looters and limited their access to visit religious places. Therefore the Sanyasis became angry and raided the British factories. The forests of Murshidabad and Baikunthupur in Bengal were the centre of this revolt. Warren Hastings in 1771 ordered the killing of 150 unarmed Sanyasis. The Sanyasi uprising was continued for over 50 years and completely repressed in the 1820s.

Discussion on the Uprising of Fakir

Fakirs referred to the Muslim mendicants who wandered all over India’s holy places. The Fakir uprising began when the British started to invasion in the daily life of the fakirs of Bengal. This revolt was led by Majnu Shah from the year 1776 to 1777. He confronted the British authority and started to impose taxes on the landlords and the farmers in Bengal. These fakirs raided the British factories and obtained ammunition, arms and cash. Disbanded Indian Soldiers, Pathans and Rajputs supported Majnu Shah. Chirag Shah led this uprising after the death of Majnu Shah who was his brother. Devi Chaudhurani and Bhavani Pathak were the other leaders of that uprising.

Revolt of Pagal Panthi

Karim Shah established a religious order in Bengal’s districts such as Mymensingh and Sherpur known as the Pagal Panthis. The philosophy of this order was the harmony between the religious and non-violence incorporation between the tenets of Hinduism, animism and Sufism. Tipu Shah, the son of Karim Shah organised the rebellion of peasants and started the revolt against the British Government. The main agenda of this revolt was to oppose the tax management of the British. Sherpur was captured by Tipu Shah in 1825 and he ruled over Mymensingh and Sherpur this revolt came to an end in the 1850s.

Revolt of Faraizi

The Muslim sect followers of Haji Shariatullah were familiar with the Faraizi. The main motto of those followers was to profound social, theological and political transformations. Muhsin Uddin Ahmad, the son of Haji Shariatullah who was also familiar as Dudu Miyan gathered these supporters and tried to drive away the British from Bengal. This Faraizi movement was spread in Faridpur, Dhaka, Barisal, Mymensingh, and Comilla districts. Some landlords of Dhaka were not satisfied with this revolt and therefore the riot began at Nayabari in Dhaka. This movement was a religious movement that started peacefully in the rural part of East Bengal but after a short time, it became aggressive.

Revolt of Kuka

The Kukas were part of the Sikh followers who were also known as Namdharis. The Kuka revolt was also familiar as the Namdhari movement that was led by Baba Ram Singh Namdhari. This movement started on the northwest side of the Sikh territory and the agenda was to awaken the socio-religious among the Sikhs. These followers only wore hand-woven white clothes and they denied using any British products, laws or even education. Ram Singh was captured in 1872 and sent to the Rangoon prison and at that time British blew away 65 followers from the canons.


The political dominance of the East India Company grew in the 18th and 19th centuries. After the political clout developed by the Company, it became essential to enforce and established the policies that concerned the income from the land, order and peace and also built and administration. These applications caused catastrophe in the society of India. The main goal of the Company was the growth of England by using the riches of India. The normal life of the people became disrupted as a result of these uprisings.


Q1. What was the name of the Tribe revolt that happened in the 18th and 19th Centuries?

There were many Tribe revolts that happen between the 18th and 19th Centuries. The name of some revolts was: Kol Rebellion, Rangpur, Bengal, Peasant Uprising, and Munda Ulgulan.

Q2. What was Diwani?

Diwani was referred to as the right for collecting the tax and handing it over to the administration of a region. The emperor of Mughal on 12th August 1765 selected the Company as the Diwan of Bengal.

Q3. What was the Plassey Battle?

Plassey Battle was a battle that was fought between Siraj-Ud-Daulah and Robert Clive’s East India Company force. This battle started in the year 1757 in Plassey.