Nana Sahib, the title of Dhundoo Punt, a Hindoo chieftain and a leader of the sepoy nutiny in 1857, born in 1824 or 1825. He was the son of a Brahman of the Deccan, and when a little more than a year old was brought to Bithoor, where Bajee Row, the peishwa or chief of the Mahrattas, adopted him. On the death of Bajee in 1851, without heir of his body, an estate in the neighborhood which had been bestowed upon him by the Brit-sh during pleasure was declared lapsed to the East India company, as they had previously refused to recognize inheritance of lands by adoption, and a pension of $450,000 a year granted to him and his family in 1818 was also stopped. The Nana sent an agent to England to advocate his claims, but without success, and this supposed wrong he never forgave, He lived however in great apparent friendship with the English, imitating their customs as far as he could, and was permitted to occupy the town of Bithoor, where he possessed much wealth and influence. When the sepoy mutiny broke out in 1857, he was universally trusted by the English, who applied to him for a body of soldiers to guard the treasury at Cawnpore, which he immediately granted; but no sooner had the insurrection occurred at the latter place than he put himself at the head of the rebels (June 5), and killed all the Europeans that fell into his hands, among whom were two large parties, principally of women and children, who were endeavoring to escape down the Ganges from Futtehgurh. The English at Cawnpore in the mean time defended themselves until June 27, when they surrendered on the Nana promising to send them safe to Allahabad. They were permitted to embark, but immediately afterward fired upon, many being killed and the rest brought back to land.
The men were put to death at once; the women and children, after surviving nameless outrages, were massacred July 15, the day before Havelock arrived at Cawnpore, and their bodies were thrown into a well. The Nana retreated to Bithoor on the 17th, whither Havelock pursued him, driving him out of the town and dispersing his army. He soon collected another force, with which he followed Havelock into Oude, but afterward returned toward Cawnpore with the intention of attacking Gen. Neill, who was in garrison there with a small force. Eeoccupying Bithoor, he threw out his left wing in the direction of Cawnpore, but it was driven back in confusion by Gen. Neill, Aug. 15; and on the next day Havelock, who had returned from Oude, defeated his whole force in a sharp engagement. Owing to the exhaustion of the victors and their want of cavalry, the Nana escaped, and, without coming directly in contact with the British, except once more at Cawnpore, where Sir Colin Campbell defeated him, Dec 6, he continued an active and harassing warfare. On the occupation of Gwalior by the rebels in June, 1858, he was chosen peishwa of the Mahrattas, and his nephew Row Sahib was placed in command of the city.
His subsequent career it is difficult to trace, for his energies were bent rather upon escaping pursuit than conducting offensive operations. Long after the other leaders had submitted or been captured, he continued, with the begum of Oude and about 10,000 rebels, to infest the northern parts of central India and the frontiers of Nepaul. There was a report that he died of fever in the latter part of 1859, but it was generally discredited; another that he crossed the Himalaya in disguise in 1860 into Thibet, and encamped near the N. base of the mountains with about 10,000 men. In November, 1874, a man was arrested in the north of India, supposed to be Nana Sahib.
Great excitement was caused by the arrest, and he was taken to Cawnpore for identification; the result of such inquiry is not yet known (January, 1875).