Mark wrote:Although a seemingly brutal method of execution I have read somewhere that many Indians considered it a more honourable (if that's the right word to use) way to die than by other methods of execution employed at the time.
It seems that the view that being blown from a gun was the more honourable way to die relates to the Hindu belief in caste and pollution, as shown by the following extracts from the book The history of the Indian revolt, and of the expeditions to Persia, China, and Japan, 1856-7-8
by George Dowd 1859 available on Google Books
Mr Montgomery, judicial commissioner of the Punjaub, issued an address to one of the native regiments, two sepoys of which had been blown away from guns for mutinous conduct. He exhorted them to fidelity, threatened them with the consequences of insubordination, and added: 'You have just seen two men of your regiment blown from guns. This is the punishment I will inflict on all traitors and mutineers; and your consciences will tell you what punishment they may expect hereafter. These men have been blown from guns, and not hanged, because they were Brahmins, and because I wished to save them from the pollution of the hangman's touch;
and thus prove to you that the British government does not wish to injure your caste and religion.'http://books.google.com/books?id=wwYUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA199
The small Mahratta state of Satara was a little troubled. Two officers of the recently deposed rajah, his commander-in-chief and his commandant of artillery, were detected in treasonable correspondence with Nena Sahib. One of them, having been found guilty, was sentenced to be hanged; the indignity struck with horror one imbued with high-caste notions, and ho asked to be blown away from a gun as a more noble death; this was refused; and under the influence of dismay and grief, he made a confession which afforded a clue to a further conspiracyhttp://books.google.com/books?id=wwYUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA480