Know Your Hero: Bhagwan Birsa Munda

Bhagwan Birsa Munda

Born on November 15th in 1875, Bhagwan Birsa Munda was an Indian freedom fighter, leader, and folk hero who circumcised the British Administration in Bihar, Jharkhand, parts of Chattisgraph and Madhya Pradesh. He was the freedom fighter who stopped the missionaries in Jharkhand.

After taking over the Eastern Front of India, Britisher had launched a feudal zamindari system in the Chhota Nagpur region of Jharkhand, destroying the tribal “Khuntkatti” agricultural system. The ruthless Christian missionary activity continued with the active support of the British, insulting and interfering with the religious-cultural ethos of Dharmic Faiths.

During the early 1880s, a young Birsa saw the Sardari Larai movement in the area, which commanded the revival of tribal rights through non-violent means like sending petitions to the British. However, the tyrannical colonial regime paid no heed to these demands. The zamindari system soon diminished the tribals from the status of landowners to that of laborers. The feudal setup violently intensified the forced labor (veth bigari) in the forested tribal areas. The tribals’ exploitation now reached a breaking point.

Birsa Munda knew what needed to be done. He opposed and criticized the Church and its practices. He announced that the reign of Queen Victoria was over, and the Munda Raj had begun. He gave direct orders to the raiyats (tenant farmers) to pay no rents. The Mundas called him Dharati Aaba, the father of earth.

Birsa Munda visited the Jagarnath Temple in 1898, took inspiration from Bhagwan himself, and moved ahead on his fight against the British Raj and Christian Missionaries.

Around 7000 men and women assembled around Christmas of 1899, and the missionaries and British saw a united rural India challenging and fighting the Colonial Invaders. The Anglican Mission at Murhu and the Roman Catholic Mission at Sarwada were the main targets.

The Two years that followed were HELL for the invaders. The British palaces were routinely attacked.

Birsa Munda was arrested at Jamkopai forest in Chakradharpur on February 3rd, 1900, and our young freedom fighter was martyred in jail soon after.

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