Janjatiya Gaurav Divas

Published on - November 15, 2021

Important date associated with famous personality

Source: The Economic Times 


The author talks about Birsa Munda on the eve of Janjatiya Gaurav Divas.

Editorial Insights:

What’s the matter?

As India celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Bhagwan Birsa Munda stands tall among fearless freedom fighters.

Though he lived for a very short span of 25 years, his life story is full of gallant efforts to fight injustice & oppression that represented a strong voice of resistance against colonialism.

Birsa Munda :

Birsa Munda, who belonged to the Munda tribe, was born on November 15 in 1875. During the British rule in the late 19th century, he spearheaded an Indian tribal religious Millenarian movement across the tribal belt of modern-day Bihar and Jharkhand.

His birth anniversary is celebrated as Birsa Munda Jayanti (Janjatiya Gaurav Divas) in the country and coincides with the Jharkhand Foundation Day.

Birsa Munda, the iconic tribal leader, and freedom fighter is being remembered on his birth anniversary today. A fearless young man from the Munda tribe, Birsa Munda spearheaded a revolt against the British in areas now bordering Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

Born in the tribal belt of the Chhotanagpur Plateau, Birsa Munda started fighting for tribal rights when he was just a teenager. Birsa Munda studied in a German Mission School but he dropped out in a few years.

On witnessing the tyranny of the British colonial rulers, Birsa Munda started his own sect called 'Birsait'. Many among the Munda and Oraon tribes joined his sect and his movement.

As his awareness about the atrocities of the colonial rulers grew, Birsa Munda also participated in anti-missionary and anti-establishment activities between 1886 and 1890 in Chaibasa. He was arrested by the British police on March 3, 1900. Birsa Munda died young, at 25, in Ranchi jail on June 9 the same year. Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar on his birth anniversary on November 15, 2000.

His Contributions:

  • He shed new light on the religious domain where he stood firm against missionaries that were belittling tribal life & culture.
  • Birsa Munda while discouraging many superstitions, worked to refine & reform religious practices,
  • He impressed upon the Adivasis the importance of victory to the ancestral king, thus invoking the sovereignty of the tribals’ ancestral autonomous control over the land.
  • At the same time he became a mass leader & began to be considered as Bhagwan & Dharti Aba by his followers.
  • Birsa Munda ignited the minds of the masses & made Adivasis respond to his call & join the Ulgulan or revolt against the colonial masters & exploitative dikus.
  • He asked the people not to pay any rent, & carefully attacked the real exploiters & missionaries.
  • With traditional weapons, the Central & Eastern tribals of India waged an effective armed resistance against the British.
  • Though Birsa Munda died in jail in 1900, his spirited struggle did not go in vain.
  • It compelled the British to take cognizance of the plight & tribals' exploitation & bring in the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act of 1908.
  • This act restricted the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals’ that gave Adivasis a huge relief & became landmark legislation for tribal rights protection.
  • At the same time, the british regime also took steps to abolish Veth Bigari or forced labour.

Concluding Remarks:

Even after 100 years of his death, Birsa Munda continues to inspire millions of Indians. He is one of the tallest icons of the Indian freedom movement.

Birsa Munda an icon of valour, courage, leadership & leader who took great pride in his rich culture & great traditions but at the same time, he embraced in reforming his own faith from dogmas.

It is high time for all Indians to study & understand the valour & sacrifice of many unsung heroes in India’s freedom struggle. On the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda let us remember & recognize the efforts of India’s tribal people for the preservation of their cultural heritage & the promotion of Indian values of valour, hospitality & national pride.