Who was Birsa Munda? Though he lived a short span of life, Birsa Munda is known to have mobilised the tribal community against the British and had also forced the colonial officials to introduce laws protecting the land rights of the tribals. Wikimedia Commons Birsa Munda was a young freedom fighter and a tribal leader, whose spirit of activism in the late nineteenth century, is remembered to be a strong mark of protest against British rule in India. In recognition of his impact on the nationals movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in Born on November 15, , Birsa spent much of his childhood moving from one village to another with his parents. He belonged to the Munda tribe in the Chhotanagpur Plateau area.
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Birsa Munda led this movement in the region south of Ranchi in The Mundas traditionally enjoyed a preferential rent rate as the khuntkattidar or the original clearer of the forest. But in course of the 19th century they had seen this khuntkatti land system being eroded by the jagirdars and thikadars coming as merchants and moneylenders.
This process of land alienation had begun long before the advent of the British. But the establishment and consolidation of British rule accelerated the mobility of the non-tribal people into the tribal regions. The incidence of forced labour or beth begari also increased dramatically. Unscrupulous contractors, moreover, had turned the region, into a recruiting ground for indentured labour.
Yet another change associated with British rule was the appearance of a number of Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic missions. The spread of education through missionary activities made the tribals more organised and conscious of their rights.
Tribal solidarity was undermined as the social cleavage between the Christian and non-Christian Mundas deepened. The agrarian discontent and the advent of Christianity, therefore, helped the revitalisation of the movement, which sought to reconstruct the tribal society disintegrating under the stresses and strains of colonial rule.
Birsa Munda , the son of a sharecropper who had received some education from the missionaries came under Vaishnava influence and in participated in a movement to prevent village wastelands from being taken over by the Forest Department. In Birsa, claiming to have seen a vision of god, proclaimed himself a prophet with miraculous healing powers.
The new prophet became a critic of the traditional tribal customs, religious beliefs and practices. He called upon the Mundas to fight against superstition, give up animal sacrifice, stop taking intoxicants, to wear the sacred thread and retain the tribal tradition of worship in the sarna or the sacred grove. It was essentially a revivalist movement, which sought to purge Munda society of all foreign elements and restore its pristine character.
Christianity influenced the movement as well and it used both Hindu and Christian idioms to create the Munda ideology and worldview. An agrarian and political note was then injected into what initially was a religious movement.
From onwards, Christian tribal raiyats had been on the offensive against alien landlords and beth begari through lawsuits. This was the mulkai ladai or the struggle for land, also known as the Sardari ladai. Initially the Sardars tribal chiefs did not have much to do with Birsa, but once his popularity swelled they drew on him to provide a stable base for their own weakened struggle.
Though influenced by the Sardars, Birsa, however, was not their mouthpiece and despite the common agrarian background of the two movements, there were considerable differences between them. The Sardars initially professed loyalty to the British and even to the Raja of Chhotanagpur and only wanted the elimination of intermediary interests.
Birsa, on the other hand, had a positive political programme, his object being the attainment of independence, both religious and political. The movement sought the assertion of the rights of the Mundas as the real proprietors of the soil. This ideal agrarian order, according to Birsa, would be possible in a world free from the influence of European officials and missionaries, thus necessitating the establishment of the Munda Raj.
The British, who feared a conspiracy, jailed Birsa for two years in , but he returned from jail, much more of a firebrand. A series of nocturnal meetings were held in the forest during , where Birsa allegedly urged the killing of thikadars, jagirdars, rajas, hakims and Christians.
The rebels attacked police stations and officials, churches and missionaries, and though there was an undercurrent of hostility against the dikus, there was no overt attack on them except in a couple of controversial cases.
On Christmas Eve , the Mundas shot arrows and tried to burn down churches over an area covering six police stations in the districts of Ranchi and Singhbhum. On 9 January, however, the rebels were defeated. Birsa was captured and died in jail. Nearly Mundas were put on trial and of them three were hanged and 44 transported for life.
The government attempted to redress the grievances of the Mundas through the survey and settlement operations of The Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act of provided some recognition to their khuntkatti rights and banned beth begari. Chhotanagpur tribals won a degree of legal protection for their land rights.
1895-1900: Birsa Munda Launched Freedom Movement
Birsa Munda led this movement in the region south of Ranchi in The Mundas traditionally enjoyed a preferential rent rate as the khuntkattidar or the original clearer of the forest. But in course of the 19th century they had seen this khuntkatti land system being eroded by the jagirdars and thikadars coming as merchants and moneylenders. This process of land alienation had begun long before the advent of the British. But the establishment and consolidation of British rule accelerated the mobility of the non-tribal people into the tribal regions.
Birsa who was from the Munda tribe. Though he lived a very short life, his influence in liberating his community and tribesmen from the British exploitation and atrocities was enormous. His quest for freedom and self-rule for his community was his priority and therefore risked his life to ensure his vision came to reality. This made him a key player in the history of Indian independence movement. Birsa Munda also served as a religious leader as he claimed to be a prophet from God and preached the one concept. He has also been named after several monuments of that country. His parents were farm laborers.
Early life[ edit ] Birsa Munda was born on 15 November , at Ulihatu in Bengal Presidency , now in the Khunti district of Jharkhand , on a Thursday, and hence named after that day, according to the then prevalent Munda custom. Ulihatu was the birthplace of Sugana Munda, father of Birsa. His early life could not have been very different from that of an average Munda child. Folklore refers to his rolling and playing in sand and dust with his friends, and his growing up strong and handsome in looks; he grazed sheep in the forest of Bohonda. When he grew up, he shared an interest in playing the flute, in which he became expert. He went round with the tuila, the one-stringed instrument made from the pumpkin, in the hand and the flute strung to his waist. Exciting moments of his childhood were spent on the akhara the village wrestling ground.
बिरसा मुंडा आन्दोलन – Birsa Munda Movement in Hindi
He wanted his people to shake off the foreign yoke of servitude. Munda tribal folks were leading their quiet and uncomplicated lives in Chotanagpur plateau region. It was their homeland for ages. They have kept alive their age-old customs, culture, polity and socio-economic traditions for centuries.