Birsa Munda

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Birsa Munda (late 19th century)

Birsa Munda ( pronunciation ? / I ; Hindi बिरसा मुंडा Birsā Muṇḍā , born November 15, 1875 in Ranchi , Jharkhand , India ; † June 9, 1900 ibid) was an indigenous leader and folk hero of the Munda tribe and the man behind the millenarian movement in what is now the Indian states of Jharkhand and Bihar , which fought against the British occupiers at the end of the 19th century , making him an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement . Audio file / audio sample

His portrait hangs in the central hall of the Indian parliament - as the only Adivasi indigenous to be honored in this way.

The name Birsa Munda is given with great respect for one of the freedom fighters against British imperialism . His successes during the uprisings and revolts against British rule in India are only increased by the fact that he was not even 25 years old.

Early childhood

Birsa Munda was born on Thursday November 15, 1875. and therefore named after this weekday according to the tradition of the Munda. Folk songs sing about either Ulihatu or Chalkadin as the place of his birth. Ulihatu was the birthplace of his father Sugana Mundas. Ulihatu's suspicion is based on Birsa's older brother Komta Munda, who lived in this village and on his house, which - although in a dilapidated condition - still exists.

Birsa's father, mother Karmi Hatu and his younger brother Pasna Munda left Ulihatu and moved to Kurubda, near Birbanki, in search of employment as workers, harvest workers (sajhadar) or ryots (Indian farmer). Birsa's older brother Komta and his sister Daskir were born in Krumbda. From there the family moved to Bamba, where Birsa's sister Champa and Birsa Munda were born.

Shortly after Birsa's birth, the Bamba family left. A quarrel between the Mundas and their Ryots, in which his father was involved as a witness, caused them to move on to Chalkad, the village of Suganas' mother, where they were given refuge by Bir Singh, the village's Munda. Birsa's birth ceremony was performed in Chalkad. As a munda, he was very well respected in society. It is reported that he had the strength of 100 elephants after he was seen later hand bending English rifles and dismantling machines from England with which he was attacked.

Late childhood

Birsa Munda had a very nice and happy childhood. He was a boy who lived with the British. Birsa's first years he lived with his parents in Chalkad. He tended sheep, played the flute and tila , a one-stringed pumpkin instrument.

Because of the family's poverty, Birsa was taken to Ayubhatu, the village of one of his mother's uncle. His eldest brother Komta Munda went to Kundi Bartoli, entered the service of the Mundas, married and lived there for eight years until he rejoined his father and younger brother in Chalkad. Birsa lived in Ayubhatu for two years. He went to the school in Salga, which was run by a Jaipal Nag. Then he accompanied Joni, his mother's younger sister, Khatanga to their wedding and to their new home. He came into contact with a Pracharak who visited families who had converted to Christianity, who were breaking the ancient Munda laws.

He was so lost in thought that he neglected the goat and sheep herds and therefore got into trouble with their owners. So he left the village and went to Kundi Bartoli to see his brother. He probably went from there to the German mission work in Burju, where he completed elementary school. He was also taught in Chaibasa in the school of the German Gossner Mission .

Formative years (1886-1894)

Birsa's long stay in Chaibasa from 1886 to 1890 had a great influence on his later life. The influence of Christianity shaped its own religion. This time was marked by German influence and Roman Catholic proselytizing. Chiabasa was not far from the center of the Sardar's activities , so Sugana Munda considered taking his son away from the mission school. The Sardar shaped Birsa's anti-mission and anti-government attitudes. Shortly after they left Chiabasa in 1890, Birsa and his family resigned from the German Mission.

He left Corbera as the Sardar movement grew stronger. Under the leadership of Gidiun von Piring, he participated in the uprisings in the Porhat area , which expressed popular discontent at the restrictions on the traditional rights of the Mundas in the protected forest. During 1893-4, all of the village wasteland, which became government property under the Indian Forest Act VII in 1882, was constituted as protected forests. In Sighbhum, as in Palamau and Manbhum , forest colonization activities were set up and measurements were taken to seal the rights of forest settlements. For the villages in the woods, blocks of comfortable size have been cordoned off, not only for building but also for cultivating the developed area. By 1894 Birsa had grown into a strong, astute, and intelligent man. It was tall for a munda, 5 feet and 4 inches. He excelled in repairing the Dombari tank in Garbera that the rain had destroyed. His appearance was exceedingly pleasant: his features were neat, his eyes bright and intelligent, and his appearance brighter than most of his people.

During this period he had a number of experiences that are typical of a young man of his age and appearance. During a stay in the neighboring villages of Sankara in Singhbhum, he found suitable company, introduced himself to their parents with jewels and explained his idea of ​​marriage. Later when he was released from prison, he found her unfaithful and left her. Another woman who helped him was Mathias Munda's sister. When he was released from prison, Mathura Muda von Koensar's daughter, held by Kali Munda, and Jaga Munda von Jiuri's wife, insisted on becoming Birsa's wife. He reprimanded her and referred Jaga Munda's wife back to her husband. Another woman heard of was Sali of Burudih. At a later stage in his life, Birsa emphasized monogamy .

Birsa grew up among the Ryots, the lowest rank of farm laborers. Unlike their namesakes in other regions, they had very little rights in the Mundari Khuntkatti system, which monopolized all rights on the founding line. The Ryots were no more than day laborers. Birsa's own experience as a young man, driven from place to place in search of employment, gave him deep insights into the agricultural issue and the affairs of the forest: He was not a passive observer, but an active participant in the movement of his neighborhood.

Calling to be a prophet

Birsa's claim to be a messenger of God and founder of a new religion was absurd to the mission. However, Christians also converted to his sect, mostly Sardars. His simple collection system was aimed directly at the church, which levied a tax. And the concept of one god resonated with his ethnicity. The new religion of the miracle healer and preacher spread against all odds. The Mundas, Oraons and Kharias flocked to Chalkad to see the new Prophet and to be healed of their ailments. The two population groups of the Oraon - and Munda up to Barwari and Chechari in Palamau became convinced birstrings. Contemporary and old folk songs are a reminder of the enormous influence Birsa had on the population, their joy and hopes for his coming. The name Dharti Aba was on everyone's lips. A folk song in Sadani describes how the first influences broke the caste boundaries of Hindus and Muslims, who also gathered around the new "sun of religion".

Birsa Munda and its movement

Birsa Mundas stature in Naya More , Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand

The British colonial war intensified the transformation from an agricultural system to a feudal system .

In 1856 the number of jagirdars , which from today's perspective functioned as straw dolls for the English, was still around 600. They lived in up to 150 villages. In 1874 almost all of the authority of the Munda and Oraon leaders was affected by the farmers, who were introduced by higher powers. In some villages, the indigenous people had lost all land and were returned to the status of farm laborers. The Munda responded to the double challenge of agricultural collapse and cultural change with a series of revolts and uprisings led by Birsa. The movement advocated the land rights of the Mundas and the expropriation of the British and their middlemen.

Birsa was captured on February 3, 1900 and died in Ranchi prison on June 9, 1900. The cause of death is unclear. Although he did not show any symptoms of cholera , the British government cited cholera as the cause of death. After his death the movement ceased. However, it was relevant in two respects. The colonial government was forced to pass laws that made it difficult to take land from the tribes. Second, it showed that the indigenous people were able to protest injustice and show their displeasure against colonial rule. They did this in their own way, developing their own rituals and symbols of struggle.

Reception in culture, literature and film

His birthday on November 15th is still celebrated by tribesmen in Mysore and Kodagu counties , and official celebrations are held in Kokar (Ramchi).

In 2008 the Bollywood film Gandhi Se Pehle Gandhi was released with Gracy Singh and Sameer Kochhar in the leading roles. This cinematic biography of Birsa Munda was produced by Igbal Durran based on his own novel of the same name. Another Hindi film, Ulgulan-Ek ​​Kranti (The Revolution), was directed by Ashok Saran in 2004 . 500 Birsaiten or followers of Birsa play in it.

Ramon Magsaysay Prize winner and activist Mahasweta Devi's historical novel "Aranyer Adhikar" (Right to the Forest, 1977) won the 1979 Sahitya Akademi Award . She later published a version of the novel, "Birsa Munda", especially for young people. It was translated into German in 2005 as "Aufstand im Munda-Land".


He is commemorated on behalf of the following institutions: Birsa Institute of Technology Sindri , Birsa Agricultural University , and the Sidho Kanho Birsha University . Several major sports venues such as the Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium , Birsa Institute Of Technical Education (BITE Ramgarh), the Birsa Munda central jail of Birsa Munda Airport ( IATA airport code : IXR, ICAO code : VERC), and the party Birsa Seva Dal honor him by their name.

The battle cry of the Bihar Regiment is "Birsa Munda Ki Jai" (Victory for Birsa Munda).

See also


Individual evidence

  1. KS Singh: Birsa Munda and His Movement 1872-1901 , 1983, 2002, Seagull Publication
  2. Profile on ( memento of the original from September 11, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved November 19, 2013  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Birsa Mumda commemorative stamp and biography of the Indian Post, November 15, 1988 , accessed November 19, 2013
  4. ^ Tribals celebrate Birsa Munda birth anniversary Times of India , accessed November 18, 2001
  5. Homage to Bhawan Birsa Munda on his Birth Anniversary at Ranchi ( Memento of the original of April 10, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 1.4 MB) Raj Bhavan (Jharkhand) Official website. November 15, 2008.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ^ Film - Announcement "Gandhi Se Pehle Gandhi" about Birsa Munda , on filmibeat, accessed on February 10, 2016
  7. Ulgulan-Ek ​​Kranti (The Revolution) , accessed November 19, 2013
  8. Biography for Mahasweta Devi ( Memento of the original from March 26, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. " Ramon Magsaysay Award Official Website, accessed November 19, 2013" @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ Page from BITE , accessed on November 19, 2013
  10. Bihar Regiment ( Memento from November 15, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) , accessed on November 19, 2013