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Birsa Munda The Great Freedom Fighter

Updated on May 1, 2011

Bhagwan (God) Birsa Munda

Birsa Munda (also known to his followers as .Birsa Bhagwan) was born at Bamba in a suburb of Ranchi (Bihar) on 15 November 1875. He followed the footsteps of his brother by professing Christianity. Later at Bandgaon he was initiated into Vaishnavism. He gave up meat, worshipped tulsi plant, wore the sacred thread and a dhoti dyed in turmeric like a typical Vaishnavite. Eventually he reverted to the religion of his ancestors, starting a new tribal revivalihstic religious cult known as the 'Birsait' cult which laid stress on prayers, faith in God and His Messenger on earth, observance of a code of conduct, abstention from drinks and sacrifices and so on.

Birsa had his lower primary schooling at a German Mission School at Burjee. No sooner had he completed the upper primary stage than he got associated with the Sardar Movement.

Till 1895 Birsa was a religious reformer and an agitator for the raiyats' forest and other rights, but eventually he aimed at the political emancipation of the Munda area as well. That is why he recruited volunteers to fight the British Government. His was not an all-India movement, but it shared with the national freedom struggle 'its anti-British Credo', a hatred towards European officials and Christian missionaries. Even though the first phase of his movement was not very serious, he suffered rigorous imprisonment for two years in the Hazaribagh jail.

On his release he organised several meetings, declaring that the Mundas should put an end to the kingdom of demons (the British). After intensive preparations the Birsaites made a desperate bid to overthrow the British raj, burning and killing European officials and missionaries in Singhbhum and Ranchi. During the Revolt of 1899-1900 Birsa emerged as the supreme leader of the Mundas. After several encounters .with the police, however, he was captured in February 1901, but in course of his trial he died of cholera.

Birsa thought that the Mundas were the real proprietors of the soil and as such they could not tolerate any middlemen. He impressed upon his followers that he was a messenger of God, and his followers identified him with the Sun God, a healer and a miracle-worker. As a socio-religious preacher, he attacked the bongas, the priesthood, the sokhas and others, and aimed at reviving the golden age of the Mundas.

Birsa occupies a distinguished position as a great protagonist of tribal rights, a great patriot, and a martyr in the long succession of heroes of the Chota Nagpur plateau like Buddhu Bhagat of the Kol Insurrection of 1831-32 and Ganga Narain of the Bhumij Revolt of l832-33. His followers formed themselves into a sect, worshipping him as a symbol of the aspirations of the people. Undoubtedly he contributed a good deal to the growing consciousness among the tribesmen of Chota Nagpur; many later socio-religious movements of this area bore a close resemblance to his movement in items like the observance of Thursday as a day of rest and purification, ceremonious faith in prayers, attack on magic, spirits, etc.

Freedom Movement of Birsa Munda

Bhagwan Birsa Munda, the " Dharthi Aba " ( father of the earth), as known amongst tribal , waged a massive war against the British rule in mid 1890's . After the suppression of the first rising , in 1895 the Birsa gave a clarion call to the munda's ( his followers ) of a decisive war against the British. After a series of concerted attacks for nearly two years on the places loyal to the British, the Munda warriors started congregating on " Dombari Hill " at village "Sail Rakab " (Nearly 20 Km far from the Ranchi-Jamshedpur Highway ), on the call of Birsa. Documents revel that the munda's , adopting Guerrilla war fare, attack the British in Ranchi and Khunti. Several persons, mostly police men were killed and nearly 100 Buildings were set on fire . In raised over this " Ulgulan " (revolt), the then commissioner Mr. A fobes and Deputy Commissioner Mr. H.C. Streattfield, rushed to Kunti with two company of army to crush the mass struggle ( Ulgulan) of " Abua Disun " ( Self rule ).

The revolt had rocked the British administration to the extent that the commissioner declared a reward of Rs 500 for the arrest of Birsa. Subsequently British forces attacked heavily on Munda warriors congregated at " Dumbari Hill " and made indiscriminate firing like that of "Jaliyan Wala Bagh " and killed several hundred people. The whole hill was littered with dead human corpses. After Brutal slaughter the dead bodies were thrown into the deep gorges and ravines of the hill . Many of the wounded were buried alive . According to editorial published on march 25, 1900, the statesman , put the toll at 400. However , the then administration suppressed the fact and claimed that only eleven persons were killed and nine insured in two firings on January 7 and january 9, 1900. Fear and panic show spread over the area that "Dombari " was named by munda's as " Topped Buru " - mound of dead.

Birsa Munda was nabbed while he was fast asleep at "Jamkopai " forest in Chakradharpur on March 3, 1900. Deputy commissioner Ranchi, vide letter no CR-1397 dated 12 nov 1900 reveals that 460 tribals were made accused in 15 different criminal cases, out of which 63 were convicted. One was awarded Capital Punishment , 39 were sentenced to transportation for life and 23 were imprisioned for terms up to 14 years. the six death , including that of tribal hero Birsa Munda in the prison during trials in less than 10 months, speaks of the probable tortures inflicted on the prisinors of Munda Ulgulan . Birsa Munda died in the jail on 9th June 1900. Dead body of Birsa Munda is reported to have been criminated near the distillery bridge Kokar ( Ranchi ). People say, actually Birsa was buried under the bridge ( In 1900 there was no bridge).

Important Events relating to Birsa Munda

Year Events

1875 Birth of Birsa Munda

1887 Return Home after Middle class Education

1888 Left Christianity and return to his original sarna Panth

1889 Started Dharm Prachar

1890 Left Dharm prachar and came in politics

1895 Two yeaars Jail

1897 Released from jail

1897 Full Munda Revolt ( Ulgulan )

1900 Death of Birsa Munda in Ranchi Jail

In the memory of Birsa Munda

Birsa Agricultural University, Kanke, Ranchi Estd 1983 ( Also 10 feet statue in its campus)click here

Birsa Munda Airport, Ranchiclick here

Birsa Munda Central Jail, Hotwar, Ranchi

Birsa Chowk, Hinoo, Ranchi. (Where old statue of Birsa Munda is situated.)

Birsa Nagar ( Colony)

Zoological Park

Birsa Munda National Institute of Tribal Research, Rourkela

Film “Gandhi Se Pehle Gandhi “is on Birsa Munda The film

Birsa Munda Statue Committee, Rourkela

Postal Stamp issued in the name of Birsa Munda on 15th November,1988

portrait, Central Hall of Parliament

Birsa Munda Vidyapitha, Rourkela

Birsa Maidan, rourkela

Birsa Institute of Technology, Ratu Road, Ranchi click here


bronze statue, Rourkela

8-feet statue of Birsa Munda, Writers' Building, West Bengal


Birsa Munda and his Movement (1872-1901) A study of a Millennium Movement in Chotanagpur K. S. Singh, Fwd. by Mahasweta Devi Seagull Books ...



Birsa Munda

Birsa Munda was a great freedom fighter.

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    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      Yes, but not much. Your lens provided many more details.

    • vkumar05 profile image

      vkumar05 6 years ago

      He is a legend in his own right. Great lens.

    • Harshitha LM profile image

      Harshitha LM 6 years ago

      Yes I had. I had watched a movie about him. Nice lens. Got a few more facts about him.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      yes. but here i got some more details. thanks for sharing