Birsa Munda (1875–1900)

Birsa Munda was a tribal leader and a folk hero, belonging to the Munda tribe who was behind the Millenarian movement that rose in the tribal belt of modern day Bihar, and Jharkhand during the British Raj, in the late 19th century making him an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement

In 1894, Birsa had grown up into a strong and handsome young man, shrewd and intelligent. The stories of Birsa as a healer, a miracle-worker, and a preacher spread, out of all proportion to the facts. At that period of history Mundas were utterly frustrated, disappointed and discontented. Zamindars, Jagirdars, Thikedars, Rajas, Christian missionaries and the British courts – all of them had only one point programme and that was to exploit the Mundas.

Though at first the struggle commenced by attacking the land-lords, later it was directed against the  ruling British authorities who openly supported the exploiters namely the Zamindars and money lenders who took advantage of the corrupt British and Indian officials.

In 1856, there were in Bihar 600 Zamindar dikus holding land ranging from a portion of a single village to even 150 villages each.

The Mundas were galvanized into martial fury and carried out their revolts with great courage and determination. The results were, however, the same whenever the tribal fought the mighty British: they were crushed. Birsa was captured, released and finally recaptured after his forces suffered a terrible crushing by the British army in 1900. With his death, the Birsa movement slipped into oblivion but he had succeeded in giving them a solidarity which was missing before. Thus bullets crushed this great movement. Though Birsa was dead but ……………….

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