In 1895, a man named Birsa was seen roaming the forests and villages of Chottanagpur in Bihar. People said he had miraculous powers – he could cure all diseases and multiply grain. Birsa himself declared that God had appointed him to save his people from trouble, free them from the slavery of dikus (outsiders). Soon thousands began following Birsa, believing that he was bhagwan (God) and had come to solve all their problems.
Birsa was born in a family of Mundas – a tribal group that lived in Chottanagpur.
But his followers included other tribals of the region – Santhals and Oraons.
All of them in different ways were unhappy with the changes they were experiencing and the problems they were facing under British rule.
Their familiar ways of life seemed to be disappearing, their livelihoods were under threat, and their religion appeared to be in danger.
Importance of Birsa Munda’s Movement
In 1900 Birsa died of cholera and the movement faded out. However, the movement was significant in at least two ways.
First – it forced the colonial government to introduce laws so that the land of the tribals could not be easily taken over by dikus.
Second – it showed once again that the tribal people had the capacity to protest against injustice and express their anger against colonial rule. They did this in their own specific way, inventing their own rituals and symbols of struggle.
The ulgulan, meaning ‘Great Tumult’, sought to establish Munda Raj and independence.
Statue of Ulgulan
Statue of Ulgulan is a proposed 150 feet tall statue of Birsa Munda, a tribal freedom fighter from the Eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. The statue will be built on NH 33 Ranchi-Jamshedpur national highway near Bundu.
These were the outsiders. Santhals united against Dikus and the Europeans , together called as RAVANAs.