History has been unkind to our tribal heroes and Freedom Fighters, whose contribution to our struggle for independence is no less significant than the well-known names we all have been taught about. In sync with India celebrating 75 years of independence this year, BJP leader and author Tuhin A. Sinha has written a much-needed book on the life of tribal hero Birsa Munda. Ankita Verma is the co-author.
The book ‘Legend of Birsa Munda’ glorifies the tribal revolution and Birsa Munda’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle. It was released on Wednesday at the hands of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. “Birsa Munda is an ideal freedom fighter for the entire nation”, he said congratulating the authors on their efforts and extensive study.
The book is a thoroughly researched tribute to the life and times of the great tribal hero, Birsa Munda. Filling gaping holes in Indian literature and history, the book aims to bring to the forefront the role of this lesser known tribal revolutionary who played an extremely important role in India’s struggle for independence, the official statement read.
Author Tuhin Sinha while speaking to OpIndia said that it was a great feeling to write about one of India’s greatest revolutionaries Birsa Munda who lived from 1875 to 1900. This is the 75th year of independence when PM Narendra Modi decided to celebrate the unsung heroes who have not got their dues, the book launch is an extension of that philosophy. The plot points of Birsa Munda’s life are astounding, from opposing the spread of Christianity to finally leading the revolution. He was a social reformer in many different ways.
According to Sinha, Birsa Munda’s contribution is special as in a short life span of merely 25 years, he had challenged the German Missionaries, which were aided by the British administration and had unleashed unstoppable conversion in the villages of present-day South Jharkhand. He experienced, as he grew up, that the British were attracted to that region for its vast natural resources, forest wealth and minerals. He realized that this led to the rise of various ugly and terrible changes not only in the traditional Janjati agrarian system but also disrupted the ancient faith and culture of the Janjatis.
Birsa Munda realized that the Christian missionary activities in the garb of school education were annihilating the vigor and vitality of Janjatis by tearing apart their beliefs and customs. He noted predatory missionary’s deceit for altering ancient Janjati faith into Christianity thereby making the tribals drift away from their culture and social bonds.
The book further puts into words the religious revolution initiated by Birsa Munda in 1895. The religious movement that came to be known as Birsait, was focused against the ‘dikus’ or oppressors who were Christian missionaries and landowners. A good chunk of those who joined his religious movement was Munda sardars who had previously converted to Christianity. Birsa, in his teachings, drew from Hindu religious scriptures, dedicated his efforts against the predatory Christian missionaries, which is evident in the trail of destruction witnessed in the armed revolution starting December 1999.
When asked about anti-Hindu claims made by woke liberals against Birsa Munda, the author said that Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s revolution against the Britishers and the Christian Missionaries had brought vigour to the lives of Adivasis living in the areas of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh. “Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s mentor in the early 1890s after he shunned Christianity and walked out the Chaibasa Missionary school, was a Vaishnavite preacher, Anand Panrai. It was the time spent with this preacher, who employed learning from Bhagwad Gita and generously quoted anecdotes from the Ramayan and Mahabharat, that led to a spiritual transformation in Birsa, evident and documented from 1894 onwards. At no point in Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s life is there any definitive antipathy towards Hinduism”, he said.
On January 1, Sinha had written a letter to PM Narendra Modi requesting for the Bharat Ratna to be conferred upon tribal revolutionary icon Birsa Munda. He also had demanded the construction of a war memorial at Dombari Hills in Jharkhand, where Birsa Munda’s resolute warriors had put up an incredible fight against the British soldiers in January 1900.