Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s movement (Part-II)

But Birsa had no trouble in reorganizing his followers after the release. People wanted that Birsa should lead them even if all his prophecies did not come true. The missionaries were out to see Birsa and his followers in chains and therefore, the organization of the final revolt on Christmas day of 1899 remained underground.
This time Prophet Birsa receded to the background and politician Birsa came to the fore, which was the second aspect of his movement. He visited places of worship in Chotanagpur and anointed his followers with Birda (jungle water). There is one thing that there was never a divorce between religion and his political movement because he wanted to make his followers fearless and men of character-a most important pre-condition for any success in any fight.
His ultimate goal was to drive away the Christian Missionaries, landlords and the alien government from Munda land. But at the same time he understood the implication of the use of force. He very well understood that the handfuls of Mundas were not going to drive out the Britishers and outsiders who were better equipped than they were. Therefore, he insisted on organization, purity of life, and he fired the Mundas with zeal of national liberation. He gave his followers a code of life, a religion, and made them dedicated disciples. He perhaps knew that it was easy to kill any army, but army of ideas is irresistible.

Bhagwan Birsa Munda


Birsa ultimately allowed his restless adherents to engage themselves in a token attack without killing, by fixing a straw hut used as stable in Sarwada R.C. Mission station as target. He wanted to show to the Government by this token attack on mission that the Munda would go to any length if they were not heard.
With this, armed rebellion started. Once it was started it was found that there was no grip over the situation. Several mission stations were attacked. Khunti Police station was burnt and ultimately there was engagement between the armed Mundas and the British forces at Sailrakab where hundreds of Mundas were killed.
Birsa escaped at Sailrakab where hundreds of Mundas were killed. Birsa escaped to the hills of Singhbhum; but was later on arrested at Sankara near Ragod (Singhbhum).
Repression of Birsa’s followers was started and the Christian missionaries played havoc with the Mundas (check out Gharbondhu). Either they had to embrace Christianity or face trial, and imprisonment in British jails. The mission organ, Ghabandhu used to publish invectives against the Birsaits. Birsa was brought to Ranchi to face trial, but died in mysterious circumstances on 9th June, 1900 in Ranchi Jail.

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