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Tana Bhagat Movement | Jharkhand

Tana Bhagat Movement (1914-1919 AD) – टाना भगत आंदोलन (1914-1919 ई.)

Causes and nature of rebellion

The literal meaning of ‘Tana’ is to stretch or pull. Since these Bhagat wanted to throw away their fallen position by stretching or pulling them away and wanted to attain the advanced stage, hence they were called ‘Tana Bhagat’ and their movement was called ‘Tana Bhagat Andolan’. In this way Tana Bhagat movement was a type of Sanskritization movement.This movement was led by the Tana Bhagats (Dharmacharyas). The Oraon people considered these movements to be Kudukh Dharma or the original and original religion of the Oraons. The Tana Bhagat movement started as a religious and economic movement, later it became a political movement by joining the Indian independence movement.

Jatra Bhagat, the father of Tana Bhagat movement, was born on October 2, 1888 in Chingri Navadoli village of Vishunpur block of Gumla district. His father’s name was Kohra Bhagat and mother’s name was Livery Bhagat. His wife’s name was Budhni Bhagat. Legend has it that when Jatra was taking training of Mati (Exorcist) from Shri Turiya Bhagat of Hesrag village, in 1914 AD he suddenly attained self-realization (self-knowledge). Jatra Oraon now came to be known as Jatra Bhagat. In this way the Tana Bhagat movement started on April 21, 1914. Jatra Bhagat resolved to show the path to the tribal community suffering from the atrocities of the British Raj, forced labor by the landlords, superstitions and evils spread in the society. He announced that Dharmesh (God) had entrusted him with the leadership of the tribes.He started organizing the Oraons by awakening religious sentiments. He introduced a new code of conduct for his followers; For example- (i) only Oraon deity ‘Dharmesh’ should be worshiped (belief in monotheism). (ii) Animal sacrifice, meat eating and drinking alcohol should be abandoned. (iii) Cow and bull are sacred, they should not be used. (iv) Do not work as porters and laborers with Jindars, other religions and non-tribals.

The movement started by Jatra Bhagat spread like wild fire in the entire Oraon region. The Oraons stopped farming because they believed that plowing in the fields harms the cows and oxen. The Oraons stopped the work of Jindars and other non-tribals. In the beginning of the year 1916, Jatra Bhagat was presented in the court of the sub-divisional officer of Gumla along with seven of his followers in the crime of preventing his followers from doing wages.He was later released on the condition that he would not propagate his new principles and would maintain peace. But he died within two months of coming out of jail as a result of the severe torture he received in jail (1916 AD). In this way Jatra Bhagat came to an end, but the Tana Bhagat movement started by him continued to flourish.

A major reason for the growth of the movement was its messianic nature. In fact, from the time of Jatra Bhagat, the Tana Bhagat movement had begun to take the form of a powerful messianic movement and it continued to remain so. Its message was that God would send his most powerful and gracious angel (Messiah) to rescue the Oraon tribals from their tragic situation. This messiah was often compared to Birsa Munda etc., which would expel all foreigners from their country. The illiterate and naive tribesmen considered ‘German Kaiser Baba’ to be an unknown but powerful messiah. In fact, in those days the success of the Germans was discussed everywhere, so the naive Oraon imagined ‘German Kaiser Baba’ as an unknown but powerful messiah.

Devmani Bhagat (contemporary woman of Jatra Bhagat) resident of Baburi village in Sisai police station area, Shibu Bhagat in Mander area, Balram Bhagat (Gairakshani Bhagat sect) resident of Belgada in Ghaghra area, Bhikhu Bhagat (Vishnu Bhagat sect) resident of Uravan village in Bishunpur police station area Adi propagated the Tana Bhagat movement.When Shibu Bhagat allowed Tana Bhagat to eat meat, two classes of Tana Bhagat were formed – ‘Aruva Bhagat’ and ‘Julaha Bhagat’. The vegetarian devotees were called ‘Aruva Bhagat’ and the non-vegetarian devotees were called ‘Julaha Bhagat’. The vegetarian devotees are named ‘Aruva Bhagat’ because they eat only Arva rice.

Tana Bhagat put four-point demands before the Raja of Palamu-

  • They should be given self-government,
  • the office of the king should be abolished,
  • equality should be established and
  • Land tax should be abolished because land is God given.

The Raja of Palamu rejected these demands. Tana Bhagat movement also spread in Surguja of Chhattisgarh. In March, 1919 AD, Shibu Bhagat, Maya Bhagat, Sukra Bhagat, Singha Bhagat and Deviya Bhagat were arrested and punished in Chotanagpur division. Still the movement did not stop. In December, 1919 AD, under the leadership of Turia Bhagat and Jitu Bhagat, the movement of Chowkidari Tax and non-payment of revenue to the landlords was started.

Key Facts of Tana Bhagat Andolan (for MCQs):

  • The movement began in 1914 as a religious sect under the leadership of Jatra Oraon, which advocated monotheism, a ban on meat-liquor and tribal dance, and the return of jhum cultivation.
  • This movement is considered to be an extension of the Birsa movement.
  • The main areas of this movement were Ghaghra, Bishunpur, Chainpur, Karaidih, Sisai, Kudu, Mander etc.
  • Shibu Bhagat led this movement in Mandar area. Balram Bhagat in Ghaghra and Bhikhu Bhagat in Vishunpur led this movement. A woman named Devmania of Sisai police station played a commendable role in this movement.
  • In 1916, Jatra Bhagat was sentenced to one and a half years. He died suddenly in 1917, within two months of his release from prison.
  • In this movement non-violence was accepted as the ‘infallible weapon’ of the struggle.
  • Under the third phase of this movement, Tana Bhagat participated in the national movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Tana Bhagat participated in the ‘Civil Disobedience Movement’ launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921 under the leadership of ‘Sidhu Bhagat’.
  • Tana Bhagat attended the Gaya Congress session in 1922 and Nagpur session in 1923.
  • In the Ramgarh session in 1940, Tana Bhagat gave Rs 400 to Mahatma Gandhi. The bag was presented.
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