Birsa Munda

Birsa Munda was an Indian tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Birsa Munda was an Indian tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe. He spearheaded an Indian tribal religious Millenarian movement that arose in the tribal belt of modern-day Bihar and Jharkhand in the late 19th century, during the British Raj. This helps making him an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement. He started spreading awareness to expose the agenda of British and gathered his army of tribals after realizing the fact that the British company arrived in India to torture the people and carry the wealth abroad. He was born on November 15th, 1875 and died on June 9th, 1900.


Childhood of Birsa Munda:

He was born on November 15, 1875 in Ulihatu, Khunti, Jharkhand, India, to Sugana Munda, an agricultural laborer, and his wife, Karmi Hatu. He was one of the several children in his family. He had an elder brother, Komta Munda; and two elder sisters, Daskir and Champa. His family belonged to the ethnic tribal community known as Munda and moved from one place to another before settling in Chalkad, where he spent his early childhood. From an early age, he developed an interest in playing the flute. He was taken to his maternal uncle's village, Ayubhatu due to poverty where he lived for two years. He also accompanied his mother’s younger sister, Joni, to her new home in Khatanga, after her marriage.


Education of Birsa Munda:

He received his early education from a school at Salga, run by a Jaipal Nag. Being a sharp student he was persuaded by Jaipal Nag to attend German Mission School. Therefore, he was converted to Christianity as Birsa David and got enrolled in the school. He studied for a few years before opting out.


Family of Birsa Munda:

While living in the neighborhood of village Sankara in Singhbhum, he came across a suitable life partner but later left her because of her infidelity. Later he received the proposal for marriage from two women. The daughter of Mathura Muda of Koensar and the wife of Jaga Munda of Jiuri, but refused to marry either of them.


Some facts about Birsa Munda:

  • The tribal movements gained momentum and numerous protests were staged against the British under his leadership.
  • On March 3rd, 1900, he was arrested, along with his tribal guerrilla army, by the British troops in Jamkopai forest, Chakradharpur.
  • On June 9th, 1900, he died at the age of 25 in Ranchi Jail where he was imprisoned. British government declared that he died of cholera although he showed no symptoms of the disease, fuelling rumors that he might have been poisoned.
  • His birth anniversary which falls on 15th November, is still celebrated by tribal people in as far as Mysore and Kodagu districts in Karnataka, and official function takes place at his Samadhi Sthal, at Kokar Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand.
  • A number of institutes/colleges and places have been named after him to honour this revolutionary. Some of the prominent ones are 'Birsa Institute of Technology', 'Birsa Agricultural University', 'Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium' and 'Birsa Munda Airport.
  • Ulgulan, the annual college festival of the National University of Study and Research in Law, in Ranchi, is inspired by the freedom struggle of Birsa Munda.
  • His portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament Museum. He is the only tribal leader to have been so honored.



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