Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Birth anniversary of Birsa Munda: The leader, his contributions


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Birsa Munda

Mains level : Not Much


On the occasion of the birth anniversary of tribal leader Birsa Munda, the Centre marked the second Janjatiya Gaurav Divas on November 15 to celebrate the contributions of tribal communities to Indian culture.

Who was Birsa Munda (1875-1900)?


  • Birsa Munda was a tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe.
  • He spearheaded a tribal religious millenarian movement that arose in the Bengal Presidency (now Jharkhand) in the late 19th century, during the British Raj.

His legacy

(A) Birth and early childhood

  • Born on November 15, 1875, Birsa spent much of his childhood moving from one village to another with his parents.
  • He belonged to the Munda tribe in the Chhotanagpur Plateau area.
  • He received his early education at Salga under the guidance of his teacher Jaipal Nag.
  • On the recommendation of Jaipal Nag, Birsa converted to Christianity in order to join the German Mission school.
  • He, however, opted out of the school after a few years.

(B) New faith ‘Birsait’ against religious conversion

  • The impact of Christianity was felt in the way he came to relate to religion later.
  • Having gained awareness of the British colonial ruler and the efforts of the missionaries to convert tribals to Christianity, Birsa started the faith of ‘Birsait’.
  • Soon members of the Munda and Oraon community started joining the Birsait sect and it turned into a challenge to British conversion activities.
  • The Mundas called him Dharati Aaba, the father of earth.

(C) The Ulgulan

  • The Great Tumult or Ulgulan was a movement started by Birsa Munda against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals by the local authorities.
  • Although the movement failed, it did result in the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act which forbade tribal lands passing to non-tribals, protecting their land rights for the foreseeable future.

(D) Death

  • On March 3, 1900, Birsa Munda was arrested by the British police while he was sleeping with his tribal guerilla army at Jamkopai forest in Chakradharpur.
  • He died in Ranchi jail on June 9, 1900, at the young age of 25.

(E) Creation of Jharkhand

  • Birsa Munda’s achievements are known to be even more remarkable by virtue of the fact that he came to acquire them before he was 25.
  • In recognition of his impact on the national movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000.


Try this PYQ from CSP 2020

With reference to the history of India, “Ulgulan” or the Great Tumult is the description of which of the following event?

(a) The Revolt of 1857

(b) The Mappila Rebellion of 1921

(c) The Indigo Revolt of 1859-60

(d) Birsa Munda’s Revolt of 1899-1900


Post your answers here.
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