History of Chhattisgarh


The history of Chhattisgarh , which was called as South Kosala goes back to the 4th century AD. The mythological history of the state can be traced back to the days of Mahabarata and the Ramayana. The Haihaya dynasty ruled Chhattisgarh for six centuries during the 14th century. During the middle ages, Chalukya dynasty established its rule in Bastar. Annmdev was the first Chalukya ruler, who founded the dynasty in Bastar in 1320.

In 1741, the kingdom was seized by the Marathas from the Haihaya dynasty. After conquering bthe kingdom during 1745 AD, Raghunathsinghji, the last descendant of the Ratanpur house was forced to leave the area. So finally in the year 1758, Chhattisgarh was conquered by Marathas and Bimbaji Bhonsle was appointed as the ruler. After the demise of Bimbaji Bhonsle, suba system was followed by the Marathas. It was an era of unrest and misrule. Maratha army was involved in large-scale loot and ransack. The Maratha officials compromised the interests of the region to the British. The atrocities of the Maratha rule were opposed by the Gonds. The kingdom was attacked by the Pindaris during the early Nineteenth Century.

In the year 1818, Chhattisgarh came under the British rule. After Nagpur was included under the rule of the British government in 1854, Chhattisgarh was created into a deputy commissionership. Its headquarters were located at Raipur. The British government brought about certain reforms in the administrative and revenue systems.

The tribals of Bastar strongly stood firmly against the British, which resulted in the Halba rebellion, which continued for about five years from 1774-1779. Vir Narain Singh's name is written in golden words in the history of Chhattisgarh, as he was the first martyr from this region in the struggle of independence.

Origin

Chhattisgarh is one of the states of India located in the central part of the country. The state is surrounded by Jharkhand state on northwest, Orissa on the east, Andhra Pradesh on the south, and Maharastra on the southwest. It has been formed from the state of Madhya Pradesh. The origin of the name of Chhattisgarh has an interesting and long story.

During the ancient period Chhattisgarh was called Dakshin Kosala. We can get an evidence of it in the inscriptions and literary works of the early writers. During the Mughal reign the region was called Ratanpur territory and not Chhattisgarh. The word Chhattisgarh gained popularity during the rule of the Marathas. It was used for the first time in 1795, in an official document.

Creation

For obvious reasons, a discussion on the History of Chattisgarh will bring forward the subject about its creation.

The first administrative initiation of the Creation of Chattisgarh was taken the then government of Madhya Pradesh. A resolution was passed at the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on March 18th, 1994 with the demand of a separate state of Chattisgarh. The two major political parties of the state, Congress and B.J.P supported the demand.

The Union Government in 1998 drafted a bill with the same proposal and sent it to the M.P. Bidhan Sabha for approval. It was approved without any opposition. However with the downfall of the Union Government, fresh Lok Sabha elections were held. Again the newly appointed Central Government drafted the bill and sent it to the state assembly. Once again it was unanimously supported, paving the way for its approval. In the year 2000, the Indian President gave his consent to the Madhya Pradesh Reorganization Act on the historic date of 25th August. Finally the state of Madhya Pradesh was bifurcated to create the Chattisgarh state on 1st November 2000.

Social Infrastructure

The Social Infrastructure of Chhattisgarh of today is a reflection of the tradition and History of Chhattisgarh. Unlike many other places in the country, the women in the state have always enjoyed considerable amount of freedom. No wonder, the modern Chhattisgarhi women will enjoy the same status. According to the Human Development Report of the Madhya Pradesh Government - 1998, the districts, which now belong to Chhattisgarh, fared much better in the Gender Development Index.

Traditionally also, the women in Chhattisgarh have been relatively liberal. The Purdah system practiced in many parts of the country is not so prominent in Chhattisgarh. There is even a custom called Chudi Pahanana, according to which a woman can terminate her marriage if she wishes. However, women of higher castes are not fortunate to enjoy this custom. Also, the presence of these customs does not prove that it is not a male dominated society.

First Freedom Struggle

Bastar was actively involved in the First Freedom Struggle of India in the year 1857. It was the year of the glorious revolution of Sepoy Mutiny, a big blow to the oppressive rule of British. This freedom movement in Bastar was one of the First War of Independence of the country. Bastar was an integral part of one of the earliest movements of independence. The southern part of Bastar acted as the pivotal point of the First Freedom Movement. Dhruvarao headed the movement and a battle was fought against the oppressive Rule of British. Dhruvarao belonged to one of the many Maria tribes that are found in the region in and around Bastar. The tribe in which Dhruvarao belonged to is known as Dorlaon. All his tribesmen and even people from other tribes supported him in this freedom. It was one of the main centers of the revolt and history will forever remember the name of Bastar for its contribution to the First Struggle for Freedom.

Rebellions in Chhattisgarh



Rebellions

The tribal dominated state of Chhattisgarh has a rich historical background. A book on the History of Chhattisgarh will have to include many chapters on the Chhattisgarh Rebellions.

The state has witnessed many tribal rebellions over the years. This had started during the eighteenth century and continued till a few decades of the twentieth century.

Few of these rebellions involved local tribes but the rest were large-scale agitations. Some of the important Chhattisgarh Rebellions are: -
  • Halba rebellion - started in 1774 and continued till 1779
  • Bhopalpatnam Struggle of 1795
  • Paralkot rebellion of 1825
  • Tarapur rebellion - started in 1842 continued till 1854
  • Maria rebellion - started in 1842 continued till 1863
  • First Freedom Struggle - started in 1856 continued till 1857
  • Koi revolt of 1859
  • Muria rebellion of 1876
  • Rani rebellion - started in 1878 continued till 1882
  • Bhumkal of 1910

Koi Revolt

Koi revolt is an important mass uprising among the tribal people in the region of Bastar. The rebellion was formed to stand against the autocratic and domineering British rule. This significant revolt in the history of Chhattisgarh, which is known as Koi revolt, took place in the year eighteen hundred and fifty nine.
A vital revolution among the other tribal rebellions, Koi revolt is considered as a serious uprising that resulted in a considerable change as its aftermath. Koi revolution began taking its shape in the area of southern Bastar. The tribal people declined to accept the decision of the British, which offered the contracts of cutting of Sal trees to people outside the region of Bastar. The contractors from Hyderabad were offered the deal of cutting the Sal trees in the region of Bastar. The people of the Jamindaris, who were involved in the cutting of trees, were known as Kois, which subsequently became the name of the revolution. The contractors who were offered the contract of cutting the trees were also known to exploit the innocent tribal people in many ways. This added to the problem and the tribal men were exploited both economically as well as mentally. When the water rose above their heads, the tribal people called for the Koi revolution in Bastar. They collectively decided that they would not tolerate the cutting of a single tree. The British wanted to suppress the unrest and used various methods to stop the opposition led by the tribal people. But this time, the tribal people were very steadfast in their decision. They would not allow the exploitation of their natural resources and rich forests.

Maria rebellion

Maria rebellion is a revolution that is unique in its characteristics. It took place in the region of Bastar. The revolt of Maria Tribe was a prolonged rebellion, as long as twenty years. The Maria Revolution lasted for a very long time, from the years 1842 to 1863. It was apparently fought to preserve the practice of human sacrifice. Although it seems very inhuman to fight for such a cause that involves killing of human practice, the tribal people had no other option other than this. There were series of invasion by the Marathas and the British. The combined reign of the Marathas and the British made it almost impossible for the tribal people to restore their individuality and originality. The Anglo-Maratha Rule forced the aboriginal tribes to part with their tribal faiths and practices. The British and the Marathas used to enter the temples constantly, which according to the innocent beliefs of the tribal people polluted the sacred atmosphere of the temples. The only way to save the identity of the Marias was to revolt against the invaders. The Maria Rebellion is considered one of the major tribal rebellions.

Muria Rebellion

Muria rebellion is another revolt that appeared in the region of Bastar. The Muria rebellion started in the year eighteen hundred and seventy six and thus it is also known as the Muria Revolt of 1876. It is a great booster for the ill-treated and suppressed people of all ages, all over the country. In the year eighteen hundred and sixty seven, Gopinath Kapardas was selected as the Diwan of the state of Bastar. Gopinath Kapardas used to exploit the simple and innocent tribal people. Being unable to cope up with the atrocities of the Diwan, the tribal people appealed to the King to remove the Diwan from the position but the King did not support His subjects. This went on for a long time and when they were repeatedly neglected, they were left with only one option, that of revolt. Fuming with anger, the aboriginals started the Muria people?s revolution. On 2 March of the year eighteen hundred and seventy six, the raging tribal people enclosed Jagdalpur, the abode of the King. The Muria people besieged the King and blocked all the ways of exit. Surrounded by all sides, the King faced real inconvenience to inform the British about the unrest that had generated among the tribal people. Much later, the British Army was sent which rescued the king and suppressed the revolution of the justice seeking tribal people. Although the revolution was censored, the Muria rebellion encouraged the common people to raise the voice against injustice done against them.

Paralkot Rebellion

The year 1825 was an eventful one for the Abujhmarias, who were the inhabitants of the present day state of Chhattisgarh. The Paralkot rebellion was a symbol of protest against the invasion against foreign rules. The revolt of Paralkot was an expression of the resentments piled up in the minds of the Abujhmarias against the foreign attacks. The anger was mainly against the foreign rulers Marathas and British. The Paralkot revolt is one of the important tribal rebellions in the history of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. An Abujhmaria, Gend Singh, led the revolt of Paralkot and the other fellow Abujhmarias supported him. The purpose of this rebellion was to acquire a world that is free of all evils. The foreign decree put the individuality of the native tribes at stake and the Abujhmarias stood against this. The Marathas levied heavy tax on the native people, which was impossible for them to pay. They revolted against the injustice done to them by the foreign powers. It was their desire to build a Bastar, free of foreign intrusion.

Prathak Chhattisgarh

The movement for a Prathak Chhattisgarh did not take a concrete shape before the 1990s though its seeds were sown in the early twenties. The demands for a separate state of Chhattisgarh took birth in the early twenties. This initiative was taken with the hope of highlighting the Chhattisgarh identity. The first demand for a separate Chhattisgarh was raised in the Rajpur Congress unit in the year 1924. During the early days of this movement though the issues received the support of the common people but it was not allowed to spread much. Various all party seminars, rallies and public meetings were arranged during this time to support the cause. Attempts to make a call for a separate Chhattisgarh continued even after independence but it did not take any remarkable turn until the year of 1955. In this year a demand for separate Chhattisgarh was put forward in the Nagpur Assembly. Previously in the year of 1954, a demand for a separate unit of Chhattisgarh was raised when the commission for state reorganization was set up. But this application was rejected then. The reason for this rejection was that the prosperity and rapid development of the area under Chhattisgarh may compensate for the several underdeveloped and poverty ridden areas of the larger state of Madhya Pradesh. The movement for a Prathak Chhattisgarh continued in different modes and forms. At times they took sharp turns and again there were certain phases when the movement was slow paced. But the dream for a separate Chhattisgarh remained. During the later half of 1990s things took a different turn. Several rallies and public meetings led and supported by important political parties gave a different turning all together to the Prathak Chhattisgarh movement.



Tarapur Rebellion

Tarapur rebellion is another great example of the tribal rebellions in the place of Bastar that is a part of the present day Chhattisgarh. Tarapur rebellion is one more revolt in which the common people of Bastar stood against the foreign rulers. The revolt of Tarapur took place from 1842 to 1854. There had been continuous uprisings in Bastar against the foreign rulers. The native people of Bastar felt that their local tradition and culture were being considerably harmed and the social, political as well as economical principles were being hampered. Thus, they stood against the Anglo-Maratha reign in order to restore their native culture. The tribal people were charged heavy taxes and were forced to pay the taxes. The local Diwan, who used to collect the taxes from the common people, became the symbol of oppression for them. Most of the anger precipitated on the local Diwan as the higher authorities were out of their reach. The tribal rage grew more and more, resulting in the Tarapur rebellion.

Halba Rebellion

The Halba rebellion is considered as an important tribal rebellion in the history of the present day state of Chhattisgarh in India. The event of Halba rebellion took place in the area of the Bastar District in Chhattisgarh. It created everlasting alteration in the Bastar District. After the decline of the Chalukyas, the situations were such that both the Marathas and the British came one after the other, to the place in order to rule. The Halba rebellion started against them in the year seventeen hundred and seventy four. The then governor of Dongar, Ajmer Singh, was the initiator of the revolt of Halba. The revolution of Halba was started with the desire of forming a new and independent state in Dongar. The Halba tribe as well as the soldiers stood beside Ajmer Singh. The main reason behind the revolt was lack of money and food in the hands of the common people. A long drought had affected the people especially those who had very little cultivable land in their hands. Added to this severe problem, there was the pressure and fear caused by the Maratha and the British on the commoners, which eventually resulted in the uprising. The British armies and the Marathas suppressed them and in a massacre, many of the Halba tribal people were killed. Subsequently, the army of Halba was also defeated. However, the situation was such after the defeat of the Halba army that the history of the district of Bastar changed forever.

Social Reformers of Chhattisgarh



Rae Das Panth

The History of Chhattisgarh speaks about the various socio-religious reform movement and rebellions it has witnessed. For time and again one or the other rose against the established social structures and practices. While the tribal people fought for their rights and to preserve their culture, the other weaker sections like the Dalits condemned the religious and social atrocities. As a result of this revolting mentality many religious sects like the Ramnami Panth, Satnam Panth, Kabir Panth and the Rae Das Panth were formed. Ramananda was an eminent social and religious reformer who had a huge fan following. One of his many fans, a Dalit - Ravi Das or fondly called as Rae Das was a committed disciple of Ramananda. Rae Das was highly influenced by his teachings and adding his own philosophical ideas, he started spreading the message of equality. Soon he caught attention of the poorer section of the area and they realized that they have found a leader who will speak for them. This way the Rae Das Panth came into existence. The followers of the Rae Das Panth call themselves as the Raedasis or the Rae Das Panthis. Mostly the Dalits follow this sect, which believes in social and religious equality.

Ramnami Panth

The Ramnami Panth is one the religious sects in Chhattisgarh, which has many followers from the Dalit community. Similar to many other reform movements in the History of Chhattisgarh, the Ramnami Panth Sect came into existence in protest against the Brahman atrocities in the Hindu society. The Dalits at one point of time faced severe discrimination and suppression. They revolted against the myth that Brahmans were the supreme bosses. This mentality brought the concept of the sect, which believed Rama as their god. Even today, the follower of the sect of Ramnami denounces the Brahmans as the medium of god. They would rather pray to their lord by themselves.
The Ramnamis are distinguished by their caps designed with beautiful peacock feathers. They also carry flutes and sing songs in praise of their Lord Rama. The practice of tattooing the body with the name of Rama is very popular among the followers of Ramnami Panth.

Satnam PanthSatnam Panth

Chhattisgarh has always been a tribal dominated area. The large number tribal population has its own culture and customs. History of Chhattisgarh suggests that although their culture was under the influence of orthodox Hindu religion, they rose against the hierarchal, religious and social order. Many religious and social reform movements took place and new sects like the Satnam Panth, Kabir Panth, Ramnami Panth and Rae Das Panth came into existence. To protest against the social atrocities and demand of equality gave birth to the Satnam Panth. The movement was initiated by small groups of Dalits in the nineteenth century. Led by a humble farmer - Ghasidas, the movement gained momentum among the poor. They formed the Satnam Panth sect and called themselves as 'Satnami'. The Satnamis believe in the superpower that is formless and they follow the name of the eternal truth only. They do not indulge in drinking liquor, smoking, chewing tobacco and refrain themselves from eating few type of vegetables, red pulses and meat. They denounce the traditional Hindu idols and deities. They believe in a caste-less society and promote equality. The Satnam community comprises mainly of sharecroppers and landless laborers. The first leader of the sect - Guru Ghasidas initiated the hierarchy of Gurus, which is hereditary. Bhandar and Girodh in Chhattisgarh are the main centers of the sect of Satnam Panth.

Last Updated on 6/6/2013