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Tilka Manjhi [ 1750-1785 ] Biography & Life History Of Baba Tilka Manjhi | Dalit History

Tilka Majhi (1750 – 1785)

Tilka Manjhi [ 1750-1785 ] Biography & Life History Of Baba Tilka Manjhi | Dalit History

Baba Tilka Majhi (or Jabra paharia) was the first Adivasi leader who took up arms against the British in the 1784, around 70 years before Mangal Pandey. He organized the Adivasis to form an armed group to fight against the resource grabbing and exploitation of British

Baba Tilka Manjhi was India’s first freedom fighter. Born in 1750, Manjhi, who fought for throwing off the British yoke almost a century before the 1857 revolt, was never given his due place in history.

He led the famous revolt of the Tribals against the British from 1771 to 1784 and in 1778 wrested the Ramgarh Camp from them by forging a joint front with Pahadia Sardars. In 1784, Tilka Manjhi killed Augustus Clevland, the magistrate of Rajmahal.

A major offensive against Manjhi’s guerrilla army followed, under the leadership of Ayarkut. It is said that after Manjhi was captured, he was tied to four horses and dragged up to Bhagalpur. Even after being dragged for miles, the tenacious fighter was still alive.

His body may have been soaked in blood but his mind was aflame. His blood-red eyes instilled fear in the hearts of the British. On 13 January 1785 he was hanged from a huge banyan tree at a road junction in Bhagalpur.

Birth and Childhood

Tilka Majhi was born on 11th February, 1750 in Sultanganj, Bihar. He was born in a small village called Tilakpur and he belonged to Santhal family. His father's name was Sundara Murmu. Since childhood, Tilka lived in the shadow of forest civilization and hunted wild animals. Workout-wrestling, climbing on the big trees, walking in the valleys, playing with wild animals, roaming in wild forests, rivers, etc. were his daily routine of life. Wildlife had made him fearless and brave.

English Tyranny

Since childhood, he has seen the tyranny of English people on his family and on the tribal people. English rulers had their rights on the poor tribe's cultivated land and wild trees. Tribal people, children, women, old men were greatly tortured by the British. Sardar inhabited their lands on the hill and they too fought with the English Government to protect their lands. The mountains were inhabited by the landlords and they used to keep the British people happy in return for money. Finally, the day came when Tilka started a rebellion against the British. The tribal warriors led by Tilka were heading towards the forest areas of Bhagalpur and Sultanganj.

Murder of Cleve Land

Tilka with his force was in constant conflict with the English government. Cleve Land and Sir Eyre pitched battles with brave Tilka's army. While the British troops headed for combat, Tilka's soldiers began to secretly hit arrows on the English army. Tilka climbed a palm tree. At the same time, Cleve land came climbing on a horse. At that very moment, Tilka killed Superintendent Cleve Land on January 13, 1784 with his arrows. After the news of the death of Cleve Land, English government grew shaky. Rulers, soldiers and officers were enveloped in an atmosphere of fear.

Arrest of Tilka Majhi

One night when Tilka and his revolutionary partners were at a celebration of dance, songs and were lost in exultation, then suddenly a traitor warlord Jaudah attacked the Santhali army. In this sudden invasion Tilka survived, but many soldiers were martyred. Some were imprisoned. Tilka fled from there and took refuge in the mountainous region of Sultanganj. English army laid a trap for him in the surrounding mountain areas of Sutanganj and Bhagalpur.

Heroic Tilka and his army now camouflaged (hiding in mountainous areas) had struggled a hard life. His army began to be killed in lack of food and starvation. Now the heroic captain and his troops fought a guerrilla war with the British. The English army was invaded by the Santhal tribals. Majhi got trapped by the Britishers during the war and they captured him.


In 1785, Tilka was killed by hanging him in a banyan tree. Tilka was the first person who fought against the British to free India from slavery, which after 90 years broke again as a struggle for independence in 1857. In the memory of Tilka a statue of him was erected in the court of Bhagalpur. Tilka will always be remembered eternally as a son of Mother India.

Source- India study channel Forwordpress wikipidia, Dalit history of month

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