Home > Buddhism, Dalit-Bahujans, Dr B R Ambedkar, Today in Dalit History > 1st January,1818: The Battle of Bhima Koregaon

1st January,1818: The Battle of Bhima Koregaon

If we wish to be free, we must fight. Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. — Patrick Henry (March, 1775)

History of India is nothing but the struggle between untouchables and so called upper castes. However the Indian historians have always misled us by not showing the true face of Indian History.

The glorious victory of few hundred untouchable soldiers over numerically superior Peshwas army in the battle of Koregaon, fought on 1st January, 1818, is one such chapter in Indian history whose significance has been carefully hidden.

On that day, when many were busy celebrating the new year, a small force of 500 mahar (an untouchable caste in Maharashtra) soldiers in the British army were preparing for a war against the most brutal Indian state of that times – Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune, Maharashtra.

In the history books, this battle is considered an important one and is known as second Anglo-Maratha war that resulted in the total destruction of Peshwa kingdom and sealed the victory of British Empire in India. However, there is a different historical dimension to this war that all of us need to be aware of.

Bhima Koregaon Pillar: Honouring the Bravery of Untouchable Soldiers

 This war was also between the Indian untouchables (who were condemned to live a life so miserable that you might not find any parallels in the world history) and Brahminism (manifested through brahmin rulers from Pune).

 For mahar soldiers, this was not just another battle but it was their   battle for self-respect, dignity and against the supremacy of Manusmriti. And these soldiers, just 500 of them, defeated the Peshwa army of over 30,000 in just one day. Their victory against a mighty force is perhaps unparallel in Indian history.

 Maharashtrian society under brahmin’s rule followed worst form of social discrimination based on caste wherein the lower strata of society such as untouchables were confined to the stringent Brahmanical laws and subsequently their mobility and development were impaired.

The untouchables had to carry a broom stick attached to their backs so that when they enter into city, their footprints would not pollute the path. They were forced to put a pot around their neck to carry their spit in the pot. They were not allowed to hold any arms and education was completely barred. Untouchables were killed if they did not follow these restrictions. Bhima-Koregaon battle was the answer of the untouchables to the brahmin ruling class of the country.

The Battle

This battle took place on January 1st, 1818, near the banks of Bhima River in Koregaon (north-west of Pune) between few hundred mahar soldiers from the British regiment of a Bombay Native Light Infantry and the Peshwa army that constituted 20,000 horsemen and 8,000 infantry soldiers. After marching down for more than 27 miles, from Shirur to Bhima Koregaon without food and water, the untouchable warriors fought the Peshwas army for next 12 hours and by the end of the day defeated them completely.

This battle is significant for many reasons. First, British army fought this battle with a minuscule army expecting the worst. Secondly, the battle of Koregaon was one of the most important events which helped British to tear down the Peshwa Empire and subsequently the Peshwa had to abdicate. Thirdly and most importantly, it was an attempt by the untouchables of Maharashtra to break the shackles of the age-old caste order.

Dr Ambedkar with Mahar Regiment on his birthday, 1950

The Memory

The men of the Bombay Native Infantry, who fought in this battle, were honored for their bravery. The official report to the British Residents at Poona recalls the “heroic valour and enduring fortitude” of the soldiers, the “disciplined intrepidity” and “devoted courage and admirable consistency” of their actions.

Much praise was showered on the untouchable soldiers, who endured the rigours of difficult marches when rations were low and diseases were high among men and animals. Whether they were charging ahead or were besieged or taken prisoner-of-war, whether they were storming fortresses or making tactical withdrawals, they always stood steadfast by their officers and comrades, never letting down the honour of their Regiments.”

A stamp issued by Indian Government in 1981

 The saga of the bravery of mahar soldiers was commemorated by the British in 1851, when they erected a Pillar (Vijay Stambh) at Koregaon inscribing the names of 22 mahar soldiers who were martyred in this battle. The pillar still stands today reminding all of us about the bravery of our forefathers and as an inspiration for our struggle against caste-system.

 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also used to visit Koregaon every year on 1st January to pay homage to the untouchable soldiers and to exhort Dalits to show similar courage and determination to end brahminism from the entire country. On 1st January, 1927, he organised a big convention in Koregaon and brought the memories of bravery of the untouchable soldiers in public knowledge.

 On this and every New Year eve, rather than indulging ourselves in mindless revelry let all of us pay rich tributes to our heroic forefathers who, through their bravery and courage, tore down the powerful Peshwai and brought freedom for untouchables from the fanatic brahmin rulers who ruled the land according to the diktat from Manusmriti. It is also a powerful occasion for all of us to become little more aware towards our rich history.

P.S.: In case you liked the above piece please click on Like button and share it with your friends! 

About these ads
  1. Suresh
    December 31, 2011 at 11:56 am

    The article on the battle of Koregaon is indeed very illuminating. The underprivileged have alwsys fought their way to the top. It is owing to their great sacrifices that Dalits of today are able to see the light of the day.

    Like

  2. December 31, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for placing the great information. The Indian Historian has hide the most incredible incidents took place.
    Very knowledgeble information.

    Like

    • January 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you Suresh and Anand for the so many kind words. Much appreciate!

      Like

  3. dr jagadish
    January 2, 2012 at 4:07 am

    thank you for giving this precious information for the untouchables.let this koregoan battle be the inspiring moment for the untouchables of india to lead this country in the nearest future. my heartly tributes to the MAHARS OF THE KOREGOAN BATTLE , jai bheem ,

    Like

  4. January 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information.
    Same information is also available on wiki

    I am much interested to know further information.
    Please do share with us, any other link/book/info you do have regarding “Battle”
    e.g. Name of these brave forefathers, the background, aftermath results and so on.

    [ I heard, Mr Changdev Khairmode had written a book on "Military History of Untouchables" ]

    Like

  5. Nilesh Kamble
    January 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    If anybody has specific book name regarding this battle. Please let me know. Desperately want to read more about it. All our people should read this. This really unbelievable 500 vs 28000.

    Like

    • July 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      I am also desperately need to those specific book.If you find Book name.pls.pls. send me name.

      Like

  6. Satish Londhe
    January 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Really Great Achievement done by our parents for us in1818. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Swarajya was destroyed by peshwas by insulting bahujan samaaj. Ppl may think in diffrent way with different attitude on this war but bhumiputra’s of maharashtra was arrested socially, economically by brahmins. Its really glourious victory over the stupid brahmans!

    Like

  7. akshay gujar
    January 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    thanx 2 give me a information about bhim koregaon ,jay bhim

    Like

  8. January 17, 2012 at 3:01 am

    Article is great…informative…

    Like

  9. Parameshwar
    February 8, 2012 at 2:31 am

    The battle fought by our forefather in the year 1818 is an inspiration for us! The detailed story of Koregaon battle must be studied by ever individual of our community. Jai Bheem.

    Like

  10. DR SANTOSH RAO KATTIMANI
    April 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    iam realLy proud of my forefathers,who stood against castism,do you peopla know who was the captain of that regiment ………………..he was THE GREAT” SIDNATH MAHAR ” JAI BHEEM

    Like

  11. sushilkumar yshwantrao dhainje(dhagvijay)
    April 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    definatly we r the real n ancient warrier of our india (buddhist india) today also our brothers n sisters also ruling in every field couse we r born 2 fight n victory my dear friends dont forget the mahar(maha-aari)means experts of leathel weapons.(anyone want 2 know more about our history by surnames plse mail me)

    Like

  12. June 4, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Inspiring article indeed. But alas! same is not being taught in our academic courses anywhere in India. This is because academic historians of this country hail from Brahmin community, BORI, Bal Bharati etc. For your information 300 were Muslims, thus total strength in incredible was of Bhima-Koregaon (Human Right War) : 500 Mahar+300 Muslims + a few British. You can read my research-oriented article which is available in my CD which you had bought 3 year before. “Bhima-Koregaon War”.

    Like

  13. Rajdeep Bodade
    July 17, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Thank you for giving this info
    Jai Bhim

    Like

  14. sandeep tupe
    August 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    can u provide me books on battle of bhima koregaon…if u have plz mail me on
    sandeeptupe2008@gmail.com

    Like

  15. bhimraj
    September 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    just amazing,i m very exited while reading it

    Like

  16. Yash A bhosale
    December 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Win of dalit people

    Like

    • January 17, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      We r not dalits , we r Buddhist never say that we r dalits

      Like

      • nishant bagade
        August 10, 2013 at 5:43 am

        Babasaheb never used the word dalit because the word dalit comes from dalidra. We r not dalits. We r the mulnivasis of this land. Brahmins are foreigners, their d n a does not match with us but matches with eurasian aryans. They r aryans and we r naagvanshis, the mulnivasis of this land. So my brothers and sisters please stop calling ourselves dalits. Jai mulnivasi

        Like

  17. r.sadanand
    December 31, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    MUST BE SHARE BY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN HUMANITY NOT IN MANUSMRITI AND CASTISM.BECAUSE WE INDIANS ARE DIVIDED AND SCATTERED EVERY WHERE BECAUSE OF THIS

    Like

  18. Shankar suryawanshi
    January 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Thnx a lt fr such a historcl informtn,500 vs 2800…d whole wrld shld knw dis histryFeelng so……proud!! I salute dem,n respcts deir devotin frm d bttm f hrt..our todys indpndnt lyf is becz f ua sacrifies, brave warriors..m lcky dat av born as buddhst…dis ll be alwz a inspirtn to me in ma entir lyf…i rly wanna do smtng to ma socity n ma ppl…i don beliv in relgn or castsm,nly huminity is a relgn..bt as i live in a slum,i found d majority f uneducatd ppl frm ma area n mny f dem r backwrd classd…d awarnss f eductn stl need to be spread more n more….mhanun, shika,sanghatit vha ani sangharsh kara!! Jai bheem!!

    Like

  19. vikas limbare
    January 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    the great leaderdr babasaheb Ambedkar.

    Like

  20. January 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    thanks for the real history of untouchables braveness, and first we have to know about real history of India, then only we will reopen our real untouchables hidden history………if we know our forefathers hidden definitely you will be shocked ……………… if you want to know about real history of india read Dr.B R Ambedkar`s volumes 1,3,7,9,12……….Jai bhim friends

    Like

  21. February 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    thank you for giving this precious information for the untouchables.let this koregoan battle be the inspiring moment for the untouchables of india to lead this country in the nearest future. my heartly tributes to the MAHARS OF THE KOREGOAN BATTLE , jai bheem ,

    Like

  22. Avinash Keshav Nile
    February 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Jai Bhim, Vandan for the brave soldiers. Just one question; why this is not included in the history?

    Like

    • nitin dattu kamble
      October 18, 2014 at 10:48 pm

      most of the Hindu brahmins community people written in history that’s why our history was not written in books

      Like

  23. Manoj Gaikwad
    March 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    jay bhim
    thank for given us our hiden history.

    Like

  24. May 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the artical which give me inspiration of struggle.
    jAI BHIM

    Like

  25. nitesh ashok bansode
    November 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks for the hidden warrior history of real Son of soil’s, hope so it will make very good change’s which we forgetting in some last decades…..thanks…

    Like

  26. December 31, 2013 at 1:06 am

    thanks for to increment in my knowledge

    Like

  27. sujata tayade
    December 31, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    thanks for the great history of our great grand parents
    jai BHIM
    NAMO BUDDHA
    JAI MULNIVASI

    Like

  28. Brahma Garud
    January 22, 2014 at 2:22 am

    thanks mahar brave soldiers for fighting against the then peswa soldiers. and defeating them,where our untouchable dalit people were subjected to all sorts of torture in our own country.we must take pride of it.Advocate B.garud Rourkela Odisha.

    Like

  29. vikram singh
    May 12, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Dr. Ambedkar sahib who was not a ordinary man was a ambassador of god who establish the law of nature which is based on natural justice no body can make difference in between any two person those based on separate religion.

    Like

  30. Rahul Zine
    July 9, 2014 at 3:01 am

    Thanks a lots for sharing such a bravely knowledge with us. this moment giving the courage to fight again castnism

    Like

  31. August 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Battle of koregoan

    Like

  32. nitin dattu kamble
    October 18, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I proud of Dr babasaheb he is the greatest human being in the word

    Like

  1. March 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm
  2. December 5, 2012 at 2:38 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,229 other followers

%d bloggers like this: