Biography of Tilka Majhi (1750 – 1785)
Tilka Majhi, a warrior from Bhagalpur in Bihar was the first to blow the bugle of revolt against the British. Later this heroic son, freedom fighter, was hanged in Bhagalpur jail. In the name and memory of our great soldier, Tilka Majhi University has been established in Bhagalpur, Bihar as an education center. From 1771 until 1784 he fought against the British and later he was hanged. Let us now glimpse through the history of this great warrior.
Tilka Majhi was born on February 11, 1750 in Sultanganj, Bihar. He had proposed a long battle and raised a strong voice against English rule for their heinous acts of brutality. He was the first to blow the bugle of revolt against the British. This heroic freedom fighter was arrested in 1785 and was then hanged till death.
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.
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.
I'm very proud of being a Santhal, the caste of the bravest Tilka Majhi, the first Indian freedom fighter. History and historians might have forgotten him but he will remain in the memory and soul of each Santhal.