Gunda Dhur: The Garuda of Bastar

Indian Independence has not happened overnight. It is provided by the British after various movements, revolts, battles and wars. History books in school have talked about the great people who fought for the nation under the title “Freedom Fighters.” But the minorities were left out from the list of people suffering under the British and fought against them. Among them, one such minority group is the Bastar tribe and their hero Gunda Dhur.


Dhurwas, Bhatras, Maria, Halbas, and Muria Gonds are some groups of tribes settled in the Kingdom of Bastar, the southernmost part of Chattisgarh. They stand alone from others as they live symbiotically with forests and solely depend on their sources. Protecting their land is their main motto as they consider it a gift from Mother Earth.

During the colonial period, no wonder the Britishers proposed various laws and restrictions. Their cunning governance made the natives, the laborers and the landlords, their personal servants. The Bastar kingdom had no escape from it. They passed forest laws, declaring two-thirds of the forest area was reserved under the British Government. They also stopped cultivation shifting and hunting was prohibited. Insecurity peeked into the lives of the indigenous forest tribes.

As the forests came under the control of the Britishers, the tribal people were forced to work under the forest department. As there were no proper wages for food, people’s lives became food for famine. This was the status of all the forests and the inhabitants. One among them was the Dhurwa tribe which resides in the Kanger forest. In that forest, Nethanar was a village and its leader was Gunda Dhur.

A charismatic leader and a great hero of the Bastar people was Gunda Dhur. He started a tribal revolt against the Britishers with the usage of wild weapons like swords and arrows. This revolt is famously known as Bhumkal Freedom Movement. Their strength was their courage and endurance. They widened the group by secretly circulating chilies, mango boughs, and arrows to join a rebellion.

Their first bag was to loot the markets associated with the Britishers. Then they looted some officials' houses and attacked some police stations too. Missionary schools were also burnt. Their motto was to sweep out the British from their land. Under the valorous Gunda Dhur, the revolt was tremendous. The entire British unit vanished from the Bastar kingdom within a week.

Being afraid of the tribes seemed detestable to the Britishers. This humiliation led them to talk to Sonu Manjhi, another powerful fighter in the team of Gunda Dhur. They convinced him to stop the revolt on a mutual deal of money and other incentives. Because of this, the Britishers could suppress the revolt.

Records say that the last revolt took place at Alinargon village. Though the tribal people came for some peace terms the Britishers were afraid to give them another chance. They mercilessly slaughtered the family of the rebels. To keep the heat of the fear in the locals, they tortured them in all ways and also dragged them in public, tying them to the horses. It took three months for the British to establish their supremacy.

Now, the attention of the Britishers was completely on Gunda Dhur who gathered people and started various revolts. They hunted throughout the forest and surroundings. No place was left in search of Gunda Dhur but all the attempts were wasted as they could not find him at all. Their search for the tribal leader went in vain.

This tireless agitator remained unfound and his death is mysterious as no one knows of his presence. Yet, his ventures resulted in the suspension of the reserved forest, and the area occupied by the government was reduced to half of its original size. Gunda Dhur, a god, was born and saved his people and silently vanished in the air of his motherland and forest, once his task was accomplished. He is still alive in the folklore and songs of Chattisgarh. His face was kept as the tableau in the 2014 Annual Republic Day Parade.

Source: wordpress

Source: wordpress


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