Thakur Deshraj (1903–1970) was a social worker, journalist, nationalist, freedom fighter and author of many books. He was from Rajasthan state in India. He was revenue minister in the princely state of Bharatpur.
The Jat Prajapati Maha-Yagya 1934
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After successful Jhunjhunu adhiveshan in 1932, a deputation of Jats from Sikar district, under the leadership of Prithvi Singh Gothra met Thakur Deshraj and requested him to do a similar adhiveshan in Sikar also. After long discussions Thakur Deshraj proposed to have a yagya at Sikar. A meeting for discussing this issue was called in Palthana village in October 1933. This was attended by all activists from Shekhawati and one member was invited from each family in Sikar district. About 5000 people gathered in the meeting. The Sikar thikana wanted to make this meeting a failure. For this, the thikanedar sent hundreds of handcuffs loaded on camels along with the police force to terrorize the people taking part in the meeting. Thakur Deshraj addressed the people that
- "these handcuffs would get you independence. If you are afraid of these you would never get freed. We have gathered here for a religious purpose and we will complete".
These words of Thakur Deshraj played a lightning effect amongst the people and they all were energized for further struggle with the Jagirdars. People listened the leaders very calmly and meeting was a great success. Police could do nothing. The leaders who attended the meeting were Sardar Harlal Singh, Chaudhary Ram Singh Kunwarpura, Chaudhary Ghasi Ram, Kunwar Net Ram Singh, Panne Singh Deorod's elder brother Bhoor Singh etc. There was a speech by Master Ratan Singh Pilani. A resolution was passed in this meeting to conduct a seven day "Jat Prajapat Mahayagya" (Prayer ceremony for the Lord of Universe) in Sikar on next basant in 1934, to spread the principles of Arya Samaj and create awakening in Shekhawati. It was decided for this purpose to collect ghee and money from each household. A yagya committee was formed consisting of Chaudhary Hari Singh Burdak of Palthana village as its president, Master Chandrabhan Singh as minister. Deva Singh Bochalya, Thakur Hukum Sing and Bhola Singh were put in charge of publicity. The office of managing committee was earlier in Palthana. In December 1933 this office was transferred to Sikar.
The Jat Prajapati Maha-Yagya took place at Sikar from 20–29 January 1934. Kunwar Hukam Singh Rahees Angai (Mathura) was made Yagyapati or Chairman of the Yagya. Chaudhary Kaluram of village Kudan was the Yagyaman. Acharya Shri Jagdev Sidhanthi received an invitation for this Yagya at his Gurukul at Kirttal, In that invitation was he requested to attend the Yagya and bring twenty Bhramcharis and disciples with him. Volunteers went to all the households in all the villages in the region and collected material that would be needed. They collected Ghee, Flour, Gur, and invited all the householders to participate. Hundreds of cans of Ghee and hundreds of sacks of flour were collected.
During the Yagya 3000 men and women adopted the Yogyopavit, which was a symbol of "Kisan sangathan"(farmers' organization). Sheetal Kumari daughter of Kunwar Netram Singh adopted yagyopavit. Chaudhary Chimana Ram of Sangasi brought his wife wearing salwar-kurta. The unity of Jat farmers in this Yagya had terrified the Jagirdars of Sikar. The role played by Sardar Har Lal Singh and Thakur Deshraj was unparallel which made this yagya a grand success.
In December 1934, ‘All India Jat Students Federation Conference’ was organized at Pilani; the coordinator of it was Master Ratan Singh. Sir Chhotu Ram, Kunwar Netram Singh, Chaudhary Ram Singh, Thakur Jhumman Singh, Thakur Deshraj and Sardar Har Lal Singh, along with large number of farmers from various states, attended it. This conference gave a great strength to the Jat youth.
Expulsion from Jaipur State
He was expelled from Jaipur State by the Jaipur Sarkar on 10 April 1935 due to which he could not guide the farmers of Shekhawati any more. After this in 1938 he joined Bharatpur Rajya Praja Mandal, Zamindar Kisan Sabha, Braj-jaya Pratinidhi Sabha. He joined Bharatpur state cabinet also as revenue minister. After Independence he left politics and concentrated on Jat History.
Deshraj is author of the book on the History of the Jats in Hindi, Jat-Itihasa (Hindi: जाट इतिहास) published in 1934. He also published local newspapers to promote the farmers to fight for their rights and awakened them to realize the self-respect. He started a newspaper named Rajasthan Sandesh in 1931 for this purpose. He published a series of articles in Jatveer on the acts of oppression on farmers, which awakened them. Later Jatveer paper was also published from Jhunjhunu. The paper Ganesh was published by him from Agra. Deshraj along with Tarkeshwar Sharma circulated hand written newspaper called ‘Gram Samachar’ started in 1929. Later he also published newspaper Kisan. All these papers created a revolutionary change in the farmers. He published History of Jats of Marwar in 1954 and 'Sikh Itihas' in 1954.
As a journalist he wrote about the oppressive measures of the Jagirdars in Shekhawati region in Rajasthan and the Nawabs of Loharu in Haryana. His voice through these news papers reached up to House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Questions were asked in the House of Commons about excesses by Jagirdars on farmers of Shekhawati.
- Dr Pema Ram & Dr Vikramaditya Chaudhary, Jaton ki Gauravgatha (जाटों की गौरवगाथा), 2004, Publisher - Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, p. 145
- Dr Pema Ram & Dr Vikramaditya Chaudhary, Jaton ki Gauravgatha (जाटों की गौरवगाथा), 2004, Publisher - Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, p. 146
- Dr Pema Ram:Shekhawati Kisan Andolan Ka Itihas, Sri Ganesh Sewa Samiti, Jasnagar, District Nagaur - 341518, First Edition 1990, p. 78
- Dr Pema Ram & Dr Vikramaditya Chaudhary, Jaton ki Gauravgatha), 2004, Publisher - Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, p.154
- Dr Pema Ram & Dr Vikramaditya Chaudhary, Jaton ki Gauravgatha, 2004, Publisher - Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, p. 154
- Harbhan Singh Jinda: Thakur Deshraj, Rajasthan men Swatantrata Sangram ke Amar Purodha, Rajasthan Hindi Granth Akadami, 2003, pp.35-36
- Robert W. Stern: The cat and the lion: Jaipur State in the British Raj, pp.281-283
- Dr Gyan Prakash Pilania: Shekhawati Kisan Andolan ke Prernakunj – Thakur Deshraj, Jat Samaj, Agra, June 2005
- Jat Samaj: Agra, August 1991
- Dr Mahendra Singh Arya: Jat Gotra Shabdavali, Jaypal Agencies Agra,
- Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas (Hindi), Maharaja Suraj Mal Smarak Shiksha Sansthan, Delhi, 1934, 2nd edition 1992.