22 February 1889|
Ghazipur, North-Western Provinces, British India
26 June 1950 (aged 61)|
|Occupation||Social reformer, historian, philosopher, writer, ascetic, revolutionary, Marxist, politician|
Although born in North-Western Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh), his social and political activities focussed mostly on Bihar in the initial days, and gradually spread to the rest of India with the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha. He had set up an ashram at Bihta, near Patna and carried out most of his work in the later part of his life from there. He was an intellectual, prolific writer, social reformer and revolutionary.
Sahajanand Saraswati was born in Deva Village near Dullahpur, Ghazipur district in eastern North-Western Provinces in 1889 to a family of the Bhumihar caste. He was the last of six sons and was then called Naurang Rai. His mother died when he was a child and he was raised by an aunt. His father, Beni Rai, was a cultivator and knew little about religion.
The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, and thus sparking the farmers' movements in India.
Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India. All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936 with Saraswati elected as its first President and it involved prominent leaders such as N. G. Ranga and E. M. S. Namboodiripad. The Kisan Manifesto, which was released in August 1936, demanded abolition of the zamindari system and cancellation of rural debts. In October 1937, the AIKS adopted the red flag as its banner. Soon, its leaders became increasingly distant with Congress, and repeatedly came in confrontation with Congress governments in Bihar and United Province.
Saraswati organised the Bakasht Movement in Bihar from 1937-1938. "Bakasht" means self-cultivated. The movement was against the eviction of tenants from Bakasht lands by zamindars and led to the passing of the Bihar Tenancy Act and the Bakasht Land Tax. He also led the successful struggle in the Dalmia Sugar Mill at Bihta, where peasant-worker unity was the most important characteristic.
On hearing of Saraswati's arrest during the Quit India Movement, Subhash Chandra Bose and All India Forward Bloc decided to observe 28 April as All-India Swami Sahajanand Day in protest of his incarceration by the British Raj.
Saraswati died on 26 June 1950.
Subhash Chandra Bose, leader of the Forward Bloc, said:
Swami Sahajanand Saraswati is, in the land of ours, a name to conjure with. The undisputed leader of the peasant movement in India, he is today the idol of the masses and the hero of millions. It was indeed a rare fortune to get him as the chairman of the Reception Committee of the All India Anti-Compromise Conference at Ramgarh. For the Forward Block it was a privilege and an honour to get him as one of the foremost leaders of the Left movement and as a friend, philosopher and guide of the Forward Block itself. Following Swamiji's lead, a large number of front-rank leaders of the peasant movement have been intimately associated with the Forward Block.
Saraswati's publications include:
- Bhumihar Brahmin Parichay (Introduction to Bhumihar Brahmins), in Hindi.
- Jhootha Bhay Mithya Abhiman (False Fear False Pride), in Hindi.
- Brahman Kaun?
- Brahman Samaj ki Sthiti (Situation of the Brahmin Society) in Hindi.
- Brahmarshi Vansha Vistar in Sanskrit, Hindi and English.
- Karmakalap, in Sanskrit and Hindi.
- Mera Jeewan Sangharsha (My LIfe Struggle), in Hindi.
- Kisan Sabha ke Sansmaran (Recollections of the Kisan Sabha), in Hindi.
- Maharudra ka Mahatandav, in Hindi.
- Jang aur Rashtriya Azadi
- Ab Kya ho?
- Gaya jile mein sava maas
- Samyukta Kisan Sabha, Samyukta Samajvadi Sabha ke Dastavez.
- Kisanon ke Dave
- Dhakaich ka bhashan
- Kranti aur Samyukta Morcha
- Gita Hridaya (Heart of the Gita)
- Kisanon ke Dave
- Maharudra ka Mahatandav
- Kalyan mein chapein lekh
- Kisan kaise ladten hain?
- Kisan kya karen?
- Zamindaron ka khatma kaise ho?
- Kisan ke dost aur dushman
- Bihar prantiya kisansabha ka ghoshna patra
- Kisanon ki phasane ki taiyariyan
- On the other side
- Rent reduction in Bihar, How it Works?
- Zamindari kyon utha di jaye?
- Khet Mazdoor (Agricultural Labourer), in Hindi, written in Hazaribagh Central Jail.
- Jharkhand ke kisan
- Bhumi vyavastha kaisi ho?
- Kisan andolan kyun aur kya?
- Gaya ke Kisanon ki Karun Kahani
- Ab kya ho?
- Congress tab aur ab
- Congress ne kisanon ke liye kya kiya?
- Maharudra ka Mahatandav
- Swamiji ki Diary
- Kisan sabha ke dastavez
- Swamiji ke patrachar
- Lok sangraha mein chapen lekh
- first time i saw you ifell in love with you suvanjana and shalini≐
- Hunkar mein chapein lekh
- Vishal Bharat mein chapein lekh
- Bagi mein chapein lekh
- Bhumihar Brahmin mein chapein lekh
- Swamiji ki Bhashan Mala
- Krishak mein chapein lekh
- Yogi mein chapein lekh
- Kisan sevak
- Anya lekh
- Address of the chairman, Reception Committee, The All India Anti-Compromise Conference, First Session, Kisan Nagar, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh, 19 & 20 March 1940, Ramgarh, 1940.
- Presidential Address, 8th Annual Session of the Kisan Sabha, Bezwada, 1944.
Translations into English
- Swami Sahajanand and the Peasants of Jharkhand: A View from 1941 translated and edited by Walter Hauser along with the unedited Hindi original (Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
- Sahajanand on Agricultural Labour and the Rural Poor translated and edited by Walter Hauser Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005.
- Religion, Politics, and the Peasants: A Memoir of India's Freedom Movement translated and edited by Walter Hauser Manohar Publishers, hardbound, 2003.
- Nilanshu Ranjan, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, National Book Trust, New Delhi, ISBN 978-81-237-6486-3.
- Raghav Sharan Sharma, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Publications Division, Government of India, 2008.
In 2001, a two-day Kisan Mahapanchayat was organised on the occasion of the 112th birth anniversary of Saraswati.
- Raghav Sharan, Sharma (2001). Builders of Modern India: Swami Sahajanand Saraswati. New Delhi: Prakashan Vibhag, Suchna evam Prasaran Mantralaya, Bharat Sarkar.
- Robb, Peter (2007). Peasants, Political Economy and Law (at p. 38, fn. 36). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-568160-4.
- "Swami And Friends - Arvind N. Das". virginia.edu.
- Bandyopādhyāya, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Longman. p. 406. ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2.
- Desai, Akshayakumar Ramanlal (1979). Peasant Struggles in India. Oxford University Press. p. 349.
- Bandyopādhyāya, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Longman. p. 407. ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2.
- Ghose, Sankar (1991). Mahatma Gandhi. Allied Publishers. p. 262. ISBN 81-7023-205-8.
- Kumar, Dalip (2007). Rural Development And Social Change: Thoughts Of Swami Sahajanand. Deep & Deep Publications. ISBN 9788184500004.
- Das, Arvind N. (1982). Agrarian Movements in India: Studies on 20th Century Bihar. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780714632162.
- Judge, Paramjit S. (1992). Insurrection to Agitation: The Naxalite Movement in Punjab. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 9788171545278.
- Bose, S. K. (2004). Subhas Chandra Bose: The Alternative Leadership – Speeches, Articles, Statements and Letters. Orient Longman. p. 244. ISBN 978-81-7824-104-3.
- Saraswati, Sahajanand (2003). Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Rachnawali in Six volumes. Delhi: Prakashan Sansthan. ISBN 81-7714-097-3.
- "Photo". pib.nic.in.
- Chadha, Sushma (10 July 2000). "A dull June for philatelists". Financial Express. Archived from the original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Indian Council of Agricultural Research Awards". Indian Council of Agricultural Research. 3 September 2008. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- "Cong erred by joining RJD govt, says Rama Pilot". The Times of India. 23 February 2001. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Governor Pays Rich Tribute to Swami Sahajanand". PatnaDaily.com. 26 June 2007. Archived from the original on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
- Sahajanand on Agricultural Labour and the Rural Poor, edited by Walter Hauser, Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005, ISBN 81-7304-600-X
- Swami And Friends: Sahajanand Saraswati And Those Who Refuse To Let The Past of Bihar's Peasant Movements Become History By Arvind Narayan Das, Paper for the Peasant Symposium, May 1997 University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
- Bagchi, A.K., 1976, 'Deindustrialisation in Gangetic Bihar, 1809– 1901' in Essays in Honour of Prof. S.C. Sarkar, New Delhi.
- Banaji, Jairus, 1976, "The Peasantry in the Feudal MOde of Production: Towards an Economic Model", Journal of Peasant Studies, April.
- Bandopadhyay, D., 1973, `Agrarian Relations in Two Bihar Districts', Mainstream, 2 June, New Delhi.
- Banerjee, N., 1978, `All the Backwards', Sunday, 9 April, Calcutta. Bihar, 1938, Board of Revenue, Average Prices of Staple Food Crops from 1888, Patna.
- Judith M. Brown, 1972, Gandhi's Rise to Power: Indian Politics, 1915–1922, London.
- Datta, K.K., 1957, History of the Freedom Movement in Bihar, Patna.
- Devanand, Swami, 1958, Virat Kisan Samaroh (Massive Peasant Convention), in Hindi, Bihar Kisan Sangh, Bihta.
- Diwakar R.R, ed., 1957, Bihar Through the Ages, Patna.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1921, 'The Zamindar and the Ryots', Young India, Vol. III (New Series) No. 153, 18 May.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1940, An Autobiography or The Story of My experiments in Truth, Ahmedabad.
- Maharaj, R.N., 1976, 'Freed Bonded Labour Camp at Palamau', National Labour Institute Bulletin, October, New Delhi.
- Mishra, G., 1968. 'The Socio-economic Background of Gandhi's Champaran Movement', Indian Economic and Social History Review, 5(3), New Delhi.
- Mishra, G., 1978, Agrarian Problems of Permanent Settlement: A Case Study of Champaran, New Delhi.
- Mitra, Manoshi, 1983, Agrarian Social Structure in Bihar: Continuity and Change, 1786–1820, Delhi : Manohar.
- Mitra, N., ed, 1938, Indian Annual Register, July–December 1937, Vol. II, Calcutta.
- Jawaharlal Nehru, 1936, An Autobiography, London.
- Pouchepadass, J., 1974, 'Local Leaders and the Intelligentsia in the Champaran Satyagraha', Contributions to Indian Sociology, New Series, No.8, November, New Delhi.
- Prasad, P.H., 1979, 'Semi-Feudalism: Basic Constraint in Indian Agriculture' in Arvind N. Das & V. Nilakant, eds., Agrarian Relations in India, New Delhi.
- Rajendra Prasad, 1949, Satyagraha in Champaran, Ahmedabad.
- Rajendra Prasad, 1957, Autobiography, Bombay.
- N. G. Ranga, 1949, Revolutionary Peasants, New Delhi.
- N. G. Ranga, 1968, Fight For Freedom, New Delhi.
- Shanin, Teodor, 1978, "Defining Peasants: Conceptualisations and Deconceptualisations: Old and New in a Marxist Debate", Manchester University.
- Anugrah Narayan Sinha, 1961, Mere Sansmaran (My Recollections), in Hindi Patna.
- Indradeep Sinha, 1969, Sathi ke Kisanon ka Aitihasic Sangharsha (Historic Struggle of Sathi Peasants), in Hindi, Patna.