is an indisputable fact that freedom fighters have all
along been termed as rebels by the powers that be it the
Mughal Empire of Aurangzeb or the British Rule. Tantya
Bhil was one of the greatest revolutionaries who waged an
armed struggle against the British Rule for twelve years
and endeared himself to the masses by virtue of his
indomitable courage and passion to uproot the foreign
rule. Political parties and educated class launched
forceful movement for ending the British Rule. But much
before these movements, tribal communities and
revolutionary like Tantya Bhil raised a banner of revolt
against the British rule. Tantya Bhil became a symbol of
the feelings of tribals and general people.
one hundred twenty years ago Tantya Bhil emerged as a
great hero of the masses and became since then a long
cherished pride of Bhil tribe. He epitomized the
indomitable courage, exceptional agility and organizing
Bhil used to plunder the government treasuries of the
British government and wealth of their sycophants used to
distribute it among the poor and needy. In fact, he was
the Messiah of the have-nots. He was popularly called Mama
by people of all age groups. This address of Tantya became
so popular that the Bhills still feel proud in being
addressed as Mama. He used to reach out to those who were
in need of financial help in a miraculous manner.
news of the arrest of Tantya Bhil was prominently
published in November 10, 1889 issue of the New York
Times. In this news he was described as Robin Hood of
Bhil was born at village Badada in Pandhana tahasil of
East Nimar (Khandwa) of erstwhile Central Provinces. He
wanted to teach a lesson to the British and to realize
Bhils’ dream of socialist society. He was fired with a
passion to free India from British subjugation. He broke
the jail many times. He was skillful in Guerilla warfare.
He was also a great shooter and proficient in traditional
archery. “Dava” or Falia was his main weapon. He had
also learnt to handle gun.
from his young age he lived in dense forests, valleys,
ravines and mountains all his life measuring swords with
the British and Holkar State’s armies. He inflected
reverses on the police of mighty British Empire and eluded
them for many years. Thousands of people were arrested and
hundreds of them were thrown behind bars on the charge of
Tantya was arrested due to treachery of Ganpat, the
husband of his formal sister. He was kept in the Central
India Agency jail in the British Residency area at Indore.
Later, he was taken to Jabalpur under strict police guard.
He was heavily chained and kept in Jabalpur jail where the
British officers tortured him inhumanly. All types of
atrocities were perpetrated on him. The Sessions Court,
Jabalpur sentenced him to be hanged till death on October
19, 1889. The British government was so scared that even
today it is not known as to when and on which date he was
hanged. It is generally believed that after hanging him
his body was thrown near Kalapani railway station on
Khandwa rail route near Indore. The spot where his wooden
effigies were placed is considered to be the Samadhi of
Tantya Mama. Even today all the train drivers stop the
train for a moment as a mark of respect to Tantya Mama.
Bhil is a cult figure in tribal belts of Nimar, Malwa,
Dhar-Jhabua, Betul, Hoshangabad, Maharashtra, Gujarat and
Rajasthan. Maximum stories and songs about his life and
deeds were composed in Nimar region. Poems and songs
eulogizing him are also popular in Malwi, Marathi,
Gujarati and Rajasthani.
a view to encouraging tribal talents Madhya Pradesh
government has instituted a Rs one lakh Jannayak Tantya
Bhil Award after this great tribal hero. The annual award
will be given to a tribal youth in recognition of his or
her achievements in education and sports.
tableau of Madhya Pradesh entitled “Indian Robin Hood”
is being displayed in the Republic Day Parade-2009 on the
Rajpath in Delhi.
tableau has been created for the Public Relations
Department of Madhya Pradesh government by M/s R.S.
Bhatnagar & Sons, New Delhi.