1st January,1818: The Battle of Bhima Koregaon


If we wish to be free, we must fight. Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. — Patrick Henry (March, 1775)

History of India is nothing but the struggle between untouchables and so called upper castes. However the Indian historians have always misled us by not showing the true face of Indian History.

The glorious victory of few hundred untouchable soldiers over numerically superior Peshwas army in the battle of Koregaon, fought on 1st January, 1818, is one such chapter in Indian history whose significance has been carefully hidden.

Watch – Documentary on Bhima Koregaon

On that day, when many were busy celebrating the new year, a small force of 500 mahar (an untouchable caste in Maharashtra) soldiers in the British army were preparing for a war against the most brutal Indian state of that times – Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune, Maharashtra.

In the history books, this battle is considered an important one and is known as second Anglo-Maratha war that resulted in the total destruction of Peshwa kingdom and sealed the victory of British Empire in India. However, there is a different historical dimension to this war that all of us need to be aware of.

Bhima Koregaon Pillar: Honouring the Bravery of Untouchable Soldiers

 This war was also between the Indian untouchables (who were condemned to live a life so miserable that you might not find any parallels in the world history) and Brahminism (manifested through brahmin rulers from Pune).

 For mahar soldiers, this was not just another battle but it was their   battle for self-respect, dignity and against the supremacy of Manusmriti. And these soldiers, just 500 of them, defeated the Peshwa army of over 30,000 in just one day. Their victory against a mighty force is perhaps unparallel in Indian history.

 Maharashtrian society under brahmin’s rule followed worst form of social discrimination based on caste wherein the lower strata of society such as untouchables were confined to the stringent Brahmanical laws and subsequently their mobility and development were impaired.

Read also - Upcoming movie: 500 The Battle of Koregaon

The untouchables had to carry a broom stick attached to their backs so that when they enter into city, their footprints would not pollute the path. They were forced to put a pot around their neck to carry their spit in the pot. They were not allowed to hold any arms and education was completely barred. Untouchables were killed if they did not follow these restrictions. Bhima-Koregaon battle was the answer of the untouchables to the brahmin ruling class of the country.

The Battle

This battle took place on January 1st, 1818, near the banks of Bhima River in Koregaon (north-west of Pune) between few hundred mahar soldiers from the British regiment of a Bombay Native Light Infantry and the Peshwa army that constituted 20,000 horsemen and 8,000 infantry soldiers. After marching down for more than 27 miles, from Shirur to Bhima Koregaon without food and water, the untouchable warriors fought the Peshwas army for next 12 hours and by the end of the day defeated them completely.

This battle is significant for many reasons. First, British army fought this battle with a minuscule army expecting the worst. Secondly, the battle of Koregaon was one of the most important events which helped British to tear down the Peshwa Empire and subsequently the Peshwa had to abdicate. Thirdly and most importantly, it was an attempt by the untouchables of Maharashtra to break the shackles of the age-old caste order.

Dr Ambedkar with Mahar Regiment on his birthday, 1950

The Memory

The men of the Bombay Native Infantry, who fought in this battle, were honored for their bravery. The official report to the British Residents at Poona recalls the “heroic valour and enduring fortitude” of the soldiers, the “disciplined intrepidity” and “devoted courage and admirable consistency” of their actions.

Watch Trailer – Upcoming movie – 500 : A Battle of Koregaon

Much praise was showered on the untouchable soldiers, who endured the rigours of difficult marches when rations were low and diseases were high among men and animals. Whether they were charging ahead or were besieged or taken prisoner-of-war, whether they were storming fortresses or making tactical withdrawals, they always stood steadfast by their officers and comrades, never letting down the honour of their Regiments.”

A stamp issued by Indian Government in 1981

 The saga of the bravery of mahar soldiers was commemorated by the British in 1851, when they erected a Pillar (Vijay Stambh) at Koregaon inscribing the names of 22 mahar soldiers who were martyred in this battle. The pillar still stands today reminding all of us about the bravery of our forefathers and as an inspiration for our struggle against caste-system.

 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also used to visit Koregaon every year on 1st January to pay homage to the untouchable soldiers and to exhort Dalits to show similar courage and determination to end brahminism from the entire country. On 1st January, 1927, he organised a big convention in Koregaon and brought the memories of bravery of the untouchable soldiers in public knowledge.

 On this and every New Year eve, rather than indulging ourselves in mindless revelry let all of us pay rich tributes to our heroic forefathers who, through their bravery and courage, tore down the powerful Peshwai and brought freedom for untouchables from the fanatic brahmin rulers who ruled the land according to the diktat from Manusmriti. It is also a powerful occasion for all of us to become little more aware towards our rich history.

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42 Comments

Filed under Buddhism, Dalit-Bahujans, Dr B R Ambedkar, Today in Dalit History, Today in History

42 responses to “1st January,1818: The Battle of Bhima Koregaon

  1. Pingback: Upcoming movie – 500 : A Battle of Koregaon | Dr B R Ambedkar Books

  2. Pingback: Documentary on Bhima Koregaon – Must Watch | Dr B R Ambedkar Books

  3. nitin dattu kamble

    I proud of Dr babasaheb he is the greatest human being in the word

    Like

  4. Rahul Zine

    Thanks a lots for sharing such a bravely knowledge with us. this moment giving the courage to fight again castnism

    Like

  5. vikram singh

    Dr. Ambedkar sahib who was not a ordinary man was a ambassador of god who establish the law of nature which is based on natural justice no body can make difference in between any two person those based on separate religion.

    Like

  6. Brahma Garud

    thanks mahar brave soldiers for fighting against the then peswa soldiers. and defeating them,where our untouchable dalit people were subjected to all sorts of torture in our own country.we must take pride of it.Advocate B.garud Rourkela Odisha.

    Like

  7. sujata tayade

    thanks for the great history of our great grand parents
    jai BHIM
    NAMO BUDDHA
    JAI MULNIVASI

    Like

  8. thanks for to increment in my knowledge

    Like

  9. nitesh ashok bansode

    Thanks for the hidden warrior history of real Son of soil’s, hope so it will make very good change’s which we forgetting in some last decades…..thanks…

    Like

  10. Thanks for the artical which give me inspiration of struggle.
    jAI BHIM

    Like

  11. Manoj Gaikwad

    jay bhim
    thank for given us our hiden history.

    Like

  12. Avinash Keshav Nile

    Jai Bhim, Vandan for the brave soldiers. Just one question; why this is not included in the history?

    Like

  13. thank you for giving this precious information for the untouchables.let this koregoan battle be the inspiring moment for the untouchables of india to lead this country in the nearest future. my heartly tributes to the MAHARS OF THE KOREGOAN BATTLE , jai bheem ,

    Like

  14. thanks for the real history of untouchables braveness, and first we have to know about real history of India, then only we will reopen our real untouchables hidden history………if we know our forefathers hidden definitely you will be shocked ……………… if you want to know about real history of india read Dr.B R Ambedkar`s volumes 1,3,7,9,12……….Jai bhim friends

    Like

  15. vikas limbare

    the great leaderdr babasaheb Ambedkar.

    Like

  16. Shankar suryawanshi

    Thnx a lt fr such a historcl informtn,500 vs 2800…d whole wrld shld knw dis histryFeelng so……proud!! I salute dem,n respcts deir devotin frm d bttm f hrt..our todys indpndnt lyf is becz f ua sacrifies, brave warriors..m lcky dat av born as buddhst…dis ll be alwz a inspirtn to me in ma entir lyf…i rly wanna do smtng to ma socity n ma ppl…i don beliv in relgn or castsm,nly huminity is a relgn..bt as i live in a slum,i found d majority f uneducatd ppl frm ma area n mny f dem r backwrd classd…d awarnss f eductn stl need to be spread more n more….mhanun, shika,sanghatit vha ani sangharsh kara!! Jai bheem!!

    Like

  17. r.sadanand

    MUST BE SHARE BY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN HUMANITY NOT IN MANUSMRITI AND CASTISM.BECAUSE WE INDIANS ARE DIVIDED AND SCATTERED EVERY WHERE BECAUSE OF THIS

    Like

  18. Yash A bhosale

    Win of dalit people

    Like

    • We r not dalits , we r Buddhist never say that we r dalits

      Like

      • nishant bagade

        Babasaheb never used the word dalit because the word dalit comes from dalidra. We r not dalits. We r the mulnivasis of this land. Brahmins are foreigners, their d n a does not match with us but matches with eurasian aryans. They r aryans and we r naagvanshis, the mulnivasis of this land. So my brothers and sisters please stop calling ourselves dalits. Jai mulnivasi

        Like

  19. Pingback: Upcoming movie: 500 The Battle of Koregaon « Dr B R Ambedkar Books

  20. bhimraj

    just amazing,i m very exited while reading it

    Like

  21. sandeep tupe

    can u provide me books on battle of bhima koregaon…if u have plz mail me on
    sandeeptupe2008@gmail.com

    Like

  22. Rajdeep Bodade

    Thank you for giving this info
    Jai Bhim

    Like

  23. Inspiring article indeed. But alas! same is not being taught in our academic courses anywhere in India. This is because academic historians of this country hail from Brahmin community, BORI, Bal Bharati etc. For your information 300 were Muslims, thus total strength in incredible was of Bhima-Koregaon (Human Right War) : 500 Mahar+300 Muslims + a few British. You can read my research-oriented article which is available in my CD which you had bought 3 year before. “Bhima-Koregaon War”.

    Like

  24. sushilkumar yshwantrao dhainje(dhagvijay)

    definatly we r the real n ancient warrier of our india (buddhist india) today also our brothers n sisters also ruling in every field couse we r born 2 fight n victory my dear friends dont forget the mahar(maha-aari)means experts of leathel weapons.(anyone want 2 know more about our history by surnames plse mail me)

    Like

  25. DR SANTOSH RAO KATTIMANI

    iam realLy proud of my forefathers,who stood against castism,do you peopla know who was the captain of that regiment ………………..he was THE GREAT” SIDNATH MAHAR ” JAI BHEEM

    Like

  26. Pingback: My Uncle, Few Memories and Conversion « Dr B R Ambedkar Books

  27. Parameshwar

    The battle fought by our forefather in the year 1818 is an inspiration for us! The detailed story of Koregaon battle must be studied by ever individual of our community. Jai Bheem.

    Like

  28. Article is great…informative…

    Like

  29. akshay gujar

    thanx 2 give me a information about bhim koregaon ,jay bhim

    Like

  30. Satish Londhe

    Really Great Achievement done by our parents for us in1818. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Swarajya was destroyed by peshwas by insulting bahujan samaaj. Ppl may think in diffrent way with different attitude on this war but bhumiputra’s of maharashtra was arrested socially, economically by brahmins. Its really glourious victory over the stupid brahmans!

    Like

  31. Nilesh Kamble

    If anybody has specific book name regarding this battle. Please let me know. Desperately want to read more about it. All our people should read this. This really unbelievable 500 vs 28000.

    Like

  32. Thanks for sharing this information.
    Same information is also available on wiki

    I am much interested to know further information.
    Please do share with us, any other link/book/info you do have regarding “Battle”
    e.g. Name of these brave forefathers, the background, aftermath results and so on.

    [ I heard, Mr Changdev Khairmode had written a book on “Military History of Untouchables” ]

    Like

  33. dr jagadish

    thank you for giving this precious information for the untouchables.let this koregoan battle be the inspiring moment for the untouchables of india to lead this country in the nearest future. my heartly tributes to the MAHARS OF THE KOREGOAN BATTLE , jai bheem ,

    Like

  34. Thanks for placing the great information. The Indian Historian has hide the most incredible incidents took place.
    Very knowledgeble information.

    Like

  35. Suresh

    The article on the battle of Koregaon is indeed very illuminating. The underprivileged have alwsys fought their way to the top. It is owing to their great sacrifices that Dalits of today are able to see the light of the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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