Category Archives: Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

14th January in Dalit History – B’day of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia


14th January in Dalit History – B’day of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia – Founder of Ad-Dharmi Movement

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11th June in Dalit History – Ad Dharm Movement was launched by Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia

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11th June in Dalit History – Ad Dharm Movement was launched by Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia


11-12 June 1926: Ad Dharm Movement was launched by Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia.

Read more about Ad-Dharm Movement from here and Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia from here.

Also read – Dalit History Month – Remembering “Adi Movements”

11 and 12 June 1926: Ad Dharm movement of Punjab, a pioneer Dalit movement of North India, made public its ideology and plan-of-action for the empowerment of the downtrodden at its first mammoth conference at village Mugowal of District Hoshiarpur of Punjab.

Ad Dharm movement was founded by Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia. Late in 1925, after his return to the Punjab, Mangoo Ram began teaching in a primary school in his home village of Mugowal, a school which Mangoo Ram claims he named the Ad Dharm School. It was in that school, on 11 and 12 June 1926, that Mangoo Ram convened a meeting that formally launched the Ad Dharm movement. Mangoo Ram was elected its first president, a title he retained for the duration of the movement. On November 1926, when the Ad Dharm organisation opened an office in the city of Jullundhar where Mangoo Ram took up residence there, where he remained until he became active in politics in the 1940s, at which point he moved to the town of Hoshiarpur.

The movement laid stress on distinct Dalit identity independent of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. To achieve that the Ad Dharm movement aimed at relocating the indigenous religion of Dalits and to get it registered as their official religion in the state. In no time this historic movement became a Dalit mass struggle for their separate Dalit identity

With the active supports of the all sections of the community, the Ad Dharm movement succeeded in getting Ad Dharm religion registered for the Census in 1931. At that time about five lakhs members of the community got them recorded as Ad Dharmi. It was perhaps for the first time in the neglected / unrecorded history of the Dalits in India that Scheduled Castes in Punjab declared themselves as belonging to an indigenous non-Aryan religion totally different from that of all the mainstream religions of the region. Not only that, the movement even contested the first provincial election of 1937 and returned with the community candidates from 7 out of 8 reserved constituencies in Punjab. That was also the first great success of the Dalits in Punjab towards their march to gain political power: the proverbial Master Key.

This is in fact what the Dalits of Punjab should have continued with if they were willing to come into power on their own in the state where they are in largest numbers in comparison to rest of the entire country. Sahib Kanshi Ram did his level best to pick up the thread from where Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia had left. But that bore fruits in UP and Punjab is yet to replicate the same. Doing that would be a true tribute to Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia and Sahib Kanshi Ram Ji and to the Historic Ad Dharm movement in Punjab.

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22nd April in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia – Founder of Ad-Dharmi Movement


Mangoo Ram was born on January 14, 1886 , in village Mugowal, Hoshiarpur district, where this father,Harman Dass, had left the traditional Chamar caste occupation of training and preparing hides and attempting to sell tanned hides commercially. Mangoo Ram’s mother, Atri, died when Mangoo Ram was three, so the father began to depend heavily on his sons – Mangoo and an older and a younger brother for assistance. Because the leather trade required some facility in English, Mangoo Ram’s father was forced to rely on literate members of upper castes to read sales orders and other instructions to him. In payment for their reading instructions for an hour, he would have to do a day of crude labour. For that reason, Mangoo Ram’s father was eager to have his son receive an early education.

When Mangoo Ram was seven, he was taught by a village Sadhu (Saint) and soon after attended a variety of schools in the Mugowal area (Tehsil Mahilpur of district Hoshiarpur). He also attended school in a village near Dehra Dun , where his older brother has settled. In most of the schools, Mangoo Ram was the only Scheduled Caste student. He sat at the back of the class, or even in a separate room, and listed through the open door. When he attended high school in Bajwara, he was forced to stay outside the building and listen to the classes through the windows. Once when he came inside during a heaving hailstorm, the Braham teacher beat him and put all the classroom furniture, which he had “polluted” by his presence, outside in the rain to be literally and ritually washed clean. Nonetheless, Mangoo Ram was a good student: he placed third in his class in primary school. But whereas the other good students were encouraged to become patwaris (village record-keeper) or to seek higher education, Mango Ram was encouraged to leave school and help his father at a more proper “Chamar task”. In 1905, he did quit school; he married, and for three years helped his father develop their leather trade into a thriving business.

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

In 1909 America as in the air. Scores of upper caste farmers from Mangoo Ram’s area of Hoshiarpur had gone to the United States , and those who had not gone were talking about it. Mangoo Ram decided to go also. He persuaded his father that it would be good for the business – he would send money back from America – and his father responded by giving him some savings from the family business. Amid assurances from some of the local Zamindars (“landowners”) and two Chamar friends set off for the new world.2

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14th January in Dalit History – B’day of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia – Founder of Ad-Dharmi Movement


Mangoo Ram was born on January 14, 1886 , in village Mugowal, Hoshiarpur district, where this father,Harman Dass, had left the traditional Chamar caste occupation of training and preparing hides and attempting to sell tanned hides commercially. Mangoo Ram’s mother, Atri, died when Mangoo Ram was three, so the father began to depend heavily on his sons – Mangoo and an older and a younger brother for assistance. Because the leather trade required some facility in English, Mangoo Ram’s father was forced to rely on literate members of upper castes to read sales orders and other instructions to him. In payment for their reading instructions for an hour, he would have to do a day of crude labour. For that reason, Mangoo Ram’s father was eager to have his son receive an early education.

When Mangoo Ram was seven, he was taught by a village Sadhu (Saint) and soon after attended a variety of schools in the Mugowal area (Tehsil Mahilpur of district Hoshiarpur). He also attended school in a village near Dehra Dun , where his older brother has settled. In most of the schools, Mangoo Ram was the only Scheduled Caste student. He sat at the back of the class, or even in a separate room, and listed through the open door. When he attended high school in Bajwara, he was forced to stay outside the building and listen to the classes through the windows. Once when he came inside during a heaving hailstorm, the Braham teacher beat him and put all the classroom furniture, which he had “polluted” by his presence, outside in the rain to be literally and ritually washed clean. Nonetheless, Mangoo Ram was a good student: he placed third in his class in primary school. But whereas the other good students were encouraged to become patwaris (village record-keeper) or to seek higher education, Mango Ram was encouraged to leave school and help his father at a more proper “Chamar task”. In 1905, he did quit school; he married, and for three years helped his father develop their leather trade into a thriving business.

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

In 1909 America as in the air. Scores of upper caste farmers from Mangoo Ram’s area of Hoshiarpur had gone to the United States , and those who had not gone were talking about it. Mangoo Ram decided to go also. He persuaded his father that it would be good for the business – he would send money back from America – and his father responded by giving him some savings from the family business. Amid assurances from some of the local Zamindars (“landowners”) and two Chamar friends set off for the new world.2

The friends turned back, but Mangoo Ram persevered and arrived in California late in 1909. For four years he picked fruit for the former Zamindars of his village who had settled in the San Joaquin valley of California . He was also employed in a sugar mill. Mangoo Ram lived first in Fresno , then in Stockton , Sacramento , EL Centro , Vacaville , Visalia , and again in Fresno.3. He did indeed make money and set his savings home.

In 1913 some of the Punjabi settlers in California were forming a militant nationalist organisation. Mangoo Ram joined this group, the Ghadar movement, as a full-time worker in San Francisco . He was struck by the fact that, as he was later to say, “it was a new society; we were treated as equal”4. There were not many Scheduled Caste persons in the Ghadar movement, however; Mangoo Ram recalls only one other Chamar besides himself.

Initially Mangoo Ram played only a minor role in the organisation,, but in 1915 he volunteered to be one of five Ghadrites to participate in a dangerous mission involving smuggled weapons shipped from California to the Punjab . He was chosen for the task by the main whom he identifies as the “leader of the Ghadar” party at that time.” Sohan Singh Bakhna5. The secretary of the Los Angeles where they boarded an intermediary boat after collecting all their personal identification. For the rest of the saga, Mangoo Ram would be known by a Muslim pseudonym, Nizamuddin.

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