Ghumusar War of 1754 by Krushnachandra Bhanja

is the First War of Indian independence

Dr. Sankarshan Acharya
Director, Academy of Unanimously Agreeable Philosophy of Governance
Founder, Pro-Prosperity.Com and Citizens for Development

November 25, 2017

The first Indian war for independence factually started in 1754 by the king of Ghumusar, Krushnachandra Bhanja, and then resumed (after this king was killed in 1773) under the command of Dora Bisoi during 1815-1835, as per consistent historical records from different reliable sources presented below.  Ghumusar then was a part of Madras Presidency under British Raj. 
Jayee Rajaguru waged a rebellion in 1804, after the British took over Khurdha in 1803.  Khurdha then was a part of prior Orissa comprising northern districts only; this Orissa did not include Ganjam, Ghumusar and other southern or western districts of current Odisha.  Rajaguru was captured and later hanged in 1806. 

Buxi Jagabandhu then led the command of Khurdha and went to Ghumusar to seek the help of Ghumusar Kandha Paikas.  Historical facts tell that 400 Ghumusar Kandha Paikas marched under the command of Buxi Jagabandhu from Ghumusar towards Khurdha (which was under Bengal Presidency) to wage a formidable rebellion in 1817.

These heroes made ultimate sacrifices for India’s independence.  It will be a blatant factual error, however, to anoint Buxi Jagabandhu as the first warrior of Indian independence or to declare 1817 as the first Indian war for independence. 
I have written to PM Vajpayee since 2003 to recognize the pre-Sepoy Mutiny Ghumusar war as the first war of Indian independence.  I am now presenting historical facts below from various reliable sources to ascertain the truth so that India does not make another mistake in rewriting history.    

  1. The prestigious Gopabandhu Academy of Administration of Odisha states: “That frightful and inhuman undertaking [of British Raj in Ganjam starting in 1754] terrified most of the Zamindars of Ganjam except a few, namely, the rajas of Khemundi and Ghumusar, who did not care to submit to the foreign invaders.” At that time, Krushna Bhanja (1754 1773 A. D.) was the raja of Ghumusar.
  2. “Ghumsar witnessed continuous rebellions and uprisings against foreign rule covering over 113 years from 1753 till 1866,” published in Odisha government website in a paper, entitled, “Ghumsar Resistance Against British Imperialism” in prestigious Odisha Review, ISSN 0970-8669, authored by Dr. Rabindra Nath Dash, Lecturer in History, Gopalpur College, Gopalpur-on-sea, Ganjam, Odisha.
  3. “Sri Krsna Bhanja, a powerful Bhanja Chieftain (1744-73 A.D), who successfully resisted the invasion of the French General De Bursey in 1757 A.D. and bravely fought with the British forces in 1768 A.D.”
  4. “At its greatest extent, the Madras Presidency [under British Raj] included much of southern India. It included the present-day Indian State of Tamil Nadu, the Malabar region of North Kerala, the Lakshadweep Islands, the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh, the Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Koraput, Nabarangapur and Malkangiri districts of southern Odisha and the Bellary, Dakshina Kannada, and Udupi districts of Karnataka and the parts of Jayashankar Bhupalapalli, Bhadradri Kothagudem districts of Telangana. The presidency had its winter capital at Madras and summer capital at Ootacamund.[69]
  5. Indianetzone records history of Khandamal: “Ganjam came under the British rulers in the year 1765. The Bhanjas could not put up with their interference and they revolted against the British rulers. [After Bhanjas were deposed] The Kandhas and the Paikas forming the Ghumusar army waged relentless wars under the able leadership of Dohara Bissoyi from 1815 to 1835.” 
  6. Indianetzone further states: “When the new province of Orissa was formed in the year 1936, and Ganjam was merged with Orissa, from the Madras presidency, Kandhamal became a sub-division of Ganjam. After the amalgamation of Ganjam with Orissa in January 1948, Boudh and Kandhamal constituted the new district of Boudh-Kandhamal, with its headquarters at Phulbani.”
  7. The above historical facts unambiguously clarify that, before formation of current Odisha state in 1936: (a) The districts from Northern Circar of Madras Presidency were not a part of prior Orissa.  (b) Before formation of the state, Orissa meant only those districts that were in Bengal Presidency under British Raj: Khurdha, Nayagarh, Puri, Cuttack and Balasore.  This prior Orissa did not include districts under Madras Presidency: Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Koraput, Nabarangapur and Malkangiri.  “The province of West Bengal then consisted of the thirty-three districts of Burdwan, Birbhum, Bankura, Midnapur, Hughli, Howrah, Twenty-four Parganas, Calcutta, Nadia, Murshidabad, Jessore, Khulna, Patna, Gaya, Shahabad, Saran, Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Monghyr, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Santhal Parganas, Cuttack, Balasore, Angul and Kandhmal, Puri, Sambalpur, Singhbhum, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Palamau, and Manbhum. The princely states of Sikkim and the tributary states of Odisha and Chhota Nagpur were not part of Bengal, but British relations with them were managed by its government.”
  8. The history of prior Orissa under Bengal Presidency precludes Ghumusar that was under Madras Presidency.  This means, the history of what was known as Orissa (before the southern and western districts merged to form the current state of Odisha) does not include (a) the 1754 Ghumusar war under King Krushnachandra Bhanja (1754-1773), (b) deposition of this King by the British in 1773, and (c) subsequent taking over of the rebellion by the deposed king’s army commander Dora Bisoyi (1815-1835) until the latter was jailed in Madras in 1937. “Dora Bisoi died tortured [in 1846] in a state prison of Madras.”
  9. The Ghumusar war that started in 1754 predates the deposition of the last king Dhananjay Bhanja of Ghumusar in 1835, when Captain George Russell became the commissioner and named a town as Russellkonda [later named Bhanjanagar] where he lived. “Deposing Dhananjay Bhanja for his habitual recalcitrance the British occupied Ghumusar on November 3,1835. Dhananjaya Bhanja died at G.Udayagiri in December of the same year as a fugitive.” Ce
  10. Soon after the British took control in 1803 of Khurdha – which was then a part of prior Orissa that excluded Ganjan, Ghumusar and other southern districts in Northern Circar of Madras Presidency -- Jayee Rajaguri waged a war in 1804 against the intruders.  “Upon failure of his removal from the king's court, the British force attacked on the fort of Khurda and captured Rajaguru. He was later sentenced to death by tying his legs to branches of a banyan tree in Baghitota, Midnapore.”
  11. Buxi Jagabandhu subsequently lead Khurdha and went to Ghumusar to mobilize Kandha Paikas who had started rebellion under command of Dohra Bisoyi in 1815.  Not until an estimated Ghumusar joined under command of Buxi Jagabandhu did the revolution in Khurdha shape again in 1817.  The Ghumusar war and British takeover of Ganjam historically predate (by almost half a century) the British occupation of prior Orissa (which comprised only northern districts including Khurdha, but excluded Ganjam, Ghumusar and other southern districts) in 1803: (a) “Soon after the British occupation of Odisha [prior Orissa] in 1803, freedom struggle began in different parts of Odisha in form of armed resistance, protest and rebellion against the alien authorities. The defective land revenue system and administrative vagaries of the British rulers continued to cause discontent among the people and as a result, there broke out an armed rebellion by the masses in 1817, under the leadership of Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhara, the military Commander of the Raja of Khurda. The rebellion began after 400 Kandhs from Ghumusar entered into Khurda and joined with the rebellious Dalbeheras and Paiks under Jagabandhu's leadership.” This quote is from Balabhadra Ghadai, Principal, Maa Kichak:eswari College, Khiching, Mayurbhanj. Orissa Review, Tribal Resistence Movement in Orissa.
  12. These historical facts establish that the first war of Indian independence is actually the Ghumusar war starting in 1754.  There are, though, three different sources about the year Ghumusar war stated: (a) It started in 1751 according to Netaji Bisoi, Chairman of Ghumusar Sanskriti Bacho Manch, in a Dharitri news column, dated Sept 8, 2014, (b) 1754 by Odisha government’s Gopabandhu Academy of Administration, and (c) 1753 by Odisha Review cited above. 
  13. The above historical details show unambiguously, however, that the start of Ghumusar war against the British was definitely 1754, if not earlier.  This war lasted when Krushnachandra Bhanja was killed in 1773.  This Ghumusur war had, thus, commenced long before the British constructed a fort in Chhatrapur Ganjam in 1768: “It is said that the construction of Potagarh fort was commenced in 1768 by Edward Costford, the first Resident of Ganjam.”
  14. The British Raj must have focused on elimination or surrender of Brahmins concentrated in Ganjam.  “The Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908 lists Ganjam, along with the Thanjavur and South Canara districts, as the three districts of the Madras Presidency where Brahmins were most numerous.”

Why did the British focus on Brahmins in Ghumusar?  After talking to elder Brahmins in Ghumusar, I have found that the nonpareil Bhanja poetry on Rama and Krishna was indeed composed by pundits culled from Kashi.  This poetry’s authorship was dedicated to Upendra Bhanja (1688-1740).  The pundits were phantom authors.  The British Raj was hell-bent on destroying the Indian Dharma culture stemming from journeys of Rama and Krishna, to facilitate establishment of Adharma British System of Robbery worldwide. Many parts of Bhanja literature are missing, as of now. 

  1. Bhanja Raj versus British Raj in Ghumusar:  Before the British arrived, the Bhanja Raj of Ghumusur was worse.  Dr. Dandapani Behera, ex-principal of Bhanjanagar College, has written in his Ph.D. dissertation: (a) Bhanja kingdom was steeped in rape, loot and murder, and, ironically, (b) Bhanja literature is replete in poetry on public policy for prosperity of common people.  This raises paramount doubts that Upendra Bhanja (scion of depraved Bhanja dynasty) could have written such profound public policy on Dharma, contrary to what his kingdom then was perpetrating (Adharma).  Bhanjas must have fought against the British to perpetuate their Adharma Bhanja Raj.  In addition, Upendra Bhanja had escaped the kingdom (did he murder someone?) to reappear from a cave, few months later, to claim in a mantra that he got a boon from goddess during his sojourn in the cave that enabled him to compose the ornate poetry that later won him the Kavi Samrat title.  Top Odiya laureates have told me that they find Upendra Bhanja’s claim impossible.  Nobody has claimed such boons these days!  Kings and powerful people in the earlier times misled people about boons and miracles, like the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith (1776).  One can rationally infer that Upendra Bhanja forcibly usurped the authorship of the ornate poetry from some pundit who refused to name Upendra Bhanja as author.  It would have taken a few months in the cave for Upendra Bhanja to search and replace those palm leaves which had the original author’s name with new palm leaves carrying Upendra Bhanja.  
  2. “Sri Krsna Bhanja, a powerful Bhanja Chieftain (1744-73 A.D), who successfully resisted the invasion of the French General De Bursey in 1757 A.D. and bravely fought with the British forces in 1768 A.D.”

Conclusion:  Ghumusar factually has a very illustrious history in India. It is ironical that the ex-CM of Odisha, Late Biju Patnaik, who was born in Ghumusar, would preclude this illustrious region from becoming a district in the state.  Biju Babu formed 30 districts out of 13 prevailing in Odisha, but angrily precluded Ghumusar from becoming a district.  Why?  He was vindictive towards Ghumusar, because he lost an election in Bhanjanagar. Biju Babu’s son, the current CM Naveen Babu, has remained taciturn towards making Ghumusur a district. India should correct historical facts and respect Ghumusar for its genuine contribution to Dharma-Rajya which is resurrected in its Modern Avatar as constitutional, stable, efficient, rational Unanimously Agreeable Philosophy of Governance.  Ghumusar once struggled to preserve and propagate Dharma Rajya and will do the same now through the UAPG Academy dedicated to it.