Sanyasi Revolt: Reasons, Objects and Failure of the Rebellion

By Balaji

Updated on: March 7th, 2023

The Sanyasi Revolt was a late-eighteenth-century rebellion in the Murshidabad and Baikunthpur forests of Jalpaiguri, Bengal. The Sanyasi Rebellion is also known as the name monk rebellion. The Sanyasi Revolt was led by Pandit Bhabani Charan Pathak. Pathak was an ascetic who lived in Murshidabad for a decade before the Sanyasi Revolt.

India’s first anti-British independence movement was the Sanyasi Rebellion. Pandit Bhabani Charan Pathak was the principal protagonist of the Sanyasi Revolt against British rule and exploitation in Bengal in the eighteenth century. You will learn about the Sanyasi Revolution from this article, which will help you prepare for the UPSC Civil Service Exam

Table of content

  • 1. Sanyasi Revolt (more)
  • 2. Reason for Sanyasi Revolt (more)
  • 3. Sanyasi Rebellion – Importance (more)
  • 4. Objectives of the Sanyasi Revolt (more)
  • 5. Failure of the Sanyasi Revolt (more)
  • 6. Sanyasi Revolt UPSC (more)
  • 7. Sanyasi Revolt UPSC Question (more)

Sanyasi Revolt

The Sanyasi Rebellion, also known as the monk revolt, occurred in Bengal in the latter part of the 18th century and was led by sanyasis and sadhus in the Murshidabad and Baikunthapur jungles of Jalpaiguri. Pandit Bhabani Charan Pathak served as the leader of the Sanyasi Revolt.

While some historians refer to the Sanyasi revolt as the first battle for India’s independence from foreign dominion, others classify it as savage banditry.

Sanyasi Revolt Notes

Reason for Sanyasi Revolt

One who has given up on the material world in favor of a spiritual life is referred to as a sanyasi. In February 1770, in the Bengal province of British India, a famine hit the rural areas. In the famine year, people migrated from their villages to cities, searching for food and employment.

As a result of the severe famine of 1770 and the British government’s stringent economic policies, a handful of sanyasis in Eastern India were compelled to rebel against the British yoke.

  • The sanyasis were first peasants, some of whom had been forced off their land, but soon a sizeable proportion of evicted minor zamindars dismissed troops, and the rural poor joined them.
  • There are at least three different events that make up the Sanyasi Rebellion. One is a sizable number of Hindu sannyasis who journeyed to various Bengali districts from North India to visit shrines.
  • On their journey to the shrines, many of these sadhus would demand a religious donation from the zamindars and leaders of the surrounding area.
  • The zamindars and headmen were more inclined to assist while the economy was booming. This had now become difficult as the zamindars were bound to diwani to the British government.
  • The Sanyasis were denied entry to holy places because the British thought they were looters. In a revolution against the British, the Sanyasis rose up and pillaged English factories and government coffers.
  • The Sanyasi Rebellion marked the beginning of the anti-British uprising in India.

Sanyasi Rebellion – Importance

The British East India Company was blamed for the Bengal famine. The Company was seen as an intolerable oppressor who exploited the peasantry with its high taxes. The peasants took to arms against the Company and its collaborators to seek relief for their grievances.

In April 1770, a revolt broke out in Baikunthpur, known as the 1770 incident. It spread to Murshidabad, where more than thirty incidents (termed as ‘Sanyasi Revolt’) of Sanyasi Revolts during 1770-79 just in Bengal province alone.

Objectives of the Sanyasi Revolt

The objective of the Sanyasi Revolts was to make a statement on their grievances and seek personal vengeance against the British. The revolt had two prime objectives:

  • The first was against the Company and its collaborators, who were accused of oppressing the peasantry.
  • The second objective was to be against British officers who were serving as district magistrates. The peasants wanted their magistrates.

The Santhal Revolt of 1855–56 and the Chuar Revolt of 1799 were two revolts that occurred in the western regions of the province after the Sanyasi uprising. Among the best literary memories of the Rebellion are the Bengali novels Anandamath (1882) and Devi Chaudhurani (1884), written by India’s first modern novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.

Failure of the Sanyasi Revolt

One of the primary reasons for the failure of the Sanyasi Revolt was the caste discrimination in society which led to internal clashes. Pandit Bhabani Charan Pathak preached against the social evils that he perceived in his locality. He was tolerant of others. He also criticized the authority of the zamindars, whom he thought was corrupt.

Bhabani Charan Pathak’s revolt roots in the caste system, where upper castes supported the status quo. In contrast, there were conflicts among lower castes based on religious identity and political power. The higher castes wanted to preserve their privileges and dominance over non-Hindus; therefore, they used violence against them when they spoke out against the exploitation or mistreatment of Dalits.

Bhabani Pathak, a prominent figure in West Bengal’s oppressed society, served as the movement’s head. The British put him to death. Following the murder of Bhabani Pathak, Devi Chowdhurani led the Sanyasis.

Sanyasi Revolt UPSC

Sanyasi Revolt is one of the important revolts that paved the path for the struggle for India’s Independence. One can study the topic in detail from the Historty Books for UPSC and the NCERT Books.

Moreover, solving the Previous Year’s Questions will help the candidate understand the paper pattern better.

Sanyasi Revolt UPSC Question

Question: Consider the following statements with reference to the ‘Sanyasi Rebellion’:
1. It took place around the Murshidabad and Baikunthupur forests of Jalpaiguri.
2. Sanyasis oppressed by the British policies retaliated by organizing raids on the company’s factories and state treasuries under the leadership of ‘Kena Sarkar’ and ‘Dirji Narayan’ in West Bengal and Bihar.
3. The book ‘Neel Darpan’ gives details about ‘Sanyasi Rebellion’.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

1 and 3 only

1 and 3 only

2 only

1, 2 and 3

Answer: Option C

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