In India, there is a saying that ’56 like you have seen’. This saying is formed from historical events and the background of this saying is also formed from the historical battle of Bhima Koregaon When only 500 Mahar soldiers had crushed 28,000 Peshwa soldiers. To understand the historical significance of Bhima Koregaon, one must first understand the Peshwa.
The Peshwa was originally working as a subordinate of Chhatrapati (King of the Maratha Empire). After the death of Chhatrapati Sambhaji, the reins of the Maratha Empire remained with his brother Rajaram. Rajaram died in 1700 and his wife Tarabai took over the reins of the Maratha Empire with his son Shivaji II.
After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Bahadur Shah-I released Shahuji, son of Chhatrapati Sambhaji, from his captivity on certain conditions. Soon after, Shahuji claimed the Maratha throne and challenged his aunt Tarabai and her son. In 1713, Shahuji, who became the Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire, declared Balaji Vishwanath as the fifth Peshwa (Prime Minister), then the Peshwa era began and he became the main power center of the Maratha Empire. Chhatrapati remained the only ruler with powerless formalities like today’s President. The entire arch of the Maratha Empire fell into the hands of the Peshwas and the Peshwas imposed the system of Manusmriti on the Mahars due to their casteist ideology of Chitpavan Brahmins. In which he was given a broom to his waist and asked to tie a jug around his neck. So that when a Mahar walks on the road, his footprints are wiped with a broom and even if he wants to spit, he has to spit in the pot around his neck.
This was the time when the East India Company was engaged in expanding its empire over India and for that it was very important for them to defeat the Peshwas and the East India Company had formulated its strategy. At that time the Mahars urged the Peshwas to join the army to fight against the East India Company, which the Peshwas politely refused. When the British came to know about this, they took the people of Mahar caste on equal terms and invited them to join the British army.
When the war broke out between the East India Company and the Peshwas on January 1, 1818, the Peshwa army consisted of a total of 28,000 soldiers, 20,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry, led by Peshwa Bajirao II and the Bombay Line Infantry on behalf of the East India Company. There were a total of 500 Mahar soldiers, consisting of half cavalry and half infantry.
The Peshwas could not stand against the brave army of the Mahar Regiment and the Peshwas were defeated in this battle. The Peshwa Empire came to an end. A victory pillar was erected on the banks of the river Bhima to commemorate the unprecedented feats of the Mahar Regiment. On which the names of those Mahar knights were written, we should all realize that the Maratha Empire had already ended. Ever since the Peshwas conquered the Maratha Empire, it has been said that the battle was fought between the Marathas and the British or between the Marathas and the Mahars.
The battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought between the Peshwas and the Mahars and it was a battle of the Mahars’ self-esteem against the racist pride of the Peshwas. Therefore, this fight has a special significance for the Dalit community. You cannot limit yourself to fighting between two races. On the contrary, the fight was against that system. In which the Shudras had no right to take part in the war. It was a fight against caste segregation. Initially the people of Mahar community went to the Peshwas but the Peshwas in their army, refused to join the fight with them and rebuked the Mahars and questioned their ability.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar used to go there and tell the people of Dalit community to go to Bhima Koregaon to remember his bravery. Therefore, every year millions of Dalit community go to Bhima Koregaon and pay homage to the Victory Pillar and remember his bravery. However, even after the independence of the country, people of Manuvadi mentality are not ready to accept the bravery of Dalits, so it is a great tragedy that even today Dalits do not get proper participation in the army of the country.
Today there are Rajput, Gorkha and Maratha regiments in the army. But there is no such Ahir, Chamar, Mahar regiment, Bahujan Samaj believes that the first thing in the army of the country is that there should be no regiment in the name of caste for equality, so all names of regiments with caste nominations should be abolished. But if you do not, then restore our Ahir, Mahar, Chamar Regiment so that the bravery of our people will also be remembered. The caste discrimination that has been going on till date cannot be accepted and the name of the fight against this discrimination is Bhima Koregaon.
Today there are some media brothers who do not know history. Sometimes it is called ethnic war, sometimes it is war against the country. But when a section of the society is deprived of every necessary facility and every life is given a bad life from slavery, the concept of country is called into question. But the people in the Manuvadi system are still not able to digest it. That is why even today he wants to hide his caste discrimination by making it an issue of patriotism. These are the same people whose racist ideology has for centuries resorted to lies, hypocrisy and deceit to oppress and crush the Dalit community and ruin the lives of the people.
The Tathagata Buddha used to say that no event happens by itself, but depends on some events that have taken place before it, similarly on January 1, 1818, Bhima is fighting a battle of social change in Koregaon.
Vikas Parasram Meshram