FROM PODS TO POUNDRA

A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956

Rup Kumar Barman

Abstract
Caste has been an inseparable part of Indian society since the beginning of settled
human civilization. Like other parts of India, certain caste communities of Bengal
were assigned lower social status in the caste hierarchy. They were categorized in the
colonial administrative records ofthe nineteenth and early twentieth century as 'Hinduised
Castes', 'Semi Hinduised Ti ;be', 'Depressed Castes' and as 'Depressed Class'. They
began to be classified as Scheduled Castes with the adoption of the Government of
India (Scheduled Castes) Order (1936) . These communities had to face a lot of social
injustice. In terms oftheir possession over capital goods, they were poor. So they could
not develop their skills other than their traditional occupation(s). Lack of education
and social restrictions made them an 'oppressed social category 'who can be categorized
as 'Dalits '. In such a caste oriented social context of colonial India, certain lower
caste communities of Bengal/ike Bhuinma/is, Chashi Kaibartyas, Chandals, Dhobas,
Gopas, Malos, Patnis, Poundras, Rajbanshis, Sutradhars, etc., had developed a sense
of self-respect by announcing a 'self identity'. Simultaneously, they adopted certain
rituals from the caste Hindus to legitimize their demand. At the same time they placed
their appeal to the colonial G9vernmentfor recognition ofa respectable caste identity.
They also initiated social reforms including the spread ofeducation in their own society
for materializing the dreams ofachieving respectable caste status. In such a context of
colonial society of Bengal, in this article I shall highlight the social movement of the
Pods ofBengal who demanded Poundra (Kshatriya) identity for achieving respect and
social justice what was granted by the Government ofIndependent India in 1956. The
process ofdevelopment ofcaste consciousness among the Poundras, influence ofcolonial
policy and the outcomes ofthe Poundras Kshatriya movement are also analyzed in this
paper with a perspective of Dalit history.

to
This article is the outcome of the UGC sponsored Major Research Project titled: From Self Respect Political
Bargaining: The Scheduled Castes of Bengal 1872-1947, (Ref No F. No. 5-218/2013 (HRP) dated 12.03.2013).
I am indebted to the UGC for its financial assistance.

Voice of Dalit Vol. 7, No. 1, 2014, pages 121-137
© MD Publications Pvt Ltd
Corresponding Author Email : rupkumarbarman@gmail.com

'Semi Hinduised Tribe'. So they could not develop their skills other than their traditional occupation(s). Rajbanshis. asprishyas. In such a context of colonial society of Bengal.122 Rup Kumar Barman INTRODUCTION Caste has been an inseparable part of Indian society since the beginning of settled human civilization. 'Depressed Castes' and as 'Depressed Class'. Chandals. Poundras. Patnis. Like other parts of India. Insuch a caste oriented social context of colonial India. They also initiated social reforms including the spread of 'education in their own society for materializing the dreams of achieving respectable caste status.. In the pre-colonial literatures they were branded in different names according to their social position such as chandalas. They were categorized in the colonial administrative records of the nineteenth and early twentieth century as 'Hinduised Castes'. etc. 2 They came forward with prayers to the census superintendents for assigning more respectable status in the official records. had experienced caste movements for social justice under their respective caste organizations by establishing respectable identity in the caste oriented society. They began to be classified as Scheduled Castes with the adoption of the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order (1936).) while some castes claimed the Vaishya identity (such as Dhobas. race and religion instigated them to determine their caste status in the official records. attempts at social stratification of the colonial government on the basis of caste. Poundra. Malo. certain lower caste communities of Bengal like Bhuinmalis. Dhobas. The Scheduled Caste communities had to face a lot of social injustice. asatsudra. Many unreasonable restrictions were imposed upon them since time immemorial. certain caste communities of Bengal were assigned lower social status in the caste hierarchy. Jelia Kaibartyas and Sutradhars). etc. Chashi Kaibartyas. they adopted certain rituals from the caste Hindus to legitimize their demands. In terms of their possession over capital goods. Their occupations were considered extremely derogatory followed by men of inferior social rank. Gopas. Sunri. They developed a sense of self-respect by announcing a 'self identity'. Simultaneously. 1 Sutradhars. adham sankara. Malos. In most cases the lower caste communities of Bengal had demanded Kshatriya caste status (such as the Rajbanshi. These demands were not confined to the official sphere only. Bagdis. Lack of education and social restrictions made them an 'oppressed social category' who could be categorized as 'Dalits' in terms of our present indian society. etc. they were poor. Bhuinmalis. On the other hand. in this paper I'll highlight the social movement of the Pods of Bengal who demanded Poundra (Kshatriya) identity for achieving respect and social justice what was granted by the Government of Independent Voice of Dalit . By discarding the imposed dictums of the traditional Hindu scriptures (as interpreted by the Brahmins) these caste communities had constructed their respective imaginary but 'respectable identity' in the texts produced by them. antajas.

They have heavy concentration in the coastal districts (North 24 Parganas. Jessore. 66790 Jessore 21562 7047 Dinajpur 24 71 Rajshahyee 12 41 Rangpur 1 57 Bogra 4 50 Pabna . II. Process of development of caste consciousness among the Poundras. Dacca. Voice of Dalit . We can get an idea about their distribution in colonial Bengal and in postcolonial West Bengal from tables 1 and 2. Table 1 Distribution of Pods in Bengal in 1872 and 1881 District 1872 1881 Bard wan 226 42 Bankura 3 196 Birbhum 68 30 Midnapur 4 10530 Hughli 16727 1958 Howrah 16727 14138 24-Parganas 249075 217236 Nadiya 4250 2220 Khulna . Risley: Tribes and Castes of Bengal. is the fourth largest Scheduled Caste community of West Bengal. In the colonial period they had their settlements in Khulna. influence of colonial policy and the outcomes of the Poundras Khsatriya movement are also to be analyzed in this paper with a perspective of Dalit history. From Pods to Poundra :A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 123 India in 1956. Vol. Kolkata. They were classified in the colonial records only as Pods.H. 9 Dacca 101 - Faridpur 73 - Bakarganj 314 - Maimansinh 63 13 Tipperah 35 33 Maldah 66 8216 Source: H. II Social background of the Poundras of colonial Bengal The 'Poundra/ Pod' at present. South 24 Parganas and Midnapur). Firma KLM Private Ltd. Bogra and Maida districts too.

Voice of Dalit . fishing. respectable official jobs. West Bengal Govt. 1953). While W. The Pods of Bengal were described in di~ferent names in pre-colonial literature perhaps because of their occupational plurality. 3253 5566 3323 3120 8736 13027 Howrah 16553 18925 20964 22918 23183 29211 84323 24Parganas 236806 29477 333747 368490 399082 495431 ~831559 Kolkata 00 2227 1455 1415 2015 1494 40756 Nadia 5821 2799 1781 1199 2392 2700 28594 Murshidabad 13065 303 325 311 2574 9493 42104 ·Maldaha . boating. the Poundras were mainly agriculturists. 37770 131517 Hooghly 2685 . From the table 3 it appears that the Poundras of colonial Bengal were engaged in different traditional professions including agricultural works. (Alip?re. carpentry. Mitra: Tire Tribes a11d Castes of West Be11gal. and singing.124 Rup Kumar Barman Table 2 Distribution of the Poundras in different districts in colonial and postcolonial West Bengal District 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1951 2001 Burdwan 00 118 56 88 40 214 9819 Birbhum 6132 00 35 02 7019 5188 22955 Bankura 00 105 00 02 00 35 415 Medinipur 22930 28547 29231 33445 36688 .W Hunter (1875) had recorded the Poundras as the offspring of the Sunri (country liquor seller) mother and a Napit (barber) father/ H.K. trades. however. They also took up other occupations since the very beginning of their settlement in the Bengal delta. music. From occupational point of view.H Risley had identified them as a branch of the Chandals. Census 2001. are not beyond the scope of alternative interpretation. manual works. 9574 03 00 01 476 2761 10211 Source: A. The colonial ethnographers and official surveyors had further increased this complexity. Press. 3 We can get an idea about their occupations from their profession-based surnames. 5 Colonial observations (regarding the indigenous caste communities).

Haldar. 2001). Mridha. different designation Bauri Sarkar. ship Midhya 3 Karan. From Pods to Poundra: A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 125 Table 3 Traditional professional classification of the Poundras Sl. Chhatui. Barai. Singha.H. Pod. Patra. Ari Hunter 6 Gaiyen Singer 15 Koyal Measurement of commodity 7 Golder Commission Agent 16 Gayen. Nayak. Respectable educated Ohara. different capacity Paik. Purkait. Majhi. Kabitaj Physician 5 Kabi Poet 14 Sikari. Padmaraj and Baleya. Bakshi. Rai 8 Jonger. Pramanik. Surname Occupation/ Meaning 1 Adhikary. Surname(s) Occupation/ Meaning Sl. We do notice four major classifications of the Poundras in the pre-colonial and colonial period such as Purno. Laskar. (Calcutta. Maniyan. Oaptari. All these subgroups collectively were/ are the 'Poundras' . Naskar. pp. Military service of 10 Banik Trading Turgi. captain of 11 Bagani Gardener Naya. H. 227-231. Sana. Oalapati. Bhuiyan. Maity. Sardar 2 Kandar. It has been indicated earlier that traditionally the Poundras were engaged in various occupation. Naiya. They were recorded as Punro in Northern Bengal while they were called Pod and Padmaraja in Southern Bengal. A few have risen to be zaminders and some at the other end of the scale work as nomadic cultivators on freshly Voice of Dalit . Giri.No. reprint edn. Carpenter Ohara. Bijli.No. Ohali.6 The Poundras as a class was not homogenous one. society Bar. Khan. and aristocrats of the Parbat. Official jobs of 12 Mistri. Oarbar 4 Kamar Blacksmith 13 . They were called Baleya in the coastal belt of Midnapur. Poundra Kshatriya Unnayan Parishad. Boatman. Baidya. Hazra. Landlord Choudhury Source: Mahendra Nath Karan: Poundra Kshatriya Kulo-Pradip. Habildar.Risley had recorded in 1891 that "the majority of the caste are engaged in agriculture as tenure holder and occupancy or non-occupancy ryats.

Brahmabaibartya Purana. Thus H. Only alternative available for them was a social movement for the construction of a respectable caste identity as a means of social justice. changing their location every two or three years according to the fortune of their crops. the Poundras had no respect in the caste society of colonial Bengal. Some of them were considerably rich. They will eat sweet.. In the pre-colonial literatures (such as Brihatdharma Purana. and these are ordinarily deemed to be nearly their equals in rank. an inseparable phenomenon of Indian society.H. houses. thatchers. fish and vegetables. It was not an essay task for the Pods to place themselves as respectable 'human being' by discarding the age-old social restrictions. Brahmins and the members of the 'Nava Sakha group' will not take water from them. drink and smoke in company with a Pod. Srimanta Naskar Bidya Bhusan (1863-1907) and Raicharan Sardar. Although they were the producers and suppliers of food crops. fruits. etc. and the Sutradhar and Kapali. Voice of Dalit . carpenters. Some of them were the people of middle income group. are found among them.8 Sibayan of Rameswar Bhattacharya9 and Annadamangal of Bharat Chandra Rayl0) the Poundras were classified as almost untouchable (as antaja. However. asatsudra." 7 So it appears that all Poundras were not poor. Many Pods have taken to trade and goldsmiths. drink and smoke with the fishing sub-castes of Bagdis.12 While several other traditional occupational caste communities of Bengal were looking for respect in the official records of colonial govenu:rtent especially in the decennial censusP the Poundras did not remain silent. Observations of colonial ethnographers are also displaying the disgraceful social status of the Poundras. adhamsankara. A dalit community which was suffering from the curse of casteism with a . They come forward with a notion of Kshatriya identity in the last quarter of the nineteenth century under their leaders of caste consciousness. workers and builders of building. meats.disgraceful social location was awakened due to the dedication of its social leaders Benimadhab Haldar (1858-1923).126 Rup Kumar Barman cleared land in the Sundarbans. tinsmiths. etc). wooden furniture and other essential items. they were the victims of casteism. Risley had recorded in 1891 that "tl\e social status of the Pods is decidedly low. The nature of treatment•as received by the Pods from the so- called 'Upper caste Bengali Hindu society' and the need of caste movement of the pods as a means of social justice can be understood from the autobiography of Sri Raicharan Sardar (1876-1942) as discussed in the next section. while they will eat sweet meats. will not use the same pipe or will not drink from the same lota." 11 It indicates very much ignominious location of the Poundras in the Hindu society of colonial Bengal.

He had recorded an incident of 1891: "There was an incident at Dhamua(village) what I like to mention here. The only way open to him was the elevation of his caste to a respectable one from its disgraceful location. Head Master of the School. From his autobiography Diner Atmakahani Ba SahJa Pariksha 14 we can get an idea about the nature of attacks he received from the upper caste Hindus for his caste background. In that house I (along with a student of Napit Caste) used to sit in a mat. She had rebuked me with derogatory words . Rather I was inspired to establish a respectable caste identity (of ours). Again he was abused by a head clerk (of Brahmin Caste) of East Bengal Railway for his caste originP All these incidents had deep impact on the young mind of Raicharan Sardar. Voice of Dalit . He described that a Brahmin boarding-mate (of the boarding house where he stayed for a few months) had refused to share water with a student of a Poundra (Pod) caste like Raicharan Sardar. I used to take lessons from the teacher in every morning for two hours. In 1891 Raicharan passed the Middle English Examination with distinction. His father (Shri Gadadhar Sardar) had admitted Raicharan in a village school.S.. It was noticed by Putatunda's widow sister. I did not feel that I have committed any offence. It is to be noted that Raicharan was the first graduate from the Poundras." 15 Raicharan had to face the question about his caste origin once again. (1891) our mat had touched the Brahmin boys. He had also recorded an incident of 1901 when he was a student of Bangabashi Law College (Calcutta). from Calcutta University in 1900 and later he got LL.16 It was not the end of the story of social injustice faced by Sri Raicharan. 1298 B.B. degree in 1906. He was inspired to translate the feelings of insult into a movement for socjalliberation of his own caste from the bondage of age-old social injustice. From Pods to Poundra: A Study on the Poundra Kshat'riya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 127 III Raicharan Sardar and His Experiences of Casteism Raicharan Sardar was born in 1876 in a marginal peasant family at Bansundaria village of Dimond Harbour Sub-division of 24 Parganas district (present South 24 Parganas)... Raicharan Sardar had to face criticism and discrimination from the upper caste Hindus in every stage of his studentship. Shri Bhuban Mohan Chakraborty.A. On 3•d day of Bhadra. used to live at the house of Shri Girish Chandra Putatunda (a Brahmin). He completed his B.

Raicharan Sardar along with Benimadhab Haldar and Madhusudan Sardar. Srimanta' s attempt was further carried out by Benimadhab Haldar (1858-1923). Among his writings the Jatichandrika (1887) and' Bratya Kshatriya Parichai' are particularly significant19 as they constructed a fictitious Kshatriya identity of the Pods. They are the successors of the ancient respectable community of Bengal called Poundra.18 They translated their idea of self-respect into a codified form in their writings. had organized the Poundras in a conference called Poundra Conference (sammelan) in 1901.128 Rup Kumar Barman IV From Pod to Poundra The idea of self. He is considered to be the first Poundra of colonial Bengal who prepared the background21 of organized movement of Poundras for social justice. The Poundra Conference had appealed the Government of Bengal in 1891 to recognize the Pods as Poundra Kshatriya.22 The Poundra conference had resolved that the Pods of Bengal should be declared as Poundra instead of Pod (a humiliating term). Both of them came forward with the concept of self-respect of the Pods. Main purposes of the Bratya Kshatriya Samity were (i) social reforms among the Pods to achieve social respect. In the initial level. had founded the Bratya Kshatriya Samity in 1909 to enhance the feeling of Kshatriya identity among the Pods as a means of restoration of social respect. among the Pods along with the Voice of Dalit . the Pods are Poundras and are not inferior creatures. He suggested for following 13 days shraddha ceremony at per the Caste Hindu Kshatriyas. And as Kshatriya the Poundras deserved respect in the society. most difficult task for Raicharan was to bring the scattered Pods under a common platform. and (ii) to spread education. Benimadhab. 20 It is interesting to note that Srimanta Naskar had advised the Poundras not to fallow the dictum of the Hindu Shastras regarding the observation of shraddha (after death pollution purification ceremony) after 30 days of the deceased. According to them. In such a background. They have originated from a pure Kshatriya Caste. Benimadhab had also published a monograph on the Poundras called Jati Bibek (1893) 23 where he had constructed the identity of Poundras as Bratya Kshatriya. Sri Naskar composed a few works to prove the respectable caste origin of the Poundras. Hence the Poundras are neither untouchable nor antaja. a school teacher of Rangilabad. He also advised the Poundras of Bengal to feel proud to be a member of Poundra/ Poundrak/ Padmaraj Caste. caste awareness of the Pods was transformed into a social force when Raicharan Sardar joined the Diamond Harbour Court as a lawyer in 1906.respect among the Pods began to be germinated in the last quarter of the nineteenth century particularly under the leadership of two enlightened Poundra Scholars named Sri Benimadhab Halder (1858-1923) and Srimanta Naskar Bidya Bhusan (1863-1907).

(ii) overall progress of the Poundras with government favour. (v) to inform the government that the Pods are Poundras and to request the government to record their Kshatriya status in the census. 26 So the former Bratya Kstariya Samity was transformed into a true caste organization of the Pods of entire Bengal. 'feeling of respect can be generated through the social reforms and spreading education'. It is interesting to note that the founding year (1917) of the new organization was correlated with the British policy of acquiring support of lower caste communities and placing them in the government process as manifested in the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms ofl917. So he took up his pen to communicate the Pods by publishing a monthly called "Bratya Kshatriya Bhandav. Raicharan had also mobilized some Poundra zamindars (landlords). lawyers and educated Poundras in this organization.27 Voice of Dalit . only with a few followers without proper infrastructure and community support Raicharan could not maintain the Bratya Kshatriya Samity and its mouth piece for a long time. Raicharan was passionate about the development of Kshatriya identity of the Poundras because of his own experience in life.government to dFaw its attention. Foundation of the Justice Party (an anti-Brahmin organization) in Madras in 1917 and the British policy of inspiring the Lower Caste in the Legislative council (as enshrined in the Government of India Act 1919) had also inspired the educated Pods of Bengal to organize caste movement in organized way. In his autobiography he expressed that 'I felt that people of this caste (Poundra) have lost 'self-respect' and think themselves as inferior for lacking proper education and being oppressed by the aristocrats to whom they are unknown. From Pods to Poundra: A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 129 foundation of schools. (iii) foundation of hostels and schools for the Poundra students. Main objectives of the All Bengal Poundra Kshatriya Association (ABPKA) were (i) to establish a good relations with the British . Once again he organized the Poundras along the caste line when the Bratya Kshatriya Samity was reorganized as Sarba Banga Poundra Kshatriya Samity (All Bengal Poundra Kshatriya Association) in 1917." 25 The Bratya Kshatriya Bhandav began to publish the news of achievement of the Poundras in different fields along with the message of social reforms. (iv) publication and circulation of new papers. However. The people of our caste would feel proud about our respectable identity if we adopt the policy of Kshatriyaization. But Raicharan was not a man to discontinue his zeal for establishing a respectable identity in the society. First one was the objective and the second was a means of materialization of self-respect. 124 According to him.

They deserve respect. According to him 'After centuries of national lifelessness. fruits and other essential items. as according to the saying." They must have every respect for the dignity of labour. Under the guidance of Raicharan. The Poundras may now enjoy equality and justice under the protection of the Government. Mahendra Nath argued with testimony that the identity of the Pods so far been constructed by the British official surveyors is full with erroneous information because they were dependent on misinterpretation of traditional Hindu scriptures. vegetables. In this epoch of regeneration. They are neither untouchables nor their products are unimportant.' 30 In this work Mahendra Nath had further clarified that the British Government has established' rule of law in India' by which nobody can get extraordinary opportunity because of his birth in a particular Caste. A Short History and Ethnology of the Cultivating Pods (An exposition of the Cultivating Pods: their status. The Poundras are the producer of food grains. In his own words: Voice of Dalit . the ABPKA had showed its interest since its inception. as far as they are concerned. There is a struggle in the land to go beyond the dead forms of religion. ways of life and social manners and customs) 29 of Mahendra Nath Karan was published in 1919 by Raicharan Sardar on behalf of the All Bengal Poundra Kshattiya Conference. there are seen indications of reviving life in the Hindu society. Mahendra Nath had produced an excellent piece of history of the Poundras by using available sources and method. He also argued that the Hindus must recognize the Pods with equal footing. 130 Rup Kumar Barman For translating the demands into practice. The customs and usages having no foundation in Dharma and the prejudices separating groups ·of human beings from one another should be obliterated by the force of mutual love. In order to draw the attention of the government it subscribed a suitable amount to the War Fund of the British government. for the equal rights and common heritage of mankind. and to recover what is pure. no crying but only pure self-dependence which will bring salvation to every unit of a nation! The great mass of people which are untired in producing food grains with the hardest labour for the self-proud scxalled high classes must deserve honour and gratitude of the latter. "a nation of lawyers and officials would starve.activist Shri Mahendra Nath Karan to reconstruct authentic and acceptable history of the Poundras in English. may the claims of the Pods be considered in a right way by the Hindu society which has already taken up the task and directed its attention towards the people whom it has so long vainly deprived of their birthrights ! It is no begging. and above all. nourishing and life- giving! There is an attempt to create a social union. they are consumers and not producers. 28 At the same time to legitimize the demand this association had engaged its one scholar-cum.

Like other Kshatriya aspirants of Bengal such (as the Rajbanshis.34However. a practical objection to the addition of the word 'kshatriya' in the schedules as it would undoubtedly result in confusion. The ambitious Brahmin criminal does no more escape conviction on the strength of his so-called high birth. May the attempts of this traditionally loyal people.H. W. W. and remain as mere things of the past. The ancient Sastric laws. spirits and ideals which mark out the Age! The benign influence of the British Government has brought with it an equitable justice common to all people indiscriminative of castes or creeds. had perfotrned the ritual for kshatriyaization of Voice of Dalit . Secretary of the Association." 32 Inspite of official objection regarding the Poundra Kshatriya identity of the ~ods. There is no concession in the British laws for the birth and parentage of a man. Digindra Narayan Bhattacharya. 33 But no Brahmin of Bengal was agreed to accept the Pods as Poundra and to allow them to hold sacred threat (Paita). that "I have no objection to use the term 'Poundra' in place of 'Pod' by members of your community in the census schedules. which selfishly crossed the limit of reasons. Even a Brahmin named Chandra Kumar Mukhopadhyay of Raicharan's own village. From Pods to Poundra: A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 131 The cruel imprudence and wrongful tyranny of men have shaken the heavenly throne of the Almighty! The air of the new Age sends forth the pleasant news of the advent of a new stream of life! The atmosphere is surcharged with quite new feelings. and a Brahmin is as well hauled before the Court of justice as a Sudra is done. new thoughts. Thomson wrote to Anukul Chandra Das.H. however. are now dead and gone. It is under the vivifying influence of this Government that the backward classes have begun to conceive life in themselves. Mr. Malos) the Poundras approached the Brahmins for performing necessary rituals for elevating their social status. enlivened and glorious future! 31 With this historical work. I have. Raicharan and his fellow activists did not stop their attempt of kshatriyaization. meet with the generous response of their rulers! And. a Brahmin scholar. The Bhangarari Brahman Samity (fotinded in 1927) had also refused to agree with Raicharan' s proposal of elimination of scriptural dictums on the Pods and to recognize them as Caste Kshatriya people. and is treated in the same manner a just as a low caste man is dealt with for perpetrating crime of similar nature! The British laws have keen regards to the natural rights of men. may God shower in plenty His infinite kindness on this afflicted people showing them path on to a bright. new prospects. under the fostering protection of the British Crown. this Association had submitted a memorandum to the census Superintendent. had threatened the Poundras with a decree to expel them from the society.Wilson in 1921 to classify the Pods as Poundra Kshatriya.

Poundra Kshatriya (Khulna. 36 In this connection it is not irrelevant to mention a few words about the trend in official policy regarding the Depressed Classes (Depressed Castes). Declaration of the Pods as Scheduled Castes (SC) had created confusion among the Pods particul{lrly about their Poundra Kshatriya identity. Raicharan met the census Superintendent with the old demand of recognition of Kshtariya identity of the Pods. In case of Bengal reserved seats in the legislative Assembly was increased to 30 from 10 seats allowed by the Communal Award. 1935). Ketharnath Mondal of Midnapur) Voice of Dalit . 1918-1921 ). 1919).132 Rup Kumar Barman Poundras in 1928. So he continued the policy of mass gathering of Poundras for kshatriyazation. had also allowed 'separate electorate' for the Depressed Classes. Raicharan was firm in his belief with a notion that kshatriyaization is a means of attaining social justice of the Pods. The kshatriyaization movement led by Raicharan also got active cooperation from a few local bodies and organizations like Arya Poundrak Brahmacharya Ashram (A student organization). These communities have been declared as Scheduled Castes in 1936 in the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order (1936). the Poundras of different districts of Bengal began to hold Paita. Poundra Kshatriya ChhatraJuba Parishad (a student and Young Federation) and Khulna Zila Poundra Kshatriya Samity (a district level Caste organization). Monindra Nath Monda!. However. The Pod again revived the old issue of their classification as Poundra Kshatriya in 1930s with the beginning of decennial census. the Government of Bengal had published a list of Depressed Class with 76 communities including the Pods. As the President of All Bengal Poundra Kshatriya Association. had replied Raicharan that the Pods are extremely backward and suitable to be declared as Depressed Castes. Arya Poundrak (24 Parganas. But the government did not accept it. 1937). Poundra Kshatriya Chhatra Sangha (a Student Organization). Poundra Kshatriya Banhav (Canning). Gradually. Government of Bengal. In 1933. etc. Sangha (Khulna. all Poundras did not cooperate with Raicharan. Raicharan Sardar and a few Poundra leaders of Bengal (like Rajendranath Sarkar. These periodicals had contributed to the spread of message of cultural and caste homogeneity among the Pods who how began to feel proud as Poundra. 35 Simultaneously the Pods of different districts of Bengal began to publish their caste magazines such as Pratiggna (Kolkata. Rajkrishna Biswas and Shisubar Foujdar of Khulna. Rather the Reform Officer. The 'Communal Award' apart from the Muslims. His opponents argued that the Pods tlo not have right to hold sacred thread. The report and recommendations of the Simon Commission (appointed in 1927) what were discussed in the Round Table Conferences (1930-1932) had not only prepared the background of federal structure of India but also produced the 'Communal Award' in 1932. But the opposition of the National Congress and conclusion of the Poona Pact (1932) instead of 'separate electorate' had increased the number of seats to be reserved for the Depressed Classes/ Depressed Castes.

37 Thus Raicharan appealed to R. On the other hand the question of opportunity as Scheduled Castes had influenced the major section of the educated Poundras to oppose the proposal of Raicharan. 40 The beckoning of reservation as SC was so strong that the social movement led by Raicharan for the establishment of Poundra Kshatriya identity for achieving dignity and justice was transformed into a · 'Scheduled Caste Pod' for enjoying political power. So it appears that the concept of SC and the question of political power had created dissensions among the Pods in their social movement. From Pods to Poundra : A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 133 did not accept the concept of Scheduled Caste for whom special care to be taken up by the Government. Anukul Chandra Das and Bhabasindhu Laskar had mobilized a gathering of the Poundras in favour of 'Scheduled Caste' identity of the Pods particularly to participate in the forthcoming elections to the Bengal Legislative Assembly.N.. 39 However.'41 So the Pods being Scheduled Caste with government policy of reservation had participated in the election of 1937 for Bengal Legislative Assembly. R. The Pod MLAs were not interested in discarding the SC status during the colonial period. In a public meeting. held on 261h September 1936 at Matla (24 Parganas). Even. The Poundras should follow the same line.. For them 'Depressed Castes/Depressed Class' or 'Scheduled Caste' are derogatory concepts by which a community claiming Kshatriya status. Shri Rajendra Nath Sarkar and Shri Krishnachandra Biswas did not succeed.. They wanted to enjoy political power being elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly and Bengal Legislative Council from reserved Seats. Government of Bengal) in 1933 that "This community has free access to the temples of Gods and Goddesses and has the privileged to prepare sweetmeat used as offering to Gods and Goddesses in many places and that it will lose its right and privilege if it be marked be as Depressed' .N." 38 Raicharan again wrote to Mr. Anukul Chandra Das and Patiram Rai were elected to the Assembly as MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) as Pod SC candidate while Shri Bhabasindhu Laskar. the Government of Bengal did not consider the appeal of Raicharan.. The pro-SC Poundras argued that 'other Kshatriya Castes of Bengal such as the Rajbanshis and Malos had accepted the SC status inspite of their kshatriyaization to enjoy political power and government jobs. they were not concerned Voice of Dalit . Shri Hemchandra Naskar. The aforesaid enlistment of this community among the depressed classes is not fare and feeling seriously. Shri Hemchandra Naskar. Gilchrist in 1935 (dated 23'd February) for excluding the Pods from the list of the Scheduled Caste considering it a derogatory one. Gilchrist (Reform officer. would fail to enjoy respect in the society. They remained as Pod in the Government records to enjoy the reservation. The Pods or Poundras as Scheduled Castes in future would be treated with humiliation and hatred.

Poundra Kshatriya Unnayan Parishad. 227-231. Like other oppressed caste communities of Bengal. 1981). 2001). originally published in 1891. 42 Being the first graduate of the Pods. published by Rai Charan Voice of Dalit . (Calcutta. reprint edition (Calcutta. 2 Nicholas B Dirks: Castes ofMind: Colonialism and the Making ofModern India. pp. Permanent Black. Appendix I. 6 Mahendra Nath Karan: A Short History and Ethnology of the Cultivating Pods (An exposition of the Cultivating Pods: their status. 43 Notes & References 1 Nripendra Kumar Dutta: Origin and Grawth of Castes in India (Volumes I & II Combined). Hunter: A Statistical Account of the District of24-Parganas. 198-227. Vol. 2001). pp. Firma KLM Pvt Ltd. Vol II. 1988). v CONCLUSION For his lifelong dedication to the generation of awareness about self-respect and dignity. 5 H. pp.292-314. But Raicharan was no more at that time. (Delhi. So the Pods have been recognized as one of the Scheduled Castes communities of Bengal for whom reservation facility in politics. p. political power and presence in the government jobs. So it appears that the transition of the Pods to Poundra took at least fifty years where Raicharan had played the role of a liberator. Although Raicharan Sardar was not interested in accepting the concept of Depressed Castes (Scheduled Castes) a major portion of the Poundras had accepted this point of backwardness. 1986). Raicharan Sardar is being remembered by the Poundras of West Bengal and Bangladesh as Mahatma (a great soul). reprint edition. (Calcutta. 1. Trubner & Co). 6. By the end of the colonial rule. He had died in 1942. It was only in 1956 that the Pods got government recognition as Poundra when the Government of India modified the list of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 34.134 Rup Kumar Barman · about their Pod identity. Risley: The Tribes and Castes of Bengal. the Poundras had given emphasis on social reforms along with the spread of education. 3 Mahendra Nath Karan: Poundra Kshatriya Kulo-Pradip.H. (Calcutta. p. the Poundras of Bengal appeared as a significant community of colonial Bengal with an educated middle class. Firma Mukhopadhyay. ~ W. reprint edn. he translated his experience of social humiliation into a force for achieving social justice for a community oppressed in the society for its social background. originally published in 1875 (London. Government of West Bengal. educational institutes and in government jobs was granted.W. ways of life and social manners and customs).

Malos. p. 11 H.~. 2012). 8 There are several Puranas which have described the origin of the Poundras. (Calcutta. For details about the Bryatya Kshatriya Parichay see .cit. The All Bengal Bratya Kshattriya Samiti .39-111. p.Risley: op. compiled and published by Sanat Kumar Barman in 1959. edited by Panchanan Tarkaratna. Poundra Mahasangha. Also see Brihatdharmma Purana. reprinted in Sanat Kumar Naskar(et. Poundras and the Bagdis had claimed themselves as Kshatriyas. It was composed in 1710-11. 10 Bharat Chandra Ray (Raigunakar): Annada Mangal. This text has described the Poundras of Midnapur are basically agriculturist having low status in the caste society. 12 I have used the term 'social justice' in the sense of elimination of discrimination faced by people because their birth in a caste considered to be impure.pp. 275. It has been reproduced in Sanat Kumar Naskar(et. 2012). Vol. 1 l In colonial Bengal the Rajbanshis. Poundra Mahasangha. Bangabashi Electromachine Press. p. Voice of Dalit . pp. I have used this version of Raicharan's autobiography 15 Translated by self (Rup Kumar Barman). 16 Ibid. (Diamond Harbour. el): Poundra-Manisha (Kolkata. p.272. p. 18 Sanat Kumar Naskar(et. From Pods to Poundra: A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 135 Sardar.Sanat Kumar Naskar(et. The Brahmapuran.H. Here justice is social equality. 2012). however. It was composed in 1752. 2012). 1314 BS). Poundra Mahasangha. II.176. Vol. u Raicharan Sardar: Dinner Atmakahini. a court poet of]ashobanta Shing.p. king of Karangarh of Midnapur. 9 Sibayan. 'Equal status for equally qualified and equally equipped persons' is to be considered as justice instead of differential treatment. p. The Vishnu Purana and the Agni Purana have described that the forefather of the Poundras was Anu (son of Jajati). II.3.29.H. 17 Ibid.cit. Bharat Chandra had vividly described the mode of life of the low caste communities of Bengal where the P~undras were occasionally referred. el): Poundra-Manisha (Kolkata. el): Poundra Manisha (Kolkata. 20 Sanat Kumar Naskar (et. p. 29. 7 H. a king. had recorded that the Poundras were originated from Puru .1919). 2012). el): Poundra-Manisha (Kolkata.237-458. Poundra Mahasangha. el): Poundra Manisha (Kolkata. The Constitution of India has seriously discussed the concept of social justice by eliminating all kinds of social discrimination. 258. It was originally published in 1887.29. from Dinner Atmakahini.Risley: op. Poundra Mahasangha. 19 Srimanata Naskar: ]ati Chandrika.176. p. a Bengali literary text was produced by Rameswar Bhattacharaya.

01. 26 First president of the All Bengal Poundra Kshatriya Association was Jaykrishna Mandai. for Details see Rup Kumar Barman: Partition of India and Its impact on Scheduled Castes of Bengal (Delhi. Mahendra Nath Karan. to Raicharan Sardar. 2012). 2009). The All Bengal Bratya Kshattriya Samiti . Abhijeet Publications. p. p. p. 77.378. 36 Letter Dated 28. 3o Ibid. 22 Ibid. 23 Benimadhab Haldar: Jati Bibek (Rangilabad. 28 Ibid. Reforms Commissioner and Joint Secretary. 30. 37 Raicharan Sardar: Dinner Atmakahini. 1893). pp. pp 374-425.36. 331. Voice of Dalit .58. p.136 Rup Kumar Barman · 21 Ibid. pp. Poundra Mahasangha. It has been reproduced in Sanat Kumar Naskar(et.N. a Poundra zamindar of considerable wealth. 27 Raicharan Sardar: Dinner Atmakahini. n Letter to Anukul Chandra Das. ways of life and social manners and customs). 38 Ibid. p. 34 Raicharan Sardar: Dinner Atmakahini. 33 Kshatriyaization is a social process by which the non-Kshatriya people place themselves as Kshatriya in the caste hierarchy by adopting the rituals and customs as per the Kshatriyas. 29 Mahendra Nath Karan: A Short History and Ethnology of the Cultivating Pods (An exposition of the Cultivating Pods:their status.77-78. p. Ex Officio. p. pp. 39 Ibid. 301.01.H. 24 Raicharan Sardar: Dinner Atmakahini.1933 of R.389-390. Ganamukti Sanskriti Parishad. a Poundra Scholar of Midnapur was its Joint Secretary. 31 Ibid.81-82.1921. 326. 25 Ibid. 295. published by Rai Charan Sardar. By W. to the Government of Bengal. 2012). el): Poundra-Manisha (Kolkata.299. Raicharan Sardar was Vice President and Anukul Chandra Naskar was the Secretary of this Association.. Thomson dated 17.1919). p. p... (Diamond Harbour. 35 Ganamukti Dasam Uddyag: Poundra Kshatiya Sankhya (Dhaka.. pp.. p . Indian History is the witness of this trend in many occasions. 123-227. Gilchrist.

From Pods to Poundra: A Study on the Poundra Kshatriya Movement for Social Justice 1891-1956 137 40 Ibid. besides many others associated with some religious institutions such as Rama Krishna Mission. Sanat Kumar Naskar(et. 12 Muktiers.As. in Sanat Kmar Naskar (et. Gouriya Math and Navadwip Math. more than 50 Undergraduates. one Sub Deputy. Hindu Mission. About 30 L. High Court. (Dakshin Barasat. Pleaders. el): Poundra-Manisha (Kolkata.. 2012). more than 400 Matriculates.377. p. 2013). B.' s of the Glasgow University one of whom is of Imperial Service and the other a mining engineer. about 80 graduates (M. One engineer from Benares University. Raicharan Sardar had prepared a list of the educated Poundras of Bengal by which we can get an idea. B. Debala Prakashani. 5 M. one is advocate. 2011}. For details about the political participation of the Poundras in colonial period see.Rup Kumar Barman: Partition of India and Its Impact on the Scheduled Castes of Bengal (New Delhi. Voice of Dalit .L.As.s. According to him 'Poundra community has among others 2 B. more than 100 Guru trained teachers and numerous other Vernacular teachers. Abhijeet Publications.' 44 Raicharan Sardar: Dinner Atmakahini.M. 414. Poundra Mahasangha.Ls) of the Calcutta University of whom 18 B. B In 1933. 419. 2012). Poundra Mahasangha. el): Poundra-Manisha (Kolkata.B.Fs.Sc. 42 Dhurjati Naskar: Bangia Dalit Sahityer Janak Raichran Sardar.B. more than50 Normal-passed Pandits.. 41 Ibid.S. Calcutta.

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