Harichand Thakur and the Chandals: Godhood and Socio-religious Reforms in 19th century Bengal

The 19th-century Bengal witnessed a social awakening of the Chandals who evolved gradually to more political ways of protesting. Both adaptability and resistance worked simultaneously in building collective aspiration and developing practices to achieve consciousness collectively. Their leader Harichand Thakur formulated plans of action against caste-based oppression to emancipate the Chandals and brought socio-religious transformation in the community. A strategy-oriented study of his life and activities explains reformer Harichand Thakur becoming a God.. The article finds spiritual vision motivating material changes within a community—a legacy uniting people beyond their caste, class, and gender.

Few studies in recent years have tried to delineate Harichand Thakur’s (181278) profound impact on society. He became a god among his followers, leaving significant room for the man and his visions. Saint Harichand often conceals Harichand Thakur, the reformer.  His low-born status, scarcity of documents, and ravages of time partially explain this indifference. Some scholars note that his upbringing and adversities polished his talents as a true “social scientist” (DK Biswas 2014: 65). His philanthropic activities, miraculous healing abilities, and simple living techniques inspired many lives. The objective of this article is to acknowledge his contribution towards bringing a socio-religious transformation among the Chandals. To understand the remarkable journey of a regular man with familial duties who achieved godhood among his fellow men and women, he needs to be placed in the context of his family and the socio-religious environment of the 19th-century Bengal. 

Thakur’s village Safladanga and the adjacent villages were home to the Chandal community (Bandyopadhyay 2011: 1112).[i] The word “Chandal” did not signify a definite caste but referred to the lower caste population in general (Bandyopadhyay 2011: 19). Before their more respected caste name, that is, “Namasudra,” was accepted, the Chandals were discriminated for their social status. Low-ranking occupational holds exposed them to the exploitation and humiliation of the local revenue collectors and moneylenders. The sub-castes among them complied with various restrictions on interactions, where inter-dining and intermarriages were prohibited. Unlike their counterparts in India, they experienced “untouchability” more like a verbal invocation to assert social positions, less as a rigid practice among the upper castes (Bandyopadhyay 2011: 18).

The water-inundated lands and netting of rivers in Bengal made the Chandals a boatmen and fishermen community. With the advent of the 19th century, the marshy lands and forest covers were transforming into agricultural lands. From an amphibious mode of living to a settled peasantry—the metamorphosis became more challenging (Bandyopadhyay 2011: 56). Along with frequent famines, floods, and diseases, they accepted poverty, illiteracy, and discrimination unquestionably as fate. Epidemics like malaria, cholera, pox, black fever, plague, malnutrition, and leprosy proved fatal concerning the casualties.[ii] Inadequacy of basic sanitation or proper food habits forced many to succumb to injuries and low immunity. Amidst this atmosphere in 1812, Harichand Thakur was born into a Namasudra family in East Bengal (Bangladesh) (Chottopadhaya 2013: 98).

Social Reforms


Since his childhood, Harichand Thakur drew peoples’ attention. In his youth, he used his knowledge of farming and skill to cultivate paddy on fallow land and produced double the amount of crops.[iii] That time, the reclamation of land movement was facing difficulties due to many challenges faced in farming. Thakur’s experimentation encouraged his fellow farmers to proceed with similar conviction. He continued to persuade his followers to choose farming as the best occupation for a householder.[iv] By setting up an oil-selling shop in the market, he used his popularity among the rising peasantry to promote the selling/exchange of extra agricultural goods. The early demise of his father and the responsibility to father two sons and three daughters determined Thakur to sustain a financially strong household.[v] He would meet the community members every Wednesday evening after finishing the day’s work. Apart from songs and music, these religious congregations were held to improve communication, creating a platform to exchange opinions on the atrocious landlords and indigo-planters (U. Biswas 2013: 135).

Harichand Thakur became a “folk-physician” (DK Biswas 2014: 94) by practising traditional medicine and prescribing food that escalates the disease further as a treatment method.[vi] While epidemics like cholera and diarrhoea hit the vicinity, he provided simple and practical instructions to villagers, for example, advising them to drink properly boiled water. Poverty- and disease-ridden households looked up to him for a cure they could easily afford (K. Biswas 2013: 28789). He embarked on a path of giving purpose to many who were suffering from a disease or left alone to die; alongside educating people about personal hygiene and proper sanitization.[vii] Out of gratitude and love, people sent token money and their produced vegetables and crops to the Thakurbari (household of Harichand Thakur) as payment for his selfless service. Thakur provided monetary help in arranging marriages within the community and influenced others in aiding a household that was burnt by fire (Sarkar 1987: 197, 124).

On boats, Thakur used to visit households in adjacent villages like Raut Khamar, Narikelbari, Mollokadi, Ghritokandi, Machkandi, Arokandi, Lokkhipur, Poddobila, Kumaria, and so on [Sarkar 1987: 77]. with his trusted followers who sang songs and played various musical instruments during the rides. His journey brought him closer to the life of the Chandals. People were driven to the riverside to witness the spectacular performance of Thakur’s team. They took Hari naam and danced along the path toward the sick household. The entire community came forward with food and other supplies from the neighbouring houses in organising the kirtan and mystical dancing with instruments to help the hosting household. During such joyous mass gatherings, sharing food plates and demonstrating respectful gestures to each other was common practice despite the sheer scandal it stirred.[viii] These social spaces were reinforcing unique cooperation in building companionship within the depressed class by creating an instant cathartic atmosphere. An active community life broke many social barriers and enabled the Chandals to celebrate life. 

According to BR Ambedkar (1936; 2014: 16), killing the “monster” of the caste system was the only way to advance toward the path of political or economic reforms.[ix] The changing attitude among the Chandals indicated the birth of collective aspiration. They were living in a “…state of society in which some men are forced to accept from others the purposes which control their conduct…For slavery does not merely mean a legalized form of subjection” (Ambedkar: 1936; 2014: 24). Thakur’s approach was innovative in fighting the caste system and class hierarchy. In 1850 (Thakur and Biswas 2013: 65) at the Padmavilla village, the news of the free-mixing up of the Chandals generated great fear among the higher castes. The local landlord sent his deputy to Dasarath’s house where Harichand Thakur was staying. He was surrounded by women, while the men were singing bhajans sitting outside the room. Failed to take leader Harichand Thakur to the courthouse, the disappointed deputy beat up Dasarath with shoes and fined ₹200 for his defiance. He left with the money. To appease the agitated gathering, Thakur asked women to prepare a courtroom set-up in the house. The roles of the lawyer, attorney, judge, and the Queen were played by women in delivering justice, while Thakur became the petitioner for Dasarath (Sarkar 1987: 111). He encouraged them to participate in community living and was supportive of women's empowerment to create an alternative space by sharing responsible activities. Thakur asked his followers to address women as mothers and advocated that the daughter has equal rights on her father’s property.[x] He ordered the community members to organise a successful feast (mahotsob) for three consecutive days for a widow who wanted to host it with the money she saved for years.[xi] He defended another against the orthodox notion and belief on the food intake of a widow.[xii] The first school was established in Orakandi under his direction (Thakur and Biswas 2013: 75-76). Thakur could not possess higher education beyond his village’s primary school, but he sent his sons to school and preached about educating children.


His leadership taught the Chandals about resistance and perseverance that would be vital for centuries. Complaints regarding the uprising of the Chandals prompted the indigo-planter of the Zonasur factory (nearby Orakandi) to issue an order against the man behind the disturbance to report at his office. The news instigated the peasants from the adjoining villages to rush to the factory-cum-residence of the indigo-planter. Thakur took an extraordinary measure to visit the British administrator. In the disguise of a religious procession, he orchestrated a gathering of hundreds of men, electrified and intoxicated by the name of their gods. This decorative, dramatic protest of the peasants with musical instruments was against the tyrannical landlords and British planters (U. Biswas 2013: 135). Their minds were freed from the anticipation of consequences as they proclaimed their space and respectability along with their leader, Harichand Thakur.[xiii] This type of revolution results in the “seizure of power” according to Ambedkar (1936: 16) because “…other things being equal, the only thing that will move one man to take such an action is the feeling that other men with whom he is acting are actuated by a feeling of equality and fraternity and—above all—of justice.”. After Thakur’s demise, the need for a forum to continue at a mass level with the vigorous social reform movements prompted his son Guruchand Thakur (18471937) to set up the “Sree Sree Harichand Mission” in 1932 (Pande 2008: 106).[xiv]

Religious Reforms


Harichand Thakur’s grandfather Mochanram Biswas was an earnest Vaishnava devotee, adored by the community as Thakur Mochanram. His son Jasomanta took up the surname “Thakur” and with his wife Annapurna he had  brought up his son Harichand with four siblings in an atmosphere of spiritual learning. Thakur often rebelled against his parents’ patronage of Vaishnava devotees. He called them hypocrites (bhanda) despite the fear of being beaten up by his father. The Vaishnavism that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had propagated for social and spiritual salvation advocated the equality of men before God, challenging the age-old caste hierarchies, to develop a growing sense of self-respect among the oppressed (Jaffrelot 2005: 20). This was a time when Gaudia Vaishnavism[xv] had already corrupted the free flow of bhakti (Bandyopadhyay 2011: 31). A permanent state of subordination to the caste elites was the pivotal design of the mainstream religion and its practices in Bengal. For centuries the Chandals were manipulated to accept a tragic place in the custom-driven society without any hope for a better future. It rationalised and legitimised the unspeakable inhumanity committed against many. Ambedkar (1936: 36) argued that the degeneration affected the lower castes because they became victims of irresponsible social behaviours from the upper castes. When Harichand Thakur was born, the desperate Chandals were already choosing to convert to Islam and Christianity (Walker 1999: 564). Their ignorance, innocence, and fear would let the professional gurus extort money from trivial rituals and obscure customs (Pande 2008: 30). Thakur felt the need to bring notional changes into the faith system of the community. The way social status becomes a source of authority and power, religion holds power and dominance too (Ambedkar 1936; 2014: 15). Thakur believed that if social reform can shift the equation of power and domination, religious reform should be obliged to do the same.    

In the Wednesday meetings, the community could vent out frustrations and have discussions on achieving spiritual fulfilment and collective peace. Each household had its turn to arrange kirtans and meetings. The therapeutic and liberating effect of the kirtans was visible on a larger scale when Thakur visited neighbouring villages with his team. He warned people that professional gurus were extorting money and corrupting their minds in the name of offering prayers on their behalf.[xvi] He advocated a harmonious coexistence with nature as each life form manifests God. His mystical healing ability was legendary for restoring the condition of his patient, both psychological and physical (Sarkar 1987: 29;62;78;82;118).[xvii] Thakur’s approach prioritised mental health over religious practices. His prescription delineates a novel work ethic to balance both physical and mental health. He propagated the idea of singing while working (“Haate Kaam, Mukhe Naam,” Pande 2008: 70) to synchronise the body and the mind, the material and the spiritual. The suggestion implied that while one’s hands are busy at work, the mouth should always take God’s name. This formula harmonised spiritual awareness of the divine with real-life challenges for experiencing joy and tranquillity in life.


Naturally, the gradual transformation of the lower castes was met with severe criticism, humiliation, and sometimes, physical coercion. The Chandals were referred to in many derogatory terms as a reminder of their despicable social status. When they started to organise social gatherings, the upper-caste reaction was, “the uppity Chanral had to be put in his proper place!” (Bandyopadhyay 2011: 18-19). They mocked Thakur's followers by identifying them as the Matuas to ridicule their overwhelming state of joy or divine intoxication.[xviii] Ambedkar (1936: 38) opined that the reformed notions of religion must create a new doctrinal base that resonates with liberty, equality and fraternity.[xix] In the same vein, Thakur asked the Matuas to pick up the name as a sign of their fame among the upper castes (Sarkar 1987: 67). He did not offer a new religion to his followers; his Matuaism was a way of life. The philosophies that founded the Matua belief system were adopted from the prevalent tradition of bhakti and Hinduism. Harichand Thakur transformed the love for the divine into the love for humanity. Anyone, irrespective of their caste, class, and gender, could become a Matua. They worshipped Hari[xx] the supreme consciousness (AR Biswas 2013: 84) and celebrated an inseparable relationship with their saviour. Denouncing worldly affairs in search of God became unnecessary. The compulsion of paying a visit to the Hindu pilgrimages to meet God was averted by building a shrine or Hari mandir at every Matua household. Sexual abstinence or celibacy was not a prerequisite for advancing on the path of spiritual emancipation anymore. Women were comrades in pursuing goals both in mundane and spiritual worlds. More than community dining, in the case of Thakur’s Chandals, commitment to conjugal life proved effective in changing the fundamental notions of religious and social lives. Eventually, Matuaism took the shape of a different religious doctrine. Nonetheless, Thakur revolutionised the relationship between man, woman, and God within the periphery of familial life. While the majority of the Chandals embraced Matuaism, its percolation to other distressed communities continued.

Godhood and the Family Man


Matua literature has portrayed Thakur as an avatar for centuries. The Chandals comprehended his charismatic leadership and healing abilities as an alternative source of power.  As a mystical figure, he became the harbinger of goodness, saviour of the suffering, and a god. Mrityunjoy Biswas decided to commit suicide by taking poison when he could not bear the physical pain and mental trauma of a rare disease (Rasapitto). Thakur not only exposed his suicidal plan but also succeeded in convincing and curing him eventually. Devastated Mrityunjoy found divinity at work in him (Sarkar 1987: 77). Therefore, Thakur’s closest devotees contributed immensely to his attainment of godhood. Among them, Tarak Chandra Sarkar was a famous poet and songwriter. As a “folk versifier” he used the platform to promote Thakur’s successful endeavours and indomitable courage. By juxtaposing the internal essence of the Hindu and Vaishnava scriptural learning with the Matua way of life, he was creating a narrative that would provide great arguments and bring victory over his competitors. The internalisation of “materials from the Vedas, Vedanta, Puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana” exposed the Matuas to mainstream literature and served as tools while formulating a folk protest (Walker 1999: 568–69).


When Tarak Chandra Sarkar came to Harichand Thakur with an incomplete draft of his biography, Thakur was furious and disapproved of the god-like stature bestowed on him (Sarkar 1987: Introduction). Thakur issued a warning among the Chandals about the true nature of the so-called God-men: “[w]here can you find a true Brahman or a true Vaishnava? Now all of them have become hypocrites, selfish and greedy for wealth” (translated from Bala 2013: 35). He was aware of how his devotees perceived him and of the danger of becoming the saviour of the fallen.[xxi] Thakur told Hiramon to secretly leave after his recovery as the news would only bring more people to Orakandi for the propaganda. He never wanted to be worshipped or followed as a god or saviour. When Dasarath, a Vaishnava sadhu, came to meet him, Thakur said:


You have so much faith in the customs and manners but I have pursued none/ I do not follow the mantra or the ablution rituals/ then, my child why have you come to me?/ you are a virtuous man and I have no such purity in me/ by taking bath I do not perform any puja or follow any such religious rituals at dawn or dusk/ even I do not mind having the dog’s leftover as prasad [xxii]/ I do not follow the rules and purification rituals of Vedas. (translated from Sri Sri Hari Lilamrita [Sarkar 1987: 67])     


Sarkar completed and published the exclusive hagiography after the demise of Harichand Thakur in 1878.[xxiii] Thakur’s Chandals wanted to remember him as their saviour; his larger-than-life living was nothing less than godly. By setting up an example, Thakur guided others to do both farming and business for a financially robust household. Upon his advice, Mrityunjoy bought some new agricultural land in Kalinagar and embraced farming while his ancestral land was flooded.[xxiv] In practising and promoting Garhastha dharma, Thakur’s objective was to create a community of monks fulfilling their familial duties (Grihi sannyasi). In this way, combining both esoteric and domestic life into Garhasthashram, mass salvation (Gana Mukti) was possible for the Chandals. They developed an accommodating tendency to maintain a settled, agricultural community life during the century. Thakur further added that an obliged duty of a householder could be maintained by balancing two fundamental human qualities (guna); finding motivation at work (Raja) and thriving over mundane desires (Sattva) (Pande 2008: 97).[xxv] He told the sadhus (Haribolas) that serving others was better than following any religion (Sarkar 1987: 150).[xxvi] Likewise, a community culture among the Chandals was built where women and men shared equal respect and responsibilities. He transformed the idea of God/goodness into collective joy by outlining the moral and spiritual aspects of community living into “twelve Iinstructions” only.[xxvii] His radical thinking laid down a path of humanitarianism where many came forward obsessed with a similar notion of helping others. His followers cultivated independent endeavours on various levels to bring the idea of an extensive socio-religious reform movement into motion. Chandals could stage social justice, economic reform, and political and national-level intensified movements based on various thoughtful preparations taken up by Thakur, his son Guruchand Thakur, and their team later on (Chottopadhaya 2013:107108).




About saints, Ambedkar wrote (1936: 4445) that “the saints…were not concerned with the struggle between men. They were concerned with the relation between man and God...why the teachings of the saints proved ineffective was because the masses have been taught that a saint might break Caste, but the common man must not.” However, the Chandal community of Orakandi and its nearby villages found ways to challenge the usual ways of living and thinking.  Thakur and his followers had taken vigorous reformative steps by reconstructing society and religion for the Chandals; he emancipated their minds and souls to prepare grounds for actual political growth (Ambedkar 1936: 14).[xxviii] On the one hand, they broke the hierarchical notions about caste and on the other, a simultaneous process of inclusion from the prevalent structure was initiated. Along with adaptability, an equal amount of resistance and revolt characterised the protest movements of the Chandals/Namasudras (Bandyopadhyay 2011: 8). Divergence among groups with various experiences became a rallying point. As Ambedkar wrote,


The assertion by the individual of his own opinions and beliefs, his own independence and interest—as over against group standards, group authority, and group interests—is the beginning of all reform. But whether the reform will continue depends upon what scope the group affords for such individual assertion. (Ambedkar 1936: 23)


Preceded by such extraordinary socio-religious reform measures, the Chandals demonstrated a social protest in 1872. They skilfully put together an organised, well-networked general strike boycotting the higher castes, paralysing the district-wise administrations for the first time (AK Biswas 2016).[xxix] Guruchand Thakur launched an education movement in 1881, “10 years before the birth of Dr B.R. Ambedkar – the outstanding political leader of all of India's Untouchables – in far-away Maharashtra” (Walker 1999: 564). The Chandals were inspired to cultivate a culture befitting the younger generations by practising community solidarity that Thakur found natural within men. Mainstream history books remained silent about Harichand Thakur. However, researchers from around the world and many among the contemporary Matua intelligentsia have been working tirelessly to unveil Harichand’s good work. The West Bengal state government has recently declared a holiday on the birth anniversary of Harichand Thakur. The majority is yet unaware of him as a true visionary and reformer who contributed profoundly to the society of the 19th-century Bengal.



[i] The tribal origin of the Chandal community that Harichand belonged to was the “second largest Hindu caste group in the British province of Bengal and the largest in its eastern parts. They lived mainly in the low-lying swamp area of its six eastern districts, i.e., Bakarganj, Faridpur, Dacca, Mymensingh, Jessore and Khulna.”


[ii] See K Biswas (2013: 287) for the dreadful epidemics of 1820, 1826, 1827, 1831–33, and 1838–40 recorded in the Indian Medical Gazette. Biswas, Kapilkrishna wrote the article named “Harichader Rog Niramoy Poddhoti” for the book Sri Harichand Thakur O Matua Dharma Andolan: Dwisoto Jonmoborso Smarok Grontho, 2013, edited by Thakur, Kapilkrishna and Biswas, Utpal, published from Nikhil Bharat Prokasoni, Kolkata.

[iii]Aaush hoilo ar hoilo Aamanyo / dui bigha jomite digun hoilo dhanyo.” ‘Aaush’ and ‘Aamanyo’ are the two types of paddy cultivated during autumn and winter. These two lines are translated as ‘cultivating paddy and producing double the amount of crops’ (in the main body of the text). Sarkar, Tarak Chandra in the Sri Sri Hari Lilamrita (1987, page no. 50) recorded the incident.  


[iv] “…Aey mora ekdin chas kori hal / sorbo karjo hote srestho krishi karjo hoy / a karjo na kora amader bhalo noy” (Sarkar 1987: 50).

[v] Sarkar writes, “the way Harichand took care of his first duty as a householder was set as an example of doing good business at the oil shop in the market” (Sarkar 1987: 51).


[vi] “The master used to say that if you want to get rid of your disease/ then eat whatever causes discomfort and escalates that particular disease/ For three consecutive dusks rub the dust of the holy basil plant all over your body/ He prescribes dissolved tamarind water for fever/ In case of pain, indigestion, nausea or gastric acidity/ have tamarind paste in a brass vessel/ For skin diseases smear cow-dung or cow-urine on the body” (Sarkar 1987: 61).


[vii] Distinguished Matua followers Badan Goswami, Heeramon, and Mrityunjoy met Harichand while they were suffering from incurable diseases and left at the Thakurbari by their relatives and family members. Later on, they decided to learn from/join Harichand in helping and guiding other community members in distress.


[viii] “This mata is going to spoil the mind of other villagers/ because, men and women sit together and eat from the same plate/ men do not hesitate to eat the leftovers of women or to take dust from the feet of a woman/ men are inclined to touch female feet/ women are inclined towards male body/ what kind of a strange addiction is this Hari naam that people are engaged all day and night long”(Sarkar 1987: 107).


[ix] “…turn in any direction you like, Caste is the monster that crosses your path. You cannot have political reform, you cannot have economic reform, unless you kill this monster.”


[x] Both Harichand and his wife Shanti sheltered an orphaned woman when she left her job as a maidservant. Taking advantage of their trust and innocence, the woman stole money from the household and left. Harichand denied calling her a thief and explained to his wife that no harm was done as the daughter has a claim to her father’s property. Sarkar recorded the incident (1987: 5557).


[xi] Nayeri from the village of Kalatala was a victim of child marriage. She heard from people about the “living God” and therefore came to visit Orakandi to see and meet Harichand Thakur (Sarkar 1987: 134).


[xii] Harichand’s follower Rambharat was furious to discover Santa (staying at the premise of the Thakurbari) cooking fish for herself. Harichand asked Rambharat to forgive her as it was not her fault. Fish was the staple/favourite food in Bengal and no one in the Thakurbari thought it was necessary to change her food habit because of her widowhood (Sarkar 1987: 208).


[xiii] “Carefully knotted and tied up was their hair/ reaching mid way they let them loose/ Dasarath was behind Harichand/ and the others were in large numbers covering the landscape/ they were following Harichand’s lead/ daring not to walk before him/ four drums were behind him/ eight pair of cymbals were accompanying / the sound of drums, cymbals and the crowd was heard from the factory house/ the indigo-planter was taken aback to see the huge gathering” (Sarkar 1987: 114).


[xiv] The name was changed to Matua Mahasangha in 1933.


[xv] The disciples of Chaitanya in Bengal organised themselves into a sect called the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. When the orthodox trend among the sect became dominant, it began to introduce caste rules and practices of differentiation.


[xvi] In the Lakkhipur village (near Orakandi), an upper-caste guru came to stay at Buddhimonto’s house at the same time when Harichand was visiting. Gobinda Paul was dissatisfied finding Harichand not following conventional religious rituals yet being popular among the people. He looked down upon Harichand for his lower-caste background. Paul complained about inadequate hospitality and charged a fee for his stay at the house. Harichand drew Buddhimonto’s attention to the false pride and hypocrisy of his upper-caste guru before leaving for Orakandi the next morning (Sarkar 1987: 121–23).    


[xvii] Whether Cholera, snakebite, Rasapitto, paralysis, or fever (due to liver or spleen disease), Rakhal Biswas, Ramkumar, Golok, Mrityunjoy, and Hiramon were all completely healed under Thakur’s treatment.  He addressed their doubts, disbelief, and fear. He was able to generate confidence among his patients by assuring that the liability for their well-being was his responsibility. Winning over their trust or rekindling their faith made the recoveries faster.   


[xviii] “The disputants say that Matuas have gone mad/ because in praising Hari they have lost all senses of decorum/ they make fun of people who take Hari’s name/ and identify them as ‘Moto’/ even when somebody else takes Hari naam/ the disputants make fun of that person by calling him a ‘Moto’/ ‘Moto’ eventually becomes the Matua” (Sarkar 1987: 67).


[xix] “There should be no opposition to this reform from any quarter…Whether you do that or you do not, you must give a new doctrinal basis to your Religion—a basis that will be in consonance with Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; in short, with Democracy.”


[xx] Hari comes from the culmination of Hara+Gouri (Ha+ri) or Shiva and Shakti, the duality of existence, the ascetic and householder. See AR Biswas (2013) for an insightful analysis.


[xxi] Thakur bolen mor ei boro bhoy/ potito  pabon name kolonko rotaey (Sarkar 1987: 210).


[xxii] Prasad is an offering to God.            


[xxiii] Sarkar named his book the Sri Sri Haricharitrasudha. Before its first publication (1916), Harichand’s grandson Sashibhushan Thakur renamed it as Sri Sri Hari Lilamrita.


[xxiv] Harichand told Mrityunjoy that “if you do not work where will you get your food from” (Sarkar 1987: 99).


[xxv] This is evident in the white-bordered red flags of the Matuas, where red stands for raja and white stands for sattva guna.


[xxvi] When someone chose to become a sadhu instead of a householder.


[xxvii] For a detailed discussion on the Twelve Instructions (Dados Aggya), see AR Biswas (2013: 80–81).


[xxviii] “…the emancipation of mind and the soul is a necessary preliminary for the political expansion of the people.”


[xxix]They decided not to till their land, or thatch their huts. This strike continued for four to five months. This is the first general strike officially recognized and recorded in India. The Chandals of other districts like Barisal, Dacca, Jessore, Mymensingh and Sylhet joined their agitating brethren of Faridpur.” 


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