1st January 1818 – The Battle of Bhima Koregaon


If we wish to be free, we must fight. Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. — Patrick Henry (March, 1775)

History of India is nothing but the struggle between untouchables and so called upper castes. However, the Indian historians have always misled us by not showing the true face of Indian History.

The glorious victory of few hundred untouchable soldiers over numerically superior Peshwas army in the battle of Koregaon, fought on 1st January 1818, is one such chapter in Indian history whose significance has been carefully hidden.

Watch – Documentary on Bhima Koregaon

On that day, when many were busy celebrating the new year, a small force of 500 Mahar (an untouchable caste in Maharashtra) soldiers in the British army were preparing for a war against the most brutal Indian state of that times – Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune, Maharashtra.

In the history books, this battle is considered an important one and is known as second Anglo-Maratha war that resulted in the total destruction of Peshwa kingdom and sealed the victory of British Empire in India. However, there is a different historical dimension to this war that all of us need to be aware of.

Bhima Koregaon Pillar: Honouring the Bravery of Untouchable Soldiers

This war was also between the Indian untouchables (who were condemned to live a life so miserable that you might not find any parallels in the world history) and Brahminism (manifested through Brahmin rulers from Pune).

For Mahar soldiers, this was not just another battle but it was their battle for self-respect, dignity and against the supremacy of Manusmriti. And these soldiers, just 500 of them, defeated the Peshwa army of over 30,000 in just one day. Their victory against a mighty force is perhaps unparallel in Indian history.

Maharashtrian society under brahmin’s rule followed the worst form of social discrimination based on caste wherein the lower strata of society such as untouchables were confined to the stringent Brahmanical laws and subsequently, their mobility and development were impaired.

Read also – Upcoming movie: 500 The Battle of Koregaon

The Untouchables had to carry a broom stick attached to their backs so that when they enter into the city, their footprints would not pollute the path. They were forced to put a pot around their neck to carry their spit in the pot. They were not allowed to hold any arms and education was completely barred. Untouchables were killed if they did not follow these restrictions. Bhima-Koregaon battle was the answer of the untouchables to the brahmin ruling class of the country.

The Battle of Bhima Koregaon

This battle of Bhima Koregaon took place on January 1st, 1818, near the banks of Bhima River in Koregaon (north-west of Pune) between few hundred Mahar soldiers from the British regiment of a Bombay Native Light Infantry and the Peshwa army that constituted 20,000 horsemen and 8,000 infantry soldiers. After marching down for more than 27 miles, from Shirur to Bhima Koregaon without food and water, the untouchable warriors fought the Peshwas army for next 12 hours and by the end of the day defeated them completely.

Read -  [Transcript] Dr. Ambedkar Speaks on M.K. Gandhi and Poona Pact (BBC Radio) - 1955

This battle is significant for many reasons. First, British army fought this battle with a minuscule army expecting the worst. Secondly, the battle of Koregaon was one of the most important events which helped British to tear down the Peshwa Empire and subsequently the Peshwa had to abdicate. Thirdly and most importantly, it was an attempt by the untouchables of Maharashtra to break the shackles of the age-old caste order.

Dr Ambedkar with Mahar Regiment on his birthday, 1950

The Memory of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon

The men of the Bombay Native Infantry, who fought in this battle, were honored for their bravery. The official report to the British Residents at Poona recalls the “heroic valour and enduring fortitude” of the soldiers, the “disciplined intrepidity” and “devoted courage and admirable consistency” of their actions.

Watch Trailer – Upcoming movie – 500 : A Battle of Koregaon

Much praise was showered on the untouchable soldiers, who endured the rigours of difficult marches when rations were low and diseases were high among men and animals. Whether they were charging ahead or were besieged or taken prisoner-of-war, whether they were storming fortresses or making tactical withdrawals, they always stood steadfastly by their officers and comrades, never letting down the honour of their Regiments.”

A stamp issued by Indian Government in 1981

The saga of the bravery of Mahar soldiers was commemorated by the British in 1851 when they erected a Pillar (Vijay Stambh) at Koregaon inscribing the names of 22 Mahar soldiers who were martyred in this battle. The pillar still stands today reminding all of us about the bravery of our forefathers and as an inspiration for our struggle against caste-system.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also used to visit Koregaon every year on 1st January to pay homage to the untouchable soldiers and to exhort Dalits to show similar courage and determination to end Brahminism from the entire country. On 1st January 1927, he organised a big convention in Koregaon and brought the memories of the bravery of the untouchable soldiers in public knowledge.

On this and every New Year eve, rather than indulging ourselves in mindless revelry let all of us pay rich tributes to our heroic forefathers who, through their bravery and courage, tore down the powerful Peshwai and brought freedom for Untouchables from the fanatic Brahmin rulers who ruled the land according to the diktat from Manusmriti. It is also a powerful occasion for all of us to become little more aware towards our rich history.

Watch also –  The Battle of Bhima Koregaon Documentary Film

Rare Photo of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar at Bhima Koregaon

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Add yours
  1. 6
    Santosh Waghmare Gadag Karntaka

    1st January 1818 is Vijay Divas for us
    Their is no words, I salute thouse 500 Mahar soldiers
    I feel proud
    Followe the greatest Indian ever
    Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
    Bhima tuza mulech ahmi
    Ya jagat swas gheto

  2. 7
    Santosh Waghmare Gadag Karntaka

    1st January 1818 is Vijay Divas for us
    Their is no words, I salute thouse 500 Mahar soldiers
    I feel proud
    Followe the greatest Indian ever
    Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
    Bhima tuza mulech ahmi
    Ya jagat seas gheto

  3. 9
    Bharat Kumar Parmar

    Thank you for this article. We may viewed from another angle new year now. It’s really power of unity that only 500 soldiers defeated 30000 soldiers just in one day. We may learn from this that if we united we may do anything. So be united. Follow Baba Saheb.

  4. 16
    Shailesh J. Sonawane

    The above article is very exciting to read while i am reading the above article i thought that our peoples show great bravery against SO called Peshavas .And give a perfect answer through memorable battle against them.I salute to those warriors who makess us proud…

    Jay Bhim .!!!

  5. 17
    Sumit chiwande

    We must start celebrating 1st Jan as shaurya day every year by visiting at bhima koregaon,so that people should aware of this great Indian historical battle.
    We must give equal importance to this day like 6th dec.

  6. 18

    This is not regarding this post. But I have an earnest request if you could quote references from babasaheb’s writing that would be helpful. So that I may refer to the same material as yours.

  7. 19

    This is not regarding this post. But I have a earnest request if you could quote references from babasaheb’s writing that would be helpful. so that I may refer to the same material as yours.

  8. 28
    R K Ram

    There is a great need to write and publish booklet on this battle for free distribution among people to inspire them. I think there a big gap between our sources of inspiration and our people.

  9. 30
    Vijay Kochure

    Bharatratna Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar …. the name is only enough to say everything about this kind of intellectual, democrat, reformer, greatest, genius, champion for all fields, amazing personality in the world …. the fello who direct and guide the world about multiple things … his work is not only limited for one nation like India but also in the favor of all the humanity in the universe/globe and the statements which he made or his work or his word which are applies in this generation and world follows it. The one and only and none it here then…..

  10. 36
    Nitin Ingle

    Glad to know the valor and bravery of our people. This battle was an indication of outrage, distrust and anger hidden in the hearts of our men who have tolerated inhuman treatment towards our sisters, mother and our families. The anger burst out and the peshwas could not match or stand in front of us.
    Let us vow to keep the light alive and pass this to our generations !

  11. 39
    Parag Palkar

    Let the power and strenth inside us rise up against each and every samllest injustice happening to us, as Baba Saheb visioned we must come together and defeat once again all Brahmins and Peshwas with our Brains.

  12. 40

    we have very true background…and true history…some people had tried to hide it….we are the sons and daughters of brave, strong and honest forefathers will always keep it in our mind that we will always try to find truth and bring it in light only and never will let it go in darkness…
    JAY BHIM….

  13. 43
    Advocate Sunilkumar

    Salute our forefather :& happy to 1jan brave day & defeat manusmurti peshwa rule which established by Raje chhattrapati shiwaji and misuse by peshewa brahaman bajirao.

  14. 53
    MA.SaNket kHaRat

    Thank u for this meaningful n bravery details . I was unknown of this story clearly.This story should be in books of schools n colleges in history book. there r many things Fool Brahmins hides from everyone. I m too excited n too proud also. .I m proud to be Mahar (now- Bouddha)

  15. 57

    Battle is not over battle is still ahead If you read Ambedkar try to do some work for Dalit.Tray to develop at least one quality of BabaSaheb
    Dr. Prabhakr Varade, Pesidenr, Dr Ambedkar Forum for SC/ST Employees

  16. 60
    yogesh bhalerao

    thanks for the details GOOGLE.
    ब्राह्मणांनो , फक्त आणि फक्त महार .
    समजले का हलकट ब्राह्मण .
    जय भीम जय शिवराय नमो बुद्धाय

  17. 71
    Rahul Zine

    Thanks a lots for sharing such a bravely knowledge with us. this moment giving the courage to fight again castnism

  18. 72
    vikram singh

    Dr. Ambedkar sahib who was not a ordinary man was a ambassador of god who establish the law of nature which is based on natural justice no body can make difference in between any two person those based on separate religion.

  19. 73
    Brahma Garud

    thanks mahar brave soldiers for fighting against the then peswa soldiers. and defeating them,where our untouchable dalit people were subjected to all sorts of torture in our own country.we must take pride of it.Advocate B.garud Rourkela Odisha.

  20. 76
    nitesh ashok bansode

    Thanks for the hidden warrior history of real Son of soil’s, hope so it will make very good change’s which we forgetting in some last decades…..thanks…

  21. 81
    Sagar Sonawane

    thank you for giving this precious information for the untouchables.let this koregoan battle be the inspiring moment for the untouchables of india to lead this country in the nearest future. my heartly tributes to the MAHARS OF THE KOREGOAN BATTLE , jai bheem ,

  22. 82
    Anil kumar

    thanks for the real history of untouchables braveness, and first we have to know about real history of India, then only we will reopen our real untouchables hidden history………if we know our forefathers hidden definitely you will be shocked ……………… if you want to know about real history of india read Dr.B R Ambedkar`s volumes 1,3,7,9,12……….Jai bhim friends

  23. 84
    Shankar suryawanshi

    Thnx a lt fr such a historcl informtn,500 vs 2800…d whole wrld shld knw dis histryFeelng so……proud!! I salute dem,n respcts deir devotin frm d bttm f hrt..our todys indpndnt lyf is becz f ua sacrifies, brave warriors..m lcky dat av born as buddhst…dis ll be alwz a inspirtn to me in ma entir lyf…i rly wanna do smtng to ma socity n ma ppl…i don beliv in relgn or castsm,nly huminity is a relgn..bt as i live in a slum,i found d majority f uneducatd ppl frm ma area n mny f dem r backwrd classd…d awarnss f eductn stl need to be spread more n more….mhanun, shika,sanghatit vha ani sangharsh kara!! Jai bheem!!

  24. 85


  25. 95
    Chakradhar C. Hadke

    Inspiring article indeed. But alas! same is not being taught in our academic courses anywhere in India. This is because academic historians of this country hail from Brahmin community, BORI, Bal Bharati etc. For your information 300 were Muslims, thus total strength in incredible was of Bhima-Koregaon (Human Right War) : 500 Mahar+300 Muslims + a few British. You can read my research-oriented article which is available in my CD which you had bought 3 year before. “Bhima-Koregaon War”.

  26. 96
    sushilkumar yshwantrao dhainje(dhagvijay)

    definatly we r the real n ancient warrier of our india (buddhist india) today also our brothers n sisters also ruling in every field couse we r born 2 fight n victory my dear friends dont forget the mahar(maha-aari)means experts of leathel weapons.(anyone want 2 know more about our history by surnames plse mail me)

  27. 97

    iam realLy proud of my forefathers,who stood against castism,do you peopla know who was the captain of that regiment ………………..he was THE GREAT” SIDNATH MAHAR ” JAI BHEEM

  28. 99

    The battle fought by our forefather in the year 1818 is an inspiration for us! The detailed story of Koregaon battle must be studied by ever individual of our community. Jai Bheem.

  29. 102
    Satish Londhe

    Really Great Achievement done by our parents for us in1818. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Swarajya was destroyed by peshwas by insulting bahujan samaaj. Ppl may think in diffrent way with different attitude on this war but bhumiputra’s of maharashtra was arrested socially, economically by brahmins. Its really glourious victory over the stupid brahmans!

  30. 103
    Nilesh Kamble

    If anybody has specific book name regarding this battle. Please let me know. Desperately want to read more about it. All our people should read this. This really unbelievable 500 vs 28000.

  31. 105

    Thanks for sharing this information.
    Same information is also available on wiki

    I am much interested to know further information.
    Please do share with us, any other link/book/info you do have regarding “Battle”
    e.g. Name of these brave forefathers, the background, aftermath results and so on.

    [ I heard, Mr Changdev Khairmode had written a book on “Military History of Untouchables” ]

  32. 106
    dr jagadish

    thank you for giving this precious information for the untouchables.let this koregoan battle be the inspiring moment for the untouchables of india to lead this country in the nearest future. my heartly tributes to the MAHARS OF THE KOREGOAN BATTLE , jai bheem ,

  33. 109

    The article on the battle of Koregaon is indeed very illuminating. The underprivileged have alwsys fought their way to the top. It is owing to their great sacrifices that Dalits of today are able to see the light of the day.

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