|Died||26 June 1950 (aged 61)|
|Occupation||Social reformer, historian, philosopher, writer, ascetic, revolutionary, Farmer rights activist, politician|
Sahajanand Saraswati( real name Navrang Rai ) pronunciation (help·info) (22 February 1889 – 26 June 1950) was an ascetic, a nationalist and a peasant leader of India.
Although born in United Province (
present-day Uttar Pradesh), his social and political activities focussed mostly on Bihar in the initial days, and gradually spread to the rest of India with the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha. He had set up an ashram at Bihta, near Bihar carried out most of his work in the later part of his life from there. He was an intellectual, prolific writer, social reformer and revolutionary.
Swami Sahajanand Saraswati was born in Deva Village near Dullahpur, Ghazipur district in eastern Uttar Pradesh Provinces in 1889 to a family of Jujhautiya Brahmin subsect of Bhumihar Brahmin also known as Babhan. He was the last of six sons and was then called Naurang Rai. His mother died when he was a child and he was raised by an aunt.
The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, and thus sparking the farmers' movements in India.
Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India. All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936 with Saraswati elected as its first President and it involved prominent leaders such as N. G. Ranga and E. M. S. Namboodiripad. The Kisan Manifesto, which was released in August 1936, demanded abolition of the zamindari system and cancellation of rural debts. In October 1937, the AIKS adopted the red flag as its banner. Soon, its leaders became increasingly distant with Congress, and repeatedly came in confrontation with Congress governments in Bihar and United Province.
Saraswati organised the Bakasht Movement in Bihar in 1937–1938. "Bakasht" means self-cultivated. The movement was against the eviction of tenants from Bakasht lands by zamindars and led to the passing of the Bihar Tenancy Act and the Bakasht Land Tax. He also led the successful struggle in the Dalmia Sugar Mill at Bihta, where peasant-worker unity was the most important characteristic.
On hearing of Saraswati's arrest during the Quit India Movement, Subhash Chandra Bose and All India Forward Bloc decided to observe 28 April as All-India Swami Sahajanand Day in protest of his incarceration by the British Raj.
Saraswati died on 26 June 1950.
Subhash Chandra Bose, leader of the Forward Bloc, said:
Swami Sahajanand Saraswati is, in the land of ours, a name to conjure with. The undisputed leader of the peasant movement in India, he is today the idol of the masses and the hero of millions. It was indeed a rare fortune to get him as the chairman of the Reception Committee of the All India Anti-Compromise Conference at Ramgarh. For the Forward Block it was a privilege and an honour to get him as one of the foremost leaders of the Left movement and as a friend, philosopher and guide of the Forward Block itself. Following Swamiji's lead, a large number of front-rank leaders of the peasant movement have been intimately associated with the Forward Block.
Saraswati's publications include:
The Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in commemoration of Saraswati on 26 June 2000 by Ram Vilas Paswan, the then Minister of Communications.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research gives the Swamy Sahajanand Saraswati Extension Scientist/ Worker Award.
In 2001, a two-day Kisan Mahapanchayat was organised on the occasion of the 112th birth anniversary of Saraswati.
Bihar Governor R. S. Gavai released a book on the life of Saraswati on his 57th death anniversary in Patna.
Swami Sahajanand Postgraduate College is established in his home district Ghazipur (U.P.) in the pious memory of Swami Sahajanand.