After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer and collect revenue, or tax administration / collection) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point onwards, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when Bihar was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa. Again, in 2000, 18 administrative districts of Bihar were separated to form the state of Jharkhand.
Babu Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur and his army, as well as countless other persons from Bihar, contributed to the India’s First War of Independence (1857), also called the Sepoy Mutiny by some historians.
Bihar’s contribution in the freedom struggle has been immense with outstanding leaders like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati,Bihar BibhutiAnugrah Narayan Sinha ,Mulana Mazharul Haque,, Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan,Satyendra Narayan Sinha(Singh) Basawon Singh (Sinha), Yogendra Shukla, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, Pandit Yamuna Karjee and many others who worked for India’s freedom relentlessly and helped in the upliftment of the underprivileged masses. Khudiram Bose, Upendra Narayan Jha “Azad” and Prafulla Chaki were also active in revolutionary movement in Bihar. More than hundred of cases were registered in different jails of Bihar like Madhepura, Darbhanga, Saharsa etc. against the great son soil Late Shri Upendra Narayan Jha “Azad” Baikuntha Shukla, another great nationalist from Bihar who was hanged for murdering Phanindrananth Ghosh who had become a government approver which led to hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.Phanindra Nath Ghosh hitherto a key member of the Revolutionary Party had treacherously betrayed the cause by turning an approver, giving evidence, which led to the execution. Baikunth was commissioned to plan the execution of Ghosh as an act of ideological vendetta which he carried out successfully on 9 November 1932. He was arrested and tried for the killing. Baikunth was convicted and hanged in Gaya Central Jail on May 14, 1934. He was only 28 years old.
In North and Central Bihar, peasants movement was an important side effect of the freedom movement. This movement aimed at overthrowing the fedual zamindari system instituted by Britishers It was being led by Swami Shajanand Saraswati and his followers Pandit Yamuna Karjee, Rahul Sankritayan and others. Pandit Yamuna Karjee along with Rahul Sankritayan and other Hindi literaries started publishing a Hindi weekly Hunkar from Bihar, in 1940. Hunkar later became the mouthpiece of the peasant movement and the agrarian movement in Bihar and was instrumental in spreading the movement. The peasant movement later spread to other parts of the country and helped in digging out the British roots in the Indian society by overthrowing the zamindari system.
After his return from South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi started the freedom movement in India by his satyagraha in the Champaran District of Bihar at the request of Raj Kumar Shukla– against the British, who were forcing the local farmers to plant indigo which was very harmful to the local soil.
In India’s struggle for Independence the “Champaran Satyagraha”, marks a very important stage.Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi, who had just returned from South Africa, to the plight of the peasants suffering under an oppressive system established by European indigo planters. Besides other excesses they were forced to cultivate indigo on 3/20 part of their holding and sell it to the planters at prices fixed by the planters. This marked Gandhiji’s entry into the India’s Struggle for Freedom. On his arrival at Motihari, the district headquarters,Gandhiji along with his team of eminent lawyers comprising of Dr.Rajendra Prasad, Dr.Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Brajkishore Prasad and Ram Navami Prasad which he handpicked tp participate in the satyagraha were ordered to leave by the next available train which they refused to do and Gandhiji was arrested. He was released and the ban order was withdrawn in the face of a, “Satyagraha” threat. Gandhiji conducted an open enquiry into the peasant’s grievances. The Government had to appoint an enquiry committee with Gandhiji as a member. This led to the abolition of the system.
Raj Kumar Shukla has been described by Gandhiji in his “Atmakatha”, as a man whose suffering gave him the strength to rise against the odds. In his letter to Gandhiji he wrote “Respected Mahatma, You hear the stories of others everyday. Today please listen to my story….. I want to draw your attention to the promise made by you in the Lucknow Congress that you would come to Champaran. The time has come for you to fulfil your promise. 19 lakhs suffering people of Champaran are waiting to see you.”
Gandhiji reached Patna on 10 April 1917 and on 16 April he reached Motihari accompanied by Raj Kumar Shukla. Under Gandhiji’s leadership the historic “Champaran Satyagraha” began. The contribution of Raj Kumar Shukla is reflected in the writings of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, first President of India, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Acharya Kriplani and of course, Mahatma Gandhi himself. Raj Kumar Shukla maintained a diary in which he has given an account of struggle against the atrocities of the indigo planters, atrocities so movingly depicted by Dinabandhu Mitra in Nil Darpan, a play that was translated by Michael Madhusudan Dutt. This movement by Mahatma Gandhi received the spontaneous support of a cross section of people, including Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who ultimately became the first President of India, Bihar Kesari Sri Krishna Sinha who became the first Chief Minister of Bihar, Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha, who ultimately became the first finance minister of Bihar and Brajkishore Prasad.
Bihar is surrounded by the Indian States of Uttar Pradesh to the west, Jharkhand to the south, West Bengal to the east, and has an international border with Nepal to the north. Bihar lies in the fertile Indo-Gangetic Plain. Culturally, with Eastern Uttar Pradesh (Purvanchal), it is a part of the 150 million people strong Bhojpuri speaking heartland of northern India. In addition, many other languages are spoken in Bihar, including Hindi, Urdu, English, Maithili, Angika, Pashto, Magahi and Bengali. Since ancient times Bihar has attracted migrants and settlers including Bengalis, Chinese, Turks from Central Asia, Afghans and Punjabi Hindu Refugees during Partition. Bihar is most famous for its status as the birthplace of iconic global and Indian symbols like Buddhism, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs-Guru Gobind Singh, the Indian Rupee, and ancient Bihari Imperial symbols like the Maurya Lions and Ashok Chakra. Symbolically, the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, was a Bihari. Other key Bihari leaders include legendary freedom fighters like Babu Kunwar Singh, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Basawon Singh (Sinha), Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha,Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha and Maulana Mazharul Haque.