Champaran Satyagrah

Champaran Satyagrah

A pivotal uprising in the history of the Indian Independence Movement was the Champaran Satyagraha of 1917, which was the first Satyagraha movement Gandhi ever led in India.

Champaran Satyagrah

A pivotal uprising in the history of the Indian Independence Movement was the Champaran Satyagraha of 1917, which was the first Satyagraha movement Gandhi ever led in India.

The district of Champaran is located in the state of Bihar. Many tenant farmers were required to grow some indigo on a portion of their land as a requirement of their tenancy under the laws of the Colonial era. 

To create a dye, indigo was used. Indigo demand decreased as a result of the Germans' development of a less expensive artificial dye. In exchange for being exempt from having to grow indigo, some tenants paid higher rent. The German dye was no longer available, though, during World War I, and indigo once again started to be profitable. Because it was required by their lease, many tenants were once more forced to grow it on a portion of their property. This, of course, led to a great deal of rage and bitterness.

Numerous tenants claimed that landlords had extorted them in other ways and used strong-arm methods to extract unauthorized cesses from them. There was a Commission of Inquiry, and this issue had been brought up by a number of lawyers and politicians. The Champaran Satyagraha started when Raj Kumar Shukla, a moneylender who also owned some land, convinced Gandhi to travel to Champaran. On April 10, 1917, Gandhi traveled to Champaran with a group of distinguished attorneys, including Acharya Kripalani, Brajkishore Prasad, Rajendra Prasad, and Anugrah Narayan Sinha Ramnavmi Prasad.

Significance of Champaran Satyagrah :-

  • Oppression: It put an end to the planters' long-term exploitation of the peasantry through forced labor and subpar harvests.
  • Assessment: The British were given a comprehensive assessment of the situation.
  • Champaran Agrarian Act, 1918: According to the evaluation, the law was created to safeguard the interests of the peasants. 
  • Gandhi Proved: Prior to Champaran's successful attempt to restore justice, Gandhi had not been actively engaged in grassroots activity in India. This caused Gandhi to suddenly become the center of attention.
  • Team developed: Rajendra Prasad, who would later become one of Gandhi's powerful itinerants, and other strong leaders like Kriplani were added to his team.
  • Fact-based fight: In order to support the exploited peasants, Gandhi relied on gathering documentation from them. This helped him present their case and demonstrated that challenging British policies on the basis of data has a higher likelihood of success.
  • Denying Authority:  Gandhi was asked to leave Champaran when he arrived, but he refused and continued with his task, saying that he would rather risk being arrested. This is a notable first instance of satyagraha and civil disobedience in action.
  • People were persuaded of the effectiveness of satyagraha in addressing injustice by using it.
  • Future Struggles: Prepare the ground for subsequent conflicts that eventually led to India's independence.

Historical Background of Champaran Satyagraha

The "panchkathiya" system, which required that five katthas of land in a bigha be planted with indigo, was used by Champaran's farmers prior to the Champaran Satyagraha. The "tinkathiya" system (three katthas of land were to be planted with indigo instead of five) came to be practiced as a result of activists and leaders from the area like Sheikh Gulab, Harbans Sahay, Pir Mohammed Munsi, Sant Rawat, and Lomrah Singh's protests against the "panchkathiya" system.

Raj Kumar Shukla was not pleased with the concession and desired a change from the obnoxious agricultural labor practices that were practiced in Champaran. They were unable to grow the food they required, and neither did they get paid enough for the indigo.

Gandhi's work in Africa was brought up to Shukla by Ganesh Vidyarthi. The sympathetic Patna attorneys Brajkishore Prasad and Rajendra Prasad recommended that he would meet Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was in Lucknow for the Congress's 31st Session (which took place between December 26 and December 30, 1916).

Thus, the Champaran Satyagraha started after Raj Kumar Shukla and Sant Raut convinced Gandhi to travel to Champaran. With a group of distinguished attorneys, including J. B. Kripalani, Brajkishore Prasad, Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha Ramnavmi Prasad, and others, Gandhi arrived in Champaran on April 10, 1917, and stayed at Sant Raut's home in Amolwa village.

Gandhiji and Champaran Satyagraha

Together with Raj Kumar Shukla, Gandhiji traveled to Champaran in 1917. The District Magistrate gave him a notice upon his arrival, instructing him to leave the Champaran district by the first train that was available and not to stay there.

Gandhi ignored this command because of which he received a court appearance summons, but it could not stop Gandhiji. 


Gandhi's victory in Champaran elevated him to a position of hero status among the populace and the existing leadership, who had already come to admire him as a result of his work in South Africa. This gave him the opportunity to lead the movement until its triumph.