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Sannyasi Movement – 18th Century Against British East India Company – Sannyasi Rebellion

Sannyasi movement is an 18th century revolt by Hindu monks. Academics and politicians that came to power after 1947 purposefully hid such small but vital rebellions by not publishing them.

The Sannyasi rebellion of the 18th century AD culminated as a reaction of Indian monks against exploitation by the East India Company’s regime in particular against its restriction on free movement to places of pilgrimage.

Monks in India organized themselves into armed units and fortified themselves in their mutts (Hindu monasteries). They produced firearms and prepared themselves for battle.
Sannyasis led a revolt against the British and were joined by the public.

They attacked the residences and treasuries of the company. There was a long struggle spearheaded by the monks, along with armed peasants and soldiers discharged from the army of the Nawab of Murshidabad.

Silk weavers of Bengal who had been made slaves for British merchants at below subsistence level wages, too, joined the struggle.

The movement had leaders like Manju Shah and Bhahani Pathak; all these members gave the movement large canvas.

The rebel warriors took on, in the style of guerilla warfare, Indian landlords and moneylenders who had been fleeing the public.

Despite great examples of personal bravery and sacrifice, the rebels lost.

Nevertheless, Warren Hastings, Governor General of the Company, had to carry on a long operation before the movement could be quelled.

Bengali novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee vividly delineates the story of the Sannyasi Movement in Ananda Matha through imaginary characters.

The Sannyasi Rebellion (1977), Asi Nath Chandra – Ratna Prakashan Kolkata
Peasants and Monks in British India (1996) R William Pinch – University of California Press California
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX page 227 - IHRF