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Harijan (Hindustani: हरिजन (Devanagari), ہریجن (Nastaleeq); translation: "person of Hari/Vishnu") was a term popularized by Indian political leader Mohandas Gandhi for referring communities traditionally considered so called "Untouchable" (formerly called "acchoot" अछूत in Hindi [1]). The term was later considered derogatory and patronising, hence the term Harijan is no longer used by people belonging to the castes that were kept backward in medieval and modern India.[2]

They are now called Dalits, though even this term is banned in some states of India such as Kerala.[3] The term Harijan is regarded as condescending by many,[4] with some Dalit activists calling it insulting.[5] As a result, the Government of India and several state governments forbid or discourage its use for official purposes.[6]

Though Gandhi popularized the term harijan, which literally meant children of god, some contested that as per certain religious texts, brahmins are said to be children of God. The term may have been suggested to Gandhi based on the term used in the works by the Gujarati Bhakti era poet-saint Narsi Mehta.[7][8] It has been claimed that in Narsi's work, the term refers to the children of Devadasis.,[9][10] however the claim cannot be verified.[11] According to other source the medieval devotional poet Gangasati used the term to refer to herself during the Bhakti movement, a period in India that gave greater status and voice to women while challenging the legitimacy of caste. Gangasati lived around the 12th-14th centuries and wrote in the Gujarati language.[12]

Harijan, Mohandas Gandhi's publication

Gandhi started publishing a weekly journal called "Harijan" on 11 February 1933 from Yerwada Jail during British rule.[13] He created three publications: Harijan in English (from 1933 to 1948), Harijan Bandu in Gujarati,[14] and Harijan Sevak in Hindi.[15] These newspapers found Gandhi concentrating on social and economic problems, much as his earlier English newspaper, Young India, had done from 1919 to 1932.[16]

See also


  1. ^ अछूत कोन और कैसे : डॉ. भीमराव अम्बेडकर, 1949
  2. ^ Ananya, Vajpeyi (14 August 2018). "How to move a mountain". The Hindu. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Kerala government bans use of the words "harijan" and "dalit"". Outlook India. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  4. ^ Jenkins, Laura Dudley (November 2003). "Another "People of India" Project: Colonial and National Anthropology". The Journal of Asian Studies. Association for Asian Studies. 62 (4): 1143–1170. doi:10.2307/3591762. JSTOR 3591762.
  5. ^ "Use of word `Harijan' objected". The Hindu. 27 September 2003. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Government bans use of word Harijan". Indian Express. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Origin of name 'Harijan'". Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  8. ^ B. N. Srivastava (1997). Manual Scavenging in India: A Disgrace to the Country. Concept Publishing Company. p. 15. ISBN 9788170226390.
  9. ^ Hoiberg, Dale (2000). Students' Britannica India: Select essays, Volume Six. New Delhi: Popular Prakashan. ISBN 9780852297629.
  10. ^ Jammanna, Akepogu; Sudhakar, Pasala (14 December 2016). Dalits' Struggle for Social Justice in Andhra Pradesh (1956-2008): From Relays to Vacuum Tubes. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443844963.
  11. ^ Labelling Dalits ‘Harijans’: How we remain ignorant and insensitive to Dalit identity, The News Minute
  12. ^ "The Sacred and Profane in the Bhakti Religious Tradition." Women Writing in India, vol 1. Tharu & Lalita, eds. Feminist Press at CUNY, 1993.
  13. ^ Archives of Harijan 11 February 1933
  14. ^ Harijan Bandu
  15. ^ Harijan Sevak
  16. ^ Gandhi As A Journalist Archived 2007-08-04 at the Wayback Machine

External links