Lets read about the Champaran Satyagaraha.
Champaran is a small village in the modern-day state of Bihar. This was the place where Gandhi Ji practised Satyagrah to fight against the oppression of the British. This was his first movement against the British, what happened next is history.
First, let us understand what ‘Satyagrah’ means. ‘Satyagraha’ in its literal translation means acceptance of the truth. This term was coined by Gandhi Ji but the practice of Satyagrah was taught by his mother. Gandhi Ji’s mother used to practice this against him when he was young. Whenever Gandhi Ji did something wrong, his mother would stop eating and talking to him until he accepted the truth and apologized.
Gandhi believed that this was the only method to make your oppressor accept his own mistake and see the truth.
In the village of Champaran, farmers were forced to do Indigo farming. Indigo was a plant that the Britishers used to dye clothes. It was in huge demand globally. But the plant of Indigo was also very volatile. Especially in the areas of Bihar where both floods and famines were common, indigo farming was a curse for farmers.
The company forced them to grow indigo on one-third of their land. But they refused to give any sort of insurance if the crop failed. This meant that if the crop failed the farmer loses one-third of their total income. And the income of farmers was not much, to begin with.
Gandhi was a lawyer in South Africa. There, he had worked intensively on the issue of racial discrimination. His work and reputation had reached the village of Champaran. When they heard the news of Gandhi coming back to India they sent him a letter explaining their problem. At first, Gandhi did not pay much attention to their letters as he did not consider it a major problem. Rajkumar Shukla, a resident of Champaran, travelled to Ahmedabad to meet Gandhi. It was he who convinced Gandhi to come and have a look in Champaran.
When Gandhi reached the outskirts of Champaran, he was stopped by the police. The British court had passed an order for Gandhi to not enter the village of Champaran. Gandhi knew something was fishy.
This is where he performed the first Satyagrah movement. He sat on the border of Champaran and declared a fast unto death. Slowly and steadily more villagers became a part of it. Soon the outskirts of Champaran were filled with peaceful protestors who were fasting till death. This event was getting a lot of media coverage. Hence the court undid the order.
Gandhi went into the village. Here he took two months to assess the complications of the situation. After two months he appeared before the court with 2000 personal testimony. The unfair British jury was outplayed by the charisma of Gandhi. They won the case and Indigo laws were relaxed.
Joyous by the victory, the residents of Champaran gave Gandhi the nickname of Bapu (father).
The after-effects of this event were pivotal in Indian history. This was a rare victory of common men against the mighty British. This event was also the stepping stone for Gandhi. Gandhi gained much-deserved popularity and confidence among the public. He went on to become the face of the Indian independence movement.