Thursday, 16 August 2018

Remembering the great freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna, Karnataka

Sangolli Rayanna/
Sangolli Rayanna (15 August 1798 – 26 January 1831), a great warrior and freedom fighter from Karnataka, was the army chief in the kingdom of Kittur ruled  by Rani Chennamma. Like the queen he never accepted  the sovereignty of the British East India Company  and its interference in the affairs of the Kittur kingdom. Their atrocities having crossed the limits of tolerance Rayanna fought against the colonial rulers till he breathed his last. His exploits during the colonial period became so famous they were topics of  serious discussion. His inspiring life became  the subject of the 2012  Kannada film ''Sangolli Rayanna''.

Belonging to Kuruba tribe, Sangolli village, in the district of Ganeshawadi and Bailuhongala, his father was  Dodda Baramappa Balappa Rogannavar. Right from the early ages, he hated the British  who took away countless lands  owned by various  rulers in a dishonest manner, using some excuses. He  did not like Indian natives being cowed down by the foreign invaders who had better fire power and war weapons. Despite being arrested  and later released by the British in 1824 for his major role in a rebellion, his upraising against the English company continued ever vigorously and his spirited fight against never showed any sign of decline.

Nandagad The grave of Sangolli Rayanna. The Hindu
Bangalore. statue of  Sangolli Rayanna. NewsKarnataka
He was very particular about installing the adopted son  Shivalingappa of Rani (queen) Kittur Chainnamma as the ruler of Kittur to run the small kingdom effectively. Since the widowed queen did not have a son, the British did not accept adoption as a means to ascend the throne. Using their unjust Doctrine of Lapse as a ruse, they wanted to take over the kingdom against the wishes of Rani Chinnamma and her army chief  Rayanna. Apart from enrolling more local people in his army,  he also conducted raids against rich landlords. Sangolli Rayanna was a nightmare for the rich Zamindars /land owners
Sangolli Rayanna/
and the rich who, in collusion with the colonial rulers, exploited the poor. With the money looted from the rich, he strengthened his army, and at the same time, gave the money  to the poor.  Rayanna  was one among some of the early freedom fighters who used the  guerrilla warfare  against the British as the terrain was good for this purpose.  It was Gajaveera, a Siddi warrior was of great help to Rayanna  in his relentless fights  against the British in 1829-30.  Driven by patriotism and an urge to free the land from the British, he and his well trained army targeted the  government offices and torched them. They kept changing places to avoid being tailed,  and when opportunities arose,they  waylaid British troops and plundered treasuries. In retaliation, the British confiscated his lands and ultimately succeeded  in arresting him in April 1830 by  treachery. He was  tried  and the trial was a bogus one. As expected  the British  sentenced Sangolli Rayanna  to death by hanging near  Nandagad in Belagavi district on 26 January 1831; he was just 32 years old. His legal heir Shivalingappa, a minor  was supposed to be the new ruler; however, he was  too  arrested by the British to grab the kingdom.

Rayanna was buried near Nandagad and his grave is under the shadow of a Banyan tree once planted by his admirer. Also built was an  Ashoka Stambha  near the tree in the grave. His last words are very famous and often included in the popular ballads sung in the villages of North Karnataka. He said, ”I may die now but I will soon take birth again and come back to fight for my kingdom and the people until it is free from the clutches of British.”

There is a temple dedicated to  Sangolli Rayanna  and also a statue  at Sangolli village, his native place. A life size bronze statue of Sangolli Rayanna, riding a horse with a sword in right hand, was installed near Bangalore Railway station.The main railway station of Bangalore City is called "Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna" Railway Station (since 03-02-2016; Krantiveera is a Kannada word used to describe Sangolli Rayanna). Along with Rani Chennamma, Rayanna’s glory, patriotism and valor are reflected in the ‘gee gee padas’ (native folk songs) and dramas.

01. Near his native place a 100 acre land is identified to develop it into an adventure academyin Rayanna's name.  The Sangolli Rayanna Authority is allocated with Rs. 12 crores to honor this great patriot. Land consisting of 12 acres around the banyan tree where 

02. Land consisting of 12 acres around the banyan tree where Rayanna was hanged to death near  Nandgad is obtained to build a museum.