A tale of valour that ignited the flame of revolt in Mahakaushal region

Gondwana rulers Shankar Shah and Kunwar Raghunath Shah stood tall against the British, and triggered a revolt

With Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurating the Martyr Day programme of Raja Shankar Shah and Kunwar Raghunath Shah at Jabalpur on Saturday, India remembers the valour of the fiery duo who ignited the flame of revolution in the Mahakaushal region. Shankar Shah and Raghunath Shah were the rulers of the erstwhile Gondwana Kingdom. Both attained martyrdom in the 1857 revolt against the British.

The Gondwana Kingdom, which included parts of Jabalpur and Mandla district, was ruled by a succession of Gondwana rulers.  The kingdom was nestled in the Vindyachal and Satpura ranges and the inhospitable terrain afforded it protection from invaders. The region was a relatively peaceful region while the rest of the Indian subcontinent was experiencing turmoil and instability. The advent of the British, however, changed everything.

Flag of revolt hoisted by Raja Shankar Shah and son

The early 18th century saw the waning of power of the Mughal and Maratha kingdoms, and the British East India Company established control over most parts of India.  This included the Gondwana region, which was under the supervision of an extremely brutal British General. In 1857, the East India Company appointed Commander Clarke of the 52 Regiment in Jabalpur.

Commander Clarke was extremely brutal and subdued all the small kingdoms and zamindars of the state, and extracted exorbitant taxes from them. This led to a lot of discontentment and the flag of revolt was raised under the leadership of then ruler of the state, Raja Shankar Shah and his son Kunwar Raghunath Shah.

They united the kings of neighboring land and started a revolt which inflicted heavy casualties to the British.

Poets who instilled a thirst for freedom among the masses

Bothe Shankar Shah and Raghunath Shah were excellent poets and with their revolutionary poems instilling among the masses a thirst for freedom from the occupation forces.

Commander Clarke changed his tactics and set up a network of spies who tracked every movement of Shankar Shah and Raghunath Shah. On September 14th, the duo were ambushed and captured . After a sham trial, the two were sentenced to death. On September 18th, both father and son were illed after being tied to the mouth of cannon.

Shankar Shah and Raghunath Shah are highly revered figures among the tribal communities in Mandla, Dhindori and Jabalpur.Their valor and bravery are recounted in a number of poems popular in the region even today.  

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