Majnu Shah

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Majnu Shah a Madaria sufi saint from Mewat and leader of the fakir-sannyasi resistance against the dominance of the English East India Company in Bengal. Nothing is known about the early life of Majnu Shah or even his real name. He is known only by his popular name Majnu Shah, sometimes called Majnu Shah Burhana and often Majnu Fakir.

Majnu Shah succeeded Shah Sultan Hasan Suriya Burhana to the leadership of the Bihar based Madaria sufi order in the mid-eighteenth century. He organised the sufi saints and the yogi sannyasis, under a common platform, reported to have moved frequently between the western part of Bihar and the eastern extremity of Bengal mobilising the scattered fakirs and sannyasis and floating the spontaneous support of the professional classes and the common people of Bengal in his fight against the rule of East India Company. Majnu Shah used to live at Baliakandi in Hemtabad thana of Dinajpur district. He had also a temporary residence at Madarganj in Bogra.

Majnu Shah led the Fakir-Sannyasi Resistance in Bengal beginning from 1760, and relentlessly fought against the East India Company for long twenty six years. In his armed resistance against the Company rule he could mobilize more than fifty thousand fakirs and sannyasis fighting in open battle and in operations mainly of guerilla nature. He along with his lieutenants conducted many successful operations in the whole of Bengal surprising the Company kuthis, revenue offices, Company establishments, and raiding revenue kacharis of the zamindars loyal to the Company rulers, and inflicting severe defect to the Company forces causing a big death tolls in Company soldiers and service personnel. The outstanding achievement of Majnu Shah lies in his success in retaining the unity of the fakirs and sannyasis and in maintaining the integrity of such a prolonged armed struggle against the ruling authorities.

Majnu Shah while raiding the areas adjacent to Mymensingh in 1786 sustained reverses in a battle against the Company army under Lieutenant Brenan in Kaleswar area. He lost large number of his followers, and some of his wounded followers were carried to Mewat. After 1786 Majnu Shah was not found to lead any expedition. From a report of Lieutenant Brenan it reveals that Majnu Shah was defeated and wounded in a battle on 8 December 1786. It is likely that with his wound he repaired to the dargah of Shah Madar at Maqanpur in Cawnpur (Kanpur) district, where he is reported to have died on 26 January 1788. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]