Harichand Guruchand Thakur
Sri Sri Harichand Thakur was a Hindu monk known for his immense contribution for uplifting the untouchables in the undivided Bengal.
He was born around 1811 to a peasant family of Thakur community in Orakandi, Gopalganj District of Bengal presidency (presently in Bangladesh).
He dedicated his whole life to bring salvation to the downtrodden. He founded a sect of Vaishnavite Hinduism called “Matua”.
This was adopted by members of the Namasudra community, who were then considered to be untouchables.
The Matua sect was opposed to caste oppression and work towards education and social upliftment of Dalits.
It has subsequently attracted adherents from other caste communities that were marginalized by the upper castes, including the Malis, Telis and Chamars.
After the death of Sri Sri Harichand Thakur, his son, Guruchand Thakur (born 1846), have taken the lead of Matua Mahasangha. He established number of schools for the education of Dalit community.
He was the man, under whose phenomenal leadership Matua sect achieved its doctrinal cohesion and major organizational push, as it came to be associated with the Namasudra social protest movement started in 1872.
A considerable body of Dalit literature that mixes religious and secular themes has emerged around Thakur’s legacy and Matua Mahasangha.
As of now, Matua sect is a leading community working for the upliftment of Bengali Dalits residing in India & Bangladesh.
It is estimated that this Matua sect constitutes a minimum of 15% of the overall population in the state of West Bengal.