Panchanan Barma (1866–1935), also known as Thakur Panchanan and Roy Saheb, was a Rajbanshi leader and reformer from Cooch Behar. He established a Kshatriya Sabhā[jargon] to instill Brahminical values and practices in people of his own caste.
Barma was born as Panchanan Sarkar, originally came from a jotedar family of Cooch Behar. He was born on 11 February 1866 at Khalisamari village, Mathabhanga Sub-division, in erstwhile Cooch Behar State, to Mr. Khoshal Sarkar (d. 1890) and Mrs. Champala Sarkar. He graduated from a Kolkata college, with an honours in Sanskrit, in 1893. He later privately completed his M.A. in Mental and Moral Philosophy in 1896 from the University of Calcutta, and later took his LL.B. degree from Surendranath Law College, Kolkata, in 1900. In the early years of his career, he started practicing law at Rangpur court. In Rangpur he was shocked by the refusal of a high caste lawyer to use a toga (lawyer's gown), previously used by him. In the following years, he led a kshatriyazation movement among Rajbanshi community of Bengal. In order to be respected and accepted by the upper caste Bengalis Panchanan felt the Rajbanshis must get organized and educated, which he tried to achieve through the Kshatriya Samity. Understandably, the Samity tried to prove that Rajbanshis were Kshatriyas with a royal lineage, suggesting a historical link with Biswa Singha, the king of Cooch Behar. Based on Sanskrit literature and Brahmin pundits, they also claimed to be Kshatriyas, hiding their true identity for centuries. In support of this claim the movement involved a ceremonial kshatriyaisation process - brahminical rituals were performed to convert thousands of Rajbanshis to ‘Kshatriya Rajbanshi’ in the villages of North Bengal. In 1921, Panchanan was selected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly after winning the general election. Panchanan Sarkar died in Kolkata on 9 September 1935. The name of the Cooch Behar Panchanan Barma University commemorates his legacy.
- Chatterji, Joya (2002) [First published 1994]. Bengal divided: Hindu communalism and partition, 1932-1947. Cambridge University Press. pp. 198–199. ISBN 978-0-521-52328-8.
This strategy was well suited to Bengal, where many low castes were already trying to 'purify' or Brahminise their own practices. In the early twenties, for instance, the Rajbangshi leader Panchanan Barman had established a 'Kshattriya Sabha' in order to inculcate Brahmanical values and practices among his caste-fellows.
- Ray, Subhajyoti (2002). Transformations on the Bengal Frontier: Jalpaiguri, 1765-1948. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7007-1408-7.
- Sarkar, I (2006). "The Kamatapur Movement: Towards a Separate State in North Bengal". In Govinda Chandra Rath (ed.). Tribal development in India: the contemporary debate. Sage. ISBN 978-0-7619-3423-3.
- Thakur Panchanan Barmar Jivan Charit (in Bengali) by Upendra Nath Barman
- Paschimbanga: Special Issue on Roy Saheb Panchanan Barma, Vol. 38, No. 7, February 2005. Published by the Department of Information and Culture, Government of West Bengal.
- Thakur Panchanan Smarak (in Bengali) by Kshitwish Chandra Burman (Kolkata: Behala Central Government Quarter, 2001)
- Adhikary, Chanchal (July 2013). "Upendra Nath Barman and Caste Politics Among the Rajbanshis of North Bengal". Voice of Dalit. 6 (2): 137. doi:10.1177/0974354520130203. S2CID 157810204.