Definition of Harijan in English:


Pronunciation /ˈharɪdʒan//ˈhʌrɪdʒ(ə)n/


  • A member of a hereditary Hindu group of the lowest social and ritual status.

    • ‘Walking almost alone, he managed to collect some 3,000 acres of good arable land and have them distributed to the landless of whom the vast majority were Harijans and Adivasis.’
    • ‘Gandhi earliest followers were India's lowest caste the ‘untouchables’ whom he called Harijans, meaning children of God.’
    • ‘These are the same Harijans who were promised equal status if they converted to Christianity, but are still denied equality.’
    • ‘Under the banner of ‘Civil Rights Protection Committee’, he led a group that fought for the rights and privileges of the Harijans.’
    • ‘This class of untouchables (later called Harijans by Mahatma Gandhi) still exists in all parts of India.’


From Sanskrit harijana, literally ‘a person dedicated to Vishnu’, from Hari ‘Vishnu’ + jana ‘person’. The term was adopted and popularized by Gandhi.