Definition of Harijan in English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Gandhi earliest followers were India's lowest caste the ‘untouchables’ whom he called Harijans, meaning children of God.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These are the same Harijans who were promised equal status if they converted to Christianity, but are still denied equality.’


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