The Historic Heroes of Our Tribe
Historical findings suggest that our ancestry has left behind an illustrious record of their achievements that we can be proud of.The Koli Samaj, has given India and the world, great sons and daughters whose teachings are of universal import and of relevance to modern day living.
The great king Chandra Gupta Mourya, and his line of descendent kings belonged to the Koli tribe. Lord Budhha's mother and his wife belonged to the Koli tribe.
Sant Kabir, a weaver by trade, ended several of his ‘bhajans’ as ‘kahet kabir kori’ was a self-confessed Koli. Bhaktaraj Bhadurdas and Bhaktaraj Valram from Saurastra, Girnari Sant Velnathji from Junagadh, Bhaktaraj Jobanpagi, Sant Sri Koya Bhagat, Sant Dhudhalinath, Madan Bhagat, Sany Kanji Swami of 17th and 18th Century all belonged to the Koli tribe.
In the 1857 uprising a number of Koli women fighters played an important role in trying to save the life of the ‘Rani of Jhansi’. Among them was a very close colleague of the queen named Jalkaribai. She was a village girl and hailed from a very poor family. It is said that she had an encounter with a tiger while she was collecting firewood in the jungle and she killed the tiger single handed with her axe. She had a striking resemblance to Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and because of this Rani took interest in her and inducted her into the women's wing of the army. During 1857-58 there were several British raids on Jhansi Fort and the Rani repulsed every one of the attacks. Later when the fall of fort became imminent Jalkari bai and some generates convinced Laxmibai to escape quietly with the help of supporters. In a ploy to deceive the British, Jalkari bai dressed herself up like the Rani and took command of the army. The British found out the truth, but it was too late. The Rani had covered a considerable distance by then. Jalkaribai fought the British forces valiantly but was eventually forced to surrender. The British general, impressed by her loyalty, courage and fighting prowess treated her with respect and set her free
The most ancient and revered sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana belonged to this tribe. Even today Ramayana is referred to as Koli Valmiki Ramayan in Maharashtra State. Teachings from Ramayan form the basis of Indian culture.
In the State of Maharashtra, Sivaji's Commander-in-Chief and several of his Generals belonged to this tribe. ‘A History of the Marathas’ note with pride the bravery of Sivaji’s army consisting mainly of Mavalis and Kolis. His General, Tanaji Rao Malusare, who was always referred to by Sivaji as ‘My Lion’ was a koli. When Tanaji fell fighting for and winning the‘Kodana Fort’, Sivaji renamed the fort as ‘Sinhghadhh’ in his memory.