noun, plural Har·i·jans, (especially collectively) Har·i·jan. (often lowercase) Hinduism.
  1. untouchable(def 5).
  2. a member of the group formerly known as untouchables in India: a term used by Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Origin of Harijan

First recorded in 1930–35, Harijan is from the Neo-Sanskrit word harijana person of Hari (a name for Vishnu), hence, in Gandhi's conception, a child of God
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British Dictionary definitions for harijan


  1. a member of certain classes in India, formerly considered inferior and untouchableSee scheduled castes

Word Origin for Harijan

Hindi, literally: man of God (so called by Mahatma Gandhi), from Hari god + jan man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012