Adivasi – Wikipedia entry

An Adivasi woman from the Kutia Kondh tribal group in Orissa – Wikipedia

Adivasi (Sanskrit: Nepali: Hindi: आदिवासी; ādivāsī) is an umbrella term for a heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups claimed to be the aboriginal population of India.[1][2][3] They comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India. The word is used in the same sense in Nepal as is another word janajati (Nepali: जनजाति; janajāti), although the political context differed historically under the Shah and Rana dynasties.

Adivasi societies are particularly present in the Indian states of Kerala, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh [Chhattisgarh], Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Mizoram and other northeastern states, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. […]

Connotations of the word ‘Adivasi’

Although terms such as atavika (Sanskrit for forest dwellers), vanvasi or girijan (hill people)[5] are also used for the tribes of India, adivasi carries the specific meaning of being the original and autochthonous inhabitants of a given region, and was specifically coined for that purpose in the 1930s.[6] Over a period of time, unlike the terms “aborigines” or “tribes”, the word “adivasi” has also developed a connotation of past autonomy which was disrupted during the British colonial period in India and has not been restored.[7] […]

Disruptions during Mughal and colonial periods

Although considered uncivilized and primitive,[33]adivasis were usually not held to be intrinsically impure by surrounding (usually, caucasoid – Dravidian or Aryan) caste Hindu populations, unlike Dalits, who were.[6][34] Thus, the adivasi origins of Maharishi (Sanksrit: Great Sage) Valmiki, who composed the Ramayana Hindu religious epic, were acknowledged,[35] as were the origins of adivasi tribes such as the Grasia and Bhilala, which descended from mixed Rajput and Bhil marriages.[36][37] Unlike the subjugation of the dalits, the adivasis often enjoyed autonomy and, depending on region, evolved mixed hunter-gatherer and farming economies, controlling their lands as a joint patrimony of the tribe.[33][38][39] In some areas, securing adivasi approval and support was considered crucial by local rulers,[6][40] and larger adivasi groups were able to sustain their own kingdoms in central India.[6] The Gond Rajas of Garha-Mandla and Chanda are examples of an adivasi aristocracy that ruled in this region, and were “not only the hereditary leaders of their Gond subjects, but also held sway over substantial communities of non-tribals who recognized them as their feudal lords.”[38][41]

This relative autonomy and collective ownership of adivasi land by adivasis was severely disrupted by the advent of the Mughals in the early 16th century. Similarly, the British beginning in the 18th century added to the consolidation of feudalism in India, first under the jagirdari system and then under the zamindari system.[42] […]

Source: Adivasi – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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