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Asmita (self-consciousness) of Nomads and Tribals

Asmita  (self-consciousness) of Nomads and Tribals

Author: Ramesh Patange
Publication:  Mumbai Tarun Bharat - Supplement Aasmant (translation)
Date: November 24, 2002

Who are the Nomads and Tribals? Some tell them that you are orphans, some say you are Dravids and some say you are the aboriginals.

The meaning of all these talk is only one and that is "You are not Hindus". You are slaves of Hindus.  Those who say such things are called 'Progressives' in Maharashtra.  Invisible Missionary lobby supplies a lot of intellectual food and money too for such propaganda.

How the Nomads-Tribals can be called Anarya (non-Aryans), Dravidians or Aboriginals?

They are the indivisible part of our culture, way of life, values and religious thinking.  Only they do not know this identity nor the white-collar community is aware of it.  A Historic rally making aware Nomads, tribals and even the white-collar communities of this identity was held at Latur on 16th and 17th November.

For this Asmita Jagaran Rally people from 37 castes or tribes from Nomad and tribals had participated.  Most of them had come in their charming traditional dresses. Workers of the Council had been touring small small localities (called Padas) of nomads and tribals for the last two months explaining to them as to why the rally was being held and for what purpose. There are about 26 full time workers of the Nomads-Tribals Development Council. The rally was not for making any demands or not for establishing anybody's leadership.  It was to be held for discussing their own problems, difficulties and finding out ways and means out of them.

There were about more than 1500 brothers and sisters who attended the rally and all of them had come at their own expense.  This must be happening in the history of Nomads and tribals for the first time.  A rally was held on 2nd October 1991 - M. Gandhi Birthday at Pune under the leadership of Dr Bheemrao Gasti.  It can be described only as a rally of confusion and indiscipline.  Subsequently,  many small and large rallies were held in Maharashtra.  It was after 12 years that such a rally was held which can be described as a highly disciplined rally with a commendable restraint and excellent participation by all.

In one sense, this rally was indicative of the transformation taking place among nomads and tribals.  The participating men and women were seating in the hall in complete discipline, take their meals by standing in queue and also eat it sitting in order.  The leaders on the dais also observed this discipline.  Nobody talked outside his subject.  Nobody talked out of turn.

Shri Asaram Guruji in participating on the seminar on 'The third schedule of the Constitution' said, "We must keep struggling, raising our voice.  Remember, the mother always heeds towards the crying baby only." Shri K. O. Girhe was all praise for the work of Nomads-Tribals Development Council.  These two eminent people are mentioned here particularly, because they are not any office bearers of the Nomads-Tribals Development Council.

Rajendra Banarase, Navanath Aavhad, Haribhau Rathod, Dr Puri and others took part in the deliberations and displayed excellent example of intellectual discipline. To the point and effective speeches can be said to be a special feature of this rally.

The self-awareness of the nomads and tribals was visible at every step. God of all was Shambhu Mahadeo.  Those who roam from door to door with Nandis (oxen which nod their head affirmative or negatively on asking a question about people's future etc.) consider that there is a part of Lord Shankar in their Nandis.  These are the people who developed the culture of farming. The descendants of Hanat Baba who killed 300 British soldiers were among the participants. Pandit Bhosles whose ancestors were killed by British soldiers in 1857 war of Independence were also here.  There were Gondhalis (people who perform a special type of Keertan which is performed at the end of every significant ceremony in many families in Maharashtra) from Tuljapur had come. A drama of killing of Mahishasur by Durga was staged during the rally. Durga riding on the tiger came alive on the stage and a thrilling drama of the killing of Mahishasur was presented. Another skit presented the killing of Bhasmasur. The playwright commented at the end, "Those who look at the wife of another with lust turns to ashes like this". Our own culture is clearly perceived from the thoughts and sentiments of these nomads and tribals.

What is their self-consciousness and ours? It is not separate. It is the same.  This self-consciousness is of Hinduness.  Bhagwan Maharaj Anod Gadkar who inaugurated this rally, said, "We are all the children of Bharatmata and I am also one of you." The President of the Rally, Shri Dada Idate took a scientific review of the present condition of Nomad and tribals community in his detailed speech. He mentioned those learned men who had studied their condition from the point of sociology.  He made a very special reference of Dr Ghurye in this connection.  He discussed how the life of nomads and tribals had been  horribly affected by the Criminal Tribes law passed by British Government in 1931. These brothers who carved the Ajanta, built temples which are unparalleled architectural wonders, creators of idols of gods and goddesses par excellence from molten metals and also the Iron Pillar at Delhi which never rusts are all the part of our society and an inseparable part of our national life. Emphatically stating these points, he also discussed the recommendations of Idate Commission and their implementation.

The ceremonial procession of the rally was a feast for the eyes of citizens of Latur. The same discipline was observed which was observed in the Hall of the Rally. During this two hour rally, the nomad and tribal brothers and sisters untiringly presented their traditional art performances.

Concluding function of the Asmita Jagaran Melava took place in the ground of Chatrapati Shahu Vidyalaya which has an excellent portrait of Late Shri Shahu Maharaj.  This king with a great love for poor and weak people in his heart, must have been extremely pleased in the heart of his heart in the heaven from where he must have seen this disciplined rally of nomads and tribals which was giving a message of self-emancipation.

At such public meetings, there is a abundance of bombastic speeches making a capital of injustice, atrocities etc.  But in this public meetings there was no place for such stunts.  A worker from Mariaai Samaj Shri Dagadu Nimbalkar came to the stage to deliver his speech. (He himself roams with the cart of Mariaai from place to place). This perhaps was his first speech before such a large audience and hence he did not start with the usual formalities like "Honourable President, Speaker". He was speaking his heart out. He said, "Till this time, all people used us. But the people of Sangh took us close to their hearts. Gave us pride. Prabhunekaka and Idate are like Ram Laxman to us.  Now we will not go after any other organisation.  We have to struggle ourselves and stand on our own feet".  Namdeo Bhise of Mendhagi Joshi (those move with Nandis) said, "Whenever I stand to speak in a meeting before people, my feet get shivers.  But today, I do not have any fear to talk before you.  This confidence, this strength has been given to me by Nomads Tribals Development Council and Sangh.  We have now decided to stand on our own feet.  We have resolved to educate our children and make them wise."

After the public meeting of the concluding ceremony of 17th, while going to catch the train, one question came to my mind.  What is the achievement of this rally? Brothers and sisters of more than 30 castes and tribes came together, lived in perfect harmony, all workers took great efforts, all speeches were excellent. There was the historical speech of Idate too. But what is the important achievement of all these?  I came to the conclusion, "All this is there, no doubt, but most important was we gained the trust of nomad and tribal brethren. This achievement is capable of giving us great inspiration and energy for the march ahead  although strewn with heavy difficulties."

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