Are Indian Tribals Hindus

Shrikant Talageri

A Compiled Booklet

The legal position on this question is very clear. According to the Constitution of India, laws framed for Hindus apply to the following three categories of people:

(a) To any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms and developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingyat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj,

(b) To any person who is a Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion, and

(c) To any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.

Thus, according to the constitution, every citizen of India , except a Muslim, a Christian, a Parsi or a Jew, is legally a Hindu. The constitution draws a distinction between three categories of legalHindus:

(a) Hindus Category One (consisting of all those who can still be categorized as full-fledged Hinduswithin the Hindu religious fold. including members of sects having antecedents traceable to mainline Hindu religious texts or individuals),

(b) Hindus Category Two (consisting of members of the three sects namely Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. founded by Hindu individuals, which originated as sects within the Hindu religious fold, but, in the course of history, came to acquire a more distinctive religious identity), and

(c) Hindus Category Three (consisting of members of indigenous religious groups native to India , not founded by any particular individual, following ancestral forms of belief or worship not specifically having antecedents traceable to mainline Hindu religious texts or seers).

The people who are outside this purview themselves belong to two categories:

(a) ex-Hindus, i.e. Muslims and Christians, who, by and large, are converts from the Hindu fold, and

(b) Non-Hindus, i.e. Jews and Parsis, who, in spite of different degrees of intermingling with local people, are by and large historical descendants of non-Hindu refugees or migrants from outside India .

The basic criterion on which the constitution divides the Indian population into legal Hindus and legal non-Hindus is clear:

(a) Members of all religions which originated within India are legally Hindus, and

(b) Members of all religions which originated outside India are legally non-Hindus.

When the legal definition of who is a Hindu is so loud and clear, why should it became necessary at all to discuss the question of whether or not tribal are Hindus? Obviously, all tribals who have not actually convened to Christianity or Islam are Hindus.

But, in India , things are not so simple. It becomes necessary to thrash out the question of whether or not tribals are Hindus because Christian missionary organizations and their open or covert spokesmen, the leftist and secularist politicians, academicians and media persons, have made it a question which must be answered in detail.

According to the missionaries and their spokesmen, Indian tribals are not Hindus, and they are an open field for the missionaries to ‘harvest their souls’. Some of the spokesmen are kind enough to suggest that Hindus are also free to convert the tribals to Hinduism if they so wish. Tahir Mehmood, writing in the Hindustan Times of 28/ l/1999, after arguing that tribals are not Hindus, concludes with this generous offer: ‘Hindu religious preachers can, thus, lawfully offer their religion to the tribals. So can the Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and followers of all other major religions. This can be done, by all communities, only peacefully and strictly within the legal parameters.”

As if Hindus desirous of converting anyone to Hinduism would be any match for the powerful and organized Christian missionary network in India , funded by powerful multi-billion dollar churches, foundations and evangelical groups in the U.S.A ., Europe and Australia, and backed by western politicians, media and governments and the international organizations controlled by them (operating in the name of religious rights, human rights, civil rights, etc.) and with the overt and covert backing within India of the secularist establishment, the leftist academia and the American-funded media, not to mention the convent-educated middle-classes!

Of course, when Hindu organizations actually do make their piddling efforts to stem the evangelistic steam rollers by spreading awareness among the tribals of their Hindu identity, they face a political and media blitzkrieg, and stand accused of ‘communalism’ or minority-bashing’.

tribal-woman-orissa

Supporting Christian missionaries is an article of faith for secularism in India . When the secularist- leftist magazine Tehelka, in one of its early issues, carried detailed report about the heavily funded and militarily organized subversive activities of foreign missionaries in India , there was a s harp reaction from prominent leftist and secularist personalities who wrote floods of letters to the magazine expressing shock at the publication of such reports in a secularist- leftist magazine, and accusing it of having betrayed secularism. Ever since, Tehelka is in the forefront of ‘reports’ indicting ‘communal’ Hindu organizations for harassing Christian missionaries and neo-Christian converts. The following is the most classic example of the nature of secularism in India, the status of Hinduism in India , and the power of the evangelists: The Times of India , on 3/1/1987, carried an article entitled ‘ RSS baits Church in Bihar tribal belt’, about tensions and riming incidents in South Bihar (now Jharkhand) between Christian tribals and non- Christian tribals, highlighting a report by the PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) on the matter:

The report said that the missionaries had revolutionized the lives of poor tribals in the interior villages and have turned them into proud men and women… ‘RSS and other diehard communalHindu organizations had entered the arena… They were trying to appeal to non Christian tribals in the name of ‘Hinduism’ and organizing various Hindu festivals, it said. This, the report said, ‘has given rise to the tension and conflict between the Christians and non Christians, which suited the interest of the RSS’ … The report said the missionaries have also reacted to the RSS challenge in a spirit of retaliation.

In short, if powerful and super rich foreign missionaries enter into the interior heartland of India , and mass-convert large sections of tribals to their foreign religion by telling them that the religions, gods, beliefs and practices of their ancesto rs are ‘satanic” and will take them to hell, and that the only way to escape hell and attain heaven is to accept Christ and convert to their alien religion, this does not amount to ‘baiting’ or provoking anyone, such as the tribals in particular or Hindus in general, or violating their civil rights. In fact, it amounts to turning the tribals ‘into proud men and women’!

But if Hindu organizations (automatically ‘diehard communal’, since Hindu, in opposition to the presumably ‘to lerant and secular’, since Christian missionaries!) enter these areas within their own country, and appeal to the local people in the name of their ancestral religions, and actually have the gall to ‘organize Hindu festivals’, it naturally amounts to gross ‘baiting’ and provocation of the foreign missionaries and violation of their civil rights. And if there is any ‘retaliation’ by the missionaries to this ‘baiting’, it is of course excusable as a perfectly normal and justifiable ‘reaction’ to these gross provocations by the communalists. And of course civil rights organizations have to rush to the protection and defense of these poor, helpless and oppressed missionaries, and the hapless plight to which they have been reduced by ‘RSS baiters’ has to be propagated in our secular press!

Another example from a second leading national newspaper:

In the last two decades, religious organizations claiming monopoly over spiritual knowledge have moved into these parts and started branding the age-old ways that enabled people of different communities to live in harmony as ‘corrupt’, ‘evil’, or simply ‘wrong’. The uniqueness of the local culture is being obliterated by these outfits, which are painting religion in one uniform shade, advocating a way of life they claim represents true faith. In doing so, they are sowing the seeds of fundamentalism, and seem to be quite happy doing it.

Doesn’t this sound like a description of Christian missionaries, who claim to have a ‘monopoly over spiritual knowledge’ since their religion and God are the only true ones (all others being false religions and Gods who can only lead to hell), who ‘move into ’ different areas of the world to spread this message, who compel people to leave their ‘age-old ways’ of worship and religion because these are ‘‘corrupt’, ‘evil’, or simply ‘wrong’, and seek to obliterate everywhere ‘the uniqueness of the local culture’ by trying to paint the whole world in one international imperialistic ‘fundamentalist’ colour?

Wrong! This is a description (in an Indian Express article, 11/ 10/98, ‘Converting Histo ry’, by Rajesh Sinha, describing the situation in certain parts of Rajasthan) condemning the V HP and other Hindu organizations for having ‘started competing with Christian missionaries in establishing schools [etc.]’, thereby leading to ‘most Christian converts now returning to the Hindu fold’. The writer, with a straight face, tells us: ‘In the process, the saffron hawks are changing the face of Rajasthan, where once communal identity was a matter of little importance’. Is this some kind of incurably perverted mental sickness, or is it the power of the dollar?

It must be noted that the question of whether tribals are Hindus o r nor is, strictly speaking, not material to the larger question of conversions as such, since it is not a Christian claim that they intend to convert only non-Hindus to Christianity. Conversion of every living non-Christian human being to Christianity is the central dogma of evangelical Christianity. In rural and urban areas alike, large numbers of people belonging to every caste and community, not excepting Brahmins, are being converted day and night by these all powerful evangelists. Recently, the Mufti of Kashmir passed a fatwa against Kashmiri Muslims being converted to Christianity: the Indian Express, already in 6/ 4/2003, had carried a detailed news report about the large-scale conversions of Muslim youths to Christianity by American evangelists in Kashmir.

In fact, different Christian sects all over the world are even engaged in feverish conversion of each other’s ‘flock’: Pope John Paul II, while addressing the Fourth General Conference of Latin American Bishops in Santo Domingo, 1992, exhorted the bishops to protect their ·’flock’ from ‘rapacious wolves’ ( i.e. from the cash-rich American fundamentalist churches and sects engaged in large-scale conversions of Latin American Catholics) . The same Pope, in November 1999, in his public meeting in Delhi, exhorted the Indian Catholics to continue their evangelistic efforts to make India a (Catholic) Christian land !

Therefore, it would appear that the question of whether Indian tribals are Hindus or not is only an academic question since the evangelist Christians want to convert them anyway, whether or not they are Hindus. Bur, nevertheless it is still very important question from the point of view of the missionary propaganda:

  1. a) To tell the tribals that they are nor Hindu’ and have no connections with the larger Hindu society around them,
  2. b) To tell the world, as in the above case (of the RSS ‘baiting’ the Church in Bihar’s tribal belt), that the converted tribals were not Hindus in the first place, and so it is no business of the Hindus to interfere if the tribals are converted to Christianity, and
  3. c) To tell posterity that Hinduism is as foreign a religion to India as Christianity in the name of the Aryan invasion theory, as the tribals, mischievously named ‘adivasi’ (a word coined by British administrators in the 1930’s to suggest that the tribals are the ‘aborigines’ or original inhabitants’ of India and that other Indians are not), representing ‘pre- Aryan’ religions while Hinduism is an ‘Aryan’ religion brought by ‘Aryan invaders’ from outside. (Note that anyone who rejects that idea that India’s non-tribals are outsiders in India, and calls the tribals ‘vanavasis” instead of ‘adivasis’ is automatically branded as ‘communal’]

Therefore, it is imperative to examine whether or not Indian tribals are Hindu, and this is what we will be doing in this article.

Again, it must be noted that the question is two-fold. As we saw, there are three categories of legalHindus in India . In this first part of the article, we will only examine the following question: to what extent can India’s tribals be said to belong to ”Hindu Category Three’ rather than to ‘HinduCategory One’? In the second part of the article, we will examine the following question: To what extent can Indian tribal belonging to ‘Hindu Category Three’ be considered to be distinct enough from Hindu Category One’ as to justify the three above points of missionary propaganda?

The question we are examining in this first part of the article is vital to the whole discussion because it tells us what the tribals themselves have to say about whether or not they belong toHindu Category One.

It must be remembered that the final conclusive evidence about a personal identity is what that person himself/herself declares it to be. The figures we are presenting here are the figures for the religious composition of the different scheduled tribes (listed in the official lists of scheduled tribe for each state) in the different parts of India, as declared by the tribals themselves in the official census, as reported and documented in detail by a well-funded international missionary project called the Joshua Project (its sire informs us that its figures for the different ‘ethnic people groups’ of the world are ‘accurate, regularly updated’, to ‘ encourage pioneer church-planting movements among every ethnic group and to facilitate effective coordination of miss ion agency efforts’). They are not figures presented by any ‘die hard communal Hindu organization s’. On the contrary, they are a telling pointer to the malignantly motivated nature of the people (politicians, ideologues, ‘scholars”) who claim that Indian tribals are not Hindus but ‘animist’.

The figures must, further, be seen in the following three contexts:

1) In every other religion of the world, we find all the different sects of that religion claiming to be the truest, or only true, representative of that religion. Thus, Shias and Sunnis each claim to represent the truest form of Islam and accuse the other of being heretics or imperfect Muslims. Now, within Sunnis, the Wahhabis (Deobandis in India), Ahle Hadees and common Sunnis (Barelvis in India ) each make the same claims. Likewise, in Christianity, every sector Church – whether Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant or pertaining to some new fundamentalist group- claims to represent the truest form of Christianity.

It is only in the case of Hinduism that we see that opposite phenomenon of sects or erstwhile sects striving to prove that they are not Hindus. This is due to a combination of three factors: British machinations to this effect during the days of British rule, post- Independence laws (such as Article 30 of the constitution, among many others) which discriminate against Hindu sects and make it profitable for these sects to declare themselves non- Hindu, and the general Secularist paradigm in India which makes ‘Hindu’ a word of abuse. All this led even an organization like the Ramakrishna Mission (founded by Swami Vivekananda, best known for his representation of Hinduism in the World Congress of Religions) to approach the lndim1 judicial system to get itself declared as a non-Hindu minority group.

Add to this, the well-sustained campaigns by the missionaries and their entrenched spokesmen to brand the tribals as non-Hindus.

In the face of all this, if the Indian tribals declare themselves to be Hindu in the proportions indicated by the figures, what greater proof is required for the fact that they are indeed ‘HinduCategory One’?

2) In the case of the scheduled castes, the persons belonging to these castes lose the benefits of reservations on conversion to Christianity or Islam. Hence, we find many crypto -Christians (i.e. people who are converted Christians, but pretend to be, or even declared themselves to be, Hindu) among Christian converts from the scheduled castes. However, converts from the scheduled tribes do not lose the benefit of reservations on conversion to Christianity (or Islam); hence there is no practical compulsion for converts from the scheduled tribes to hide their new religious status.

Furthermore, it is also a fact that Christian converts from the tribals manage to corner most of the seats reserved for the tribals to the disadvantage of non- Christian tribals: there is a detailed report on this, with facts and figures, by S K Kaul, former Deputy Commissioner, Commission for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, entitled ‘Christian converts corner the lion’s share of Reservation quota in services for Vanavasis’, in the Organiser, Republic Dar Special, 1989.

Again, in the face of all this, if the Indian tribals declare themselves Hindu in the proportions indicated by the figures, what greater proof is required for the fact that they are indeed ‘HinduCategory One’?

3) In most of the states, the percentage of tribals who declare themselves to be Hindu is overwhelmingly higher than the percentage of the total populations, of the stares concerned, who declare themselves Hindu. This makes the tribals even more emphatically ‘Hindu Category One’ than the non- tribals!

This article first appeared in the Swastik Journal of Indian Wisdom.

Th e previous piece on the subject had offered a curtain raiser to this very crucial topic affecting the integrity and even the sovereignty of Bharata as a nation. Beginning with the British anthropological studies of Indian society as both a whole and up to its minute constituents, the academic and popular discourse on tribals has proceeded on racist and separatist lines. The Nehruvian academia which continues to exert inordinate influence on public discourse has further heightened and deepened this same colonial discourse to great detriment to the health and well-being of Indian society. It is therefore time to tell the truth about Indian tribals. Beginning with this essay, IndiaFacts will carry a series that examines in depth the question of whether Indian tribalsare Hindus, authored by a scholar of high standing, Shrikant Talageri.

Are the tribals of India “Hindus”? The legal position on this question is very clear. According to the Constitution of India, laws framed for Hindus apply to the following three categories of people:

(a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms and developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj,

(b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion, and

(c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.

Thus, according to the constitution, every citizen of India, except a Muslim, a Christian, a Parsi or a Jew, is legally a Hindu. The constitution draws a distinction between three categories of legalHindus:

(a) Hindus Category One (consisting of all those who can still be categorised as full-fledged Hinduswithin the Hindu religious fold, including members of sects having antecedents traceable to mainline Hindu religious texts or individuals),

(b) Hindus Category Two (consisting of members of the three sects, namely Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, founded by Hindu individuals, which originated as sects within the Hindu religious fold, but, in the course of history, came to acquire a more distinctive religious identity), and

(c) Hindus Category Three (consisting of members of indigenous religious groups native to India, not founded by any particular individual, following ancestral forms of belief or worship not specifically having antecedents traceable to mainline Hindu religious texts or sects).

The people who are outside this purview themselves belong to two categories:

(a) ex-Hindus, i.e. Muslims and Christians, who, by and large, are converts from the Hindu fold, and

(b) non-Hindus, i.e. Jews and Parsis, who, in spite of different degrees of intermingling with local people, are by and large historical descendants of non-Hindu refugees or migrants from outside India.

The basic criterion on which the constitution divides the Indian population into legal Hindus and legal non-Hindus is clear:

(a) members of all religions which originated within India are legally Hindus, and

(b) members of all religions which originated outside India are legally non-Hindus.

When the legal definition of who is a Hindu is so loud and clear, why should it became necessary at all to discuss the question of whether or not tribals are Hindus? Obviously, all tribals who have not actually converted to Christianity or Islam are Hindus.

But, in India, things are not so simple. It becomes necessary to thrash out the question of whether or not tribals are Hindus, because Christian missionary organisations and their open or covert spokesmen, the leftist and secularist politicians, academicians and media persons, have made it a question which must be answered in detail.

images (4)

According to the missionaries and their spokesmen, Indian tribals are not Hindus, and they are an open field for the missionaries to “harvest their souls”. Some of the spokesmen are kind enough to suggest that Hindus are also free to convert the tribals to Hinduism if they so wish. Tahir Mehmood, writing in the Hindustan Times of 28/1/1999, after arguing that tribals are not Hindus, concludes with this generous offer: “Hindu religious preachers can, thus, lawfully offer their religion to the tribals. So can the Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and followers of all other major religions. This can be done, by all communities, only peacefully and strictly within the legal parameters.”

As if Hindus desirous of converting anyone to Hinduism would be any match for the powerful and organised Christian missionary network in India, funded by powerful multi-billion dollar churches, foundations and evangelical groups in the U.S.A., Europe and Australia, and backed by western politicians, media and governments and the international organisations controlled by them (operating in the name of religious rights, human rights, civil rights, etc.) and with the overt and covert backing within India of the secularist establishment, the leftist academia and the American-funded media, not to mention the convent-educated middle-classes!

Of course, when Hindu organisations actually do make their piddling efforts to stem the evangelistic steam-rollers by spreading awareness among the tribals of their Hindu identity, they face a political and media blitzkrieg, and stand accused of “communalism” or “minority-bashing”.

Supporting Christian missionaries is an article of faith for secularism in India. When the secularist-leftist magazine Tehelka, in one of its early issues, carried detailed reports about the heavily funded and militarily organized subversive activities of foreign missionaries in India, there was a sharp reaction from prominent leftist and secularist personalities who wrote floods of letters to the magazine expressing shock at the publication of such reports in a secularist-leftist magazine, and accusing it of having betrayed secularism. Ever since, Tehelka is in the forefront of “reports” indicting “communal” Hindu organisations for harassing Christian missionaries and neo-Christian converts.

The following is the most classic example of the nature of secularism in India, the status ofHinduism in India, and the power of the evangelists: the Times of India, on 3/1/1987, carried an article, entitled “RSS baits Church in Bihar tribal belt”, about tensions and rioting incidents in South Bihar (now Jharkhand) between Christian tribals and non-Christian tribals, highlighting a report by the PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) on the matter: “The report said that the missionaries had revolutionized the lives of poor tribals in the interior villages and have turned them into proud men and women… ‘RSS and other diehard communal Hinduorganisations’ had entered the arena… They were trying to appeal to non-Christian tribalsin the name of ‘Hinduism’ and organising various Hindu festivals, it said. This, the report said, ‘has given rise to the tension and conflict between the Christians and non-Christians, which suited the interest of the RSS’… The report said the missionaries have also reacted to the RSS challenge in a spirit of retaliation”.

In short, if powerful and super rich foreign missionaries enter into the interior heartland of India, and mass-convert large sections of tribals to their foreign religion by telling them that the religions, gods, beliefs and practices of their ancestors are “satanic” and will take them to hell, and that the only way to escape hell and attain heaven is to accept Christ and convert to their alien religion, this does not amount to “baiting” or provoking anyone, such as the tribals in particular or Hindus in general, or violating their civil rights. In fact, it amounts to turning the tribals “into proud men and women”! But if Hindu organisations (automatically “diehard communal”, since Hindu, in opposition to the presumably “tolerant and secular”, since Christian, missionaries!) enter these areas within their own country, and appeal to the local people in the name of their ancestral religions, and actually have the gall to “organize Hindu festivals”, it naturally amounts to gross “baiting” and provocation of the foreign missionaries and violation of their civil rights. And if there is any “retaliation” by the missionaries to this “baiting”, it is of course excusable as a perfectly natural and justifiable “reaction” to these gross provocations by the communalists. And of course civil rights organisations have to rush to the protection and defence of these poor, helpless and oppressed missionaries, and the hapless plight to which they have been reduced by “RSS baiters” has to be propagated in our secular press!

Another example from a second leading national newspaper: “In the last two decades, religious organisations claiming monopoly over spiritual knowledge have moved into these parts and started branding the age-old ways that enabled people of different communities to live in harmony as ‘corrupt’, ‘evil’, or simply ‘wrong’. The uniqueness of the local culture is being obliterated by these outfits, which are painting religion in one uniform shade, advocating a way of life they claim represents true faith. In doing so, they are sowing the seeds of fundamentalism, and seem to be quite happy doing it”. Doesn’t this sound like a description of Christian missionaries, who claim to have a “monopoly over spiritual knowledge” since their religion and God are the only true ones (all others being false religions and Gods who can only lead to hell), who “move into” different areas of the world to spread this message, who compel people to leave their “age-old ways” of worship and religion because these are “‘corrupt’, ‘evil’, or simply ‘wrong’”, and seek to obliterate everywhere “the uniqueness of the local culture” by trying to paint the whole world in one international imperialistic “fundamentalist” colour?

Wrong! This is a description (in an Indian Express article, 11/10/98, “Converting History”, by Rajesh Sinha, describing the situation in certain parts of Rajasthan) condemning the VHP and other Hindu organisations for having “started competing with Christian missionaries in establishing schools [etc.]”, thereby leading to “most Christian converts now returning to theHindu fold”. The writer, with a straight face, tells us: “In the process, the saffron hawks are changing the face of Rajasthan, where once communal identity was a matter of little importance”. Is this some kind of incurably perverted mental sickness, or is it the power of the dollar?

It must be noted that the question of whether tribals are Hindus or not is, strictly speaking, notmaterial to the larger question of conversions as such, since it is not a Christian claim that they intend to convert only non-Hindus to Christianity. Conversion of every living non-Christian human being to Christianity is the central dogma of evangelical Christianity. In rural and urban areas alike, large numbers of people belonging to every caste and community, not excepting brahmins, are being converted day and night by these all powerful evangelists. Recently, the Mufti of Kashmir passed a fatwa against Kashmiri Muslims being converted to Christianity: the Indian Express, already in 6/4/2003, had carried a detailed news report about the large-scale conversions of Muslim youths to Christianity by American evangelists in Kashmir.

In fact, different Christian sects all over the world are even engaged in feverish conversion of each other’s “flock”: Pope John Paul II, while addressing the Fourth General Conference of Latin American Bishops in Santo Domingo, 1992, exhorted the bishops to protect their “flock” from “rapacious wolves” (i.e. from the cash-rich American fundamentalist churches and sects engaged in large-scale conversions of Latin American Catholics) [The same Pope, in November 1999, in his public meeting in Delhi, exhorted the Indian Catholics to continue their evangelistic efforts to make India a (Catholic) Christian land!].

Therefore, it would appear that the question of whether Indian tribals are Hindus or not is only an academic question since the evangelist Christians want to convert them anyway, whether or not they are Hindus. But, nevertheless it is still a very important question from the point of view of missionary propaganda:

  1. a) to tell the tribals that they are not Hindus and have no connections with the larger Hindusociety around them,
  2. b) to tell the world, as in the above case (of the RSS “baiting” the Church in Bihar’s tribal belt), that the converted tribals were not Hindus in the first place, and so it is no business of the Hindusto interfere if the tribals are converted to Christianity, and
  3. c) to tell posterity that Hinduism is as foreign a religion to India as Christianity, in the name of the Aryan invasion theory, as the tribals, mischievously named “adivasis” (a word coined by British administrators in the 1930s to suggest that the tribals are the “aborigines” or “original inhabitants” of India and that other Indians are not), represent “pre-Aryan” religions while Hinduism is an “Aryan” religion brought by “Aryan invaders” from outside. [Note that anyone who rejects the idea that India’s non-tribals are outsiders in India, and calls the tribals “vanavasis” instead of “adivasis”, is automatically branded as “communal”!]

Therefore, it is imperative to examine whether or not Indian tribals are Hindus, and this is what we will be doing in this article.

Again, it must be noted that the question is two-fold. As we saw, there are three categories of legalHindus in India. In this first part of the article, we will only examine the following question:to what extent can India’s tribals be said to belong to “Hindu Category Three” rather than to “HinduCategory One”? In the second part of this article, we will examine the following question: To what extent can Indian tribals belonging to “Hindu Category Three” be considered to be distinct enough from “Hindu Category One” as to justify the three above points of missionary propaganda? The question we are examining in this first part of the article is vital to the whole discussion because it tells us what the tribals themselves have to say about whether or not they belong to “HinduCategory One”:

It must be remembered that the final conclusive evidence about a person’s religious identity iswhat that person himself/herself declares it to be. The figures we are presenting here are the figures for the religious composition of the different scheduled tribes (listed in the official lists of scheduled tribes for each state) in the different parts of India, as declared by the tribals themselves in the official census, as reported and documented in detail by a well-funded international missionary project called the Joshua Project (its site informs us that its figures for the different “ethnic people groups” of the world are “accurate, regularly updated”, to “encourage pioneer church-planting movements among every ethnic group and to facilitate effective coordination of mission agency efforts”). They are not figures presented by any “diehard communal Hinduorganisations. On the contrary, they are a telling pointer to the malignantly motivated nature of the people (politicians, ideologues, “scholars”) who claim that India’s tribals are not Hindus but “animists”.

The figures must, further, be seen in the following three contexts:

1) In every other religion of the world, we find all the different sects of that religion claiming to be the truest, or only true, representative of that religion. Thus, Shias and Sunnis each claim to represent the truest form of Islam and accuse the other of being heretics or imperfect Muslims. Now, within Sunnis, the Wahhabis (Deobandis in India), AhleHadees and common Sunnis (Barelvis in India) each make the same claims. Likewise, in Christianity, every sect or Church – whether Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant or pertaining to some new fundamentalist group – claims to represent the truest form of Christianity. It is only in the case of Hinduism that we see the opposite phenomenon of sects or erstwhile sects striving to prove that they are not Hindus. This is due to a combination of three factors: British machinations to this effect during the days of British rule, post-Independence laws (such as Article 30 of the constitution, among many others) which discriminate against Hindu sects and make it profitable for these sects to declare themselves non-Hindu, and the general Secularist paradigm in India which makes “Hindu” a word of abuse. All this led even an organisation like the Ramakrishna Mission (founded by Swami Vivekananda, best known for his representation of Hinduism in the World Congress of Religions) to approach the Indian judicial system to get itself declared as a non-Hindu minority group.

Add to this, the well-sustained campaigns by the missionaries and their entrenched spokesmen to brand the tribals as non-Hindus.

In the face of all this, if the Indian tribals declare themselves to be Hindu in the proportions indicated by the figures, what greater proof is required for the fact that they are indeed “HinduCategory One”?

2) In the case of the scheduled castes, the persons belonging to these castes lose the benefits of reservations on conversion to Christianity or Islam. Hence, we find many crypto-Christians (i.e. people who are converted Christians, but pretend to be, or even declare themselves to be, Hindu) among Christian converts from the scheduled castes. However, converts from the scheduled tribes do not lose the benefits of reservations on conversion to Christianity (or Islam); hence there is no practical compulsion for converts from the scheduled tribes to hide their new religious status.

Furthermore, it is also a fact that Christian converts from the tribals manage to corner most of the seats reserved for the tribals to the disadvantage of non-Christian tribals: there is a detailed report on this, with facts and figures, by S K Kaul, former Deputy Commissioner, Commission for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, entitled “Christian converts corner the lion’s share of Reservation quota in services for Vanavasis”, in the Organiser, Republic Day Special, 1989.

Again, in the face of all this, if the Indian tribals declare themselves Hindu in the proportions indicated by the figures, what greater proof is required for the fact that they are indeed “HinduCategory One”?

3) In most of the states, the percentage of tribals who declare themselves to be Hinduisoverwhelmingly higher than the percentage of the total populations, of the states concerned, who declare themselves Hindu. This makes the tribals even more emphatically “Hindu Category One” than the non-tribals!

Let us go on to the figures in the next part of this series.

The Southern Heartland

The following are the figures for the total tribal population of the four South Indian states, (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka), which constitute the southern heartland of India, (i.e. the part of India furthest from the land borders of India, and therefore the least affected by the medieval invaders from the north and the destruction wrought by them, and the land which preserves the oldest monuments and richest traditions of India). First we will take the tribes having more than 97 % declared Hindus:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus
Kuru(m)ba T, Ke, Ka 36,90,015 99.38
Naikda/Nayaka A, Ka 18,94,181 99.76
Koya A, Ka 6,43,775 99.66
Yenadi A 5,60,854 99.25
Yerukula A 5,44,219 98.29
Gond A, Ka 4,81,568 99.41
Konda Dhora A 2,51,568 98.60
Irular T, Ke, Ka 2,13,612 99.95
Bagata A 1,53,775 99.98
Konda Reddi T, Ke, A 1,49,352 98.75
Savara/Saora A 1,47,934 97.41
Jatapu A 1,45,220 99.65
Mannan T, Ke 1,28,803 99.95
Paniyan T, Ke, Ka 98,744 99.73
Koli Dhor Ka 98,075 99.95
Kadu Kuruba Ka 91,256 99.15
Kattunayakan T, Ke, A, Ka 75,517 99.23
Kammara T, Ke, A, Ka 64,717 99.40
Chenchu A, Ka 58,027 99.67
Kolami/Kolowar A 57,886 99.96
Kuruman T, Ke, Ka 55,040 99.78
Konda Kapu T, Ke, A, Ka 52,480 98.36
Gadaba A 46,457 99.97
Meda Ka 44,290 99.90
Mukha Dhora A 41,615 99.75
Sholaga/Soligaru T, Ka 41,606 99.94
Jenu Kuruba Ka 41,136 99.97
Malayan T, Ke 38,223 100.00
Yerava Ka 30,767 99.95
Adiyan T, Ke, Ka 30,367 99.07
Manna Dhora A 29,856 99.60
Pardhan A 28,594 99.42
Malakkuravan T, Ke 26,774 99.95
Kanikkar(an) T, Ke 26,662 98.91
Koraga?Koracha T, Ke, Ka 26,076 97.84
Hasalaru Ka 24,561 100.00
Muthuvan T, Ke 23,205 99.70
Mali (of Andhra) A 21,754 100.00
Malai Vedan T, Ke 20,405 99.19
Ulladan Ke 19,225 98.70
Gowdalu Ka 11,553 100.00
Andh A 11,508 99.42
Malai Kudi Ka 10,794 100.00
Iruliga Ka 9,204 99.98
Malasar T, Ke, Ka 8,913 99.65
Kaniyan T, Ka 8,866 99.03
Reddi Dhora A 7,938 99.74
Hakki Pikki Ka 7,786 99.88
Eravallan T, Ke 7,683 99.80
Malai Pandaran T, Ke 6,533 98.96
Kadar T, Ke 5,417 97.86
Thoti A 5,109 99.63
Pardhi Ka 4,879 100.00
Kudiya T, Ke, Ka 4,365 99.75
Bhil A, Ka 3,604 99.47
Palliyar T, Ke 2,873 99.06
Maleru Ka 2,641 100.00
Kathodi Ka 2,191 99.91
Toda T, Ka 1,588 98.11
Barda Ka 1,581 99.24
Bavcha Ka 1,471 100.00
Kota T, Ke, Ka 1,380 99.28
Maleyakandi T, Ka 1,033 100.00
Kulia A 884 98.87
Hill Reddi A 589 100.00
Aranadan T, Ke 560 99.82
Rona A 508 98.43
Chodhara Ka 403 98.26
Patelia Ka 251 100.00
Gamit Ka 225 100.00
Dubla Ka 126 100.00
Vit(h)olia Ka 96 100.00
Rathawa Ka 30 100.00

Next, the tribes having 90-97 % declared Hindus, followed by the tribes having 50-90 %. In both cases, we will also examine the percentage of converted Christians, and the total percentage of Hindus + Christians:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of Hin+Chr
Kui Khond A 93,481 95.80 3.89 99.69
Valmiki A 78,461 95.46 4.21 99.67
Kuricchan T, Ke 47,595 96.17 3.66 99.83
Urali T 27,368 95.31 2.38 97.69
Palliyan T, Ke, Ka 6,927 92.70 5.44 98.14
Hill Pulaya Ke 3,749 93.65 6.21 99.86
Mudugar T 1,252 96.96 1.12 98.08
Maha Malasar T, Ke, Ka 691 95.95 3.18 99.13
Varli Ka 188 93.62 5.85 99.47
Kokna Ka 150 96.00 ? ?
Kochu Velan T, Ke 53 90.57 7.55 98.12
TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of Hin+Chr
Sugali/Banjara A 23,03,147 88.14 11.86 100.00
Malai Arayan T, Ke 35,715 57.16 42.79 99.95
Malayarayar Ke 7,129 65.42 34.35 99.77
Palleyan T, Ke 320 78.44 20.94 99.38

It can be seen that the overwhelming majority of the tribals of South India are self-declared “Hindu Category One”. The percentage of Hindus in the total populations of the four states, incidentally, is as follows: Tamilnadu 88.11%, Kerala 56.16%, Andhra Pradesh 89.01%, Karnataka 83.86%. But only four tribes are below 90%, the lowest being 57.16% in one. And, wherever there are Christian converts in any tribe, the Hindus and Christians in that tribe together go well above 97%, so that it is clear that the Christian conversions were from “Hindu Category One” people, and not from “Hindu Category Three” people, there being almost none of those in South India.

  1. The Northern Heartland

The northern heartland consists of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This is the heartland of ancient India, the land of the Vedas, Puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharata, of the sacred Himalayas and the Ganga, and the birthplace not only of both Vedic and Puranic Hinduism, but also of Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

The area of Punjab-Haryana (+ Delhi and Chandigarh) does not have any scheduled tribes at all: it is, in fact, the only part of India which does not. The scheduled tribes of this northern heartland are mainly the tribals of the Himalayan region, in Uttarakhand, spilling over into the adjacent Uttar Pradesh (since Uttarakhand till recently was a part of a larger Uttar Pradesh), and the tribals of neighbouring Jharkhand (likewise till recently a part of a larger Bihar) spilling into Bihar. As they represent two different sets of tribals, we will examine them separately.

The following are the only five tribal groups in the UP-UK region, again overwhelmingly “Hindu Category One”. Along with the Buddhists (typical of the Himalayan areas), the figures go above 97% in four of the five tribes, and remain below that in the fifth tribe only because the data for the religious affiliation of a small section of the tribe was apparently unavailable:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Buddhists %age of Hin+Bud
Tharu UP, UK 2,02,627 96.77 1.11 97.88
Jaunsari UP, UK 1,07,989 99.73 0.03 99.76
Bhotia UP, UK 56,437 96.46 1.88 98.34
Bhoksa/Buksa UP, UK 50,467 99.21 0 99.21
Raji UP, UK 2,960 92.97 0.15 93.12

Again, it will be clear that there are hardly any “Hindu Category Three” people in the UP-UK region. The percentage of Hindus in the total populations of the two states is as follows: Uttar Pradesh 80.61% and Uttarakhand 84.96%. But all the five tribes are well above 90% for “Hindu Category One” alone.

The following are the tribal groups in Bihar. We will see first the tribes having more than 97% declared Hindus, then those having between 90-97%, and finally those having below 90%:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus
Oraon B 1,07,183 97.21
Kharwar B 1,00,649 99.02
Chero B 10,156 99.72
Malto B 10,581 97.33
Lohra B 9,645 97.17
Bhumij B 5,044 100.00
Mahli B 3,263 98.38
Gorait B 2,771 98.56
Kisan B 2,743 99.82
Kui Khond B 2,295 100.00
Birjia B 2,291 100.00
Parhaiya B 1,629 99.45
Chik Baraik B 1,279 98.44
Sauria Pahadia B 1,270 99.84
Asur B 725 98.90
Bedia B 720 99.86
Banjara B 567 98.94
Binjhia B 135 100.00
Bathudi B 92 98.91
Saora B 86 100.00
TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of Muslims  (if significant) %age of H+C+M
Santal B 4,04,246 96.45 2.93 99.38
Gond B 83,732 95.81 0.89 2.63 99.33
Kharia B 6,175 93.91 1.54 3.24 98.69
Korwa B 1,039 95.28 2.79 98.07
Karmali B 567 93.47 5.82 99.29
Birhor B 74 95.95 4.05 100.00
TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of Muslims (if significant) %age of H+C+M
Munda B 29,160 83.35 5.15 10.28. 98.78
Ho B 1,625 88.62 6.89 95.51
Baiga B 188 89.36 9.57 98.96

In Bihar also, all the tribes, except three, have a percentage of Hindus above 90%. The lowest percentage in one tribe is 83.35, while the Hindu percentage for Bihar as a whole is 83.23. Clearly, the tribals of Bihar are also overwhelmingly “Hindu Category One”. The only tribe where the percentage of “Hindu Category Three” is of any significance is the small Ho tribe, where they number 3.08%, but the Hindus are 88.62%. [But note later the figures for all these same tribes in the state of Jharkhand].

III. The North

At this point, we can see the figures for the northern region, consisting of Jammu-Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh., which will obviously be different from the two regions already seen, since this represents the northernmost part of India lying close to the confluence of the Muslim West of Asia and the Buddhist North of Asia. Parts of the state of Jammu-Kashmir are occupied by (Muslim) Pakistan and (once-Buddhist) China, and even within the non-occupied areas, we have the three regions of Muslim-dominated Kashmir, Buddhist-dominated Ladakh, and Hindu-dominated Jammu. In these circumstances, we can naturally expect a three-fold division among the tribal populations also.We thus have the Muslim-majority tribes, the Buddhist-majority tribes and the Hindu-majority tribes:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Muslims %age of Buddhists %age of Hindus Total %age of M+B+H
Gujjar JK, HP 7,59,820 96.45 0 3.55 100.00
Purigpa JK 39,866 100.00 0 0 100.00
Bakarwal JK 18,209 100.00 0 0 100.00
Balti JK 6,553 100.00 0 0 100.00
Bot/Mangrik JK, HP 1,42,636 0.18 95.58 4.20 99.96
Brokpa JK 12,094 12.50 87.50 0 100.00
Changpa JK 11,465 0 100.00 0 100.00
Mon JK 7,225 0 100.00 0 100.00
Jad HP 1,626 5.84 67.16 26.08 99.08
Garra JK 756 0 100.00 0 100.00
Gaddi JK, HP 1,84,508 0.50 0.02 99.48 100.00
Kinnaura HP 62,133 2.78 37.22 59.75 99.75
Pangwala HP 18,109 0 1.13 98.85 99.98
Swangla HP 9,437 0 10.42 89.45 99.87
Lahaula HP 3,763 0.49 49.14 50.20 99.83

In spite of the mixed nature of the religious composition of the tribes in the northern region, it is clear that, here also, there are no “Hindu Category Three” tribals, and the tribals are either “Hindu Category One” or “Hindu Category Two” (Buddhist) or converted Muslims, obviously converted from the originally “Hindu Category One/Two” tribals of the area. [Figures for two very small tribes, the predominantly Buddhist Beda and the predominantly Hindu Sippi, do not seem to be available]

images (1)

  1. The West-Central Heartland

The West-Central heartland of India consists of the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan in the West and Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in Central India. We must also include here the small states or territories of Goa, Daman-Diu and Dadra-Nagar-Haveli. First we will take the tribes having more than 97% declared Hindus:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus
Bhil M, G, R, MP, C 143,63,991 98.53
Koli G 75,99,057 99.59
Kunbi G 75,88,339 99.81
Mina R, MP 45,74,086 99.80
KoliMahadev M 14,20,656 99.55
Kol M, MP, C 11,70,525 99.55
Kokna M, G, R, DNH 10,61,071 97.46
Varli M, G, Go, DD, DNH 10,48,729 98.05
Kawar M, MP, C 9,38,210 97.81
Halbi/Halba M, MP, C 8,40,531 98.65
Dubla M, G, Go, DD, DNH 8,27,807 99.60
Korka M, MP, C 8,25,382 99.60
Dhodia M, G, Go, DD, DNH 7,91,050 99.25
Bharwad G 6,90,024 100.00
Rathawa M, G 6,25,644 99.84
Sahariya R, MP, C 5,88,947 99.66
Vaghri G 5,20,004 99.99
Thakar M 4,87,171 99.57
Baiga M, MP, C 4,65,189 99.34
Andh M, MP, C 4,23,420 99.22
Chaudhari G 3,65,554 98.42
Rabari G 3,30,773 100.00
BhariaBhumia M, MP, C 3,30,179 99.19
Pardhan M, MP, C 3,23,079 98.91
Kathodi M, G, R, DNH 2,99,757 98.61
KoliMalhar M 2,93,919 98.65
KoliDhor M, G, R, DNH 2,92,537 98.32
Garasia R 2,34,412 99.27
Kolowar/Kolami M, MP, C 2,17,212 99.47
Pardhi M, G, MP, C 2,09,600 99.36
Bhattra M, MP, C 1,99,219 98.99
Panika MP 1,91,799 99.58
Saur MP, C 1,82,483 99.86
Dhanwar M, MP, C 1,64,475 99.44
Khairwar M, MP, C 1,53,067 99.52
Naikda M, G, R, Go, DD, DNH 1,34,817 99.40
Majhi MP C 1,21,712 99.22
Korwa MP, C 1,17,062 97.34
Charan G 1,05,778 100.00
Mawasi MP, C 1,04,866 99.45
Agariya MP, C 1,02,795 99.18
Sonr MP, C 75,748 98.48
Pao MP, C 69,856 99.83
Bhaina M, MP, C 69,848 97.24
Damaria/Damor R, MP, C 61,281 98.59
Majhwar MP, C 61,120 99.02
Keer MP 50,310 99.92
Kamar M, MP, C 39,600 99.09
Karku MP, C 30,402 99.83
Padhar G 24,273 100.00
Bhunjia M, MP, C 23,189 98.65
Chodhara M, G 20,303 99.26
Barda M, G 15,878 98.52
KuiKhond M, MP, C 15,321 98.99
Biar/Biyar MP, C 14,697 99.11
Gadaba MP, C 10,089 99.06
Bavcha M, G 8,098 98.10
Saonta MP, C 4,781 99.62
Birhor M, MP, C 4,570 98.69
Pomla M, G 2,327 99.53
Saora/Savara M, MP 2,271 99.56
Kisan/Nagasia M, MP, C                      256 100.00

The following are the tribes having between 90-97% of declared Hindus:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age Of Muslims Total %age H+C+M
Gond M, G, MP, C 108,70,476 93.21 0.69 93.90
Gamit M, G 6,30,075 91.91 8.02 99.93
Dhanka M, G, R 4,20,398 93.36 2.44 3.92 99.72
Kharia M, MP, C 77,413 96.47 3.34 99.81
BhilMina R, MP, C 60,077 96.34 2.93 99.27
Vitholia M, G 30,892 94.39 5.56 99.95
Parja M, MP, C 6,542 96.35 2.87 99.22

And finally the few tribes where Hindus are less than 90%:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age Of Muslims Total %age H+C+M
Oraon MP, C 7,48,901 64.34 32.88 97.22
Munda MP, C 13,222 86.39 11.99 98.38
Patelia M, G, R 8,791 83.60 0.19 15.22 99.01
Koya M 802 86.78 12.84 99.62

To sum up the situation so far: we have seen the religious composition of the tribals in the whole of India to the north, west and south of the Jharkhand-Orissa line, and we find that in the overwhelming majority of the tribes the percentage of “Hindu Category One” tribals is far above 90%, and far more than the percentage of the Hindus in the general population of the states concerned. The tribals are more emphatically Hindu than the non-tribals of these states. In the few tribes where the powerful missionary machinery has made any impact, the converts are obviously from among “Hindu Category One” tribals, and “Hindu Category Three” tribals are almost totally absent.

It is only in the single case of the Gond tribe of the Western-Central heartland region that we find “Hindu Category Three” tribals of any significance: a total of 6,51,111 tribals from the Gond tribe in this region declare themselves to be neither Hindu-Buddhist-Sikh-Jain nor Muslim-Christian-Parsee-Jew. It is true that this is only 5.99% of the total Gond population of 108,70,476 in this region, and the “Hindu Category One” Gonds number 101,32,841, or 93.21% of the tribe. Nevertheless, we have here one case of a “Hindu Category Three” religion: a Gond religion. [As we also saw earlier, out of the miniscule population of 1,625 Ho tribals in Bihar, 3.08% declare themselves likewise to be “Hindu Category Three”, while 88.62% are outright Hindus. But this is only a spillover from the neighbouring Jharkhand area, as we shall see in a moment].

  1. The Eastern Heartland

Finally, we come to that part of India which is at the centre of the whole question: the region comprising the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa. Here we come across the first major “Hindu Category Three” religion followed by a large number of tribals in Jharkhand, spilling over into the neighbouring states: The Sarna religion. As Jharkhand is the core area, we must examine the figures for the three states separately, to get a clearer picture. Also note the fact that this is the part of the Indian heartland where the Christian missionary military apparatus has struck in the deepest (not counting the East, which we will examine later), preying on both the “Hindu Category One” tribals as well as the “Hindu Category Three” tribals (although their modus operandi in the two cases must obviously contain some differences). Hence, there is a three-way division of the tribals into “Hindu Category One”, converted Christian, and (in the column entitled “Others”) “Hindu Category Three”. The Sarna religion is found mainly among the large Santal, Oraon, Munda and Ho tribes, but has adherents among most of the other tribes as well. We will first see the tribes in which more than a third of the population belong to the “Others” category:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of “Others” %age of H+C+O
Santal J 30,48,657 60.67 5.22 34.00 99.89
Oraon J 16,07,311 31.55 16.45 52.00 100.00
Munda J 12,05,682 29.51 21.78 48.62 99.91
Santal O 8,92,456 50.07 1.29 48.61 99.97
Ho J 8,55,404 8.73 1.75 89.38 99.86
Bhumij J 2,15,898 58.88 0.81 40.21 99.90
Asur J 13,576 23.90 15.74 60.28 99.92

Next, the tribes in which the “Others” category is between 20% and 33%:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of “Others” %age of H+C+O
Santal WB 28,28,524 65.51 2.56 31.84 99.91
Lohra J 2,32,742 76.15 2.46 21.23 99.84
Kharia J 2,05,227 37.61 40.19 21.97 99.77
Binjhia J 18,688 49.83 22.84 27.14 99.81
Mahli O 15,705 74.61 1.79 23.46 99.86
Gorait J 5,401 55.10 21.87 22.79 99.76
Bathudi J 3,694 74.53 1.84 23.42 99.79

Next, the tribes in which the “Others” category is between 10% and 20%:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of “Others” %age of H+C+O
Munda WB 5,17,299 74.15 11.12 14.42 99.69
Mahli J 1,50,769 78.06 3.07 18.76 99.89
Malto J 1,11,073 81.42 7.93 10.29 99.64
ChikBaraik J 61,342 72.14 9.12 18.45 99.71
Gond J 60,260 78.56 1.56 19.77 99.89
Kisan J 43,177 74.44 5.31 18.83 98.58
Ho WB 16,627 85.88 2.00 11.67 99.55
Karmali WB 11,809 81.40 1.63 15.21 98.24
Birjia J 7,018 64.41 21.52 13.61 99.54
Saora J 6,078 78.05 3.67 18.21 99.93
KuiKhond J 5,533 83.41 2.93 13.05 99.39

Next, we will examine the figures for the other tribes in the three states, first Jharkhand:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of “Others” %age of H+C+O
Chero J 95,766 99.09 0.10 0.77 99.96
Bedia J 95,378 90.55 0.19 9.25 99.99
Karmali J 67,555 90.95 1.35 7.16 99.46
SauriaPahadia J 62,762 81.34 10.44 7.61 99.41
Parhaiya J 42,553 90.92 2.35 6.66 99.93
Korwa J 36,259 88.25 2.25 9.09 99.59
Kora J 29,906 86.83 3.11 9.23 99.17
Birhor J 11,715 80.16 11.81 7.78 99.75
Baiga J 5,593 90.27 1.63 7.62 99.52
Banjara J 632 98.42 0.00 1.42 99.84

Next, West Bengal:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of “Others” %age of H+C+O
Oraon WB 8,46,561 75.90 16.02 7.40 99.32
Bhumij WB 4,08,764 99.32 0.36 0.17 99.85
Kora WB 1,53,012 93.60 1.87 4.38 99.85
Mahli WB 1,28,672 90.46 5.85 3.16 99.47
Lodha WB 96,420 84.11 14.94 0.81 99.86
Bedia WB 67,067 98.75 0.32 0.85 99.92
Saora WB 65,471 96.56 1.10 1.21 98.87
Lohra WB 55,082 90.14 1.76 6.23 98.13
Malto WB 49,536 90.71 8.82 0.27 99.80
Mech WB 42,279 62.43 37.28 0.11 99.82
Kharwar WB 29,140 94.62 3.70 0.63 98.95
ChikBaraik WB 26,351 91.11 5.56 3.17 99.84
Bhutia WB 24,084 0.00 0.28 0.00 0.28
Rabha WB 21,529 85.90 9.82 0.61 96.33
Parhaiya WB 11,286 97.07 1.45 1.17 99.69
Baiga WB 10,838 96.37 0.79 0.19 97.35
Gond WB 8,861 97.02 1.89 0.84 99.75
Kisan WB 8,643 95.47 3.70 0.63 99.80
Korwa WB 7,072 92.29 5.06 2.48 99.83
Asur WB 6,899 92.52 5.61 0.00 98.13
Garo WB 5,174 44.76 53.94 0.32 99.02
Gorait WB 4,777 94.43 3.56 1.42 99.41
Chero WB 3,321 95.48 3.23 0.00 98.71
Hajang WB 2,274 84.26 7.30 0.84 92.40
Mru WB 2,228 94.21 3.32 1.53 99.06
Birjia WB 1,771 93.79 3.78 0.40 97.97
Birhor WB 1,381 98.26 1.45 0.15 99.86
Chakma WB 441 75.06 7.48 0.00 82.54

[The percentage of Buddhists in three of the above tribes in West Bengal is noteworthy: Bhutia 99.72%, Chakma 15.87%, and Hajang 7.40%]

And next, Orissa:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of “Others” %age of H+C+O
KuiKhond O 15,73,579 82.62 17.05 0.29 99.96
Gond* O 9,71,000 93.78 1.03 5.09 99.90
Shabar* O 5,92,000 84.09 15.60 0.29 99.98
Kolha O 5,68,747 92.57 0.70 6.71 99.98
Saora O 5,53,983 87.09 12.23 0.65 99.97
Munda O 5,50,748 73.08 22.95 3.96 99.99
Paroja* O 4,88,000 98.20 1.61 0.14 99.95
Bhottada O 4,19,464 95.35 4.60 0.05 100.00
Kisan O 3,60,328 92.55 6.74 0.68 99.97
Oraon O 3,60,072 61.16 36.30 2.54 100.00
Bhuiya* O 3,48,000 99.62 0.11 0.27 100.00
Bhumij* O 2,50,000 90.77 0.75 8.39 99.91
Kharia O 2,30,331 68.83 30.57 0.56 99.96
Binjhal* O 1,60,000 81.73 17.99 0.24 99.96
Bhumia* O 1,52,000 96.68 3.21 0.07 99.96
Sounti* O 1,35,000 99.78 0.10 0.06 99.94
Koya O 1,30,735 96.11 3.77 0.11 99.99
Gadaba* O 97,000 97.41 2.11 0.38 99.90
Juang O 49,899 99.59 0.28 0.10 99.97
Mundari O 43,398 85.09 11.54 3.37 100.00
Mirdha* O 41,000 98.67 1.31 0.02 100.00
Kotia O 39,982 99.19 0.20 0.59 99.98
Omanatya* O 36,000 99.42 0.42 0.15 99.99
Dal* O 28,000 99.72 0.00 0.24 99.96
Konda Dhora O 26,920 98.24 1.59 0.11 99.94
Holva O 19,114 98.20 1.60 0.09 99.89
Matia* O 18,000 99.97 0.01 0.02 100.00
KolLohra O 17,134 93.77 2.08 3.90 99.75
Dharua O 16,081 99.88 0.12 0.00 100.00
Pentia* O 16,000 96.88 2.14 0.98 100.00
Bhunjia O 15,058 97.80 0.55 1.54 99.89
Lodha* O 14,000 99.73 0.26 0.01 100.00
Kora* O 14,000 93.93 1.77 4.09 99.79
Kawar O 13,716 98.51 1.11 0.24 99.86
Jatapu O 12,724 82.44 12.02 5.21 99.67
Binjhia O 11,316 97.86 0.08 2.05 99.99
BondoPoroja O 10,238 98.43 1.24 0.28 99.95
Kuli* O 8,700 98.33 1.14 0.26 99.73
Kol O 7,934 86.25 12.04 1.56 99.85
Didayi O 7,647 99.87 0.00 0.12 99.99
Malhar* O 7,000 98.78 0.12 0.25 99.15
Parenga* O 6,800 99.01 0.71 0.28 100.00
Bagata O 6,673 94.89 3.43 1.59 99.91
Gandia O 5,015 98.96 0.64 0.38 99.98
Kharwar* O 4,600 96.87 1.03 1.87 99.77
Rajuar* O 4,300 99.96 0.03 0.01 100.00
Korwa* O 2,800 97.96 1.02 0.97 99.95
DesauBhumij* O 2,600 97.27 0.00 1.84 99.11
Tharua* O 2,200 95.54 2.27 1.49 99.30
Ghara* O 2,200 97.02 2.41 0.44 99.87
Baiga O 2,169 90.73 7.28 1.75 99.76
Mankirdia* O 2,100 91.17 3.34 5.49 100.00
Mankidi* O 1,600 90.90 0.29 8.80 99.99
Birhor* O 1,400 87.81 7.37 4.57 99.75
Chenchu* O 400 99.69 0.02 0.23 99.94

[The tribal names marked with an asterisk (*) represent tribes of Orissa which, for some unknown reason, are completely missing in the Joshua Project figures for Orissa. This mysterious anomaly in respect of the figures for Orissa is in sharp contrast with the otherwise meticulously detailed figures for all the other areas. The figures for these tribes in Orissa therefore had to be gleaned from the figures given in the Joshua Project data for the individual tribes]

To sum up the data for the whole of India analysed so far:

In the whole of India to the north, west and south of the Jharkhand-Orissa line, the tribals are almost exclusively Hindu Category One (and a few tribes in the Himalayan region, Hindu-Buddhist, or Hindu Category One and Two), and any conversions to Christianity or (in a few areas like Kashmir) Islam are exclusively from Hindu tribals. The only possible Hindu Category Three people are a section of Gonds, but even among the Gonds they number only 5.99% of the Gond population of the Western-Central heartland with Hindus forming 93.21% of the tribe. In almost every state, the percentage of Hindus among the tribals is far higher than the percentage of Hindus among the non-tribal population, so that the tribals are more emphatically Hindu than the non-tribals.

In the eastern heartland of Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal, we find the first important Hindu Category Three religion, the Sarna religion. This is geographically centred in Jharkhand, mainly among some important tribes like the Santal, Munda, Oraon and Ho, and found in some significant numbers in many of the other Jharkhand tribes, with a spill over into neighbouring Orissa and West Bengal. But an examination of the figures (even taking into consideration the large scale conversions to Christianity) shows that Hinduism is still the predominant religion even among the tribals of the eastern heartland of India, certainly in Orissa and West Bengal:

STATE Total Tribal Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of Others Total of H+C+O
Jharkhand 70,87,068 39.8 14.5 45.1 99.4
West Bengal 81,45,081 74.6 6.1 17.1 97.8
Orissa 44,06,794 88.2 7.4 4.2 99.8

The percentage of Hindus in the total population of the three states is as follows: Jharkhand 68.57%, Orissa 94.35%, and West Bengal 72.47%. In West Bengal, the percentage of Hindu Category One among the tribals is still more than the percentage of Hindu Category One in the non-tribal population, but in Orissa and Jharkhand (apart from the large scale Christian proselytization) it is less, because of the presence of the Sarna Hindu Category Three religion, the only such case in the whole of mainland India excluding the North East.

  1. The North-East

Finally, we come to the last region of India, the North East, consisting of Assam and the six small states of Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. This is the most vulnerable part of India, connected to the rest of India only by a small strip of land in northern West Bengal to the north of Bangladesh, open to endless infiltration from Bangladesh, most vulnerable to the Chinese menace (China is already in occupation of a major chunk of Arunachal Pradesh), and the happiest hunting grounds in India for Christian conversion activity since the days of the British Raj – in fact more so since the British left, as the following statistics from the post-Independence Indian census for the percentage of the Christian population in at least five of the north eastern states shows:

STATE 1951 1961 1971 1981 2001
Manipur 11.84 19.49 26.03 29.68 34.04
Nagaland 46.05 52.98 66.76 80.21 89.96
Mizoram 83.81 86.97
Meghalaya 35.21 46.98 52.62 70.25
Arunachal Pr 0.79 4.32 18.72

[Earlier figures are not available for some of the states since the states came into existence after those dates]

The rise has been most phenomenal in Arunachal Pradesh, where the Christian percentage has grown from 0.79% in 1971 to 18.72% in 2001: this does not include the figures for crypto-Christians who are many in number in this state due to strong opposition from local tribals opposed to this massive proselytization. And in the only state, of these five, which consistently had a Hindu majority (of around 60%) from 1951 to 1981, Manipur, the Hindu percentage in 2001 was suddenly down to 46.01%. The census figures for 2011 are still not available, and there is no doubt that the percentage of Christians in all these states must have increased even more sharply in 2011, with Manipur rapidly hurtling towards becoming a Hindu-micro-minority state like the other four. But coming to the tribal population in these states, the following is the percentage of tribals in the total population of each of these states (2001):

STATE Total Population Tribal Population %age of Tribals in Total Population
Assam 266,55,968 33,08,570 12.4
Tripura 31,99,203 9,93,426 31.1
Meghalaya 23,18,822 19,92,862 85.9
Manipur 21,66,788 7,41,141 34.2
Nagaland 19,90,036 17,74,026 89.1
Arunachal Pr 10,97,968 7,05,158 64.2
Mizoram 8,88,573 8,39,310 94.5

Within the tribal population of each state, the following is the distribution of population by religion:

images (2)

STATE %age of Hindus %age of Buddhists %age of Christians %age of Others Total of H+B+C+O
Assam 90.7 0.2 8.8 0.1 99.8
Tripura 80.1 9.6 10.0 99.7
Meghalaya 5.9 0.1 79.8 13.2 99.0
Manipur 1.0 96.8 1.6 99.4
Nagaland 98.5 98.5
Arunachal 13.1 11.7 26.5 47.2 98.5
Mizoram 8.3 90.5 98.8

It can be seen that there is a complete sweep of conversion to Christianity among the tribal populations of Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram: 96.8%, 98.5% and 90.5% respectively (the Chakma tribe of Mizoram alone representing a Buddhist survival of 8.3% in that state). In Meghalaya, in spite of an otherwise similar sweep (79.8% of the tribals), there is a residual survival of the original tribal religions among minor sections of the two main tribes in the state:

TRIBE %age of Hindus %age of Buddhists %age of Christians %age of Others Total of H+B+C+O
Khasi 1.11 0.12 80.74 17.91 99.88
Garo 0.73 0.06 91.49 7.67 99.95

In Arunachal Pradesh, there is an even bigger survival of the original tribal religion: Here we have the traditional Donyi Polo religion followed by almost 47.2% of the tribal population of the state, or 30.3% of the total population of the state. In Manipur, as we saw, there is a clean sweep of conversion to Christianity as in the case of Nagaland and Mizoram, with 96.8% of the tribals converted to Christianity. But, unlike Nagaland and Mizoram, where almost the entire populations are classified as tribal (89.1 and 94.5 respectively, the rest of the state population including emigrants from other neighbouring states and the rest of India), in Manipur only 34.2% of the population is classified as tribal: the major ethnic group in the state, the Meitei, constituting 51.04% of the population, is not counted as tribal. But it is among a section of the Meitei that we see a surviving tribal religion:

TRIBE? %age of Hindus %age of Buddhists %age of Christians %age of Others Total of H+B+C+O
Meitei 79.74 0.25 20.01 100.0

There are other miniscule populations among the tribes of these five states of the North East still practicing their ancestral religious or belief systems, but they have been reduced to a micro-minority by the time of the 2001 census itself, and may by now be almost completely decimated.In the two most populated states of the North East, Assam and Tripura, a majority of the tribals still count themselves as Hindu Category One: 90.7% and 80.1% respectively. Note that the percentage of Hindus in the total population of the two states is 64.89% and 85.63% respectively. In Assam at least, we see the phenomenon of a tribal population which is more emphatically Hindu than the general non-tribal population of the state.

In Assam (and Tripura), we find Christian converts mainly among the spill over of tribals from neighbouring states, like the Garo (Meghalaya), Khasi (Meghalaya), Hmar (Manipur), and various Naga (Nagaland), Mizo (Mizoram), and Kuki (Manipur) tribes. But, Hindu Category Three tribals are largely absent in Assam and Tripura. As to the rest of the tribes of Assam and Tripura, the following is the distribution of population by religion:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Buddhists %age of Christians Total of H+B+C
Bodo A 14,76,370 90.12 0.07 9.71 99.90
Tippera T 6,21,109 94.65 0.19 4.91 99.75
Karbi/Arleng A 6,00,111 87.14 11.61 98.75
Miri A 5,89,219 99.08 0.43 99.51
KachariSonwal A 3,93,397 98.81 0.06 0.76 99.63
Lalung/Tiwa A 3,09,000 98.55 0.15 1.16 99.86
Rabha A 3,03,644 93.28 6.69 99.97
Reang T 1,36,894 82.68 0.08 17.21 99.97
Chakma A, T 1,20,176 16.06 76.41 6.92 99.39
Dimasa A 90,006 98.18 0.24 0.89 99.31
Jamatia T 82,370 92.49 0.29 7.18 99.96
Deori A 54,230 99.62 0.24 99.86
Halam T 50,984 65.01 0.05 34.82 99.88
Barman A 25,569 93.51 6.30 99.81
Tripura Munda T 15.469 93.54 6.20 99.74
Mech A 11,788 98.97 0.16 0.81 99.94
Tripura Orang T 8.622 96.06 0.12 3.75 99.93
Hojai A 6.624 94.37 1.15 3.91 99.43

Even more interesting is the fact that certain important and well-known tribes of mainland India are native to Assam as well in large numbers, but they are not counted among the scheduled tribes in Assam. The following are their population figures by distribution of religion:

TRIBE States Total Population %age of Hindus %age of Christians %age of Others Total of H+B+C
Munda A 13,80,226 93.99 5.96 0.04 99.99
Santal A 10,06,397 90.88 6.72 2.40 100.00
Oraon A 6,47,904 94.05 5.84 0.11 100.00
Gond A 5,90,953 94.75 5.03 0.13 99.91
Bhumij A 2,03,901 98.02 1.88 0.02 99.92
Kharia A 1,87,908 98.70 1.25 0.05 100.00
KuiKhond A 58,025 95.58 4.38 0.04 100.00
Korwa A 43,087 99.17 0.83 0.00 100.00
Korku A 38,492 97.78 2.18 0.00 99.96
Ho A 37,034 95.46 4.48 0.06 100.00

The overwhelming majority of them are clearly Hindu, with only a small percentage (2.40%) of the Santals (24,122 out of 10,06,397Santals) declaring themselves as “Others” or Hindu Category Three. Therefore, even Assam is not an exception to the all India phenomenon: the overwhelming majority of the tribals are self-declared Hindu Category One, even more completely and emphatically than the non-tribal population.

To sum up, the tribal population of India is even more (if we may use such a term) “purely” Hindu than the non-tribal population. The tribals are Hindu Category One everywhere, except in a few cases. And all of these few cases of Hindu Category Three, except the biggest one of them all, are found in the forest and hill areas of the north-east. The only one further west, the biggest of the Hindu Category Three religions, Sarna, is centred in the forests of Jharkhand.

STATE Hindu Category Three Religion No. of Followers of the Religion
Jharkhand ++ Sarna 60,00,000++
Arunachal Pr Donyi Polo 3,32,835
Meghalaya Khasi 2,29,212
Manipur Meitei 2,21,275
Meghalaya Garo 59,050

The facts are crystal clear: except for followers of these five religions, all the tribal population of India (except converts to Christianity) consists overwhelmingly of Hindu Category One tribals. As the religious population figures of the 2011 Indian Census are still undisclosed, we do not know what the situation is today (2013) and what it will be at some point of time in the future. We do not know how far the efforts to break off the tribals from Hindu society, by converting them to Christianity or trying to convince them even otherwise that they are not Hindus, will be successful.

But the fact is that as of the data now available, they are full-fledged Hindus, self-declared, and any change in the situation can only be a change brought about by Goebbelsian and diabolical machinations, and can not represent the original situation. Yet the billion-dollar funded political and academic campaign to cut off the tribal population of India from the non-tribal population by branding the tribals as non-Hindu, often branding them with innocuous names like “animists”, is in full flow. One example will suffice:

The Wikipedia entry on the Karbi (Arleng) tribals of Assam shows a graph titled “Religion among Karbi”, which tells us that 84.64% of the Karbi follow “Traditional Beliefs”, and 15.00% follow “Christianity”. We are further told: “Most of the Karbis still practice their traditional belief system, which is animistic, called ‘HemphuMukrong’, However, there are also Karbi Christians (some 15% , according to the Census of India, 2011). The practitioners of traditional worship believe in reincarnation and honour the ancestors”. However, the census figures (for 2001 – how the person posting this entry claims to have got the religious population figures for 2011, not yet available anywhere, for this particular tribe, is a mystery) tell us that 87.14% (5,22,954 people) of the Karbi/Arleng of Assam (total population 6,00,111) are Hindu, 11.61% (69,645) are Christian, and 1.23% (7,390) follow “other” (i.e. non-Hindu-Buddhist-Sikh-Jain and non-Christian-Muslim-Parsi-Jew) religions. And these figures are faithfully reported in the data provided by the Joshua Project, whose aim is to give the genuine religious population figures for all the ethnic peoples of the world, so as to enable missionaries to formulate their strategies accordingly. The Wikipedia article, like articles in the Indian media or in books meant for consumption in India, obviously have different aims: the primary one being the old policy of “Divide and Conquer”.

In Part I of “Are Indian Tribals ‘Hindus’?”, we have only examined the basic statistics to show that the Indian tribal population is Hindu, wholly Hindu, and nothing but Hindu – in fact more Hindu than the non-tribal population of India. The tribals themselves say so. We already pointed out that the three aims of this insidious propaganda is:

  1. a) to tell the tribals that they are not Hindus and have no connections with the larger Hindu society around them,
  2. b) to tell the world that the converted tribals are not Hindus in the first place, and so it is no business of the Hindus to interfere if the tribals are converted to Christianity, and
  3. c) to tell posterity that Hinduism is as foreign a religion to India as Christianity, in the name of the Aryan invasion theory, as the tribals follow “pre-Aryan” religions while Hinduism is an “Aryan” religion brought by “Aryan invaders” from outside.

Now, we have the existing Hindu Category Three religions (Sarna, Donyi Polo, Khasi, Meitei, Garo, and possibly others practiced by more microscopic sections of other isolated tribes). We also have attempts by the missionary machinery to create new Hindu Category Three religions (in the name of “animism”, etc., as appellations for people who call themselves Hindu, as we saw in the above example of the Karbi tribe of Assam) on the principle that it is easier to target and swallow smaller entities. In the next part, we will examine the facts in full detail, to see whether the real or sought-to-be-created tribal religions are really non-Hindu in any sense of the term, or in any way closer to Christianity than to Hinduism.

As already pointed out, the three aims of the insidious missionary propaganda are:

  1. a) to tell the tribals that they are not Hindus and have no connections with the larger Hindu society around them,
  2. b) to tell the world that the tribals are not Hindus in the first place, and so it is no business of theHindus to interfere if the tribals are converted to Christianity, and
  3. c) to tell posterity that Hinduism is as foreign a religion to India as Christianity, in the name of the Aryan invasion theory, as the tribals follow “pre-Aryan” religions while Hinduism is an “Aryan” religion brought by “Aryan invaders” from outside.

Now, except for the existing Hindu Category Three religions (Sarna, Donyi Polo, Khasi, Meitei, Garo, and possibly others practiced by more microscopic sections of other isolated tribes), we have seen that, in the overwhelming majority of the cases, the tribals in every state declare themselves to be Hindu (Category One) in overwhelming numbers, often well above 97% of the population of the tribe, and certainly well above the percentage of Hindus in the general non-tribal population of the state concerned.

So it is clear that the tribals are certainly Hindus, having connections with the larger Hindu society around them as much as any other Hindu caste or community, except to the extent thatphysical isolation or separation from the general population (since these tribals usually reside in remote areas like hills, forests or separate settlements, where they have been living for centuries or millennia or more) has led to greater individuality and distinctiveness of culture and social organisation.

It is equally clear that it is certainly the business of Hindus to interfere if these tribals are being converted to Christianity, more than it is the business of Christian missionaries to come from far off lands to interfere in the religious beliefs and practices of the Indian tribals.

Incidentally, at this point, the question also arises: how did these tribals, who declare themselves to be Hindu (Category One) in such overwhelming numbers, get to be branded as “non-Hindus” or “Animists” in the first place?

The answer lies in the history of the British colonial rulers of India in other parts of the world: the British colonialists had acquired colonies in other parts of the world as well, and in each of these areas they naturally had to deal with the local inhabitants of those areas. In certain areas like Australia, New Zealand, and North America, they dealt with them so effectively that they took over the entire land, and the original inhabitants, or “aboriginals”, were reduced to small groups of people living in isolated settlements and reserved areas, and the whole continents in question became completely Anglicized. The same did not happen in South America, Asia and Africa, where the original populations continue to flourish in large numbers (in South America, of course, getting ethnically mixed with the European intruders, and accepting the overwhelming dominance of their religion, language and culture).

But, in the meantime, linguists had discovered that the major dominant languages of North India, and the ancient classical language of India, Sanskrit, were related to the languages of Europe, Central Asia and Iran. This led to the concept of an “Aryan” or “Indo-European” language family and to the theory that these languages must have been brought into India by an “Aryan Invasion of India” in ancient times. The British and other colonial scholars applied their own experience in North America and Australia to the Indian case, and decided that the tribal people living in remote hill and forest areas, and in separate settlements, were the descendants of the “aboriginal” population of India.

The missionaries who accompanied the colonial rulers decided to use this idea to further their own proselytizing activities by branding the tribals as followers of “aboriginal” religions distinct from the “Hinduism” allegedly brought in by the theoretically postulated Aryan invaders. In 1866, Sir Richard Temple edited a book “Papers Related to the Aboriginal Tribes of the Central Provinces”, based primarily on the writings of, and of those inspired by, the missionary Reverend Stephen Hislop (1817-1863), which set the trend in “scholarly” writings on the subject.

This rapidly became a matter of colonial policy. The Census Commission of 1891 was asked to classify the tribals as Animists instead of Hindus. However, the Commissioner of the Census, J A Baines, pointed out in the census report itself that it was not possible to bifurcate the forms of religion followed by different sections of Indians into separate categories of “Hinduism” and tribal“Animism” because “every stratum of Indian society is more or less saturated with Animistic conceptions…”.

But, in the next census of 1901, the British administration made it mandatory to brand the tribals as “Animist”. This policy continued to be meticulously followed till the Census of 1931, althoughevery single Commissioner of the Census during this period expressed, within the Census report itself, his clear disagreement with the policy that he was implementing: Sir Herbert Hisley, Commissioner of the Census 1901, clearly opined that Hinduism was itself “Animism more or less transformed by philosophy”, and “no sharp line of demarcation can be drawn between Hinduism and Animism”.

J T Marten, Commissioner of the Census 1911, equally clearly opined that “There is little to distinguish the religious attitude of the Gond or the Bhil from that of a member of one of the lower Hindu castes. Both are essentially animistic…. It is obvious, therefore, that the term Animist does not represent the communal distinction which is the essence of the census aspect of religion”. [While he refers particularly to the religious attitude of the “lower Hinducastes”, it is significant that the topmost elite layer of Hinduism, the “Vedic religion”, is also equally “essentially animist”]

P C Tallents, Commissioner of the Census 1921, not only pointed out the “difficulty of distinguishing a Hindu from an Animist”, but went further to declare: “I have, therefore, no hesitation in saying that Animism as a religion should be entirely abandoned, and that all those hitherto classed as Animists should be grouped with Hindus in the next census”. But, the administrative policy continued in the next census, leading to J H Hutton, the Commissioner of the Census 1931, complaining again that “the line is hard to draw between Hinduism and tribalreligions”.

Finally, the British administration was forced to abandon its policy of classifying tribals as “Animists”, and fell back on another ploy to deny the Hindu identity of the tribal peoplein the Census of 1941, the last Census conducted by the British rulers: the Census Commission was asked to classify each tribe by its tribal name (Gond, Santal, Naga, etc.) in the column demarking religion, leading to as many distinct “religions” as there were tribes.

While the political establishment in “post-Independence” India allowed the tribal people to declare their religion freely and recorded the same in its Census reports, it, at the same time, in the name of “Secularism”, gave more freedom and even active patronage and political and administrative backing to the foreign missionaries than the British establishment had been able to comfortably do. And at the same time, the fifth columnists of the missionaries in the media and academia are still able to propagate on a war footing the insidious terminology that even the British Commissioners of the Census had felt embarrassed at being forced to use: classifying the members of each individual tribe as followers of a “traditional belief system, which is animistic”, as we saw in the case of the Wikipedia entry on the Karbi (Arleng) tribe of Assam. That the tribals are Hindus (Category One) is true of the tribal population of India in general, but what about the few groups of tribals in India who have indeed declared themselves to be followers of other (i.e. Hindu Category Three) traditional religions like Sarna, Donyi Polo, Khasi, Meitei, Garo and Gond, and possible microscopic sections of other tribes who regard their tribal beliefs as distinctive? Are those tribes indeed neutral in identity between Hinduism and Christianity, and therefore legitimate fodder for the Proselytising Armies (assuming that being distinct from Hindus makes them legitimate fodder)?

Distortion & Appropriation |

Christianity spread by way of four Grand Tactics, which are still as effective today as they were in the past:

  1. Conversion: Conversion of individuals and groups from other “False Religions” to the “One True Religion” is the most fundamental tactic of Christian expansionism. To begin with, within the Roman Empire, this was donefrom below: i.e. individuals were converted and initiated into the Christ-cult, first in Palestine and then in Rome itself, on the force of the fanatical zeal of the already initiated, the promise of everlasting pleasures in heaven (for those who accepted Christ and his God as the only path to liberation) coupled with threats of everlasting tortures in hell (for those who, whether or not they accepted Christ, accepted that there could possibly be other paths to liberation), and the community bonding of the converted. The early history of Christianity is the history of Crypto-Christians in Rome: secret Christian cultists who met in secret places, including underground catacombs, and organized themselves and initiated others into their cult.

But with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (306-337 CE), conversions startedfrom above as well, i.e. rulers were converted to Christianity and they slowly (or swiftly by issuing edicts) Christianized the lands. A primary method was to get a Christian convert girl to marry the king, emperor or ruler; secretly convert the male progeny of the marriage to Christianity; see that this secretly converted prince becomes the king, emperor or ruler after his non-Christian father; if possible see that his queen is also another converted Christian; and finally gradually employ the full force of the royal or imperial power to make Christianity the official religion, convert large sections of the populace to Christianity, persecute or severely handicap those who refuse to convert, and finally to spread the Word to other kingdoms and lands by aligning with Christian populations in those kingdoms and lands and using them to help conquer those kingdoms and lands and continue the same process there. This was the method by which Rome was converted, and which set off the trigger of conversions over the whole of Europe and the rest of the world in the course of time. This was the method which similarly almost worked in ancient Persia (see Sohrab Modi’s film “Nausherwan-e-Adil”), but then the Islamic hurricane came and wiped out all the gains there. This is also the method which almost worked in modern post-Independence India!

Today this Conversion or Proselytisation is at work on a grand scale in the tribal areas, mofussil rural areas, remote suburban areas, and, within the urban areas, in slums, footpath-dwellings and isolated localities, carried out on a systematic basis by foreign or local missionaries or strategically established “miracle” centres. Converts are generally of two kinds: direct converts and crypto-Christians. Crypto-Christians, who are secret converts to Christianity, are found mainly among (a) scheduled caste converts (since they lose their constitutional rights to reservations on open conversion, and hence the sustained campaigns to extend reservations to “scheduled caste” Christians), (b) tribal converts (in areas, e.g. Arunachal Pradesh, where there is strong and often violent reaction within the particular tribes to conversions. This continues till the converts achieve enough numbers to come out of the closet) and (c) among certain categories of socially well-placed converts (who feel they will be better placed to serve the cause by remaining crypto-Christian and working behind the scenes than by declaring their conversion openly). The proportions of the conversions going on in India today are humongous (to borrow Jaipal Reddy’s favourite phrase) and simply should not be underestimated. The various methods and tactics employed need not be spelled out here: theNiyogi Commission had exposed them in ruthless detail very long ago.

  1. Military Strategy: This is the second tactic of Christian expansionism. Christian expansionism is not merely “conversion” by hook or crook involving only the individual Proselytisers and the individual Proselytised; it is a Perpetual War carried out on a war footing with full military precision. There are international think-tanks and organisations, with multi-billion dollar budgets, which plan out and execute the conversion campaigns in different countries. And they have huge armies of foot soldiers. In recent times, most of them, who may have been rivals in earlier times, often carry on their activities in coordination with each other. Their budgets and strategies are not secret documents or products of the fevered imaginations of opponents: they are set out in detail in black-and-white in their own publications, and are referred to and quoted by opponents (in India, notably in the writings ofRam Swarup and in related Voice of India publications).

These Proselytising Armies are backed by three categories of back-up groups which facilitate the expansionist activities of the warriors: (a) powerful lobbies within the mother countries (the USA, Australia, various European countries, etc.) which exert pressures on their respective governments to in turn exert pressures on India and on international bodies, (b) effective moles and Trojan horses within the media, intelligentsia, academia, political parties and social organisations (including NGOs), judiciary and bureaucracy of the targeted country, and (c) effective moles and Trojan horses actually within the religious organisations of the targeted communities themselves. The combined potential of all these various open or hidden forces is almost limitless.

In India, there is a further strategic alliance by the Christian expansionists: with Islamic forces, Leftist and Secularist political forces, and casteist forces.

  1. Hidden Indoctrination: A third major tactic of Christian expansionism is hidden indoctrination through educational institutions. A significant proportion of the white collar and the upper crust segments of society (particularly in India) are educated in English schools, and most of them are run by Catholic or other Christian organisations. Now an increasing number of educational institutions run by Christian organisations also give education in regional languages, particularly in semi-rural and tribal areas. These educational institutions turn out ex-students in the millions who occupy positions of importance in all fields of society.

These ex-students continue to be followers of their respective religions, but without realizing it a very large number of them have internalized some of the tenets, principles and beliefs of Christianity, or have learned to view things through not just Western but specifically Christian categories and viewpoints. They are indoctrinated from the earliest formative years through the media of “children’s story books” with a marked Christian stance, advice by teachers to visit the chapel or pray to Jesus whenever in trouble, sympathetic Nuns and Fathers (or preachers in Protestant schools) who give counselling to them in their problems, “moral science” periods for non-Christian students (while Christian students have Bible Classes) with text-books emphasising the “truth” of “monotheism” over “atheism”, “polytheism” or “pantheism” or subtly preaching the errors of “idol-worship”, regular story-telling sessions on the “historic” life of Jesus or “non-religious” talks by visiting missionaries, choir singing for all (especially in girls’ schools), etc.

Thus, without actually converting them, Christian expansionism creates an automatic sympathetic spectrum of people within the targeted non-Christian society which creates a very conducive atmosphere for actual conversion activity and neutralizes opposition.

  1. Popular Perception-Building: The fourth important tactic is building up a popular image based on myths and perceptions which neutralizes public opposition to Christian expansionism. This takes Christian influence beyond its converts, strategic allies and indoctrinated students, into the domain of common people not otherwise influenced by Christianity in general.

Thus, there is the common lazy-intellect belief that “all religions say the same thing” which is particularly strong among Hindus. This is applied to both Christianity and Islam. The common Hindu, who may not know the “a b c” of either the Bible or the Quran and Hadiths, or of the history of either Christianity or Islam, will knowledgeably assert that “all religions”, including or particularly Christianity and Islam, are religions of “peace” and “love”. “No religion teaches you to steal, kill or hate”, they will sagely affirm, as if they have studied the tenets of all religions in great detail. Likewise, they will visit the dargahs of Muslim peers, and the churches of Christian “saints”, with equal respect and devotion.

But when it comes to viewing the two communities (Christian and Muslim), as opposed to the two religions (Christianity and Islam), there is a vast difference in approach. The common Hindu knows little or nothing about the bloody history of the early Church Fathers, the Popes, the Crusaders, the founders and perpetrators of the Inquisition, the Templars and the Jesuits, the Conquistadors, the missionaries, etc. Of course, he also knows little or nothing about the bloody history of early Islam in West Asia from the day of its foundation.

But he does know (in spite of over half a century of apologetics and falsification of history by Leftist and Secularist historians) about the barbarism of the umpteen Muslim invaders and rulers of India, the Muslim League during the Independence movement, the Muslim Underworld in India, the nature of Islamic rule in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the activities of the Pakistani Army, ISI, Taliban, international Islamic terrorists, and, presently, the ISIS. What he sees around him, in the speeches of Mullas and Muslim politicians, the generally visible Muslim sympathies for extra-Indian Islamic entities and issues and the propensity to indulge in violence in their support, the disquieting practice of large scale public ritual slaughter of animals during Bakr Id, etc., only adds to the picture. The common Hindu is therefore inclined to be prejudiced against the common Muslim in general. This prejudice becomes apparent in daily life: how many Hindus would like to buy a house and reside permanently deep inside a Muslim locality, or would like to see a Muslim buying a house in their society or building, or would take a Muslim paying guest in their own house? How many Hindus would be all right with finding out that their daughter wanted to marry a Muslim?

On the other hand, the public relations work of Christian missionaries has been excellent. The religion, known of course for its well-established system of expansion through schools and hospitals, has somehow acquired a “saintly” image. The picture of much-publicized “Nobel laureate Indian” Mother Teresa (the truth about whom is unknown to the gullible Hindu) adorns police stations, government offices and countless Hindu homes, along with the photos of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Bose, Shastri and Indira Gandhi, and her name is invoked by everyone, from schoolgirls to beauty contest aspirants and winners, as their “ideal”. This one name perhaps symbolizes the success of Christian propaganda more than anything else. It follows that while Bollywood films regularly depict Hindu priests as corrupt, crafty and villainous, Christian priests and nuns are regularly depicted as the epitome of compassion: they inevitably appear on the scene when the Hindu heroine or child or old person is in trouble and shower their compassion and help on them (a benign “my child” being a ubiquitous phrase in their speech), although on the international level, they are most famously known for their pederasty! The Christian missionary and priest, known everywhere in the world as the very epitome of craftiness, ruthlessness and treachery, has become, in the eyes of the common Hindu, a benign, saintly figure.

In combination with the increasing westernization of Indian society (and the spread of Christmas, etc. celebrations on a large scale in modern times), Christianity, which is on the decline everywhere in Europe and America itself, is on a roll in India. The attitude of the general Hindu public towards Christian expansionism ranges mostly from the indifferent to the faintly admiring. I still remember the admiring tone in which the Hindu girl, at the counter of the neera stall outside the Khadi Emporium near Hutatma Chowk in Mumbai, said (in Marathi), “how devoted they are to their religion, no?”, as I stood there with a glass of neera in my hand while a protesting crowd of hundreds-of-thousands of Mumbai Christians passed in a vociferous procession through the streets in 1978 in protest against the Freedom of Religion Bill sought to be introduced in Parliament by MP Om Prakash Tyagi. It never even struck her that her admiration for the “religious devotion” of a crowd which was demanding their right to convert people from her religion into theirs spoke volumes for her own lack of devotion to her own religion!

In these circumstances, Christian expansionism is clearly at least as dangerous as Islamic terrorism to India – perhaps more so in being a silent and unrecognized killer.

Tribal Religions vis-à-vis Christianity and Hinduism

Keeping in mind that by tribal religions, we are referring only to the Hindu Category Three religions (Sarna, Donyi Polo, Khasi, Meitei, Garo, and possibly others practiced by more microscopic sections of other isolated tribes), since the other tribals are themselves fully conscious that their religious practices are “Hindu” (which is why they clearly declare their religion to be “Hindu” in the census, as accepted even by the Joshua Project), can we say that these Hindu Category Three tribal religions are neutral between Christianity and Hinduism?

The first and most fundamental factor which places Hinduism and these tribal religions in one fundamental category completely distinct from Christianity is the geographical factorHinduism Category One, Hinduism Category Two and Hinduism Category Three religions are all Indian religions, as distinct from Christianity which is a foreign import.

This has further automatic implications. It means that the sacred places, the sacred rivers, mountains and groves, the sacred plants, animals and birds, the materials used in religious rituals, etc. of all the three Categories of religions are IndianIndia is the stage of activity of the acts and events involving all the historical and mythological characters in the narratives of all these religions. The languages in which the original religious lore, poetry and traditions of all these religions are couched are Indian languages. The traditional religious music, the traditional religious food, the traditional religious costumes, etc. of all these religions are representative of the traditional culture of some part or the other of India. The traditional religious beliefs and rituals of all these religions are derived from their Indian ancestors.

This geographical factor alone and in itself is so important that Dr Ambedkar placed emphasis not only on the necessity of placing in one legal class the followers of all religions other than those of foreign origin (Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism), but put the matter in even more categorical terms with specific reference to the question of conversion itself: “If the depressed classes join Islam or Christianity, they not only go out of the Hindu religion, but they also go out of the Hindu culture…What the consequences of conversion will do to the country as a whole is well worth bearing in mind. Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalize the depressed classes” (DhanajayKeer: “Dr Ambedkar: Life and Mission”, p.279). That conversion to Christianity (or Islam) would “denationalize” the converted Indians, with adverse “consequences” for “the country as a whole” was very clearly a matter of deep concern to him.

But the geographical factor is only the beginning. Quite apart from the fact that there is no form of religious belief or philosophy (from atheism, through agnosticism, to all forms of “theism”, and from the most “ahimsak” philosophy to the most violent bloody rituals) which is not found in some part or the other of Hinduism, and which therefore, basically makes it almost impossible to point out fundamental opposition between Hinduism and any particular tribal religious system, the fact is that all the tribal religions have features which fit into the most basic accepted definitions of standard Hinduism: idol-worship, totemism, polytheism, pantheism, animism, worship of the elements and of nature, belief in reincarnation, ancestor worship, etc., every single one of which is pure anathema to Christianity. Note that in the Wikipedia entry on the Karbi tribe, quoted earlier, we are told with a straight face that the “practitioners of traditional worship believe in reincarnation and honour the ancestors”. In fact, almost all these elements, and even most of the local deities in every village and town of India, which are now the core of Hinduism, entered standard Hindu religion from these very local tribal religions in the course of millenniums of mutual interaction and influence; even as every local tribe and community preserved its own religious traditions without interference, a circumstance which would have been impossible in a Christian dominated country.

And by this is not meant only some mediaeval Inquisition-instituting and Crusades-mongering Christian country: see what has been the fate of other Pagan religions which have fallen prey to the Proselytising Armies in the very citadel of the Proselytisers, the U.S.A., which, along with its other white colleague nations (in Europe, Australia and the Americas), is always first and foremost in condemning any curbs on “religious freedom” (read curbs on missionaries) in India, and which prides itself on being the beacon of internal Democracy and Freedom:

From the 1600s European Catholic and Protestant denominations sent missionaries to convert the tribes to Christianity. These efforts intensified during the mid 19th century through mid-20’th as US Government and Christian churches’ joint efforts forcibly registered Native Americans as Christians, which caused contemporaneous official government records (and sources that reference these government records) to show “Christianity” as the majority religion of Native Americans for the past 100 years. These forcible conversions often occurred through US government and Christian church cooperative efforts that forcibly removed Native American children from their families, and forcibly moved those Native children into a Christian-US government operated system of American Indian boarding schools (aka The Residential Schools) where Native children were indoctrinated in European Christian beliefs, mainstream American culture and the English language. This forcible conversion and suppression of Indigenous languages and cultures continued through the 1970s.[1][2][3]

As part of the US government’s suppression of traditional Indigenous religions, most ceremonial ways were banned for over 80 years by a series of US Federal laws that banned traditional sweat lodge and sun dance ceremonies, among others.[4] This government persecution and prosecution continued until 1978 with the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA).[5](Wikipedia entry on “Native American Religion”)

All this, please note, was being done blatantly and on a war footing in the U.S.A. till 1978. Must we assume there was a sudden magical about turn in that year which miraculously brought about an overwhelming love for the indigenous religions of the native American Indians in the hearts of those who had been carrying on the above mentioned activities so blatantly till then, and that the suppression and persecution completely ceased thereafter?

When those same ruthless forces of Christian Evangelization, who thought nothing of indulging in the above barbarism to destroy the native religions of the U.S.A., send their Proselytizing Armies into India to do the same to the native religions of India (whether Hindu Category One, Two or Three), clearly it is the duty of all the native religions to unite against the common enemy. And clearly it is not only the right of Hindus to protect the tribals (whether Hindu Category One, Two or Three) from the depredations of Christian missionaries, it is their sacred duty to protect their fellow-Indians and fellow-Hindus from these wolves. Anyone who has read beyond the leftist and missionary sponsored articles in the media blaming Hindu organisations, every time there is conflict over conversions in tribal areas, will see that the conflicts are basically between the converted tribals and the non-converted tribals, the latter literally fighting a last-ditch battle for the preservation of their ancestral religions from the Proselytising Armies with their multi-pronged military divisions.

Note: (1)Hinduism Category One itself is basically a Parliament of (Indian) Religions. (2) If there are some religions born out of mainstream Hinduism (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism) which have acquired distinctive identities over the centuries, they have still remained part of the Hindu cultural stream (having a common history, a common viewpoint towards life, common religious symbols like Om, respect forSanskrit as a Sacred language and for the saffron colour as a Sacred colour, vegetarianism as an ideal ethic, similar religious-philosophical terms and institutions, etc., and, as Dr.Ambedkar pointed out: “The application of the Hindu Code to Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains was a historical development, and it would be too late, sociologically, to object to it. When the Buddha differed from the Vedic Brahmins, he did so only in matters of creed, but left the Hindu legal framework intact. He did not propound a separate law for his followers. The same was the case with Mahavir and the ten Sikh Gurus” (Keer, p.427).) And, (3) if some tribal religions have retained or acquired identities with a distinctive name, all these are included within the different Categories of Hinduism (One, Two and Three), which together form a Full Parliament of Indian Religions. In fact, all these Categories of Hinduism fall within a larger Parliament of World Religions, namely Paganism (which includes all the native religions which existed in the world before the rise of the Abrahamic Religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

Strangely, while this whole article has been only about the conversion of “tribals”, whom the ubiquitous moles of the missionaries in India assure us are “not Hindus”, the main theme dominating the media these days is about the inalienable right of the missionaries to convert Hindus (including Hindu Category OneHindus) coupled with the utter inadmissibility of any right of Hindus to even re-convert converted Hindus back to the fold! “Why does not Modi speak out against the ghar-wapasi programs of the VHP?” is theHindus (incluf common refrain among media people, who never bother to ask why Modi does not speak out against Christian missionaries, almost as if they believe that the BJP came to power only on the development plank, and put Hindu issues on the back burner in its election campaign, but it also at the same time promised: “we will not allow Hindu organisations to reconvert ex-Hindus to Hinduism, but we will allow missionaries to continue to convert Hindus to Christianity”! And the media is on a campaign to convince the nation that the “youth” are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the BJP because of its failure to curb re-conversions to Hinduism, as if those same youth are perfectly all right with conversions from Hinduism to Christianity; and that the “youth” feel that allowing Hindu organisations to reconvert ex-Hindus to Hinduism is a “deviation” from the “development agenda”, but allowing missionaries to convert Hindus to Christianity is not!

If all this is not the height of slave mentality, what is? [This is not to suggest that the expectations of the media are necessarily misplaced. Past experiences have shown that the BJP abandons its Hindu “cards” as soon as it comes to power, and becomes a super-secular version of the Congress, more dangerous than the Congress because it converts militant Hindus into apologists for its about turns. And when “Hindu” organisations organize and publicize farcical and self-defeating “gharwapasi” events like the one in Agra, it does not help. But, even if the media expectations from the BJP are well-founded ones, that does not make it any the less slave mentality]

No Hindu organisation need spend its time and energy in trying to explain its position on conversions to its critics. The need of the hour is to bring to a grinding halt the military incursions of the missionaries and to protect the cultures and traditions of Hindus (Category One, Two and Three).

As the Catholic theologian Louis Veuillot (1813-1883) arrogantly declared; “when we Catholics are in a minority, we demand freedom in the name of your principles; when we Catholics are in the majority, we deny freedom in the name of our principles”. This is the basic principle of the predator religions, and it is up to us to decide once and for all whether this state of affairs is to be allowed to be continued till we are completely annihilated, or whether it is time to wake up before it is too late.

Hindus should refuse to be treated any more like Oliver Twist asking for more. The need of the hour is for all the three Categories of Hindus, along with the other few remnants of other Pagan religions still surviving in the world, to unite positively against Christian Evangelism and to recognize and isolate the moles and Trojan horses within their own fold who are working to create divisions and cleavages among them.

images (3)

http://indiafacts.co.in/are-indian-tribals-hindus-part-i/
http://indiafacts.co.in/are-indian-tribals-hindus-the-figures/
http://indiafacts.co.in/are-indian-tribals-hindus-part-3/
http://indiafacts.co.in/are-indian-tribals-hindus-part-4/

http://indiafacts.co.in/christian-expansionism-a-study/

is a scholar and acclaimed author of The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis, the seminal work on the Aryan Invasion debate. His latest work is “Rigveda And Avesta The Final Evidence.”

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