The great saint Valmiki who wrote original sanskrit epic Ramayana is known to belong to bhil-kirata / bhil-koli tribe. The Telugu speaking valmikis are a subcaste of Telugu Mudiraj community in some parts of Andhra Pradesh. The same Valmikis who are known as Kannappakula are also a subsect of Tamil Muthuraja ( Mudiraja) in Tamilnadu. The great Mahabharata archer Ekalavya is said to belong to Bhil Erukala, whose descendants established Telugu Kakatiya kingdom at Warangal.
The bhils are basically tribal people who used to live in thick forest areas. They are one of the aboriginal people, who lived in the Indian subcontinent since unknown times. The bhils are certainly the descendants of ancient Vanara (Vanacharas => Banjaras) people, of Ramayana times. The word Vanchara in course of time got modified into a new word Banjara. Vancharas means the people who moved in the forests (van) in search of food and fuel. The word vanara was also a modified noun form of the word vanchara. Bhakta Shabari was daughter of a Bhil raja and the Vanara kings were all in fact Bhils of Pampa region.
Vanchara => Vanjara = > Vanara
Vanchara = > Vanjara = > Banjara
The Bhil community does not need any particular introduction. It has prevailed in existence since the time of the Ramayana. The most revered sage VALMIKI, the author of epic Ramayana belonged to this tribe. Lord Rama ate the fruits tasted by a devoted Bhil woman named Shabari who lived in and around Pampa region in South India. Ekalavya, an extraordinary archer and sharp shooter of Mahabharat times too belonged to this tribe of bheels. The Koyaas and Boyaas of Andhra tribal people may also possibly belong to the same block of bheels.
The migrations from the North caused the ethnic communities into conflict and they either retreated South or into the forests. The Aryans however meant no harm and in time these intentions were translated into harmonious living creating a very rich and everlasting philosophy and culture. The descendants of Mandhata played a vital role and our ancient Vedas, epics and other relics mention their important contributions in the art of war and state administration. They are referred to in our ancient Sanskrit books as Kulya, Kuliye, Koli Serp, Kolik, Kaul etc.
kulya => kuliye => kaul => koli serp => koli
kulya => kolya => koya
WHO ARE BHILS ?
Bhils are one of the aboriginal people of Indian subcontinent having the same ancestral connection of kolis and mudirajas. The population of these aboriginal people was quite high in Gujarat, Maharastra, Rajastan, Madhya Pradesh, Chttisgarh, Jarkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka which was full of thick forests before the arrival of Aryans. The Aryans used to burn large tracks of forests in the name of Yajna and homa to establish their residential settlements. While many groups of vanara people in North India became friends with the intruding Aryans and learned to lead a life of coexistence, many other groups of aboriginal people in South India who basically loved nature with thick forests struggled their best to resist the Aryans. One of the main aims of destroying forests by Aryans in the name of Yajna and homa was to drive away the hostile vanacharas (vanaras <=> dravidians), who could not live in an environment without forests. The trees and forests were so sacred for the aboriginal Indians that they used to worship nature (Trees such as Neem, Peepal, Aaamla, etc.) as mother Goddess seated on pig, donkey, bull, tiger, elephant, owl, peacock, swan, etc. These black aboriginal people of Indian subcontinent were one of the first race of people who used to worshp snakes with great reverence and imagined snakes as ornaments of Lord Shiva along with moon.
Since hoary past traditional people or Tribal Bhils lived a life of seclusion enjoying their own life style. Later, with the dawn of modern civilization they got exposed to outside influence which resulted in manifestive amalgamation of social practices. The ancient belief system remained entrenched in the inner core of their mind yet their vision and horizon underwent a change with the perspective of changing time. The socio-cultural dynamics at the ritualistic level kept its presence where 'unknown' dwells. The world of black magic at one level made the society superstitious while on the other level changing economic scenario from bad to worst forced them to follow up the given negatives of the society. They became thieves, robbers, and dacoits under compulsion and natural instinct to survive when their forest resources were looted and burnt into ashes by the intruding powerful organized Aryan people through caste system. In turn, these powerful people and the society stigmatized the Bhils as 'criminals'. What a great justice ! The people who came into the native land of Bhils call the helpless innocent natives by various names such as thieves, robbers, dacoits, when the hungry native bhils try to snatch their food back from the looters.
The etymological meaning of Bhil is 'bow' which is the traditional weapon of the tribe. The first reference of Bhil seems to be found around 1400 years Before Present. R.V. Russell recorded in 1916 : 'It has been suggested that the Bhils are the pygmies referred by Ktesias (400BC) and Phyllite of Ptolemy (A.D.150).
The Bhils are recognized as the oldest inhabitants of Southern Rajputana and part of Gujarat, and are usually Kolis, who inhabit the adjoining tracts. The origin of Kolis is that they are western branch of the kol or Munda tribe who have spread from Chota Nagpur through Mandla and Jubbulpore, Central India and Rajputana to Gujarat and sea. If this is correct the Kolis would be a Kolarian Tribe.
Bhils seems to be the junglemen (banjaras) who used to gather their food by hunting with the help of bows in most of the cases and expertise as sharp shooters so as to inherit the name of bow for the community.
villu (telugu) => bow (english)
bhil => vhil => villu
vilu vidya => knowledge of throwing arrows using bow
Innumerable poems and stories are woven with the reference of the Bhil community. The Bhils are the oldest community living in forests. The response towards the Bhil community has undergone a big change. The Bhils are living a life or tribals with bows and arrows. They are also linked with criminal acts like theft and robbery. Bows and arrows are their traditional weapons.
The Panchmahal district is one such districts where there is a large population of the Bhils. They have come out of the forests and now they can be seen near the village areas. Some Bhils have entered the field of agriculture both as land-owners and labourers. However, by and large they have remained tribal. Their expertise in bow and arrow is still unchallenged.
There are some minor differences among the Bhils. Most Bhils are black in complexion as they reside in jungles. But some Bhils are found wheatish too. They call themselves 'Pateliya'. The Bhils are basically a gentle community. Rana Pratap was also helped by the Bhils when he was in and around Aravalli mountains.
Bhils are basically charming with an average height of five and a half foot. They differ from other tribals with their big forehead pointed nose and thin lips. The Bhils women are charming, attractive and symmetrical. The Bhils men and women are not timid in nature like some other tribals. They sing their folk songs of bravery and spirit.
(comment : The mudirajas and bunts too have similar personalty with an average hight of about 5.5', black complxion, parrot nose, thin lipse and beautiful faces and considered to be one of the finest races in South Asia)
Living in hills and forests has brought considerable poverty to them. the Bhils use roots, maize, and other similar type of corns in their food. Some Bhils live on chicken and duck too. When the drought hit the community severely, many Bhils resorted to robbery some years ago. The terror of Bhills still prevails to an extent in the areas of panchmahals, Chhotaudepur and Rajpipla. Rest of the community looks after the family of those who are arrested and sent to jail by the authorities. There are 29 tribals communitites in Gujarat. The Bhils are the largest of them all. Their language is based on Gujarati.
The Bhils are very much fond of ornaments. They are made of metal, silver, clay or even flowers. The women load themselves with different ornaments in hand, fingers, neck and ear. The tradition of wearing heavy load of ornaments can also be seen with Banjaras and Lambadas who had the same aboriginal roots of Indian subcontinent.
Holi, Diwali, and Akha Trij are the main festivals of the Bhils community. They are the devotees of Lord Rama. They place the idols of different goddesses at the outskirts of the town or at the top of a hill. They are a very superstitious people and believe in evil-spirit. They pray particular Gods and deities to shed the effect of evil spirit.
VALMIKI WAS A BHIL
Valmiky belonged to a Bhil fishing community. In North India, he was also considered a brave and warrior fighter of Dravidian family who fought against the intruding Aryans. The Histro-anthropological context always remains a debatable issue. However, in the Aitareya Brahman we find the reference of Palinda who are perhaps Bhils. The direct reference of Bhil is found in the classical era in the context of Anhilvada war of mythological days.
While delving into the subject concerning the origin of Bhils of Indian subcontinent, the celebrated writer Kamladevi chattopadhyaya made an interesting reference. She pointed out that Valmiki, the author of the great epic Ramayana was a Bhil named Ratnakara walia. Indians should be proud to have a great saint like Valmiki, who was a writer, philosopher ,spiritual leader and in some ways a scientist Valmiki was an example of beings who enjoyed God's Grace through their devotion and not because of their birth, wealth, scholarship or any other accomplishment. He got the blessings of saints and goddess Saraswati which subsequently transformed the 'Bandit' into a Saint who wrote the masterpiece epic --Ramayana.
Saint Valmiki gave to the Dravidians (or Bheels, native peoples of Bharat - India) divine and best knowledge to rise. He was a man of compassionate heart, full of mercy for the poor people even for the birds. This was known from the fact that in his ashram lion and deer drink water in the same river together without any fear. He felt remose when a hunter shot an arrow and killed one of the crane couple. He had too much for the community. He had three lac disciples in Satyuga and in Treta yug they increased to four lac. And from ancient time he was worshipped as God. In seventh century's evidences were found in the manuscripts that in Hind-China in Champa state - a Valmiki Mandir was found where his statue was installed. According to Pandit Krishna Dev Prasad Gaud, Rishi Valmiki was not a common man but a great scholar and scientis.
(comment : One should not feel too much exegarated, if said that mudirajas and kolis belong to the same block of people to which the great saint Valmiky belonged. Ratnakara Walia belonged to a bhil fishing community. A large population of kolis of Gujarat and Maharstra are known for their fishing activities while some kolis took to agriculture in some regions. The Mudirajas of telangana districts in Andhra Pradesh too are known for their large scale dependency on fishing profession in addition to agricultural farming.)
There is another legend behind his writing the Ramayana.
One day Valmiki was in the forest when a hunter shot a bird, he was so touched by the pain of the bird that he burst into song, Brahma, the God of Creation, was greatly moved by the touching song. Brahma came before sage Valmiki and asked him to compose the life of Sri Rama in similar verse.Bhagvan Brahma gave the gift of insight of Sri Rama's life to Valmiki. Valmiki began to compose the Great eternal song and poem of The Ramayana, the life of Sri Rama.
It was Valmiki who gave refuge to Sita the queen of Lord Rama the King of Ayodhya when she was banished from the kingdom, and it was in his hermitage in the forest that Rama and Sita's twin sons; Luv and Kush were born and brought up.
For the past two thousand years the Ramayana has been among the most important literary and oral texts of South Asia. It is one of the most popular dramas played in Muslim Indonesea even today. This epic poem provides insights into many aspects of Indian culture and continues to influence the politics, religion and art of modern India.
The story of Rama starts with the story of Ratnakara. Fortunately one day sage Narada passed through the forest and caught in the hands of Ratnakar.
e was totally a changed man and his senses got opened upon hearing such replies from his family members. Then Ratnakara Walia ran to sage Narada and fell at his feet to save him from the punishment of God for all the sins he committed for the sake of his family.
Having felt sympathy for this poor valmiki.Narada with all his compassion blessed him with initiation of Rama Mantra. . He was so completely absorbed in chanting the name, he was oblivious to the ant hill that had grown over him. While chanting the name of Rama, he was also meditating on the form of Rama. Ratnakara experienced the feeling of oneness with Rama and acquired the effulgence of Rama. It was by forgetting his body completely while chanting the Name of lord Rama, Ratnakara, the dacoit became Valmiki, the supreme poet
Ratnakar, though initially was a horrible person; but with his all sincerity he became saint later on to be known as sage Valmiki. Valmiki means anthill. And Valmiki who came out of that kind of accumulated dust or clay or earth, and wrote the epic "Ramayana" before the birth of Sri Rama. This is the real clue of Sri Rama's life and story. Those who desire to have grace of Sri Rama, they should turn themselves in dust, means should become humble, egoless and simple like dust.
Narada said, "You do one thing: start chanting the name of Rama." Then Narada went, and Balia got really into it. He was a man of will, very strong. He chanted day in, day out.
When you chant "Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama" continuously, when there is not much gap between "Rama" and "Rama", slowly, slowly you will start hearing "Mara, Mara, Mara." If you chant "Rama, Rama, Rama" continuously, the gestalt will change. The "m" of the "Ram" will become joined with the "ra" of another "Ram" that is following. Then it becomes "Mara, Mara." Ram means God, Ram means the immortal element, the eternal element; mara means death.
Balia was a very uneducated man, had never been in any kind of religious education. He forgot all about Ram; slowly slowly he chanted only "Mara, Mara, Mara."
Months passed. Narada went back; he was surprised. Balia was chanting "Mara, Mara, Mara"; his whole body was chanting "Mara, Mara, Mara." Narda could feel from miles away the change that had happened to that jungle. It had a different atmosphere. When he came closer and heard "Mara, Mara," he was surprised because this man has been chanting completely in a wrong way.
He came closer and saw Balia. The man was totally transformed. He was luminous - the ecstasy had happened. It happened even by chanting a wrong mantra. Narada kept quiet; he didn't say anything to him. There was no need, no point in disturbing the poor man. He had arrived!
There is a Sufi saying that even a wrong means becomes right in the right person's hand, and vice versa, even a right means becomes wrong in a wrong man's hand. And it is so. The ultimate result depends on your heart, not on the means used.
Osho adds: It is said that before Rama was born, a great poet, Valmiki, wrote Rama's whole life; before he was born! And then Rama was born; he had to follow Valmiki, because when such a great poet writes something, it has to be followed. What else can you do? It may not have been so, but the story is beautiful. It says that life is a drama: as if it has been written already and it is only unfolding.
SHABARI WAS A BHIL
Again, in Ramayana, we find the reference of Sabri who happened to be the daughter of Bhil Raja. Though Shabari was daughter of a Bhil Raja in the Pampa region, she was a devoted and pious woman, and used to serve the Rishis in very silent manner. Even Sri Ram while spending his fourteen years exile in the forest visited sabri's house which he referred as ashram and ate the Ber from her. On their way southwards Rama and Laxmana passed through many difficult terrain. The forests were sparsely populated. Occasionally one encountered an ashrama of a sage with a small village around it. One such ashrama belonged to rishi Matang ( Harijan ) whose heart grieved for the lowly and downtrodden.
(comment : These Bhil rajas of Pampa were non other than the vanara kings of Ramayana times and ancesters of later kings of kalabhra origin who created chaos by defeating the most powerful kings of pallava, chola, chera and pandya dynasties of down South India and came to be known as MUDIRAJAS ( MUTHURAJAS => GREAT KINGS).
During the time when Varnashramis( people going to the forests for performing penances etc.) was in full flow,, in the Yuga of 'Treta' and there were numerous hermitages of the sages and hermits in which they used to perform their homage and Yagyas and the resultant smoke coming out from the sacred fire used to cover up the sky and block the vision in Dandak. There lived one lonely tribal woman who was a 'bheel' by caste who had neither a husband nor a son but who was full of faith and devotion towards the almighty God. Her name was SHABARI and used to stay in the Ashrama of rishi Matang.
Shabari being very much influenced by the divine sight of Sage Matang, decided to spend her whole life at his service. She made her own hut at a little distance from sage Matang's hermitage. She used to serve the sages in her own way like brooming off the way through which the sages were expected to cross while going for a bath, picking up thorns and piling up dry wood for fuel before dusk could descend in front of Matang's hermitage. She used to keep the place clean and tidy, and along with that she also performed her japa -repeating the holy name of GOD, did her ritualistic worship by offering flowers etc., and sang many songs in the glory of the Lord. Her chosen ideal was Rama for whose meeting she was waiting for long time. She did all these without letting anybody know about it. Sage Matang used to be surprised when he used to find the path clear of thorns, dry woods piled up at the door of his hermitage.
Years passed by; Rishi Matang became old. When he was on his death-bed, he called Shabari near him and said, "Look, O devotee of Rama, your tapasya -austerities - and spiritual longing for Rama would not go in vain. Sri Rama is sure to visit this ashrama, this I can say on the basis of my spiritual power. Therefore, after my departure, I plead you to wait for Rama's arrival. Hence take charge of this ashrama and live in peace and as a devotee of Rama. Your efforts would be rewarded in due course of time." So saying the rishi passed away.
Simple hearted, poor, and belonging to lower caste, Shabari did not know much about running the ashrama. Soon everyone left her. The birds, the flowers, the shrubs and occasional domesticated animal became her friends. But she had full faith in the words of her Guru Matang. When he had said Sri Rama would come to that ashrama, she could not disbelieve those words.
Hence Shabari used to clean the place early in the morning, collect fruits, and would wait looking at the distant road for her Rama to come. Every day this was her routine. Every day she thought "Rama would definitely come today!" In these days of eager wait and expectation of seeing her Rama, she forgot all about her rituals, worship, japa or songs! She forgot about day and night, month and year as well as the seasons. Rains were replaced by the winter, winter turned into summer of scorching heat, but Shabari had lost her interest in everything. For her the sun rose with the definite hope that her Rama would come that day and she would be able to serve him.
These long years of wait turned Shabari into an old woman. Her eye sight became dim and the hearing was affected. She had no remorse. She continued to keep her tiring body busy in her routine of cleaning the ashrama and collecting fruits for Rama.
One day, at last, Sri Rama arrived in the ashrama. Pleasure of Shabari knew no bounds. The long awaited desire was fulfilled. Falling at the feet of Rama she said, "O Rama, I cannot describe your kindness in words. When so many great sadhakas (rishis and munis and yogis), cannot seek your Grace even in many births, you have come to me so soon."
So saying she washed the holy feet of her chosen ideal and offered him berries which she had collected from the forest that morning. And the beauty of the relation between the true Bhakta and the Lord was such that Rama was happy in eating the same fruit that had been tasted by Shabari herself, lest the fruit should be bitter!
Laxmana, with tears rolling down his cheeks, was silently observing the pure love between God and the devotee. Until now he used to think that there was nobody on the earth or heaven who loved Rama as dearly as he did. But today Shabari proved him wrong. When tears dried down in the eyes of Shabari, when her voice was not choking, when she lifted her eyes from the holy feet of Rama then Laxmana bowed down at the feet of Shabari and said, "O mother, your love for Rama will be remembered for ever in this world. I bow down in reverence to the great devotee of Sri Rama."
Then Shabari inquires about the purpose of their such hard journey. Rama recounts the sad tell of kidnapping of Sita, etc. Reflecting upon the facts, Shabari directs them to go further southwards to Pampa lake and to Kishkindha where the monkey king Sugreeva and the great Rama-devotee monkey Hanuman would be of great help in their search of Sita.
EKALAVYA WAS BHIL
In another epic of Mahabharata, we find Eklavya who was a Bhil and an extraordinary archer who mastered the art of archery himself keeping in front of him the icon of Dronacharya -- the Guru who rejected his formal admission to his Gurukul. Again Eklavya gave the most revered Guru-dakshina in the terms of his thumb. Thus we find through these references that Bhils dominated the mythological scenario by being in the forefront of character transformation, piousness, innocence and capacity of doing supreme sacrifices.
A long time ago, in the deep dense Indian jungles, there lived Ekalavya, a dark-complexioned young boy. He was the son of Hiranyadhanu, a mighty king of an aboriginal Nishada, an outcaste tribe of hunters, who inhabited the remote forests of Northern India. The Nishadas were looked upon as non-Aryans by their Aryan neighbours. Hence even in spite of their martial temperament, the Nishadas were never admitted to ashramas in which all Kshatriya boys were admitted to be given education especially in the martial arts. But Ekalavya was a restless boy, when he was about seven years old he witnessed the five Pandava princes who were of his age being imparted military training by Dronacharya in his ashram. He was moved by his faith to approach Dronacharya and request him for instruction in archery. As an young boy, he had always wanted to be an archer, so he headed towards one of the great cities of those times - Hasthinapura to meet Drona an expert in archery and martial arts.
Drona was employed by the king of the Kauravas of Hasthinapura to teach his five sons the fine skill of archery. On reaching his destination he learnt that he could meet Drona at the palace in Hasthinapura. The next day he met Drona at the palace and implored him to accept him as his disciple. Drona was quite impressed by the youth's earnest interest and keen desire to master the art. Drona went on to probe his background and parentage. When he learnt that he was a 'Shudra' (belonging to the lowest social community) he was greatly displeased. Enraged he asked him how he dared to ask Drona to be his teacher.
Ekalavya was shocked and hurt at Drona's angry unkind words. He suddenly realized that Drona's other students were looking at him scornfully and mocking him. Ekalavya was thrown out of the palace, but he was determined to become an archer some day.
Disheartened, Ekalavya returned to the forest and made an image of Drona out of clay and decorated it with flowers and prayed to the image every single day. He then began to practice archery in front of this image all day long. Ekalavya was steadfast in his ambition to become an ace archer and he was convinced that the image of Drona would teach him archery. Day and night he would practice incessantly sending arrows one after the other to severe the tree trunks. In this way, concentrating his mind on Dronacharya with absolute devotion to the art of archary, Ekalavya gradually became the most expert archer in the world with super human skill, more skilful than even Arjuna.
Arjuna was not only Krishna's intimate friend, but also Dronacharya's dearest disciple. The master had once promised him, "No one will ever excel you in this art. You will become the best archer on this earth and so will you remain, I promise you!".
One day, the Kauravas and the Pandavas went together into the neighbouring forest for hunting, when they suddenly saw something quite astonishing. There was dog lying peacefully on the ground whose mouth had been sewn closed by seven arrows. The boys thought that one who could perform such extraordinary feat was undoubtedly the best archer in the world. They also thought that perhaps he was even better than Arjuna. As they continued to penetrate deeper into the dense forest, they came across an unknown archer tirelessly practicing his marksmanship. It was he who had shot the arrows at the dog because the animal had been barking and disturbing his concentration. All the princes were jealous of Ekalavya's archery skills.
When the princes returned to the palace, they related the incident to Dronacharya in detail. Arjuna humbly reminded Dronacharya of his promise that no one would ever excel him in archery. Dronacharya, who was very much surprised to hear of the existence of such an expert bowman, went to the forest with Arjuna to meet him. When they reached Ekalavya's cottage, they saw him sitting down before the clay image of Dronacharya and shooting arrows with great expertise. As soon as Ekalavya saw them, he paid them their due respects, honoring Dronacharya as his master. Drona did not remember Ekalavya. Drona asked Ekalavya who his teacher was, and was surprised to hear Ekalavya reply humbly that it was Drona himself. On being explained by Ekalavya that he had installed a statue of Dronacharya and that he looked upon Dronacharya as his Guru; the sage was perplexed that a Nishada boy who had no right to acquire military training as per caste rules had done so by looking upon Dronacharya himself as his Guru.
Drona asked Ekalavya to prove his mettle by fighting with the princes. Ekalavya accepted the challenge and defeated every one of them including Arjuna who was a expert archer among pandavas and kauravas. Arjuna was very disappointed as his dream of becoming the greatest archer in the world was shattered. He could not be a match to this practitioner of archery. Drona also realised that his promise to make Arjuna as the greatest archer in the world never be fulfilled as long Ekalavya was there. Drona was both upset and angry that Ekalavya had defeated even Arjuna his best disciple. Drona, then played a trick and decided to deman his Guru-Dakshina from Ekalavya to disable the innocent tribal boy. So he demanded Ekalavya to give him 'guru dakshina' (A disciple's offering to a teacher after mastering a subject). Ekalavya, the devoted disciple was only too happy to give whatever his teacher asked for. Ekalavya stood with folded palms in front of Dronacharya, and told his master that he was ready to do whatever he ordered.
Drona blinded by his anger demanded Ekalavya to give him the thumb from his right hand. Little did Ekalavya know that the Guru-dakshina would be nothing short of his right Thumb, in other words his art of archery itself! On Dronachrya's demanding Ekalavya's right thumb, the dutiful Ekalavya sheared off his thumb and laid it at Dronacharya's feet. When thereafter the Nisada shot with his fingers, he was no longer as fast as he had been before. Arjuna's fever was gone and his heart was happy; and Drona's word was proved true: no one bested Arjuna. Drona returned to the kingdom of Hasthinapura content that he had disabled an opponent of Arjuna leaving behind Ekalavya the most faithful disciple of all times without so much as a word of thanks. The Guru-dakshina had been redeemed and so had been redeemed the ruthless demands of the caste system which reserved the right of acquiring military training only for the certain privillaged Kshatriyas.
In order to understand the various Pauranic references let us examine understand the summing up of a historian Dr Bachan Kumar who traced the mythological sources and wrote that: 'The origins of the Bhils from the thigh of Vena son of Angra, a descendant of Manu Swayambhua, Vena was childless and the sage, therefore rubbed his thigh and produced a man like a charred log (black), with flat face, and extremely short. He was told to sit down (Nishada). He did so and since then they were known as Nishada, from whom sprang the Nishadas dwelling on the Vindhya mountain, distinguished by their wicked deeds'.
BHILS OF JABUA
Now after several millennium Bhils are ironically still stigmatized by their 'wicked deeds' as Jhabua figures top in the criminal map of Asia. Yet, Bhils of Jhabua are also known for their valour as these were the people who helped the famous Rana Pratap while in hiding and fighting from the woods. The guerrilla fights are still remain in vogue among the Bhils though now utilized for criminal activities as a judicial officer commented.
In order to understand Jhabua and the Bhils better who account for 85% of population of the region we undertook a journey into its interiors. Jhabua Distt. Of Madhya Pradesh is situated in the extreme west of the State hemmed with Rajasthan, Guajarat and Maharashtra. There are about 1760 villages in two sub-divisions, 5 tehsils and 12 blocks of Jhabua.
BHILS OF THAR
The Bheels in Thar have retained the nomadic instincts of their Jat forebears; they regularly migrate with their herds and families to the irrigated areas for seasonal labour, occupying their villages in Thar during the short planting season. Finally the Kohlis, descendants of the hunting and gathering population once subsisted on Thar's abundant fauna, fruit and wild products such as honey. Although the only original inhabitants of Thar (all the remainder have colonised in historical times), the Kohlis are now the poorest and least established. They enjoyed a period of respect as soldier for the pre-British rulers, but now with the disappearance of game, are reduced to making the painful adjustment to herding and farming.