Criminal Tribes Of India

Dr. K. Jamanadas,

Dr. Ambedkar had condemned the Brahminic culture for creating three groups of people, SCs STs and Criminal tribes. We know a great deal about SCs and something about STs. Here is some information of Criminal Tribes.

Social Science Centre at St. Xavier College, 5, Nagarpalika Marg Mumbai, under the leadership of Father Rudy Herediya, believes in the principles of Democracy and Socialism embedded in the Constitution of India. They are working on adventurous research projects in the field of Social Sciences for Change, for the benefit of Nomadic Tribes and ex-Criminal Tribes. Working under them is Centre for Learning Resources 8, Deccan College Road, Yerwada, Pune, which prepared bilingual text books for about 60 balvadis -- run by their sister organization 'Lokparishad' -- in the language of Adivasis - Lamani, Dhangari, Paradhi etc. with Marathi. They claim that teaching in mother tongue is better.

They have established a "Sonthaymar Cultural Association" and propose to set up a Museum at Jejuri to preserve the folk traditions in Maharashtra. Following history is condensed from these books, which give some historical points about the tribes like Ramoshis and Paradhis.

*History of Paradhis*

The Paradhi community is labeled as ex-criminal tribes on one side and is struggling to stand on its own feet on the other. The Paradhis have many sub-castes like Fase-Paradhi, Gav-Paradhi, Berad-Paradhi, Gay-Paradhi, Chita-Paradhi etc.

All of them were declared criminal Tribes except the Gav- Paradhis, who had taken to farming and settled well during British rule having a good population in Amravati District. They have given up hunting and very few have now guns. Fairly well educated, they are in Government employment in good numbers.

Their culture and civilization is changing fast with the changing times. Their traditional apparel used to be a 'pheta' (head dress) and 'langoti' (loin cloth) only. But things are now changing.

They worship nature and the goddesses more than the gods. They worship 'dhani' and 'jarane' by sacrificing goats.

There are only three surnames among them -- Chauhan, Pawar and Solanke. There is no inter-marriage within a surname. Marriage system resembles that of other castes.

Their language is akin to Hindi that is spoken in rural Gujrath and Rajasthan. They claim descent from Rana Pratap and Prithwiraj Chauhan and original home in Gujrath and Rajasthan. Their colonies are on the outskirts of towns.

The term "adivasi" denotes their 'political and social' identity. The terms indigenous and aboriginal are used by the Imperial States to enslave whole of Africa. In India, what the British could not do, was done by Independence. In the name of 'development', Adivasis are uprooted exploited and again 'rehabilitated' and this is called story of success in modern India. The strong edifice of modern India has lives of millions of Adivasis trenched under its foundation.

In the definition of modern India, an Adivasi means backward, having queer traditions, illiterate and devoid of history. Some of those who made this definition take refuge by calling then 'girijan' (dwellers of hills) or 'vanvasi' (dwellers of forests). They are already removed from the fields of arts and literature.

Because of these misunderstandings, Adivasis are faced with the problem of Identity Crisis. The reply to this question will be given by the now awakening Adivasi through the medium language in the modern terms, but still all traditions and customs would be its inseparable part.

*History of Ramoshis*

In 1871 the British Government declared some tribes as "Criminal". The established society did ot oppose this, contrararily they seem to have liked it. Some clauses were:

1. Permission should be obtained from police while shifting from one location to other.

2. Govt. could send the group of people outside the bounds of a certain area.

3. Govt. got the right to form a 'settlement' and keep the groups of people there.

Before the British came, what was their history? Today's Ramoshi was called Boya, Berad and Vedan. In Andhra it was called Boya and in Karnataka and Tamilnadu it was called Berad and Bedar. Ramoshis of Maharashtra have come from mostly Karnataka and their surnames are same as Berad-Ramoshi of Karnataka. Their original language is sothern. They first got settled in Karnataka and later migrated to Maharashtra. Word 'Bhuyal' in Berad's language seems to have originated from Boya. though it is known in Maharashtra as Ramoshi-Berad, the name 'Ramoshi' is not older than 100-200 years.

1. Maharashtra -- Ramoshis are Berads or Boyas. Ramoshi did not originate from 'Ram vamshi'. It is in use only for hundred to hundred and fifty years. Before that, they were called Berad or Bedar, as mentioned during rule of Peshavas.

Narveer Umaji Naik, in a letter of 1828, mentions as Ranvasi addressed to Ramoshis. Those days they were staying in hills and doing the job of protection of villages and crops in fields.

2. Andhra Pradesh -- Boya, Dorabiddu and Valmiki are the names in vogue. Dorabiddu means sons of sardars. Boya consider themselves as sons of sardars and descendents of Valmiki.

3. Tamilnadu -- Name in vogue is 'Vedan'.

4. Karnataka -- Names Berad and Bedar are in vogue. Bedar was word used by Muslims either to show the dauntless quality or may be inability to pronounce properly. Muslim books use word Bedar.

The names are Berad, Bedar, Nayak, Talwar, Nayavadi, Naykar, Valmiki, Palegar etc. each having distinctive meaning.

1. Nayak and Nayakar -- During Kakatiya and Vijayanagar rules in Andhra a head of a region was called Nayak, and traditional 'vatandars' were called Naykar. Akin to Deshmukh and Desais in Maharashtra, were Palegar and Naykars. Many Berads became Palegar on their own bravery. Nayak in Telgu means Ownner or Head. May be this is origin of word.

2. Naykvadi was the title of Killedar. Those protecting outer walls of fortes were called Nayakvadi.

3. Talwar was name one doing work of village watchman or revenue work. For villege policing, carrying the land revenue to treasury headquarters, the workers had to bear arms, so called Talwar meaning sword.

*Religious customs of Berad-Ramoshis*

1. Devata and kulswami -- Ramoshis of Maharashtra worship Khandoba as 'kulswami'. Also worship Mariaai, kalubai, janaai, firanjaai, tukaai, bhairoba etc., and also Yellamma.

Berads of Karnataka worship Mallikarjuna, Mauti, Vekatesh as main deities and also worship Yellamma.

Boyas worship Tirupati Venkat Ramana, Mariamma, Kanathrathan etc. Most of Berads are Shaivaites. They worship Shiva and engage Jangam or Lingayat Swami for religious functions.

2. Devak (Totems) -- Every kula has separate totem. No marriages take place within same totem though surnames may be different. They include pan-kanis, vasan-vel, surya-ful, umbar, jambhul etc.

3. Caste Panchayat of Berad Ramoshis -- The head is called Naik in Maharashtra and well respected. Previously they dealt with all disputes. In Karnataka he is called Nayak or Kahimani and Head of Boyas is called Naidu, Doraa or Sinhasan Boya. Their word is final and punishments differed, fine, feast to excommunication.

4. Wedding / Barase / Marmik -- Lingayat or Jangam is required. Sometimes Brahmin does it. Remarriages and widow marriages are allowed. Groom pays to bride's father some teej/dej/tyaj. There WAS no dowry system.

5. Barase and pachavi -- Child is named on 13th day. 'ghugarya' are distributed. On 5th day 'pachava chi puja' is performed. This time 'satwai' is worshiped. Child is named on twelth or twentyfirst day.

6. Funeral rites -- Burial was in vogue. Somewhere they cremate. On 3rd or 7th or 12th day they do 'mati lotne'. 'uttar karya vidhi' is performed that time.

At the burial place, the stones are aranged, gulal is sprinkled. On 3rd day flowers and 'naivadya' is offered.

*History of Berads*

There is no written history. Scanty writings are available by others. It has to be corelated with oral yraditions.

The original man was Guh. According to Rajguru of Shorapur princely state, Berads come from Tamilnadu migrating to Karnatake during Vijaynagar rule. Names of 14 ancestors are known to him but not whereabouts. The last was 'goshti pid nayaka', a contemporary of Shivaji Maharaj. This means the history dates back to 800 years from Shivaji's known date of 1630. Epigraphs of 8th to 11th century mention 'Bed-Beda', are they for the community?

During Vijaynagar rule, these Nayak kings were assigned duty of protecting province of Tungabhadra. After of fall of Vijaynagar, the kings of Shorpur became independant. They only came under Bijapur court for name sake. But the Bijapur court was always afraid of Berad Nayak Kings.

Later, during Maratha - Moghul conflict, Nayak kings played important role. After fall of Sambhaji and migration of Rajaram to Jinji, Moghu-Maratha conflict spread from Narmada to Tamilnadu and from east to west coast. Moghul Emperors realized they were fighting with a hurt identity in 1695. But it was not possible to turn back. During this conflict, Berad Nayaks played a delicate and important role. The families of all important Maratha sardars and their treasury was in Vagana-gera (or Wakin-kheda), the capital of these Nayak kings. Therefore, Aurangjeb had to fight his last battle of his life against Berad Nayaks of Vagana-gera during 1705 - 06.

*Struggle against the British*

Inumerable Berads sacrificed their lives in uprisings against the British. History knows very few names. The important are:

1. 1820 -1831 -- Umaji Naik, Bhulaji, Pandu Naik -- they rovolted in Pune, Nagar, Nasik, Satara, Solapur, Kokan. Most of participants in these rebelions were Ramoshis.

2. 1817 -- Gokak, Pachapur regions in Karnataka, Nayaks organized and rebelled. They were mostly Berads.

3. Revolt of Kittur Channamma and Sangoli Rayanna in Karnataka had mostly Berads,

4. 1817 -- Trimbak Dengale's revolt in Pune by sardars in Peshaai - mostly had Ramoshi, Bhil, Koli etc.

5. 1857 - Uprising of Rango Bapuji in Satara, rebelled in name of Chatrapati of Satara. Centres established for recruitment where Ramoshi Koli and Mangs were in majority. Two Madane Brothers of Ramoshi wadi (Koregaon Satara) and Nana Ramoshi of Kundal were blown by cannon. Many Ramoshis from Tasgaon in Bijapur Taluka participated.

6. 1844-50 -- Tukaram and Mahankal, two sons of Umaji Naik revolted.

7. 1857 - Berads of Village Halgali Dist. Bijapur Karnataka revolted against disarming act. 19 Berads were hanged at Mudhol.

8. 1857 -- Raja Venkappa Nayak of Shurpur Dist Gulbarga rebelled. He died in struggle,

9. 1870 -- 1880 Rebellion of Vasudev Balwant Phadake was participated by most of Ramoshis. Head was Daulati Naik, who died in fight against Capt. Daniel in Tisubai Hills. Hari Ramoshi was hanged at Jejuri and Berads at Mudhol.

10. 1910 -- Veer Sindhur Laxman rebelled against Sansthanik at Jat ant British, was killed by treachery.

11. Vajya - Baijya - fought against Saranjamdar at Kukudwad Dist Satara.

12. 1942 - 'Quit India' movement and formed 'prati sarkar' - parellel Government. Most Ramoshis of Satara Sangali Pune Districts participated.

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Published on: May 1, 2003
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