"Patana" by L. K. Madavi
When I was asked to preside over the function to launch this inflammatory book in Chandrapur, which had already caused flutter in Nagpur, I was too happy to accept the invitation. As I went on reading the book, more and more I got the feeling that this is "the" thing, which no other Adivasi author had talked about. When I was asked to translate it in English, I very gladly consented and the result is before the masses to judge.
It is said about translations, that more you try to make it beautiful less of fidelity is achieved. They can either be literal or literary. I have tried to be more faithful sacrificing the beauty. "Patana" means flame, fire, flare, blaze, glare, glow in Adivasi Koytur language. The book is full of it. The masses, rather than the "classes", have to judge whether I could do justice to the original author, as the book is addressed to the masses. Being a collection of articles written by him at different times, it has some repetition for which original author has expressed regrets. Two chapters are not included in English "Patana", instead two new chapters are added. With this exception, this "Patana" is as near the original as possible. All the views expressed are his own, I have reproduced them though I personally have different opinions on some points. I hope I have been able to bring to life the temperature and temperament of the original.
Adivasi is one the three groups, the post Buddhistic Hindu society has produced, as was brought out by Dr. Ambedkar, the other two being criminal tribes and untouchables, and the author belongs to the group and writes for them.
"Patana" stresses: Adivasis are not Vanavasis, a derogatory term coined by RSS to enslave Adivasis.
"Patana" demands the rights of Self Determination. It searches for its own identity and concludes that the only "Indigenous People" is the recognition, they are striving for and all other terms are discarded.
"Patana" denies the Laws of Hindus based on Manusmriti and preaching inequality and craves for implementation of their own egalitarian Laws.
"Patana" resents the slavery imposed upon them by the Hindu religion and revolts against it.
"Patana" describes how the Adivasis are killed by Adivasi police in the name of "Naxalite movement"
"Patana" denounces the Hindu gods and eulogizes the Adivasi king Ravana as their ideal, the King whom the Hindus all over India, more so in North than in South, burn publicly with much fanfare in a grand ceremony in the name of Ramlila.
Lastly, "Patana" establishes its connection with Ambedkarism and finds solace for his people in the teachings of the Buddha.
A peep into the history of Adivasis may be useful to understand "Patana".
Adivasis are post Buddhistic
Some scholars believe that present day Adivasis are the survivals of the Neolithic Age, being driven into hills and forests by later Aryan invaders and they are at present represented by the Gonds, Bhils, Santhals, etc. and a number of superstitious along with the worship of manes and spirits and Phallus images of stone and wood and the use of amulets, beads, sacred threads, shells, stones, etc., for curing diseases and keeping away the evil spirits can be traced to the Neolithic period. [Mahajan, "Ancient India", p. 28 ff.]
But it is far from the truth. Sociologists do not believe that the present S.T.s are that ancient, as mentioned by Nadgonde, who avers that sociologists neither think them to be the most ancient society nor the most original residents. [Nadgonde, p.2]
At the time of rise of Buddhism, the society was so much intermixed that no trace of "pure" Aryans, or pure Dravidians for that matter, was left. Rhys Davids has observed:
"It is generally admitted that there are now no pure Aryans left in India. Had the actual custom been as strict as the brahmin theory, this would not be so. ... in Northern India the ancient distinction, Aryan, Kolarian, and Dravidian, cannot, at the time of the rise of Buddhism, any longer be recognized. Long before the priestly theory of caste had been brought into any sort of working order, a fusion, sufficient at least to obliterate completely the old landmarks, was an accomplished fact ..." [Rhys Davids, "Buddhist India",p. 59]
Dr. Ambedkar also has expressed the similar opinion. It follows, therefore, that the creation of S.T.s is a post Buddhistic phenomenon, and the present day Adivasis are descendants of population, who were called Naagas and were Buddhist by faith, and after the fall of Buddhism were degraded to the present status by the ruling priestly class because Naagas had the enmity with the Aryans, did not worship Aryan Gods, did not perform yajynas but were devotees of Arhats, and Chaiytas.
Be it, as it may, the main point is whether they identify themselves with Brahmanic traditions and norms or Buddhistic. "Patana" strongly favours the latter.
Indus Valley civilization was not of Aryans
There was a time that the Brahmins as late as Tilak, took pride in projecting themselves as conquers. But post-Tilak Brahmanic scholarship, after the exploration of Indus valley sites by 1921 to 1927, coinciding with the rise of RSS, is bent on proving that Aryans are the original residents of India and that there was no "Aryan Invasion". They try to prove that Aryans were a civilized people and were the builders and not the destroyers of Harrapan Civilization. What is the reason, that they wish to somehow prove this? To us, it appears that, since Mahatma Jotirao Phule criticized the "Arya Bhats" for the atrocious behaviours of these people towards "shudras and ati-shudras", in this "Land of Bali" - Bali Sthan -, and organized the masses against the Aryabhats, the latter felt that they will loose the supremacy, which they had achieved and very jealously guarded. So it became eminent for them, they prove that they are not aliens, they belong to the soil, and that Aryan Invasion is just a myth. Voluminous literature is being created by them and every method is being used to promote through the media, print as well as electronic, to put forward this view. Not withstanding all this, it was the Naagas who were the original residents of this land and Aryans were the invaders. That is the verdict of the history. Aryans proudly mention the cities burned by them in Saptsindhu, they also declare name of Rishi who championed to cross Vindhyas and pave the way for invasions in South India in later times, do they mention any name who went to west to invade? Afterall, people always migrate from barren land to "greener pastures", not vice versa. Why should Indians migrate to deserts and unfertile lands of middle east with inhospitable climate?
India was land of Naagas and its language Tamil
Who were the people inhabiting India during the Indus Valley Civilization? The modern scholars think that the Dravidians are the descendants of people from Harrapan Civilization. In their opinion, "...the creators of the Indus civilization were the forefathers of the Dravidians, who today mainly inhabit southern India." [Karan Sing and Daisaku Ikeda, "Humanity at the cross roads", p.2]
Like many others like Gail Olmvet, Datta Ray Chaudhari and Majumdar also opine that, the main basis of Indian social cultural system is presumed to be Vedic Culture. This presumption is baseless, and unacceptable. There is no doubt that, the Indus valley culture played a great role in the development and preservation of Indian culture. [Kosare, p. 263]
Dr. Ambedkar's views
The following points emerge from his writings:
1. Undoubtedly the Naagas were non-Aryans. Vedic literature reveals a spirit of conflict, of a dualism, and a race superiority between two distinct types of culture and thought. The mention of the Naagas in the Rig Veda shows that the Naagas were a very ancient people.
2. Naagas were in no way uncivilized people. There was a very close association by intermarriage between them with the Royal families of India. Not only did they occupy a high cultural level but they ruled a good part of India.
3. That Andhradesa and its neighborhood were under the Naagas during early centuries of Christian era is suggested by evidence from more sources that one. The Satvahanas, and their Successors, the Chutu Kulu Satkarnis drew their blood more or less from the Naaga stock.
4. Contrary to the popular view that Dravidians and Naagas are the names of two different races, the fact is that the term Dravidians and the Naagas are merely two different names for the same people.
5. The word 'Dravida' is the Sanskritised form of the word Tamil. The original word Tamil when imported into Sanskrit became Damila and later on Damila became Dravida. The word Dravida is the name of the language of the people and does not denote the race of the people.
6. The thing to remember is that Tamil or Dravida was not merely the language of South India but before the Aryans came it was the language of the whole of India, and was spoken from Kashmere to Cape Camorin. In fact it was the language of the Naagas throughout India. ["The Untouchables", pp. 56, 58, 59, 63, 66, 75]
Tribals are Naagas
By study of stupas at Sanchi and Amaravati, Fergusson describes mainly two types of persons worshiping Buddha and being disciples of Buddhism. Turanians are the Dravidians, also termed the Naagas, whom we now know as aboriginal tribal population. The people, whom Fergusson referred to as "Hindoos", were Buddhists, as he himself clarifies: "... the sculpture meant to represent the inhabitants of the province now known as Upper Bengal, more specially of the districts of Tirhoot and Behar, which were assuredly the cradle of Buddhism. ..." [Fergusson, p. 225]
The people who are associated with Buddha in both the stupas of Sanchi and Amarawati, are the mixed race of Bengal, with some Aryan blood, but mostly which was mixed with the aboriginal tribes of Bengal before Aryan invasion. That the Buddhism could rise on its ruins, is the evidence of it.
Another important question is, Are the people who wear the snake hoods are as same race or not. Fergusson believes that the difference is only artistic, they are the same people but of two different nations. He explains that these are the aboriginal tribes.:
"The people whose manners and customs appear to present the closest affinities with what we found on the monuments, are those known as the Gonds and other closely allied tribes inhabiting the country to the south of the Vindhya hills. From their language we learn that they were allied to Dravidians, now occupying nearly the whole of Madras Presidency, ..." [Fergusson, p. 225]
After careful study of figures, Fergusson comes to conclusion that people with snakes are the Naaga people. [Fergusson, p. 192]
Brahmanic traditions do not depict correct picture
It is now well recognized that Brahmanic books try to depict the superiority of Aryan / Sanskritic / Brahmanic culture and ignore the vast population, which had always been against this culture. Prof. Rhys Davids, aptly, points out this mentality:
"It is the accepted belief that it is in the literature of the Brahmins that we find the evidence as to the religious beliefs of the peoples of India in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. This seems to me more than doubtful. The priests have preserved for us, not so much the opinions the people actually held, as the opinions the priests wished them to hold. ... What they have done they have done accurately and well. But the record they have saved for us is a partial record. [Rhys Davids, "Buddhist India", p.210 ]
Brahmanic scholars of today like to denounce the European scholars, and resort to their wholesale condemnation and attribute them the ulterior motive of conversion to Christianity. But it was a "third party justice" for the dalitbahujans, for whom these foreign authors are more impartial than Brahmanic, who definitely have motives of domination, which dalitbahujans are fully convinced of, by their own daily experiences.
Forest folks were looked after by Ashoka
An account of his Kalinga conquest and its effects is given by Ashoka himself in Rock Edict XIII. About the forest dwellers he said, in the edict:
"Even upon the forest-folk in his dominion, His Sacred Majesty looks kindly and he seeks to make them think aright, for, if he did not, repentance would come upon His Sacred Majesty. They are bidden to turn from evil ways that they be not chastised. For His Sacred Majesty desires that all animated beings should have security, self control, peace of mind and joyousness." [Mahajan, "Ancient India", p. 276]
Why Ashoka was sympathetic towards Adivasis is explained by todays Adivasi scholars: because "he was himself of the same blood", says Venkatesh Atram (as well as L.K. Madavi.) [Venkatesh Atram, "Gondi sanskuti che sandarbha", p. 51]
Naagas flourished before Guptas
Among the important monarchies flourishing before the rise of Guptas, the most important were the Naaga dynasties, and also many Republics. They were scattered all over India, as proved by literary, epigraphic and numismatic evidence. Vidisha, Kantipuri, Mathura and Padmavati were all Naaga powers, according to Puranas. We know from inscriptions, that Bharshiv Naagas came into power after fall of Kushanas. We have some coins of Bhava Naaga of Padmawati. In Puranas nine Naagas are mentioned by name. Powerful King Virsen of Mathura was also perhaps a Naaga. Guptas flourished by marriage of Chandragupta I (319-335 A.D.), with princess Kumar Devi of Licchavis, whom Manusmriti had condemned as "Vratya Kshatriyas", and Kaumudimahotsava as "Mlenchhas". Allahabad Pillar inscription mentions of marriage of Chandragupta II (375-414 A.D.) with a Naaga princess Kuveranaga. Thus though the Guptas rose to power with the help of Naagas, they terminated Naaga kings like Ganpati Naaga and Naagsena, and most of the Naaga republics. [Mahajan, Ancient India, p. 406 ff.]
Republics of Tribals were destroyed by Samudragupta
The disappearance of the republics about 400 A.D. was due to the imperialism of the Guptas, according to Jaiswal, who said, "Samudragupta, like Alexander, killed the free spirit of the country. He destroyed the Malavas and the Yaudheyas who were the nursery of freedom and many others of their class." As Dr. Altekar pointed out, even after Samudragupta (335-375 A.D.), the republics of the Malavas, the Yaudheyas, the Madras and the Arjunayanas maintained their existence and autonomy, though now, under suzerainty of Guptas. However, the leadership became hereditary, and under those circumstances the republics disappeared and monarchy became the general rule. [Mahajan, "Ancient India", p. 201]
The Pala Period
Many people are under a wrong impression, that after Harshavardhana in seventh century A.D., there were no Buddhist Kings. They conveniently forget that Palas ruled for four centuries, and they ruled nearly whole of north India. They were staunch Buddhists and no Brahmins were left after their reign in Bengal, so the Senas, who came after Palas, had to import the Brahmins, for yajnyas.
The area under control of Palas is the area of Naagas and is now an Adivasi tract. It was from Palas that the Buddhism finished, or mostly so. So they are the last remnants of Buddhism. Therefore, their history deserves special study by the Buddhists. That is why the main tribal belt extends from North East Provinces, lower Bihar, some parts of Bengal, some parts of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chatisgadh and Bastar and adjoining parts of Maharashtra and the parts of Andhra? The relationship of Pala kingdom with Adivasi tracts is not discussed by any of the scholars. After independence, the tribal regions within the old Pala kingdom to the east of Bangladesh are put in Schedule VI and regions to the west in Schedule V of Constitution.
The Adivasi scholars start the history of Adivasis from the Gonds kings in Sirpur in Andhra, and in old Chandrapur district, which is now divided into two, and in Bastar and Chattisgadh and Madhya Pradesh etc. Some people like to connect themselves to the people of the neolithic age, as if nothing has happened in the mean time. Then they are silent about the period in between. They not only remain silent, but do not try to understand the reasons why their history is ignored by the Brahmanic scholars. But even then, from scanty references, it is possible to reconstruct the history of tribal population in the area.
A mention is made about Tribal kings as Naaga kings in post Harsha period in Madhya Pradesh. The Tunga kings, Jayasimha, ruled over the whole of Gondama (or Gondama) which is sometimes specifically referred to as Eighteen Gondama. Gondama has been taken to mean the Gond tribe, but it probably denotes a territory, which was perhaps the entire hilly tract extending from Bonal and Barma in the north up Jeypore in the Visakhapatnam District in the south. [Imperial Kanauj, p.77 ]
An account in a book by the poet Padmagupta, of the court of a Paramara king, Navasahasanka Sindhuraja, is considered historical and it narrates how a Naaga king ruling south of the Narmada sought help from Sindhuraja against a neighboring demon-king named Vajrankusa, and gave his daughter Shashiprabha to him after their killing the demon king. It is suggested that the Naaga king was a chief of the Naaga dynasty ruling in old Bastar State, and the demon-king was a chief of the Non-Aryan Mana tribe of Vajra, modern Wairagarh, presently in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra. [Imperial Kanauj, p.97] Also mention is made of Vijayaditya II, coming into conflict with a Naaga king probably of the Bastar region. [Imperial Kanauj, p.134]
The Pala Kingdom comprised tribal areas
After the death of Harshavardhana, the Brahmins regained the lost prestige and started converting people to Brahmanism through the means of force by creating small principalities. The empire was broken down and only small feudatories under the newly created Rajput clans started appearing. R. C. Majumdar, explains how the Palas stopped this political disintegration of Bengal resulting in anarchy and confusion for more than a century after the death of Sasanka (c.637 A.D.), the king of Bengal and strong enemy of Buddhism - one who uprooted the Bodhi tree at Gaya - and enemy of Harsha, and how in the middle of the eighth century A.D., a heroic and laudable effort was made to remedy the miserable state of affairs. Realizing at last, that all the troubles of masses were due to the absence of a strong central authority, the numerous chiefs exercising sovereignty in different parts of the country did set up such a regime by voluntary surrender of powers to one popular leader. This shows no small credit upon the sagacity and sacrifice of the leaders of Bengal who rose to the occasion and selected one among themselves to be the sole ruler of Bengal to whom they all paid willing allegiance. Majumdar comments:
"... It is not every age, it is not every nation that can show such a noble example of subordinating private interests to public welfare. The nearest parallel is the great political change that took place in Japan in A.D. 1870. The result was almost equally glorious and the great bloodless revolution ushered in an era of glory and prosperity such as Bengal has never enjoyed before or since." [Majumdar R. C., "The Age of Imperial Kanauj" HCIP vol. IV, p 44]
The hero was one Gopala (c. 750-770 A.D.), whose early accounts are uncertain, but he came to be known as a Kshatriya and was a Buddhist. All his successors also were Buddhists and the dynasty ruled over a vast area for about four hundred years. The "bloodless revolution", was no doubt religiously motivated. This was also the time when Tantrika Buddhism made its appearance, and the religious leadership passed on to the lower castes in the society, to such an extent that after the fall of Palas, their successors had to import the Brahmins for performance of yajnyas.
After Gopala, his son Dharmapala (c.770-810 A.D.), was a hero of hundred battles, and had assumed full imperial tiles, holding a most magnificent durbar at Kanauj, to proclaim himself as the suzerain. Vassals attending durbar, among others, were the rulers of Bhoja, Mastsya, Madra, Kuru, Yadu, Yavana, Avanti, Gandhara and Kira, who uttered acclamations of approval "bowing down respectfully with their diadems trembling." He is described as the "Lord of Northern India" "(Uttarapathasvamin)." [Majumdar, ibid., p.46]
He was ruling over a vast territory. Bengal and Bihar, which formed its nucleus, were directly ruled by him. Beyond this the kingdom of Kanauj, roughly corresponding to modern U.P., was a close dependency, whose ruler was nominated by, and directly subordinate to, him. Further to the west and south, in the Punjab, Western Hill States, Rajputana, Malwa and Berar, were a number of vassal states whose rulers acknowledged him as their overlord and paid him homage and obedience. According to tradition preserved in the "Svayambhu-Purana", Nepal was also a vassal state of Dharmapala. [Majumdar, p.47]
His grateful subjects fully realized his greatness and sung in his praise all over the country. He was great patron of Buddhism and founder of Vikramshila University, named after his another name, and a great vihara at Sompuri in Varendra. He also built Odantpuri Vihara in Bihar as per Tibetan sources, though credit is given to his father or son by some scholars. Great Buddhist author Haribhadra flourished during his reign. Majumdar laments that his greatness, though sung by masses, "it is irony of fate that he should have been forgotten in the land of his birth but his memory should be kept green in Tibet." [Ibid., p.49] What is so strange about it? It had always been the practice of Brahmanic scholars to kill the memory of great non-Brahmanic dignitaries by non-mention, and if we may say so, it continues even today. No non-Brahmanic king is remembered by the priestly scholars of this country. Chandragupta Maurya is remembered in a fiction "Mudrarakshasa" written thousand years later; Ashoka is remembered by his edicts and credit of identifying Ashoka of Cylonese chronicles with Piyadassi of edicts goes to James Prinsep; Kanishika is remembered by his coins, Chinese sourses and Buddhist MSS, and "Buddhacharita" of Ashvaghosha; King Milinda by foreign accounts and Harshavardhana mainly by Huen Tsang's writings. For the elites of this country, even Alexander the great never existed. What a record!
Dharmapala's son Devapala ruled for about forty years. He was a great patron of Buddhism like his father, and his fame spread to many Buddhist countries outside India. Devapala granted five villages on the request of Balaputradeva, a king of a powerful Buddhist Dynasty, in the East Indies, in order to endow a monastery at Nalanda. Another record informs us that a learned Buddhist priest, hailing from Naagarahara (Jelalabad), received high honors from Devapala and was appointed the head of Nalanda monastery. [Majumdar, p. 52]
After Devapala, glory of Pala empire declined. Though to a large extent, Mahipala tried to restore it. The Brahmanical dynasty of Senas overtook them. Senas, had to import Brahmins to their kingdom from other Brahmanical areas and start the infamous "Kulin" system, to reestablish Brahmin supremacy.
The reason why we like to stress the importance of the history of Pala Kings, is that they were Buddhists and their subjects were Buddhists, and at the present time, the area under the influence of Pala kings is the exact area which is occupied by the present day Adivasis. This shows that they were reduced to their present state, after the fall of Palas, due to neglect by and the atrocities of the Brahmanical forces during post Pala period. Though the miseries of Tribals had started with the rise of Guptas, they had no protector left after the fall of Palas.
Rajputs came from Tribals
In North India, Rajputs were made on the Mount Abu, by a purificatory yajnya and four important dynasties were created to physically oppose the Buddhists and accept the supremacy of Brahmins. Some were remnants of Hunas and some were Tribals. But the Brahmins took special precaution to limit the admittance to Rajputs to only a few important people, and the rest were remaining as ordinary castes, as explained by Balkrishna Nair.
Giving example of House of Mewar which played important role in political and military history of India for centuries to come, and gave heroes like Bapa Raval, Rana Sanga, and Rana Pratap, Stella Kramerish observes:
"Formerly they (Bhils) ruled over their own country. This was prior to the arrival or Rajputs. The Rajputs, the 'sons of king', invaded the country, subsequently Rajasthan in about sixth century A. D. They became Kshatriyas, the nobility par excellence of India. Some of these Rajput princes, including the most exalted of them, the Rana of Mewar, at the inception of their rule, had their foreheads marked with the blood of a Bhil. It was drawn from his thumb or big toe. This was an acknowledgement of the precedence of Bhils as rulers of the country". [Stella Kramerish, "Selected writings of Stella Kramerish", Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968, p. 90; fn:- Koppers, "Die Bhil", p.14]
It is well known that in times of distress, Rana Pratap was helped by the Adivasis to recapture his lost kingdom.
In Southern India, the rite performed for purification, conversion, and initiation into awarding Ksatriyahood was called "Hiranya-garbha mahadana" and the king was designated as Hiranya- garbha-prasuta, i.e. "one who performed the sacred rite of hiranya-garbha which consists in the performer passing through an egg of gold which was afterwards distributed among the officiating priests". [D. C. Sircar, 'The Classical Age', HCIP vol. III, p. 225]
The Hiranya garbha prasuta kings of South India belong to the dynasties of: (1) Ananda gotra connected with Chezarla (2) Vishnukundin connected with Srisaila (3) Chalukyas (4) Pandyas and (5) Rashtrakutas. Most, if not all, of them were Buddhist Tribals, but after accepting Brahmin supremacy they fought with Buddhist Palas as well as among themselves, thus instituting a tripartite struggle for centuries, till they all handed over the political reigns of the country to Muslims and the leadership of whole population, now termed "Hindus", passed to Brahmins instead of victor Muslims.
With their conversion, all their deities got converted into Brahmanic deities, like Jaganath Puri, Pandharpur, Ayyapa, Draksharama, Srisailam, Badrikeswara and many more including Tirupati.
The Buddhist connection of Adivasis
Right from the birth of the Buddha Tribals are related with Buddha. Adivasi scholars have stressed that Buddha and Ashoka belonged to their stock.
The stupas of Sanchi in the North and Amravati in the South have got numerous bas reliefs having tribal population, as mentioned earlier, showing them to be the worshipers of the Buddha.
The great temples of present day Hindus were coopted as Buddhist shrines for the Brahmanic use and stories built up to obtain the consent systems of original worshipers in the Puranic legends. Even the Brahmanic traditional accounts mention that the God at Jaganatha Puri was being worshipped by tribal chieftain and was brought to Puri and interned in the wooden image as a "Nabhi Padma" which is believed to be a tooth of Buddha..
Chenchu Adivasis even now have rights in the temple of Srisailam, and they call Siva as "Chenchu Mallaiah", worship him as husband of a Chenchu woman. The Buddhist centers like Nagarjunkonda and Srisailam were destroyed under the direct supervision of Adi Sankara, and now Chenchus, poorest of all Adivasis as Ambedkar mentions, have to be content with Brahmanic depiction of Parvati as a Chenchu woman.
As R.C.Dhere expounded, Vitthala of Pandharpur in Western Maharashtra was a deity originally of "Dhangar" Adivasis and was Buddhist and is now brahmanized.
Venkateswara of Tirupati is also depicted as a Tribal youth marrying a tribal damsel "Padmawati", and the consent system was obtained by Ramanuja by putting a plaque of Padmavati in the neck of Venkateswara and worship is through the tribal goddess of "Almel Mangai", now brahmanized to Padmavati.
Tribals worship Danteswari and are disciples of Jagannatha of Puri
The tribal population of Bastar, known as Madiyas, as is well known, are Naagas, and they were referred to as Naagas in inscriptions. What is not well known is that they have a Rath Yatra, very much like that of Puri. As explained by us in "Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine", both Rath Yatra and Puri Temple are of Buddhist origin. Also the name "Danteswari" of their deity is strongly suggestive of "Dantpura", where Tooth Relic of the Buddha is being worshiped, which now is Jagannatha of Puri.
Bhai Mahavir, attended Dushera festival of Madiyas, and describes it as "a Dussehra without any mention of the Ramayana". Even the date of Dushera is significant, as prior to Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism in 1956, the Hindu Panchangas used to depict Dushera as the date of birth of the Buddha, though Buddhist tradition places it on Veshakh full moon day. He writes:
"While for a large part of the country, Dussehra gets its name from the victory of Ram over the 10 headed Ravana, ... in Bastar we have none of this. There is no Sita abduction, no Hanuman search mission and no Ram-Ravana battle. You do not see the spectacle of any effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath going up in flames as its finals. In fact, when this idea was mooted once, tribal leaders did not welcome it."
Mahavir explains how Baster's Dussehra is connected with their own favourite deity, Danteshwari, unknown elsewhere. The festival, lasting virtually for two and a half months, is not mere entertainment, but a genuine religious practice and an essential part of their culture and philosophy.
Ratha Yatra being the main part, its preparation starts early, and different villages having well-designated duties of fetching wood meant for specified parts of the Rath. It is pulled with long ropes by about 500 Madiya Tribals of Kilpal, a privilege they jealously guard.
The fourth ruler of Bastar, Raja Purushottam Dev, who ascended the throne in 1408 AD, performed Dandavat (prostration) pilgrimage from Baster to Jagannath Puri, offered lots of precious gifts with one lakh gold mohurs to temple, and started the Ratha Yatra. Like in several states, the practice continued till the tragic death of Pravinchandra Bhanjdev. Now only the chhatra and the chief pujari of Danteshwari temple of Jagdalpur ride it. All the tribes bring their favourite deities with their chhatras to the courtyard of the royal palace. The whole town is out jostling to watch the gigantic chariot being pulled by hundreds of tribal devotees.
The tribes of Bastar are no Vaishnavites (vegetarians), they are devotes of Danteswari, though their Danteshwari Temple, at Dantewada, in Bastar, has an idol of Nandi and an image of Siva. The Rath Yatra commences with a goat sacrifice, and no less than five goats are sacrificed by the time the festivals conclude. [An article "Without Ram or Ravana" by Bhai Mahavir in "Indian Express", Nagpur, 4.12.99]
Why the Adivasis Struggle can not succeed in Hindu India
About the condition of all these Adivasis, less said the better. Whereas the Tribals in VI schedule are fighting a loosing battle against the Manuvadi social order, those in other areas are fast getting hinduized and accepting the Brahmanic values, and pessimistic about their struggle.
The main question is why they are not getting any success in their struggle. The reason as explained by Kanshiram, long time back, is that they are fighting isolatedly and the reason is that they do not like to identify themselves as one of the co- sufferers among the multitudes of castes suffering under the tyranny of Brahmanic social order. He appeals to them to organize their struggle together with these multitudes under one banner. [Adivasi-Bharat ke Mulnivasi, hindi, p. 10]
The "Patana" is a great attempt at that. It deprecates all the consent systems being built up by the Brahmanic forces at the sanskritization of these Adivasis, and alienating them from co- sufferers. The process of Sanskritization has not helped any society in the past and it will not help the Adivasis. That is the message of "Patana".
Ekalavya can not be our hero
The last Chapter of "Patana" practically sums up all his views. A special mention must be made about his denial of Ekalavya as a hero. A powerful consent system has been built by Brahmanic scholars in the name of Ekalavya. All the text books since my childhood mention Ekalavya as the "Ideal sishya" by cutting his thumb away at the orders of Drona as a Guru Dakshina, for the education NOT imparted by him. And Drona is depicted as ideal "Guru" as prestigious Awards in Sports are named after him. "Patana" condemns this story and declares that such Adivasis can not be our leaders and heroes.
The important question is why Drona refused to teach Ekalavya. Shard Patil [ramayan maha bharatatil varna sangharsha, (marathi), p. 6 ff.], who condemns the recent authors trying to justify not only the refusal by Drona to teach a "Nishada" but also his demanding the thumb, explains: Mahabharata (1.131.31-32) calls Ekalavya a "Nishada" prince. Nishada being a sovereign non-aryan "Gana", i.e. tribe, and as no gana could exit without its own specific initiation (upnayana), why did Drona decline to teach Eklavya? Sharad Patil mentions Mahabharata provides the answer:
After Ghatotkacha gets killed by Karna, Drona Parva mentions, Krishna tells Arjuna that Haidimba Ghatotkacha, and Nishada Ekalavya were the "haters of Brahmins and Yajnyas". (MB 7.181.2,17-21,27). Krishna tells Arjuna that he killed Ekalavya before the war, and if Ghatotkacha would not have been killed by Karna, Krishna would have been required to kill him. (MB 184.108.40.206)
Thus, one who was the senior most among the Pandavas, was a great support to them like Bhima and who sacrificed his life for the sake of Pandavas was to be killed by Pandavas themselves, observes Sharad Patil and condemns Drona for asking and Ekalavya for giving his thumb, and calls Ekalavya as "bhatallela", which is abusive way of saying Brahmanized.
"Patana" does the same thing by refusing to accept Ekalavya as our hero. Time has come to demand the name Drona be scrapped away from prestigious Sports Award, in secular, democratic Republic of India.