October 30, 2006

Does not imprison

Two paras in a book I am reading:
    From the time I started working with the adivasis, I have never ceased to learn from them. My first surprise was to discover that adivasis have no castes, that all persons in a given tribe are treated as equal in birth and death. The next was that they have no religion. This is not to say that they have no concept of the divine or the supernatural. In fact, they treat a large part of the realm of the physical as charged with the supernatural. There is an appropriate prayerfulness towards things material. But adivasis have not allowed their need to worship to grow into a basis for nationalism or for waging wars.

    It is generally believed that they have a religion which can be termed animistic. But that is not quite correct. Not all trees and plants or all hills and rivers, or all beasts and birds are sacred for them. There are clearly defined spaces and moments for the sacred. An example is the Rathwa tribe's Babo Pithoro. This god, spirit or ancestor is depicted in the form of a large painting inside a Rathwa house. During the ritual of creating the painting and ordaining it as a sacred presence, the Rathwas observe certain rules of pollution. After the ritual is over, it survives as any other wall surface, allowing nails and pegs to go in, wall clocks and other things to hang on it. In other words the adivasi religion allows faith but does not imprison the mind.

    [Emphasis mine]
From A Nomad Called Thief: Reflections on Adivasi Silence, by GN Devy.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Part of the reason probably is that they haven't been exposed to vote-bank politics yet...