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Are Indian tribals Hindus: The Figures

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Are Indian tribals Hindus: The Figures

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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.

2. 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].

Continued in the next part

This first appeared in in the Swastik Journal of Indian wisdom. 

Shrikant Talageri

Shrikant Talageri 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."