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This article was written in 1916 when conditions were different. Even in
1916 its contents related only to Central India and did not claim to be true
of all of India. It has been archived for its historical value as well as for
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From The Tribes And Castes Of The Central Provinces Of India

By R. V. Russell

Of The Indian Civil Service

Superintendent Of Ethnography, Central Provinces

Assisted By Rai Bahadur Hira Lal, Extra Assistant Commissioner

Macmillan And Co., Limited, London, 1916.

NOTE 1: The 'Central Provinces' have since been renamed Madhya Pradesh.

NOTE 2: While reading please keep in mind that all articles in this series have been scanned from the original book. Therefore, footnotes have got inserted into the main text of the article, interrupting the flow. Readers who spot these footnotes gone astray might like to shift them to their correct place.




1. General notice. The Bhils a 7. Kolarian tribe. 2. Rajputs deriving their title to 8. the landfrom the Bhils. 9. 3. Historical notice. 10. 4. General Outram and the 11. Khdndesh Bhtl Corps. 12. 5 . Siibdivisio7is. 6. Exogamy and marriage ciis- 13. to)ns. 1 4. Widoiv-marriage, divorce and polygamy. Religion. Witchcraft and amulets. Funeral rites. Social custojns. Appeara7ice and character- istics. Occupation. Language. I. General notice. The Bhils a Kolarian tribe.


An indigenous or non-Aryan tribe which has been much in contact with the Hindus and is consequently- well known. The home of the Bhils is the country com- prised in the hill ranges of Khandesh, Central India and Rajputana, west from the Satpuras to the sea in Gujarat. The total number of Bhils in India exceeds a million and a half, of which the great bulk belong to Bombay, Rajputana and Central India. The Central Provinces have only about 28,000, practically all of whom reside in the Nimar district, on the hills forming the western end of the Satpura range and adjoining the Rajpipla hills of Khandesh. As the southern slopes of these hills lie in Berar, a few Bhils are also found there.

The name Bhil seems to occur for the first time about A.D. 600. It is supposed to be derived from the Dravidian word for a bow, which is the characteristic weapon of the tribe. It has been suggested that the Bhils ^ The principal authorities on the Bhils are : An Account of the Alewdr Bhils, by Major P. 11. Hendley, f.A.S.B. vol. xliv., 1875, PP- 347-385 ; the Bombay Gazetteer, vol. ix., Hindus of Gujarat ; and notices in Colonel Tod's Rcyasthdn, Mr. A. L. Forbes's Rdsmala, and The Khandesh Bhil Corps, by Mr. A. H. A. Simcox, C.S. ^78

PA in II RAJPUTS AND THEIR TII'LE TO T//J-: LAND 279 are the Pygmies referred to by Ktesias (400 H.c.) and the Phylhtae of Ptolemy (a.u. 150). The Bhils are recognised as the oldest inhabitants of southern Rajputana and parts of Gujarat, and are usually spoken of in conjunction witli the Kolis, who inhabit the adjoining tracts of Gujarat. The most probable hypotheilsis of the origin of the Kolis is that they are a 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 the sea. If this is correct the Kolis would be a Kolarian tribe.

The Bhils have lost their own language, so that it cannot be ascertained whether it was Kolarian or Dravidian. But there is nothing against its being Kolarian in Sir G. Grierson's opinion ; and in view of the length of residence of the tribe, the fact that they have abandoned their own language and their association with the Kolis, this view may be taken as generally probable. The Dravidian tribes have not penetrated so far west as Central India and Gujarat in appreciable numbers. The Rajputs still recognise the Bhils as the former 2. Rajputs residents and occupiers of the land by the fact that some their'"^ Rajput chiefs must be marked on the brow with a Bhll's title to the ,,, . iz-rf 1 1- T-j l^"d from blood on accession to the Gaddi or regal cushion. 1 od ^^^^ ghOs. relates how Goha,^ the eponymous ancestor of the Sesodia Rajputs, took the state of Idar in Gujarat from a Bhil :

" At this period Idar was governed by a chief of the savage race of Bhils. The young Goha frequented the forests in company with the Bhils, whose habits better assimilated with his daring nature than those of the Brah- mans. He became a favourite with these vena-putras or sons of the forest, who resigned to him Idar with its woods and mountains. The Bhils having determined in sport to elect a king, their choice fell on Goha ; and one of the young savages, cutting his finger, applied the blood as the badge {tikd) of sovereignty to his forehead. What was done in sport was confirmed by the old forest chief. The sequel fixes on Goha the stain of ingratitude, for he slew his 1 The old name of the Sesodia clan, for a notice of the real origin of the Gahlot, is held to be derived from this clan. Goha. See the article Rajput Sesodia 28o BHIL PART benefactor, and no motive is assigned in the legend for the deed." ^ The legend is of course a euphemism for the fact that the Rajputs conquered and dispossessed the Bhils of Idar. But it is interesting as an indication that they did not consider themselves to derive a proper title to the land merely from the conquest, but wished also to show that it passed to them by the designation and free consent of the Bhils. The explanation is perhaps that they considered the gods of the Bhils to be the tutelary guardians and owners of the land, whom they must conciliate before they could hope to enjoy it in quiet and prosperity.

This token of the devolution of the land from its previous holders, the Bhils, was till recently repeated on the occasion of each succession of a Sesodia chief " The Bhil landholders of Oguna and Undri still claim the privilege of performing the tlka for the Sesodias. The Oguna Bhil makes the mark of sovereignty on the chief's forehead with blood drawn from his own thumb, and then takes the chief by the arm and seats him on the throne, while the Undri Bhil holds the salver of spices and sacred grains of rice used in making the badge." ^ The story that Goha killed the old Bhil chief, his benefactor, who had adopted him as heir and successor, which fits in very badly with the rest of the legend, is probably based on another superstition.

Sir J. G. Frazer has shown in The Golden Bough that in ancient times it was a common superstition that any one who killed the king had a right to succeed him. The belief was that the king was the god of the country, on whose health, strength and efficiency its prosperity depended. When the king grew old and weak it was time for a successor, and he who could kill the king proved in this manner that the divine power and strength inherent in the late king had descended to him, and he was therefore the fit person to be king.^ An almost similar story is told of the way in which the Kachhwaha Rajputs took the territory of Amber State from the Mina tribe. The infant Rajput prince had been deprived of Narwar by ' RajastJidii, i. p. 184. Golden Botigh for the full explana- ^ Ibidem, p. 1S6. tion and illustration of this super- 3 Reference may be made to The stition.

his uncle, and his mother wandered forth carryinc^ him in a basket, till she came to the capital of the Minas, where she first obtained employment in the chiefs kitchen. But owing to her good cooking she attracted his wife's notice and ultimately disclosed her identity and told her story. The Mina chief then adopted her as his sister and the boy as his nephew. This boy, Dhola Rai, on growing up obtained a (cw Rajput adherents and slaughtered all the Minas while they were bathing at the feast of Diwali, after which he usurped their country.

^ The repetition both of the adoption and the ungrateful murder shows the import- ance attached by the Rajputs to both beliefs as necessary to the validity of their succession and occupation of the land. The position of the- Bhlls as the earliest residents of the country was also recognised by their employment in the capacity of village watchmen. One of the duties of this official is to know the village boundaries and keep watch and ward over them, and it was supposed that the oldest class of residents would know them best. The Bhlls worked in the office of Mankar, the superior village watch- man, in Nimar and also in Berar. Grant Duff states " that the Ramosi or Bhil was emplo)'ed as village guard by the Marathas, and the Ramosis were a professional caste of village policemen, probably derived from the Bhlls or from the Bhlls and Kolis.

The Rajputs seem at first to have treated the Bhlls 3. Histori- leniently. Intermarriage was frequent, especially in the families of BhIl chieftains, and a new caste called Bhilala ^ has arisen, which is composed of the descendants of mixed Rajput and Bhil marriages. Chiefs and landholders in the Bhll country now belong to this caste, and it is possible that some pure Bhll families may have been admitted to it. The Bhilalas rank above the Bhlls, on a level with the cultivating castes. Instances occasionally occurred in which the children of a Rajput by a Bhll wife became Rajputs. When Colonel Tod wrote, Rajputs would still take food with Ujla Bhlls or those of pure aboriginal descent, and all castes would take water from them."* But 1 RSjasthan, ii. pp. 320, 321. 3 gee article. "^History of the Alardihas, i. p. 28. "* Rajasthan, ii. p. 466.

as Hinduism came to be more orthodox in Rajputana, the Bhils sank to the position of outcastes. Their custom of eating beef had always caused them to be much despised.

A tradition is related that one day the god Mahadeo or Siva, sick and unhappy, was reclining in a shady forest when a beautiful woman appeared, the first sight of whom effected a cure of all his complaints. An intercourse between the god and the strange female was established, the result of which was many children ; one of whom, from infancy distinguished alike by his ugliness and vice, slew the favourite bull of Mahadeo, for which crime he was expelled to the woods and mountains, and his descendants have ever since been stigmatised by the names of Bhil and Nishada.^ Nishada is a term of contempt applied to the lowest out- castes. Major Hendley, writing in 1875, states: "Some time since a Thakur (chief) cut off the legs of two Bhils, eaters of the sacred cow, and plunged the stumps into boiling oil." ^ When the Marathas began to occupy Central India they treated the Bhils with great cruelty.

A BhIl caught in a disturbed part of the country was without inquiry flogged and hanged. Hundreds were thrown over high cliffs, and large bodies of them, assembled under promise of pardon, were beheaded or blown from guns. Their women were mutilated or smothered by smoke, and their children smashed to death against the stones.^ This treatment may to some extent have been deserved owing to the predatory habits and cruelty of the Bhils, but its result was to make them utter savages with their hand against every man, as they believed that every one's was against them. From their strongholds in the hills they laid waste the plain country, holding villages and towns to ransom and driving off cattle ; nor did any travellers pass with impunity through the hills except in convoys too large to be attacked. In Khandesh, during the disturbed period of the wars of Sindhia and Holkar, about A.D. I 800, the Bhils betook themselves to highway robbery and lived in bands either in mountains or in villages im- mediately beneath them. The revenue contractors were 1 Malcolm, Memoir of Central (1875), p. 369. India, i. p. 518. ^ Hyderabad Census Report (1891), "^ An Account of the Bhils, J.A.S.B. p. 218.

Bemrose, Collo., Derby. TANTIA BHTL, a FAMOUS DACOIT.

II HISTORICAL NOTICE 283 unable or unwilling to spend money in the maintenance of soldiers to protect the country, and the Bhils in a very short time became so bold as to appear in bands of hundreds and attack towns, carrying off either cattle or hostages, for whom they demanded handsome ransoms.

^ In Gujarat another writer described the Bhils and Kolis as hereditary and professional plunderers —' Soldiers of the night,' as they themselves said they were." Malcolm said of them, after peace had been restored to Central India :^ "Measures are in progress that will, it is expected, soon complete the re- formation of a class of men who, believing themselves doomed to be thieves and plunderers, have been confirmed in their destiny by the oppression and cruelty of neighbouring govern- ments, increased by an avowed contempt for them as out- casts. The feeling this system of degradation has produced must be changed ; and no effort has been left untried to restore this race of men to a better sense of their condition than that which they at present entertain. The common answer of a Bhil when charged with theft or robbery is, ' I am not to blame ; I am the thief of Mahadeo ' ; in other words, ' My destiny as a thief has been fixed by God.

" The Bhil chiefs, who were known as Bhumia, exercised the most absolute power, and their orders to commit the most atrocious crimes were obeyed by their ignorant but attached subjects without a conception on the part of the latter that they had an option when he whom they termed their Dhunni (Lord) issued the mandates.'* firearms and swords were only used by the chiefs and headmen of the tribe, and their national weapon was the bamboo bow having the bowstring made from a thin strip of its elastic bark. The quiver was a piece of strong bamboo matting, and would contain sixty barbed arrows a yard long, and tipped with an iron spike either flattened and sharpened like a knife or rounded like a nail ; other arrows, used for knocking over birds, had knob- like heads. Thus armed, the Bhils would lie in wait in some deep ravine by the roadside, and an infernal yell announced their attack to the unwary traveller.^ Major Hendley states ^ The Kliandesh Bhil Corps, by Mr ^ Metnoir of Central India, i. pp. A. H. A. Simcox. 525, 526. * Ibidem, i. p. 550. 2 Forbes, RdsmCxla, i. p. 104. " Hobson-Jobson, art, Bhil.

that according to tradition in the Mahabharata the god Krishna was killed by a Bhll's arrow, when he was fighting against them in Gujarat with the Yadavas ; and on this account it was ordained that the Bhil should never again be able to draw the bow with the forefinger of the right hand. " Times have changed since then, but I noticed in examining their hands that few could move the forefinger without the second finger ; indeed the fingers appeared useless as in- dependent members of the hands.

In connection with this may be mentioned their apparent inability to distinguish colours or count numbers, due alone to their want of words to express themselves." ^ The reclamation and pacification of the Bhlls is insepar- ably associated with the name of Lieutenant, afterwards Sir James, Outram. The Khandesh BhIl Corps was first raised by him in 1825, when Bhil robber bands were being hunted down by small parties of troops, and those who were willing to surrender were granted a free pardon for past offences, and given grants of land for cultivation and advances for the purchase of seed and bullocks.

When the first attempts to raise the corps were made, the Bhlls believed that the object was to link them in line like galley-slaves with a view to extirpate the race, that blood was in high demand as a medicine in the country of their foreign masters, and so on. Indulging the wild men with feasts and entertainments, and delighting them with his matchless urbanity. Captain Outram at length contrived to draw over to the cause nine recruits, one of whom was a notorious plunderer who had a short time before successfully robbed the officer commanding a detachment sent against him.

This infant corps soon became strongly attached to the person of their new chief and entirely devoted to his wishes ; their goodwill had been won by his kind and conciliatory manners, while their ad- miration and respect had been thoroughly roused and excited by his prowess and valour in the chase. On one occasion, it is recorded, word was brought to Outram of the presence of a panther in some prickly-pear shrubs on the side of a hill near his station. He went to shoot it with a friend, Outram being on foot and his friend on horseback searching ' An Accoimt of the Bhlls, p. 369. II SUBDIVISIONS 285 through the bushes. When close on the animal, Outrain's friend fired and missed, on which the panther sprang forward roaring and seized Outram, and they rolled down the hill together. Being released from the claws of the furious beast for a moment, Outram with great presence of mind drew a pistol which he had with him, and shot the panther dead. The IMills, on seeing that he had been injured, were one and all loud in their grief and expressions of regret, when Outram quieted them with the remark, ' What do I care for the clawing of a cat ? ' and this saying long re- mained a proverb among the Bhlls.^ By his kindness and sympathy, listening freely to all that each single man in the corps had to say to him, Outram at length won their con- fidence, convinced them of his good faith and dissipated their fears of treachery. Soon the ranks of the corps became full, and for every vacant place there were numbers of applicants.

The Bhils freely hunted down and captured their friends and relations who continued to create disturbances, and brought them in for punishment. Outram managed to check their propensity for liquor by paying them every day just sufificient for their food, and giving them the balance of their pay at the end of the month, when some might have a drinking bout, but many preferred to spend the money on ornaments and articles of finery. With the assistance of the corps the marauding tendencies of the hill Bhils were suppressed and tranquillity restored to Khandesh, which rapidly became one of the most fertile parts of India. During the Mutiny the Bhil corps remained loyal, and did good service in checking the local outbursts which occurred in Khandesh. A second battalion was raised at this time, but was disbanded three years afterwards. After this the corps had little or nothing to do, and as the absence of fighting and the higher wages which could be obtained by ordinary labour ceased to render it attractive to the Bhils, it was finally converted into police in 1891.

The Bhils of the Central Provinces have now only two 5- Sub- subdivisions, the Muhammadan Bhils, who were forcibly con- verted to Islam during the time of Aurangzeb, and the remainder, who though retaining many animistic beliefs and ^ The Khandesh Bhll Corps, p. 71. ^ Ibidem, p. 275. 286 BHiL PART superstitions, have practically become Hindus. The Muhammadan Bhils only number about 3000 out of 28,000. They are known as Tadvi, a name which was formerly applied to a Bhil headman, and is said to be derived from tad, meaning a separate branch or section. These Bhlls marry among themselves and not with any other Muham- madans. They retain many Hindu and animistic usages, and are scarcely Muhammadan in more than name. Both classes are divided into groups or septs, generally named after plants or animals to which they still show reverence. Thus the Jamania sept, named after the jdman tree,^ will not cut or burn any part of this tree, and at their weddings the dresses of the bride and bridegroom are taken and rubbed against the tree before being worn.

Similarly the Rohini sept worship the r'o/iau" tree, the Avalia sept the aonla ^ tree, the Meheda sept the baJicra ^ tree, and so on. The Mori sept worship the peacock. They go into the jungle and look for the tracks of a peacock, and spreading a piece of red cloth before the footprint, lay their offerings of grain upon it. Members of this sept may not be tattooed, because they think the splashes of colour on the peacock's feathers are tattoo-marks. Their women must veil them- selves if they see a peacock, and they think that if any member of the sept irreverently treads on a peacock's foot- prints he will fall ill. The Ghodmarya (Horse-killer) sept may not tame a horse nor ride one. The Masrya sept will not kill or eat fish. The Sanyan or cat sept have a tradition that one of their ancestors was once chasing a cat, which ran for protection under a cover which had been put over the stone figure of their goddess. The goddess turned the cat into stone and sat on it, and since then members of the sept will not touch a cat except to save it from harm, and they will not eat anything which has been touched by a cat.

The Ghattaya sept worship the grinding mill at their wed- dings and also on festival days. The Solia sept, whose name is apparently derived from the sun, are split up into four subsepts : the Ada Solia, who hold their weddings at sunrise ; the Japa Solia, who hold them at sunset ; the Taria Solia, 1 Eugenia jainbolana. ^ Phyllanthus et?iblica. 2 Soymidafebrifuga. * Terinmalia belerica.

who hold them when stars have become visible after sunset ; and the Tar Solia, who believe their name is connected with cotton thread and wrap several skeins of raw thread round tlie bride and bridegroom at the wedding ceremony. The Moharia sept worship the local goddess at the village of Moharia in Indore State, who is known as the Moharia Mata ; at their weddings they apply turmeric and oil to the fingers of the goddess before rubbing them on the bride and bridegroom. The Maoli sept worship a goddess of that name in Barwani town. Her shrine is considered to be in the shape of a kind of grain-basket known as kilia, and members of the sept may never make or use baskets of this shape, nor may they be tattooed with representations of it. Women of the sept are not allowed to visit the shrine of the goddess, but may worship her at home. Several septs have the names of Rajpiit clans, as Sesodia, Panwar, Mori, and appear to have originated in mixed unions between Rajputs and Bhils. A man must not marry in his own sept nor in the 6. Exo- families of his mothers and grandmothers. The union of niTrriage first cousins is thus prohibited, nor can girls be exchanged customs, in marriage between two families. A wife's sister may also not be married during the wife's lifetime.

The Muham- madan Bhils permit a man to marry his maternal uncle's daughter, and though he cannot marry his wife's sister he may keep her as a concubine. Marriages may be infant or adult, but the former practice is becoming prevalent and girls are often wedded before they are eleven. Matches are arranged by the parents of the parties in consultation with the caste pancJidyat ; but in Bombay girls may select their own husbands, and they have also a recognised custom of elopement at the Tosina fair in the month of the Mahi Kantha. If a Bhil can persuade a girl to cross the river there with him he may claim her as his wife ; but if they are caught before getting across he is liable to be punished by the bride's father.^ The betrothal and wedding cere- monies now follow the ordinary ritual of the middle and lower castes in the Maratha country." The bride must be 1 Bombay Gazetteer, Hindus of Gujarat, p. 309. '^ See article Kunbi.

younger than the bridegroom except in the case of a widow.

A bride-price is paid which may vary from Rs. 9 to 20 ; in the case of Muhammadan Bhils the bridegroom is said to give a dowry of Rs. 20 to 25. When the ovens are made with the sacred earth they roast some of the large millet juari ^ for the family feast, calling this Juari Mata or the grain goddess. Offerings of this are made to the family gods, and it is partaken of only by the members of the bride's and bridegroom's septs respectively at their houses. No outsider may even see this food being eaten. The leavings of food, with the leaf-plates on which it was eaten, are buried inside the house, as it is believed that if they should fall into the hands of any outsider the death or blindness of one of the family will ensue. When the bride- groom reaches the bride's house he strikes the marriage-shed with a dagger or other sharp instrument.

A goat is killed and he steps in its blood as he enters the shed. A day for the wedding is selected by the priest, but it may also take place on any Sunday in the eight fine months. If the wed- ding takes place on the eleventh day of Kartik, that is on the expiration of the four rainy months when marriages are forbidden, they make a little hut of eleven stalks of juari with their cobs in the shape of a cone, and the bride and bridegroom walk round this.

The services of a Brahman are not required for such a wedding. Sometimes the bride- groom is simply seated in a grain basket and the bride in a winnowing- fan ; then their hands are joined as the sun is half set, and the marriage is completed. The bridegroom takes the basket and fan home with him. On the return of the wedding couple, their kankans or wristbands are taken off at Hanuman's temple. The Muhammadan BhIls perform the same ceremonies as the Hindus, but at the end they call in the Kazi or registrar, who repeats the Muhammadan prayers and records the dowry agreed upon. The practice of the bridegroom serving for his wife is in force among both classes of Bhils. 7. Widow- The remarriage of widows is permitted, but the widow marriage, ^ ^^^ marry any relative of her first husband. She divorce and ' ' ' polygamy, rctums to her father's house, and on her remarriage they ' Sorghian vulgare.

obtain a bride -price of Rs. 40 or 50, a quarter of which goes in a feast to the tribesmen. The wedding of a widow is held on the Amawas or last day of the dark fortnight of the month, or on a Sunday. A wife may be divorced for adultery without consulting the pmichdyat. It is said that a wife cannot otherwise be divorced on any account, nor can a woman divorce her husband, but she may desert him and go and live with a man. In this case all that is necessary is that the second husband should repay to the first as com- pensation the amount expended by the latter on his marriage with the woman. Polygamy is permitted, and a second wife is sometimes taken in order to obtain children, but this number is seldom if ever exceeded. It is stated that the Bhil married women are generally chaste and faithful to their husbands, and any attempt to tamper with their virtue on the part of an outsider is strongly resented by the man.

The Bhlls worship the ordinary Hindu deities and the 8. Reii village godlings of the locality. The favourite both with ^'°"' Hindu and Muhammadan Bhlls is Khande Rao or Khandoba, the war-god of the Marathas, who is often represented by a sword. The Muhammadans and the Hindu Bhlls also to a less extent worship the Pirs or spirits of Muhammadan saints at their tombs, of which there are a number in Nimar. Major Hendley states that in Mewar the seats or sthdns of the Bhil gods are on the summits of high hills, and are represented by heaps of stones, solid or hollowed out in the centre, or mere platforms, in or near which are found numbers of clay or mud images of horses.^ In some places clay lamps are burnt in front of the images of horses, from which it may be concluded that the horse itself is or was worshipped as a god. Colonel Tod states that the Bhlls will eat of nothing white in colour, as a white sheep or goat ; and their grand adjuration is ' By the white ram.' ^ Sir A. Lyall ^ says that their principal oath is by the dog. The Bhil sepoys told Major Hendley that they considered it of little use to go on worshipping their own gods, as the power of these had declined since the English became supreme. They thought the strong English gods were too much for ^ Loc. cit. p. 347. - Western India. ^ Asiatic Studies, ist series, p. 174. VOL. II U craft and amulets

the weak deities of their country, hence they were desirous of embracing Brahmanism, which would also raise them in the social scale and give them a better chance of promotion in regiments where there were Brahman officers. 9. Witch- They wear charms and amulets to keep off evil spirits ; the charms are generally pieces of blue string with seven knots in them, which their witch- finder or Badwa ties, reciting an incantation on each ; the knots were sometimes covered with metal to keep them undefiled and the charms were tied on at the Holi, Dasahra or some other festival.

In Bombay the Bhlls still believe in witches as the agents of any misfortunes that may befall them. If a man was sick and thought some woman had bewitched him, the suspected woman was thrown into a stream or swung from a tree. If the branch broke and the woman fell and suffered serious injury, or if she could not swim across the stream and sank, she was considered to be innocent and efforts were made to save her. But if she escaped without injury she was held to be a witch, and it frequently happened that the woman would admit herself to be one either from fear of the infliction of a harder ordeal, or to keep up the belief in her powers as a witch, which often secured her a free supper of milk and chickens. She would then admit that she had really bewitched the sick man and undertake to cure him on some sacrifice being made. If he recovered, the animal named by the witch was sacrificed and its blood given her to drink while still warm ; either from fear or in order to keep up the character she would drink it, and would be permitted to stay on in the village. If, on the other hand, the sick person died, the witch would often be driven into the forest to die of hunger or to be devoured by wild animals.

These practices have now disappeared in the Central Provinces, though occasionally murders of suspected witches may still occur. The BhTls are firm believers in omens, the nature of which is much the same as among the Hindus. When a Bhil is persistently unlucky in hunting, he sometimes says ' Nat laga,' meaning that some bad spirit is causing his ill-success. Then he will ' Asiatic Studies , 1st series, p. 352. 2 Bombay Gazetteer, Hindus of Gujarat, p. 302.

make an image of a man in the sand or dust of the road, or sometimes two images of a man and woman, and throw- ing straw or grass over the images set it ah'ght, and pound it down on them with a stick with abusive yells. This he calls killing his bad luck.^ Major Hendley notes that the men danced before the different festivals and before battles. The men danced in a ring holding sticks and striking them against each other, much like the Baiga dance. Before battle they had a war-dance in which the performers were armed and imitated a combat. To be carried on the shoulders of one of the combatants was a great honour, perhaps because it symbolised being on horseback. The dance was probably in the nature of a magical rite, designed to obtain success in battle by going through an imitation of it beforehand. The priests are the chief physicians among the Bhils, though most old men were supposed to know something about medicine.

The dead are usually buried lying on the back, with the 10. Funeral head pointing to the south. Cooked food is placed on the "^^^' bier and deposited on the ground half-way to the cemetery. On return each family of the sept brings a wheaten cake to the mourners and these are eaten. On the third day they place on the grave a thick cake of wheaten flour, water in an earthen pot and tobacco or any other stimulant which the deceased was in the habit of using in his life. The Hindu Bhlls say that they do not admit outsiders "• Social into the caste, but the Muhammadans will admit a man of any but the impure castes.

The neophyte must be shaved and circumcised, and the Kazi gives him some holy water to drink and teaches him the profession of belief in Islam. If a man is not circumcised, the Tadvi or Muhammadan Bhils will not bury his body. Both classes of Bhils employ Brahmans at their ceremonies. The tribe eat almost all kinds of flesh and drink liquor, but the Hindus now abjure beef and the Muhammadans pork. Some Bhils now refuse to take the skins off dead cattle, but others will do so. The Bhils will take food from any caste except the impure ones, and none except these castes will now take food from ' Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xii. p. 87. 2 An Account of the Bhlls, pp. 362, 363. BHIL

12. Ap- pearance and char- acteristics. 13. Occu- pation. them. Temporary or permanent exclusion from caste is imposed for the same offences as among the Hindus. The t}-pical Bhil is small, dark, broad-nosed and ugly, but well built and active. The average height of 128 men measured by Major Hendley was 5 feet 6.4 inches. The hands are somewhat small and the legs fairly developed, those of the women being the best. " The Bhil is an excellent woodsman, knows the shortest cuts over the hills, can walk the roughest paths and climb the steepest crags without slipping or feeling distressed. He is often called in old Sanskrit works Venaputra, ' child of the forest,' or Pal Indra, ' lord of the pass.

These names well describe his character. His country is approached through narrow defiles (/'c?/), and through these none could pass without his permission. In former days he always levied rakhivdli or blackmail, and even now native travellers find him quite ready to assert what he deems his just rights. The Bhil is a capital huntsman, tracking and marking down tigers, panthers and bears, knowing all their haunts, the best places to shoot them, the paths they take and all those points so essential to success in big-game shooting ; they will remember for years the spots where tigers have been disposed of, and all the circumstances connected with their deaths. The Bhil will himself attack a leopard, and with his sword, aided by his friends, cut him to pieces." ^ Their agility impressed the Hindus, and an old writer says

" Some Bhil chieftains who attended the camp of Sidhraj, king of Gujarat, astonished him with their feats of activity ; in his army they seemed as the followers of Hanuman in attendance upon Ram." ^ effects, and their indiscriminate slaughter of game. Many of them live in the open country and have become farmservants and field- labourers.

A certain proportion are tenants, but very few- own villages. Some of the Tadvi Bhils, however, still retain villages which were originally granted free of revenue on The Bhils have now had to abandon their free use of the forests, which was highl)'- destructive in its condition of their keeping the hill-passes of the Satpijras ' Account of the Mewar Bhils, pp. 357, 3 5 8. ^ Forbes, Rdsmdla, i. p. 113.

open and safe for travellers. These are known as Hattiwala. lihils also serve as village watchmen in Nimar and the adjoining tracts of the Berar Districts. Captain Forsyth, writing- in 1868, described the Bhils as follows: "The Muhammadan Bhils are with few exceptions a miserable lot, idle and thriftless, and steeped in the deadly vice of opium- eating.

The unconverted Bhils are held to be tolerably reliable. When they borrow money or stock for cultivation they seldom abscond fraudulently from their creditors, and this simple honesty of theirs tends, I fear, to keep numbers of them still in a state little above serfdom." ^ The Bhils have now entirely abandoned their own m- Langu language and speak a corrupt dialect based on the Aryan ^^^' vernaculars current around them. The Bhil dialect is mainly derived from Gujarati, but it is influenced by Marwari and Marathi ; in Nimar especially it becomes a corrupt form of Marathi. Bhili, as this dialect is called, contains a number of non-Aryan words, some of which appear to come from the Mundari, and others from the Dravidian languages ; but these are insufficient to form any basis for a deduction as to whether the Bhils belonged to the Kolarian or Dravidian race.


Bhil— a non-Aryan tribe, inhabiting the hilly ranges which form the north-western boundary of the Aurangabad Subah. Oil. the eastern side they have for their neighbours the Gonds and the Andhs and on the western and southern sides they imperceptibly pass into the Koli and Wanjari tribes. They are principally found in the Talukas of Vaijapur, Kannad, Bhokardan, Aurangabad and Gangapur. They probably came to this tract from Khandesh, to which part of the country they are said to have been driven, firstly by the pressure of the Rajputs, and later on by the Muhammadan immigration from Northern India. A considerable portion of the Bhils have settled on the plains and taken to cultivation and farm 'labour.

Physical Characteristics

In point of physical characteristics, the Bhils display remarkable variations. Those on the plains are well built, of tall stature and generally handsome features, their original type having probably been refined, partly by intermarriages with the low caste Hindus and partly by the effects of the salubrious climate of the plains. The hill Bhil, on the other hand, has preserved all the characteristics of a pure Dravidian. He is hardy and active, with dark complexion, prominent cheek bones, wide nostrils and coarse features. Like his brother, the Gond or the Koli, he is noted for his truthfulness and simplicity, love of indepen- dence, excessive indulgence in ardent spirits, thriftlessness and detesta- tion of honest work. He has his own dialect, which is scarcely understood by the inhabitants of the plains. His national weapon is a bow made of bamboo, the ' string ' being a thin strip of the same flexible material.


The name " Bhil ' t is supposed to be derived from The Dravidian ' Billu ' — a bow (Wilson's "Aboriginal Tribes", 2). A popular legend represents them as being descended from Nishad, son of Mahadev, by a human female. Nishad was vicious and ugly and, having killed his father's bull, was, in consequence, banished to mountains and forests.


The Bhils are, indisputably, one of the pre-Aryan races. The earliest mention of their name occurs in the great epics of the Ramasana and Mahabharata. A Bhil woman is said to have made presents of bors, or plumes, to Rama, during his wanderings through the wilderness of Dandaka. In the Adiparva of the Mahabharata, mention is made of a certain Bhil, who attained extra- ordinary skill, in archery by placing before him a clay image of Drona, as his preceptor, and thus practising the art. It was a forester Bhil who mortally wounded Krishna, having mistaken him for a deer.

For ages, the Bhils have been known as daring marauders, who set at defiance one and all the governments that tried to subdue them by coercion. They were cruelly dealt with by the Muhammadan and the Maratha governments and were several times severely punished by the British. Some of the Moghal Emperors, however, adopted a policy of conciliation towards them and treated them kindly. Aurangzeb enlisted them in a sort of local militia, by entrusting to their charge the whole hill country south of the Narbada. The passes of the Satpura and the Ajunta ranges were committed to their care, with a liberal grant of land for their services. His armies passed unmolested through the Bhil country, which contained difficult passes, and during the Moghal rule of the Deccan the Bhils remained quiet or loyal.

With the rise of the Marathas, they appear in history as a truculent and lawless tribe, committing great depredations on the plains from their mountain fastnesses. Expeditions against the Bhils became frequent, but in every instance the soldiers of the Peshwas were worsted in action. The Marathas never scored against the wily hill tribes, until they resorted to treachery. Peace having been concluded, the Bhils were invited to celebrate it by a grand feast at a place near Kannad. They responded to the invitation and came down to the plains in great numbers, expecting a good time. They were treated on a lavish scale and indulged freely in the strong liquor which had been liberally provided. Armed bodies of men, kept hidden for the purpose, were soon on the helpless Bhils, who were then butchered without distinction of age or sex. Large bodies of Bhils, however, still remained and they soon took measures of reprisal and terrorised the Maratha villages on the plains. The Peshwas proscribed them as out-laws and ordered that they should be put to death wherever found. A Bhil caught anywhere was flogged to death, or hanged by the lowest Maratha official without trial or enquiry of any kind. Great ingenuity was displayed in corturiii'g the Bhil^ such of them as fell into the hands of the Marathas being sub- jected to cruelty of the most revolting kind. The favourite method adopted was to slit the nose, strip the ears, and, in the case of females, to rip open the breast and sprinkle powoered chillies over the wounds, exposing the victim meanwhile to the hottest sun. The operations were concluded either by burning the victims at the stake or on heated guns. The heights of Antur, twenty miles from Kannad, were especially selected and a large number of Bhils were hurled to des- truction, every year from the high cliffs that surround the fort of that name. This policy of extermination was vigorously pursued as long as the rule of the Peshwas lasted. It is astonishing how fre- quently the Bhils fell into the snares cast by the Marathas under promises of pardon, and how often their simplicity and faith led them to destruction. It is on record, that thousands of Bhils, assembled in the towns of Kannad, Dharangaon, Chalisgaon and Kopargaon under such promises, were annihilated with the greatest cruelty. The Bhil country, along with the other territories of the Peshwas, was divided between the English and the Nizam in 1818. The Districts of Khandesh, Ahmednagar and Nasik, containing a con- siderable Bhil population, were annexed to the Bombay Presidency, and the Talukas of Kannad, Ambad, Bhokardan and Paithan were restored to the Nizam. The officers of the two Governments deputed to settle the new districts found the Bhils, who had suffered so cruelly at the hands of the Marathas, in a state of exasperation. The Bhil question attracted the serious attention of the British Government. Their depredations had become so serious that operations were directed against them in the Ajanta and Gaotala ranges, where they had greatly increased in numbers ; they were at that time under thiry-two leaders. the chief of whom, in 1819, was Chil Naik. Detachments were sent into the hills and the fort of Baitalwadi and other strongholds were captured. Chil Naik was taken and hanged, but the Bhils were far from being subdued and two new leaders, Jandhulya and Fakirya, fiercely ravaged the plains to avenge the loss of Chil Naik. A military cordon was drawn round the base of the Ajanta hills for about a hundred miles, and Jandhulya, Fakirya and <1,200 of their followers surrendered in 1821. After a few months' quiet there was another outbreak in 1822, headed by the famous Hirya. The low country was harassed for some time, but as force had failed, Jt was determined, in 1825, to try kind measures. The Bhils had been promised a living if they would come down to the plains, but they refused, and attempts were now made to encourage them to enlist and form a Bhil corps. An agency was established near Chalisgaon and Major Ovans and Lieut. Graham induced many of the Ajunta Bhils to form settlements and engage in agriculture. The Bhils were, however, still troublesome and those at Kannad recommenced their depredations about 1830. The Gaotala h'l!, seven miles north of Kannad, became noted as one of their strongholds and a body of the contingent troops was ordered up from Aurangabad to hunt them out of the hills and re-open the ghat roads. The troops were encamped at Gaotala for six months and the hills were scoured. It was about this time that the Outram ghat was constructed by the British officer of that name, while engaged in conciliating the wild hillmen of the Ajanta and Gaotala ranges. A force was afterwards cantoned at Kannad for several years and a British officer was stationed there as Bhil agent. The troops were withdrawn about 1840 and the Bhil agency was abolished a few years later.

When measures of coercion were found unsuccessful, and it was repugnant to the feelings of the authorities to follow a policy of extermination, it was resolved to resort to more humane measures. The policy with reference to the Bhils was accordingly reversed and the dealings with the tribe became distinctly marked with sympathy and kindness. The distinguished 'names of Robertson. Ovans and Outram are associated with this policy. Under their personal influence, many Bhils settled to a regular life as policemen, crlti- vators and field-labourers in the District of Khandesh. The same policy of sympathetic treatment of the Bhils was inaugurated in the District of Aureingabad and they were granted every facility to settle down to more peaceful occupations as cultivators or village servants. Accustomed as they were to a life of strife and lawlessness, it was not to be expected that they would give up their predatory habits so quickly and resist the temptations of crime when pressed b^ scarcity and famine. They desisted, however, ffom concerted acts of lawlessness as long as measures of repression were directed against the criminal portion alone, but, whenever the zeal of the authorities to maintain the peace assumed the character of a persecution of the whole tribe, fresh outbursts of the Bhils took place. Such was the case in 1307 F. (1898 A.D.) when an encounter look place at Bhamiri between a powerful gang of Bhils and the police. The serious attention of Government was once more drawn to the long vexing question of the Bhils, and it is satisfactory to record that once more the policy of repression was reversed in favour of the consideration of the very root of the evil. It was held that their spirit of lawlessness was in no small measure due to their great poverty, long suffering and want of honest occupation. The measures adopted, with this view, by the Revenue and Police authorities, have been in the direction of affording immediate relief to the tribe in order to distract them from crime. Since 1310 F., some two hundred Bhil families have been induced to settle down in the plains as agricul- turists and the total number of acres in their possession is now over 2,556. Taccavi grants, amounting in all to Rs. 9,360, have been distributed amongst them, in addition to a grant of Rs. 10,000 from charitable funds. Employment has been found for nearly one thousand Bhils, as village watchmen, of whom 315 are paid from the Police funds ; the Revenue Department maintains another 300 out of the village cess and many are employed by private individuals in the same capacity. Mr. A. C. Hankin, the Head of the District Police, whose distinguished name is intimately connected with every measure of amelioration of the Bhils' condition, has paid particular attention to the rising generation. Under police supervision no fewer than 215 lads have been sent to elementary schools. Eight new schools have also been introduced by the Police Department, four in the villages of Wadol, Savergaon, Kinhai and Jowla in the Kannad taluka, and the rest in Sondgaon, Basada, Majri and Nevargaon of the Vaijapur taluka. The lads attending the school are properly clothed and well cared for. This excellent policy is yielding the happiest results, for the present Bhil youths have taken admir-

  • ably to schooling and, sobered by instruction, are losing the recollec-

tion of the wild, state of their ancestors. Some of these boys ate reported as smart and often superior to other low castes in intelligence.

Internal Structure

The term ' Bhil ' includes, besides the Bhils proper, several aboriginal tribes of the Sahyadri and Satpura ranges, such as Khotils, Pavras, Varlis, Mavchis or Gavits, Dangchais, Tadvis, Nirdhis, etc. The Bhils proper, or the Bhils of the plains, are mostly found in the villages on the plains and in their dress, language and customs are scarcely distinguishable from the low caste Hindus. They constitute the bulk of the Bhil population of the Hyderabad Dominions, other clans being scattered only here and there in very small numbers. The Khotils are confined to the hills and forests, and barter gums and wax for the produce of the plains. They eat carrion and beef and are on this account regarde<l by the pure Bhils as degraded. They are great hunters. The Pavras are small built men with flat faces and resemble Konkani Kolis more than Bhils. They claim to be originally Rajputs, who were driven by their chiefs from their homes. They are mostly husbandmen and their women are stout and buxom. The Varlis, though found in mountainous tracts are, unlike Pavras, tall, dark and well-made, with somewhat negrolike features. Their women are usually unclad from the waist upwards. The Dangchis, or Dang Bhils, stunted in body and dulled in mind, are the most uncivilized of all the Bhil tribes. They eat monkeys, rats, all small vermin and even cattle killed by tigers. They wander about with bows and arrows in search of such small game as peafowl and hare. They hold the tiger sacred. The Tadvis are found in the Bhokardan Taluka. They are believed to be the descendants of Muhammadan soldiers who, during the reign of the Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707), contracted ' intimacy with Kiil women. They are tall, well built, fairer in complexion and more refined in features than the pure Bhils. Their weapons are the sword and the matchlock, but seldom the bow. They are very vindictive and quarrelsome and dislike hard work. Though Muham- madans by faith, they have a deep reverence for certain Hindu deities. Their hereditary chiefs are Khan Sahibs and are appealed to in all matters of difficulty. The Bhilalas, a mixed Bhil sub-tribe, are stated' to be the offspring of Tiloli Kunbis, whom they resemble in, every respect. They celebrate their marriages at sundown.

Each of the above-mentioned tribes, with the excq^tion of the Tadvis, who are Muhammadans, is broken up into a large number of exogamous groups which show a singular mixture of varied elements. Thus the sections, Waghia, Ghania and Pipalasa are totemistic, being derived from the names of animals and trees. Other section names such as Jadhava, Pawar, Gaikwad, More and Salunke are evidently borrowed from the Maratha Kunbis. They also have eponymous and territorial sections, the former being the names of their founders and the latter the names of favourite places.

Like other tribes, the Bhils scrupulously observe the rule of exogamy, marriage within the section being strictly prohibited. Some system of prohibited degrees also exists, although it cannot be clearly defined by them.


The Bhils marry their daughters both as infants and as adults between the ages of five and sixteen, but infant marriage is deemed the more respectable and the tendency, at the present day, is towards the abolition of adult marriage. Girls are sometimes dedicated to temples or offered to deities and in such circumstances receive the name of 'murlyas'. The customary price, ghun or deja, paid for a Bhil bride, is Rs. 20, but the amount is liable to vary according to the means of the bridegroom's parents. Polygamy is allowed, and the Bhils impose no limit on the number of wives a man may have.

The proposal for marriage comes from the boy's relations and the marriage may take place after betrothal, but it depends on the pecuniary circumstances of the parents and may be postponed for years. The marriage is arranged in the presence of the caste Panchasat. A Brahman is consulted to fix the betrothal day, the boy and his relations proceed to the girl's house, give presents to her and are entertained in the evening. After the marriage is de- cided on, the bride-price is paid to the girl's father and a feast is given. The betrothal is witnessed by the caste council, and the party leave next morning. The Bhat or family priest is next con- sulted to fix the wedding day ; when this has been settled, the haldi ceremooy is performed, booths are erected and a platform is raised at the girl's house. On the wedding day the boy goes in procession to Hanuman's temple, wearing on his head a paper ornament, called bashmgam and his sister follows him with a pot of water containing a few copper coins. After worshipping the deity, the party drink the water that has been brought by the boy's sister. Intimation of the boy's arrival at the temple is then sent to the girl's house ; at sunset they all proceed to the bride's house and are received by a number of women each holding a pot of water into which some copper coins are dropped, while one of the women waves a lighted lamp in front of the bridegroom and receives a present of cloth. The bridegroom stands facing the east, a curtain is put up concealing the bride and a thread is twined round the pair. The officiating Brahman repeats some verses, grain is thrown, and, at the auspicious moment, when the priest claps his hands, the thread is severed, the curtain is withdrawn and the bridal pair throw portions of the broken thread and garlands on each other. Congra- tulations are received; pan, supari, haldi and kpnku are dis- tributed ; yellow strings and turmeric are tied to the wrists of the bride and the bridegroom, and a feast is given to the caste. On the next day the couple are bathed, the boy's mother and other relatives come in procession to the bride's house, give her presents and are entertained at two dinners. Two or three days after the wedding, the bride's relations go in procession to the house of the bridegroom's father, presents are exchanged and a dinner is given. With this the festivities terminate, the yellow threads on the wrists and necks of the bride and the bridegroom are removed and all traces of haldi are washed away. Widows are allowed to marry again, and a man takes to him- self three or four such wives in addition to the one whom he has married as a virgin. The widow bride is presented with certain clothes, and a bead necklace which the bridegroom ties round her neck. The ceremony ends with a feast to friends and relatives. Some of the Bhil classes allow a widow to marry the younger brother of her late husband, but the custom is not universal. Divorce is recog- nised, divorced women being allowed to marry again by the same rite as widows.

The Bhils admit into their caste men of the Kunbi, Mali, Kum- bhar and other castes ranking higher than their own.


The child is named as soon after,, birth as possible. On the 5th day after birth the mother and the child are bathed, turmeric lines are drawn upon a raised platform built out- side the house and a lighted lamp is placed in the centre of five quartz pebbles. Pieces of cocoanut kernel are arranged round the pebbles and the whole is worshipped by the mother, after being sprinkled with haldi, jawari, pinjar, or red powder, and liquor. In the evening a feast is given to the caste. On the twelfth day, the mother worships Jaldevata or Satwai and another feast is given.


The religion of the Bhils is a mixture of animism and debased Hinduism. They worship Mahadeva and his consort Bhavani, as symbols of terror, and hold, as sacred to them, certain groves and parts of forests, in which they offer sacrifices. Local deities, including Bhairoba, Khandoba, Hanuman, Ai Mata and Sitala, are propitiated with a variety of offerings. The tiger god Wagh Deva has no image, and is worshipped in the headman's house at the beginning of the rainy season. The Bhils have no shrines, but raise a platform, round some old tree, on which their deities, represented by maunds of mud with stones fixed in the middle, receive the devo- tion of their votaries. They make pilgrimages to Nasik and other holy places, but their chief place of pilgrimage is Hanmant Naik's Wadi, a few miles south of Sangamnair, on the way to Poona. They reverence the horse and the dog and offer mud horses to Muhammadan sainls and Khandoba. Their chief festivals are Holi,'Dassera and Diwali, of which the first is the occasion of much drunkenness and excesses, while at the second they make sacrifices to the goddess Durga. At all festivals the men perform various dances. At one of them, the drummers stand in the centre and the dancers revolve in a circle, with sticks in their hands, which they strike alternately against the sticks held by those in front and behind them. In another, men and women join hands and bend backwards and forwards, wheeling round and keeping time to the music. They sing or play on a type of violin called chikara, or pai, have a kind of instrument made out of a hollow bottle gourd with a reed inserted at one end, and use the dhol, or drum, dafra, or tambourine and lur, or kettle drum.

The Bhils believe in ghosts and departed spirits. They are also firm believers in witchcraft and employ Baras, or witch-finders, to point out the witches. The Baras are either Brahmans, or other Hindus such as Dhobis, Barbers, etc., and are employed as doctors, but diseases beyond their skill are attributed to the influence of witches. When the Bhils meditate plunder they consult the Baras before taking any action. The Bhils of the plains employ Brahmans for religious and ceremonial purposes.

Funerals The Bhils usually bury their dead, but, if means permit, burn them with the head pointing to the south and the arms stretched along either side. The funeral obsequies commence with the usual distribution of alms ; after this the body is taken out- side, washed and dressed in new clothes and a turban placed on the head, the face being left exposed. In this condition the corpse is laid on the bier, some cooked food is placed by its side and the whole is sprinkled with gulal. At the burial ground the corpse is laid in the grave with some food in its mouth : the body is then sprinkled over with water and finally covered with earth by all the mourners present. The party then bathe in the nearest river or tank, and, on returning to the house of the deceased, the bearers are fumigated with nim leaves thrown into a fire and liquor is served out. On the third day after death some further ceremonies are per- formed for the bearers and they receive a dinner. On the 10th day the chief mourner shaves his head and offers cakes to the departed spirit. On the 12th day a Kumbhar is called and a seven- step ladder is set against the wall of the house so that the soul of the departed may climb to heaven. The priest chants mystic verses on this occasion and a grand funeral feast brings the rites to a close. The wild Bhils bury their dead without form or ceremony and worship the spirits of their ancestors by raising a rude pile of stones which, on festive occasions, they smear with red lead and oil.

Social Status

Being still outside the Hindu caste organisation, the social status of the Bhils cannot be precisely defined. The Bhils of the plains eat fowl, hare, deer, fish, tortoises, pigs and lizards and indulge in liquors. They, however, abstam from beef. The wild Bhils have no scruples in this respect and eat carrion and cows.


Originally a predatory race, the Bhils have been greatly improved in recent years by kind and conciliatory treat- ment and have taken largely to cultivation as a means of subsistence. They raise coarse grain and a few vegetables, such as gourds, &c., which, with meat from the chase, or fish from the neighbouring stream, are rudely dressed for food. They collect and sell fire-wood, honey, gums, jungle fruits, and mahua flowers (Bassia latifolia), and also serve as watchmen of villages, besides being frequently employed as day and farm labourers. All cases of social disputes and quarrels amongst Bhils are settled by a caste council or Panchayat headed by a naik, under whom there is a deputy called pradhan. The naik’s authority generally extends over ten or twelve villages or pals.

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