Amarkośa

नामलिङ्गानुशासनम्

2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam

16. śūdravargaḥ

(Über Śūdras)

2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker

Beispiele zu: 2.16.5.18. Ziegenhirt / Schäfer


Hrsg. von Alois Payer

mailto:payer@payer.de 


Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / übersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam. -- 16. śūdravargaḥ  (Über Śūdras). -- 2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker.  -- Beispiele zu: 2.16.5.18. Ziegenhirt / Schäfer. -- Fassung vom 2017-11-06. --  URL: http://www.payer.de/amarakosa8/2.16.5.18.ziegenhirt.htm                                                         

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 Dhangar [धनगर] (Marathi)


"Dhangar [धनगर].1

1 Compiled mainly from a paper by Kanhya Lāl, clerk in the Gazetteer office.

1. Traditions and structure of the caste.

The Marātha [मराठा]  caste of shepherds and blanket-weavers, numbering 96,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār [बेरार]. They reside principally in the Nāgpur [नागपूर], Wardha [वर्धा], Chanda [चंदा] and Nimār [निमाड़] Districts of the Central Provinces and in all Districts of Berār [बेरार]. The Dhangars [धनगर] are a very numerous caste in Bombay [मुंबई] and Hyderābād [حیدر آباد]. The name is derived either from the Sanskrit dhenu [धेनु], a cow, or more probably from dhan [धन] wealth, a term which is commonly applied to flocks of sheep and goats. It is said that the first sheep and goats came out of an ant-hill and scattering over the fields began to damage the crops of the cultivators. They, being helpless, prayed to Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] to rescue them from this pest and he thereupon created the first Dhangar [धनगर] to tend the flocks. The Dhangars [धनगर] consequently revere an ant-hill, and never remove one from their fields, while they worship it on the Diwāli [दीवाली] day with offerings of rice, flowers and part of the ear of a goat. When tending and driving sheep and goats they ejaculate ‘Har, Har [हर, हर],’ which is a name of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] used by devotees in worshipping him. The Dhangars [धनगर] furnished a valuable contingent to Sivaji’s [शिवाजी राजे भोसले, 1630 - 1680] guerilla soldiery, and the ruling family of Indore [इंदौर] State belong to this caste.

It is divided into the following subcastes:

  • Varādi [वराडी] or Barāde [वराडे], belonging to Berār [बेरार] ;
  • Kānore or Kānade, of Kanara ; 
  • Jhāde [झाड़े], or those belonging to the Bhandāra [भंडारा], Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] and Chhindwāra [छिंदवाडा] Districts, called the Jhādi or hill country ;
  • Lādse, found in Hyderābād [حیدر آباد] ;
  • Gādri, from gādar [गाडर], a sheep, a division probably consisting of northerners, as the name for the cognate caste of shepherds in Hindustān [हिन्दुस्तान] is Gadaria [गड़रिया] ; 
  • Telange [तेलंगे], belonging to the Telugu [తెలుగు] country ;
  • Marāthe [मराथे], of the Marātha [मराठा] country ;
  • Māhurai from Māhur [माहूर] in Hyderābād [حیدر آباد],
  •  and one or two others.

Eleven subcastes in all are reported. For the purposes of marriage a number of exogamous groups or septs exist which may be classified according to their nomenclature as titular and totemistic, many having also the names of other castes. Examples of sept names are :

  • Powār [पवार], a Rājpūt [राजपूत] sept ;
  • Dokra, an old man ;
  • Mārte [मारते], a murderer or slayer ;
  • Sarodi, the name of a caste of mendicants ;
  • Mhāli [महाली], a barber ;
  • Kaode, a crow ;
  • Chambhāde, a Chamār [चमार] ;
  • Gūjde, a Gūjar ;
  • Juāde, a gambler ;
  • Lamchote, long-haired ;
  • Bodke [बोडके], bald-headed ;
  • Khatīk [खटीक], a butcher ;
  • Chāndekar [चांदेकर], from Chanda [चंदा] ; 
  • Dambhāde [दाभाडे], one having pimples on the body ;
  • Halle, a he-buffalo ;
  • Moya, a grass,
  • and others.

The sept names show that the caste is a functional one of very mixed composition, partly recruited from members of other castes who have taken to sheep-tending and generally from the non-Aryan tribes.

2. Marriage.

A man must not marry within his own sept or that of his mother, nor may he marry a first cousin. He may wed a younger sister of his wife during her lifetime, and the practice of marrying a girl and boy into the same family, called Anta Sānta or exchange, is permitted. Occasionally the husband does service for his wife in his father-in-law’s house. In Wardha [वर्धा] the Dhangars [धनगर] measure the heights of a prospective bride and bridegroom with a piece of string and consider it a suitable match if the husband is taller than the wife, whether he be older or not. Marriages may be infant or adult, and polygamy is permitted, no stigma attaching to the taking of a second wife. Weddings may be celebrated in the rains up to the month of Kunwār [कुंवार] (September), this provision probably arising from the fact that many Dhangars [धनगर] wander about the country during the open season, and are only at home during the rainy months. Perhaps for the same reason the wedding may, if the officiating priest so directs, be held at the house of a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण]. This happens only when the Brāhman has sown an offering of rice, called Gāg, in the name of the goddess Rāna Devi [राणा देवी], the favourite, deity of the Dhangars [धनगर]. On his way to the bride’s house the bridegroom must be covered with a black blanket. Nowadays the wedding is sometimes held at the bridegroom’s house and the bride comes for it. The caste say that this is done because there are not infrequently among the members of the bridegroom’s family widows who have remarried or women who have been kept by men of higher castes or been guilty of adultery. The bride’s female relatives refuse to wash the feet of these women and this provokes quarrels. To meet such cases the new rule has been introduced. At the wedding the priest sits on the roof of the house facing the west, and the bride and bridegroom stand below with a curtain between them. As the sun is half set he claps his hands and the bridegroom takes the clasped hands of the bride within his own, the curtain being withdrawn. The bridegroom ties round the bride’s neck a yellow thread of seven strands, and when this is done she is married. Next morning a black bead necklace is substituted for the thread. The expenses of the bridegroom’s party are about Rs. 50, and of the bride’s about Rs. 30. The remaining procedure follows the customary usage of the Marātha [मराठा] Districts. Widows are permitted to marry again, but must not take a second husband from the sept to which the first belonged. A considerable price is paid for a widow, and it is often more expensive to marry one than a girl. A Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] and the mālguzār (village proprietor) should be present at the ceremony. If a bachelor marries a widow he must first go through the ceremony with a silver ring, and if the ring is subsequently lost or broken, its funeral rites must be performed. Divorce is allowed in the presence of the caste panchāyat [पंचायत] at the instance of either party for sufficient reason, as the misconduct or bad temper of the wife or the impotency of the husband.

3. Religion.

Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] is the special deity of the Dhangars [धनगर], and they also observe the ordinary Hindu festivals. At Diwāli [दीवाली] they worship their goats by dyeing their horns and touching their feet. One Bahrām of Nāchangaon near Pulgaon [पुलगांव] is the tutelary deity of the Wardha [वर्धा] Dhangars [धनगर] and the protector of their flocks. On the last day of the month of Māgh [माघ] they perform a special ceremony called the Deo Pūja. A Dhīmar [धीमर] acts as priest to the caste on this occasion and fashions some figures of idols out of rice to which vermilion and flowers are offered. He then distributes the grains of rice to the Dhangars [धनगर] who are present, pronouncing a benediction. The Dhīmar [धीमर] receives his food and a present, and it is essential that the act of worship should be performed by one of this caste. In their houses they have Kul-Devi [कुलदेवी] and  Khandoba [खंडोबा] the Marātha [मराठा] hero, who are the family deities. But in large families they are kept only in the house of the eldest brother. Kul-Devi [कुलदेवी] or the goddess of the family is worshipped at weddings, and a goat is offered to her in the month of Chait [चैत्र] (March). The head is buried beneath her shrine inside the house and the body is consumed by members of the family only.  Khandoba [खंडोबा] is worshipped on Sundays and they identify him with the sun. Vithoba [विठोबा], a form of Vishnu [विष्णु], is revered on Wednesdays, and Balaji [बलजी], the younger brother of Rāma [राम], on Fridays. Many families also make a representation of some deceased bachelor relative, which they call Munjia, and of some married woman who is known as Mairni or Sāsin, and worship them daily.

4. Birth, death and social status.

The Dhangars [धनगर] burn their dead unless they are too poor to purchase wood for fuel, in which case burial is resorted to. Unmarried children and persons dying from smallpox, status, leprosy, cholera and snake-bite are also buried. At the pyre the widow breaks her bangles and throws her glass beads on to her husband’s body. On returning from the burning ghāt [घाट] the funeral party drink liquor. Some gānja [गांजा], tobacco and anything else which the deceased may have been fond of during his life are left near the grave on the first day. Mourning is observed during ten days on the death of an adult and for three days for a child. Children are usually named on the twelfth day after birth, the well-to-do employing a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] for the purpose. On this day the child must not see a lamp, as it is feared that if he should do so he will afterwards have a squint. Only one name is given as a rule, but subsequently when the child comes to be married, if the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] finds that its name does not make the marriage auspicious, he substitutes another and the child is afterwards known by this new name. The caste employ Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] for ceremonies at birth and marriage. They eat flesh including fowls and wild pig, and drink liquor, but abstain from other unclean food. They will take food from a Kunbi [कुणबी], Phūlmāli [फूलमाली] or a Sunār [सुनार], and water from any of the good cultivating castes. A Kunbi [कुणबी] will take water from them. The women of the caste wear bracelets of lead or brass on the right wrist and glass bangles on the left. Permanent or temporary excommunication from caste is imposed for the usual offences, and among those visited with the minor penalty are selling shoes, touching the carcase of a dog or cat, and killing a cow or buffalo, or allowing one to die with a rope round its neck. No food is cooked for five weeks in a house in which a cat has died. The social standing of the caste is low.

5. Occupation.

The traditional occupation of the Dhangars [धनगर] is to tend sheep and goats, and they also sell goats’ milk, make blankets from the wool of sheep, and sometimes breed and sell stock for slaughter. They generally live near tracts of waste land where grazing is available. Sheep are kept in open and goats in roofed folds. Like English shepherds they carry sticks or staffs and have dogs to assist in driving the flocks, and they sometimes hunt hares with their dogs. Their dress consists frequently only of a loin-cloth and a blanket, and having to bear exposure to all weathers, they are naturally strong and hardy. In appearance they are dark and of medium size. They eat three times a day and bathe in the evening on returning from work, though their ablutions are sometimes omitted in the cold weather."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 2. -- S. 480 - 484] 


THE SHEPHERDS (Eddaiars [ஆட்டிடையன்]) (Tamil)


"15. THE SHEPHERDS (Eddaiars [ஆட்டிடையன்]).

Village shepherds are proverbially the most harmless and simple-minded folk of all the Indian tribes. The term eddai [இடை] means ‘middle,’ as they were originally living in the land between the mountains and fertile plains, as it was a suitable place for grazing their cattle. There are 627,953 shepherds in South India. The occupation of this community is keeping cattle. They never intermarry with any other classes of Hindus. A few of them tend sheep and goats for the village landlords. But a large portion of them mind their own sheep and goats. They live in all parts of the land, and in every village they are welcome to fix their abode. Some of these men are employed as bearers of palanquins to the Zamindars [زمیندار] (lords). As a rule, the men and women of this caste are very active and hard-working.

The shepherds’ attachment to their sheep is very great, and they spend with them a greater part of the time, in the open fields, the thick forests, the rough hills, the grassy plains, and the deep valleys, in order to procure pasture for them. They sleep by turns in the open fields to watch their sheep. The heavy dew, the dust-storms, the dry western winds, the burning sun, the summer lightnings and thunder, the downpour of heavy rains, will not separate a shepherd from his sheep ; they keep to them at all times and under all circumstances. The shepherds will often go and search for a lost sheep in the jungle and thick forest; sometimes they search the whole day, starving themselves, and even going without water to drink. We have ourselves seen, in our earlier days, shepherds carrying their lost sheep or lamb when they found it in the jungle, and they have told us where they have been wandering for days together seeking their sheep that went astray. They never murmur, nor break the legs of the sheep, nor treat them unkindly.

India is subjected to frequent famines, during which time the shepherds suffer much in securing their own support and pasture for their cattle. We have seen the genuine self-sacrifices shown by the shepherds in the interest of their sheep during the memorable famine of the year 1877. They sold the few acres of land they possessed, and spent some portion of the proceeds on the support of their wives and children, leaving them in their native village, and starting off to distant districts for the purpose of finding pasture for their cattle. Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] and other lands of hill tracts, was the place which attracted them, and there they remained till they heard that the rain had fallen in their own native country, and that there was grass and water again. They told us, after their arrival in their native country, of the hardship, the trial, the difficulty, they had to endure to protect the lives of their cattle and find pasture for them. The valleys of the vast ranges of the lofty mountains were the places of their sojourn. The nights they spent at the foot of these mountains they had bitter experiences. They were watching, one after another, to keep out the wolves and jackals and foxes, not to speak of the man-eating tiger, against whom they have to contend. For all these troubles nothing seems to take place to disturb the earnestness of purpose and calmness of mind with which they watch over their sheep.

The shepherds keep their folds in the night in the fields near the villages during the winter, but at other times they keep changing from field to field. One of the best methods of manuring the fields is to arrange for the sheep and goats to rest in them during the night; for this the landowners pay a certain amount in grain or money to the shepherds. This is the chief source of income to the shepherds. They eat, however, the flesh of the animals that die of natural causes, and drink the milk of the sheep. It is a remarkable thing among the shepherds that none of them will kill a sheep to eat its flesh, except on the occasions when they offer the rams as a sacrifice to their gods.

The shepherds, as a class, being very simple and ignorant, the devil-dancers and fortune-tellers make a good living out of them. Every now and then the shepherds will be brought within their clutches. If a child of a shepherd is sick the poor man goes to the fortune-teller or the devil-dancer to find out the cause of his child’s sickness, and both of them agree in telling the shepherd that the sickness of the child is due to the anger of his family goddess, or else that some devil got hold of the child while it was playing under the tamarind-tree on a certain Friday afternoon. In both these cases the poor shepherd will have to spend some money either to drive the devil away or pacify the anger of his goddess. In the meantime the illness of the child will increase before they can fetch the wonderful native doctor, who comes with his medicines of herbs and plants, pills and powders.

There are several narratives given which serve to show the ignorance of these shepherds.

There was a shepherd, Valu by name, in a village situated at the foot of the western ghats. He followed the trade of his forefathers. One day he missed a certain lamb when counting his flock. At once he started off in search of this lamb. He wandered about till mid-day. At about 2 p.m. he came to a well, quite exhausted, in order to quench his thirst. When he began to look down into the well for the purpose of finding the steps, he saw a man in the well with the very lamb on his neck. The shepherd at once grew very angry with him. ‘Oh, robber ! I have got you at last; bring up my lamb, or else I will pelt you with stones,’ said the shepherd, and stooped down to pick up stones with both his hands, when the lamb, which was on his own neck, fell down. Such was the wisdom of the shepherd.

There was a money-lender in a village who was in the habit of taking money to the different villages to lend the ryots, at enormous interest. On a certain day he took 100 rupees with him, and engaged a shepherd to go alone with him to a village situated near a hillock. The distance they had to travel was about twenty miles. They left about three o’clock in the evening. Before they had passed the tenth mile, they lost their way, and it was about nine o’clock at night. As they had to go through a jungle, the money-lender was afraid of the robbers, and told his companion, the shepherd, to lie down in some place without speaking a word or making any noise, while he went a little distance and hid himself under the bushes. About midnight a gang of robbers passed that way. One of them said : ‘Look here ! take care; here is a log of wood lying down on the way ; don’t knock against it.’

‘Will a piece of wood in your village have five panams [பணம்] tied in a piece of cloth round its waist?’ said the shepherd who was lying down. ‘Oh, here is a fellow; catch him !’ said the robbers. So they caught the shepherd, and snatched away the five panams [பணம்], and left him, and went on their way. ‘I wonder whether this money is false or true coin,’ said one of the robbers. The shepherd, having heard this, called out to the robbers loudly : ‘What do you mean? If you have any doubt about my coins, you had better find out whether they are true from the chettiar [செட்டியார்] (money-lender), who is here by my side in the bush.’ 'Ho! ho ! there is another, is there ? Catch him !’ said the robbers. The chettiar [செட்டியார்] was caught, and was beaten unmercifully, and the robbers went away with his 100 rupees, and the chettiar [செட்டியார்] returned to his village in the morning, having learned a bitter lesson by taking an ignorant shepherd as his companion.

There was a king ruling over a fertile country. He had only a daughter, and to her he gave a liberal education. When the princess came of age the king asked her consent to be married to some one of the kings’ sons of the neighbouring kingdoms ; but the princess politely declined to marry any of the kings’ sons unless they could equal her in mental attainments and other general accomplishments. This news got abroad among all the princes, and several of them applied and failed. At last one of the princes of a flourishing kingdom, and a master of Hindu literature, proceeded to the town where the famous princess was. The prime minister of the prince was a vain man, with a fondness for practical joking. He advised the prince not to marry the princess at all, but to humiliate her in some way. As they were nearing their destination, they got hold of a shepherd who was minding his sheep in a forest. They got the shepherd to shave his head and moustache, and they put on him the royal dress, placing him in one of the palanquins, and giving out to the people that he was the prince who was going to marry the celebrated princess. They gave strict orders to the shepherd to be silent. Whatever questions might be put to him by the princess or by any of her followers, he was only to point to the two schemers with his finger in answer to questions, as implying that the question must be directed to the prime ministers.

At length they entered the royal palace, and intimated to the king and princess their intentions. The shepherd, who was in a palanquin, was brought to the royal seat, and the disguised prince and prime minister played the part of prime ministers. The princess sent certain questions to the prince, who pointed to his followers to answer them. Finding his answers were correct, the princess was surprised at the attainments of the prime ministers, and thought how much more must be the attainments of the prince who had come to marry her. So the parties were agreed, and the wedding took place, after which the prime ministers left for their kingdom. The bridegroom entered into his chamber, and the bride, the princess, came to the chamber of the bridegroom with all her maids at a fixed lucky hour. When she entered the room she saw the prince fast asleep in his bed. She waited patiently at his bedside for several hours, but there was no sign of the prince getting up from his bed; in fact, he was still snoring. The princess attempted to awake the prince by sprinkling scent. The false prince was at the time dreaming that he was sleeping in the midst of his sheep, and when he felt the sprinkling of the scent, he cried, ‘ Hiss ! away, you ram !’ The princess was much surprised at this remark. Then she began to throw some flowers on him. Then he cried, ‘Tush ! get away, you foolish sheep !’ Now the princess felt sure that something had gone wrong, and that there really must have been some mistake in her marriage. So she drew off her sword, and held it in her right hand, awaking the sleeping man with her left. As soon as the man was awake, she said : ‘ You tell me the truth about yourself, or I shall kill you.’ The man was trembling while he confessed that he was but a shepherd, that he belonged to a distant village, and that the prince who had accompanied him took him by force, and made him enter into all these schemes. Immediately the princess gave money to the shepherd, and bade him run away from the palace, and then she put an end to her own life.

There is a custom prevailing among a certain class of shepherds which permits the daughters only to inherit the possessions of their fathers. The sons, when they are grown up, get married at the expense of the father, and then are sent to the wife’s house with only the gift of a few sheep."

[Quelle: Pandian, T. B. (Thomas B.) [பாண்டியன், தாமஸ் பி] <1863 - >: Indian village folk: their works and ways. -- London : Stock, 1898. -- 212 S. : Ill. ; 21 cm. -- S. 93 - 99]


Gadaria [गड़रिया], Gādri [गड़री] (Central Provinces)


"Gadaria [गड़रिया], Gādri [गड़री].1

1 This article is based on information collected by Mr. Hira Lāl [हीरालाल] in Jubbulpore [जबलपुर], and the author in Mandla [मन्द्ला].

1. General notice.

The occupational shepherd caste of northern India. The name is derived from the Hindi gādar [गाडर] and the Sanskrit gandhāra [गन्धार] a sheep, the Sanskrit name being taken from the country of Gandhāra [जबलपुर] or Kandahār [کندهار], from which sheep were first brought. The three main shepherd castes all have functional names, that of the Dhangars [धनगर] or Marātha [मराठा] shepherds being derived from dhan, small stock, while the Kuramwārs or Telugu [తెలుగు] shepherds take their name like the Gadarias [गड़रिया] from kuruba, a sheep. These three castes are of similar nature and status, and differ only in language and local customs. In 1911 the Gadarias [गड़रिया] numbered 41,000 persons. They are found in the northern Districts, and appear to have been amongst the earliest settlers in the Nerbudda [नर्मदा] valley, for they have given their name to several villages, as Gadariakheda and Gādarwāra.

2. Subdivisions.

The Gadarias [गड़रिया] are a very mixed caste. They themselves say that their first ancestor was created by Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] to tend his rams, and that he married three women who were fascinated by the sight of him shearing the sheep. These belonged to the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण], Dhīmar and Barai castes respectively, and became the ancestors of the Nikhar [नीखर], Dhengar and Barmaiyan subcastes of Gadarias [गड़रिया]. The Nikhar [नीखर] subcaste are the highest, their name meaning pure. Dhengar is probably, in reality, a corruption of Dhangar [धनगर], the name of the Marātha [मराठा] shepherd caste. They have other subdivisions of the common territorial type, as

  • Jheria or jungly, applied to the Gadarias [गड़रिया] of Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] ;
  • Desha [देशा] from desh [देश], country, meaning those who came from northern India ;
  • Purvaiya [पूर्वया] or eastern, applied to immigrants from Oudh [अवध] ;
  • and Mālvi [माळवी] or those belonging to Mālwa [माळवा].

Nikhar [नीखर] and Dhengar men take food together, but not the women ; and if a marriage cannot be otherwise arranged these subcastes will sometimes give daughters to each other. A girl thus married is no longer permitted to take food at her father’s house, but she may eat with the women of her husband’s subcaste. Many of their exogamous groups are named after animals or plants, as

  • Hiranwār [हिरणवार], from hiran [हिरण], a deer ;
  • Sapha from the cobra,
  • Moria [मोरिया] from the peacock, 
  • Nāhar from the tiger,
  • Phulsungha, a flower,
  • and so on. 

Others are the names of Rājpūt [राजपूत] septs and of other castes, as 

  • Ahirwār [अहिरवार] (Ahīr [अहीर]) and
  • Bamhania (Brāhman [ब्राह्मण]).

Another more ambitious legend derives their origin from the Bania [बनिया] caste. They say that once a Bania [बनिया] was walking along the road with a cocoanut in his hand when Vishnu [विष्णु] met him and asked him what it was. The Bania [बनिया] answered that it was a cocoanut. Vishnu [विष्णु] said that it was not a cocoanut but wool, and told him to break it, and on breaking the cocoanut the Bania [बनिया] found that it was filled with wool. The Bania [बनिया] asked what he should do with it, and Vishnu [विष्णु] told him to make a blanket out of it for the god to sit on. So he made a blanket, and Vishnu [विष्णु] said that from that day he should be the ancestor of the Gadaria [गड़रिया] caste, and earn his bread by making blankets from the wool of sheep. The Bania [बनिया] asked where he should get the sheep from, and the god told him to go home saying ' Ehān, Ehān, Ehān', all the way, and when he got home he would find a flock of sheep following him ; but he was not to look behind him all the way. And the Bania [बनिया] did so, but when he had almost got home he could not help looking behind him to see if there were really any sheep. And he saw a long line of sheep following him in single file, and at the very end was a ram with golden horns just rising out of the ground. But as he looked it sank back again into the ground, and he went back to Vishnu [विष्णु] and begged for it, but Vishnu [विष्णु] said that as he had looked behind him he had lost it. And this was the origin of the Gadaria [गड़रिया] caste, and the Gadarias [गड़रिया] always say ‘ Ehān, Ehān' as they lead their flocks of sheep and goats to pasture.

3. Marriage customs.

Marriage within the clan is forbidden and also the union of first cousins. Girls may be married at any age, and are sometimes united to husbands much younger than themselves. Four castemen of standing carry the proposal of marriage from the boy’s father, and the girl’s father, being forewarned, sends others to meet them. One of the ambassadors opens the conversation by saying, ‘ We have the milk and you have the milk-pail ; let them be joined.’ To which the girl’s party, if the match be agreeable, will reply, “Yes, we have the tamarind and you have the mango ; if the panches agree let there be a marriage.” The boy’s father gives the girl’s father five areca-nuts, and the latter returns them and they clasp each other round the neck. When the wedding procession reaches the bride’s village it is met by their party, and one of them takes the sarota or iron nut-cutter, which the bridegroom holds in his hand, and twirls it about in the air several times. The ceremony is performed by walking round the sacred pole, and the party return to the bridegroom’s lodging, where his brother-in-law fills the bride’s lap with sweetmeats and water-nut as an omen of fertility. The maihar or small wedding-cakes of wheat fried in sesamum oil are distributed to all members of the caste present at the wedding. While the bridegroom’s party is absent at the bride’s house, the women who remain behind enjoy amusements of their own. One of them strips herself naked, tying up her hair like a religious mendicant, and is known as Baba [बाबा] or holy father. In this state she romps with her companions in turn, while the others laugh and applaud. Occasionally some man hides himself in a place where he can be a witness of their play, but if they discover him he is beaten severely with belnas or wooden bread-rollers. Widow-marriage and divorce are permitted, the widow being usually expected to marry her late husband’s younger brother, whether he already has a wife or not. Sexual offences are not severely reprobated, and may be atoned for by a feast to the caste-fellows.

4. Religion and funeral rites.

The Gadarias [गड़रिया] worship the ordinary Hindu deities and also Dishai Devi [देवी], the goddess of the sheep-pen. No Gadaria [गड़रिया] may go into the sheep-pen with his shoes on. On entering it in the morning they make obeisance to the sheep, and these customs seem to indicate that the goddess Dishai Devi [देवी] is the deified sheep. When the sheep are shorn and the fleeces are lying on the ground they take some milk from one of the ewes and mix rice with it and sprinkle it over the wool. This rite is called Jimai, and they say that it is feeding the wool, but it appears to be really a sacrificial offering to the material. The caste burn the dead when they can afford to do so, and take the bones to the Ganges [गंगा] or Nerbudda [नर्मदा], or if this is not practicable, throw them into the nearest stream.

5. Social customs.

Well-to-do members of the caste employ Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] for ceremonial purposes, but others dispense with their services. The Gadarias [गड़रिया] eat flesh and drink liquor, but abstain from fowls and pork. They will take food cooked with water from a Lodhi [लोधी] or a Dāngi, members of these castes having formerly been their feudal chieftains in the Vindhyan [विन्‍ध्य] Districts and Nerbudda [नर्मदा] valley. Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] and members of the good cultivating castes would be permitted to become Gadarias [गड़रिया] if they should so desire. The head of the caste committee has the title of Mahton and the office is hereditary, the holder being invariably consulted on caste questions even if he should be a mere boy. The Gadarias [गड़रिया] rank with those castes from whom a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] cannot take water, but above the servile and labouring castes. They are usually somewhat stupid, lazy and good-tempered, and are quite uneducated. Owing to their work in cleaning the pens and moving about among the sheep, the women often carry traces of the peculiar smell of these animals. This is exemplified in the saying, ‘ Ek to Gadaria, dusrc lahsan khae' or ‘ Firstly she is a Gadaria [गड़रिया] and then she has eaten garlic’ ; the inference being that she is far indeed from having the scent of the rose.

6. Goats and sheep.

The regular occupations of the Gadarias [गड़रिया] are the breeding and grazing of sheep and goats, and the weaving of country blankets from sheep’s wool. The flocks are usually tended by the children, while the men and women spin and weave the wool and make blankets. Goats are bred in larger numbers than sheep in the Central Provinces, being more commonly used for food and sacrifices, while they are also valuable for their manure. Any Hindu who thinks an animal sacrifice requisite, and objects to a fowl as unclean, will choose a goat ; and the animal after being sacrificed provides a feast for the worshippers, his head being the perquisite of the officiating priest. Muhammadans and most castes of Hindus will eat goat’s meat when they can afford it. The milk is not popular and there is very little demand for it locally, but it is often sold to the confectioners, and occasionally made into butter and exported. Sheep’s flesh is also eaten, but is not so highly esteemed. In the case of both sheep and goats there is a feeling against consuming the flesh of ewes. Sheep are generally black in colour and only occasionally white. Goats are black, white, speckled or reddish-white. Both animals are much smaller than in Europe. Both sheep and goats are in brisk demand in the cotton tracts for their manure in the hot-weather months, and will be kept continually on the move from field to field for a month at a time. It is usual to hire flocks at the rate of one rupee a hundred head for one night ; but sometimes the cultivators combine to buy a large flock, and after penning them on their fields in the hot weather, send them to Nāgpur [नागपूर] in the beginning of the rains to be disposed of. The Gadaria [गड़रिया] was formerly the bête noir of the cultivator, on account of the risk incurred by the crops from the depredations of his sheep and goats. This is exemplified in the saying :

Ahīr [अहीर], Gadaria [गड़रिया], Pāsi [पासी],
Yeh tinon satyanāsi,

or, ‘ The Ahīr [अहीर] (herdsman), the Gadaria [गड़रिया] and the Pāsi [पासी], these three are the husbandmen’s foes.’ And again :

Ahīr [अहीर], Gadaria [गड़रिया], Gūjar [गूजर],
Yeh tinon chāhen ujar,

or ‘The Ahīr [अहीर], the Gadaria [गड़रिया] and the Gūjar [गूजर] want waste land,’ that is for grazing their flocks. But since the demand for manure has arisen, the Gadaria [गड़रिया] has become a popular personage in the village. The shepherds whistle to their flocks to guide them, and hang bells round the necks of goats but not of sheep. Some of them, especially in forest tracts, train ordinary pariah dogs to act as sheep-dogs. As a rule, rams and lie-goats are not gelt, but those who have large flocks sometimes resort to this practice and afterwards fatten the animals up for sale. They divide their sheep into five classes, as follows, according to the length of the ears : 

  • Kanāri, with ears a hand’s length long ;
  • Semri, somewhat shorter ;
  • Burhai, ears a forefinger’s length ;
  • Churia, ears as long as the little finger ;
  • and Neori, with ears as long only as the top joint of the forefinger.

Goats are divided into two classes, those with ears a hand’s length long being called Bangalia or Bagra, while those with small ears a forefinger’s length are known as Gujra.

7. Blanket-weaving.

While ordinary cultivators have now taken to keeping goats, sheep are still as a rule left to the Gadarias [गड़रिया]. These are of course valued principally for their wool, from which the ordinary country blanket is made. The sheep1 are shorn two or sometimes three times a year, in February, June and September, the best wool being obtained in February from the cold weather coat. Members of the caste commonly shear for each other without payment. The wool is carded with a kamtha, or simple bow with a catgut string, and spun by the women of the household. Blankets are woven by men on a loom like that used for cotton cloth. The fabric is coarse and rough, but strong and durable, and the colour is usually a dark dirty grey, approaching black, being the same as that of the raw material.

1 The following particulars are taken from the Central Provinces Monograph on Woollen Industries, by Mr. J. T. Marten.

Every cultivator has one of these, and the various uses to which it may be put are admirably described by ‘Eha’ as follows :2

2 A Naturalist in the Prowl, 3rd ed., p. 219. In the quotation the Hindustāni word kammal  [कम्बल], commonly used in the Central Provinces, is substituted for the Marathi word kambli [कंबली].

“ The kammal  [कम्बल] is a home-spun blanket of the wool of black sheep, thick, strong, as rough as a farrier’s rasp, and of a colour which cannot get dirty. When the Kunbi [कुणबी] (cultivator) comes out of his hole in the morning it is wrapped round his shoulders and reaches to his knees, guarding him from his great enemy, the cold, for the thermometer is down to 6o° Fahrenheit. By-and-by he has a load to carry, so he folds his kammal  [कम्बल] into a thick pad and puts it on the top of his head. Anon he feels tired, so he lays down his load, and arranging his kammal  [कम्बल] as a cushion, sits with comfort on a rugged rock or a stony bank, and has a smoke. Or else he rolls himself in it from head to foot, like a mummy, and enjoys a sound sleep on the roadside. It begins to rain, he folds his kammal  [कम्बल] into an ingenious cowl and is safe. Many more are its uses. I cannot number them all. Whatever he may be called upon to carry, be it forest produce, or grain or household goods, or his infant child, he will make a bundle of it with his kammal  [कम्बल] and poise it on his head, or sling it across his back, and trudge away.”

8. Sanctity of wool.

Wool is a material of some sanctity among the Hindus.  It is ceremonially pure, and woollen clothing can be worn by Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] while eating or performing sacred functions. In many castes the bridegroom at a wedding has a string of wool with a charm tied round his waist. Religious mendicants wear jatas [जटा] or wigs of sheep’s wool, and often carry woollen charms. The beads used for counting prayers are often of wool. The reason for wool being thus held sacred may be that it was an older kind of clothing used before cotton was introduced, and thus acquired sanctity by being worn at sacrifices. Perhaps the Aryans wore woollen clothing when they entered India."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 3 - 9]


Golar [गोलर], Gollam [गोलम] [गोलम], Golla, Gola [गोला], Golkar [गोलकर] (Central Provinces)


"Golar [गोलर],1 Gollam [गोलम], Golla, Gola [गोला], Golkar [गोलकर].—

1 This article is compiled from papers by Kanhya Lāl of the Gazetteer Office, and Mādho Rao, Deputy Inspector of Schools, Bālāghāt [बालाघाट].

The great shepherd caste of the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, which numbers nearly 1½ million of persons in Madras [மதராஸ்] and Hyderābād [حیدر آباد]. In the Central Provinces there were under 3000 Golars [गोलर] in 1901, and they were returned principally from the Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] and Seoni [सिवनी] Districts. But 2500 Golkars [गोलकर], who belonged to Chanda [चंदा] and were classified under Ahīrs [अहीर] in 1901, may, in view of the information now available, be considered to belong to the Golar [गोलर] caste. Some 2000 Golars [गोलर] were enumerated in Berār [बेरार]. They are a nomadic people and frequent Bālāghāt [बालाघाट], owing to the large area of grazing land found in the District. The caste come from the south and speak a dialect of Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡ]. Hindus liken the conversation of two Golars [गोलर] to two cocks crowing at each other.1 They seem to have no subcastes except that in Chanda [चंदा] the Yera and Nāna, or black and white Golkars [गोलकर], are distinguished. Marriage is regulated by the ordinary system of exogamous groups, but no meaning can be assigned to the names of these. In Seoni [सिवनी] they say that their group-names are the same as those of the Gonds [गोंड], and that they are related to this great tribe ; but though both are no doubt of the same Dravidian stock, there is no reason for supposing any closer affinity to exist, and the statement may be explained by the fact that Golars [गोलर] frequently reside in Gond [गोंड] villages in the forest; and in accordance with a practice commonly found among village communities the fiction of relationship has grown up. The children of brothers and sisters are allowed to marry, but not those of two sisters, the reason stated for this prohibition being that during the absence of the mother her sister nurses her children ; the children of sisters are therefore often foster brothers and sisters, and this is considered as equivalent to the real relationship. But the marriage of a brother’s son to a sister’s daughter is held, as among the Gonds [गोंड], to be a most suitable union. The adult marriage of girls involves no stigma, and the practice of serving for a wife is sometimes followed. Weddings may not be held during the months of Shrāwan [श्रावण], Bhādon [भादों], Kunwār [कुंवार] and Pūs [पूस]. The marriage altar is made of dried cowdung plastered over with mud, in honour perhaps of the animal which affords the Golars [गोलर] their livelihood. The clothes of the bridegroom and bride are knotted together and they walk five times round the altar. In Bhandāra [भंडारा] the marriages of Golars [गोलर] are celebrated both at the bride s house and the bridegroom’s. The bridegroom rides on a horse, and on arrival at the marriage-shed is presented by his future mother-in-law with a cup of milk. The bride and bridegroom sit on a platform together, and each gets up and sits down nine times, whoever accomplishes this first being considered to have won. The bridegroom then takes the bride’s little finger in his hand and they walk-nine times round the platform. He afterwards falls at the girl’s feet, and standing up carries her inside the house, where they cat together out of one dish. After three days the party proceeds to the bridegroom’s house, where the same ceremonies are gone through. Here the family barbers of the bride and bridegroom take the couple up in their arms and dance, holding them, and all the party dance too. The remarriage of widows is permitted, a sum of Rs. 25 being usually paid to the parents of the woman by her second husband. Divorce may be effected at the option of either party, and documents are usually drawn up on both sides. The Golars [गोलर] worship Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] and have a special deity, Hularia, who protects their cattle from disease and wild beasts. A clay image of Hularia is erected outside the village every five or ten years and goats are offered to it. Each head of a family is supposed to offer on the first occasion two goats, and on the second and subsequent ones, five, seven, nine and twelve goats respectively. But when a man dies his son starts afresh with an offering of two. The flesh of the animals offered is consumed by the caste-fellows. The name Hularia Deo has some connection with the Holias, a low Telugu [తెలుగు] caste of leather-workers to whom the Golars [गोलर] appear to be related, as they have the same family names. When a Golar [गोलर] dies a plate of cooked rice is laid on his body and then carried to the burning-ghāt [घाट]. The Holias belonging to the same section go with it, and before arrival the plate of rice is laid on the ground and the Holias eat it. The Golars [गोलर] have various superstitions, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays they will not give salt, fire, milk or water to any one. They usually burn the dead, the corpse being laid with the head to the south, though in some localities the Hindu custom of placing the head to the north has been adopted. They employ Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] for religious and ceremonial purposes. The occupation of the caste is to breed and tend buffaloes and cattle, and they also deal in live-stock, and sell milk, curds and ghī. They were formerly addicted to dacoity and cattle-theft. They have a caste panchāyat [पंचायत], the head of which is designated as Mokāsi. Formerly the Mokāsi received Rs. I 5 on the marriage of a widow, and Rs. 5 when a person temporarily outcasted was readmitted to social intercourse, but these payments are now only occasionally made. The caste drink liquor and eat flesh, including pigs and fowls, but not beef. They employ Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] for ceremonial purposes, but their social status is low and they are practically on a level with the Dravidian tribes. The dialect of Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] spoken by the Golars [गोलर] is known as Golari, Holia or Komtau, and is closely related to the form which that language assumes in Bijāpur [ಬಿಜಾಪುರ];2 but to outsiders they now speak Hindi [हिन्दी].

1 Bālāghāt District Gazetteer (C. E. Low), p. 80."
2
Linguistic Survey of India, vol. iv. Dravidian Language, p. 386."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 35 - 38] 


Kuramwār [कुरमवार] (Kannada, Central Provinces)


"Kuramwār  कुरमवार].3

3 This article is compiled from notes  taken by Mr. Hira Lāl [हीरालाल] and by Pyāre Lāl Misra, Ethnographic clerk.

The shepherd caste of southern India, who are identical with the Tamil Kurumba and the Telugu [తెలుగు] Kuruba. The caste is an important one in Madras [மதராஸ்], but in the Central Provinces is confined to the Chanda [चंदा] District where it numbered some 4000 persons in 1911. The Kuramwārs [कुरमवार] are considered to be the modern representatives of the ancient Pallava [பல்லவர்] tribe whose kings were powerful in southern India in the seventh century.4

4 North Arcot Manual, vol. i. p. 220.

The marriage rules of the Kuramwārs [कुरमवार] are interesting. If a girl reaches adolescence while still single, she is finally expelled from the caste, her parents being also subjected to a penalty for readmission. Formerly it is said that such a girl was sacrificed to the river-goddess by being placed in a small hut on the river-bank till a flood came and swept her away. Now she is taken to the river and kept in a hut, while offerings are made to the river-goddess, and she may then return and live in the village though she is out of caste. In Madras [மதராஸ்], as a preliminary to the marriage, the bridegroom’s father observes certain marks or ‘curls’ on the head or hair of the bride proposed. Some of these are believed to forecast prosperity and others misery to the family into which she enters. They are therefore very cautious in selecting only such girls as possess curls (sūli) of good fortune. The writer of the North Arcot Manual 1 after recording the above particulars, remarks :

1 Vol. i. p. 224.

“This curious custom obtaining among this primitive tribe is observed by others only in the case of the purchase of cows, bulls and horses.”

In the Central Provinces, however, at least one parallel instance can be given from the northern Districts where any mark resembling the V on the head of a cobra is considered to be very inauspicious. And it is told that a girl who married into one well-known family bore it, and to this fact the remarkable succession of misfortunes which has attended the family is locally attributed. Among the Kuramwārs [कुरमवार] marriages can be celebrated only on four days in the year, the fifth day of both fortnights of Phāgun [फाल्गुन] (February), the tenth day of the second fortnight of the same month and the third day of Baisākh [बैसाख] (April). At the marriage the bride and bridegroom are seated together under the canopy, with the shuttle which is used for weaving blankets between them, and they throw coloured rice at each other. After this a miniature swing is put up and a doll is placed in it in imitation of a child and swung to and fro. The bride then takes the doll out and gives it to the bridegroom, saying: ‘Here, take care of it, I am now going to cook food’; while after a time the boy returns the doll to the girl, saying, ‘I must now weave the blanket and go to tend the flock.’ The proceeding seems a symbolic enactment of the cares of married life and the joint tending of the baby, this sort of symbolism being particularly noticeable in the marriage ceremonies of the people of Madras [மதராஸ்]. Divorce is not permitted even though the wife be guilty of adultery, and if she runs away to her father’s house her husband cannot use force to bring her back if she refuses to return to him. The Kuramwārs [कुरमवार] worship the implements of their calling at the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi [गणेश चतुर्थी] , and if any family fails to do this it is put out of caste. They also revere annually Mallana Deva [देव] and Mallani Devi [देवी] who guard their flocks respectively from attacks of tigers and epidemics of murrain. The shrines of these deities are generally built under a banyan tree and open to the east. The caste are shepherds and graziers and also make blankets. They are poor and ignorant, and the Abbe Dubois1 says of them : 

1 Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies.

“Being confined to the society of their woolly charge, they seem to have contracted the stupid nature of the animal, and from the rudeness of their nature they are as much beneath the other castes of Hindus as the sheep by their simplicity and imperfect instruction are beneath the other quadrupeds.”

Hence the proverbial comparison ‘As stupid as a Kuramwār [कुरमवार].’ When out of doors the Kuramwār [कुरमवार] retains the most primitive method of eating and drinking ; he takes his food in a leaf and licks it up with his tongue, and sucks up water from a tank or river with his mouth. They justify this custom by saying that on one occasion their god had taken his food out of the house on a leaf-plate and was proceeding to eat it with his hands when his sheep ran away and he had to go and fetch them back. In the meantime a crow came and pecked at the food and so spoilt it. It was therefore ordained that all the caste should eat their food straight off the leaf, in order to do which they would have to take it from the cooking-pot in small quantities and there would be no chance of leaving any for the crows to spoil. The story is interesting as showing how very completely the deity of the Kuramwārs [कुरमवार] is imagined on the principle that god made man in his own image. Or, as a Frenchman has expressed the idea, ‘Dieu a fait l'homme à son image, mais l'homme le lui a bien rendu.' The caste are dark in colour and may be distinguished by their caps made from pieces of blankets, and by their wearing a woollen cord round the waist over the loin-cloth. They speak a dialect of Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡ]."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 52ff.]