WRITTEN by the president of Maharashtra Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, this compilation of articles is about the Vanvasis of three geographical regions of Maharashtra, which has the highest Vanvasi population. These areas include Thane, Nasik, Pune, Ahmadnagar and Raigad districts.
In the first article, the author says that the mental makeup of every Vanvasi and his social life have been influenced by the surrounding geographical, economic and philosophical life. When one looks at the normal practices of all of them, there is great similarity between the lives, values and characteristics of the different Vanvasis. Initially, they used to live in forests at the base of hills and mountains, with changes coming in their life, depending on the place and conditions. Till the last 50-60 years, there were no adequate means of transport because of which they remained absolutely cut off from the rest of the country and hence, unaware of the new social, political, scientific and philosophical changes. In other words, they remained backward while the rest of the country advanced.
But now changes are creeping in and new knowledge and new thoughts are finding their way in. The Vanvasis started clearing the forests and establishing villages and this became their village dharma.
In the second article, the author expounds on the various activities and the traditions adopted and followed by the Vanvasis and says that the basic culture of the country is the ancient Vanvasi culture. Panchayats were founded among the different castes of the village and their social structure encouraged respect for the guest or the outsider, cooperative behaviour, gender equality, innocence of the child, friendly attitude towards plants and animals, discipline, knowledge of traditional practices and enjoyment of life through drama and music.
In a similar manner the other three articles throw light on the Vanvasi social structure in India, the impact of scientific advancements on them, and how the Bhils of Satpura, Dhanakas of Dhule and Jalgaon, Mawachis of Nandurbar, Taloda, Nawapur, etc., the Gods of Chandarpur, Ghadcholi, Yeotamlal, etc., Halba-Halbis of Nagpur, Chandarpur, etc., Kathods of Thane, Pune, Nasik, etc., Kokanas of Nasik, Dhule, etc., Kolams of Nanded, Yeotmal, Kolis and the Vanvasis of other areas of Maharashtra boldly declare, “We are Hindus”.
(Suruchi Prakashan, Keshav Kunj, Jhandewalan, New Delhi – 110 055.)