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List of Group 15
Perike - Pichigunta - Pichiguntas - Pinjara - Pulluvan - Qalandar - Qasâí - Qualandar - Qualandars - Rahwâri - Raj Parivars - Raji - Rajjhar - Rajwar - Rajwars - Ramavanshis - Ramoshis - Râmosi - Rao - Rawals - Rayaranada  - Sahar - Sahariyas - Sakuna Pakshi - Salat - Sanaurhia - Sani - Sêsís - Sansia - Sansiya - Santâls - Sarania - Sarvade Joshi - Satani - Sâtânis - Satia - Saur

Perike.: -This word is defined in the Madras Census Report, 1901 as meaning literally a gunny bag, and the Perikes [2] are summed up as being a Telugu caste of gunny bag (goni) weavers, corresponding to the Janappans of the Tamil districts. Gunny bag is the popular and trading name of the coarse sacking and sacks made from the fibre of jute, much used in Indian trade. It is noted, in the Census Report, 1891, that "the Perikes claim to be a separate caste, but they seem to be in reality a sub-division, and not a very exalted subdivision, of Balijas, being in fact identical with the Uppu (salt) Balijas. Their hereditary occupation is carrying salt, grain, etc., on bullocks and donkeys in perikes or packs. Perike is found among the sub-divisions of both Kavarai and Balija. Some of them, however, have attained considerable wealth, and now claim to be Kshatriyas, saying that they are the descendants of the Kshatriyas who ran away (piriki. a coward) from the persecution of Parasurâma.      
[2] See Thurston 


page  723

Others again say they are Kshatriyas who went into retirement, and made hills [giri]''. These perike Kshatriyas are known as Puragiri Kshatriya and Giri Râzu. The Periki Balijas are described, in the Vizagapatam Manual, as subsisting chiefly on cultivation and trade, and some of them are said to hold a high position at 'the presidency' [Madras]and in the Vizagapatam district.


Perike women appear to have frequently committed sati [or suttee] on the death of their husband in former days, and the names of those who thus sacrificed their lives are still held in reverence. A peculiar custom among the perikes is the erection of big square structures [brindâvanam], in which a tulsi [Ocimum sanctum] is planted, on the spot where the ashes of the dead are buried after cremation. I am informed that a fine series of these structures may be seen at Chípurapalli, close to Vizianagram. As a mark of respect to the dead, passers-by usually place a lac bangle or flowers thereon. The usual titles of the perikes are Anna and Ayya, but some style themselves Rao [= Râya, king], or Râyadu, in reference to their alleged Kshatriya origin. 


For the following note on the perikes of the Godâvari district, I am indebted to Mr. F.R. Hemingway. "Like some of the Kammas, they claim to be of Kshatriya stock, and say they are of the lineage of parasu Râma, but were driven out by him for kindnapping his sister, while pretending to be gunny-bag weavers. They say that they were brought to this country by King Nala of the Mahâbhârata, in gratitude for their having taken care of his wife Damayanti when he quitted her during his misfortunes. They support the begging caste of Varugu Bhattas, who they say, supported them during their exile, and to whom they gave a sanad (deed of grant) authorising them to demand alms. These people go round the Perike houses for their dues every year. The Písu Perikes, who still weave gunny-bags, are said not to belong to the caste proper, members of which style themselves Râcha Perikes. 


"The Perikes say that, like the Kómatis, they have 101 gótras. Their marriage ceremonies are peculiar. On the day of the wedding, the bride and bridegroom are made to fast, as also are three male relatives whom they call suribhaktas. At the marriage, the couple sit on a gunny-bag, and another gunny, on which a representation of the god Mailar is drawn or painted, is spread between them. The same god is drawn on two pots, and these, and also a third pot, are filled with rice and dhâl (Cajanus indicus), which are cooked by two married women. The food is then offered to Mailar. Next, the three suribhaktas take 101 cotton threads, fasten them together, and tie seven knots in them. The bride and bridegroom are given cloths which have been partly immersed in water coloured with turmeric and chunam (lime,) and the suribhaktas are fed with the rice ad dhâl cooked in the pots. The couple are then taken round the village in procession, and, on their return, the knotted cotton threads are tied round the bride's neck instead of a tâli. Some Perikes style themselves Sâthu vândlu, meaning a company of merchants or travellers. Perike Muggula is the name of a class of Telugu mendicants and exorcists. 


Pichigunta.: -The name Pichigunta [1] means literally an assembly of beggars, who are described [2] as being, in the Telugu country, a class of mendicants, who are herbalists, and physic people for fever, stomach-ache, and other ailments. They beat the village drums, relate stories and legends, and supply the place of a Herald's Office, as they have a reputation for being learned in family histories, and manufacture pedigrees and gótras (house names) for Kâpus, Kammas, Gollas, and others. 

[1] See Thurston. 
[2] Manuals of Nellore and Kurnool. 


page 724

The Picchai or Pinchikuntar are described in the Salem Manual as "servants to the Kudiânavars or cultivators-- a name commonly assumed by Vellâlas and Pallis. The story goes that a certain Vellâla had a hundred and two children, of whom only one was a female. Of the males, one was lame, and his hundred brothers made a rule that everyone would provide him with one kolagam of grain and one fanam (a coin) each year. They got him married to a Telugu woman of a different caste, and the musicians who attended the ceremony were paid nothing, the brothers alleging that, as the bridegroom was a cripple, the musicians should officiate from charitable motives. The descendants of this married pair, having no caste of their own became known as Picchi or Pinchikuntars (beggars, or lame). They are treated as kudipinnai (inferior) by Vellâlas, and to the present day receive their prescribed miras (fee) from the Vellâla descendants of the hundred brothers, to whom, on marriage and other festivals, they do service by relating the genealogies of such Vellâlas as they are acquainted with. Some serve the Vellâlas as they are acquainted with. Some serve the Vellâlas in the fields, and others live by begging". The caste beggars of the Tottiyans are known as Pichiga-vâdu. 


Pichiguntas.: -They are a caste of Bards and genealogists. They tell stories and legends of the families who patronise them. They are also mendicants. 


Pinjara.: -They are cotton cleaners, and also card the cotton. 


Pulluvan.: -The Pulluvans of Malabar are Astrologers, medicine-men, priests and 1 singers in snake groves [1]. The name is fancifully derived from pullu, a hawk, because the Pulluvan is clever in curing the disorders which pregnant women and babies suffer from through the evil influence of these birds. Thus Pulluvans are sometimes called Vaidyans (physicians). 


As regards the origin of the caste, the following tradition is narrated. [2] Agni, the fire god, had made several desperate but vain efforts to destroy the great primeval forest of Gândava. The eight serpents which had their home in the forest were the chosen friends of Indra, who sent down a deluge, and destroyed, every time, the fire which Agni kindled in order to burn down the forest. Eventually Agni resorted to a stratagem, and, appearing before Arjunan in the guise of a Brâhman, contrived to exact a promise to do him any favour he needed in order to destroy the forest, and the latter created a wonderful bow and arrows, which cut off every drop of rain sent by Indra for the preservation of the forest. The birds, beasts, and other creatures which lived therein fled in terror, but most of them were overtaken by the flames, and were burnt to cinders. Several of the serpents also were overtaken and destroyed, but one of them was rescued by the maid-servant of a Brâhman, who secured the sacred reptile in a pot, which she deposited in a jasmine bower. When the Brâhman came to hear of this, he had the serpent removed, and turned the maid-servant adrift, expelling at the same time a man-servant, so that the woman might not be alone and friendless. The two exiles prospered under the protection of the serpent which the woman had rescued from the flames, and became the founders of the Pulluvans. According to another story, when the great Gândava forest was in conflagration, the snakes therein were destroyed in the flames. A large five-hooded snake, scorched and burnt by the fire, flew away in agony, and alighted at Kuttanânad, which is said to have been on the site of the modern town of Alleppey. Two women were at the time on their way to draw water from a well. 

[1] See Thurston. 
[2] Men and Women of India, February 1906


page 725

The snake asked them to pour seven potfuls of water over him, to alleviate his pain, and to turn the pot sideways, so that he could get into it. His request was complied with, and, having entered the pot, he would not leave it. He then desired one of the women to take him home, and place him in a room on the west side of the house. This she refused to do for fear of the snake, and she was advised to cover the mouth of the pot with a cloth. The room, in which the snake was placed, was ordered to be closed for a week. The woman's husband, who did not know what had occurred, tried to open the door, and only succeeded by exerting all his strength. On entering the room, to his surprise he found an ant-hill, and disturbed it. Thereon the snake issued forth from it and killed him, and his widow was left without means of support. The snake consoled her, and devised a plan, by which she could maintain herself. She was to go from house to house, and cry out "Give me alms, and be saved from snake poisoning." The inmates would give, and the snake, which were troubling their houses, would cease from annoying them. For this reason, a Pulluvan and his wife, when they go with their pulluva kudam (pot-drum) to a house, are asked to sing, and given money. 


The Pulluvar females, Mr. T.K. Gopal Panikkar writes, [1] "take a pretty large pitcher, and close its opening by means of a small circular piece of thin leather, which is fastened onto the vessel by means of strings strongly tied round its neck. Another string is adjusted to the leather cover, which, when played on by means of the fingers, produces a hoarse note, which is said to please the gods' ears, pacify their anger, and lull them to sleep." In the Malabar Gazetteer, this instrument is thus described. "It consists of an earthenware chatty with its bottom removed, and entirely covered, except the mouth, with leather. The portion of the leather which is stretched over the bottom of the vessel thus forms a sort of drum, to the centre of which a string is attached. The other end of the string is fixed in the cleft of a stick. The performer sits cross-legged, holding the chatty mouth downwards with his right hand, on his right knee. The stick is held firmly under the right foot, resting on the left leg. The performer strums on the string, which is thus stretched tight, with a rude plectrum of horn, or other substance. The vibrations communicated by the string to the tympanum produce a curious sonorous note, the pitch of which can be varied by increasing or relaxing the tension of the string." The musical instrument is carried from house to house in the daytime by these Pulluvar females; and, placing the vessel in a particular position on the ground, and sitting in a particular fashion in relation to the vessel, they play on the string, which then produces a very pleasant musical note. Then they sing ballads to the accompaniment of these notes. After continuing this for some time, they stop, and, getting their customary dues from the family, go their own way. It is believed that the music, and the ballads, are peculiarly pleasing to the serpent gods, who bless those for whose sakes the music has been rendered." The Pulluvans also play on a lute with snakes painted on the reptile skin, which is used in lieu of parchment. The skin, in a specimen at the Madras Museum, is apparently that of the big lizard Varanus bengalensis. The lute is played with a bow, to which a metal bell is attached. 


The dwelling-houses of the Pulluvans are like those of the Izhuvans or Cherumas. They are generally mud huts, with thatched roof, and a verandah in front. 


When a girl attains maturity, she is placed apart in a room. On the seventh day, she is anointed by seven young women, who give an offering to the demons, if she is possessed by any. This consists of the bark of a plantain tree made into the form of a triangle, on which small bits of tender cocoanuts and little torches are fixed. This is waved round the girl's head, and floated away on water. As regards marriage, the Pulluvans observe both tâli-kettu and sambandham. in the vicinity of Palghat, members of the caste in the same village intermarry, and have a prejudice against contracting alliances outside it. Thus, the Pulluans of Palghat do not intermarry with those of Mundîr and Kanghat, which are four and ten miles distant. 

1 Malabar and its Folk, 1900.


page 726

It is said that, in former days, intercourse between brother and sister was permitted. But, when questioned on this point, the Pulluvans absolutely deny it. It is, however, possible that something of the kind was once the case, for, when a man belonging to another caste is suspected of incest, it is said that he is like the Pulluvans. Should the parents of a married woman have no objection to her being divorced, they give her husband a piece of cloth called murikotukkuka. This signifies that the cloth which he gave is returned, and divorce is effected. 


The Pulluvans follow the makkathâyam law of inheritance (from father to son). But they seldom have any property to leave, except their hut and a few earthen pots. They have their caste assemblies (parichas), which adjudicate on adultery, theft, and other offences. 


They believe firmly in magic and sorcery, and every kind of sickness is attributed to the influence of some demon. Abortion, death of a new-born baby, prolonged labour, or the death of the woman, fever, want of milk in the breasts, and other misfortunes, are attributed to malignant influences. When pregnant women, or even children, walk out alone at midday, they are possessed by them, and may fall in convulsions. Any slight dereliction, or indifference with regard to the offering of sacrifices, is attended by domestic calamities, and sacrifices of goats and fowls are requisite. More sacrifices are promised, if the demons will help them in the achievement of an object, or in the distraction of an enemy. In some cases the village astrologer is consulted, and he, by means of his calculations, divines the cause of an illness, and suggests that a particular disease or calamity is due to the provocation of the family or other god, to whom sacrifices or offerings have not been made. Under these circumstances, a Velichapâd, or oracle, is consulted. After bathing, and dressing himself in a new mundu (cloth), he enters the scene with a sword in his hand, and his legs girt with small bells. Standing in front of the deity in pious meditation, he advances with slow steps and rolling eyes, and makes a few frantic cuts on his forehead. He is already in convulsive shivers, and works himself up to a state of frenzied possession, and utters certain disconnected sentences, which are believed to be the utterances of the gods. Believing them to be the means of cure of relief from calamity, those affected reverentially bow before the Velichapâd, and obey his commands. Sometimes they resort to a curious method of calculation beforehand the result of a project, in which they are engaged, by placing before the god two bouquets of flowers, one red, the other white, of which a child picks out one with its eyes closed. Selection of the white bouquet predicts auspicious results, of the red the reverse. A man, who wishes to bring a demon under his control, must bathe in the early morning for forty-one days, and cook his own meals. He should have no association with his wife, and be free from all pollution. Every night, after 10 o'clock, he should bathe in a tank (pond) or river, and stand naked up to the loins in the water, while praying to the god, whom he wishes to propitiate, in the words "I offer thee my prayers, so that thou mayst bless me with what I want". These, with his thoughts concentrated on the deity, he should utter 101, 1001, and 100,001 times during the period. Should he do this, in spite of all obstacles and intimidation by the demons, the god will grant his desires. It is said to be best for a man to be trained and guided by a guru (preceptor), as, if proper precautions are not adopted, the result of his labours will be that he goes mad. 


A Pulluvan and his wife preside at the ceremony called Pâmban Tullal to propitiate the snake gods of the nâgâttân kâvus, or serpent shrines. For this, a pandal (booth) is erected by driving four posts into the ground, and putting over them a silk or cotton canopy. A hideous figure of a huge snake is made on the floor with powders of five colours. Five colours are essential, as they are visible on the necks of snakes. Rice is scattered over the floor. Worship is performed to Ganésa, and cocoanuts and rice are offered. Incense is burnt, and a lamp placed on a plate. The members of the family go round the booth, and the woman, from whom the devil has to be cast out, bathes, and takes her seat on the western side, holding a bunch of palm flowers. The Pulluvan and his wife begin the music, vocal and instrumental, the woman keeping time with the potdrum by striking on a metal vessel. 



page 727



As they sing songs in honour of the snake deity, the young female members of the family, who have been purified by a bath, and are seated, begin to quiver, sway their heads to and fro in time with the music, and the tresses of their hair are let loose. In their state of excitement, they beat upon the floor, and rub out the figure of the snake with palm flowers. This done, they proceed to the snake-grove, and prostrate themselves before the stone images of snakes, and recover consciousness. They take milk and water from a tender cocoanut, and plantains. The Pulluvan stops singing, and the ceremony is over. "Sometimes," Mr. Gopal Panikkar writes, "the gods appear in the bodies of all these females, and sometimes only in those of a select few, or none at all. The refusal go the gods to enter into such persons is symbolical of some want of cleanliness in them: which contingency is looked upon as a source of anxiety to the individual. 


It may also suggest the displeasure of these gods towards the family, in respect of which the ceremony is performed. In either case, such refusal on the part of the gods is an index of their ill-will or dissatisfaction. In cases where the gods refuse to appear in any one of those seated for the purpose, the ceremony is prolonged until the gods are so properly propitiated as to constrain them to manifest themselves. Then, after the lapse of the number of days fixed for the ceremony, and, after the will of the serpent gods is duly expressed, the ceremonies close." Sometimes, it is said, it may be considered necessary to rub away the figure as many as 101 times, in which case the ceremony is prolonged over several weeks. Each time that the snake design is destroyed, one or two men, with torches in their hands, perform a dance, keeping step to the Pulluvan's music. The family may eventually erect a small platform or shrine in a corner of their grounds, and worship at it annually. The snake deity will not, it is believed, manifest himself if any of the persons, or articles required for the ceremony, are impure, e.g., if the pot-drum has been polluted by the touch of a menstruating female. The Pullvan, from whom a drum was purchased for the Madras Museum, was very reluctant to part with it, lest it should be touched by an impure woman. 


The Pulluvans worship the gods of the Brâhmanical temples from a distance, and believe in sprits of all sorts and conditions. They worship Velayuthan, Ayyappa, Râhu, Mîni, Châthan, Mukkan, Karinkutti, Parakutti, and others. Mîni is a well-disposed deity, to whom, once a year, rice, plantains, and cocoanuts are offered. To Mukkan, Karinkutti, and others, sheep and fowls are offered. A floral device (padmam) is drawn on the floor with nine divisions in rice-flour, on each of which a piece of tender cocoanut leaf and a lighted wick dipped in cocoanut oil, are placed. Parched rice, boiled beans, jaggery (crude sugar), cakes, plantains, and toddy are offered, and camphor and incense burnt. If a sheep has to be sacrificed, boiled rice is offered, and water sprinkled to over the head of the sheep before it is killed. If it shakes itself, so that it frees itself from the water, it is considered as a favourable omen. On every new-moon day, offerings of mutton, fowls, rice-balls, toddy and other things, served up on a plantain leaf, are made to the souls of the departed. The celebrants who have bathed and cooked their own food on the previous day, prostrate themselves, and say "Ye dead ancestors, we offer what we can afford. May you take the gifts, and be pleased to protect us". 


The Pulluvans bury their dead. The place of burial is near a river, or in a secluded spot near the dwelling of the deceased. The corpse is covered with a cloth, and a cocoanut placed with it. Offerings of rice-balls are made by the son daily for fifteen days, when pollution ceases, and a feast is held. 


At the present day, some Pullvans work at various forms of labour, such as sowing, ploughing, reaping, fencing, and cutting timber, for which they are paid in money or kind. They are, in fact, day-labourers, living in huts built on the waste land of some landlord, for which they pay a nominal ground-rent. They will take food prepared by Brâhmans, Nâyars, Kammâlans, and Izhuvas, but not that prepared by a Mannân or Kaniyan. Carpenters and Izhuvas bathe when a Pulluvan has touched them. But the Pulluvans are polluted by Cherumas, Pulayas, Paraiyans, Ullâdans, and others. 



page 728


The women wear the kacha, like Izhuva women, folded twice, and worn round the loins, and are seldom seen with an upper  body-cloth. [1]


Qalandar.: -A caste of Muhammadan Faqírs [2], bear and monkey trainers. According to Mr. Platts, the word is used for the original kalandar, "a rough, unshaped block or log." They trace their origin to the Saint Bo 'Ali Qalandar, who died in 1323-2423. Of him many wondrous tales are told. He used to ride about on a wall, and he prayed so continuously that the saint found it convenient to stand in the river and wash his hands without moving. After seven years of this he got stiff, and the fishes ate his legs; so he asked the river to step back seven paces and let him dry. In her hurry to oblige the saint, she retreated seven miles, and there she is now. He gave the people of Pânipat a charm which drove away all flies from the city. But they grumbled and said they rather liked flies, so he brought them back a thousandfold. The people have since repented. There was a good deal of trouble about his funeral. He died near Karnâl, and there they buried him. But the Pânipat people claimed his body, and came and opened his grave; on which he sat up and looked around. He then gave to the people a bix with a stone with which to found a shrine; but when they got to Pânipat and opened the box, they found his body in it; so he now lies  buried both at Pânipat and Karnâl." [3]


The Qalandar of these Provinces is generally a lazy, swindling rascal, some of whom go about with snakes; others with tame bears and monkeys. He wears round his right wrist two or a single brass bangle. On his right leg he has an iron chain. He also has a vessel (kishta), made of cocoanut shell (daryâi nâriyal), and a brass lota. Sometimes he has an iron bar as well. He announces his approach by twanging the damaru, or little drum, shaped like an hour glass. Those who have monkeys, the male being generally called Maula Bakhsh and the female Zahîran, make them dance to amuse children. Those who have bears, make them dance, and allow for a consideration little boys to ride on their backs, which is believed to be a charm against the small-pox. They also sell some of their hair, which is a favourite amulet against the Evil Eye. Some go about as ordinary beggars. Though they wander about begging they are not absolute vagrants, as they have settled homes and families. 

Domestic Ceremonies. 

Marriage among them takes places at the age of from ten to twenty. They follow in all their ceremonies the rules of the Sunni sect of Muhammadans, to which they belong. Some of them have taken to the trade of the Bisâti, and make tin frames for lanterns and small boxes (dibiya) out of tin. All Muhammadans will eat and smoke with them. No Hindu, except a Dom or a Dharkâr, will touch their food. 

The Criminal Qalandar. 

The Qalandar is our old friend the Calendar of the Arabian Nights. Most of the are merely loafing beggars; but in Rohikhand there appears to be a branch of them known as the Langré, or "lame," Qalandars, who are said to be Rohillas from Râmpur. They were formerly residents of Hardoi, and devoted themselves to stealing horses and ponies, which were passed from Oudh to British territory and vice versâ. Shâhâbâd, in Hardoi, was regarded as their head-quarters, and there they had the name of Machhlé. On the annexation of Oudh, they divided into gangs, and nominated one Bânké as their (sargiroh), with two assistants, known as the Bhandâri, or purveyor, and Kotwâl, or police officer. On the celebration of the marriage of any of their members they continue, if possible, to assemble together and distribute food and wine to the best of their ability; on the occasion of marriage ceremonies among the Khatris, when any of the gangs are present, gifts of food and money are given to them, which they designate their birt, or "maintenance." 

[1] This account is mainly based on a note by Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyar.
[2] See Crooke
[3] Ibbetgon. Panjâb Ethnography, section 224; Lady Burton, Arabian Nights. p. 81, VI., sqq.


page 729

This is also the name given to what they receive on certain occasions when religious ceremonies are performed. They are very superstitious, and have their own omens and signs, some of which are considered lucky, and others the reverse. Thus the barking of a hyaena behind them or on their left is considered a bad omen.

Mode Of Thieving. 

This tribe, or rather the numerous gangs composing it, proceed through districts disguised and call themselves Langré Qalandar or Rohillas of Râmpur. In Râmpur and the neighbourhood they use the former, and towards Lucknow the latter. They travel about in the cold and hot weather, but in the rains they settle down and occupy themselves in begging. Their wives and children accompany them, buy they do not encumber their movements with any luxury, such as cattle, furniture, etc., having only one or two ponies for the transport of their personal effects, in addition to which, hidden among their quilts and blankets, are reins, ropes, and headstalls for the stolen ponies. This is undoubtedly the reason why they have hitherto never been classed as a criminal tribe, nor have raised suspicion as to their real character. They pass the night under trees or in the fields, or, if near a populous place, in a convenient grove. During the day, disguised as beggars, they mark down the horses and ponies which they purpose to steal. When they obtain a fair number of animals, they pass off as horse-merchants, and make their escape as rapidly as possible. Animals stolen near Lucknow are sold in the northern parts of Oudh and the North-West Provinces-- their chief markets being Bilâspur in the Râmpur State, Durâo in the Tarâi, and Chichait in Bareilly. They chiefly frequent the districts of Pilibhít, Kheri, Bahrâich, and the Tarâi, as they are close to Nepâl, where ponies and fodder are plentiful. 

Thieves' Argot Of The Langré Qalandars.
These people have a regular thieves' argot of their own, of which the following are examples:

Bidna-- Man.
Bidni-- Woman.
Basta-- Rupee.
Bairgi-- Cot.
Botay-- Sheet, quilt.
Bajrin-- Gun.
Bodi-- Hair tuft.
Châl-- Hair.
Chetha-- Flour.
Chiki-- Fire.
Chitya-- Cat.
Chimmi-- Fish.
Charya-- Tree.
Chirma-- Colt.
Dhaind-- Burglary.
Dhun-- Ear.
Dîdrín-- Leg.
Dhurd-- Grain.
Dhurcha-- Red pepper.
Dhungara-- The Singhâra nut
Dhingaila-- Bullock.
Dhingaili-- Cow.
Dhîwar-- Pig.
Dhung-- Sheep.
Dhujja-- Cock.



page 730

Dhuttar-- Camel.
Dhîhari-- Sugarcane.
Dhulludâr-- Police Officer.
Dhuddah-- Duck.
Dhurangi-- European.
Dhîsa-- Mouse.
Ealakh-- Oil.
Ghutrín-- Eyes.
Ghummar-- Elephant.
Ghuttani-- Eight annas.
Ghurka-- Water pot, jug.
Jurha-- Pony.
Jurhi-- Pony mare.
Khunji-- Buffalo.
Kumdâr-- Comrade.
Khuranga-- Donkey.
Khurchan-- Pipe, huqqah.
Khunnay-- House.
Khail-- Wine.
Lilka-- Butter, ghi.
Lung-- Rope.
Morhay-- Tooth.
Mallâo-- Tank, pond.
Maikrín-- Goat.
Mogân-- Jackal.
Mithkar-- Sugarcane.
Mukki-- Sheep.
Mohidâr-- Village Watehman.
Markni-- Bladgeon.
Nudli-- Village.
Niklu-- Bread.
Oi-- A well.
Phirkni-- Cart.
Pecha-- Pice.
Patki-- Grass.
Râp-- Foot.
Ratâila-- Stomach.
Ratki-- Shoe.
Sarpna-- Nose.
Thunda-- Boy.
Thundi-- Girl.
Thîb-- Hand.
Tena-- Head.
Thum-- Grain.
Tundul-- Rice.
Theman-- Salt.
Thimman-- Coarse sugar (gur).
Thimjâi-- Sweetmeat.
Thubbâk-- Reins.
Thokay-- Jungle.
Urkna-- Grain.
Dhulludâr âya hai, paté-- The Sub-Inspector is coming, run away.
Khurchna tudlo-- Smoke the huqqah.
Oi sé chayan marap lâo-- Fetch the water from the well.
Phirni par dhurrup to-- Get into the cart.



page 731

Dhurangi bakussa-- A European approaches.
Khunnay men dhaind lagi-- A burglary has been committed in the house.
Mohidâr bakussa, jurhi A watchman is coming,
thokay men khon âo. Take the pony into the jungle.
Nukka undli men hurka-- A dog is barking in the jungle.


Qasâí.: -or QaSâb [1] is the name of the butcher caste. The word is derived from Arabic
qaSab, to be cut. The number of QaSâís returned at the Census of 1901 [2] was 369,5333,
distributed as follows:

Ajmer . . . . .                      66
Andamans . . . . .                 5
Assam. . . . .                      23
Baluchistan . . . . .             255
Bengal. . . . .                11,093
Berar . . . . .                     218
Bombay . . . . .              24,986
Central Provinces . . . .       206
Panjab. . . . .              125,644
United Provinces . . . . 184,150
Baroda. . . . .                   851
Central India . . . . .          918
Hyderabad . . . . .               2
Kashmir . . . . .                824
Rajputana. . . . . .        20,292
TOTAL .                    369,533
The QaSâí are commonly separated into two endogamous sub-castes, one of which kill cows and buffaloes, while the other only kill goats. In the Panjab the former call themselves bhakkar-sikkhî, cow killers, and the latter mek·-sikkhî, goat killers, or simply sikkhî. The latter are mostly Hindîs, the former Muhammadans of the Sunní sect. The QaSâís seem to have a trade language of their own. During the preliminary operations of this Survey a dialect called QaSâiyô-kí Farsí was reported to be spoken by 2,700 persons in the Karnal District. Dr. T. Grahame Bailey has given some information about the secret language of those QaSâís of the Panjab who do not kill cows.

Language and argot. 

The QaSâís of Karnal, who numbered 5,794 at the 1901 Census, are all Muhammadans. The dialect illustrated by the specimens is of the same kind as the QaSâí described by Dr. Bailey. The materials received from Belgaum are stated to illustrate the language of the cow-killing QaSâís. It agrees with the dialect of the Karnal QaSâís in so many points that the two can safely be described as one and the same form of speech, which is an argot based on Hindóstâní. In Karnal we also find Pañjâbí forms such as mazdîrê-me, amongst the servants. The dialect is much mixed with Dravidian, and it is probably due to this influence that the case of the agent has been discarded and that the sense of the actual meaning of some verbal forms has been weakened. Forms such as thârtau, am, also occur in the second and third persons in addition to thârtai, art, is, and ghâ¹ungâ, I shall beat, is said to be used in all persons and numbers.

[1] Linguistic Survey of Ondia.
[2] No QaSâís were recorded under that name in 1911.


page 732

The orthography of the specimens does not seem to be consistent. thus the word tip, see, which is written with a cerebral t by Dr. Bailey and in the Belgaum specimens, occurs as tip in the Karnal version of the Parable. The same text gives déwarnâ, to give, while the second Karnal specimen uses léwarnâ, to take, with a cerebral n. The sound noted th is probably the sound of th in English "think." It had, however, been written th in a Mâgarí transcript which accompanied the Karnal texts. In thîr-nâ, eat, this th seems to represent an s ; compare s`îd, eat, in the Belgaum list and shîdnâ, shîrnâ, to eat, to drink, in the vocabulary published by Dr. Bailey. The same is the case in thís, six, where Dr. Bailey has ª this; compare Arabic sids. The peculiar appearance of the Qa∆âí argot is, to a great extent, due to the extensive use of strange words. As in the Kanjarí dialect of Belgaum many of the numerals are Arabic. Thus, dhallâ (Bailey talâ), three, Arabic thalâth; arbâ, four, Arabic 'arba'; khammas, Belgaum khammís, Bailey khammas, five, Arabic khams; thís, Bailey this, six, Arabic sids ; âsir, ten, Arabic 'ashar. Numerous other peculiar words occur in Dr. Bailey's List. Such are adâl, put; akél, one (Hindóstâní akékâ, alone); but, father, or according to Dr.Bailey, a jât; batlâ, rupee; bhakkar, cow; bigarnâ or bigharnâ, to die (cf. Hindóstâní bigarnâ?); chilkní, ring (cf. Hindóstâní chilaknâ, to glitter); chishmí, application; chuskâ, interest; chabíne, tooth; chhanakâ, boy; dusarnâ, to say (Belgaum, compare the Kanjarí dialect of the district); gaunâ, to get; gaunâ, foot (in Belgaum gudâlé ; in the Karnal specimens gaunâ is also used with the meaning of 'hand'); ghârnâ, ghâdnâ, to beat, to loose; gaimb, thief (Bailey); hakîk, swine (Karnal); hajíb, bad (Belgaum); hap-ké-hap (for sab-ke-sab), all together; hidap, take; kachélâ (Belgaum), kadrâ (Karnal), (compare bachchâ?); kanélí, bread Bailey khadélí, khanélí); kajilí, afternoon; kahílâ (Karnal), kailâ (Belgaum), rupee; kasnâ, to pay (perhaps English 'cash'); kíd, give (Belgaum, compare Tamil kodu); khastâ, property; khilas (Karnal), khilsí (Belgaum), belly; village (Belgaum, Kanarese khédâ ); khî, go; khîm, word, noise; khunsâ, starving; lãgwâré (Karnal), hundred; mékní, goat; minjâlí, tongue; nakât, young, destitute, lost, angry (according to Dr. Bailey the meaning of this word is 'bad,' 'worthless'; it is used in different senses in the first specimen); nakâtí, sin; nand (Karnal), nann (Belgaum), house; nand. water (Bailey); nhât, run; nírgâ, water (Belgaum); pâdâ, bull; phékani, nose; sihâm, share; s`ébít, good; subak, younger brother (Belgaum); subîkdâ, man (Belgaum); suwâlâ, good (Belgaum); s`îd, eat; thaiknâ, to become, to gather; thârtâ, being; thîr, eat; thókanâ, hundred (Belgaum); tip,see; tuluk, sleep; uks, go away, and so forth. In comparison with this extensive use of peculiar words, the disguising of common ones by means of additions in front or at the end plays a much smaller role in Qa∆âí. Among prefixed elements we may note k in kândhî, a Hindî (Bailey); jh in jhórâ=thórâ; m in mêd, village, cf. Sêsí nâd ; mih, twenty, cf. bís; and l in liprâ, cloth, cf. Hindóstâní kaprâ ; land and nand, house. Of final additions I have found k in bulkâ, said; t in hatótâ, hand; kannótyâ, ear; n in akónyâ, eye; l in bandâl, bind; war in âwar, come; díwar, give, etc.; wâd in batwâd, sit; bólwâd, call; sunwâd, hear, and so forth. 



Qualandar.: -They are a wandering Muslim Sunni sect. They have shaven heads and beards. They sell amulets against the evil-eye. 


Qualandars.: -They are nomadic acrobats of Northern India. They live in tents and move around on bullocks carts. 



page 733


Rahwâri.: -(rahwâr, "quickpaces, active").[1] A caste of camel owners and drivers, 2 also known as Riwâri, Râéwâri. Of these people Abîl Fazl writes [2]: "Rakbâri is the name given to a class of Hindus who are acquainted with the habits of the camel. They teach the country-bred lok camel to pass over great distances in a short time. Althouth from the capital to the frontiers of the Empire, into every direction, relay horses are stationed, and swift runners have been posted at the distance of every five kos, a few of these camel riders are kept at the palace in readiness. Each Beigâri is put in charge of fifty stud arwânahs, to which,  for the purpose of breeding, one bughur and two loks are attached." Colonel Tod, [3] writing of the Raibâris, says: "This term is known throughout Hundustân only as denoting persons employed in rearing and tending camels, who are there always Muslims. Here they are a distinct tribe and Hindus, employed in rearing camels, or in stealing them, in which they evince a peculiar dexterity, uniting with the Bhattis in the practice as far as Dâîdputra. When they come upon a herd grazing, the boldest and most experienced strikes his lance into the first he reaches, then dips a cloth in the blood, which, at the end of his lance, he thrusts close to the nose of the next, and, wheeling about, sets off at speed, followed by the wholeherd, lured by the scent of blood and the example of their leader." Of the Bombay branch of the tribe we are told that "in Kachchh they say they came from Mârwâr, and this is supported by the fact that the seat of their tribal goddess Sikotra is at Jodhpur. The story of their origin is that Siva, while performing religious penance (tap), created a camel and a man to graze it. This man had four daughters, who married Râjputs of the Chauhân, Gambhír, Solanki, and Pramâr tribes. These and their offspring were all camel drivers. Tall and strongly made, with high features and an oval face, the Rahwâri, like the Ahír, takes flesh and spirits, and does not scruple to eat with Musalmâns. He lives for days solely on camel's milk. Except a black blanket over his shoulders, the Rahwâri wears cotton clothes. The waist cloth (dhoti) is worn tucked through his legs, and not wound round the hips like a Râjput's. They live much by themselves in small hamlets of six or eight grass huts. They are described as civil and obliging, honest, intelligent, contented, and kindly. They are very poor, living on the produce of their herds. Each family has a she-camel called Mâta Meri, which is never ridden, and whose milk is never given to any one but a Hindu". 

The Rahwâris Of The North-West Provinces. 

They pretend to posess a complete set of gotras; but no one can even atempt to give a full list of them. A man cannot marry in his mother's grandmother's gotra. They claim to be Râjputs, but cannot designate any particular sept as that from which they have sprung. They do not admit outsiders into their tribe. Both infant and adult marriages are allowed, and no sexual license on the part of the girls is tolerated before marriage. Polyandry is prohibited, and polygamy allowed up to the extent of three wives at a time. The marriage is celebrated in the usual Hindu fashion, and the perambulations (baânwar phirna) round the nuptial shed are the binding part of the ritual. A widow may marry again by the dharícha form, and the levirate is permitted, but it is not compulsory on the widow to marry the younger brother of her late husband. A wife can be expelled from the house for infidelity, and for no other cause. Such a woman may marry again in the tribe by the dharícha form. 

Religion And Customs. 

The Rahwâris are Vaishnavas and worship Bahgwân. They worship Devi in the months of Chait and Kuâr, as well as Zâhir Pír in Bhâdon. They eat the offerings themselves, which consist of sweetmeats and fruits. They employ Brâhmans as their family priests, and such Brâhmans are received on an equal level as those who do the same service for other castes. They burn their dead. Poor people leave the ashes on the cremation ground; those who can afford it take them to the Ganges or Juman. 


[1] See Crooke. Largely based on a note by Babu Atma Ram, Head Master, High School Mathura.
[2] Blochmann, An--Akbari , I, 147, sq. Fro a complete account of the camel, wee Wat, Economic Dictionary , s. v.
[3] Annals, II. 357


page 734


They do the srâddha, and some even go to Gaya for that purpose. Their primary occupation is rearing, tending, and letting out camels for hire. Some have purchased land, others cultivate as tenants, and others are landless labourers. They eat the flesh of cloven-footed animals, fowls, and fish; but not monkeys, pork, beef, flesh of whole footed animals, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, jackals, rats, or other vermin, or the leavings of other people. They can eat pakki in the same dish with Jâts, and can use their tobacco pipes, and they will also smoke with Gîjars; but they will eat kachchi only with their own caste. The Rahbâri, as he appears in these Provinces, has rather an evil reputation for high-handedness, and he is proverbially deceitful and untrustworthy. 


Raj Parivars.: -They are mat-makers and live in Kanara in the South of India. They make mats with grass, kora or chunni grass. Men and women do the same work. 


Raji.: -They live in Uttar Pradesh and are part of the Himalayan group of Kumaon. They call themselves Raji because they are descended from the feudal royalty of Ashok. They were probably the servants of the King of Kutpur who expelled them. They are nomads of the jungle and speak a Himalayan language of the Tibeto- Burmese family. 


Rajjhar.: -Rajbhar, Lajjhar [1] -- A caste of farmservants found in the northern Districts. In 1911 they numbered about 8000 persons in the Central Provinces, being returned principally from the Districts of the Satpura plateau. The names Rajjhar and Rajbhar appear to be applied indiscriminately to the same caste, who are an offshoot of the great Bhar tribe of northern India. The original name appears to have been Raj Bhar, which signifies a landowing Bhar, like Raj-Gond, Raj-Korku and so on. In Mandla all the members of the caste were shown as Rajbhar in 1891, and Rajjhar in 1901, and the two names seem to be used interchangeably in other Districts in the same manner. Some section or family names, such as Bamhania, Patela, Barhele and others, are common to people calling themselves Rajjhar and Rajbhar. But, though practically the same caste, the Rajjhars seem in some localities to be more backward and primitive than the Rajbhars. This is also the case in Berar, where they are commonly known as Lajjhar and are said to be akin to the Gonds. A Gond will there take food from a Lajjhar, but not a Lajjhar from a Gond. They are more Hinduised than the Gonds  and have prohibited the killing or injuring of cows by some caste penalties. [2]


The caste appears to be in part of mixed origin arising from the unions of Hindu fathers with women of the Bhar tribe. Several of their family names are derived from those of other castes, as Bamhania (from Brahman), Sunarya (from Sunar), Baksaria (a Rajput sept), Ahiriya (an Ahir or cow-herd), and plants or animals, as Baslya from the bans or bamboo, Mohanya from the mohin tree, Chhitkaria from the sitaphal or custard-apple tree, Hardaya from the banyan tree, Richhya from the bear, and Dukhania from the buffalo. Members of this last sept will not drink buffalo's milk or wear black cloth, because this is the colour of their totem animal. Members of septs named after other castes have also adopted some natural object as a sept totem; thus those of the Sunarya sept worship gold as being the metal with which the Sunar is associated. Those of the Brahmania sept revere the banyan and pipal trees, as these are held sacred by Brahmans. The Bakraria or Bagsaria sept believe their name to be derived from that of the bagh or tiger, and they worship this animal's footprints by tying a thread round them. 

[1] See Russell. 
[2] Kits' Berar Census Report (1881), p. 157. 


page 735

The marriage of members of the same sept, and also that of first cousins, is forbidden. The caste does not employ Brahmans at their marriages and other ceremonies, and they account for this somewhat quaintly by saying that their ancestors were at one time accustomed to rely on the calculations of Brahman priests; but many marriages which the Brahman foretold as auspicious turned out very much the reverse; and on this account they have discarded the Brahman, and now determine the suitability or otherwise of a projected union by the common primitive custom of throwing two grains of rice into a vessel of water and seeing whether they will meet. The truth is probably that they are too backward ever to have had recourse to the Brahman priest, but now, though they still apparently have no desire for his services, they recognise the fact to be somewhat discreditable to themselves, and desire to explain it away by the story already given. In Hoshangabad the bride still goes to the bridegroom's house to be married as among the Gonds. A bride-price is paid, which consists of four rupees, a  Khandi [1]of juari or wheat and two pieces of cloth. This is received by the bride's father, who has in turn to pay seven rupees eight annas and a goat to the caste panchayat or committee for the arrangement and sanction of the match. This last payment is known as Sharab-ka-rupaya or liquor-money, and with the goat furnishes the wherewithal for a sumptuous feast to the caste. The marriage-shed must be made of freshly-cut timber, which should not be allowed to fall to the ground, but must be supported and carried off on men's shoulders as it is cut. When the bridegroom arrives at the marriage-shed he is met by the bride's mother and conducted by her to an inner room of the house, where he finds the bride standing. He seizes her fist, which she holds clenched, and opens her fingers by force. The couple then walk five times round the chauk or sacred space made with lines of flour on the floor, the bridegroom holding the bride by her little finger. They are preceded by some relative of the bride, who walks round the post carrying a pot of water, with seven holes in it; the water spouts from these holes on to the ground, and the couple must tread in it as they go round the post. This forms the essential and binding portion of the marriage. That night the couple sleep in the same room with a woman lying between them. Next day they return to the bridegroom's house, and on arriving at his door the boy's mother meets him and touches his head, chest and knees with a churning-stick a winnowing-fan and a pestle, with the object of exorcising any evil spirits who may be accompanying the bridal couple. As the pair water the marriage-shed erected before the bridegroom's house they are drenched with water by a man sitting on the roof, and when they come to the door of the house the bridegroom's younger brother, or some other boy, sits across it with his legs stretched out to prevent the bride from entering. The girl pushes his legs aside and goes into the house, and then returns to her parents for a year. After this she is sent to her husband with a basket of fried cakes and a piece of cloth, and takes up her residence with him.. When a widow is to be married, the couple pour turmeric and water over each other, and then walk seven times round in a circle in an empty space, holding each other by the hand. A widow commonly marries her deceased husband's younger brother, but is not compelled to do so. Divorce is permitted for adultery on the part of the wife. 


The caste bury their dead with the head pointing to the west. This practice is peculiar and is also followed, Colonel Dalton states by the hill Bhuiyas of Bengal, who in so doing honour the quarter of the setting sun. When a burial takes place, all the mourners who accompany the corpse throw a little earth into the grave. On the same day some food and liquor are taken to the grave and offered to the dead man's spirit, and a feast is given to the caste-fellows. This concludes the ceremonies of mourning and the next day the relatives go about their business. The caste are usually petty cultivators and labourers, while they also collect grass and fuel for sale, and propagate the lac insect. In Seoni they have a special relation with the Ahirs, from whom they will take cooked food, while they say that the Ahirs will also eat from their hands. In Narsinghpur a similar connection has been observed between the Rajjhars and the Lodhi caste. This probably arises from the fact that the former of Lodhi or Ahir employers, and have been accustomed to live in their houses and partake of their meals, so that caste rules have been abandoned for the sake of convenience. 


[1] About 400 lbs.


page 736


A similar intimacy had been observed between the Panwars and Gonds, and other castes who stand in this relation to each other. The Rajjhars will also eat katcha food (cooked with water) from Kunbis and Kahars. But in Hoshangabad some of them will not take food from any caste, even from Brahmans. Their women wearing glass bangles only on the right hand, and a brass ornament known as mathi on the left wrist. They wear no ornaments in the nose or ears, and have no breast-cloth. They are tattooed with dots on the face and patterns of animals on the right arm, but not on the left arm or legs. A liaison between a youth and maiden of the caste is considered a trifling matter, being punished only with a fine of two to four annas or pence. A married woman detected in an intrigue is fined a sum of four or five rupees, and if her partner be a man of another caste a lock of her hair is cut off. The caste are generally ignorant and dirty, and are not much better than the Gonds and other forest tribes. 


Rajwar.: -A non-Aryan cultivating caste totalling about 200,000 in the last Census, being found particularly in Gaya, Shahabad, Ranchi, Palamau, Manbhum and the Santhal Perganas [1]. In each of the districts Gaya and Mandhum about quarter of the total caste are found; large numbers also dwell in Midnapore. 


They are most probably a branch of one of the aboriginal races, and they appear to connect themselves traditionally with the Bhuiyas. In Sirguja and the adjoining States they declare themselves to be fallen Kshatriyas, but Risley doubts whether there is any foundation for this belief. There are several sub-castes divided into sections some of which are quite obviously totemistic. All these sections are exogamous. 


The caste have no special interest from the point of view of religion or marriage customs, and are indeed very similar to the Bhuiyas in this respect. The majority are landless day labourers and the caste is certainly a likely field for recruiting purposes. 


Rajwars.: -A former wandering tribe, they are now cultivators and live in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. See also Musahars. 


Ramavanshis.: -See Ramoshis. 


Ramoshis.: -They are a Nomadic 'criminal caste' of Maharashtra. They think that they are descendants of Rama. They are also called Ramavanshis. Probably they belong to the Bedar caste. 


Râmosi.: -Râmoshi. [2] - A criminal tribe of the Bombay Presidency, of which about 150 persons were returned from the Central Provinces and Berâr in 1911. They belong to the western tract of the Satpîras abjoining Khândesh. The name is supposed to be a corruption of  Râmvansi, meaning 'The descendants of Râma.' They say [3] that when Râma, the hero of the Râmâyana, was driven from his kingdom by his step-mother Kaikeyi, he went to the forest land south of the Nerbudda. His brother Bharat, who had been raised to the throne, could not bear to part with Râma, so he followed him to the forest, began to do penance, and made friends with a rough but kindly forest tribe. 

[1] See Crooke.
[2] See Russell.
[3] B. G .Poona, Part I., p. 409.


page 737

After Râma's restoration Bharat took two foresters with him to Ajodhia (Oudh) and brought them to the notice of Râma, who appointed them village watchmen and allowed them to take his name. If this is the correct derivation it may be compared with the name of Râwanvansi or Children of Râwan, the opponent of Râma, which is applied to the Gonds of the Central Provinces. The Râmosis appear to be a Hinduised caste derived from the Bhíls or Koklis or a mixture of the two tribes. They were formerly a well-known class of robbers and dacoits. The principal scenes of their depredations were the western Ghâts, and an interesting description of their methods is given by Captain  Mackintosh in his account of the tribe. [1] Some extracts from this are here reproduced. 

Methods Of Robbery. 

They armed themselves chiefiy with swords, taking one two or three matchlocks, or more should they judge it necessary. Several also carried their shields and a few had merely sticks, which were in general shod with small bars of iron from eight to twelve inches in length, strongly secured by means of rings and somewhat resembling the ancient mace. One of the party carried a small copper or eathen pot or a cocoanut-shell with a supply of ghí or clarified butter in it, to moisten their torches with before they commenced their operations. The Râmosis endeavoured as much as possible to avoid being seen by anybody either when they were proceeding to the object of their attack or returning afterwards to their houses. They therefore travelled during the night-time; and before daylight in the morning they concealed themselves in a jungle or ravine near some water, and slept all day, proceeding in this way for a long distance till they reached the vicinity of the village to be attacked. When they were pursued and much pressed, at times they would throw themselves into a bush or under a prickly pear plant, coiling themselves up so carefully that the chances were their pursuers would pass them unnoticed. If they intended to attack a treasure party they would wait at some convenient spot on the road and sally out when it come abreast of them, first girding up their loins and twisting a cloth tightly round their faces, to prevent the features from being recognised. Before entering the village where their dacoity or durrowa was to be perpetrated, torches were made from the turban of one of the party, which was torn into three, five or seven pieces, but never into more, the pieces being then soaked with butter. The same man always supplied the turban and received in exchange the best one taken in the robbery. Those who were unarmed collected bags of stones, and these were thrown at any people who tried to interfere with them during the dacoity. They carried firearms, but avoided using them if possible, as their discharge might summon defenders from a distance. They seldom killed or mutilated their victims, except in a fight, but occasionally travellers were killed after being robbed as a measure of precaution. They retreated with their spoils as rapidly as possible to the nearest forest or hill, and from there, after distributing the booty into bags to make it portable, they marched off in a different direction from that in which they had come. Before reaching their homes one of the party was deputed with an offering of one, two or five runees to be presented as an offering to their god Khandoba or the goddess Bhawâni in fulfilment of a vow. All the spoil was then deposited before their Nâik or headman, who divided it into equal shares for members of the gang, keeping a double share for himself. 

Râmosis Employed As Village Watchmen. 

In order to protect themselves from the depredations of these gangs the villagers adopted a system of hiring a Râmosi as a surety to be responsible for their property, and this man gradually became a Rakhwâldâr or village watchman He received a grant of land rent-free and other perquisites, and also a fee from all travellers and gangs of traders who halted in the village in return for his protection during the night. If a theft or house-breaking occurred in a village, the Râmosi was held responsible to the owner for the value of the property, unless large gang had been engaged. 

[1] An Account of the Origin and Present Condition of the Tribe of Râmosis ( Bombay, I833; India office Tracts. Also Published in the Madras Journal of Literature and Science. )


page 738

If he failed to discover the thief he engaged to make the lost property good to the owner within fifteen days or a month unless its value was considerable. If a gang had been engaged, the Râmosi, accompanied by the patel and village officials and cultivators, proceeded to track them by their footprints. Obtaining a stick he cut it to the exact length of the footprint, or several such if a number of prints could be discovered, and the tracks, measuring the footprints, to the boundary of the village. The inhabitants of the adjoining village were then called and were responsible for carrying on the trail through their village. The measures of footprints were handed over to them, and after satisfying themselves that the marks came from outside and extended into their land they took up the trail accompanied by the Râmosi. In this way the gang was tracked from village to village, and if it was tracked to a village the residents of the villages to which they led had to make good the loss. If the tracks were lost owing to the robbers having waded along a stream or got on to rocky ground or into a public road, then the residents of the village in whose brders the line failed were considered responsible for the stolen property. Usually, however, a compromise was made, and half was provided by the offending village, while the other half was raised from the village in which the theft occurred. If the Râmosi failed to track the thieves out of the village he had to made good the value of the theft, but he was usually assisted by the village officer. Often, too, the owner had to be contented with half or a quarter of the amount lost as compensation. In the early part of the century the Râmosis of Poona became very troublesome and constantly committed robberies in the houses of Europeans. As a consequence a custom grew up of employing a Râmosi as chaukidâr watchman for guarding the bungalow at night on a salary of seven rupees a month, and soon became general. It was the business of the Râmosi watchman to prevent other Râmosis from robbing the house. Apparently this was the common motive for the custom, prevalent up to recent years, of paying a man solely for the purpose of watching the house at night, and it originated, as in Poona, as a form of insurance and an application of the proverb of setting a thief to catch a thief. The selection of village watchmen from among the low criminal castes appears to have been made on the same principle. 

Social Customs. 

The principal deity of the Râmosis is Khandoba, the Marâtha god of war.[1] He is the deified sword, the name being khanda-aba or sword-father. An oath taken on the Bhandar or little bag of turmeric dedicated to Khandoba is held by them most sacred and no Râmosi will break this oath. Every Râmosi has a family god known as Devak, and persons having the same Devak cannot intermarry. The Devak is usually a tree or a bunch of the leaves of several trees. No one may eat the fruit of or otherwise use the tree which is his Devak. At their weddings the branches of several trees are consecrated as Devaks or guardians of the wedding. A Gurao cuts the leafy branches of the mango, umar,[2] jâmun [3]and of the rui [4] and  shami [5] shrubs and a few stalks of grass and sets them in Hanumân's temple. From here the bridegroom's parents, after worshipping Hanumân with a betel-leaf and five areca-nuts, take them home and fasten them to the front post of the marriage-shed. When the bridegroom is taken before the family gods of the bride, he steals one of them in token of his profession, but afterwards restores it in return for a payment of money. In social position the Râmosis rank a little above the Mahârs and Mângs, not being impure. They speak Marâthi but have also a separate thieves' jargon of their own, of which a vocabulary is given in the account of Captain Mackintosh. 

[1] This paragraph is mainly compiled from the Nâsik and Poona volumes of the Bombay Gazetteer.
[2] Ficus glomerata.
[3] Eugenia jambolana.
[4] Calotropis gigantea.
[5] Bauhinia racemosa.


page 739


When a Râmosi child is seven or eight years old he must steal something. If he is caught and goes to prison the people are delighted, fall at his feet when he comes out and try to obtain him as a husband for their daughters. [1] It is doubtful whether these practices obtain in the Central Provinces, and Râmosis are not usually reckoned here among the notorious criminal tribes they may probably have taken to more honest pursuits. 


Rao.: -See Bhat 


Rawals.: -They are Muslim mendicants. Some groups sing and recite the sacred texts and hymns of praise. 



Rayaranada.: -Mahars. They are a section of Mahars. They are beggars and drama performers. 



Sahar.: -See Sahariyas. 


Sahariyas.: -A former nomadic tribe, now they have become settled. They are considered part of the Dasyu tribes and live in the South of Orissa. 


Sakuna Pakshi.: -For the following note on the Sakuna Pakshi [2] (prophetic bird) mendicant caste of Vizagapatam, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The name of the caste is due to the fact that the members of the caste wear on their heads a plume composed of the feathers of a bird called pâlagumma, which is probably Coracias indica, the Indian roller, or "blue jay" of Europeans. This is one of the birds called sakuna pakshi, because they supposed to possess the power of foretelling events, and on their movements many omens depend. Concerning the roller, Jerdon writes [3] that "it is sacred to Siva, who assumed its form, and, at the feast of the Dasserah at Nagpore, one or more used to be liberated by the Râjah, amidst the firing of cannon and musketry, at a grand parade attended by all the officers of the station. Buchanan Hamilton also states that, before the Durga Puja, the Hindus of Calcutta purchase one of these birds, and, at the time when they throw the image of Durga into the river, set it at liberty. It is considered propitious to see it on his day, and those who cannot afford to buy one discharge their matchlocks to put it on the wing." 


According to their own account, the Sakuna Pakshis are Telagas who emigrated to Vizagapatam from Peddâpuram in the Godâvari district. 


A member of the caste, before proceeding on a begging expedition, rises early, and has a cold meal. He then puts the Tengalai Vaishnava nâmam mark on his forehead, slings on his left shoulder a deer-skin pouch for the reception of the rice and other grain which will be given him as alms, and takes up his little drum (gilaka or damaraka) made of frog skin. It is essential for a successful day's begging that he should first visit a Mâla house or two, after which he begs from other castes, going from house to house. 

[1] Poona Gazetteer, part i, p. 425.
[2] See Thurston.
[3] Birds of India.


page 740 

The members combine with begging the professions of devil-dancer, sorcerer, and quack doctor. Their remedy for scorpion sting is well-known. it is the foot of a plant called thélla visari (scorpion antidote), which the Sakuna Pakshis carry about with them on their rounds. The root should be collected on a new-moon day which falls on a Sunday. On that day, the Sakuna Pakshi bathes, cuts off his loin-string, and goes stark naked to a selected spot, where he gathers the roots. If a supply thereof is required, and the necessary combination of moon and day is not forthcoming, the roots should be collected on a Sunday or Wednesday. 


Salat: -They make and sell mill-stones. They live in West India. 


Sanaurhia.: -A small but well-known community of criminals in Bundelkhand [1]. They claim to be derived from the Sanadhya Brahmans, and it seems possible that this may in fact have been their origin; but at present they are a confraternity recruited by the initiation of promising boys from all castes except sweepers and Chamars; [2] and a census taken of them in northern India in 1872 showed that they included members of the following castes: Brahman, Rajput, Teli, Kurmi, Ahir, Kanjar, Nai, Dhobi, Dhimar, Sunar and Lodhi. It is said, however, that they do not form a caste or intermarry, members of each caste continuing their relations with their own community. Their regular method of stealing is through the agency of a boy, and no doubt they pick up a likely urchin whenever they get the chance, as only selected boys would be clever enough for the work. Their trade is said to possess much fascination, and Mr. Crooke quotes a saying, "Once a Sanaurhia always a Sanaurhia"; so that unless the increased efficiency of the police has caused the dangers of their calling to outweigh its pleasures they should have no difficulty in obtaining recruits. 


Mr. Seagrim [3] states that their home is in the Datia State of Bundelkhand, and some of them live in the adjoining Alamgarh tract of Indore State. Formerly they also resided in the Orchha and Chanderi States of Bundelkhand, having six or eight villages in each state [4]. in their sole occupation, with colonies in other villages. In 1857 it was estimated that the Tehri State contained 4000 Sanaurhias, Banpur 300 and Datia 300. They occupied twelve villages in Tehri, and an officer of the state presided over the community and acted as umpire in the division of the spoils. The office of Mukhia or leader was hereditary in the caste, and in default of male issue descended to females. If among the booty there happened to be any object of peculiar elegance or value, it was ceremoniously presented to the chief of the state. They say their ancestors were two Sanadhya Brahmans of the village of Ramra in Datia State. They were both highly accomplished men, and one had the gift of prophecy, while the other could understand the language of birds. One day they met at a river a rich merchant and his wife who were on a pilgrimage to Jagannath. As they were drinking water a crow sitting on a tree commenced cawing, and the Sanadhya heard him say that whoever got hold of the merchant's walking-stick would be rich. The two Brahmans then accompanied the merchant until they obtained an opportunity of making off with his stick; and they found it to be full of gold mohurs, the traveller having adopted this device as a precaution against being robbed. The Brahmans were so pleased at their success that they took up stealing as a profession, and opened a school where they taught small boys of all castes the art of stealing property in the daytime. Prior to admission the boys were made to swear by the moon that they would never commit theft at night, and on this account they are knows as Chandravedi or 'Those who observe the moon.' In Bombay and Central India this name is more commonly used than Sanaurhia. 

[1] See Russell. This article is principally on an account of the Sanaurhias written by Mr. C. M. Seagrim, Inspector-Genera of Police, Indore, and included in Mr. Kennedy's Criminal Classes of Bombay (1908).
[2] Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art. Sanaurhia.
[3] Criminal Classes of Bombay Presidency, pp. 196, 197.
[4] Sleeman's Reportss on the Badhaks, p. 327.


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Another name for them is Uthaigira or 'A picker-up of that which has fallen,' corresponding to the nickname of Uchla or 'Lifter applied to the Bhamtas. Mr. Seagrim described them as going about in small gangs of ten to twenty persons without women, under a leader who has the title of Mukhia or Nalband. The other men are called Upardar, and each of these has with him one or two boys of between eight and twelve years old, who are known as chauwa (chicks) and do the actual stealing. The Nalband or leader trains these boys do to their work, and also teachers them a code vocabulary (Parsi) and a set of signals (teni) by which the Upardar can convey to them his instructions while the business is proceeding. The whole gang set out at the end of the rains and, arriving at some distant place, break up into small parties; the Nalband remains at a temporary headquarters, where he receives and disposes of the spoil, and arranges for the defence of any member of the gang who is arrested, and for the support of his wife and children of he is condemned to imprisonment. 


The methods of the Sanaurhias as described by Mr. Seagrim show considerable ingenuity. When they desire to steal something from a stall in a crowded market two of the gang pretend to have a violent quarrel, on which all the people in the people in the vicinity collect to watch, including probably the owner of the stall. In this case the chauwa or boy, who has posted himself in a position of vantage, will quickly abstract the article agreed upon and make off. Or if there are several purchasers at a shop, the man will wait until one of them lays down his bundle while he makes payment, and then pushing up against him signal to the Chauwa, who snatches up the bundle and bolts. If he is caught, the Sanaurhia will come up as an innocent member of the crowd and plead for mercy on the score of his youth; and the boy will often be let off with a few slaps. Sometimes three or four Sanaurhias will proceed to some place of resort for pilgrims to bathe, and two or three of them entering the water will divert the attention of the bather by pointing out some strange object or starting a discussion. In the meantime the Chauwas or chicks, under the direction of another on the bank, will steal any valuable article left by the bather. The attention of any one left on shore to watch the property is diverted by a similar device. If they see a man with expensive clothes the Chauwa will accidentally brush against him and smear him with dirt or something that causes pollution; the victim will proceed to bathe, and one of the usual stratagems is adopted. Or the Sanaurhia will engage the man in conversation and the Chauwa will come running along and collide with them; on being abused by the Sanaurhia for his clumsiness he asks to be pardoned, explaining that he is only a poor sweeper and meant no harm; and on hearing  this the victim, being polluted, must go off and bathe. [1] Colonel Sleeman relates the following case of such a theft:[2]  "while at Saugor I got a note one morning from an officer in command of a treasure escort just arrived from Narsinghpur stating that the old Subahdar of his company had that morning been robbed of his gold necklace valued at Rs 150, and requesting that I would assist him in recovering it. The old Subahdar brought the note, and stated that he had undressed at the brook near the cantonments, and placed the necklace with his clothes, about twenty yards from the place where he bathed; that on returning to his clothes he could not find the necklace, and the only person he saw near the place was a young lad who was sauntering in the mango grove close by. This lad he had taken and brought with him, and I found after a few questions that he belonged to the Sanaurhia Brahmans of Bundelkhand. As the old Subahdar had not seen the boy take the necklace or even approach the clothes, I told him that we could do nothing and he must take the boy back to camp and question him in his own way. The boy, as I expected, became alarmed, and told me that he would do anything I pleased. I bade him tell me how he had managed to secure the necklace; and he told me that while the Subahdar turned his back upon his clothes in prayer, he had taken it up and made it over to one of the men of his party; and that it must have been taken to their bivouac, which was in a grove about three miles from the cantonments. 

[1] Gayer's Lectures on some Criminal Tribes. 

[2] Report on the Badhak or Bagri Dacoits (1849), p. 328.


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I sent off a few policemen, who secured the whole party, but could not find anything upon them. Seeing some signs of a hole having been freshly made under one of the tress they dug up the fresh earth and discovered the necklace. Additionally, at the sight of a rich stranger, the boy runs crying and clings to the stranger asking him for help, and in the meantime picks his pocket. When the Sanaurhias are convicted in Native States and put into jail they refuse to eat, pleading that they are poor Brahmans, and pretend to starve themselves to death, and thus often get out of jail. In reply to a letter inquiring about these people from the Superintendent of Chanderi about 1851, the Raja of Banpur wrote: "I have to state that from former times these people following their profession have resided in my territory and in the states of other native princes; and they have always followed this calling, but no former kings or princes or authority have ever forbidden the practice. In consequence of these people stealing by day only, and that they do not take life or distress any person by personal ill-usage, and that they do not break into houses by digging walls or breaking door-locks, but simply by their smartness manage to abstract property; owing to such trifling thefts I looked upon their proceedings as a petty matter and have not interfered with them." [1]


Sani.: -The Sânivâllu, who are a Telugu dancing-girl caste [2]-- who are described in the Vizagapatam Manual as women who have not entered into matrimony-- gain money by prostitution, and acting as dancers at feasts. Sâni is also a title of the Oriya Doluvas in Ganjam, who are said to be descended from Puri Râjas by their concubines. The streets occupied by Sânis are, in Ganjam, known as Sâni Vídhi. I have heard of missionaries, who, in consequence of this name, insist on their wives being addressed as Ammâgaru instead of by the customary name Dorasâni.


In a note on the Sânis of the Godâvari district, Mr. R.R Hemingway writes as follows. "In this district, dancing-girls and prostitutes are made up of six perfectly distinct castes, which are in danger of being confused. These are the Sânis proper, Bógams, Dommara Sânis, Turaka Sânis, Mangala Bógams, and Mâdiga Bógams. Of these, the Bógams claim to superior, and will not dance in the presence of, or after a performance by any of the others. The Sânis do not admit this claim, but they do not mind dancing after the Bógams, or in their presence. All the other classes are admittedly inferior to the Sânis and the Bógams. The Sânis would scorn to eat with any of the other dancing castes. The Sâni women are not exclusively devoted to their traditional profession. Some of them marry male members of the caste, and live respectably with them. The men do not, as among the dancing castes of the south, assist in the dancing, or by playing the accompaniments or forming a chorus, but are cultivators and petty traders. Like the dancing-girls of the south, the Sânis keep up their numbers by the adoption of girls of other castes. They do service in the temples, but they are not required to be formally dedicated or married to the god, as in the Tamil country. Those of them who are to become prostitutes are usually married to a sword on attaining puberty." Sâni, meaning apparently cow-dung, occurs as a sub-division of the Tamil Agamudaiyans. 


Sêsís.: -The Sêsís are one of the best known criminal tribes [3]. They commonly use the word bhattî (in the Panjab) or Bhãtî (Saharanpur) to denote themselves. I cannot suggest any etymology of this name, which is also used by other Gypsy tribes such as the Kólhâtís. The common denomination Sêsí is replaced by the longer form Sêsiyâ in the United Provinces. It has been variously derived from Sanskrit svasa, breathing, or from the base srams, to fall, to get loose. The former explanation does not give much sense, the latter would perhaps convey the meaning of a fallen, degraded caste, and etymologically sêsí might well be derived from an old participle sramsita. Others derive the word from svaganika, 'accompanied by a pack of hounds,' 'hunter,' or from svapâka, 'who cooks dogs,' 'outcaste,' but these derivations are not possible phonetically. If we consider the fact that the Sasis often act as bards, it would also be possible to derive their name from the Sanskrit sanisika = sanisin, reciting.

[1] J. Hutton, A Popular Account of the Thugs and Dacoits and Gang-robbers of India (London,1857). 
[2] See Thurston. 
[3] Linguistic Survey of India not possible phonetically. If we consider the fact that the Sêsís often act as bards, it would also be possible to derive their name from the Sanskrit s âm sika = s am sin, reciting. 


page 743

Area Within Which Found. 

Sêsís are most numerous in the Panjab, especially in the districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Gujrat. The total number returned at the last Census of 1911 was 32,481, distributed as follows: 

Panjab                      26,990
Delhi Division               3,357
Jullundur Division          1,893
Lahore Division           14,574
Rawalpindi Division        2,090
Multan Division             1,993
Native States              3,083
Other Provinces           5,491

       Total                 32,481

Number Of Speakers. 

It is probable that many of these Sêsís speak the language of their neighbours. Our information about the number of those who speak a separate dialect is very defective. This is partly due to the fact that there are in reality two different things which can be called the Sêsí dialect. In the first place we have a distinct vernacular, specimens of which have only been forwarded from the Panjab. In the second place there is a criminal argot characterised bycertain methods of disguising ordinary words so as to make them unintelligible to the uninitiated. Such methods can be applied to words taken from any dialect. Moreover, the returns from the Census of 1911 do not distinguish between the different Gypsy dialects.
They seem, however, to show that many Sêsís have been returned as speaking other dialects. Thus the total number returned for Gypsy languages from the Panjab was only 5,640. The information collected for the purposes of this Survey, on the other hand, must in this case be used with considerable caution. It gives the number of speakers in Ferozepur as 45,000, but only 360 Sêsís were enumerated in the district at the Census of 1911. The details of this information are as follows:-

Panjab                    48,170 

Ferozepur                45,000 

Gurdaspur                 2,000 

Gujrat                      1,170 

United Provinces        3,380 

Saharanpur               3,000 

Kheri                          380 


Total                      51,550 


It will be seen that this total is considerably more than the number of Sêsís enumerated in the whole of India in 1911. 

Ordinary Dialect. 

The Sêsís are to a great extent migratory, and their dialect differs according to locality. 



page 744


Thus the Sêsís of the United Provinces apparently speak Hindóstâní, while the dialect of their cousins in the Northern Panjab is closely related to Pañjâbí. A consequence of their migratory habits is also the use of forms and suffixes belonging to different vernaculars by the same Sêsís. Thus in the dialect spoken in the Northern Panjab we find the genitive by adding a suffix gâ [1] or kâ as in Hindóstâní, while the suffix of the ablative is thô which reminds us of Gujarâtí. Dr. Grahame Bailey has shown that there are numerous cases of correspondence now with another Aryan dialect in the speech of the Sêsís of the Northern Panjab. It might be characterised as intermediate between Pañjâbí and Hindóstâní. Such correspondence in grammar cannot, however, prove more than the supposition that the Sêsís have associated much with peoples speaking those tongues. It is quite certain that the stronghold of the tribe is the north of the Panjab, between the Sutlej and the Jhelum. Some phonetical features in Sêsí also point in that direction. Thus the old double consonants, which are so common in the Prakrits, are treated differently in modern vernaculars. They are often retained, and a preceding short vowel remains short in Pañjâbí, while they are simplified and the preceding vowel lengthened in Hindóstâní and most Eastern languages. Compare Prakrit ekka, but Hindóstâní ék; Prakrit pitthí, back, Pañjâbí Pitth, but Hindóstâní píth. The Sêsí of the Panjab here corresponds with Pañjâbí; compare ekki, one; na kk, nose; hath, hand; pitth, back. In the United Provinces we usually find forms with simplified compounds and long vowels. In Saharanpur, however, we find forms such as mit, back; Kanthâ; ear, kuk, eye, etc., which seem to show that the state of affairs is not quite the same as in Hindóstâní. The conditions in Sêsí do not therefore prove anything. More importance must be attached to the existence of a cerebral and a cerebral n in Sêsí, for the use of those sounds is characteristic of western languages, such as Marâthí, Gujarâtí, Râjasthâní and Pañjâbí. Such cases of correspondence between Pañjâbí and Sêsí are exactly what we would expect, considering where the stronghold of the Sêsís is situated. The use of an oblique form ending in â of weak nouns, on other hand, seems to show that there is in Sêsí an element, a substratum, which does not belong to the Panjab, but rather more to the south, where we approach the Râjasthâní and Marâthí areas. We are comparatively well informed about the Sêsí dialect of the Northern Panjab, which has been dealt with by Dr. Grahame Bailey. The remarks which follow refer to it. 


Vowels are pronounced as in Pañjâbí. The pronunciation of consonants is said to agree with Pañjâbí. The principal point in which the two differ from Hindóstâní refers to aspirated letters in the beginning of syllables, the aspiration of such words being very guttural, almost like the Arabic 'ain . This rule applies to h, gh, jh, dh, dh, bh, nh and mh . Thus, hîwwâ, become, is almost 'îwâ; ghórâ, horse, is almost g'órâ, and so forth. 


There are two genders, the masculine which is also used as a neuter, and the feminine. The oblique base of masculine nouns ending in í,î, and consonants, and of feminine nouns ends in â, their case of the agent in e . The nominative plural is like the singular in the case of masculine nouns, while feminines and in ê . The oblique plural ends in e. Masculine nouns ending in â change their â to é in the oblique case, to e in the case of the agent, to é in the nominative plural and to e in the oblique plural. The common case suffixes are dative gï, ablative thô; and genitive gâ , feminine gí plural gíê . The usual Hindóstâní suffixes dative kó, ablative sé, genitive kâ, kí, are used instead in the specimens received from Gujrat, Gurdaspur and Sialkot, and in the United Provinces the inflexion of nouns is the same as in Hindóstâní. According to Dr. Bailey the nominative, genitive and the case of the agent of ba pp, father; kîtâ, dog; and dhíâ, daughter, are as follows: 


                                     Singular                              Plural
Nominative                bapp   kîtâ   dhíâ                bapp   kîté    dhíê
Genitive                  bappâ-gâ  kîté-gâ  dhíâ      bappe-gâ kîte-gâ dhíe-gâ
Agent                       bappe kîte dhíe                  bappe-ó·ô kîte-ó·ô dhie-ó·ô


[1] The postposition gâ refers us rather to the Bâgrí dialect of Râjasthâní than to Hindóstâni. We may also compare g``ai , the postposition of the Dative in the Dardic Maiyã. [G. A. G. ]

page 745


These are apparently the regular forms in the dialect of the Sêsís of the Northern Panjab. They are not, however, the only ones. Thus, a list of words received from the Gujrat District contains forms such as waddiê-dé pâs, to fathers, with the common Pañjâbí genitive suffix. 


The following are the regular forms of the personal pronouns: 

                            I              We               Thou            You
Nominative            hau           ham                tau             tam
Agent                   mai          hamô                tai             tamô
Dat-Accusative     manu       ham-kó              tanu          tum-kó
Ablative              mésthé     ham-thó            tésthé       tam-thó
Genitive               mérâ         mhârâ               térâ          tuhârâ

The demonstrative pronouns are e¢¢â, this, oblique base in, case of the agent singular in, plural inô; uh, óh, that, oblique base un, case of the agent singular un, plural unô . There is also a pronoun tiârgâ, the thing or subject under discussion, which is substituted for nouns in order to prevent a stranger from understanding what is meant. 

The common verb substantive is hó·â, to be. Its present participle is hótâ, being, and its
conjunctive participle hóíké, having been. The present tense is formed as follows:

Singular             Plural
1. hai .              1. hê .
2. hai .              2. hó .
3. hai .              3. hai .

The past tense is singular masc. thíyyâ, fem. thíyyí; plural masc. thíyyé, fem. thíyyíê: síyyâ , fem. síyyí; plural masc. síyyé, fem. síyyíê .

The verb substantive is largely used in the conjugation of ordinary verbs.
Present Tense.- The old present is conjugated like the present tense of the verb substantive; thus, hau mâre§ , I may beat; baré, he may enter; khâhê, we may eat. The present tense is formed by adding the present of the verb substantive to the present participle; thus, ham mârté hê , we are beating, we beat. Several compound tenses are used as a habitual present.
Such are hau mârtâ hótâ hai, I am being beaten; hau mâriâ kartâ hai, I am doing beating; hau mârí rihâ hai, I having beaten have remained.

Past Tense. The ordinary past tense is identical with the past participle passive; thus, hau gayâ , I went; tam gaé, you went. The past tense of transitive verbs is a passive form, and the subject is put in the case of the agent; thus, hamô mâriâ, by us beaten, we beat.
Similarly also mai mâriâ thíyyâ (or síyyâ ), by me beaten was, I had beaten. Other forms of the past such as hau mârtâ thíyyâ , I was beating, are of course constructed actively.

Future Tense.- The suffix of the future is grâ , preceded by an n in the first and second
persons singular and the first and third persons plural. The regular future forms of mâr·â, to
beat, are:

Singular                     Plural
1. mârangrâ           1. mârangré
2. mârangrâ           2. mâragrªé
3. mâragrâ             3. mârangré

and mârang, indeclinable for singular and plural.



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Similar forms are found in Ma·¹eâlí, Sukétí and Bilaspîrí. Compare Ma·¹eâlí mârang or mârghâ, I shall beat; Bilaspîrí mârangra, I shall beat.

Imperative.- The imperative is formed as in Panjâbí and Hindóstâní; thus. mâr, beat; mâró, beat ye.

Infinitive and Participles.- The suffix of the infinitive is ·â; thus, mâr·â, to beat. Compare panjâbí ·â, nâ Hindóstâní nâ, Sindhí ·u, The present participle ends in tâ as in Hindóstâní; thus, mârtâ, beating. The past participle is generally formed as in Panjâbí; thus, mâriâ, beaten; kahiâ, said; though Hindóstâní forms, such as gayâ, gone, also occur. The conjunctive participle ends in í, í-ké ; thus, jâí, having gone; mâri-ké, having beaten. As in the suffix of the genitive the k is often softened to g ; thus, âí-gé, having come; déhkí-gé, having seen.

Passive Voice.- Passive forms agree with Panj¡âbí and Hindóstâní; thus, hau mâriâ jattâ hai, I am beaten; hau mâriâ jattâ thíyyâ (síyyâ), I was beaten; hau mâriâ jângrâ, I shall be beaten.


Sansia.: -A small caste of wandering criminals of northern India [1], who live by begging and dealing in cattle. They also steal and commit dacoities, house-breaking and thefts on railway trains. The name Sansia is borne as well by the Uriya or Od masons of the Uriya country, but these are believed to be quite a distinct group from the criminal Sansias of Central India and are noticed in another short article. Separate statistics of the two groups were not obtained at the census. The Sansias are closely connected with the Berias, and say that their ancestors were two brothers Sains Mul and Sansi and that the Berias are descended from the former and the Sansias, from the latter. They were the bards of the Jat caste, and it was their custom to chronicle the names of the Jats and their ancestors, and when they begged from Jat families to recite their praises. The Sansias, Colonel Sleeman states, had particular families (of the Jats) allotted to them, from whom they had not only the privilege of begging, but received certain dues; some had fifty, some a hundred houses appointed to them, and they received yearly from the head of each house one rupee and a quarter and one day's food. When the Jats celebrated their marriages they were accustomed to invite the Sansias, who as their minstrels recited the praises of the ancestors of the Jats, tracing them up to the time of Punya Jat; and for this they received presents, according to the means of the parties, of cows, ponies or buffaloes. Should any Jat demur to paying the customary dues the Sansias would dress up a cloth figure of his father and parade with it before the house, when the sum demanded was generally given; for if the figure were fastened on a bamboo and placed over the house the family would lose caste and no one would smoke or drink water with them. [ 2] 


The Sansias say that their ancestors have always resided in Marwar and Ajmer. About twenty-four miles distant from Ajmer are two towns, Pisangan and Sagun; on their eastern side is a large tank, and the bones of all persons of the Sansia tribe who died in any part of the country were formerly buried there, being covered by a wooden platform with four pillars. 3 On one occasion a quarrel had arisen over a Sansia woman and a large number of the caste were killed in this place. So they left Marwar, and some of them came to the Deccan, where they took to house-breaking and dacoity; and so successful were they that the other Sansias followed them and gave up all their former customs, even those of reciting the praises of and begging from the Jats.

[ 1] See Russell. This article is based almost entirely on a description of the Sansias contained in Colonel Sleeman's Report on the Badhak or Bagri Dacoits ( 1849 ). Most of the material belongs to a report drawn up at Nagpur by Mr. C. Ramasy, Assistant Resident, in 1845 
[ 2] Sleeman's Report on the Badhaks. p 253 
[ 3] Ibidem, p 254. 


page 747

Social Customs. 

The Sansias are divided into groups, Kalkar and Malha; and these two are further subdivided into eight and twelve sections respectively. No one belonging to the Kalkar group may marry another person of that group, but he may marry anybody belonging to any section of the Malha group. The two groups being exogamous, the sections do not serve any purpose, but it is possible that the rules are really more complicated. In the Punjab their marriage ceremony is peculiar, the bride being covered by a basket, on which the bridegroom sits while the nuptial rites are being performed. [1] According to Colonel Sleeman, after the arrangement of a match the caste committee assemble to determine the price to be paid to the father of the girl, which may amount to as much as Rs. 2000. When this is settled some liquor is spilt on the ground in the name of Bhagwan or Vishnu, and an elder pronounces that the two have become man and wife; a feast is given to the caste, and the ceremony is concluded After child-birth a women cannot wash herself for five days, but on the sixth she may go to a stream and wash. Even on ordinary occasions a women must never wash herself inside the house, but must always go to a stream. a rule which does not apply to men. When the hair of a child begins to grow it is all shaved except the scalp-lock, which is dedicated to Bhagwan; and at ten or twelve years of age this lock is also shaved off and a dinner is given to members of the caste. The last ceremony is of the nature of a puberty-rite, and if children die prior to its performance their bodies are buried, whereas after it they have a right to cremation. after a body has been burnt the bones are buried on the spot in an earthen vessel, over the mouth of which a large stone is placed. some pig's flesh is cooked and sweet cakes prepared, portions of which are placed upon the stone; and the deceased is then called upon, by reason of the usual ceremonies having been performed at his death, to watch over his surviving relatives. If any Sansia happened to commit a murder when engaged in a dacoity he was afterwards obliged to make an offering for forgiveness, and to spend a rupee and a quarter in liquor for the caste-fellows. If a dacoit had himself been killed and his body abandoned, his clothes, with some new clothes, were put a sleeping-cot, and his companions of the same caste carried it to a convenient spot, where it was either burnt or buried in the ground. 

Taboos Of Relationship. 

Colonel Sleeman records some curious taboos among relations. [2] A man cannot go into the hut of his mother-in-law or of his son's wife; for if their petticoat should touch him he would be turned out of his caste and would not be admitted into it until he had paid a large sum. "If we quarrel with a woman," said a Sansia, "and she strikes us with her petticoat we lose our caste; we should be allowed to eat and drink with our tribe, but not to perform worship with them nor to assist in burial rites. If a woman piles up a heap of stones and puts her petticoat upon it and throws filth upon it and says to any other, 'this disgrace feel upon your ancestors for seven generations back,' both are immediately expelled from our caste, and cannot return to it until they have paid a large sum of money." 

Organisation For Dacoity. 

As in the case of the Badhaks the arrangements for a dacoity were carefully organised. Each band had a Jemadar or leader, while the others were called Sipahis or soldiers. A tenth of all the booty taken was given to the Jemadar in return for the provision of the spears, torches and other articles, and of the remainder the Jemadar received two shares and the Sipahis one each. But no novice was permitted to share in the booty or carry a spear until he had participated in two or three successful dacoities; and inasmuch as outsiders, with the exception of the impure Dhers and Mangs, were freely admitted to the Sansia community in return for a small money payment, some such apprenticeship as this was no doubt necessary. If a Sipahi was killed in a dacoity his wife was entitled to a sum of Rs. 350 and half an ordinary share in future dacoities as long as she remained with the gang. The Sansias never pitched their camp in the vicinity of the place on which they contemplated an enterprise, but despatched their scouts to it, themselves remaining some twenty miles distant. 

[ 1] Sir D. Ibbetson, Punjab Census Report ( 1881 ), para. 577
[ 2] P 259


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Description Of A Dacoity. 

The scouts, [1] having prospected the town and determined the house to be exploited, usually that of the leading banker, would then proceed to it in the early morning before business began and ask to purchase some ornaments or change some money: by this request they often induced the banker to bring out his cash chest from the place of security where he was accustomed to deposit it at night, and learnt where it should be looked for. Having picked up as much information as possible, the scouts would purchase some spear-heads. bury them in a neighbouring ravine, and rejoin the main body. The party would arrive at the rendezvous in the evening, and having fitted their spears to bamboo shafts, would enter the town carrying them concealed in a bundle of karbi or the long thick stalks of the large millet, juari. [2] One man was appointed to carry the torch, [3] and the oil to be poured on this had always to be purchased in the town or village where the dacoity was to take place, the use of any other oil being considered most unlucky. The vessel containing the oil was not allowed to touch the earth until its contents had been poured upon the torch, when it was dashed upon the ground. From this time until the completion of the dacoity no one might spit or drink water or relieve himself under penalty of putting a stop to the enterprise. The Jemadar invoked Khandoba, an incarnation of Mahadeo, and said that if by his assistance the box of money was broken at the first or second stroke of the axe, a chain of gold weighing one and a quarter tolas would be made over to him. The party then approached the shop, the roads surrounding it being picketed to guard against a rescue, and the Jemadar, accompanied by four or five men and the torch-bearer, rushed into the shop crying Din, Din. The doors usually gave way under a few heavy blows with the axe, which they wielded with great expertness, and the scout pointed out the location of the money and valuables. Once in possession of the property the torch was extinguished and the whole party made off as rapidly as possible. During their retreat they tried to avoid spearing people who pursued them, first calling out to them to go away. If any member of the party was killed or so desperately wounded that he could not be removed, the others cut off his head and carried it off so as to prevent recognition; a man who was slightly wounded would be carried off by his companions, but if the pursuit became hot and he had to be left, they cut off his head also and took it with them, escaping by this drastic method the risk of his turning approver with the consequent danger of conviction for the rest of the gang. About a mile from the place of the dacoity they stopped and mustered their party, and the Jemadar called out to the god Bhagwan to direct any pursuers in the wrong direction and enable them to reach their families. If any dacoit had ever been killed at this particular town they also called upon his spirit to assist them, promising to offer him a goat or some liquor; and so, throwing down a rupee or two at any temple or stream which they might pass on their way, they came to their families. When about a mile away from the camp they called out 'Cuckoo' to ascertain if any misfortune had occurred during their absence; if they thought all was well they went nearer and imitated the call of the partridge; and finally when close to the encampment made a hissing noise like a snake. On arrival at the camp they at once mounted their ponies and started off, marching fifty or sixty miles a day, for two or three days. 



The Sansias never committed a dacoity on moonlight nights, but had five appointed days during the dark half of the month, the seventh, ninth, eleventh, thirteenth and the night of the day on which the new moon was first seen. If they did not meet with a favourable omen on any of these nights, no dacoity was committed that month. 

[ 1] The description of a dacoity is combined from two accounts given at pp. 257, 273 of Sleeman's Report.
[ 2] Sorghum vulgare.
[ 3] Made of the bark of the date-palm tied with strips of cloth round some inflammable wood.


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The following is a list of omens given by one of the caste: [1] "If we see a cat when we are near the place where we intend to commit a dacoity, or we hear the relations of a dead person lamenting, or hear a person sneeze while cooking his meal, or see a dog run away with a portion of any person's food, or a kite screams while sitting on a tree, or a woman breaks the earthen vessel in which she may have been drawing water, we consider the omens unfavourable. If a person drops his turban or we meet a corpse, or the Jemadar has forgotten to put some bread into his waist belt, or any dacoit forgets his axe or spear or sees a snake whether dead or alive; these omens are also considered unfavourable and we do not commit the dacoity. Should we see a wolf and any one of us has on a red turban, we take this and tear it into seven pieces and hang each piece upon a separate tree. We then purchase a rupee's worth of liquor and kill a goat, which is cut up into four pieces. Four men pretend that they are wolves and rushing on the four quarters of the meat seize them, imitating the howl of these animals, while the rest of the dacoits pelt them with the entrails; the meat is afterwards cooked and eaten in the name of Bhagwan. " It would appear that the explanation of this curious ceremony must be that the Sansias thought the appearance of the wolf to be and omen that one of them would furnish a meal for him. The turban is venerated on account of its close association with the head, a sacred part of the body among Hindus, and in this case it probably served as a substituted offering for the head, while its red colour represented blood; and the mimic rite of the goat being devoured by men pretending to be wolves fulfilled the omen which portended that the wolves would be provided with a meal, and hence averted the necessity of one of the band being really devoured. In somewhat analogous fashion the Gonds and Baigas placate or drive away a tiger who has killed a man in order to prevent him from obtaining further victims. Some similar idea apparently underlay the omen of the dog running away with food. Perhaps the portent of hearing the kite scream on a tree also meant that he looked on them with a prescient eye as a future meal. On the other hand, meeting a corpse and seeing a snake are  commonly considered to be lucky omens, and their inclusion in this list is curious. [2] The passage continues: "Among our favourable omens are meeting a women selling milk; or a person carrying a basket of grain or a bag of money; or if we see a calf sucking its mother, or meet a person with a vessel of water, or a marriage procession; or if any person finds a rupee that he has lost; or we meet a bearer carrying fish or a pig or a blue-jay; if any of these occur near our camp on the day we contemplate a dacoity, we proceed forthwith to commit it and consider that these signs assure us a good booty. If a Fakir begs from us while we are on out way to the place of dacoity we cannot give him anything." Another Sansia said: "We think it very favourable if, when on the way to commit a dacoity, we hear or see the jackal; it is as good as gold and silver to us; also if we hear the bray of the ass in a village we consider it to be lucky." 


The following is a description given by a Sansia of their ordeals: [3] If a Jemadar suspects a Sipahi of secreting plunder a panchayat is assembled, [4] the members of which receive five rupees from both parties. Seven pipal [5] leaves are laid upon his hand and bound round with thread, and upon these a heated iron tawa or plate is set; he is then ordered to walk seven paces and put the plate down upon seven thorns; should he be able to do so he is pronounced innocent, but if he is burnt by the plate and throws it down he is considered guilty. Another ordeal is by fixing arrows, two of which are shot off at once from one bow, one in the name of Bhagwan (god), and the other in the name of the panchayat; the place being on the bank of the river. The arrow that flies the farthest is stuck upright into the ground; upon which man carrying a long bamboo walks up to his breast in the water and the suspected person is desired to join him. 

[ 1] Sleeman, p. 263
[ 2] But it is unlucky for a snake to cross one's path front.
[ 3] Sleeman, pp. 261, 262.
[ 4] Committee of five persons.
[ 5] Ficus religiosa


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One of the panchayat then claps his hands seven times and runs off to pick up the arrow; at this instant the suspected person is obliged to but his head under water, and if he can hold his breath until the other returns to the bank with the arrow and has again clapped his hands sever times he is pronounced innocent. If he cannot do so he is declared guilty and punished. A third form of ordeal was as follows: The Jemadar and the gang assemble under a pipal tree, and after knocking off the neck of an earthen pitcher they kill a goat and collect its blood in the pitcher, and put some glass bangles in it. Four lines are drawn on the pitcher with vermilion (representing blood), and it is placed under a tree. Then 1.25 seers [ 1] of gur (sugar) are tied up in a piece of cloth 1.25 cubits in length and hung on a 4 4 branch of the tree. The Jemadar then says, "I will forgive any person who has not secreted more than fifteen or twenty rupees, but whoever has stolen more than that sum shall be punished." The Jemadar dips his finger in the pitcher of blood, and afterwards touches the sugar and calls out loudly, 'If I have embezzled any money may Bhagwan punish me'; and each dacoit in turn pronounces the same sentence. No one who is guilty will do this but at once makes his confession. The oath pronounced on 1.25 seers of sugar tied up in 1.25 cubits of cloth was considered the most solemn and binding which a Sansia could take. 

Sansias At The Present Time. 

At present, Mr. Kennedy states[ 2] the Sansias travel about with sheep, goats and dogs. The last mentioned of these animals are usually small mongrels with a terrier strain, mostly stolen or bred from types dishonestly obtained during their peregrinations. Dacoity is still the crime which they most affect, and they also break into houses and steal cattle. Men usually have a necklace of red coral and gold beads round the neck, from which is suspended and square piece of silver or gold bearing an effigy of a man on horse back. This represents either the deity Ramdeo Pir or one of the wearer's ancestors, and is venerated as a charm. They are very quarrelsome, and their drinking-bouts [3] in camp usually end in a free fight, in which they also beat their women, and the affray not infrequently results in the death of one of the combatants. When this happens the slayer makes restitution to the relatives by defraying the expenses of a fresh drinking-bout. During the daytime men are seldom to be found in the encampment, as they are in the habit of hiding in the ditches and jungle, where the women take them their food; at night they return to their tents, but are off again at dawn. 
The Caste And Its Subdivisions. 


Sansia, Uria. [4] A caste of masons and navvies of the Uriya country. The Sansias are really a branch of the great migratory Ud or Odde caste of earth-workers, whose name has been corrupted into various forms. [ 5] Thus they are also known as Wadewar or Waddar. The term Uria is here a corruption of Odde, and it is the one by which the caste prefer to be known, but they are generally called Sansia by outsiders. The caste sometimes class the Sansias as a subcaste of Urias, the others being Benatia Urias and Khandait Urias. Since the Uriya tract has been transferred to Bengal, and subsequently to Bihar and Orissa, there remain only about 1000 Sansias in the Chhattisgarh Districts and States. Although it is possible that the name of the caste may have been derived from some past connection, the Sansias of the Uriya country have at present no affinities with the outcaste and criminal tribe of Sansis or Sansias of northern India. They enjoy a fairly high position in Sambalpur, and Brahmans will take water from them. 

[ 1] The seer=2 lbs.
[ 2] Criminal Classes in the Bombay Presidency ; Sansias and Berias.
[ 3] Mr. Gayer, Central provinces Police Lectures, p. 68
[ 4] This article is mainly based on a paper by Mr Rama Prasad Bohidar, Assistant Master, Sambalpur High School.
[ 5] See article Beldar for a notice of the different groups of earth-workers.

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They are divided into two subcastes, the Benetia and Khandait. The Benetia are the higher and look down on the Khandaits, because, it is said, these latter have accepted service as foot-soldiers, and this considered a menial occupation. Perhaps in the households of the Uriya Rajas the tribal militia had also to perform personal services, and this may have been considered derogatory. In Orissa, on the other hand, the Khandaits have become landholders and occupy a high position next to Rajputs. The Benetia Sansias practise hypergamy with the Khandait Sansias, taking their daughters in marriage, but not giving daughters to them. When a Benetia is marrying a Khandait girl his party will not take food with the bride's relatives, but only partake of some sugar and curds and depart with the bride. The Sansias have totemistic exogamous septs, usually derived from the names of sacred objects, as Kachhap, tortoise, Sankh, the conch-shell, Tulsi, basil, and so on. 


Girls are married between seven and ten, and after she is twelve years old a girl cannot go through the proper ceremony, but can only be wedded by a simple rite used for widows, in which vermilion is rubbed on her forehead and some grains of rice stuck on it. The marriage procession, as described by Mr. Rama Prasad Bohidar, is a gorgeous affair: "the drummers, all drunk, head the procession, beating their drums to the tune set by the piper. Next in order are placed dancing-boys between two rows of lights carried on poles adorned with festoons of paper flowers. Rockets and fireworks have their proper share in the procession, and last of all comes the bridegroom in his wedding apparel, mounted on a horse. His person is studded with various kinds of gold necklaces borrowed for the occasion, and the fingers of his right hand are covered with rings. Bangles and chains of silver shine on his wrists. His head carries a crown of palm-leaves overlaid with bright paper of various colours. A network of malti flowers hangs loosely from the head over the back and covers a portion of the loins of the steed. The eyes are painted with collyrium and the feet with red dye. The lips and teeth are also reddened by the betel-leaf, which the bridegroom chews in profusion. A silk cloth does the work of a belt, in which is fixed a dagger on the right side." Here the red colour which predominates in the bridegroom's decorations is lucky for the reasons given in the article on Lakhera; the blacking of the eyes also considered to keep off evil spirits; betel-leaf is itself a powerful agent of magic and averter of spirits, and to the same end the bridegroom carries iron in the shape of the dagger. The ceremony is of the customary Uriya type. On the seventh day of the wedding the husband and wife go to the river and bathe, throwing away the sacred threads worn at the time of marriage, and also those which have been tied round their wrists. On returning home the wife piles up seven brass vessels and seven stools one above the other and the husband kicks them over, this being repeated seven times. The husband then washes his teeth with water brought from the river, breaks the vessel containing the water in the bride's house, and runs away, while the women of her family throw pailfuls of coloured water over him. On the ninth day the bride comes and smears a mixture of curds and sugar on the forehead of each member of the bridegroom's family, probably as a sign of her admission to their clan, and returns home. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted. 


Religion And Worship Of Ancestors. 

The caste worship Viswakarma, the celestial architect, and on four principal festivals they revere their trade-implements and the book on architecture, by which they work. At Dasahar a pumpkin is offered to these articles in lieu of a goat. They observe the shraddh ceremony, and first make two offerings to the spirits of ancestors who have died a violent death or have committed suicide, and to those of relatives who died unmarried, for fear lest these unclean and malignant spirits should seize and defile the offerings to the beneficent ancestors. Thereafter pindas or sacrificial cakes are offered to three male and three female ancestors both on the father's and mother's side, twelve cakes being offered in all. The Sansias eat the flesh of clean animals, but the consumption of liquor is strictly forbidden, or pain, it is said, of permanent exclusion from caste. 



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In Sambalpur the caste members are usually stone-workers, making cups, mortars, images of idols and other articles. They also build tanks and wander from place to place for this purpose in large companies. It is related that on one occasion they came to dig a tank in Drug, and the Raja of that place, while watching their work, took a fancy to one of the Odnis, as their women were called, and wanted her to marry him. But as she was already married, and was a virtuous woman, she refused. The Raja persisted in his demand, on which the whole body of Sansias from Chhattisgarh, numbering, it is said, nine lakhs of persons, left their work and proceeded to Wararbandh,  near Raj-Nandgaon. Here they dug the great tank of Wararbandh [1] in one night to obtain a supply of water for themselves. But The Raja followed them, and as they could not resist him by force, the women whom he was pursuing burnt herself alive, and thus earned undying fame in the caste. This legend in perpetuated in the Odni Git, a popular folk-song in Chhattisgarh. But it is a traditional story of the Sansias in connection with large tanks, and in another version the scene is laid in Gujarat.[2] 


Sansiya.: -A vagrant thieving tribe [3] who were at the time of the last Census confined to the Western Districts of the Province. Of their name no satisfactory account has been given. Some derive it from the Sanskrit svasa, "breathing," or srasta, "Separated;" others with suaganika, "one who has to do with dogs," or suapaka, "dog-cooking," a person of a degraded and outcaste tribe, who, by the older law, was required to live outside towns, to eat his food in broken vessels, to wear the clothes of the dead, and to be excluded from all intercourse with other people; he could possess no other property than asses and dogs and his office was to act as public executioner and to carry out the bodies of such ad die without kindred. It is true that these are now-a-days the functions of the Dom, but the mode of life of the Sansiya is sufficiently degraded to make it perhaps possible that he may have inherited the name. The Sansiya is no doubt the near kinsman of the other degraded wandering races who occupy the same part of the country, such as the Kanjar, Beriya, Habura, and Bhatu. Their tribal legends, so far as they have been recorded, do not throw much light on their history of origin. Some of them allege that they are a sub-caste of Nats; but the Nats do not acknowledge kinship with them. Another of their legends appears in various forms. By one account when the Agnikula or fire-born races were created, the Chauhan Rajputs created the Sansiyas to act as their bards and sing their praises. Their first ancestor was, it is said, one sans Mal Sahasman, who has given his name to the tribe. He is said to have had three sons: One was born early in the morning when these people take their morning draught of butter milk (chhanchh) and hence sprang the Chhanchhdih section. The second was born at midnight, which is said in their patois to be called karkhand, and hence the section known as Karkhand. The youngest was born at noon, and this is the time they milk their buffaloes, he was called Bhains. Bhains, it may be noted, is a section of both the Beriyas and Kanjars, which tends to establish the connection between the tribes, and Kara also means "a young buffalo." So the designation of these sections may be perhaps either totemistic or occupational. Another story makes out their ancestor to have been Sans or Sahans Sinh, a Rathaur Bajput. His house once fell down in the rainy season, and he could not afford to rebuild it; so he and his descendants took to living in wigwams. He is said to have had three sons- Chandu Sinh, Gaddu Sinh, and Beri Sinh,-all their descendants took to a jungle life and lived by collecting khas-khas grass and catching vermin. The women of Beri Sinh's family took to prostitution, and they are the present Beriyas; those of Chandu Sinh were called Chanduwala; and those of Giddu Sinh, the present Gidiyas. These legends are of little value except to prove the identity of a number of castes of the same social standing and occupation, who are known in the Central Duab as Beriyas, in the Upper Duab as Gidiya, Habura or Bantu; in Mathura and Bhartpur as Radhiya or Radhua Kanjars; and in Rajputana as Gharkhulo or "those who live with their doors open." 


[ 1] Said to be derived from their name Waddar 
[ 2] Story of Jasma Odni in Sati Charita Sangrah. 
[ 3] See Crooke. Principally based on an excellent report by Mr. F. W Gourt, District Superintendent, Police, Aligarh; notes collected at Mirzapur and by the Deputy inspector of schools Bijnor.


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According to another legend there were two brothers, Sans and Malanur, from the former are descended the Sansiyas and Kanjars; from the latter the Beriyas  or Kolhatis and the Doms and Mangs. [1]   


Tribal Organization. 

As we have seen, the more degraded members of the tribe recognise three exogamous sections: Chhanchhdih, Karkhand, and Bhains. Those who are rather more advanced and lay stress on their alleged Rajput descent profess to have sections taken from the names of well-known Rajput clans, such as Chanhan, Khagi, Pundir, Gahlot, and Samhar. There is again another endogamous division of them into Kalka or those of pure Sansiya blood and Malla, whose mothers were Sansiya women and their fathers men of other castes. That the tribe is much mixed is quite certain. It is well known that they habitually kidnapped girls of other castes. Of the seven gangs in the Aligarh District it was recently ascertained that the women leaders of four were women of other tribes, who had been either kidnapped or introduced into the tribe. Even now it is admitted that they will take into the tribe men of almost any tribe except the lowest menials. The only ceremony is that the convert is made to eat and drink with members of the tribe. 

The Sansiyas As Bards. 

Another very curious fact about them is that they act as a sort of Bhats or bard and genealogists to some tribes of Jats and to some Chauhan Rajputs. Many of the Sansiyas of these Provinces refer their origin to Bhartpur, where they allege they were bards to the  original ruling family. So in the Panjab we find that in Hoshiarpur [2] they receive an allowance from the Jats known as birt. "Towards them they hold the same position as that of Mirasis or Doms among other tribes. Each Jat family has its Sansi; and among the Jats of the Malwa and Manjha, the Sansi is supposed to be a better authority on genealogy than the Mirasi; for this he takes a fee at marriages. If the fee is not paid, he retaliates effectually by damaging crops or burning ricks." This fact is corroborated by Mr Ibbetson [3] in relation with various other Jat and Rajput tribes of the Panjab. How this connection can have arisen it is impossible to say; but the cast of the Pataris, the degraded priests of the Manhis, is a case in point, and the relation between these tribes furnishes a possible analogy which may account for the creation of the degraded Brahman tribes, like the Mahabrahman and Dakaut. 

Marriage Rules. 

In addition to the prohibition of marriage within the section there is the additional prohibition against marrying in the families of first-cousins, until at least three generations have passed since the last connection by marriage. They generally marry in the same neighbourhood, but the feeling seems to be in favour of selecting a bride from another camp, which is perhaps one of the most primitive forms of exogamy. [4] We have also probably a survival of the matriarchate in the rule by which the match is arranged by the phupha or father's sister's husband of the bride or bridegroom. Besides this the marriage and funeral ceremonies are performed by the son-in-law (dhiyana) or by a connection through a female (man). As among all nomadic tribes, owing to the comparative weakness of female infants, girls are in a deficiency. At the last Census there were only 1.955 women to 2.332 men; hence brides are in demand, and a heavy brideprice is charged for a suitable girl. In Aligarh it is reported that a bride sometimes costs as much as four or five hundred rupees, all of which is spent in drinking and debauchery during the ceremony. The marriage ceremony is analogous to thet of the Kanjars. 


[ 1] Gunthorpe, Notes on Criminal Tribes, 46
[ 2] Settlement Report, 106.
[ 3] Panjab Ethnography, para. 577
[ 4] Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, 330, sqq


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The bridegroom, after the match is arranged, arrives with a body of his friends, and there is a pretence of seizing the bride by force if she be not peaceably surrendered. He then seizes her in the presence of the assembled elders, drags her seven times round the marriage shed, and marks her forehead with red lead, and this makes them man and wife. 
Widow marriage does not need even this amount of ceremonial. The man is generally expected to repay to the relations of the first husband what they have spent on the first marriage; in the case of the levirate this compensation is, of course, not paid. 


Death Ceremonies. 

The real vagrant Sansiyas often merely expose their dead in the jungle. In Aligarh it is said that the Chanduwala Sansiyas cermate the corpse; with the others burial is the rule. Where they bury their dead they seem to have come under the influence of the example of their Muhammadan neighbours. Some members of the tribe who were deported to Mirzapur after the proclamation, professed to adopt the following rules:-A pice is put in the mouth of the corpse immediately after death as a viaticum, when it is washed and wrapped in a piece of new cloth, which should be five yards long, and carried by four men to the burial ground on a cot. The corpse is buried with the head to the West and the feet to the East. After bathing the mourners return home. The chief mourner remains apart for four days and cooks for himself. At every meal he lays some food outside his hut for the spirit of the deceased. On the fourth day the brethren are fed on rice, pules, sugar, and ghi, and on the twentieth and fortieth day, the four men who carried the corpse to the grave are fed in the same way. 


The religion of the Sansiyas is of a very elementary type. They have a vague idea of a great God, whom they call Bhagwan, or Parameswar, or Narayan; but of his character and functions they can give no satisfactory account. Some of them worship Devi or Kali in the same vague way whenever they are sick or in trouble. They are, like all the allied races, continually in fear of the malignant ghosts of the dead, who, if not duly propitiated, turn into Bhuts or evil spirits and injure the survivors. They have nothing in the way of a sraddha, and one way of propitiating the Purkha log or "sainted dead" is by feeding some of the unmarried girls of the tribe in their honour. They also have a vague belief in a godling known as Mayan, who may be Ghazi Miyan or the saint of Amroha and Jalesar. He is, they say, the king of the serpents, and when they do honour to him they and their families are safe from snake bite. They believe, of course, in the demoniacal theory of disease, and when they fall sick they call in a Syana or Ojha to mark down the ghost, which is causing the mischief, and suggest the appropriate sacrifice which should be made to him. 

Oaths And Ordeals. 

They do not pay much regard to an oath on the Ganges or on the heads of their sons or daughters. They have three binding forms of oath: First, they kill a cock and pouring its blood on the ground swear over it; Secondly, they throw some salt into a cup of spirits, and throwing it on the ground, swear over it; , they crush a leaf of the pipal tree in their hands and swear. When a women is suspected of infidelity and denies the charge, she is made to undergo the following ordeal: Five leaves of the pipal tree are placed on the palm of her hand, one over the other. She has then to take in her hand a red hot gadaila or "spud," which is the national implement of the tribe, and used by them in digging out vermin, ect. With this she has to walk five steps, and if her hand shows no sign of burning, she is pronounced to be innocent. Similarly, of the Kolhatis of the Dakkhin, Major Gunthorpe writes: "The ordeals men and women of this race have to pass through to prove their innocence, of they deny an accusation, are curious. For a woman seven leaves of the pipal tree are placed, one over the other, in the open palms of both hands. A wet thread is wound seven times round both hands and leaves. 



page 755


An axe made red hot is then placed on the leaves, and she bears it seven paces forwards and throws it into a bundle of thorns. Should the metal have penetrated  the leaves and burnt her hands, she is guilty; but if not, she is considered innocent." [1] 

Gang System. 

The organization of these separate gangs, to which reference has already been made, as practising a sort of rule of exogamy among themselves, is curious, and may be illustrated by the condition of things which until recently prevailed in the Aligarh District. The Sansiyas there used to be divided into seven gangs (got), of which the leaders of five, uiz., those led by Roshaniya, Harro, Pancho, Giyaso, and Kallo, were women; and two were led by men, Hariya and Lachiya. Of these the gangs of Roshaniya, Harro, Pancho, Giyaso, and Hariya used to be all one gang, which was known in the Mathura District as the gang, of Sewa. His brother Mathura separated from him and formed a separate gang. On Sawa's death his gang broke up into two parts- one called after Teja, nephew of Sewa, and the other after Hulasi, son of Sewa. When Hulasi was imprisoned, the gang was called after his wife Bela; and when Teja was also sent to jail, his gang was named after Roshaniya, wife of Belha, son of Sewa; and when Mathura also got into trouble, his wife Pancho took command of his gang. When the two sons of Harro, the widow of Hulasi, grew up, she started a separate gang of her own, and into this gang was absorbed the gang of Bela. Again, when Teja was released from jail, he formed a separate gang, which was known as that of his wife Giyaso. The gang known as that of Kallu sprang from a Nat woman who formed an amour with a Jat. and had a large family who followed the gypsy life of their mother and finally intermarried with Sansiyas and became recognised members of the tribe. This gang is still known as Banswali, because its foundress used to dance on a bamboo (bans). Finally, the gang known as Lachiya's, who were really Beriyas from Nohkhera in the Etah District, came to Aligarh in recent years and became amalgamated with the regular Sansiya gangs. All these facts are very significant in considering the question of the origin of the present Hindus. If, as we have good reason to suspect, the same process of amalgamation of castes owing to sexual intrigue and the formation of caves of Adullam, like these existing vagrant tribes, has been going on for ages, the anthropometrical evidence in favour of the practical unity of the existing races ceases to be surprising. 

The Sansiyas As Criminals. 

That the Sansiyas are one of the most audacious criminal tribes in the Province is now admitted and formed the justification for the recent stringent proceedings which have been taken against them. In the year 1890, they were all simultaneously arrested; the younger members were removed to a reformatory, and the elders distributed throughout the Province in the hope that they would adopt an honest course of livelihood, and expectation which has certainly not been realised. In the Upper Duab careful enquiry conclusively proved that they had no other means of livelihood except dacoity, road robbery, thefts from vehicles, threshing floors and persons sleeping in the fields. In the course of their operations, unlike the Habura or Beriya, they were always ready to commit violence, and have been known to cause serious bodily injury and even death with the heavy bludgeons, which in recent years they had substituted for short clubs which they carried when they first came in contact with our Police, and which soon became an inconvenient means of identifying them and were consequently abandoned. When bent on highway robbery, their usual modus operandi was to hide by the side of the road and suddenly attack passengers or the drivers of vehicles with showers of stones. If this failed to compel them to abandon their property, they fell on them with their bludgeons. Another device was to disguise themselves as constables, and in the course of a mock search to rob travellers. They do not usually take the plundered property to their camp for a considerable time, but bury it at a distance. They use the raliway freely in going to and returning from the scenc of crime. On their journey they do not stay at sarais or other recognised halting-places, but encamp outside a village or town, and, being well dressed, pretend to be Banjaras or merchants. Their operations extend to a very considerable distance, and some few years ago a series of dakaities in the Panjab was traced to one of the Aligarh gangs. 

[ 1] Notes on Criminal Tribes, 49.


page 756

They dispose of stolen property through Kalwars and Sunars; they will not take it with them to the shop, the intending purchaser has to accompany them to the jungle, and, strange to say, the Sansiya is usually found very honest in such transactions. if they take stolen property into their camp, the jewelry is deposited in the hollow legs of their beds, and the clothes hidden as stuffing of quilts, etc. The women sometimes appropriate some of the stolen jewelry for their own use, and when a search is made they hide it in a way which cannot be described. Other jewelry is generally at once broken up. Upon arrest both men and women habitually give false names in order to conceal their identity, and hence the men greatly dread the punishment of flogging, as it marks them; for this reason they generally behave themselves well in jail so as to avoid corporal punishment. They are very averse to incriminating each other; if any of them turn approver, he is tried by the tribal council. The usual penalty is a fine of one hundred rupees for every person he has incriminated, and if he cannot pay the fine they will realize it by seizing his property or even a marriageable daughter. They never dare in such cases to complain to a Magistrate. In fact all their disputes are settled by the council and they are never seen in Court. When a member of a gang is arrested, his companions will provide for his wife and family, and when any stolen property has been acquired, the wife of a man arrested gets her husband's share. 

The Position Of The Women. 

Owing to the constant absences of the men on thieving excursions and in jail, the women have gained a position of unusual influence in the tribe. Many of them, as we have seen, become leaders of gangs. They are, as a rule, affectionate, faithful, wives, and the men are very much influenced by their advice. When a party of Police approaches a camp, the women all commence to call out at once bhitari ! bhitari ! "to your tents!" which is the signal for the men to escape. While search is being made, the women will resist with all of their power, and they are in the habit of throwing all sorts of filth over the officers engaged, hence all Police dread the duty of searching a Sansiya camp. Another plan is to take their babies in their arms and fling them round their heads in the hope that the search will be discontinued to save the lives of the children. They have a thieves' argot very like that of the Haburas. Of  the corresponding dialect in the Panjab it has been shown by Dr. Leitner [1] that it is not a real patois, but merely a perversion of Panjabi according to a regular system. This is also certainly the case with the argot of these Provinces. 

Social Habits. 

There seems little doubt that the real vagrant Sansiya will eat all kinds of meat, vermin and the leavings of almost any tribe except perhaps sweepers. In Aligarh it is reported that they will eat with sweepers when engaged with them in the commission of crime. Those who are beginning to settle down claim, however, a much greater degree of purity and pretend not to eat kachchi except from high castes like Brahmans,, Rajputs and Banyas. The vagrant branch of the tribe live under portable reed mats (sirki). The men, as a rule, sleep till 9 A.M., sleep again during the day, eat again at 5. P.M. and then spend the night on the prowl. The women help by going about begging and pretending to sell roots and other jungle medicine; they thus obtain entrance into respectable house and obtain information which is of use to their male relations. They are very fond of dogs and keep a number of them to guard the camp. The camp is usually pitched on one of the high sandy ridges which are such a prominent feature in the landscape of the Upper Duab. They are no doubt guided in this by sanitary considerations and the sand is a convenient hiding place for property and the meat and hides of stolen animals. They themselves deep numerous bullocks and donkeys which they use for the carriage of their huts and goods, as well cows and goats for milk; these they habitually let loose in the fields adjoining their camp. Hence the Sansiya is not by any means a favourite visitor to a respectable village, and they could not wander about with impunity, as they were in the habit of doing, were it not that they were protected by landowners and merchants who shared in their plunder.


[ 1] Anulysis of  Abdul Ghafur's Dictionary, 17. 


page 757


Every true Sansiya woman must have her ears bored, and some time ago this fact was used in Court to prove the identity of a kidnapped girl. [1]


Santâls.: -Santâlí of the Mundârí family. [2] Santâli is the most important of all the Mundâ languages. About 75 percent of all Mundâs have been returned under that form of speech. The total number of speakers is about 1,75 million people. 

Name Of The Language. 

Santâlí literally means 'the language of the Santâls.' 'Santâl' is the name applied by foreigners to the tribe which has given its name to the Sonthal Parganas. 

Santâl is, according to Mr. Skrefsrud, a corruption of Sêotâl or Sêotâr, the common name of the tribe used by Bengalis. The forms Santâl and Sontâl are only used by natives who have come into contact with Europeans. He derives the name from Sãot in Midnapore where the tribe is supposed to have been settled for several generations. The ' Soontarrs' are mentioned as a wild and unlettered tribe as early as 1798. [3] Santâls call themselves hâr-kó,men, or hâr hapân, "man child." When asked about their name and caste they usually apply the title Mâªñjhi, headman, to themselves. Their language has therefore sometimes been reported under various names such as Hâr, Hâr Hâr i.e. the speech of the Hars, Mâñjhi, and so forth. Outsiders often also use Pharsí or Parsí [ 4]  as a denomination of this form of speech. In Murshidabad the language is locally known as Jangalí, 'forest language,' or Pahâriâ, 'mountain-language.' In Bankura and Morbhanj it has been reported as ˇhâr, i.e. language (That is 'the foreign language'), and in Bankura some speakers were returned in the Survey estimates under the head of Khérâ Karâ . It is, however, now reported that no such dialect exists in the district. The so-called Khärê Kharês of the Sonthal Parganas are related to the Jadopatias. They are semi-Hinduized aboriginals. All these secondary names are based on misunderstandings or on considerations which have nothing to do with language. They will, therefore, be discarded in the following pages, and the language will be styled Santâlí throughout. 


Original Home. 

According to Santâlí traditions, the tribe was once united with what are now the Mundârís, the Hós, and other small tribes. They assert that in those old times they were called Kherwârs or Kherwârs. There traditional tales contain allusions to old wanderings from the west. These wanderings have probably taken place in relatively modern time. According to Mr. Risley, it is clear that a large and important Santâl colony was once settled in parganas Chai and Champa in Hazaribagh. The same authority further remarks: 'A tradition is noticed by Colonel Dalton of an old fort in Chai occupied by one Jaura, a Santâl Raja, who destroyed himself and his family on hearing of the approach of a Muhammadan army under Sayyid Ibrahim Ali` alias malik Baya, a general of Muhammad Tughlak's, who died in 1353. This tradition, so far as it refers to the existence of a Santâl fort in Chai Champa, is to some extent corroborated by the following passage from the legends of the Southern Santâls collected by the Rev. J. Phillips, and published in Appendix. to Annals of Rural Bengal, ed. 1868: "Dwelling there (in Chai Champa) they greatly multiplied. 

[ 1] Reports Nizamat Adulat ; Mussammal Darbo, 10th April 1852. 
[2] Linguistic Survey of India.
[ 3] See the references given in Mr. Crooke's edition of Yule and Burnell's Hobson-Jobson . 
[ 4] This word, which literally means 'Persian,' is used by speakers of Aryan languages all over Northern India to indicate a tongue which they do not understand. For instance, it is frequently applied to the secret argots of criminal tribes, much as we in England talk of ' Thieves' Latin. 


page 758

There were twogates, the Ahin gate and the Bâhini gate, to the fort of Chai Champa." If moreover, the date of the taking of this fort by Ibrahim Ali` were assumed to be about 1340 A.D., the subsequent migrations of which the tribal legends apeak would fill up the time intervening between the departure of the santâls from Chai Champa and their settlement in the present Santâl Parganâs. Speaking generally, these recent migrations have been to the east, which is the direction they might have been expected to follow. The earliest settlements which Santâl tradition speaks of, those in Ahiri Pipri and chai Champa, lie on the north-western frontier of the table-land of Hazaribagh and in the direct line of advance of the unmerous Hindu immigrants from Behar. That the influx of Hindus has in fact driven the Santâls eastward is beyond doubt, and the line which they are known to have followed in their retreat corresponds on the whole with that attributed to them to them in their tribal legends.' From Hazaribagh the Santâls are stated to have wandered into Monbhum, and, further, into the Sonthal Parganas. This explanation of the traditional legends agrees well with the fact that scattered settlements of Santâls are still found all over Hazaribagh. [1] Mr. Skrefsrud, it is true, things that the traditionary wanderings have taken place in a very remote past. According to him they imply an old immigration into India from the north-west while Colonel Dalton explains them as referring to an ancient wandering from Assam. A good deal of the traditional accounts are concerned with the time previous to the stay at Chae Champa. All places in which they are supposed to have lived, from Hihírí Hipírí to their present home, are mentioned, and also some names from the most remote antiquity; compare p. 64 below. They are always repeated at the châchó chhâªtiâr, the ceremony performed when a person is admitted as a member of grown up society. It seems to me that Mr. Risley is right in refusing to attach high antiquity to the Santâl traditions. They are apparently influenced from various sources [ 2]

Some remarks about the position of the Mundâ race will be found in the general introduction to this volume. See above, p.5. In this place we are only concerned with the actual habitat of the Santâls. 

Present Home. 

Santâlí is spoken over a strip of country extending for about 300 miles from the Ganges in the north to the Baitarani in the south. It comprises the south of Bhagalpur and Monghyr; the west of Birbhum and Burdwan; almost the whole of Bankura; the western corner of Midnapore; the greater portion of Morbhanj and Nilgiri; the north-west of Balasore; the northeast of Keonjhar; Dalbhum; Sarai Kala; Kharsawan; Manbhum; the Sonthal Parganas, and the east of Hazaribagh. There are further scattered settlements in the south-west of Murshidabad, in the central parts of the 24-Parganas, in the jungles in the south of Dinajpur and the adjoining tracts of Malda, Rajshahi, and Bogra, and in the south-west of Rangpur. Nonresident immigrants have further brought the language to Jalpaiguri and to Assam, where the Santâls are occupied as coolies in the tea-gardens. Santâlí is nowhere the only language, and only in the Sonthal Parganas is it the principal one. Minor Mundâ dialects are found side by side with Santâlí, and Aryan tribes have, generally speaking, occupied the plains, just as the Santâls themselves have formerly ousted the Malto tribe from the lowlands and valleys and have confined them to the higher lands and the hills. 

[ 1] According to local tradition Kherwârs ruled in comparatively modern times so far north as the district of Gayâ. In the south of that district there are several old forts still attributed to the ' Kol Râjâs.' See also the Rev. R. Hahn, on Dravidian and Kolarian Place names, in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. lxxii ( 1903 ), Pt. III., pp. 91 and ff.
[ 2] Mr. Risley has drawn attention to the fact that the supreme god ¡haªkur of the Santâl traditions bears a Hindí name. The aryan origin of the word ¡haªkur has been doubted, but no other possible derivation has been proposed. The word occurs in late Sanskrit in the form †hakkura . The form †hakkura shows that the word has been borrowed from Prâkrit. It has almost the same signification as sthavira , and is used as a respectful title. It should be derived from the base sthâ , which in Prâkrit sometimes forms the present thakkai£ . The cerebral th does not make this explanation improbable. Marâthi ( Thâkné ? ) shows that a Prâkrit present †hakkai£ must have existed. Similarly, a form théra exists in addition to thera , the Prâkrit equivalent of sthavira .


page 759



Santâlí is a remarkably uniform language. There are only two dialects, and even these do not differ much from the standard form of speech. They are the so-called Kârmâlí, spoken by the Kalhä tribe in the Sonthal Parganas, Manbhum and Hazaribagh, and the dialect of the Mâhlés in the central and southern portion of the Sonthal Parganas and the adjoining parts of Birbhum and Manbhum. Both will be separately dealt with below. Santâlí has, to some extent, been influenced by the neighbouring Aryan languages. This influence is, however, mainly confined to the vocabulary, though we can also see how Aryan suffixes and Aryan syntax are beginning to make themselves felt, and some of the most usual postpositions are perhaps Aryan. Broadly speaking, however, the structure and the general character of the language has remained unchanged. Bihâri is the Aryan language which has most largely influenced Santâlí. In the east the language has now begun to come under the spell of Bengali, and in the south the influence of Oriyâ is traceable. The different sources from which words have been borrowed influence to some extent the form in which they are adopted. Thus the short a is retained in words borrowed from Bihârí but is pronounced as an in case where the long has been made from Bengali. In this way a slight difference is produced in the Santâlí of the Bengali districts and that spoken in places where Bihârí is the principal Aryan language. The influence of Bengali is of a relatively modern date. On the other hand, it has of late years been gradually spreading. This difference between Bengali-Santâlí and Bihârí-Santâlí, which only exists in a limited part of the vocabulary, cannot be seen from the specimens which follow. It would be necessary to have far more materials for comparison in order to account for it. The loss is not, however, great, the real language being the same in both cases. The purest Santâlí is spoken in the north, especially in the Sonthal Parganas and in Manbhum. The dialect spoken in Midnapore, Balasore, Singbhum, and the Orissa Tributary States is more mixed and shows signs of gradually yielding to Aryan influence. 


Number Of Speakers. 

The number of speakers in those districts where Santâlí is spoken as a vernacular has been estimated as follows for the purpose of this survey: 

Burdwan                    21,368
Birbhum                     41,700
Bankura                     96,911
Midnapore                118,062
Murshidabad                7,795
Monghyr                     7,000
Bhagalpur                  50,063
Sonthal Parganas      626,254
Balasore                        893
Hazaribagh                 72,535
Manbhum                 144,820
Singbhum                  59,212
Keonjhar                   11,730
Morbhanj                 154,806
Nilgiri                         1,865
Sarai Kala                 17,815
Kharsawan                 2,957
Bonai                            39
Total                     1,435,825


page 760
According to local estimates Santâlí was further spoken abroad in the following districts: 

Bengal Presidency- 
24-Parganas               18,868
Rajshahi                       5,652
Dinajpur                      28,148
Jalpaiguri                      3,275
Rangpur                          905
Bogra                           4,910
Malda                         25,000
Sarguja                            16

Cachar Plains               2,162
Sylhet                        3,950
Goalpara                     1,000
Kamrup                         140
Darrang                      1,900
Nowgong                    1,100
Sibsagar                     4,250
Lakhimpur                   4,700



Grand Total               105,976


By adding these figures we arrive at the following grand total for the language: 


Santâlí spoken at home      1,435,825 

Santâlí spoken abroad           105,976 


Total                              1,541,801 


  The speakers in the 24-Parganas are immigrant settlers, mainly from Hazaribagh. Those in Rajshahi are immigrant settlers in the north, and those in Dinajpur immigrant settlers in the south. In Bogra the Santâlí are found as immigrant settlers in the west. In Malda, where they have settled in the east, they have only been in the district for about 20 years. The speakers in the other district are stated to be non-resident immigrants. The above figures include the speakers of the so-called Khérâ karâ in Bankura (429), of the so-called M⪪ñjhí in Keonjhar (26) and Morbhanj (1,551), of the so-called ˇhâr in Bankura (123) and Morbhanj (1,306), and 39 speakers from the Bonai State who were reported to speak ˇâr, but regarding whom no further information has been available. Regarding the so-called Mâñjhí of the Raigarh State see below pp. 145 and ff. The revised figures for the two Santâlí dialects Kârmâlí and Mâhlé will be give in detail later on. The total number of speakers has been put down at 44,060 for Kârmâlí and 28,961 for Mâhlé. The grand total for Santâlí is accordingly as follows: 

Santâlí proper          1,541,801
Kârmâlí                       44,060
Mâhlé                         28,961

Total                      1,614,822



page  761


Santâlí proper.

Bengal Presidency-
Burdwan                       39,428
Birbhum                        47,455
Bankura                        98,521
Midnapore                   146,018
Hooghly                         9,061
Howrah                            205
24-Parganas                   3,655
Calcutta                              4
Nadia                                81
Murshidabad                 12,508
Jessore                             69
Khulna                              83
Rajshahi                        2,003
Dinajpur                       64,767
Jalpaiguri                     12,164
Darjeeling                      1,608
Rangpur                        5,025
Bagra                           2,357
Pabna                             252
Dacca                                2
Faridpur                              8
Chittagong                       409
Chittagong Hill Tracts          74
Darbhanga                         19
Monghyr                      12,461
Bhagalpur                     17,396
Purnea                          5,315
Malda                          37,398
Sonthal Parganas         648,847
Cuttack                               1
Balasore                        8,257
Puri                                    3
Hazaribagh                   78,358
Ranchi                             425
Palamau                           362
Manbhum                   181,687
Singbhum                    74,595
Kuch Bihar                         21
Orissa Tributary 

States                      192,284
Chota Nagpur 

Tributary States           20,884
Hill Tippera                      157
Total Bengal 

Presidency                 1,724,227


page 762


Cachar                         2,147
Sylhet                          4,241
Goalpara                       1,950
Kamrup                           426
Darrang                        2,890
Nowgong                        668
Sibsagar                      9,579
Lakhimpur                    7,968
Lushai Hills                     190
North Cachar                   52
Naga Hills                        12
Khasi and Jaintia Hills          5
Manipur                            1
Total Assam                 30,129


Kârmâlí                       17,342
Mâhlé                         18,801

                         ----- ----------
Grand Total              1,790,499
To this total must probably be added 4,614 speakers of Jangli who were returned from Assam.
This would bring the total up to 1,795,133.


Sarania.: -They live in North-West India. They go around to sharpen knives.      


Sarvade Joshi.: -They are religious mendicant nomads. 


Sâtâni.: -The Sâtânis are described in the Madras Census Report of 1891 as "a class of  temple servants very much like the Mâlis of Bengal ." [1] The word Sâtâni is a corrupt form of Sâttâdavan, which, literally means one who does not wear (the sacred thread and tuft of hair). For temple services Râmânuja classed Vaishnavites into Sâttâdavan. The former are invariably Brâhmans, and the latter Sîdras. Hence Sâtâni is the professional name given to a group of Vaishnava creed. It is sometimes stated that the Sâtânis of the Madras Presidency are the disciples of the famous Bengâli reformer Chaitanya (15th century), from whom, they say, the term Sâtâni took its origin. But, so far as I can ascertain, this supposition rests on no better foundation than the similarity in sound of the two names, and it seems to me more than doubtful. There is no evidence of Chaitanya having ever preached in the Dravidian country, and the tenets of the Sâtânis of this Presidency differ widely from those of the followers of Chaitanya. The former worship only Krishna, while the latter venerate Vishnu in the form of Nârâyana also. The Sâtânis, too, have as much reverence for Râmânuja as the followers of Chaitanya have towards their guru, who is said to be an incarnation of Krishna. With regard to their religion, it will suffice to say that they are tengalai Vaishnavites. They shave their heads completely, and tie their lower cloth like a Brâhman bachelor. In their ceremonies they more or less follow the Brâhmans, but the sacred thread is not worn by them. Though the consumption of alcoholic liquor and animal food is strictly prohibited, they practice both to considerable extent on all festive occasions, and at srâdhs. Drinking and other excesses are common. Some Sâtânis bury the dead, and others burn them. The principal occupations of Sâtânis are making garlands, carrying the torches during the god's procession, and sweeping the temple floor. They also make umbrellas, flower baskets and boxes of palmyra leaves, and prepare the sacred balls of white clay (for making the Vaishnavite sectarian mark), mark, and saffron powder. Their usual agnomen is Aiya." 


[ 1] See Thurston. reformer 


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In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Sâtânis are summed up as being "a Telegu caste of temple servants supposed to have come into existence in the time of the great Vaishnavite 
Srí Râmânujâchârya (A.D. 1100). The principal endogamous sub-divisions of this caste are (1) Ekâkshari, (2) Chaturâkshari, (3) Ashtâkshari, and (4) Kulasékhara. The Ekâksharis (éka, one, and akshara, syllable) hope to get salvation by reciting the one mystic syllable Óm; the Chaturâksharis believe in the religious efficacy of the four syllables Râ-mâ-nu-jâ; the Ashtâksharis hold that the recitation of the eight syllables Óm-na-mó-nâ-râ-yâ-nâ-yâ will ensure them eternal bliss; and the Kulasékharas, who wear the sacred thread, claim to be the descendants of the Vaishnava saint Kulasékhara Álvâr, formerly a king of the Kérala country. The first two sections make umbrellas, flower garlands, etc., and are also priests to Balijas and other Sîdra castes of Vaishnava sects, while the members of the members of the other two have taken to temple service. In their social and religious customs, all the subdivisions closely imitate the Tengalai Vaishnava Brâhmans. The marriage of girls after puberty, and the remarriage of widows, are strictly prohibited. Most of them employ Brâhman puróhits, but latterly they have taken to getting priests from their own caste. They attach no importance to the Sanskrit Védas, or to the ritual sanctioned therein, but revere the sacred hymns of the twelve Vaishnava saints or Álvârs, called Nâlâyira Prabandham (book of the four thousand songs), which is in Tamil. From this their puróhits recite verses during marriages and other ceremonies." At the census of 1901, Râmânuja was returned as a sub-caste of Sâtâni. In the Manual of the North Arcot district, Mr. H.A. Stuart describes the Sâtânis as "a mixed religious sect, recruited from time to time from other castes, excepting Paraiyans, leather-workers, and Muhammadans. All the Sâtânis are Vaishnavites, but principally revere Bâshyakâr (another name for Râmânuja), whom they assert to have been an incarnation of Vishnu. The Sâtânis are almost entirely confined to the large towns. Their legitimate occupations are performing menial services in Vishnu temples, begging, tending flower gardens, selling flower garlands, making fans, grinding sandalwood into powder, and selling perfumes. They are the priests of some Sîdra castes, and in this character correspond to the Saivite Pandârams." 


In the Census Report, 1871, the Sâtânis are described as being "frequently religious mendicants, priests of inferior temples, minstrels, sellers of flowers used as offerings, etc., and have probably recruited their numbers by the admission into their ranks of individuals who have been excommunicated from higher castes. As a matter of fact, many prostitutes join this sect, which has a recognised position among the Hindus. This can easily be done by the payment of certain fees, and by eating in company with their co-religionists. And they thus secure for themselves decent burial with the ceremonial observances necessary to ensure rest to the soul." 


In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, it is noted that Sâtânis are also styled Khâdri Vaishnavas, Sâttâdavâl, Châtâli, Kulasékhara, and Samérâya. These names, however, seem to have pricked their amour propre in the late census, and they took considerable pains not only to cast them off, but also to enroll themselves as Prapanna Vaishnavâs, Nambi, Venkatapura Vaishnavâs, etc. The idea of being tabulated as Sîdras was so hateful to them that, in a few places, the enumerators, who had so noted down their caste according to precedent, were prosecuted by them for defamation. The cases were of course thrown out. Further, the Mysore Census superintendent, 1901, writes that "the sub-divisions of the Sâtânis are Khadri Vaishnavâs, Natacharamurti, Prathama Vaishnava, Sameraya or Samogi, Sankara, Suri, Sattâdhava, Telugu Sâtâni, and Venkatapurada. Some are employed in agriculture, but as a rule they are engaged in the service of vishnu temples, and are flower-gatherers, torch-bearers, and strolling minstrels." 


The Sâtânis are also called Dâsa Nambis. They are flesh-eaters, but some have now become pure vegetarians. There are, for example, at Srivilliputtér in the Tinnevelly district, a large number who have abandoned a meat diet. They are connected with the temple of Ándâl, and supply flowers and tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) leaves for worship, carry torches before the goddess during processions, and watch the gate of the temple during the night. 



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The small income which they derive from the temple is supplemented by the manufacture and sale of palmyra leaf baskets, and umbrellas made from Pandanus leaves. As a class, the Sâtânis are given to liquor, and all important ceremonial occasions are made the excuse for copious potations. This weakness is so well known that, in the north of the Presidency, the term Râmânuja Matham is used to denote the consumption of meat and drink at death or srâdh ceremonies, just as Saivam signifies vegetarianism. The Sâtâni mendicant can be recognised by the peculiar flat gourd-shaped brass pot and palm leaf fan which he carries. The Sâtânis claim to have sprung from the sweat of Virât Pursha (lord of the universe). The following legend is told, as accounting for the removal of the kudumi (tuft of hair on the head), and wearing the cloth without a fold behind. In the time of Râmnuja, the Sâtânis enjoyed certain privileges in the temples, but, not satisfied with these, they claimed to take rank next to Brâhmans. This privilege was accorded, and, when flowers and other things used in the worship of the god were to be distributed, they were handed over to the Sâtânis . They, however, were unable to decide who should be deputed to represent the community, each person decrying the others as being of low caste. Râmânuja accordingly directed that they should shave their heads, and wear their loin-cloths with a fold in front only. 


In addition to other occupations already noted, Sâtânis sell turmeric, coloured powders, and sacred balls of white clay used by Vaishnatives. Some act as priests to Balijas and Kómatis, at whose death ceremonies the presence of a Sâtâni is essential. Immediately after death, the Sâtânis is summoned, and he puts sect marks on the corpse. At the grave, cooked food is offered, and eaten by the Sâtâni and members of the family of deceased. On the last day of the death ceremonies (karamândiram), the Sâtâni comes to the house of the dead person late in the evening, bringing with him certain idols, which are worshipped with offerings of cooked rice, flesh, and liquor in jars. The food is distributed among those present, and the liquor is doled out from a spoon called parikam, or a broom dipped in the liquor, which is drunk as it drips therefrom. 


Sâtâni women dress just like Vaishnava Brâhman women, from whom it is difficult to distinguish them. In former days, the Sâtânis used to observe a festival called ravikala (bodice) utchavam, which now goes by the name of gandapodi (sandal powder) utchavam. The festival, as originally carried out, was a very obscene rite. After the worship of the god by throwing sandal powder, etc., the Sâtânis returned home, and indulged in copious libations of liquor. The women threw their bodices into vessel, and they were picked out at random by the men. The woman whose bodice was thus secured became the partner of the man for the day. 


For the following note on Sâtânis in the Vizagapatam district, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. Sâtânis is said to be the shortened form of Saththâdavan, the uncovered man. They are prohibited from covering three different parts of their bodies, viz., the head with the usual tuft of hair, the body with the sacred thread, and the waist with the customary strip of cloth. All devout Sâtânis shave their heads completely. [There is a proverb "Tie a knot on the Sâtâni's tuft or hair, and on the ascetic's holy thread". The Sâtânis shave the whole head, and the Sanyâsis have no sacred thread.] [1] The caste divided into exogamous septs, or intipérulu. The custom of ménarikam, according to which a man marries his maternal uncle's daughter, is observed. The remarriage of widows and divorce are not allowed. Attempts have been made by some members of the caste, in other parts of the Madras Presidency, to connect themselves with Chaitanya. But, so far as the Vizagapatam district is concerned, this is repudiated. They are Râmânuja Vaishnavas of the Tenkalai persuasion. Their gurus are known as Paravasthuvâru-- a corruption of Paravâsu Déva, whose figure is on the vimâna of the Srírangam temple, and who must be visited before entering the principal sanctuary. They live at Gîmsîr in Ganjam, and have Sadachârulu, or ever-devout followers, who act as their agents in Vizagapatam. They brand the shoulders of Sâtânis with the Vaishnavite emblems, the sankha and chakra, and initiate them into the mysteries of the Vaishnava religion by whispering into their ears the word Râmânuja. 

[ 1] Rev. H. Jensen. classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897. 


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The Sâtâni learns by heart various songs in eulogy of Srírangam and its deity, by means of which he earns his living. He rises in the early morning, and, after a bath, adorns his forehead and body with the Vaishnavite nâmam, ties round his clean-shaved head a string of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) beads known as thirupavithram, puts a tulsi garland round his neck, and takes a fan called gajakaranam, or elephant's ear, in his right hand. In his left hand he carries a copper gourd-shaped vessel. He is generally accompanied by another Sâtâni similarly got up. When begging, they sing the songs referred to above, and collect the rice which is given to them in their vessels. 


At the end of their round they return home, and their wives clean the rice, bow down before it, and cook it. No portion of the rice obtained by begging should be sold for money. The Sâtânis play an important part in the social life of the Vaishnavites of the district, and are the gurus of some of the cultivating and other classes. The preside at the final death ceremonies of the non-Brâhman Vaishnavite castes. They burn their dead, and perform the chinna (little) and pedda rózu (big day) death ceremonies. 


Satanis.: -They live in the South of India. They are a caste of priests and mendicants. They are also known by the names of Ayawar and Dasari. Normally they do not wear the sacred dress and do not practice celibacy.


Satia.: -They are a wandering group with bullocks and carts. They buy and sell cattle. They are probably from Rajasthan. 


Saur.: -See Sahariyas