About the book
The volumes of the PROJECT ON THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE IN INDIAN CIVILIZATION aim at discovering the main aspects of India’s heritage and present them in an interrelated way. These volumes, in spite of their unitary look, recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The Project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In fact, contributions are made by different scholars with different ideological persuasions and methodological approaches. The Project is marked by what may be called ‘methodological pluralism’. In spite of its primary historical character, this Project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by many scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization like India.
The volume is a companion to the PHISPC Volume VII Part 7 on Tribal Religions published in 2012. It consists of seventeen articles dealing with the life-world of different tribes in general, and their religious beliefs and practices in particular. Tribal societies have undergone great changes during the last seventy years after Independence due to several factors, such as, modernization, industrialization, urbanization and participation in the process of social, political and economic development. Several tribes, especially those who inhabit the remote forest and mountainous regions, still face the problem of losing their habitat and the means of livelihood. Many others have faced the problem of losing their socio-cultural identity in the event of conversion to other religions. The problem is more serious in the case of “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups” (P.V.T.Gs). The traditional religions of such tribes as, Todas of the Nilgiri Hills, the Kurku of Central India, the Mal Paharia and the Birhors of Jharkhand, West Bengal, etc., Santals, Oraons, Munda, Birja, Maler, etc. of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, etc., the Bhils and Gonds of Western and Central India, some vulnerable tribes of South India, the Kuki, the Toto, the Borok, the Molsom, etc. of the North-East India, have been discussed in this volume.