“If the part of the twig which the crow carries in its beak while flying to build its nest is longer on the right side, it means there will be good rainfall in the monsoon and vice-versa.” Similarly, ‘crows vacate their nests with the monsoon rain being just a day away’.
These are just a couple of examples from many such titbits that are based on nature from the ‘knowledge system’ of the indigenous tribes of Adilabad district. There are many ‘effective’ pieces of information in every aspect of life of Adivasis which may vanish in a few years, as the younger generation finds no use for it. The tribal knowledge systems, shared by the Gond, Pardhan, Kolam and Thotti Adivasis in this district, have originated from centuries of observation of nature, especially the behaviour of birds and animals. Knowledge has been passed from one generation to the other solely by oral tradition, depending largely on observation by the younger generation.
“The knowledge systems will be relevant until the Adivasis continue to be an agrarian society and do not part with their culture, custom and tradition. They will continue to be priceless, literally and figuratively,” observes Harsh Satya, of the Centre for Exact Humanities, IIIT, Hyderabad, who is doing research on the knowledge systems of the tribes of Adilabad.
“Present-day education is distancing our children from our ethos,” sums up Urvetha Ramu, a Gond elder from Rampur in Utnoor mandal on the knowledge systems becoming more and more irrelevant in the tribal milieu. “Documentation is necessary for the benefit of future generations,” opines Utnoor B.Ed. college Principal Mesram Manohar.
“At least one chapter on Adivasi people, their lifestyle and knowledge systems should become part of the syllabus from high school onwards. The books of anthropologist Christopher von Furer-Haimendorf on the ‘Gonds of Adilabad’ and ‘Among the Gonds of Adilabad’ written by Sethu Madhav Rao Pagdi should be made available to tribal students,” he adds. Professor Haimendorf published a series of monographs based on his in-depth studies on the Raj Gonds of Adilabad which was part of the huge volume titled ‘The Aboriginal Tribes of Hyderabad’. The study was done between 1945 and 1947 when most of the original culture and tradition of the Adivasis was intact.