Gondi people

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Women in adivasi village, Umaria district, India.jpg
Gondi women in Umaria district
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Madhya Pradesh5,093,124[1]
Uttar Pradesh569,035[1]
Andhra Pradesh (old)304,537[1]
West Bengal13,535[1]
Gondi, Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Telugu
Related ethnic groups

The Gondi (Gōndi) or Gond people are a Dravidian ethnic group spread over the states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra (Vidarbha),[3] Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa.

The Gond are also known as the Raj Gond. The term was widely used in 1950s, but has now become almost outdated, probably because of the political eclipse of the Gond Rajas.[4] The Gondi language is closely related to Telugu, belonging to the Dravidian family of languages. The 2011 Census of India recorded about 2.98 million Gondi speakers, around 20% of the population.[5]

According to the 1971 census, their population was 5.01 million. By the 1991 census, this had increased to 9.3 million[4][page needed] and by the 2001 census the figure was nearly 11 million. For the past few decades they have been witnesses to the Naxalite–Maoist insurgency in the central part of India.[6] Gondi people, at the behest of the Chhattisgarh government, formed the Salwa Judum, an armed militant group to fight the Naxalite insurgency. [7] They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe for the purpose of India's Reservation system.[8]


Scholars believe that Gonds ruled in Gondwana, now in eastern Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and western Odisha, between the 13th and 19th centuries AD. Muslim writers described a rise of Gond state after the 14th century.[citation needed]

Gonds ruled in four kingdoms (Garha-Mandla, Deogarh, Chanda, and Kherla) in central India between the 16th and 18th centuries. They built number of forts, palaces, temples, tanks and lakes during the rule of the Gonds dynasty. The Gondwana kingdom survived until the late 16th century. They also gained control over the Malwa after the decline of the Mughals followed by the Marathas in 1690.[citation needed] The Marathas overthrew the Gond Rajas in the 1740s and seized most of their territory, while some Gond zamindaris survived until recently.[9]

Science and religion[edit]

The ancient Gonds were familiar with many astronomical concepts,[10] having their own local terms for the Sun, Moon, constellations and Milky Way, with much of their knowledge forming the basis for their time-keeping and calendrical activities. The Banjara and Kolam are also known to have extensive astronomical knowledge.[11]

Their typical reaction to death has been described as one of anger because they believe it is caused by magical demons.[12] Their religion was based on worship of clan and village deities, as well as ancestor worship and totems, although there is no cultural uniformity among them.[13]

Many Gonds worship Ravana, whom they consider to be the tenth dharmaguru of their people and the ancestor-king of one of their four lineages. They also worship Kupar Lingo as their supreme deity and their ancestor before Ravana. On Dussehra, the Gondi inhabitants of Paraswada carry an image of Ravana riding an elephant in a procession to worship him, and protest the burning of Ravana's effigies. Their worship of Ravana is also a way to resist pressure from Christian missionaries and right-wing Hindu groups and preserve their own culture.[14][15]


They are a designated Scheduled Tribe (ST) in Andhra Pradesh, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal.[16]

The Government of Uttar Pradesh had classified the Gondi people as a Scheduled Caste but by 2007, they were one of several groups that the Uttar Pradesh government had redesignated as Scheduled Tribes.[17] As of 2017, that tribal designation applies only to certain districts, not the entire state.[18] The 2011 Census of India for Uttar Pradesh showed the Scheduled Caste Gond population as 21,992.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "A-11 Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix". Census of India 2011. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2017-03-24.
  2. ^ "ST-14 Scheduled Tribe Population By Religious Community". www.censusindia.gov.in. Census of India Website : Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
  3. ^ Deogaonkar, Shashishekhar Gopal (23 November 2017). "The Gonds of Vidarbha". Concept Publishing Company.
  4. ^ a b Verma, R. C. (2002). Indian Tribes Through the Ages. Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. ISBN 978-8-12300-328-3.
  5. ^ "Census of India 2011" (PDF).
  6. ^ Rashid, Omar (29 August 2015). "Bringing rural realities on stage in urban India" – via www.thehindu.com.
  7. ^ "Salwa Judum is the only effective weapon against Maoist terror at present". 6 June 2017.
  8. ^ "List of notified Scheduled Tribes" (PDF). Census India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  9. ^ Bates, Crispin (1995). "Race, Caste and Tribe in Central India: the early origins of Indian ...anthropomorphize". In Robb, Peter. The Concept of Race in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-19-563767-0. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  10. ^ https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1306/1306.2416.pdf
  11. ^ https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1406/1406.3044.pdf
  12. ^ Santrock, John W. (2017). Life-Span Development (16th International ed.). McGraw Hill. p. 598. ISBN 9781259254833.
  13. ^ "Gond | people". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  14. ^ Asuras? No, Just Indians, Outlook India
  15. ^ Celebrating Ravan, The Hindu
  16. ^ "List of notified Scheduled Tribes" (PDF). Census India. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  17. ^ Darpan, Pratiyogita (July 2007). "State At A Glance - Uttar Pradesh". Pratiyogita Darpan. 2 (13): 81.
  18. ^ "State wise Scheduled Tribes — Uttar Pradesh" (PDF). Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2017-02-04.
  19. ^ "A-10 Individual Scheduled Caste Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix - Uttar Pradesh". Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2017-02-06.

Further reading[edit]

  • The tribal art of middle India - Verrier Elwin - 1951
  • Savaging the Civilized, Verrier Elwin, His Tribals & India - Ramachandra Guha - The University of Chicago Press - 1999
  • Beine, David m. 1994. A sociolinguistic survey of the Gondi-speaking communities of central India. M.A. thesis. San Diego State University. 516 p.
  • Banerjee, B. G., and Kiran Bhatia. Tribal Demography of Gonds. Delhi: Gian Pub. House, 1988. ISBN 81-212-0237-X
  • Elwin, Verrier. Phulmat of the Hills; A Tale of the Gonds. London: J. Murray, 1937.
  • Fürer-Haimendorf, Christoph von, and Elizabeth von Fürer-Haimendorf. The Gonds of Andhra Pradesh: Tradition and Change in an Indian Tribe. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1979. ISBN 0-04-301090-3
  • Kaufmann, Walter. Songs and Drummings of the Hill Maria, Jhoria Muria and Bastar Muria Gonds. And, the Musical Instruments of the Marias and Murias. 1950.
  • Mehta, B. H. Gonds of the Central Indian Highlands: A Study of the Dynamics of Gond Society. New Delhi: Concept, 1984.
  • Museum of Mankind, Shelagh Weir, and Hira Lal. The Gonds of Central India; The Material Culture of the Gonds of Chhindwara District, Madhya Pradesh. London: British Museum, 1973. ISBN 0-7141-1537-1
  • Pagdi, Setumadhava Rao. Among the Gonds of Adilabad. Bombay: Popular Book Depot, 1952.
  • Pingle, Urmila, and Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf. Gonds and Their Neighbours: A Study in Genetic Diversity. Lucknow, India: Ethnographic & Folk Culture Society, 1987.
  • Sharma, Anima. Tribe in Transition: A Study of Thakur Gonds. India: Mittal Publications, 2005. ISBN 81-7099-989-8
  • Singh, Indrajit. The Gondwana and the Gonds. Lucknow, India: The Universal publishers, 1944.
  • Kangalee, Motiram Chhabiram, Paree Kupar Lingo Gondi Punemi Darshan (In Hindi),Publisher ujjvala society Nagpur,2011
  • Vatti, Jalpati,Mava sagaa padeeng, in Gondwana sagaa Patrika published (In Hindi) in October 1986

External links[edit]

This article includes material from the 1995 public domain Library of Congress Country Study on India.