Gondi people

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The Gonds
Women in tribal village, Umaria district, India.jpg
Regions with significant populations
India Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka, Bihar
Gondi, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi
Gondi ( Koya Punem ), Hinduism[1]
Related ethnic groups

The Gondi (Gōndi) or Gond people are a Dravidian people of central India, spread over the states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra (Vidarbha),[2] Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Western Odisha. With over ten million people, they are the largest tribe in Central India.[3] They are a designated Scheduled Tribe in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal.[4] The Gond are also known as the Raj Gond. The term was widely used in 1950s, but has now become almost obsolete, probably because of the political eclipse of the Gond Rajas.[5] The Gondi language is closely related to the Telugu, belonging to the Dravidian family of languages. About half of Gonds speak Gondi languages while the rest speak Indo-Aryan languages including Hindi. According to the 1971 census, their population was 5.1 million. By the 1991 census this had increased to 9.3 million[6] and by 2001 census this was nearly 11 million. Since past few decades they have been at the receiving end due to Naxalite–Maoist insurgency in central part of India.[7] Gondi people are also used as shields against Naxalites by Government of Chhattisgarh through Salwa Judum.[8]


Scholars believe that Gonds settled in Gondwana, now known as eastern Madhya Pradesh, between the 13th and 19th centuries AD. Muslim writers described a rise of Gond state after the 14th century. Gondas 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 till late 16th century. They also gained control over the Malwa after the decline of the Mughals followed by the Marathas in the year 1690.[9] The Maratha power swept into Gondland in the 1740s.The Marathas overthrew Gond Rajas (princes) and seized most of their territory. While Some Gond zamindaris (estates) survived until recently. .[10] During the British regime in India, Gonds challenged the Britishers in several battles.

Gonds in freedom struggle[edit]

This State included the regions of Sagar, Damoh, Mandla, Seoni, Narmada Valley and possibly a portion of Bhopal. The state had 53 forts. Dalpat Shah as its ruler. When he died he left behind his widow Durgawati, who was from Chandel Rajput dynasty, and their infant son Bir Narayanawati became the Regent. Abul Fazal says that Durgawati ruled her kingdom with wisdom and ability. She delighted in hunting and bringing down wild animals with her own gun. Asaf Khan,[11] the Governor of Kara or Allahabad, was tempted by the wealth of Gondwana. Occasionally he ravaged the borders of the kingdom. Rani Durgwati started negotiations with Akbar for a peaceful settlement and when those negotiation failed, she retaliated by making forays against Bhilsa. Asaf Khan[11] marched toward Gondwana. Durgawati defended her territory bravely, but she was out numbered and defeated in a battle between garh and Mandal in the modern Jabalpur District. Rani Durgawati was wounded and she plunged a dagger into her chest and ended her life to save herself from disgrace. Her kingdom was annexed in 1564 by Akbar and was devastated and a lot of the wealth fell into the hands of the Mughals. Bir Narayan died fighting in the defence of his country. According to V.A.Smith, Akbar's attack on a princess of a character so noble was mere aggression, wholly unprovoked and devoid of all justifications other than the lust for conquest and plunderlol.".[12] Ramji Gond formed an army, and rebelled against the British, as the local people were unhappyfor separating out Berar from the Hyderabad province of the Nizams.[13]

Gods - The birth of the Bana and the first Pardhan Gond[edit]

Come over O Bada Dev,

sit in the dense shade of the Saja tree.

Come, create the world,

create it once again.

Where the village comes to an end

keep vigil O Mahrilin Devi.

Let no illness, no disease

head our way,

stop it right there.

At the edge of the forest

stand guard O Ghurri Dev.

Keep us safe,

keep us safe from the wild beast.

At the village crossroads

stay put O Tipthain Dev.

Confer at all given hours

on us a boon of plenty.

Sprawl yourself O Dehri Dev

over our humble doorway.

Let no female demon

step into the house.

Come, make your home

O Chulha Dev

in the freshly smeared chulha.

Fill with the most delicious taste

every speck of food.

When night falls

in desolate streets

make your round O Ratmai Murkhuri.

So the weary humans can sleep,

so they can sleep in peace.

— Udayan Vajpeyi, Jangarh Kalam[14]

The Gonds were seven brothers. They sowed jute in the field. In a few days, the jute began to grow. One day they saw a handsome young man galloping on his horse right through their field. The hooves were trampling the jute saplings. They pounced on the young man with their paitharis. The youngest brother was so scared that his stomach got upset. He went to the nearby ditch to relieve himself. The other six brothers chased the horseman. The field was quite big. At the edge of it was a Saja tree. Seeing the Gond brothers chasing him, the horseman went under the Saja tree and disappeared into it along with his horse. The Gonds saw him vanish into the tree. They instantly understood… This is our Bada Dev who came riding through our field on his white horse. How unfortunate we are that we could not recognise him… Now he is angry with us. He has disappeared into the Saja tree. How do we placate him. Together they began to reflect on this. They erected a platform under the Saja tree. They offered rar lentils. Sacrificed a white rooster. Sprinkled liquor made from Mahua. Folded their hands in prayer. Went on pleading… But Bada Dev was angry. He did not come out of the Saja tree… At this point the youngest brother turned up from the direction of the nullah. He found out what had happened… He said, ‘I’ll find a way. It might please Bada Dev.’… He went and felled a bough from Khirsani tree. He made a one-stringed instrument from the wood and playing on it, began to sing. The notes began to resound in the woods. In the song he began to sing praises of the glory of Bada Dev. Listening to the song Bada Dev was pleased and he made an appearance in the trunk of the Saja tree. He blessed the youngest brother by placing his hand on his head, ‘Whenever you sing my song playing this instrument, I’ll make an appearance. This instrument of yours will be called Bana.’ Bada Dev accepted everybody’s offerings and once again vanished into the Saja tree.[14]


The Pardhan Gonds are a clan of the large Gond tribe inhabiting central India.[14] They traditionally served the larger tribal community as musicians, bardic priests and keepers of genealogies and sacred teachings. With declining support for their traditional role, the Pardhan Gonds have adapted their oral traditions for the visual medium has already been adapted from auspicious designs on the walls and floors of mud huts for acrylic paintings on canvas, pen and ink drawings, silkscreen prints and large scale murals. Several Gond artists[15] have travelled abroad for exhibitions and Pardhan Gond painting has gained popularity in the mainstream art market. With decline in interest in oral storytelling traditions, storytelling through the animation medium may be a way of reigniting interest in culture amongst the younger generations of Pardhan Gonds.

Some of the best known painters of the Jangarh Kalam school are : Jangarh's wife, Nankusia Shyam,[16] his children Japani and Mayank,[17] his nephews Bhajju Shyam[18] · [19] · [20] · [21] and Venkat Singh Shyam[22] and his sister and brother-in-law Durga Bai[23] and Subhash Vyam and Ram Singh Urveti[17] · .[24]


The prime language spoken by Gond Tribe is Gondi. Beside this, the Gond tribes have a good command on Telugu, Hindi, Marathi, Parsi and many other Dravidian languages. In 1928 Munshi Mangal Singh Masaram designed brahmi based script for Gondi, but it is not widely used nowadays. A recently discovered script Gunjala Gondi Lipi is used to write Gondi language.[25][better source needed]


Many astronomy ideas were known to ancient Gonds.[26] Gond tribals had their own local terms for Sun, Moon, Constellations and Milky way. Most of these ideas were basis for their time keeping and calendrical activities. Other than Gonds the Banjaras and Kolams are also known to have knowledge of astronomy.[27][27]

Notable Gonds[edit]

See also[edit]

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 Chigago 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.
  • Perry, William James, The Children of the Sun: a study in the early history of civilization, London: Methuen, 1927.
  • Pingle, Urmila, and Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf. Gonds and Their Neighbours: A Study in Genetic Diversity. Lucknow, India: Ethnographic & Folk Culture Society, 1987.
  • Russell, R. V., The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, London, 1916.
  • 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


  1. ^ Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011
  2. ^ https://books.google.co.in/books?id=X39c2VODLT0C&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=royal+gonds&source=bl&ots=0Ma0RGj47o&sig=rurWYLnJxqTJZnGHtkrfXUECmOI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sf29VJDEHZfh8AXC8oHQCw&ved=0CEQQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=royal%20gonds&f=false
  3. ^ "Gondi people". 
  4. ^ "List of notified Scheduled Tribes" (PDF). Census India. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Indian Tribes -R.C.Verma ISBN 81-230-0328-5
  6. ^ Indian Tribes ISBN 81-230-0328-5
  7. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/bringing-rural-realities-on-stage-in-urban-india/article7592193.ece?homepage=true
  8. ^ Salwa Judum
  9. ^ http://www.ecoindia.com/tribes/gonds.html
  10. ^ *Bates, Crispin (1995). "Race, Caste and Tribe in Central India: the early origins of Indian anthropometry". 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. 
  11. ^ a b http://narsinghpur.nic.in/history.htm
  12. ^ History of Medieval India-V.D.Mahajan ISBN 81-219-0364-5
  13. ^ http://www.scribd.com/doc/194993577/Tribal-Rebellions-of-India#scribd
  14. ^ a b c Jangarh Kalam - Udayan Vajpeyi et Vivek. Published in 2008 by Tribal Welfare Department, Madhya Pradesh, India. ISBN 81-903764-3-8
  15. ^ Gond artists
  16. ^ Bulli & The Tiger - Shalina Reys and Nankusia Shyam - Pratham Books - 2010 - ISBN 9789350220177
  17. ^ a b Freedom : Sixty Years After Indian Independence, illustrations: Mayank Kumar Shyam, Ram Singh Urveti, Bhuri Bai ... - Art and Heritage Foundations - 2007 - ISBN 978-8190485807
  18. ^ La petite sirène - Gita Wolf et Sirish Rao, illustrations: Bhajju Shyam - Syros - 2009 - ISBN 9782748508413
  19. ^ La vie nocturne des arbres - Bhajju Shyam, illustrations: Durge Bai et Ram Singh Urveti - Acte Sud Junior - 2013 - ISBN 978-2-330-02132-0
  20. ^ Mon voyage inoubliable - Bhajju Shyam, illustrations: Bhajju Shyam - Syros - 2014 - ISBN 9782748514902
  21. ^ Alone in the Forest - Gita Wolf & Andrea Anastasio - illustrations: Bhajju Shyam - Tara Books - 2012 - ISBN 978-81-923171-5-1
  22. ^ Finding My Way - A Gondwana Journey - Venkat Raman Singh Shyam with S. Anand - navayana 2012 - A draft sample for Frankfurt Buchmesse 2012
  23. ^ Book of Rhyme - Gita Wolf, illustrations: Durga Bai - taraBOOKS - 2010 - ISBN 978-93-80340-06-7
  24. ^ I saw a Peacock with a fiery Tail - illustrations: Ram Singh Urveti - Tara Books - 2011 - ISBN 978-93-80340-14-2
  25. ^ Gunjala Gondi Lipi
  26. ^ http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1306/1306.2416.pdf
  27. ^ a b http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1406/1406.3044.pdf


External links[edit]

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

Category:Indian painting