The Bhils of Mewad
Bhils are native Dravidian tribes of India. The region around Udaipur and Kherwada is known as Mewad. Bhils of this region are ferocious, nature and fun loving people. The area that covers Dungarpur and Banswada is known as Vagad.
After the war of Kurukshetra Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to take the 16000 gopikas back to Madhura / Vrepalle from Dwaraka. Kherwada falls on the way. When the caravan of Arjuna was passing through Kherwada hills the Bhils surrounded the caravan and looted them while Arjuna stood incapacitated and overpowered by the Bhils. Arjuna could not do any thing, the same Arjuna the winner of Kurukshetra war with his Gandeev , the famous bow. The scene is described as (as I remember)
" Vohi Arjun, Vohi Theer , Vohi Kamaan,
Samay , Purush, Balwan". Which is explained as " Oh Purush , The same Arjuna with his powerful bow and arrow, the winner of kurukshetra has to stand incapacitated by the Bhils. Alas, time is the mightier ".
While fighting Akbar, Maharana Pratap had taken shelter in the forests of Mewad with the help of Bhils. Bhils used to address Maharana Pratap as Kika affectionately. The forces of Akbar could not dare to enter these forests of Aravalli mountain range as the Bhils with their bows and arrows are sharp shooters and are fearless. They also provided Maharana with a powerful army of Bhils lead by Punja the Bhil warrior. Punja's help was so critical to Maharana that Punja was titled as Rana by Maharana Pratap. Thus Sri Punja is remembered today as Rana Punja. Bhils are essentially forest dwelling tribe and are not very much concerned with the out side world. They are normally peaceful unless disturbed or provoked. If any Bhil senses trouble he climbes the hill and beats the drum. On hearing the drum all the Bhils gather with their arrows and bows. Bhils in the forest do not live in groups ,rather their houses are built apart from each other.
Even the British with their guns could not control the Bhils. Instead the British found it more wise to form a police force exclusively with Bhils. Thus came into existence the Mewad Bhil Corps which is famous even today as MBC. The reputation of MBC is that if every other force failed to control a situation / disturbance, use MBC. The personnel of MBC are highly dedicated to their duties and flawlessly discharge their responsibilities.
Near Kherwada there is a famous Jain temple of Rishab Dev the first thirthankar. The temple is also known as Kesariya Jee temple. Bhils do visit this temple. Recently a dispute among the Jain sects was resolved through the court of law as to who will have the right to manage the temple. This has angered the Bhils and they surrounded the temple claiming their rights too. Five of the Bhils died in the police shooting. Ultimately the State Government of Rajasthan had to refer the case back to the court. Bhils say that they have been visiting this temple since ages and the deity is known to them as Kala Baba and also as Dhulav Jee.
At times of crisis Bhils never shrieked away from their duty to the Nation. When Bhils were on dharna [ protest ] fighting the British for freedom in Dungarpur, the British tied some freedom fighters to a jeep and dragged them. Their leader, a lady Srimati Kali Bhai Khat [the Bhil from Simalwada ] released the freedom fighters by cutting off the rope with a sword. The police opened fire on her causing her death. Bhils of this region are excellent archers even today. They are brave and fear none
Thanks I found this post of 5 years back so interesting- you have gone right back to ancient times to trace their roots!!!!
Yes their bravery is truly praiseworthy and the account of Srimati Kali Bhai Khat [the Bhil from Simalwada ] and her sacrifice for the nation was touching
Thanks for highlighting about the unsung brave of our land
Dear Thoughtful Reflections,
I will write about Rana Punja Bhil and Kali Bai Khat separately. I understand that one of the descendants of Kali Bai Khat was honored with Maharana Mewad Award recently. I wish to locate her too.
i am thankful to you for your comments which are adding knowledge.
vandana i agree with you. i think it is enough if we are thankful to them. they don't expect any thing from out siders [ those not living in the forests] and government , phew! thanks for the comment.
bhils are mentioned in ramayana, too. remember the khevat 'nishad'---who takes lord rama, laxman and sita across the river--while theo go in exile for 14 years.
also, you would like to know the lady who offered lord rama & laxman wild berry as eatables---laxman does not eat and throws away. the legend has it the same thing becomes sanjivani herb. and when laxman is wounded in battle with meghanad--it is the same herbal hill lord hanuman brings to treat laxman. and sir, this lady was a bhil woman.
how do we forget about another great lady -ahalya--wife of saint gautam--who due to a curse had become a "stone". she is reincarnated as a beautiful lady by the toch of the feet of lord rama--she is again a bhil woman.most of these ancients wisemen or rishis dwelt in the jungles and lcarried out their knowledge gaining work.
now to my point---aren't these people found in the region i am talking about. the difference is i don't say there is anything called dravida--they are origional natives--nagas---like ravna--all of them worshippers of deity lord shiva. dravida was a derrogatory word coined by aryans.
anyway regards. rajee.
very informative indeed. i think our government relly need to do aomething to protect such tribals.
raj, if you want to see india, you should see rajasthan. thanks, dmr.
actually i worked in udaipur,dungarpur and banswada and hence i knew bhils of the region. i do not know if there is any thing specific about bhilwada. i will try to find out. thanks sir, dmr sekhar.
all these blogs are new and fascinating and insightful to me....
i cannot do justice them except by viisting them at least twice each....
great job, you're doing.....
hi dmr sekhar,
very informative blog indeed. thanks.
bhils and santhals are sometimes mentioned in one breath. i do not understand why. what was the history of bhilwada like?