Tribal Social Organization and "Hindu" Influence

  • Georg Pfeffer (Autor/in)

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The alleged "Hindu influence" on the social organization of the Middle Indian tribes is examined in the work of three esteemed anthropologists (Koppers, Levi-Strauss and Elwin). The status differences Koppers relates to such "influences" can be identified as the primary juxtaposition of the sacred and the secular (which similarly marks the "Hindu" ideology), but a tribal adaptation can be ruled out. Levi - Strauss ignores terminological patterns of symmetric alliance in tribal India because their identity contradicts some basic premises of his work on "restricted exchange". Such a sophisticated system of symmetric alliance, however, must be seen as the common root of the simpler "Dravidian" pattern of alliance or the North Indian restrictions on marriage. It can link the systems apparently so heterogeneous and as such point to a pan-Indian pattern. Elwin divorces the "Hindu" craftsmen and traders from their tribal neighbours although there is no indication of their later immigration into the tribal areas. The classification is thus a direct result of the ethnographer's bias, which refuses to admit elementary "castelike" distinctions between cultivators and craftsmen or the basic unity of tribal and "Hindu" conceptions of status. The measurable distinctions between the social systems in the plains and those of the hills are ignored: in the effort to create a non-Hindu identity for tribal people the class character of civilization is absent in tribal society.