Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Salt of the Earth

There are many outstanding people in the villages who are an asset to the Bhils' fight for their rights in Western Madhya Pradesh. One such stalwart is Deep Singh of Bisali village in Dewas district. He is a "Burwa" or traditional medicine man who treats patients with a combination of natural herbs, leaves and roots and the chanting of mantras to propitiate the Gods and shoo away evil spirits after first assessing the pulse of the patient as shown in the picture below.
He practices medicine with diligence. This includes mobilising his community to protect the forests adjacent to their village so that they have enough trees and plants of medicinal value from which he can get his herbal medicine. He then processes and prepares this medicine. However, he is not a die hard burwa in the sense that when he realises that his medicine will not be able to cure the patient he refers them to allopathic doctors. He himself was suffering from eczema and could not cure it with herbal medicine and so he took allopathic cure and is now free of the problem. Consequently he has tremendous respect in the community.
What is more important from the Bhil Adivasi mobilisation point of view is that Deep Singh uses his influence for building up the identity of his tribe. He is a fierce advocate of Bhil autonomy and has been to jail a number of times in the fight for their rights. He has also spearheaded a cultural movement to establish the traditional Bhil culture. He is a "Gayan", the traditional Bhil bard who sings from memory the Bhil creation myth and other epic songs. He can be seen below singing one such epic along with support singers called "jhelu"s in a night long celebration at a memorial for Bhil martyrs that has been constructed on his land.
The singing goes on for the whole night but here is the Youtube link to a small portion of the Gayana which is a paean to Khatri, the God of War, who is being propitiated along with the spirits of the Bhil martyrs whose memorial statues are in the background. This celebration of the martyrdom of Bhil heroes is held every year on April 2nd and is attended by thousands of people from all over western Madhya Pradesh who are affiliated to the Adivasi Ekta Parishad.
Finally, Deep Singh has also initiated an important project to conserve and promote traditional seeds and agriculture of the Bhils. Such men are the salt of the earth and are doing their work quietly to save humanity from its impending doom!!

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