Essay on collective social life of criminal tribes of India


1. Community life.

The tribals operate as a well-knit unit. This is an imperative for the success of their criminal operations. They have a central organization called Panchayat where all powers are vested in the headman or tribal chief.

The Panchayat organises training in crime expertise of its members. It also provides them with legal and professional aid in the event of abortive criminal attempt. In the event of the death of a member his family is economically provided for and protected by the Panchayat.


The headman is empowered to punish any member if he violates the code of Panchayat. There can be excommunication and even extermination if the headman is satisfied that the presence of a particular member is threat to the whole tribe. The headman also enjoys special privileges. He must get part of the booty of the crime and also has access to every woman.

2. Family and Professional Life.

The homes of criminal tribes are the training centres and prepare the children for their future life of criminality. From early childhood the children are broken into crime and their ears are filled with heroic criminal exploits of their elders and their hearts stuffed and suffused with hatred of other people.

They are asked to be brave and courageous and trained to kill animals and birds mercilessly and without compunction. They are told that they belong to a grandfather who had a lifelong record of murder, dacoity and kidnapping but could even throw dust into the eyes of policemen; even the police was terrorized and badly afraid of him.


From early youth they start a course of practical training and undergo various tests of steeling their nerves. They are trained how to disguise and how to cheat; how to role; how to throw acid; how to escape detection; how to wield knife and firearms. They are also trained to be masculine and remove necklaces and ornaments off women.

Another important feature of their training is to operate secretly, be loyal and faithful to the superior and cooperate among themselves. The girls are trained how to use their charms for the criminal purposes. Wrestling, mock-fight, knife throwing are their popular sports. Their first training ground in practical crime is fairs, festivals, crowded railway platforms etc. Thus by phases the child becomes a fulfledged, well-trained criminal.

There is also training in strict discipline in these tribes, though intra- tribal quarrels are not infrequent and they are settled by the headman. But if an outsider clashes with any members of the tribe, the whole tribe fights against him sinking their mutual differences.

3. Marriage and Morals.


On account of their nomadic existence and criminal life, the institution of marriage is rather weak and the stable marital arrangements are few; and the divorce is fairly common place. There is no fixed age for marriage; but child marriages are not uncommon. The marriages are usually ceremonized without the assistance of priest.

This primarily is due to the fact that Hindus regard these tribes as untouchable and the presence of a priest in the marriages of untouchables constitutes a sacrilege. However, tribals celebrate their marriages with great pomp and show; and though, in different tribes different customs are observed, one thing common to all tribal marriages is feasting of meats and hard alcohol.

In some gypsies of middle-east marriage is an occasion of great merry­making; and in Turkey all guests have sexual intercourse with the bride. However, such licentiousness is not to be found among Indian tribals, though dancing is quite common.

In a majority of tribal societies, marriage is by purchase, that is, the bridegroom is required to give bride-money to his father-in-law. There is usually hard bargaining for the price of bride between the bridegroom and the parents of the bride. The bridemoney, as it is called, varies in quantum from one society to the other.


As may be expected, a pretty young girl fathers higher price than a fat unseemly. In order to exercise a restraint on the tendency to charge exorbitant prices for brides various panchayats have fixed such an amount. Inspite of Panchayats there is bargaining particularly if the bride is passionately attractive and adept in sex techniques.

Besides abnormal marriage practices, the moral laws followed by criminal tribes are cock-eyed; these are in fact topsy turvy. What is moral or valuable in normal society is considered to be of no consequence by tribals; they are completely indifferent, even contemptuous of morals. Thieving, dacoity and killing, are perfectly normal for them. Their sexual morals are equally perverse according to conventional morality.

Generally most females of criminal tribes are extremely passionate and fond of sexual intercourse. They not only meet their husbands but freely offer their bodies to others for money or pleasure. They are usually scantily dressed and particularly while suckling, they are completely topless. Usually they are unmindful of covering while bathing etc.

They are so unashamed of their bodies that they may be called children of nature or born exhibitionists. Besides normal sex many of them are fond of sodomy. They use their skill at body display and entertainment for espionage for their tribes and thus help in theft and dacoity. Thus one may conclude that morals of tribals are at a low level.


4. Religious Beliefs and Superstitions.

Some tribals subscribe to Moslem faith and others to Hinduism. Those subscribing to Hindu faith are, however, considered to be untouchables by the caste Hindus and not allowed entry into Hindu temples. But Hindu tribes have fashioned out or developed in course of time many deities which are to be placated and whose grace is sought through adulation etc. For example, Bavarian tribals believe in transmigration of souls and they dutifully set apart a certain portion of the booty or looted wealth for the deity.

Some tribals are known to worship a deity known by the name of Goodar Por. The water of river Ganga is regarded holy and sacred and plays important part in the lives of the tribals. The swearing by Ganga jal is regarded to be final and unalterable commitment. Whenever any ceremony or worship is to be performed, a bottle of Ganga- jal is kept as divine witness.

At the time of epidemics a ceremonial worship of Kali Devi with elaborate paraphernalia is duly performed. The Bavarians also worship a deity known as Dat. Bhantus also attach great importance to the worship of Kail Devi; they are also sun-worshippers.

The tribals entertain plenty of superstitions, some ludicrous and some strange and interesting. Like all primitive races, the Indian tribals attach great importance to the dream phenomenon. Whatever they happen to see in dreams is loaded with meaning for their day-to-day life. They regard the intimation of dream as realities bound to happen and therefore their dreams determine their attitude and responses of life.

The dreams maybe auspicious or inauspicious depending upon the object seen in the dream. Thus, for example, the sight of a beautiful woman in dream is taken to be extremely auspicious and this may indicate good luck and bring money for feasting and merry-making or may indicate that man will marry a damsel soon; but if a fall of tooth is seen in dream this is most inauspicious as it foretells certain death of a youth of the tribe.

As they launch upon criminal operations the Bavarians carefully watch the initial symptoms. The sight of the bird ‘Neelkanth’ indicates sure success of the operation and is very auspicious. Again a suckling calf is an auspicious sign; but the howl of jackals and sight of menstruating woman is very inauspicious, and the plan is abandoned. Bhantus regard the braying of lamb an auspicious sign; but they regard the sight of a urinating woman a bad omen.

The sight of backside is less ominous than the sight of front portion. The sight of pregnant woman may indicate big success or total failure. The sight of the barber, oilvendor, one-eyed person or a policeman in the early morning is regarded very inauspicious. Thus it is clear that tribals entertain plenty of superstitions and are guided in thefr behaviour by these”.

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