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Meena

Meena
Languages Hindi, Mewari, Marwari, Dhundari, Harauti, Wagdi, Malvi, Garhwali, Bhili etc.[1]
Country India, Pakistan

The Meena Tribe—whose name is also transliterated as Meenanda or Mina— found mainly in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh regions of India, is believed to be the descendants of Matsya Tribe of Matsya Kingdom, which flourished in the 6th century B.C.[2]
The Meena fall into the category of Scheduled Tribe. in the state of Rajasthan and majority of them is classified as to be Hindu.,[3] but in Madhya Pradesh Meena(Serial No. 21)is recognized as Scheduled Tribe inside Sironj Tehsil in Vidisha, while in other 44 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Meena has been placed in the category of Other Backward Classes[4] This is however officially proposed that the Meena tribe be fully recognized as a Scheduled tribe in Madhya Pradesh and the proposal in under process with the Central Government.[5]

Meenas celebrate Meenesh Jayanti in the name of Vishnu on 3 Tithi of Chaitra Shukal paksha according to the Hindu calendar. The main reference of this belief is based on the scripture of the Matsya Purana.[6]

Contents

  • History 1
    • Vedic period 1.1
    • Medieval period 1.2
    • British colonial period 1.3
    • Recent history 1.4
  • Subdivisions 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5

History

Nandini Sinha Kapur, a historian who has studied early India, notes that the oral traditions of the Meenas were developed from the early 19th century AD in an attempt to reconstruct their identity. She says of this process, which continued throughout the 20th century, that "The Minas try to furnish themselves a respectable present by giving themselves a glorious past". In common with the people of countries such as Finland and Scotland, the Meenas found it necessary to invent tradition through oral accounts, one of the primary uses of which is recognised by both historians and sociologists as being "social protest against injustices, exploitation and oppression, a raison d'être that helps to retrieve the image of a community." Kapur notes that the Meenas not merely lack a recorded history of their own but also have been depicted in a negative manner both by medieval Persian accounts and records of the colonial period. From medieval times through to the British Raj, references to the Meenas describe them as violent, plundering criminals and an anti-social ethnic tribal group.[7]

Vedic period

Matsya Avatar (Meena Avatar).

The Meenas claim descent from the Matsya avatar, or fish incarnation, of Vishnu.[6][8]

Map of early Iron Age Vedic India after Witzel (1989). Realms or tribes are labelled black, Foreign tribes mentioned in early Vedic texts purple, Vedic shakhas in green. Rivers are labelled blue. Position of Matsya kingdom

A Meena dynasty ruled Rajasthan in ancient times and their emblem was a fish, similar to that used by the Pandyan kingdom of the south.[9][10] It lay to south of the kingdom of Kurus and west of the Yamuna which separated it from the kingdom of Panchalas. It roughly corresponded to former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan, and included the whole of Alwar with portions of Bharatpur.[11]

The Meena Kingdom was known as “Matsya” as each of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya tribe (or the Kshatriya Jana) who had settled therein.[12] Around 300 BC, the Meena kingdom succumbed to the rising Mauryan empire.[13][14] The present day Meenas of Rajasthan still follow Vedic culture: they mainly worship Shiva, Hanuman and Krishna as well as the Devas.[15]

Map of the Matsya janapada.

Medieval period

Amber, India Fort view from Jaigarh

Kyaranagar in Thanaghazi was an important city of Meenas, whose ruler was Rao Mokalsingh Meena at the time of Akbar’s reign. The armies of Mughals and Kachwaha Rajputs plundered Kyaranagar and in its place founded Mohamadabad.[16]

British colonial period

A Meena of Jajurh

The system of colonial administration known as the British Raj came into existence in 1858, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857 which caused the government of Britain to decide that leaving colonial administration in the hands of the East India Company was a recipe for further discontent. In an attempt to create an orderly administration through a better understanding of the populace, the Raj authorities instituted various measures of classifying the people of India.[17] One such measure was the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, under the provisions of which the Meenas were placed. The community remained stigmatised for many years, notably by influential officials of the Raj such as Herbert Hope Risley and Denzil Ibbetson, and were sometimes categorised as animists and as a hill tribe similar to the Bhils.[18] The Meenas remained an officially-designated criminal tribe until 1952, three years after the Act had been repealed. Mark Brown has examined the impact and issues of the Meena community during British rule, and the change in their status from being a higher social group to a criminal tribe. He also mentioned the division in the Meenas as zamindar group and chowkidar Meenas.[19]

Recent history

Meenas have better rights for women in many respects compared to many other Hindu castes.[15] Hindu law as codified through acts passed between 1955 and 1956 were based on inegalitarian Victorian English patters of marriage and inheritance and on the customary practices of some the dominant communities in North-West India, among whom women's right have been seriously coded. The practices of the Nairs in Kerala, Meitei in Mainipur, Meenas in Rajasthan and Jains, which provide better rights to women in many respects, were presumed to be non-existent or non-Indian. Thus the Hindu codified law is in many ways a step backward for some communities.[15][20]

The Meenas of the Karauli, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Gangapur area are the most important cultivators for the last four hundred years. They expelled the Dhangars and Lodhis from a number of villages they occupied 500 years ago, and have retained their possession until now. In Karauli(Rajasthan), the Meenas, Gurjars and Jats smoke together. They live in complete harmony.[9]

In Rajasthan, the Meena caste members oppose the entry of Gurjars into Scheduled Tribe fold with fear that their own share of Scheduled Tribe reservation benefits will be eroded.[21]

Subdivisions

The community was once sub-divided into:

See also

References

  1. ^ See also Mina at Ethnologue
  2. ^ Rabindra Nath Pati, Jagannatha Dash (2002). "Tribal and Indigenous People of India: Problems and Prospects". Ethenology. APH Publishing. p. 12.  
  3. ^ Yüksel Sezgin (2011). "Human Rights and Legal Pluralism". Social Science › General. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 41.  
  4. ^ Mahendra Lal Patel (1997). "Awareness in Weaker Section: Perspective Development and Prospects". Economic development projects. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 35.  
  5. ^ Shri JAGDISH THAKOR, YOGI ADITYANATH, KHAGEN DAS & KIRODI LAL (19 August 2012). "Castes under proposal for inclusion in SC/ST Category". UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 651 by Shri JAGDISH THAKOR, YOGI ADITYANATH, KHAGEN DAS & KIRODI LAL. GCONNECT.IN. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Kapur, Nandini Sinha (May 2008). "Reconstructing Identities and Situating Themselves in History : A Note on the Meenas of Jaipur Region". d'échange bilatéral franco-indien durant le mois de mai 2008. 
  7. ^ Kapur, Nandini Sinha (2007). "The Minas: Seeking a Place in History". In Bel, Bernard. The Social and the Symbolic. Sage. pp. 129–131.  
  8. ^ Sharma, Mathura Lal (1971). "Rajasthan". Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India. p. 191. 
  9. ^ a b Rizvi, S. H. M. (1987). Mina, The Ruling Tribe of Rajast.han (Socio-biological Appraisal). Delhi: B.R. Pub. Corp. 
  10. ^ The Modern review, Volume 84, Ramananda Chatterjee, Prabasi Press Private, Ltd., 1948 - History. 
  11. ^ Sukh Sampati Raj Bhandari: Bharat ke deshi rajya, Jaypur rajya ka Itihas, page 3
  12. ^ Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala — India; India in the Time of Patañjali, 1968, p 68, Dr B. N. Puri — India; Socio-economic and Political History of Eastern India, 1977, p 9, Y. K Mishra — Bihar (India); Tribes of Ancient India, 1977, p 18, Mamata Choudhury — Ethnology; Tribal Coins of Ancient India, 2007, p xxiv, Devendra Handa — Coins, Indic - 2007; The Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, 1972, p 221, Numismatic Society of India — Numismatics .
  13. ^ Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (2004), A History of India, 4th edition. Routledge, Pp. xii, 448,  .
  14. ^  .
  15. ^ a b c Kishwar, Madhu (1994). ‘Codified Hindu Law. Myth and Reality ‘,. Economics and political weekly,. 
  16. ^ Rajasthan [district Gazetteers]:Alwar. Rajasthan [district Gazetteers]: AlwarPrinted at Govt. Central Press, 1968 - History. 
  17. ^ Naithani, Sadhana (2006). In quest of Indian folktales: Pandit Ram Gharib Chaube and William Crooke. Indiana University Press.  
  18. ^ Kapur, Nandini Sinha (2007). "The Minas: Seeking a Place in History". In Bel, Bernard. The Social and the Symbolic. Sage. p. 131.  
  19. ^ Brown, Mark (2004). "Crime, Liberalism and Empire: Governing the Mina Tribe of Northern India". Social and Legal Studies 13 (2): 191–218.  
  20. ^ Agrwal, Bina (1989). "Rural Women, Poverty and Natural Resources". Economics and Political Weekly. 
  21. ^ Satyanarayana (2010). Ethics: Theory and Practice. Pearson Education India. p. 96.  

Further reading

  • Adak, Dipak Kumar. Demography and health profile of the tribals: a study of M.P. Anmol Publications. 
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