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Adivasi Gotras (septs) and History of Kurukh Tribe

 Jharkhand  Blog   





Adivasi Gotras (septs) and its meaning



The Kurukh tribe have large number of septs (Gotras) of the totemistic type, named after plants and animals. Members of any sept commonly abstain from killing or eating their sept totem. A man must not marry a member of his own sept nor a first cousin on the mother's side. The names show that as usual with the tribes of this part of the country the law of endogamy is by no means strict. The tribe have also a large number of exogamous septs of the totemistic type, named after plants and animals. Majority of Oraons write their septs. List of totemistic names of Kurukh septs:









Quail bird, found among Munda and Karia tribes.




Shad fish












A climbing plant




Wood picker bird




Name of  a bird or young mouse




Monkey or field rat












Exogamous sept, found in Mundas and Kharia tribes.




Wild hog.
















Domestic Worker





Meaning of the totem may be wrong, if you find any mistake please inform to the Kurukh World.


Kurukh World is maintained

by N Ekka,

Email: nekka@jharkhandi.com










Carp fish





Intestine of hog





Sweet potato















Wild dog, Jackal





 An animal, Rate
























Banyan tree








Kurukh priest(Baigas)




















Son river








Cast name of Oroan




Lord Ram, Exogamous sept




Valture Bird




Valture Bird




Tank weed




 A name of  tree




Exogamous sept




 Name of a bird




Exogamous sept








The Haluman ape












Swallow-tailed bird




Ficus religiosa











Kiss  khochol

Lit, hog bone, a thorny tree








Name of a water creature.








Exogamous sept, found among Gode tribes






  However, those who follow Tana Bhagat principle or Sarna Dharma write Bhagat in place of gotra. Many prefer to write Oraon as second name in place of gotra. In Chhattisgarh some oroans write Say, Nikunj, Ram and Devi after their name.










Indus Valley Civilization - Origin of Kurukhs


According to the history and traditions of Kurukhs, once they were lived in "Indus Valley Civilization" before 2500 B.C., peacefully and sophisticated life with another people of Indus valley. The earliest cities Mohenjodaro and Harappa to be remained  at Indus Valley of Sind. Further up the another ancient cities were discovered, as Rupar near Chandigarh,and Lothal near Ahmadabad etc. These cities had been made with carefully planed before houses and streets built. Houses were built of brick (Fig.1) and had thick, strong walls, which were plastered and coloured, roofs were flat, windows and doors were probably made of wood. The streets ran straight and at right angles to each other. The houses were built on both side of the street. Lothal was the foreign export-emport center, had a big harbor. It can be seen till today. With anothe people of Indus Kurukhs people had trading to the other part of Asia, Africa and Egypt, they had trading contact with people of Sumer. Even in those days there was trade between India and other parts of world. They used to ate meat, fish and wheat, barely and fruits, they liked particularly pomegranates and bananas. They knew how to weave cotton women wore a short skirt and lining par (near boarder) cotton saree, as like kurukh women are wearing today.The men wrapped long pieces of cloth around themselves, they liked most lonngi, dhoti, feta and langot as today adivasis are wearing. They discovered couper, bronz, tin and lead and made tools and knives for agriculture and domestic use. One ancient tools has been found in Palamu district of Jharkhand state, which is similar to the tools of Indus Valley. Now it is kept in museum of Patna. It proofs that kurukhs are descendants of Indus civilization. It is proofed from the seals and scripts, that people of the Indus were spoken star as binko, village as paddu and woman as ali and man as aal. Even today kurukhs says Binko, padda, aali and aal respectively.




Indus valley civilization have been destroyed by floods, which came regularly; or there may have been an epidemic or some terrible disease which killed the people. The climate also began to change and the region became more and more dry and like a desert (once desert of Rajasthan was a big fertile plane), or else the cities may have been attacked by the Aryans. There has so many cast lived in Indus Valley. Kurukhs are from  Dravidian family and they had relation between Brahui and other people of Indus. They were very honest, simple and peaceful persons, another people had been always unnecessary pressurized and  attacked them. As like another Dravidian people of Indus, Kurukhs were unable to stay there. They have migrated in about 2500 B.C. to North East and South West region from Baluchistan (Area of Indus River). Brahuies had been already went out to the North West region in 3000 B.C.


Migration Paths:


This migration paths (Fig.3) has been drowned by Elefenbein,1987 is called Bloch's hypothesis. According to this migration paths Brahui tribes were migrated from Baluchistan, area of Indus Valley in different direction. One can see in fig.3, the tribes which spoke Brahui, split into three as they moved south- east from the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, in older times. The fourth one went to the Sindh province in Pakistan. Figure 3 shows the area in Baluchistan where they speak Brahui even now. In the Figure one of these tribes who were going south - east, split into two at Rohtasgarh in the present state of Bihar. After splitting, one went to the Raj-Mahal hills near Santhal Pargna and settled there, and the other went to the Chhotanagpur plateau. These were the Kurukh ( Oraon ) speaking tribes.




These tribes who were going south-east from Baluchistan came and lived at west coast of India at carnatic region. There was a king of Karkal and Karkai named 'Kank Pany'. These are located in Carnatic area. He was a Kurukh king and made fort of 'Doshar'. Kurukhs are again migrated from here and through plane of Nerbudda River they came to Amarkantak, than Kat region, where they made Annandgarh and Pipragarh in Madya Pradesh. They spent 500 years up to reach here. Thereafter they had been living in flat area, near Son River and Karamanas marday. They said this place Kurus Country. They had been made various fort during the year 900-800 B.C. One of these is Rohtashgarh fort in Dehri On-Sone of Bihar state.


Kurukhs in Rohtasgath (500-400 B.C):


Rohtashgarh is in Kurus, where Kurukhs made a hugh fort. They had their own King named Raja Harichandra. They were rich and spent more time peacefully and good condition. It was the period between 500-400 B.C. and called Gold Period of Kurukh's in Rohtasgarh. It is hill place called series of Kaimur hill and situated at 1490 fit above from sea level and 45 KM far from Dehri On-Sone and 39 KM from Sasaram. It now occupies a part of the plateau about 4 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south, 28 miles in circumference. It is considered one of the largest and strongest hill forts in India. This fort served as a safe shelter for treasures and families of Sher Shah Suri, Shah Jahan, maan singh, Mir Qasim. Records suggest that there are 84 passages to the hill with 14 main gates entry. However 10 were closed by Sher Shah Suri.   ( About detail  History of Rohtasgarh click it).




In about 100 B.C., king of Cheros, descendants of Sung had been attacked at least three times, but they were defeated by the Kurukhs. Now Cheros are the tribal of India, found in Palamu and Chaibasa region , migrated from the sub-Himalayan tract and they bear the Dravadian physiognomy with light brown complexion. In 1538, it is said that Sher Shah Suri attacked to the fort on Sarhul - the festival of the Kurukhs, when they were dead drunk. He has chosen  this day, because he had known, Kurukhs were very strong and brave, he can't succeeded in another day. Singi Dai, princess of Rohtashgarh, and her friends Champa and kaili were the most brave women of Tribes. They have show the soldier of Sher Shah, coming to the fort, at once, they used their mind in leadership of Singi Dai. All men  were dead drunk thrugh the hadia (house made rice bear). Women dressed on men clothes , they tied up pheta in head, weared dhoti, trousers and langot, armed with weapons and  went out to the battle field. Enemies are driven out from the fort three times. A milkmaid from another village had been coming every day to Rohtasgarh for selling milk. Afghan soldiers told her that, Kurukhs are very strong and brave, we can not fight against them. Milkmaid said " Whole you are stupid, they are not men, but women. All Kurukh men are in dead alike, after drunken hadia. She told them some action to reorganization women, she continued, if they will taking water from both hand and wash their faces with both hands, they are women and if they will wash faces with their one hand, than they are men. Women were washing their faces into Son River after defeating enemies and driven out them from the city. Afghans seen  them from far away. They went again to the fort and attacked and captured the fort. Kurukhs are defeated  and they were driven out by forcely  from  Rohtasgarh. 


Settled in Chhotanagpur:


 As we know Kurukhs are divided into two group from Rohtasgarh, one group had been went to the Chhotangpur plateau. It is told that King, Queen and their son Ruidas and their soldier came to a village named Sutiyanba at near Ranchi. Mundas were there already engaged in Chhotanagpur. Head of the soldier Mr. Lakhser had came down from his horse and requested from Shri Manki Madira leader of Mundas to escape themselves and to give house for stay. Manki Madira have put off shield from his body and  gave food with beef and Kodatoli and Jonkhtoli for their stay. Shri Budhwa Oroan, Parha leader of Oroan had borned from daughter in low of Lakhser at village Sutyanba. Who had been governed Chhotangpur for some years. He had made Navratangarh of Donysa. Another group of Kurukh driven out from Rohtasgarh have went to the Rajmahal hill sereis of Santhal Pargrna, after that they have residing bank of Ganga River. Maltos at Litipara of Dumaka and Sour Pahadia people are the same people. Sour Pahadia people are speaking is 90% Kurukh language.


Ancestors of the Oraons or Kurukhs often call themselves." Towards Lohardaga the Oraons found themselves among the Mundas or Kols, who probably retired by degrees and left them in possession of the country. "The Oraons," Father Dehon states, "are an exceedingly prolific tribe and soon become the preponderant element, while the Mundas, being conservative and averse to living among strangers, emigrate towards another jungle.The Mundas hate zamindars, and whenever they can do so, prefer to live in a retired corner in full possession of their small holding; and it is not at all improbable that, as the zamindars took possession of the newly-formed villages, they retired towards the east, while the Oraons, being good beasts of burden and more accustomed to subjection, remained." In view of the fine physique and martial character of the Larka or Fighting Kols or Mundas, Dalton was sceptical of the theory that they could ever have retired before the Oraons; but in addition to the fact that many villages in which Oraons now live have Mundari names, it may be noted that the headman of an Oraon village is termed Munda and is considered to be descended from its founder, while for the Pahan or priest of the village gods, the Oraons always employ a Munda if available, and it is one of the Pahan's duties to point out the boundary of the village in cases of dispute; this is a function regularly assigned to the earliest residents, and seems to be strong evidence that the Oraons found the Mundas settled in Chota Nagpur when they arrived there. It is not necessary to suppose that any conquest or forcible expropriation took place; and it is probable that, as the country was opened up, the Mundas by preference retired to the wilder forest tracts, just as in the Central Provinces the Korkus and Baigas gave way to the Gonds, and the Gonds themselves relinquished the open country to the Hindus. None of the writers quoted notice the name Munda as applied to the headman of an Oraon village, but it can hardly be doubted that it is connected with that of the tribe; and it would be interesting also to know whether the Pahan or village priest takes his name from the Pans or Gandas. Dalton says that the Pans are domesticated as essential constituents of every Ho or Kol village community, but does not allude to their presence among the Oraons. The custom in the Central Provinces in Gond villages is that the village priest is always known as Baiga, because in some localities members of the Baiga tribe are commonly employed here. In villages first settled by Oraons, the population, Father Dehon states, is divided into three khunts, or branches, named after the Munda, Pahan and Mahto, the founders of the three branches being held to have been sons of the first settler. Members of each branch belong therefore to the same sept or got. Each khunt  has a share of the village lands.


In 1616, descendent of Nag, king Durjan Sai bacame a king of Chhotanagpur. He made Ramgarh, as a capital of the Chhotanagpur. This time Jahangir was the Mugal King of Delhi. He  demanded tax of Oroan and Munda people. Durjan Sai was unable to pay this vital tax. Janhagir attacked to the Ramgarh by governer Ebrahim Khan. King Durjan Sai had sized and he had taken to the Jail of Gavalior, where he had spent 12 years. Durjan Sai was the specialist to recognize diamond of Govalior .Therefore he had taken out from the jail and came to Ramgarh. Now he had changed his culture and became a member of Aryan Culture.


In 1831, Jagarnath became a King of Chhotanagpur. During this period British had been ruled in India. Taxes rules and landlord rules started. Jagarnath was can't payed the taxes of Chhotanagpur. In 1832, war started between British and Adi-Vashi. A lot of adi-vashis were died. Kol insurrection (1832), Ganga Narayan revolt (1832), Birsa Revolt(1895), In 1895 war started against Sikh, called Sardar War. Large number of people sheltered through the sword. War between Kurukh and Munda was happened at Murma ground near Mandar. Mundas were defeated. In memory of this victory Kurukh people celebrate a big Mela every year at Murma. In ancient time it was being the traditional Mela and Jatra dances was happening. But now a days it was converted into a big business market.


In 1908, land tenancy act passed by the British Government. Now kurukhs have a chance to save their land and encourage  their property. They have found an opportunity to manage their own  house.




Christian Missionaries & their roll:


 In 2nd November 1845, first time four missionaries were came to Ranchi, from Barlin city of Germany. After that, many missionaries have came to Chhotangapur from different churches. The British colonial power in order to create a class for manning its ruling apparatus utilized Christian missionaries to open educational institutions and schools in the area, which produced a section of tribal people educated in western pattern. Britishers succeeded in creating a class within the otherwise classless tribal society. This was in fact, the beginning of the dilution of tribal identity. Amit Ghos said "Missionaries functioned according to well chalked out programme in the Chhotangpur. They produced an ideology for the peasant system emerging in the tribal region and grafted the notion of private property in land to the communal mode of production, articulated the demands of tribals as peasant proprietors for the restoration of land, regulation of rent, and abolition of of feudal dues, guided peasant struggles against Zamindars, worked for the passage of agrarian law and setup peasant organizations like co-operative credit societies. In fact, they gave a new sense of self-respect to the tribal peasants and sought to create a separate identy of them."  Christian mission offered a useful institutional canopy over an area seething with adivasi discontent and helped usher in the associational density that was a feature af adivasi mobilization in the early 20th century. Soon numerous assciations wre formed to raise funds for educating adivasis and fight diku operation like the Christian association in 1898 by Lutheran gradates, Christian Students Organization in 1912, Chhotanagpur Charitable Association in 1912, Chhotanagpur Unnati Samaj in 1915, Decca Students Union in 1916, Catholics Sabha in 1935. There were mostly initiatives of Lutheran and Anglican youth leaders, further they were followed by Catholics who formed Catholic Sabha. Owing to the exposure and motivation given to them by the Christian missionaries a sense of new political awareness developed among the tribal people in the national context. An entire generation of Christian tribal politicians, emerging from a comparatively earlier access to education, founded and established the movement for state autonomy that started in the late 1930's, with active support of German Evangelical Lutheran Church. Emergence of some semi-political organizations like, Chotanagpur Unnati Samaj(1915), whose  members were mostly Christian tribals  from the Lutheram and Anglican congregations. It was led by Joel Lakra and Catholic Sabha (1935), through the unifying efforts of Ignes Beck, a Catholic politician, that all these associations merged to become the Chotanagpur Adivasi Mahasabh(1938), which was to start the movement for a separate state for tribals.  Later, finally it turned into the first political Party of the tribals  (1949) known as Jharkhand Party, which became the largest opposition entity in the Bihar assembly in the 1952s with figures like Jaipal Singh, Theodor surin, Ignace beck, Paul Dayal, Julius Tigga, Bonifas Lakra, Samuel Purti, N.E. Horo and Jastin Richard working in tandem with prominent non-Christian leader Bandiram Oroan . Ironically, except one Bandiram Oraon all the prominent leaders of the party were Christians. Later Theble Oroan and  Kartik Oroan came to the Party.  Again Jharkhand Party succeeded 1n 1957. There is a sense now that the Christian activism has retreated and been superseded by the frenetic nature of ethno regionalist clamor splitting into various factions, merging with the Congress in 1963, the locus of social movement activity shifting to agrarian struggles in in the Santhal Pargana led by Shibu Soren' s Jarkhand Mukti Morcha in the mid 1970s, the agitationnist phase of the All Jharkhand Students Union(AJSU)  in the mid 1980s leading to formation of the Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council in 1995 prior to the formation of the Jharkhand state in November 2000.




Jharkhand Movement:


The Jharkhand movement, which was basically for the cause of tribals, turmoil is basically a manifestation of tribal youths' urge to identify the Jharkhand nationalism, got momentum, when Jharkhand Party won all the 33 reserved tribal seats in Bihar assembly in 1952 and became the main opposition party.  Later in 1955 it placed a demand for a separate Jharkhand state comprising of the contiguous regions of Bihar, West Bengal , Orissa and Madhya Pradesh before the State Reorganization Commission. The demand was however rejected on grounds of some reasons. Jharkhand movement got a set back in 1963 when the Jharkhand Party merged with Congress with ministerial berth to Jaipal Singh, the main tribal leader belonging to Munda tribe.  Gradually, leaders emerging from different ethnic groups in the name of Jharkhand movement also became commodities in the market of politics to be purchased by the highest bidder of the contemporary ruling party.  This political turmoil however provided an opportunity to the forces like Left Extremists, Social Action Groups and Christian Action Groups to infiltrate into the Jharkhand movement.




Tribal and Regional Language department in Ranchi University :


Opening of Tribal and Regional Language department in Ranchi University in 1981 was a landmark event in this regard. This department started post-graduate teaching of the following five dialects: Mundari, Santali, Kurukh, Kharia and Ho, of the region being spoken by the prominent tribal groups. This newly created department, which worked as a midwife to help the delivery of a new concept of Jharkhand nationality - was entrusted with the task to develop these dialects into languages and to propagate the spirit of Jharkhand nationalism from urban centres to the remotest and nearly inaccessible parts of the region. This department also provided leadership to the Jharkhandi students, who gradually became vanguard to the movement for the demand of separate Jharkhand State. This department has been conducted various Kurukh courses  from Intermadiate(12th) to Post-Graduate students. So many books, like as poem, songs and story etc. are written for the courses. Now this language is developing gradually.




New Jharkhand  &  Chhattisgarh States  and expectation of Tribal:


New Jharkhand state along with Utranchal and Chhattisgarh states were created in year November 2000. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have the majority of tribal. Both Adi-Vashis, Shri Bab Lal Marandi and Shri Ajit Jogi were became first Chief Ministers of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. We have seen, Jharkhand movement was basically a manifestation of tribal youths' urge to identify the Jharkhand nationalism  with tribal welfare. With the natural growth of careerism among the students and unemployed youths , when the state of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh were born by the end of twentieth century the tribal people came up with the demand for their employment. Kurukhs are inhabitants both on Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Now a day Kurukhs are developing with another tribal people. They are enjoying as various employment, they become member of parliament and legislative member in both state. Various government scheme and programme are runing for development of Tribal people.


Since the political leadership of the state is not in a position to meet the expectations of the Jharkhandis, it initiated the controversial domicile policy to divert their attention.  Babulal Marandi , the  former chief minister,  has thus opened the Pandora's box as only Jharkhandis whose fore fathers' names were recorded in 1932 would be benefited.






We studied the history of Kurukh tribe, which was very rich and well established. They has been nomadic and migrated one place to another place, since 2500 B.C. to near about 1540, until they settled in Chhotanagpur. They spent 4040 years in nomadic environment, therefore they can not develop their society and language like as south Indian society and their language. Even though, they are developing their society and language. At present, they can find anywhere in India, working in different field on private, semi-government and government organizations, even someone, who are well qualified, migrated to developed foreign countries, i.e. Unite states and England etc. They are becoming member of parliament and legislative member in both state. As a hockey player, many Kurukh players in Indian men and women hockey team, they have been spreading name of India in the world. Today they have school, collages, i.e. Tana  Bhghat Schools, Kartik Oroan Collage, Bero, Perm Veer Albart Collage Chainpur through the help of Government. Hospitals and School, Collages are opened by some private organization for development of tribes. Government has so many programme to implement the plan for development of Kurukh tribal, i.e. Rojgar Garantee Yojna, Indra Aawas Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Sark Yojna, Tribal Education Scheme etc.






Material Collected & Written by: N. Ekka,

Email: nekka@jharkhandi.com


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