Saturday, September 12, 2015


This award-winning ethnographic documentary film made by Sathya Mohan PV, deals with the socio-economic and religious life of the Chenchus, the only Telugu speaking prehistoric hunting-gathering tribe living in the Nallamalai forests of Andhra Pradesh, India. They are a conservative tribal group and have not made many changes in their lifestyle or tried to adapt to modernity. They live in the enclosed space and geography leading a life of an unbroken continuity.


This award-winning ethnographic documentary film in Telugu made by Sathya Mohan PV, deals with the socio-economic and religious life of the Chenchus, the only Telugu speaking prehistoric hunting-gathering tribe living in the Nallamalai forests of Andhra Pradesh, India. They are a conservative tribal group and have not made many changes in their lifestyle or tried to adapt to modernity. They live in the enclosed space and geography leading a life of an unbroken continuity.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

CHENCHUS (Hunters and Gatherers)

The Chenchus themselves may not be fully aware of the presence of Kali (Chenchu Lakshmi) in Nallamalais. They sleepwalk on her lap blissfully. She guards not just the life but also the ancient man-made treasure as well as diamond mines. Those who tried to steal from her got disappeared in her vicinity. If the present rulers don't grasp this and follow their predecessors thinking that their god Lucifer or the Illuminati can save them, they are mistaken. Let history not repeat itself!

Government of India collects many statistics every year on everything and anything except on the displaced people from the resource rich forests or river banks or fertile lands. None in India in government circles have any figure for the number of people that have been or are being displaced by big developmental projects or sacrificed on the altar of Developmental Mantra by every national government.

Where do these displaced people go?

Eventually they end up in slums of urban centers on government lands or on disputed lands. They become vote bank for urban political parties. In most cases once the land title is allotted these slum dwellers are uprooted from these slums so that big corporation can build shopping malls or apartment complexes for the development of the nation.

Various courts in India including the Supreme Court are either silent on this human tragedy of forcible displacement or in rarest cases sided with the government and big MNCs in pursuing their agendas. In many cases even if there were no environmental clearances for such huge ecology damaging projects like Tehri Dam or Tata and POSOCO or Vedanta, still they went ahead grabbing the lands of poor and destroying the ecology for MNC interests.

It would appear as though these problems are just the result of bad management, planning and a general lack of oversight and holistic perspective. However true that maybe it is just the partial truth. Upon a closer observation infact one would find that these problems are not the result of mis-management, instead they are the results of a very systematic and strategically charted out policies in motion through a very long time.

Most of these above mentioned displaced people are from virgin forests from where coal to diamonds, rare earth metals to gold could be hauled out at throw away prices, which would be used to make high technology cutting edge products again to be sold to India at 10,000 times more profit than the actual cost of the materials/products hauled out.

MNCs want these tribal Indians to go away from their resource rich lands sometime like yesterday. But they are afraid just like the East India Company, that such evacuation (read rehabilitation) may create revolt among people. To avoid such inconvenience MNCs are now using the very democratically elected governments to do the eviction of population in the guise of protection of wildlife and sustainable development.

A massive such eviction is taking place in the State of Andhra Pradesh from the virgin forests of Nallamala range for the exclusive benefits of De Beers, a diamond mining corporation that wants the kimberlite or diamonds from the forest. But that is not the only thing De Beers is after. What De Beers is after is the buried wealth of Vijayanagara Empire to be hauled permanently into western fold.

The efforts of De Beers started at least 13 years ago when it was told to us that “they realized the massive diamond, gold and granite deposits in Mehaboob Nagar and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh”. These deposits are spread under the thick jungles of Nallamala Forests. These forests needed to be cleared first for the diamond mining or De Beers should have to resort to the latest technology called horizontal drilling under the forests.

Now here comes the kicker. East India Companies when they ruled India tried to locate these kimberlite mines and declared that they were all exhausted and thus shifted their focus to South Africa. In South Africa they found diamonds and set up African gold and diamond mining companies under the ruthless exploitative ownership of Openheimers, who were one of the owners of the East India Companies. It is these Nallamala diamond mines that were the source of the riches of all the kingdoms of India including the Vijayanagara Kingdom, which at its height sold diamonds on streets not in carats but in kilograms. This fact was recorded by Portuguese, Russian, French and other chroniclers who had business and diplomatic ties with Vijayanagara kingdom. Every crown jewel of every European kingdom in those days came from India and from these mines along the banks of Krishna or Tungabhadra rivers.

For a detailed understanding kindly read our research report The Hunt for the Treasures of Vijayanagara Empire.

In the year 1600 East India Company was formed and given exclusive right to trade with India and South East Asia by the British Monarchy under the concept of Free Trade and Globalization. It was also given the right to civilize India. In the year 1965 the Club of Rome (top industrial houses-real owners of EICs or MNCs) divided the world in 10 economic segments and gave unbridled authority to ruthlessly exploit Segment 9 (India belongs to this segment 9), a group of mineral (diamond, gold, uranium, life saving medicinal plants, organic food and drinking water) oil and natural gas rich South East Asian nations consisting one third of the population of the world- under liberalization (liberalize domestic economy to globalize its owners) and privatization (privatize so that Free Trade can further control domestic economy via global owners) to a group of MNCs.

Commenting on the mercantile political economy, Mayer Rothschild (one of the owners of the East India Company) once made a historic comment which is resoundingly true even after centuries – “give me the control of the currency of any nation and I care not who rules it…”

Liberalization and Privatization were the tools of the mercantile world in the long history of 400 year struggle to dominate resource rich Asia in general and India in particular. Since the beginning of liberalization of Indian economy for the supposed ‘development’ of India many Indians within the border of India became second-class citizens or non-citizens in their own native lands, country and cultural settings. They became the Helots of India, a derogatory term used by the Romans to indicate non-Romans in their country, intermediate in status between slaves and citizens. However still for whose sake is this development, is still not yet answered as it is tacitly understood that it is for the western countries to continue their geopolitical fight with their yester year cold war adversaries.

It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that in the name of development India is now run only for the profit maximization of giant western Multinational Corporations (MNCs) which are in their latest avatar from the erstwhile East India Companies (EICs). In fact all the owners of current MNCs are the grand children of the previous East India Companies, in lineage, spirit, methods, tactics and business policies (read Business Intelligence).

For a detailed study of the origin of these EICs, their motives and the motives of MNCs along with the commodities EICs dealt with and MNCs plan to deal with or are already dealing with; along with the elusive owners of these MNCs tracking them back to their East India Company roots kindly refer to our East India Company Series – Part I Noble Motives.

CHENCHUS (Hunters and Gatherers)

Ethnonyms: Chenchucoolam, Chenchwar, Chenswar, Choncharu
Countries inhabited: India
Language family: Dravidian
Language branch: Telugu

The Chenchus are a Telugu speaking food-gathering tribe living in the
Nallamalai forests of Andhra Pradesh in India spread over the districts of
Mahaboobnagar, Kurnool, Prakasam and Guntur. They are a conservative
tribal group and have not made many changes in their lifestyle or tried to
adapt to modernity. They live in the enclosed space and geography, leading
a life of an unbroken continuity.

The Nallamalai forests are deciduous and deep. They cover mountain side,
and are full of treacherous pathways and dangerous ridges. The Chenchus
are undaunted by their natural surroundings and set out to gather food or
hunt animals. The bow and arrow and a small knife is all the Chenchus
possess to hunt and live. They hunt wild animals like boar and deer, but
with the increasing interest in wild life conservation, they are content
to hunt small animals like lizards, rabbits and wild birds.

Their meal is fairly simple and usually consists of gruel made from jowar
or maize, and boiled or cooked jungle tubers. They mix tamarind fruit with
tamarind ash and eat.This is especially good for pregnant women.

They normally eat before setting out to gather food in the morning and eat
again when they return home in the evening. This speaks of the enormous
stamina of the Chenchus who trek on foot through jungle paths all day
long. The slender build of their bodies is deceptive and express little of
their strong and resilient nature.

The Chenchus collect jungle products like roots, fruits, tubers, beedi
leaf, mohua flower, honey, gum, tamarind and green leaves and make a
meagre income of it by selling these to traders and government
co-operatives. The Chenchus do not care much for money or material wealth.

They have hardly developed any technique of preserving food. Their care
for future is marginal as they are used to living on a day-to-day basis.
As a result they have not cultivated much interest in agriculture. Though
at times they work as forest labourers, they mostly prefer to fall back on
their native skills to hunt and gather food. But the inroads of modern
development have found their ways to the Chenchu homeland. Today, the
forest region no longer belongs to the Chenchus. It has been declared as a
tiger reserve sanctuary. The government has been motivating the Chenchus
to adapt to agriculture, but has failed. The Chenchus refuse to be
displaced from the forest and continue to live in harmony with the tigers
in the sanctuary.

Centuries of life in the forest have deprived the Chenchus of an ability
to adapt easily to external situations. Though some of their children are
sent to government schools, there are very few instances of educated
Chenchus finding their way into mainstream modern society. The Chenchus
are struggling to adapt to new patterns of life as the forest resources
dwindle with time.

The Chenchus have been their own masters for many generations and have 
not needed the services of any outsider. They are unmindful of an external
society which is alien and unimportant to them. The life in the wild is
one of hardship, but the Chenchus live on cheerfully unmindful of their
difficulties. The boundaries of their native perception are defined by the
natural boundaries of their geography.

The roots are strong and the bonding to an age-old tradition is deep and
abiding. The Chenchus continue to live contently in their ancestral
homeland as true sons and daughters of the forest to celebrate the joys
and gains of life.

A Chenchu village is known as “Penta”. Each penta consists of few huts
that are spaced apart and are grouped together based on kinship pattern.
The close relatives live nearby and the distant ones farther away. Their
homes comprise of few belongings and are generally sparse and spartan in

“Peddamanishi” or the village elder is generally the authority to
maintain social harmony in a family or a village. Generally, his counsel
and word are final in all matters of the village.

The Chenchus are a broad exogamous group that is sub-divided into various
clans. They follow the ancient system in Hindu tradition of gotras, which
represents the lineage and descent of clan members. There are 26 gotras
found among the Chenchus and the various clans are identified by their
gotra name. They never marry within the gotra or clan and intermarry other
clan members. The wife bears the husband’s gotra after marriage.

The marriage is known as “Pelli”, and takes place through a negotiated
arrangement involving elders or through the choice of the young couple
concerned. The ceremony is performed with traditional rituals in front of
the community and the village elders.

The elders belonging to the “Uttaluri” clan must be present as a matter of
traditional custom as the priest or “Kularaju” officiates over the
marriage rites. The maternal uncle of the bride gives the bride away, and
there is a feast and celebration at the end of the ceremony. The newly
married Chenchu couple set-up their own house and are expected to live
together ever-after. Divorce is allowed among the Chenchus on the grounds
of incompatibility. Widow remarriages are common among them.

The Chenchus have a strong belief system. They worship their deities with great devotion. Lord Eshwara among them is known as “Lingamayya”, and Shakti as “Maisamma” or “Peddamma”. The worship of both male and female deities is accompanied by puja during the month of “Sravan”, that is from July to August.

The ritual of Lord Lingamayya represents the ancient mode of worshipping
Lord Shiva. For ages, the Chenchus have been associated with the famous
Srisailam temple in Andhra Pradesh situated at the heart of Chenchu land.
The Srisailam temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Devi Brahmaramba is a
sacred pilgrim centre for Hindus of all sects.

Lord Mallikarjuna, an incarnation of Lord Shiva fell in love with a young
Chenchu maiden by name “Chenchu Laxmi” and married her. The Chenchus
believe that they are the descendents of this couple and have a special
place and mention in Puranas, temple records and Chronicles. The Chenchus
enjoy special privilages at Srisailam temple.

The Chenchus love their gods dearly and pray to them in earnest and
endearing terms. The devotion borders on frenzy and passion and is magical
in effect on the surroundings. The celebrations can be austere, serene and
simple and sometimes they can be wild, intoxicating and mystical. The rich
folklore of their forefathers inspires and guides them to maintain a solid
tradition. The dance, the gaiety, and the lyricism of their life reflects
the joy and innocence as they live a life of rich contentment, seeking and
aspiring for very little.