Tip | Book on the ancient religion of the Santals: Ancestral creation narratives – Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura & Arunachal Pradesh

The Santal and the Biblical Creation Traditions: Anthropological & Theological Reflections by
Timotheas Hembrom | Adivaani >>

The religion of the Santals, which we see today, represents one of the most ancient religions.  […]

The Santals are one of the largest homogenous indigenous peoples group in India, numbering more than six million scattered over in the states of Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and outside India in Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The Santals have no primordial books on their religion written by themselves. Their religion is based on oral traditions, which of course, has now been documented by sociologists and anthropologists. The Santals are non-idol worshipping theist people. They have no temples, nor images to worship and no fixed place to worship in; no holy mountains and no sacred rivers for pilgrimages and yet they hold an unassailable religious faith which can be traced through the tradition of the creation narrative, through their festivals, their cleansing ceremonies performed during their birth, wedding, and death, and through their belief in the continuation of life after death.

In this title, the Santals’ creation narrative is to be examined and compared with the Biblical creation stories of the Book of Genesis. […]

The Santals have ancestral creation narratives. A Santal or Adivasi student studying the Biblical creation is compelled to study them in comparison with creation narratives of the Sumerians and the Babylonians who have long been extinct. […]

This work may not have widespread universal appeal, but it will certainly help a group of people, whose faith declaration of creator-creation relationship, as expressed through their ancestral creation narrative, is compared and discussed with that of the Biblical one. It will be a move towards ‘localization’, and ‘contextualization’ of theology. […]

Max Müller
Friedrich Max Müller
Stamp 1972: Wikipedia >>

Max Müller [the 19th century, Oxford-based Indologist and editor of The Sacred Books of the East] felt the need of doing this in his time and he advised that:

“In order to understand fully the position of Christianity in the history of the world and its true place among the religions of mankind, we must compare it not with Judaism only, but with the religious aspirations of the whole world. […]”

Source: Introduction (pp. 1-4), The Santal and the Biblical Creation Traditions: Anthropological & Theological Reflections by Timotheas Hembrom
1st ed. Punthi Pustak, Kolkata 1996
2nd ed. Adivaani, Kolkata 2013, ISBN 9788192554150
Price in India: Rs. 200

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

“[A] common perception of conversion, prevalent in India, is that all conversions take place only among deprived lower caste or tribal groups, which are considered more susceptible to allurement or coercion. The reality of upper caste conversions is ignored in this climate of cynicism.”– Ivy Imogene Hansdak in Pandita Ramabai Saraswati: the convert as ‘heretic’

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“Who are Santhals, the community which Droupadi Murmu belongs to? Santhal, also spelt as Santal, literally means a calm, peaceful man. Santha means calm, and ala means man in the Santhali (also spelt as Santali) language. Santhals are the third largest scheduled tribe community in India after Gonds and Bhils. The Santhali population is mostly distributed in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.” | Read the full article in The Times of India >>

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