There have been indigenous people in different parts of the world from time immemorial.
In India, we see the word “Jara” being used in such a context of old, in the name of the native tribes of Andaman islands in India, considered to be among the oldest tribes of the world. They are called Jarawa, implying the very old tribe.
Jarawa of Andaman
More on this in our book Historical Krishna.
Adi Vasi is another term that denotes indigenous people.
Adi means first, and Vasi means dweller.
In other words, they were the first to appear in this land.
Srinavasa is a name of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati. Sri refers to Lakshmi, and Nivasa, is place of dwelling. The residence of Lakshmi is in the heart of Venkateshwara, who is an aspect of Lord Narayana.
Today, the term Adi Vasi is used derogatorily and brings in an incorrect concept of the tribals being the first dwellers of the land and the town and village dwellers are later migrants. This is ethnographically erroneous.
These people who have been living in pockets within the forest, are the true custodians of this ecosystem. They are known as Vana Vasi, Vana meaning forest and Vasi meaning dweller.
All are Adi Vasi
In this land, which has a majority of indigenous people from many millennia, and only a miniscule of migrants, we are all Adi Vasi.
During the British Rule, the colonial rulers created the myth of Aryan Invasion Theory, where in order to divide the local people of India, it was floated that almost half of India’s population living in the North are migrants, who immigrated to this land a few centuries ago.
This theory has been denounced as myth, by many scholars, in the last few decades.
More on this in our book, Breaking the Myths – About Society.
India, A land of indigenous people
Unlike India, which has majority of indigenous, the idea of giving respect to indigenous people became prevalent in other countries, where the migrated population is more than local people, and they have political control over the native.
Nobody is Superior
But, it should be clearly understood that not everyone was born of the same parent in the same place.
This is true not just of humans but of every other living creature on earth, be it plants and animals.
Each variety of indigenous people, flora and fauna evolved in different parts of the world. They adapted well to their local environment and lived there, indigenous to that land. No one group is superior to the other.
Habit, Habitat, Habitation
An Eskimo cannot be transplanted to the Sahara with his life style. Similarly, a person living in Sahara cannot be transplanted with his life style to the Arctic.
In Indian ethos there is the concept Achar, individual habits and Desachar, local customs in tune to local needs of people living in the area.
People’s habits are based on habitat, from which come habitation.
World Indigenous Day
This day and every other day, let us recognize the indigenous people who have lived in conformance with Nature before the developments in Science and Technology, Conquests and World Politics created the modern world as we know today, along with it creating a separate class called “indigenous people”.
We are here today in this modern world because our forefathers and their forefathers were indigenous to their land.
World Indigenous People’s Day reminds us of a simple fact that when one adapts to and lives in sync with the Nature of the region in which one resides, one becomes indigenous to that land in time.