> Janapada Sampada > Life-Style
Artistic manifestation is intrinsic to the lifestyle and punctuation of rhythm through rituals and festivals in common. Space is consecrated or enlarged. Finally, the lifecycle from birth to death and rebirth provides another framework of time where physical and metaphysical, sacred and secular coalesce and interpenetrate.
With this approach the Loka parampara involves research into various aspects of cultural communities. Pilot studies have been initiated on the Santhals of West Bengal and Orissa, Bhuiyans and Paiks of Orissa, Meiteis of Manipur, Angamis of Nagaland, Gujars of Central Himalaya, Changpas of Ladakh, Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh, Bajara-growing communities of Rajasthan, Visvakarmas and the forest dwellers of Karnataka and Mukkuvars of Tamil Nadu.
|This programme aims at studying various
aspects of cultural communities: physical space or habitat, ecology, world view, concept
of man, man-society relationship, artistic creativity, transmission of skills and
knowledge, astronomical cycle and rhythms of human life, lifestyle and punctuation of
rhythms through rituals and festivals.
Pilot studies have been initiated in different parts of India, some conducted by the in-house scholars, others by researchers associated with Indian and foreign universities and institutions. The advantage of involving outside scholars is twofold: large coverage of communities and themes within a limited time, and also quick diffusion of IGNCA concepts and methods among the large number of scholars.
Of the 67 studies so far completed only a few have shown light. Largely because the standard of teaching and research has fallen and most researchers have forgotten to read, look and understand. Yet, it appears that there is something cutting very deep in this study of man and culture. It shows by itself that :
Anthropological studies of tribe, by and large, remain limited to material culture, ceremonies, and social organization. Much attention is being paid, especially in post-Independence India, on tribal development: their transformation from primitive to modern, from forest to city, from bow-and-arrow to machine-gun, without giving them a chance to cross the culture-producing threshold in their own way. Loka Parampara study has an emperical foundation; it shows that the simple small societies called tribe are the oldest and most highly developed people with complex ideas, despite low technology. The sequence of levels, or the historical order of development, is unimportant.
The emperical frame and perspective in which the faculty has been researching during the past ten years are guided by a threefold strategy:
1. Working on a thesaurus of santhal language, taking only a few critical terms -- such as seed, womb, earth, water, fire, air, sky -- relevant to biology, culture, and world view.
2. Studying indepth the various aspects of life of one particular culture or group. Santhal -- a numerically large population widely dispersed in Bihar, Bengal and Orissa -- is the test case. Themes covered so far include biosphered environment, bamboo culture, knowledge of food, cosmology, ethnomedicine, perception of animals, ritual painting, primal elements, perception of sound: human sound, animal sound, basic sound and symbolism, script, literature, thesaurus.
3. Comparing small scale societies, to construct a theory of culture on a limited base, with the assumption that it can be part of a larger theoretical structure which stands on a broader base. Delving deep into cosmological themes -- starting with primal elements, seed and soil, water cosmology, medicine, music, space, time, calendrical ritual, etc. -- necessarily related to their world view and culture.
Both thematically and spatially the Loka Parampara study has reached its first phase of maturity. Some of its findings were presented at the 14th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, held in Williamsburg on July 26 to August 1, 1998. The faculty had organized a scientific session on Alternate Paradigms in Anthropology, and it is a pleasure to report that this was received very well. The faculty is planning to form a small group of Asian scholars to extend the IGNCA experiment and approach further.
Copyright IGNCAŠ 1999