More about Chenchus

Chenchu is one of those aboriginal tribes of India 75 out of the innumerable castes classes and tribes which are marked as Primitive Tribal groups. The Govt defines the PTGs as

Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) are Scheduled Tribes known for their declining or stagnant population, low levels of literacy, pre- agricultural technology, primarily belonging to the hunting and gathering stage, and extreme backwardness.

The Folklore:
I will tell you a story. A story that tells you more about Chenchus, the Indeginous tribe of Nallamalla. It starts and ends in Nallamalla. Long long ago even before any one of us could remember there lived Thinna a boy in the Chenchu PENTA, (Penta is hamlet) near the abode of the present day Lord Balaji the Richest God on Earth, Tirupathi.
He is the son of a tribal couple, Naga, and Dutta, in the village called Vudumuru in Pothappinad. They were childless for a long time. By the grace of Lord Subrahmanya, a son, Tinna, was born to them. He learnt archery from his father. There was a tribal hunter called Thinna in the forest. On his way in hunting he comes across a Shiva linga abandoned in the woods. Feeling sorry for it, he decides to take care of it and starts offering raw meat of the animals he hunted as food for the linga. Impressed with his devotion and innocence Shiva accepted the offering. This continued for a few days.

Then returned the Brahmin who actually was visiting the linga for offering his prayers once in a week to find all the scattered pieces of meat. The proud Brahmana blames and even goes to the extent of scolding Lord Shiva for accepting all this, without waiting for him. Lord Shiva then asks the Brahmin, who sat in protest, to comprehend the depths of Thinna’s devotion.

On the following day, to test Thinna’s devotion, Shiva makes one eye of the linga to bleed. The innocent Thinna tries to cure it with all the herbs of his knowledge. Having failed he ends up replacing it with one eye of his. But then the other starts bleeding. Thinna without a second thought opts to offer his second eye too. Pleased with his devotion he blessed Thinna with moksha and then onwards, Thinna was referred to as “Bhakta Kannappa”.

( NOTE : Kannu in Telugu mean Eye )

It is also said that this Thinna is none other than Arjuna of the Pandavas who was promised moksha by Shiva then.

The tribal hero who sacrificed his eyes for the lord, Bhakta kannappa and later went on to become the greatest devotee of the LORD SHIVA, It flashes in to our minds he is a Chenchu. Now designated by the Govt as one of the most PRIMITIVE TRIBAL GROUPS IN INDIA. But why has such a tribe full of Hospitatlity & warmth reverted in to the PRIMITIVE AGES and PRACTICES. Thats what is the question ?
Life style
So comming to the present (and just note down the facts from the Folktale above) they are hunters I mean they collect forest produces and live on them. Here lies the whole thing thats worth learning (or should I call it unlearning for all of us). A Chenchu never hunts / collects / treassures more than what he needs for the day. Chenchus if they need to hund they hunt small animals that too those that we find plenty in numbers. Like the deers, rabbits, sparrows, wild boars and not taht they are incapable. Its their civilisation their respect to the mother earth, that they take only that much that is needed. These tribals are native speakers of Telugu language and wear normal clothing (not the usual bollywood, tollywood shown leaf dresses) and they are both vegetarian and at times Non-vegetarian. Thats evident from the story.
Chenchus have various techniques to keep themselves free from wants ofcourse the needs are to be satisfied. The chenchu preferably carries two small packets in his dress. One packet has a collection of ash (no not at time to suprise) and the tamarind (not necessarily all the time). So when a chenchu feel hungry he take sthis ash made out of ripe tamarind selected from a special variety of the species and then mixes with it the ripe tamarind / water (u c its the one which is widely available) and then they consume it which keeps them away from Hunger for a couple of days. Tastes really good with the Ripe Tamarind and not bad even with water.
Chenchus have a vast abundant treassure of Forest topography as well as the herbal, medicinal, aromatic plants. Luckily theres one Mr Tulasi Rao who has already written a book and extensively researched on the herbal knowledge. Mr Rao is an officer of the Indian Forest Service an Asst conservator of Forests. He has now developed the Chenchus in to Forest watchmen and is trying to train them in to officers.

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Watch the space for more info…

8 thoughts on “More about Chenchus

  1. svelliyod

    Thanks! This is what I saught to understand about the Chenchus.

    What I liked ost about them is that they limit thoer desires to ‘needs’ but not ‘wants’- makes a huge difference, and is a learning for all of us!

    Kannappa’s story is somehow linked to the SriKalaHasti Temple, this I remember. I’d been there 3 months ago.

  2. Anonymous

    this was interesting, I am shocked to learn about the caste system, it does seem brutal, but correct me if I am wrong but when someone in low in the caste system, is it not the belief that if they do as they should and live a just and moral life that they will re-incarnate higher up in the caste system?

  3. ॐ nina infinite ॐ

    This story takes me so high! If only we all could lower ourselves so that we too could rise to the height of the Chenchus. Namaste’ and ty for such a great blog! smiles…nina

  4. Beau-belle

    you know what..Even god Narasimhas wife was called chenchu lakshmi..as she brought up by the same clan….I wonder if you knew this…but even I had a very good explaination about these people when I visited Ahobilam..nice piece of info….thanks for sharing …n keep blogging

  5. lahari

    Dear Nona Caste distinction in India was high at one time.Now a days things have changed.Brahmins eatmeat n know a lot about its variety nowa days.

  6. Brickerbrack

    This article was most interesting. And I thoroughly enjoyed the photo-stream. The tribe and village reminded me of my travels in Mexico. Of course the cultures are different but much of the land, the people, their homes are very similar. I am Mexican and visited the small towns where my grandparents once lived. Thanks for your superb post! -Bri

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