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Thursday, October 14, 2010


It may be stated that the greater number of the Khasis, especially in certain siemships, viz. Cherra, Nongkren and Mylliem, still regard the thlen and the persons who are thought to keep thlens, with the greatest awe and that they will not utter even the names of the latter for fear some ill may befall them. The superstition is probably of very ancient origin, and it is possible that the Khasi sacrifices to the thlen demon may be connected with the primeval serpent god which characterized the religion of the Cambodians, which Forbes says was 'undoubtedly the earliest religion of the Mons.'"
Such extraordinary local variations of religious practices not withstanding, the animistic religion of the hill-tribes have the common feature of having strong affinity to Hinduism. They all believe in a Supreme Being (e.g. the Pathian of the Lushais and Tatara Rabunga of the Garos), subordinate to whom there are numerous gods and spirits who have to be propitiated with sacrifices of animals and birds for warding off evil and calamities. From these beliefs and practices it would be safe to assume that the Tantrik form of Hinduism, which originated in the plains of Assam around the temple of Kamakhya, greatly influenced the tribal religions. To put it in another way, this form of Hinduism contains features which are tribal and which were probably adopted by Brahmin priests for winning over their tribal neighbors, the most characteristic feature of Hinduism having been throughout the ages assimilation rather than conversion. There never was on the part of Hindus any overt effort at any time to convert others to their faith. There is little doubt that but for the advent of the British, and in their wake that of Christian missionaries, all the tribes would have been assimilated into the Assamese Hindu fold like numerous other tribes before them, who came and settled in Assam, the Kacharis and the Ahoms being the most notable examples.

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