Meena (pronounced [miːɳa]) is a sub-group of Bhils.[8] They were war-loving people.[9] They speak Meena language.[10] Its name is also transliterated as Meenanda or Mina. The Meenas have been claiming to be the ruler of the ancient Matsya kingdom of India.

Meena
मीणा
Mina caste man in 1898.jpg
Mina caste man in 1898
Total population
5 Million[1] (2011 Census of India)
Regions with significant populations
 India
 India50,00,000[2]
           Rajasthan,43,45,528[2]
           Madhya Pradesh (Sironj),[2]
Languages
Hindi, Mewari, Marwari, Dhundari, Harauti, Mewati, Wagdi, Malvi, Garhwali, Bhili etc.[3]
Religion
Meena ethnic religion
Related ethnic groups
 • Bhil  • Parihar  • Meo

 • Scheduled Tribe[4]

 • Other Backward Class[5]

 • Britannica[6]

 • Encyclopedia[7]

The Meenas were given a Scheduled Tribe status by the Indian government in 1954.[11]

Etymology

The word Meena or Mina is derived from the Sanskrit word Meen, which means fish.[12]

Ethnography

 
Meena people

The Meenas were originally a nomadic tribe.[13] They were described as a semi-wild and hill tribe similar to the Bhils.[14] But in the British Raj, for the fulfillment of its purpose by the British Government, they were described as a criminal tribe by adding them to the Criminal Tribes Act.[15] Presently they are described as Scheduled Tribe by the Indian Government.[4]

Geography

The book Civilizations of India, published in 1887, notes that the Meenas lived in fortified villages on the Aravalli hills in the middle of Rajputana.[16] Presently they are present in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Delhi in India.[4][5]

Languages

 
Meena language

Meenas use Meena language in some districts of Rajasthan.[17]

History

 
Minas

The Meenas claim a mythological descent from the Matsya avatar, or fish incarnation, of Vishnu.[18] They also claim to be descendants of the people of the Matsya Kingdom, which flourished in the 6th century B.C.[19] The historian Pramod Kumar notes that it is likely that the tribes living in the ancient Matsya kingdom were called Meena but it cannot be said with certainty that there is anything common between them and the modern Meenas. They are considered to be adivasi (aboriginal people).[20]

The Meenas ruled at certain places in Rajasthan till they were overpowered by invading Rajputs. From Meenas the Bundi was captured by Rao Dewa (A.D. 1342), Dhundhar by Kachhwaha Rajputs and Chopoli fell to the Muslim rulers. Kota, Jhalawar, Karauli and Jalore were the other areas of earlier Meena influence where they were forced to surrender ultimately.[21][better source needed]

Nandini Sinha Kapur, a historian who has studied early India, notes that the oral traditions of the Meenas were developed from the early 19th century AD in an attempt to reconstruct their identity. She says of this process, which continued throughout the 20th century, that "The Minas try to furnish themselves a respectable present by giving themselves a glorious past". In common with the people of countries such as Finland and Scotland, the Meenas found it necessary to invent tradition through oral accounts, one of the primary uses of which is recognised by both historians and sociologists as being "social protest against injustices, exploitation and oppression, a raison d'être that helps to retrieve the image of a community." Kapur notes that the Meenas not merely lack a recorded history of their own but also have been depicted in a negative manner both by medieval Persian accounts and records of the colonial period. From medieval times through to the British Raj, references to the Meenas describe them as violent, plundering criminals and an anti-social ethnic tribal group.[22]

According to Kapur, the Meenas also attempt Rajputization of themselves.[23]

Gustave Le Bon, in his book Civilizations of India, described the Meenas as a half-wild tribe similar to the Bhils.[24]

British colonial period

 
A Meena of Jajurh

The Raj colonial administration came into existence in 1858, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857 which caused the government of Britain to decide that leaving colonial administration in the hands of the East India Company was a recipe for further discontent. In an attempt to create an orderly administration through a better understanding of the populace, the Raj authorities instituted various measures of classifying the people of India.[25] One such measure was the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, under the provisions of which the Meenas were placed. The community remained stigmatised for many years, notably by influential officials of the Raj such as Herbert Hope Risley and Denzil Ibbetson, and were sometimes categorised as animists and as a hill tribe similar to the Bhils.[26] The Meenas remained an officially designated criminal tribe until 1952, three years after the Act had been repealed. Mark Brown has examined the impact and issues of the Meena community during British rule and the change in their status from being a higher social group to a criminal tribe.[27]

Recent history

 
Meena

Kumar Suresh Singh notes that the Meenas have not abandoned their customary laws.[28]

Meenas have better rights for women in many respects compared to many other Hindu castes.[29]

The Meena fall into the Scheduled Tribe category in the state of Rajasthan and the majority of them are classified as being Hindu,[30] but in Madhya Pradesh Meena are recognised as a Scheduled Tribe only in Sironj Tehsil, Vidisha, while in the other 44 districts of the state they are categorised as Other Backward Classes.[31] It has been proposed that the Meenas be fully recognised as a Scheduled Tribe in Madhya Pradesh. The proposal is being considered by the Government of India.[32] In Uttar Pradesh, Meena are considered migrated from Rajasthan and have been living in western districts of Mathura, Sambhal and Budaun since many generations.[33] At par their origin they are granted a Scheduled tribe status in the state of Uttar Pradesh.[34][35] In Haryana they are classified as Other Backward Classes.[36] In Maharashtra also Meenas come under the Other Backward Classes.[37]

In Rajasthan, the Meena caste members oppose the entry of Gurjars into Scheduled Tribe fold, fearing that their own share of Scheduled Tribe reservation benefits will be eroded.[38]

They celebrate Meenesh Jayanti on the third day of the Chaitra month's Shukla paksha.[18]

Subdivisions

The Meenas themselves are also a sub-group of Bhils.[39]

The Meena tribe is divided into several clans and sub-clans (adakhs), which are named after their ancestors. Some of the adakhs include Ariat, Ahari, Katara, Kalsua, Kharadi, Damore, Ghoghra, Dali, Doma, Nanama, Dadore, Manaut, Charpota, Mahinda, Rana, Damia, Dadia, Parmar, Phargi, Bamna, Khat, Hurat, Hela, Bhagora, and Wagat.[20]

Bhil Meena is another sub-division among the Meenas. As part of a sanskritisation process, some Bhils present themselves as Meenas, who hold a higher socio-economic status compared to the Bhil tribal people.[40]

A sub-group known as "Ujwal Meena" (also "Ujala Meena" or "Parihar Meena") seek higher status, and claim to be Rajputs, thus distinguishing themselves from the Bhil Meenas. They follow vegetarianism, unlike other Meenas whom they designated as "Mailay Meena".[41]

Other prevalent social groupings are Zamindar Meena and the Chaukidar Meena. The Zamindar Meena, comparatively well-off, are those who surrendered to powerful Rajput invaders and settled on the lands believe to be granted by the Rajputs. Those who did not surrender to Rajput rule and kept on waging guerrilla warfare are called the Chaukidar Meena.[42]

Culture

 
Mina

There is a custom in the Meenas to perform Pitra Tarpan after taking a collective bath on the day of Diwali. They adopt the culture of worshiping trees and plants in marriages, festivals and other ceremonies as per the Dharadi tradition.[43]

Religion

Demographics

According to the 2011 Census of India, the Meenas have a total population of 5 million.[44] According to a report by Hindustan Times, the population of Meenas in Rajasthan is 7% of the state's population.[45] And according to the report of a German news television Deutsche Welle, the Meenas constitute 10% of the population of the state of Rajasthan.[46] Whereas according to a report by BBC Hindi, the population of Meenas is 14% of the state's population.[47]

Rajasthan

Rajasthan, total
YearPop.±% p.a.
1887300,000—    
1901577,457+4.79%
1911558,689−0.33%
1921515,241−0.81%
1931607,369+1.66%
1941—    
1951—    
19611,155,620—    
19711,532,331+2.86%
19812,086,692+3.14%
19912,799,167+2.98%
20013,799,971+3.10%
20114,345,528+1.35%
source:[48][49][50][2]

Notable people

List of Meena people in current Rajya Sabha.[51]

Year Name Party
2018 Kirodi Lal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
1992 Mool Chand Meena Indian National Congress
1980 Dhuleshwar Meena Indian National Congress


List of Meena people in current Lok Sabha.[52]

Sr. Name Party
17th Lok Sabha
1 Arjunlal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
2 Jaskaur Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
16th Lok Sabha
1 Arjunlal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
2 Harish Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
15th Lok Sabha
Kirodi Lal Meena Independent
Namo Narain Meena Indian National Congress
Raghuveer Meena Indian National Congress
14th Lok Sabha
Namo Narain Meena Indian National Congress
13th Lok Sabha
Bheru Lal Meena Indian National Congress
Jaskaur Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
12th Lok Sabha
Bheru Lal Meena Indian National Congress
Ram Narain Meena Indian National Congress
Usha Meena Indian National Congress
11th Lok Sabha
Bheru Lal Meena Indian National Congress
Usha Meena Indian National Congress
10th Lok Sabha
Bheru Lal Meena Indian National Congress
Kunji Lal Meena Indian National Congress
9th Lok Sabha
Nand Lal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
8th Lok Sabha
Ram Kumar Meena Indian National Congress
7th Lok Sabha
Ram Kumar Meena Indian National Congress
6th Lok Sabha
5th Lok Sabha
Chhuttan Lal Meena Indian National Congress
4th Lok Sabha
Dhuleshwar Meena Indian National Congress
Meetha Lal Meena Swatantra Party
3th Lok Sabha
Dhuleshwar Meena Indian National Congress
2th Lok Sabha
1th Lok Sabha


Rajasthan Legislative Assembly

According to BBC Hindi's 2007 report, the number of Meena MLAs in the 12th Rajasthan Legislative Assembly was 31.[53] List of Meena people in present Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.[54]

Sr. Name Party
15th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
1 Amrit Lal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
2 Gopal Meena Indian National Congress
3 Gopi Chand Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
4 Gopichand Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
5 Harish Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
6 Indira Meena Indian National Congress
7 Johari Lal Meena Indian National Congress
8 Kailash Chandra Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
9 Kanti Prasad Meena Independent
10 Lakhan Singh Meena Bahujan Samaj Party
11 Laxman Meena Independent
12 Murari Lal Meena Indian National Congress
13 Nagraj Meena Indian National Congress
14 Parsadi Lal Meena Indian National Congress
15 Phool Singh Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
16 Prithviraj Meena Indian National Congress
17 Ramesh Chand Meena Indian National Congress
18 Ramkesh Meena Independent
19 Ramlal Meena Indian National Congress
20 Ramnarayan Meena Indian National Congress
14th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
Golma Devi Meena National People's Party
Gopi Chand Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
Kirodi Lal Meena National People's Party
Phool Singh Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
Ramesh Chand Meena Indian National Congress
13th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
Kirodi Lal Meena Independent
12th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
Kirodi Lal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
11th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
Kirodi Lal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
10th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
9th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
8th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
Kirodi Lal Meena Bharatiya Janata Party
7th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
6th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
5th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
4th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
3th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
Chhuttan Lal Meena Indian National Congress
2th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan
1th Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan

See also

References

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Further reading

External links