Early men herded animals, learned to cultivate plants later. They soon started leading settled life. Tribal people were hunters and gatherers. Some practiced primitive cultivation. Some controlled land and pastures jointly. They didn’t follow Brahmanical rules of society, but followed principle of kinship. Tribes had oral traditions instead of written one.

Some powerful kingdoms took over territories of many tribes for expansion. Nomadic tribes travelled place to place for livelihood along with their cattle. They exchanged animal products for grain, textile etc. with settled communities. Pastoral nomads, who travelled long distances with their animals, lived on animal products. Banjaras were important trader nomads who traded mainly in food stuffs. They moved with their families and goods in caravans. They also transported food supplies and grains during Sultanate & Mughal period. As needs and skills of people grew with growth of society, ‘Jatis’ or subcastes emerged among varnas. People with specialised skills formed new jatis. Rajput groups became powerful and were recognised as ruling class. Some social groups became part of caste system and were gradually recognised as separate jatis by Brahmans. However, some tribes of north-west converted to Islam. Constant interactions between varna society and tribal people led to adaptations and changes. Many tribal societies merged with caste-based societies. Gonds or Gondi dominated the vast forest region of Gondwana. Ahom is the tribal group that lived in the Brahmaputra delta.

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