My visit to mysterious tribes
In a book of
the founder of the Theosophical movement,
Madame Blavadski called ‘Mysterious
Tribes’ (in fact it is a book in German)
I read about two curious tribes the Kurumbula’s
and the Toda’s. They live, according
to the book, in the Nilgiri’s in the
South of India. The region is taboo for
visitors. Of course, when the British still
ruled India, an adventurous Englishman did
not care about the taboo and even was all
too eager to organise an expedition to this
area. The people who carried his luggage
became very afraid when they came near this
forbidden region. It was said that you had
to pay with your life when you entered it.
There were tales of gods and other tales
of devils. Many people left his expedition
at the decisive moment, that is just before
entering the Nilgiri’s. With the few
people left the Englishman went on and he
met the tribe of the Toda’s or the
In the Indian
sacred book of the Mahabarata they are already
mentioned. They are rewarded therein because
of their help to the gods. Their origins
beyond that are unknown. The Toda’s
perhaps were called gods because of their
behaviour. The Englishman described them
as ‘sinless’. Next to that they
were very tall. He said that the other tribe,
the Kurumbala’s, involved themselves
with black magic. They were extremely small
people, like midgets. With their bows and
arrows and with their black magic they killed
other people. Most of the times they lived
in the jungle.
Later on the
English opened a hill-station in the Nilgiri’s
called Ootycamund. I wanted to visit it
because of the two tribes and because of
its climate. In the midst of the Indian
Summer, which is very hot in the South,
in Ootycamund the temperatures are very
pleasant. Ootycamund is also famous because
of its beautiful flowers and plants, as
its climate is very favourable for them.
The Nilgiri’s are called the blue
hills in India. In India are the Himalayan
mountains, so the Nilgiri’s which
are half their size (but still over 3 km)
are called hills. When approaching them
by bus they appeared indeed blue to me…
I found the
Toda’s working in the botanical garden.
The Toda’s were in a sorry state.
You can compare it with the situation of
the Indians in the USA living in reservations.
The same is true with the Toda’s.
Their pride (they were called gods!) has
been broken. They live in poor huts next
to the botanical garden. The area is surrounded
by barbed wire. I was allowed to visit every
hut, except for a simple construction, which
was their temple. It was hard to see them
thus, especially when one of them stated
to beg for money.
mosque in Ootycamund the imam gave me a
small pamphlet. Most of it was in a script
I could not read, except for one article
in English. It dealt with the teachings
of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti and it
was written by the man who two weeks later
would become my guide on the Sufi path.
Two weeks later I met him for the first
time in Ajmer, the day before the ‘urs
of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti started.
I never met the Kurumbala’s. Perhaps
a good thing or this travel account may
never have been written…