Since the day of demanding a ban on the Kirtan and the Namghosa, many staunch Vaisnavite, scholars and devotees have been expressing their opinion against the said sacred treatise of the Mahapurusa. Some of them have gone to the extent of filing a suit against the utterance of Shri Bisumatiary. While appreciating their resentment against the misinterpretation of the verses regarding the annihilation of the Mlecchas and the Buddhist at the end of Kaliyuga, the other side of the coin should have been taken into consideration in order to make Shri Bisumutiary interpret the words in their true perspectives. The language prevalent at the time, in which the verses were couched, would amply clear the doubt in the minds of the President and the Secretary of the World Bodo Historical Society. The critics don’t seem to have unearthed the meaning of the word ‘Mleccha’ and its ramification. In the light of Dharmasastras and historical development of the prominent historians of ancient Indian social milleu there is sufficient scope to highlight the influence of Mleccha.
To begin with, let us have a look at the origin of the word ‘Mleccha’. The word ‘Mleccha’ has been derived from the word ‘Me-luh-ha’, the Sumerian name for an Ester land with which the Sumerians had trading relations, possibly the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. In the Rig-Veda there is no mention of the word ‘Mleccha’ except that of the ‘Dasa’ or the ‘Dasya’. They were the original inhabitants of the Indus Valley. After fierce fighting for over four hundred years, the Aryans had been gradually able to defeat them and contemptuously called them demons, black skinned (Krsna-tvach) and snub-nosed, speaking a barbaric language (mrdra-Vac) and performing no sacrifies as practised by the Aryans. The ‘Pali’ word for Mleccha is ‘Milkkha’ which is closely allied to the phonetics of the Sumerian version. The word ‘Milakkha’ is referred to by the Budddhist texts as the non-Aryan people namely the Andhrites, Tamils etc. The Dharmasastra of Jaimini mentions Mlecchas as the indigenous inhabitants of Northern India at the time of arrival of the Aryan speaking people. Another word ‘mltse’ is a proto-Tibetan, meaning tongue and the Kokish ‘mlei’. These are the words generally used by the non-Aryan speaking peoples living close to the Tibeto-Burman area.
Mr. Oldham mentions that in the ‘Shahasha Chandrika’, Lakshmidhar opined that the Paisachi language was spoken in the Paisachi countries Pondya, Kekaya, Vahlika, Sahya, Nepali, Kuntala, Sudesha, Bhota, Gandhara, Haiva and Kanajana, although Sanskrit had the smallest infusion in these countries, as per Prof. Muir. He mentions the word ‘mridavach’ appearing in the Rig-Veda meaning injuriously speaking. This is explained by Sayana as one whose speech organs are destroyed. The same explanation appears in the Rig-Veda where it is said, may be for propitiating Indra to conquer the ill speaking men. In the Satapatha Brahmana mention had been made that the Asuras being deprived of speech were undone, crying ‘he-lava-he lava’. So, whoever speaks thus is a Mleccha and so no Brahmin shall speak such type of barbarous languages. Of course, some Aryans in spite of prohibitions could speak the Mleccha language. This could be proved when Vidura addressed Yuddhisthira in the Mleccha tongue. However, this language was seen slowly disappearing in the midst of the Aryans from the time of the Mahabharata.
The Aryans hated the Mleccha language as barbarous simply on the ground on being unintelligible to them. The words pika, nema, mata, tamarasa etc. were used by the Dasas the original inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization. On the other hand, some words of the non Aryan origin-Dravidian & Munda, namely langalahala (plough) Kuddala(hoe) Khala (threshing floor) Surpa (winning basket) the Mortar and Pestli ulukhala were used by the Vedic Aryans. Similarly, the word ‘Dasa’ was pronounced by the Iranians as ‘Daha’ meaning enemy or robbers. It is curious to note that invaders or emigrants hated the language of the sons of the soil.
Even the foreigners such as the Chinese, the Arabs and the Turkish were called Mleccha. The Arabs were generally called Yuvanas. There are places where Mleccha kings ruled. The inscriptions of that time mention that Ango, Kalinga, Vanga, Odrapandya, Karnata, Lata, Suhma, Gurjara & Krita were the Mleccha Desas.
It is not only the Mleccha Deshas that were cordoned off for restricting the assimilation of the Mlecchas with the Aryans but also food items. For example, Rig-Vedic Aryan’s staple diet was wheat and barley, but when the Mlecchas began to use them by the 12th Century A.D., Aryans had to give up Mleccha Bhojana and began to use rice instead but continued to avoid onions and garlic, especially the Brahmins. As the Mlecchas did not follow the rituals of the Aryans they were hated by the Aryan twice born. The Mlecchas did not observe the Varna system and when on one occasion the God Indra was asked whether the Yavanas , Sakas, Cinas, Kombojas, Pulindas etc. could be brought within the fold of the Aryans, he replied that if they would follow the Dharma of the Sastras, law of the Varna, they could be admitted.
It now appears that the areas where Mleccha people inhabited and ruled by Mleccha kings were different from those of the Aryans. While most of the Deccan and Eastern regions were peopled by the Mlecchas, some of the Northern parts were ruled and inhabited by the Aryan people. According to Kalita Purana, Chapter 81, Kamrupa was recognised as the holy place. Whoever worshipped, performed ablutions or even drank water here became immortal. Being aggrieved at the curtailment of his authority Yama a became incensed and appealed to Brahma who took him to Vishnu, who in turn, requested god Shiva to grant Yama the power of invincible authority of death at the Kamakhya premises. Shiva ordered goddess Ugratara, in charge of Kamakhya and his followers to vacate the Kamakhya temple premises. Ugratara executed the order to expel all inhabitants including sage Baisistha who was then meditating there. At this order Basistha cursed goddess Ugratara and Lord Siva to adopt the Mleccha ways of life with no observance of Vedic rites and the four varnas and all the inhabitants of Kamrup (Pragjyotishpur) became MLecchas thenceforth.
From the last part of the 1st millennium B.C. and the beginning of the 1st Century A.D. the operation of endogamous and exogamous rules (Sutras) backed by the Brahminical literature with divine sanction came into force with interruption by Buddhism mainly in the Mleccha Deshas and Mleccha people, as stated above. So the conflict between the Vedic Aryans and the originals inhabitants of India became intense and sometime violent giving rise to social tension and ostracism among the Aryans and the non Aryans.
Now the question is whether the Bodos are Mleccha(Mech) alone. The Bodos being the dominating plain tribe of Assam have gained romanticism of capturing political powers but also got their language revived and elevated to the higher educational rank. There is no doubt that the Bodos are an ancient race with their glorious past, with their invincible heroes like Bana, Ghattaka, Naraka and others. They belong to the Tibeto-Burman family of the Indo-Chinese group and their representatives of the present day are the Kacharis, Koches, Ravas, Meches, Mikirs, Lalung, Garos, Nagas, Kukis, Deuri, Dimisa, Sonowal, Moran, Thengal, Sarania, Chutia etc. The Bodo people were the Kiratas and Mlecchas mentioned in the Mahabharata. Bhagadutta fought against the Pandavas with China and Kirata troops. During and after the Mahabharata war, the Bodo tribe constituted the majority of the population in the Assam Valley.
It is quite natural that this ancient tribe is aggrieved at any point of view, written or orally expressed by other people particularly by the twice born and Shri Sankardev and Shri Madhabdev being the descendants of Aryan stock might have been misunderstood to irritate the Bodos, by the verses under controversy. Shri Sankardev himself has not created the verses to which Shri Bisumutiary has reacted. Shri Sankardev quoted the verse in the language prevalent among the majority of the non tribal, from the Bhagawata written by Vyasdeva who also forecast that lord Vishnu would reincarnate as a saviour of virtuous people and destroyer of the people who did not follow the Aryan ways of life. All the non Aryans living in India (Bharat) were called Mlecchas and the entire people of Pragjyotishpur became Mlecchas because of the curse of Basistha as mentioned in the verses under controversy. Therefore, the Bodos are not targeted only but all people of Kamrupa in general. All Dharmasastras, Epics, Puranas etc. were written by the Aryan saints and sages aiming at downgrading and humiliating with contemptuous language against the Sudras more particularly the untouchable masses. Those religious literatures and others written by the Brahmins were not challenged until lord Buddha appeared in the scene. Therefore, the Buddhist people were also hated by the Aryans for not following the Vedic rites and the Sanskrit language. Now the Vedas which were proclaimed as infallible have come under severe scrutiny by the modern Sanskrit scholars both Indians and foreigners, who have not taken over completely the process of refining the Dharmasastras and others. As for example, Manu and his clientele codified some Hindu Laws treating the Sudras and Atisudras less than animal. These laws have undergone severe criticism against the modern liberal and democratic trend set by enlightened historians, Sanskrit scholars, social scientists and other activists. That is why Shri Sankardev rightly quoted from the holy Bhagawata (12th Chapter) the following verses to vindicate the falsehood of the Brahmincal literature.
“Brahmina Kshatriya Baishya itu tinijati
Nusuniba Bhakati Kanapat
Antyaja payanta bhajibek Mahapari
Aprayase laviba Iswar Mahagyan
Ateke Kalit Sudra Kaibarta pradhan
(18431-Verses of Bhagawata)
From the above verse, it appears that not only the ‘Antyja’ (who were compelled to live outside the twice born villages and who are now treated as Tribal and Scheduled Caste People in India), Shri Sankardev had long ago elevated the Antysjas, the Bodos and other Tribal communities. The Kaibartas, who are contemptuously called as Dom to be the harbingers for beckoning the pure devotion to God for a harmonious, democratic and brotherly state of life, Shri Sankardev in his sincers egarness to bring about a social integration which is shattered by the age-old taboos of discrimination has projected Radhika, a Kaibarta women as the only sati at that time. Moreover, he had some followers Gobinda from the Garo, Chand Khan from Islam, Paramananda from Mishing, Shri Ram from the Kaibarta, Haridas from the Bania, Bholai from the Karbi, Ramananda from the Kachari and others in the copper plate of 1657 of King Rudra Singh three sons Sarba, Daika and Saranga of Bolo Dom were converted into the Kaibarta caste by Shri Sankardeva and after the death of Bolo Dom who refused to be proselytized and adhered to Buddhism was elevated to the Keot caste.
It may be mentioned that the severity of cast discrimination was more acute among the modern scheduled caste people than among the tribals because of the former’s dependence on the caste Hindu in all respects where as the tribals were not so who lived in the forest generally without depending upon the tribal people for their sustenance and less chances of being discriminated against.
Shri Sankardev observed keenly the social discriminations prevailing at that time and sincerely tried his best to uplift the untouchables who fell into the vortex of vicious social taboos.
What is important now is to dispel the doubt of the verses and create condition of “live and let live” mottos.