The Kuruba Tribe

- October 29, 2021


The Kuruba community is one of the oldest existing communities in India. They are the original forest dwellers of Karnataka. The people of the Kuruba tribe have practised many professions over the ages, but their main occupations still remain shepherding and farming. The people of the Kuruba tribe believe that the stone is the almighty source of everything. They believe that it is from stone that soil, which nourishes all plants and life, is formed.

Illustration: Sundara Moorthy

The Kuruba community is one of the oldest existing communities in India. They are the original forest dwellers of Karnataka. The people of the Kuruba tribe have practised many professions over the ages, but their main occupations still remain shepherding and farming. The people of the Kuruba tribe believe that the stone is the almighty source of everything. They believe that it is from stone that soil, which nourishes all plants and life, is formed.

There are many sub-divisions of the Kuruba tribe. Some of them are Kadu Kuruba, Jenu Kuruba, Betta Kuruba, Gonda Kuruba and Sanchari Kuruba.

The term ‘Kadu’ in the Kannada language means forest. The Kadu Kuruba live in forests. In the Kannada language, ‘Jenu’ means honey and ‘Kuruba’ means caste. The people of the Jenu Kuruba tribe have made honey-gathering their profession. The people of Betta Kuruba are ethnically similar to the people of the Jenu Kuruba tribe. Their name, ‘Betta’, means hills and they live in the Western Ghats of southern India. The Sanchari Kuruba are an ancient nomadic community of North Karnataka.

Some of the major works from Kuruba Literature are Halumatha Kuruba Purana- Story of Kuruba Gowdas and the Epic of Katamaraju.

Hakkaraya and Bukkaraya, the founders of the Vijayanagar Empire are believed to be from the Kuruba tribe. Some great literary figures like
Kalidasa and Kanakadasa are also said to have been from the Kuruba tribe. The Kuruba tribe has survived many centuries and today, its population in Karnataka alone is around eighty lakh.

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