There is little doubt that a religious belief imparting a sense of law and order and helping to control the relationships between human populations and the other components of their environment, is highly developed among present-day hunter/gatherers. Such beliefs not only help to provide a feeling of unity stretching far beyond the hunting band itself, but they afford an ordered interconnexion between the foragers and the spiritual processes which are looked upon as all-powerful forces influencing life and death (Turnbull, 1968, 25). This is well exemplified in the case of the Musahar, a Dravidian tribe of hunter/gatherers who inhabit the jungle regions of the Eastern Vindhyas in Central India. According to Nesfield, quoted by Crooke (1896, Vol. IV:34), ‘The great active power in the universe … is Bansapatti, Bansatti or Bansuri, the goddess who … personifies and presides over the forests. By her command the trees bear fruit, the bulbs grow in the earth, the bees make honey, the tussar worm fattens on the asân leaf, and lizards, wolves and jackals (useful food to man) multiply their kind. She is a goddess of childbirth. To her the childless wife makes prayers for the grant of offspring. In her name and by her aid the medicine man or sorcerer expels devils from the bodies of the possessed. In her name and to her honour the village man kindles a new fire for lighting a brick kiln. Woe to the man who takes a false oath in the name of Bansatti.’
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