Meena – Wikipedia

Major tribal group in Rajasthan



Mina caste man in 1898.jpg

Mina caste man in 1898

5 Million[1] (2011 Census of India)
 India 50,00,000[2]
           Rajasthan, 43,45,528[2]
           Madhya Pradesh (Sironj), [2]
Hindi, Mewari, Marwari, Dhundari, Harauti, Mewati, Wagdi, Malvi, Garhwali, Bhili etc.[3]
Meena ethnic religion
 • Bhil  • Bhil Meena  • Parihar  • Meo

Scheduled Tribe[4]Other Backward Class[5]

The Meena (pronounced [miːɳa]) is a tribe found mainly in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh regions of India. Its name is also transliterated as Meenanda or Mina. The Meenas claim connection to the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, and the ancient Matsya Kingdom.

The Meenas are a sub-group of the Bhils.[6] The Meenas were given a Scheduled Tribe status by the Indian government in 1954.[7]


The word Meena or Mina is derived from the Sanskrit word Meen, which means fish.[8]


The Meenas were originally a nomadic tribe.[9] They were described as a semi-wild and hill tribe similar to the Bhils.[10] But in the British Raj, for the fulfillment of its purpose by the British Government, they were described as a criminal tribe by adding them to the Criminal Tribes Act.[11] Presently they are described as Scheduled Tribe by the Indian Government.[4]


The book Civilizations of India, published in 1887, notes that the Meenas lived in fortified villages on the Aravalli hills in the middle of Rajputana.[12] Presently they are present in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Delhi in India.[4][5]


Meenas use Meena language in some districts of Rajasthan.[13]


The Meenas claim a mythological descent from the Matsya avatar, or fish incarnation, of Vishnu.[14] They also claim to be descendants of the people of the Matsya Kingdom, which flourished in the 6th century B.C.[15] The historian Pramod Kumar notes that it is likely that the tribes living in the ancient Matsya kingdom were called Meena but it cannot be said with certainty that there is anything common between them and the modern Meenas. They are considered to be adivasi (aboriginal people).[16]

The Meenas ruled at certain places in Rajasthan till they were overpowered by invading Rajputs. From Meenas the Bundi was captured by Rao Dewa (A.D. 1342), Dhundhar by Kachhwaha Rajputs and Chopoli fell to the Muslim rulers. Kota, Jhalawar, Karauli and Jalore were the other areas of earlier Meena influence where they were forced to surrender ultimately.[17][better source needed]

Nandini Sinha Kapur, a historian who has studied early India, notes that the oral traditions of the Meenas were developed from the early 19th century AD in an attempt to reconstruct their identity. She says of this process, which continued throughout the 20th century, that “The Minas try to furnish themselves a respectable present by giving themselves a glorious past“. In common with the people of countries such as Finland and Scotland, the Meenas found it necessary to invent tradition through oral accounts, one of the primary uses of which is recognised by both historians and sociologists as being “social protest against injustices, exploitation and oppression, a raison d’être that helps to retrieve the image of a community.” Kapur notes that the Meenas not merely lack a recorded history of their own but also have been depicted in a negative manner both by medieval Persian accounts and records of the colonial period. From medieval times through to the British Raj, references to the Meenas describe them as violent, plundering criminals and an anti-social ethnic tribal group.[18]

According to Kapur, the Meenas also attempt Rajputization of themselves.[19]

Gustave Le Bon, in his book Civilizations of India, described the Meenas as a half-wild tribe similar to the Bhils.[20]

British colonial period

The Raj colonial administration came into existence in 1858, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857 which caused the government of Britain to decide that leaving colonial administration in the hands of the East India Company was a recipe for further discontent. In an attempt to create an orderly administration through a better understanding of the populace, the Raj authorities instituted various measures of classifying the people of India.[21] One such measure was the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, under the provisions of which the Meenas were placed. The community remained stigmatised for many years, notably by influential officials of the Raj such as Herbert Hope Risley and Denzil Ibbetson, and were sometimes categorised as animists and as a hill tribe similar to the Bhils.[22] The Meenas remained an officially designated criminal tribe until 1952, three years after the Act had been repealed. Mark Brown has examined the impact and issues of the Meena community during British rule and the change in their status from being a higher social group to a criminal tribe.[23]

Recent history

Kumar Suresh Singh notes that the Meenas have not abandoned their customary laws.[24]

Meenas have better rights for women in many respects compared to many other Hindu castes.[25]

The Meena fall into the Scheduled Tribe category in the state of Rajasthan and the majority of them are classified as being Hindu,[26] but in Madhya Pradesh Meena are recognised as a Scheduled Tribe only in Sironj Tehsil, Vidisha, while in the other 44 districts of the state they are categorised as Other Backward Classes.[27] It has been proposed that the Meenas be fully recognised as a Scheduled Tribe in Madhya Pradesh. The proposal is being considered by the Government of India.[28] In Uttar Pradesh, Meena are considered migrated from Rajasthan and have been living in western districts of Mathura, Sambhal and Budaun since many generations.[29] At par their origin they are granted a Scheduled tribe status in the state of Uttar Pradesh.[30][31] In Haryana they are classified as Other Backward Classes.[32] In Maharashtra also Meenas come under the Other Backward Classes.[33]

In Rajasthan, the Meena caste members oppose the entry of Gurjars into Scheduled Tribe fold, fearing that their own share of Scheduled Tribe reservation benefits will be eroded.[34]

They celebrate Meenesh Jayanti on the third day of the Chaitra month’s Shukla paksha.[14]


The Meena tribe is divided into several clans and sub-clans (adakhs), which are named after their ancestors. Some of the adakhs include Ariat, Ahari, Katara, Kalsua, Kharadi, Damore, Ghoghra, Dali, Doma, Nanama, Dadore, Manaut, Charpota, Mahinda, Rana, Damia, Dadia, Parmar, Phargi, Bamna, Khat, Hurat, Hela, Bhagora, and Wagat.[16]

Bhil Meena is another sub-division among the Meenas. As part of a sanskritisation process, some Bhils present themselves as Meenas, who hold a higher socio-economic status compared to the Bhil tribal people.[35]

A sub-group known as “Ujwal Meena” (also “Ujala Meena” or “Parihar Meena”) seek higher status, and claim to be Rajputs, thus distinguishing themselves from the Bhil Meenas. They follow vegetarianism, unlike other Meenas whom they designated as “Mailay Meena”.[36]

Other prevalent social groupings are Zamindar Meena and the Chaukidar Meena. The Zamindar Meena, comparatively well-off, are those who surrendered to powerful Rajput invaders and settled on the lands believe to be granted by the Rajputs. Those who did not surrender to Rajput rule and kept on waging guerrilla warfare are called the Chaukidar Meena.[37]


There is a custom in the Meenas to perform Pitra Tarpan after taking a collective bath on the day of Diwali. They adopt the culture of worshiping trees and plants in marriages, festivals and other ceremonies as per the Dharadi tradition.[38]



According to the 2011 Census of India, the Meenas have a total population of 5 million.[39] According to a report by Hindustan Times, the population of Meenas in Rajasthan is 7% of the state’s population.[40] And according to the report of a German news television Deutsche Welle, the Meenas constitute 10% of the population of the state of Rajasthan.[41] Whereas according to a report by BBC Hindi, the population of Meenas is 14% of the state’s population.[42]


Rajasthan, total
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1887 300,000 —    
1901 577,457 +4.79%
1911 558,689 −0.33%
1921 515,241 −0.81%
1931 607,369 +1.66%
1941 —    
1951 —    
1961 1,155,620 —    
1971 1,532,331 +2.86%
1981 2,086,692 +3.14%
1991 2,799,167 +2.98%
2001 3,799,971 +3.10%
2011 4,345,528 +1.35%

Notable people

List of Meena people in current Rajya Sabha.[46]

List of Meena people in current Lok Sabha.[47]

List of Meena people in present Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.[48]

See also


  1. ^ “क्या आदिवासियों को मिल पाएगा उनका अलग धर्म कोड, झारखंड का प्रस्ताव अब मोदी सरकार के पास”. Ravi Prakash (in Hindi). Ranchi: BBC Hindi. 18 November 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d “A-11 Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix”. Census of India 2011. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner,used India. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  3. ^ The assignment of an ISO code myi for the Meena language was spurious (Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices). The code was retired in 2019.
  4. ^ a b c “List of notified Scheduled Tribes” (PDF). Census India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b “केंद्रीय अन्य पिछड़ा वर्ग सूची”. social justice . National Commission for Backward Classes. Archived from the original on 23 February 2022. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  6. ^ Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.
  7. ^ “आखिर क्यों भड़कते हैं आरक्षण के आंदोलन | DW | 12.02.2019”. Deutsche Welle (in Hindi). Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  8. ^ Minahan, James B. (30 August 2012). Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia: An Encyclopedia. ISBN 9781598846607.
  9. ^ “Mina”.
  10. ^ Kapur, Nandini Sinha (2007). “The Minas: Seeking a Place in History”. In Bel, Bernard (ed.). The Social and the Symbolic. Sage. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-76193-446-2.
  11. ^ “Crime, Liberalism and Empire: Governing the Mina Tribe of Northern India”.
  12. ^ “Civilizations of India”.
  13. ^ “Descriptive Study of Meena (Mina) Language”.
  14. ^ a b Kapur, Nandini Sinha (2000). “Reconstructing Identities and Situating Themselves in History : A Preliminary Note on the Meenas of Jaipur Locality”. Indian Historical Review. 27 (1): 29–43. doi:10.1177/037698360002700103. S2CID 141602938. the entire community claims descent from the Matsya (fish) incarnation of Vishnu
  15. ^ Pati, Rabindra Nath; Dash, Jagannatha (2002). Tribal and Indigenous People of India: Problems and Prospects. APH Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 978-8-17648-322-3.
  16. ^ a b Kumar, Pramod (1984). Folk Icons and Rituals in Tribal Life. Abhinav. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-8-17017-185-0.
  17. ^ Rann Singh Mann, K. Mann (1989). Tribal Cultures and Change. Mittal Publications. p. 17.
  18. ^ Kapur, Nandini Sinha (2007). “The Minas: Seeking a Place in History”. In Bel, Bernard (ed.). The Social and the Symbolic. Sage. pp. 129–131. ISBN 9780761934462.
  19. ^ Kapur, Nandini Sinha (2007). “Minas Seeking a Place in History”. In Bel, Bernard; Brouwer, Jan; Das, Biswajit; Parthasarathi, Vibodh; Poitevin, Guy (eds.). The Social and the Symbolic: Volume II. Sage. pp. 129–146. ISBN 978-8132101178.
  20. ^ “Civilizations of India”.
  21. ^ Naithani, Sadhana (2006). In quest of Indian folktales: Pandit Ram Gharib Chaube and William Crooke. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34544-8. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  22. ^ Kapur, Nandini Sinha (2007). “The Minas: Seeking a Place in History”. In Bel, Bernard (ed.). The Social and the Symbolic. Sage. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-76193-446-2.
  23. ^ Brown, Mark (2004). “Crime, Liberalism and Empire: Governing the Mina Tribe of Northern India”. Social and Legal Studies. 13 (2): 191–218. doi:10.1177/0964663904042551. S2CID 143535325.
  24. ^ Singh, K. S. (1993). Tribal Ethnography, Customary Law, and Change. ISBN 9788170224716.
  25. ^ Kishwar, Madhu (13 August 1994). “Codified Hindu Law: Myth and Reality”. Economic and Political Weekly. 29 (33): 2145–2161. JSTOR 4401625.
  26. ^ Sezgin, Yüksel (2011). Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 41. ISBN 978-3-64399-905-4. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  27. ^ Patel, Mahendra Lal (1997). Awareness in Weaker Section: Perspective Development and Prospects. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 35. ISBN 978-8-17533-029-0. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  28. ^ Thakor, Jagdish; Adityanath, Yogi; Das, Khagen; Lal, Kirodi (19 August 2012). “Castes under proposal for inclusion in SC/ST Category”. GCONNECT.IN. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  29. ^ District Headquarters Collectorate Compound, Budaun (UP) (3 May 2013). “Govt. Enquiry Report” (PDF). National Informatics Center. pp. Enquiry Report. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  30. ^ District Headquarters Collectorate Compound, Budaun (UP) (20 November 2013). “Issuing ST certificate to Meena” (PDF). National Informatics Center. pp. Letter from Pramukh Sachiv, Govt. of U.P. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  31. ^ District Headquarters Collectorate Compound, Budaun (UP). “मीणा / मीना जाति के लोगों को बदायूँ जिले में नियमानुसार जाति प्रमाण-पत्र जारी किये जाने सम्बन्धी पत्र”. National Informatics Center. pp. Meenas in Budaun. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  32. ^ “Welfare of Scheduled Caste & Backward Classes Department”.
  33. ^ “Maharashtra OBC”.
  34. ^ Satyanarayana (2010). Ethics: Theory and Practice. Pearson Education India. p. 96. ISBN 978-8-13172-947-2.
  35. ^ Majhi, Anita Srivastava (2010). Tribal Culture, Continuity, and Change: A Study of Bhils in Rajasthan. Mittal. p. 127. ISBN 978-8-18324-298-1.
  36. ^ Sodh, Jiwan (1999). A Study of Bundi School of Painting. Abhinav. p. 31. ISBN 978-8-17017-347-2.
  37. ^ Mann, Rann Singh; Mann, K. (1989). Tribal Cultures and Change. Mittal Publications. p. 18.
  38. ^ Meena, Professor (5 May 2020). “Sociolinguistic Study of Meena / Mina Tribe In comparison to other Tribes of Rajasthan”. 67: 45–58.
  39. ^ “Will the tribals get their separate religion code, Jharkhand’s proposal is now with the Modi government”.
  40. ^ “In Rajasthan, tribal body acts as family court for ST couples”.
  41. ^ “आखिर क्यों भड़कते हैं आरक्षण के आंदोलन | DW | 12.02.2019”. Deutsche Welle (in Hindi). Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  42. ^ “वसुंधरा के लिए सांप छछूंदर वाली स्थिति”. BBC (in Hindi). June 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  43. ^ Census Commissioner, India (1903). Census of India, 1901, Volume 1, Part 1.
  44. ^ Mehta, Prakash Chandra (2004). Ethnographic Atlas of Indian Tribes. ISBN 9788171418527.
  45. ^ “censusindia” (PDF).
  47. ^ “Seventeenth Lok Sabha”.
  48. ^ “Rajasthan Legislative Assembly”.

Further reading