Outside the Way


We are who we are because of the people who came before us and who followed us. We identify ourselves with names, last names, parents, family, community and nationality. Each carries certain types of characteristics which distinguish us from others and help us understand ourselves and each other as well.


I am always wondering about our ancestors and their origins. After reading about India’s history I learned that in search of green pastures for their cattle our tribe, called Rabari, moved to India from various parts of the world. Their survival depended on cattle so they had to keep migrating from place to place for enough food and water. The hardships they experienced during this time made them very rough and tough, but they carried some extraordinary characteristics. This was hard to recognize because it was very difficult for them to fit in with a settled society and keep themselves out of trouble since their everyday life was nothing but trouble.


In National Geography (September -1993) Robyn Davidson wrote a research article about India’s Rabari tribe. She spent 75 days traveling with them and slept under a tent sometimes with sheep, goats, and also once with deadly snake.  She wrote, “I have never done anything in my life so demanding as traveling with Rabari.” In the last paragraph she wrote, “Something invaluable will be lost if their migration ceases.” The distinguish qualities she noticed in our tribe are: “Tolerance, wiliness, independence, courage and wit.” She also said, “When life is so brutal, the harmony of the group is essential to survival.”


With regard to how the women of our tribe are treated she wrote, “Although they do not sit in panchayats, or councils, no one doubts they are equal partners back home their work is as valued as men’s. They can shop and do business in town without being chaperoned and without covering their faces. The power between the sexes is balanced, producing a confidence and sauciness in the woman and humorous appreciation in the men.”


Some other highlights from this article are:


“A system rife with corruption, there is no law the Rabari can trust, no social safety net beyond the bonds of family and caste.”  (p.76)


“According to one tradition all the Rabari once lived in Rajasthan in the Great Indian Desert. Over the centuries they spread into many other states, integrating themselves into Hindu culture as they went, splintering into countless sub castes, but retaining always their rabainess, their ‘otherness.’” (p. 70)


“They endured everything without complaint, and they would often walk 20 extra miles to a temple in order to thank divinities for life. I never saw any one of them commit an act of cruelty. And there was nothing servile about them.” (p. 92)


“They asked for neither charity nor an easy life, only recognitions of the value of their expertise. I do not wish to glorify them. They are as capable of underhandedness as anyone in their struggle for survival. Their herds and flocks do untold damage but no more so venality of the politicians and police who exploit them.” (p. 92)


“They take a spiritual bath in the music –their troubles washed away with songs as old as India.” (p. 87) (According to my knowledge these are Ruchas from Sam Veda which is one of the four famous Vedas).


“How comforting it must be to pass through life’s storms always with support of the group, infusing every thought with one voice extending down through the generations, saying, ‘It is all right. We all are here. There is no such thing as alone.’ (p .87)


Thank you Robyn, for writing such a great article in National Geography about us, a semi-nomadic caste from the northwest region of India. Pastoralists called Rabaris those “Outside the way” as it means.


By Rekha Sindhal


This entry was posted in અન્ય લેખો, સ્વરચિત કૃતિઓ, English Articles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Outside the Way

  1. chandrika Patel કહે છે:

    Hi Robyn

    hope you are well, I alway wanted to get in touch with after reading your article in the National Geographic magazine, what an atricle and what beautiful photographs, the first time i went to india was in 2004 and as i was travelling around india and it made me wonder how these Rabari’s tribe manage day to day life, but after reading you aritcle it made me relise what a stuggle it is for them.

    I love the article and i am very proud of you the way you travel with the rabari’s eat with them sleep with and did everyhing with the rabari’s going into the town with the women.

    you made me relise what indian is by reading your article in the national geographic magazine.

    is there anything esle you have written about india? i you have please let me know.

    Thank you
    Chandrika Patel

  2. Akta કહે છે:

    Thank you for this article Ma. I am proud to be a Rabarian. I am even more proud of being your daughter. Your Gransons miss you…hope to see you soon! Love you always !!

  3. Aditi Sindhal કહે છે:

    Hey Ma, you are doing so great! I am proud of you! Its great that you are following your passion. Keep it up!

  4. Geeta Vasudev કહે છે:

    I have always enjoyed your articles

  5. Brinda Bhatt કહે છે:

    Dear Rekhaben,

    i liked your article very much! very few have the courage to accept and appreciate their origin the way it is! and you are one of them, congratulations!!!

    warm regards,


  6. Shawna Powell કહે છે:

    Hi, Rekha:

    I miss talking to you. I hope that all is well. The article was interesting – I was a little worried because I did not see it at first. As you know, I could not read the other language.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Rita frenchman કહે છે:

    hi rekha,
    i applaud u for taking the trouble to find out about your roots ..the Rabaris..and the great NG magazine article by Robyn .
    It is necessary to examine how our ancestors survived hardships and came out victorious ..we are here today because of them ..
    very good article from u
    take care now
    rita frenchman


    Nice informative Post….it is nice of you to share it ! RABARI of India & nomads/Gypsies are the wandering tribes of this world ….

  9. nilam doshi કહે છે:

    nice article with beautiful picture…say hi to aditi…a loving daughter..

  10. સુરેશ જાની કહે છે:

    Thank you very much. I was highly delighted to readm as history is my fav. subject.
    The novel I am writing pertains to the period when humans changed form hunters to herdsmen.
    Please continue sending me updation messages.

  11. અક્ષયપાત્ર કહે છે:

    Special Thanks to my daughter Aditi for editing this article for me.

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