But this way of looking down on brewing and drinking is quite natural for a Swamy and that too a Vedanti.
If you look at their brewing habits, it is not a age old custom. It was a picked up habit just a few centuries ago. But, even if pravalent earlier, would not be totally covering th entire population. Even then, they drank only on festivals once in many months. I know this clearly since I know the customs.
In the Nilgiris in Tamilnadu, my mother's tribe used to distill the brew during marriages and their Murugan festivals. But now with the ban on brew , they are resorting to buying cases from the government run wine shops. The drinking habit must itself must have been one such adaptation.
I know them to adhere to very strict disciplines. They are a sparse population left to roam among the mountains. They never hunt wantonly, never harm innocent straying humans (like hikers), never steal, always help. Their innocence and hospitality are beyond description.
Once I was invited to my cousin's marriage. I was about 19 years then and it was winter. (in 1983). During the previous day's night, the bride's brother took me to invite the villagers (all brotherly relatives !) . So we visited about 20 houses far and spread out. I can never forget the warmth of their hearts. In every house I was served with milk, (it was a custom), with the result that I went to bed without any dinner. Every woman enquired ' Ollangadadaya ?' (meaning are you well ?- I heard it literally one hundred times that evening)
I had a taste of tribal life as was graphically explained by my mother in all my childhood. Evil habits are a British legacy. I wonder why the noble acts of Laxmanananda in extracting them out of their plight is being criticised as invading their cultures. Girijans, like everyone , must be cleansed of such things.
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