Myths, Symbols and Tribal Life-World:
An Ethnophilosophical Understanding

Prasenjit Biswas
North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong

This paper explores the constitutive otherness of tribal life-world and its specific philosophical contributions within the broad rubric of Indian thought. The distinctive and differential character of tribal thought in its specificity remains ‘unrepresentable’ within the mainframe Indian philosophy. If the coinage “Indian philosophy” includes philosophical mores from various parts of India, then certainly, Northeastern India cannot be left out. This establishes a new ethical imperative of extending the scope of philosophy in India by an engagement with a variety of tribal ways of life and its embedded philosophical contours that apparently never found a place within what passes off as Indian Philosophy. This calls for an entirely novel way of looking into some of the core structural aspects of the Indian philosophical systems such that it can reorient itself towards the necessarily uncapturable aspects of tribal life-world. For the sake of focussing our attention to one of the core problems of Indian Philosophy, let us choose, for the purpose of this paper a certain problematique of self-making that arises in the context of tribes of India’s Northeast. This would bring out the sense of difference between the mainstream and the periphery and would satisfy the demand for a totally different vantage point within the broader rubric of Indian Philosophy.