The Role of Saints in the Empowerment of Scheduled Tribes


For millennia, the tribal communities of India have remained an inseparable part of Hindu society. They have shared a close affinity with one another. Hence, the saints, who have played an important role in generating a spiritual consciousness across Indian society, have also shared a deep relationship with these communities. In ancient times, the ashrams of great saints and sages used to be in the forests. Over time, due to the extinction of these ancient traditions, their mathas and ashrams gradually came to be located in rural and urban areas. However, their affection and care for the tribal communities living in forests continued, as did their endeavors for the social and spiritual betterment of these communities.

Preserving and enhancing this continuity, Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830) played a pivotal role in the early 19th century Gujarat in empowering tribal people and giving them social representation. Continuing that thread, in the years ranging from 1971 to 2016, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016), the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, dedicated his life to tribal empowerment and welfare in the tribal regions of Gujarat and beyond. His interactions also expanded to the tribal communities of Africa. He encouraged them all toward addiction-free living, providing them with facilities of healthcare, education, infrastructure, and technology. By creating a global platform for them on the occasions of grand religious and cultural festivals, he facilitated their aspirations to represent their culture and traditions through the forms of dance, music, art, and aesthetics.

On the occasion of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebration, an International Conference has been organized to commemorate the path-breaking efforts of Hindu saints in the empowerment of the tribal communities. With ‘The Role of Saints in the Empowerment of Scheduled Tribes’ as its central theme, the conference proposes to highlight the shared heritage of the tribal communities and Hindu saints based on archival data, ethnographic sources, and oral traditions. The aim of this International Conference is to discuss the contributions of saints and sages as well as that of spiritual organizations to the empowerment of these communities and create awareness for this cause.

The Need for this Conference

The British and the colonially influenced scholarship on the tribal communities have time and again conjured up a picture that saints of India have largely remained aloof from these communities. Not only that, some of these scholars have further claimed that the tribal communities were never a part of Hindu society.

This conference has been organized to depict how modern organizations of Hinduism like Arya Samaj, Ramkrishna Mission, Bharat Sevashram, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Gayatri Parivar, Chinmaya Mission, The Art of Living, and several others have diligently contributed in the direction of tribal empowerment. There are several other organizations apart from these which are engaged in selflessly working towards the empowerment of tribal communities. The uniqueness of their efforts is that they have offered the facilities of healthcare, education, infrastructure, and technology to these communities while preserving their socio-cultural traditions and identities.

Hence, it becomes necessary to examine the efforts and dedication of saints and socio-spiritual organizations toward tribal empowerment. At the same time, it is also essential to study the social and spiritual impact of their efforts. The conference also aims to enlighten the methods and solutions these saints and organizations applied for the cause of tribal empowerment. Similarly, it also envisions inquiring about the unity and harmony of Indian society through their contributions.


  • The history of the contributions of the Hindu socio-spiritual organizations and saints in the empowerment of tribal communities of India.
  • The social impact of the works of these organizations on tribal communities.
  • The spiritual impact of the works of these organizations on tribal communities.
  • The personal efforts and contributions of saints and sages in the empowerment of tribal communities.

About Indian Council of Social Science Research

Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) was established in the year of 1969 by the Government of India to promote research in social sciences in the country. ICSSR provide grants for projects, fellowships, international collaboration, capacity building, survey, publications, etc. to promote research in social sciences in India. Documentation center of ICSSR – National Social Science Documentation Centre (NASSDOC) – provides library and information support services to researchers in social sciences. ICSSR has developed ICSSR Data Service to serve as a national data service for promoting a powerful research environment through sharing and reuse of data among the social science community in India.

About Center for Civilisational Studies

Centre for Civilisational Studies was established on 30 April, 2015 in Delhi by some young researchers in the form of public charitable trust. The founding trustees are Shri Ravi Shankar, Shri Subodh Kumar, and Shri Pravin Shukla. Since then, the Centre for Civilisational Studies identifies young researchers and connects them with the Centre and inspires them for research on various areas. The center is constantly involved in the activities of organizing conferences, workshops etc. to apprise the common people of the findings of their studies.

For the research purpose, the center has a group of young researchers. Among these, political and social activists, educationists, administrative officers and people from other vocations are also included. It also includes experts on History, Political Science, Social Sciences, Economics, Science, Mathematics, and Sanskrit.

About Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram

Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is established in 1952 in Jashpur, Madhya Pradesh. Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is a non-profit organization committed towards the upliftment of vanvasi (tribal community) in India.

About BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, New Delhi

The BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute at Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, was inaugurated by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj on Sunday, 4 July 2010 in the presence of leading scholars of India.

Since its inauguration, the Institute has become a home of innovative research and collaborative study. Its considerable growth in membership, the expansion of its research facilities, and increased affiliation with other internationally acclaimed institutes pay testament to the commitment of its members and research faculty. The Institute’s outlook toward developing a multi-disciplinary approach to academic study and toward recognizing cultural beliefs and practices on their own terms has built an interface between modern academia and traditional modes of scholarship. In doing so, the Institute allows for the possibility to amalgamate contemporary, valuable systems of transmission along with intellectually rigorous traditional scholarship.
BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute strives to encourage interdisciplinary study of various cultures, religions, philosophies, languages, and texts to promote a better understanding through comprehensive educational, research-oriented, and publication programs.


Professor J K Bajaj, Chairman, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi
Shri Ravi Shankar, Director, Center for Civilisational Studies, Delhi
Ramchandra Kharadi, National President, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.
Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami, Head, BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, New Delhi
Prof. I V Trivedi, Vice Chancellor, Govind Guru Tribal University, Banswara, Rajasthan


Dr. Jyotindra Dave, Director, BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, New Delhi
Dr. Anand Acharya, Associate Professor, Gujarat Arts and Commerce College, Ahmedabad
Dr. Jayesh Mandanka, Assistant Professor, Smt. L and C Mehta Arts College, Ahmedabad

Call for Papers and Guidelines for Paper Submission

The abstract of the conference paper should be less than 300 words. The full paper should be less than 5000 words. The submission should be in Microsoft Word only. It should be written in A4 single format with 1.5 line spacing. It should be written in Unicode font, in font size 12. Kindly keep the layout of the text as simple as possible.

Please follow the below guidelines:

  1. The paper may be presented either in English, Hindi, or Gujarati.
  2. The paper should be original, unpublished, and plagiarism-free.
  3. The abstract should possess the author’s name, designation, affiliation, address, email-id, and mobile number.
  4. Reference style of the paper should be Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
  5. The abstract and the full paper should be submitted to [email protected]
  6. For queries, please contact at +91 9998999331, +91 9998999545

Paper Submission email: [email protected]

Last date for Acceptance Form & Abstract Submission: 25 October 2022

Last date for Research Paper Submission: 10 December 2022

Paper Publication Details

A select number of papers presented at the conference will be published in the form of an edited volume. Selection of the papers will solely depend upon the critical evaluation by the peer editing, reviewing, and publishing committee.


Swamishri engrossed in puja