The complex process of tribal absorption into the Hindu society and the mobility of jatisin the varna scale has been keenly studied by scholars in the past under various labels -- 'Sanskritization', 'Brahmanization' and so on; however, there has resulted a tediousness owing to use of the same old trends and methods of research. Hindu and Tribals is a trend-setter in this regard as it studies the workings of this process from fresh perspectives using new methodologies -- of inter-disciplinary approach, for instance.
Prof. G.N. Dash, a learned scholar in the field, studies the tribals' absorption into the Hindu society and their upward movement in the jati hierarchy in medieval Orissa at the micro level. The author sheds some new light on the history of the Jagannatha cult by considering folk versions of this tradition. The salient feature of the work is its freshness in approach: its focus is on interaction of the socio-economic, religious and cultural forces and counter-forces unlike traditional historical works which primarily record the political events. Adopting a new methodology, it uses the concepts and tools of social sciences like ethnology to analyse historical data. Setting new trends in Orissan historiography, it emphasises the traditional account as a source material and seeks to discover the historical background of its evolution rather than its historical basis as such. Prof. G.N. Dash emerges with important statements that scholars and historiographers cannot afford to ignore: for instance, the strong possibility of tribal origin of the Sudha Suaras and Daitas (temple servants at Jagannatha shrine).
With an extensive bibliography and index, this work is invaluable for further studies in Orissan historiography. Its well-researched statements and originality in approach would provide researchers fresh material and methods for study and extend young scholars the necessary motivation to adopt new methodological trends in research.