Introduction / History
India is a complex mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and social groupings. Because of this diversity, it is extremely difficult to adequately describe any single people group.
India may be divided into four main regions: the Himalayas, the northern river-plains region, the Deccan, and the Eastern and Western Ghat Mountains. Because of numerous geographical features, climatic conditions are also diversified on both a seasonal and regional basis, ranging from tropical to temperate extremes.
In the midst of this complexity can be found the Bhin. They are located mainly in the eastern state of Tripura. Their language is unclassified, and little is known about their specific lifestyle and culture.
What are their lives like?
Most of India's population lives in rural areas and is engaged in some form of agricultural activity. Many are farmers barely growing enough to survive. Farms are extremely small in size and often very fragmented. The raising of livestock, particularly horned cattle, buffalo, horses, and mules, is a central feature of the agricultural economy. Because of Hindu influence, however, these animals are used almost exclusively as beasts of burden rather than sources of meat.
Indian culture is primarily Hindu-oriented. Many Hindu institutions, including the rigid caste (social class) system, have wide-ranging effects on Indian secular society. The word "caste" basically means breed, race, or kind. Indian society is divided into hierarchical castes that are usually endogamous (marriage only within the caste). Castes may be defined by occupation or by kinship and lineage, although there are exceptions. Nevertheless, caste is so fundamental to the social organization of India that it prevails in all parts, except some of the tribal populations.
Not enough is known about the Bhin to accurately place them in the caste system; thus, their specific lifestyle and culture cannot be adequately described. Further research is needed to clearly identify their needs and to develop strategies for reaching them with the Gospel.
What are their beliefs?
The Bhin are predominantly ethnic religionists, following their ancient traditions and religions. Their religion is primarily animistic; that is, they believe that living things and inanimate objects have a soul or spirit. Many of the Bhin are also involved in ancestor worship. They believe that the spirits of deceased ancestors are alive and need to be fed and tended. These spirits must be properly appeased, or else they will become hungry and dissatisfied and turn into evil spirits.
The influence of Hinduism is very strong among the Bhin, and many of their religious practices have become mixed with Hindu beliefs. The majority of Hindus, but not all, believe in a supreme being. Some respect all life and eat only vegetables, while others will gladly eat meat from sacrifices in the temple. To some, their religion is highly personal; to others, it is impersonal. While most Hindus worship Brahman (the creator), Shiva (the destroyer), Vishnu (the preserver), and the goddess Shaktri, they also worship a pantheon of other minor gods, their incarnations, spouses, or offspring. A belief in reincarnation (continuous cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features of Hinduism.
What are their needs?
Like most animistic peoples, the Bhin live in fear and bondage to their many gods. Few have ever heard a clear presentation of the Gospel message, and still fewer have made a decision for Christ. Full-time missionaries, Christian media personnel, and fervent intercessors are all necessary if the Bhin are to have a chance to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.
Prayer PointsView Bhin in all countries.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth missionaries to live and work among the Bhin.
Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Bhin so they will be receptive to the Gospel.
Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Bhin who will openly proclaim that Jesus is Lord.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.