TODAY -

Maharaj Kumari (MK) Binodini
(Padmashree Awardee in the field of Literature and Social Work)

By Donny Meisnam Luwang *


Maharaj Kumari Binodini is the rare royal blood of Manipur (Kangleipak during those days) who eyewitnesses the whole royal chronicle of Manipur from the 20th Century to the present. She carries with herself two forms of Manipur's history; one of the by-gone years of the royal era and the other of present times.

She is known widely as "Imasi" by the people of Manipur. MK Binodini not only knows minutely the true and the very living style of kings and the nobles but also gives many contributions to the Manipuri society; and for this she is widely sung by the people of whole community of Manipur.

At Raj Bhavan

MK Binodini is the youngest daughter of the late Maharaj Sir Churachand Singh who was the then king of Manipur and Maharani Dhanamanjuri Ngangbi. She was born in the year 1922 on February 6th at "Sana Konung" (Manipur Palace). Among the five Maharajkumaris (Princess) sisters Tamphasana, Sanatombi, Tombisana and Angousana, Binodini, named Wangolsana, is the only one who is presently surviving.

Being a princess Binodini was brought up in the Palace where she received her early education through tutors, like the late Waikhom Selungba, and a British governess, Mrs. Jolly in her childhood. In those ancient days education for women was rare since it was assumed as big sin.

However, Maharaj Churachand being of a modern mindset was against the practice, and let her daughters to be educated in their life and every one of them started their studies under special tutors in the Palace. Later, when she grew older she went to Shillong for higher studies at Pine Mount School where she had a formal education.

Shillong, which is located in the Khasi Hills of the North Eastern Region of the country, was a hill station where the British and the Kings of the region including Manipur used to set up their Bungalows and other Rest Houses for their vacation during those days. It was a rich culture for royal families to send their children at Shillong for studies.

After the completion of her studies at Shillong MK Binodini again did her further studies at Smriti Mandir and did her secondary education at Tamphasana Girls School (popularly known as T.G. Higher Secondary School at present) which was built and dedicated in the name of her eldest sister Maharaj Kumari Tamphasana. She was again back to Shillong for higher studies at St. Marys' College and later transferred to Vidyasagar College situated at Bengal which is now West Bengal, due to the disruptions of World War II.

At her yaiskul home during the 60s

Maharaj Kumari Binodini's life took a most significant turn when she stepped into Vishwabharati University at Shantiniketan in Bengal for studies in art. Vishwabharati University was an ideal University which Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the renowned Nobel laureate, established to impart the students in the rich Literature, Philosophy and other Kala Sanskrit of India in a traditional environment. Being a gifted child with many talents the Vishwabharti University years provided a rich and supportive ambience for MK Binodini to express and realize her artistic talents.

It was at the Kala Bhavan of Vishwabharati University, where Maharaj Kumari started her studies in the field of sculpture and painting, and she quickly became a perfect sculptor and painter in short time. But it could have been difficult for her to be in the position of outstanding sculptor and painter if she did not come across and receive the blessings from her renowned Gurus Ramkinkar Vaij and Nandalal Bose. It was these Gurus who had always been sympathetic to her achieving her goal, and through the guidance of the Gurus, MK Binodini was able to complete her education.

Being an enthusiastic scholar to learn more and more she learnt various forms of sculpture under the influence of Kinkar-da and she was also deeply influenced by Nandalal Bose. Fired by the exotic princess artist of Manipur and her enthusiasm and potential, Ramkinkar Vaij executed many portraits and paintings of the young MK Binodini as a subject. The entire Binodini Collection of paintings by Ramkinkar Vaij was acquired by the Gallery of Modern Art housed in New Delhi.

Receiving an award

After completing her studies from Vishwabharati University, MK Binodini returned to Manipur but the things were not the same compared to the lifestyle of Shantiniketan. When she came back from Shantiniketan she was quite an experienced woman fluent and conversant with English, Hindi and Bengali as well as in the field of Arts inspired by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore's poetry, writings and "Rabindra Sangeet" which had already enraptured the heart of Maharaj Kumari. She got married in the year 1950 with Doctor Laiphungbam Nandababu Roy, FRCS and she got two sons, Debabrata Roy and Somi Roy.

Following the starting of her married life Maharaj Kumari had to withdraw all her talents for some years since she was unable to devote her time for her Arts due to her domestic and other family duties, but though she gradually quit her sculpture and paintings she began, in her leisure time, writing short stories, lyrics of various songs in Manipur as well as drama which were telecast in All India Radio, Manipur and audience love to listen her songs and drama from those days.

And in 1965 her play called "Asangba Nongjabee" was performed and also produced as a radio-play, which she later published as a collection of plays. From this drama she started giving emphasis to writing and soon, she published "Nungairakta Chandramukhi", a collection of her short stories. It was her first book to bring her to the attention of the world of literature. In 1966 she was given "Jamini Sundar Guha Memorial Gold Medal" by the Satitya Parishad of Manipur.

"Asangba Nongjabee", the collection of plays was released in the year 1967. And in 1976, she released her first and only novel based on the true life story of a Manipuri Princess, daughter of Maharaj Surchandra Singh, popularly known as "Boro Saheb Ongbi Sanatombi". For this book she got various awards comprising from Sahitya Akademi Award of New Delhi to State Kala Akademi Award, Manipur and in the same year of publication of "Boro Saheb Ongbi Sanatombi" Maharaj Kumari Binodini was honoured as Padmashree by the Indian Government for her contribution in the field of literature and arts. She also released another book called "Amasung Indrajit" which was a translation of the book by Badal Sircar.

Maharaj Kumari Binodini was the Secretary of Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy for sixteen years during the 70s and 80s, and while she was the secretary she went to Mexico, USA, Canada, Germany and France in 1976 leading a troupe of dancers from the academy. She wrote a travelogue namely "Ho Mexico", and in the year of 2008 she was awarded the "Ningombam Pramodini Literature Award" and in 2009 she was awarded "Seram Mukta Award".

The people do notknow her widely enough still as an author but she also served the people of the state by writing films scripts, all of them memorable ones, and some of them are "Olangthagee Wangmadasoo", "Eshanou", "Imagi Ningthem" and "Sagol Sanaabi" which were directed by the world renowned film director of Manipur, Aribam Syam Sharma and all the movies were outstanding and the public today also love to watch the movies.

"Imagi Ningthem" received the Grand Prix at the Festival des Trois Continentes at Nantes, France. "Eshanou" was participated in the International Film Festival at Cannes. All the movies were entered in the Indian Panorama and received national awards. Dozens of her songs were broadcast in radio. She also wrote two short films known as "Paokhum Ama" and "Mayophigee Macha".

Having been brought up from the royal era period and believing in the rich heritage in culture of Manipur, Maharaj Kumari Binodini has always been in the path to preserve the Manipur culture. She has been a steadfast supporter of the traditional arts and artistes, a close friend of the maibees and pena players of Manipur, an enthusiastic supporter of the culture of horsemanship and the polo.

She is presently the lifetime Patron member of All Manipur Polo Association and also a Patron member of Red Cross Society of India. She has played an important and constructive role in the development of the Manipur University as a Senate and Syndicate member. An ardent admirer and enthusiast of the cinema in Manipur, she was a key player in the establishment of the Manipur Film Development Council, and later, of the Manipur Film Development Cooperation as a member of the Board of Directors.

She was thrice a jury member of Indian Panorama section of the National Films Festival. She was also a founder of Roop Raag, the music band based on modern cultural music and presently serving as its President. She founded "Leikol (Leimarol Khorjeikol)" which is only for women in Manipur who love Literature, and is its life-time President; and she has made huge contributions to the different organizations based on literature and culture in Manipur, and is also serving as President of IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Action) Manipur.

Throughout her life, Maharaj Kumari Binodini has been a very active and energetic woman with a deep social consciousness. She has always provided the impetus in moving forward the movement of Manipur culture, Apart from being an author and cultural activist, she had to spare her time to go abroad to represent the state outside the country like in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, the erstwhile USSR, and Hungary.

She traveled to the newly liberated Bangladesh in 1973 in visit the Manipuri Diaspora there and to renew her acquaintance with friends, and express her solidarity with the people of the nascent country. And she not only show her talents in the field of literature and other forms of arts abroad but also makes Manipur proud of her. And her never loosing spirit let her to visit Silchar, Tripura, Assam and parts of Bangladesh where Manipuri are surviving and made them to come together with Meitei (Manipuris) people and love and care each other.

She is also outspoken on critical social issues such as the environmental crisis, human rights, and women's rights. Her ballet "Sangai", performed by the Ballet Unit of the JNMDA, received international accolades for its conservation message carried on a vehicle of outstanding choreography, and was later filmed by the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

She supported the Nupi Keithel and strongly joined her voice in the market women's struggle against erosive threats that endangered the very existence of this traditional institutional and economic pillar of Manipur. A woman of letters, she contributes regularly to the local dailies such as Poknapham, Naharolgi Thoudang and the Imphal Free Press with letters, stories, articles and commentaries of current social and political issues in Manipur.

In 2004, protesting the custodial sexual abuse and brutal killing of young Thangjam Manorama Devi by the personnel of a unit of the Assam Rifles then stationed in the Kangla at Imphal, and in solidarity with the public outcry for the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 from the State of Manipur, she took the unprecedented step of returning the Padma Shri award to the President of India.

Maharaj Kumari Binodini was also honoured by the American Manipuri Association in United States of America in the year 1992 for her outstanding contribution to Manipuri Culture. She is currently staying with her two sons, her daughter-in-law, Anna and two grandchildren, Ishanou and Sanatombi, at Yaiskul Police Lane.

Related article/Photo Gallery on Maharajah Kumari Binodini Devi


* Donny Meisnam Luwang is a young Manipuri writer / reporter based at Imphal. He is a regular contributor to e-pao.net.
This article was webcasted at e-pao.net on 19 November 2009.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Imoinu @Yumnam Leikai :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Our Ailing Planet: My locality as a facet
  • Stop Oil Palm Plantation in Manipur
  • General election in hard times :: Poem
  • Being free from freedom
  • Roaring 40 in first list of Cong
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #2
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Wake Up My People Wake up :: Poem
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • A tribute to Athokpam Indrakumar Singh
  • Stunted fingerling- Replacement of fish seed
  • Training Program at Dimapur
  • Gaan-Ngai @Kakhulong :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Classical Language Vs ST for Meetei
  • The Great Green Walls, conserving nature
  • Webinar: The Birds and Bees Talk
  • Covid Booster Campaign at Tamenglong
  • IVF Centre in Guwahati
  • Easing curbs as cases spiral
  • Third wave is on!
  • Ecotourism Complexes @ Ramrei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • No excuse not to end acute pandemic stage
  • Palm-oil in Manipur: Bad to worse
  • For sons and daughters :: Poem
  • Effective methods for facial hair removal
  • Subdued dissent over Sunday as poll day
  • Embracing the party hoppers
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #2:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Cultural Activists of Manipur honoured
  • Male infertility: What are the options ?
  • Is celebrating New Year Day really worth it
  • Third wave: State on record breaking spree
  • Compulsion of power politics
  • Imoinu Thouniba @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Jonga! O Jonga :: Poem
  • Grey market for election tickets
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #2
  • Lilong Haoreibi College awarded 'B' grade
  • State used as transport route of drugs
  • Possible post poll scenario
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #1
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Lunghar path in springshed conservation
  • Lament of love :: Poem
  • Career options in Lift Technology
  • Brief tale of one year COVID vaccination
  • Bickering among allies in coalition politics
  • Low vaccination coverage
  • NH-2 : Remember Khongnem Thana
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Kolhen! O Kolhen :: Poem
  • Program on POCSO Act at Thoubal
  • The Killing Fields (2013-22) :: News Timeline
  • A spate of 'defections' in UP elections...
  • High performing individuals work alone
  • Onus on ECI to avert crisis situation
  • Keeping people informed is key
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • The church is & must remain apolitical
  • Tamenglong Battalion celebrated Army Day
  • How prosperous NE India became backward
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni @ Koubru #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Read all about Gaan Ngai
  • Justice, Peace and Change :: Poem
  • Mass Surya Namaskar at Tamenglong
  • Padmanabha Swamy Temple
  • Overcoming vaccine hesitancy
  • Nothing grand about 'Grand Old Party'
  • Lainingthou Sanamahi Complex #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #1
  • How to keep your hair healthy this winter
  • Third wave: Litmus test for NE states
  • High TPR, low vaccination
  • Maharaja Gambhir Singh
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Rani Gaidinliu Open Air Lounge inaugurated
  • NAAC peer team visit for assessment
  • National Youth Day
  • Conservation Agriculture: intensified farming
  • Negligence galore as Covid cases rise
  • Back to the spike in three figures
  • How AFSPA undermines 'Act East' Policy
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • P Achevei : Mega Mister North East 2021
  • Stop Violence related to Election
  • Civil / Project Engineer @ R-Square
  • Business Development @ R-Square
  • Customer Representative @ Property Geo
  • No matter what :: Poem
  • Stealthy extension of AFSPA
  • Confiscating 'suspected heroin'
  • 188 Death Anniv: Maharaj Gambhir:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) 20th Call
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #2
  • Account Assistant @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • Business Dev @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • The 5G Race :: Samarjit Kambam
  • Manipur elections not for the faint-hearted
  • Guns & violence in run up to polls
  • Climate Change in Ukhrul in last 50 years
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Are we able to break chain of transmission
  • 100 new Sainik School- opportunities for girl
  • Joyjeet Waikhom / Ksh Maradona: Mr India
  • Money flying in or out ?
  • Will partial lockdown help curb transmission
  • Voting during Covid pandemic
  • Food items @ Singjamei, Pishum :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Curfew : Measures to combat COVID
  • IMFP - Indian Made Foreign People
  • Happy 2022 to you !
  • Manipur Press Foundation Day :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Politician must practice, preach on COVID
  • Makeup routine during pandemic
  • Third wave threat no more a mirage
  • Queuing up for BJP
  • Thangal Lambi & Ima Keithel :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Before I sleep... II
  • Election Brawl :: Poem
  • Impact of Covid on Employer Branding
  • Chasing peace in Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #1
  • The art of New Year's resolution
  • Cong struggling to keep its house in order
  • Manipur's place in the eyes of Delhi
  • Makru bridge, Oinamlong Waterfall : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Depression : A New Time Bomb
  • School & Student Championship Quiz
  • Concern over child labour
  • ECI on sluggish vaccination rate in state
  • Vaccination rate in hill districts
  • Fusion of contemporary dance & theatre
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Crackdown on violators
  • AMAND, Pune released 2022 calendar
  • Rising poverty in Manipur
  • Sunset, the most memorable!
  • Election time season of plentiful promises
  • Interesting role of NPP, NPF
  • Pineapple @ Ngariyan Hills #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • kLlQtre :: Seireng
  • National Day for our feathered friend
  • Value of purposeful life
  • Homemade face packs for winter beauty
  • Dreadful start to New Year as cases spike
  • Manipur steps into Year 2022
  • Tarpon Katpa @ Loktak #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • OneHealth: towards pandemic preparedness?
  • Before I sleep...
  • Meitei ST demand & the opposition
  • Bye Bye 2021 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #6: Gallery
  • Manipur : National Futsal C'ship 2021
  • 'Unlocking Locks Under Lockdowns' released
  • Baby corn cultivation for livelihood
  • Extension of AFSPA to Nagaland
  • Hoping for a better New Year 2022
  • Appeal of AMCO to Chief Minister
  • NK Sanajaoba- Star in Dark Sky of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Danube Kangjam : Miss North East 2021
  • In search of Christmas party
  • Demise of Film Producer: Guruaribam John
  • Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland extended
  • Thyroid cancer- The Good, Bad & Ugly
  • Same old order to tackle most potent threat
  • Putting tighter restrictions in place
  • Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • January Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Carol on Christmas :: Poem
  • Formation of 13 Farmer Producer Orgns
  • Indian Army Inquiry Team visits site in Oting
  • Review home isolation rule or punish violator
  • Lining up for saffron party
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • curaNTbdi nYte AE :: Seireng
  • Marriageable at 25 not 18 or 21
  • IMA Manipur wins 7 awards at NATCON-2021
  • Impact of climate change in agriculture
  • Dual threat to state in election season
  • Another panel to study AFSPA
  • Indigenous under-utilized fruit crop Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Can we deliver on #HealthForAll
  • Business Executive @ Property Geo, Imphal
  • 13th Seniors National Futsal C'ship
  • National Curling Championship
  • Centre benevolence crucial for development
  • Taking the elixir of life to all village
  • Omicron now in town
  • Job-Fair 2021 @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Remembering great grandmothers :: Poem
  • Grand finale Mega Miss North East 2021
  • Kodo - A miracle food millet crop in Manipur
  • Preparing HCWs for long battle against Covid
  • Bid to arm twist the media
  • Christmas Eve @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My idea of justice- For the old aged folks
  • Amit Shah holds conclave with Naga leaders
  • Horses - some tidbits
  • The best skincare routine for teenagers
  • Christmas Eve @ Churachandpur : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My Christmas
  • Mary : The Unwed Mother
  • O Come, let us adore Him
  • Violence in election: Will it sustain?
  • Hymn on autumn :: Poem
  • Crackdown on liquor sale in election
  • Another Christmas comes
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Secy raises CCpur ambush with Myanmar
  • Gossiping with flowers, bees & butterflies
  • Careers with Migrants
  • Climate literacy to tackle climate crisis
  • Violence in AC with 2 fmr education minister
  • Heirok AC: Shooting to kill : Abhorrent
  • Of AFSPA, Manipur and NE States
  • The Price of Justice!
  • Seminar on 'Bioeconomy from Bioresources'
  • Shija: 1st Pvt medical college in NE
  • Water saving techniques in hill agriculture #2
  • Plight of women in land of brave-hearts
  • Not a question of If but
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #2
  • Painting: Tribal Freedom Fighter #1: Gallery
  • New Barak Bridge @Jiri highway : Gallery
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #1
  • RK Meghen tribute @ Nupi Lal : Gallery
  • Protest: massacre of Naga Brethen: Gallery