E-Pao! Essay - Ibudhou Thangjing Koren Lai : The divine ruler of Moirang overlooked

Ibudhou Thangjing Koren Lai : The divine ruler of Moirang overlooked

By: R Yangsorang *

After having read some of the latest books written by different scholars of repute, I became poignant just as I had visualized Moirang lai (god) appearing at page 102 of the book entitled "Manipur: A Tourist Paradise" by one E. Ishwarjit Singh though it is projected to be the book on tourism for Manipur. At a glance, the book looks to be his maiden attempt which can be updated in due course.

Even before that, the misconception of certain part of the book calls for an urgent clarification. His achievement for writing such a rare book on tourism at the prime of his life can only be appreciated, and the budding author is advocating a rediscovery of the ancient glory of Moirang.

But with all his talent and might, he hides the name of Ibudhou Thangjing Koren or Koir-eng Lai, the divine ruler of Moirang in his book by saying that "the Almighty produced Moirang lai (god) after making the universe. Korouna Nganba, the first human being made by Moirang lai descended from south-western hill called Thangjing."

If it has been done to distort the truthfulness of the history of the kingdom deliberately, it's a historical fallacy, and the writing nega-tes the basic truth. There is no denying the fact that the divine ruler of the kingdom was known as Ibudhou Thangjing Koren or Koireng Lai: not Moir-ang lai. It is an unshakable tradition to refer to the Supreme Being when one writes about the kingdom.

Can we think of Moirang and its lakes and people as complete without a mention of Ibudhou Thangjing Koren Lai? Of course, the book must have been written without any bias, but the name of god who created the kingdom has surreptitiously or unknowingly been omitted. Besides, at page 134 of the same book, it is written that Imphal town was founded in the 1st century A.D. and Maharaja Budhachandra was said to be the king of Manipur in 1891.

It is a half-truth. Kangla existed in 33 A.D. and Imphal town came into existence gradually at a much later date. In the month of September, 1941, Sir Churachand Singh abdicated the throne in favour of his eldest son Bodhachandra Singh and left for Nabadwip. However, the last two mistakes can be taken as errors which have crept in typography.

Yet, when a writer broods over Moirang what is obligatory or of utmost importance is to refer to Koren lai which is unfortunately missing from the luxurious book published and distributed by B.R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. And again, the monograph on Lois of Manipur by L.B. Devi, a Mit-tal publication in its page 3, only the "TangkhuI, the Mao and Maram Nagas, the Kolya, the Khoirao or Mayangkhong group, the Kabuis, the Chirus and the Marings are called the major tribes of the hill districts of Manipur, and the Kukis and the Paites are mentioned as "some sche-duled tribes" only.

According to her indication, it is obvious that major tribes attribute to indigenous people of the state while the remaining ones which don't find a place in her book will be considered minor tribes as in the case of the Kukis and the Paites. Now, there will be two classes of tribal people in Manipur- minor and major. The word Kuki is largely of a political entity and a major community as well.

The Paites are evangelically progressive and highly educated alongwith an advantage of settling in large number in compact areas and dominating 'the most developed hill district head-quarters of Manipur. In this respect, the Hmars are not less.

Saying all this, I am not siding with any group or tribe. The fact is that major tribes are those who are numerically stronger and more advanced in many respects. So, use of the term "major tribes" in that particular book is ambiguous, and it remains a literary phenomenon worthy of serious scrutiny.

That part of the book is disputable and insatiable as she is so much of an outsider when she makes classification of the hill people and appears to be so much of an insider while dealing with the life and character of the Lois of Manipur.

The book produced by a reputable publisher ought to be reasonably handy and descriptive, but a major flaw in the term of major tribes as pointed out by her has defaced the authenticity of the book to express one's sensibility. Still calling someone untouchable, and using old term like lower caste in a booklet or the Lois can be purified if they embrace Hinduism after they had adopted Hindu way of life long back.

It is all an imitation of the British writers of the 19th Century. It is outdated to write that way upholding the British legacy and retaining their styles of writing. Instead, more developed or scholastic term like underdevelopment, weaker section, backwardness, etc. etc. can well be used to increase the vibrancy of the very monograph, being a Mittal series.

The objective of this write-up is to solicit support for eradication of casteism: not for antagonizing the writers. Hence, every constructive writer will opt for a feeling of beauty and keen comic sense since nobody can write in anger and malice.

Once in the early 90s, I had a friendly chat with a Marwari rice dealer at Imphal Bazar where I enquired of him whether any Jain lady was glittering in filmdom. He felt sarcastic puffing his cheeks to blow hot and cold. After a sigh of relief, he said in a faint voice—only Neelam may be. Even to mention the name of a female member of his community was considered unusual or offended.

Well then, a beautiful high caste Jain lady may marry an ugly tribal boy hailing from Kangpat or Kailam hills if he is an I.A.S. officer. Only one of such incidences can be retold. A thin and not so handsome tribal I.P.S. officer married a beautiful Delhi educated Manipuri girl belonging to the conservative family of greater Imphal area. As it is the case, caste distinction has little to do in this age.

What is actually needed is fitness and soundness of mind and body as an individual. What is the relevancy of holy or pure family now with the dawn of the new century? As if to usher in a new era, the pride of being a member of the high caste family should go away and it shouldn't come back. Today, this discrimination has become the root of hatred and disunity among the people of Manipur.

I shall certainly have ascribed to the pens of superiorly educated and instructed persons, but for unthinkable flaws... As told by a teacher in my college days, academic encounter often took place in Kolkata.

Some writers were versatile in their academic pursuits, and writing became a way of life for them while even arm-chair critics were rash or recalcitrant in framing charges against the book writers. At the bookstalls, a great variety of books flopped, and several of them, at its worst, suffered from sentimentality, vagueness and exaggeration. Weaker books seemed precariously poised on the brink of sloppiness.

In Manipur, by the standards of modern literary taste, those books published by the reputed publishing corporations are bound to appear hopelessly outdated one by one if the contents are fictitious and malicious. The high-priced books will not find generous buyers. So far, no book has won outside recognition to bring prestige to the state for want of academic fibre, and books written in English seldom rise above conventional expression, and on the whole offer flashy rhetoric rather than reliable books.

A number of books in English are worthy of dismissal as carbon copies of the books left by the English writers. Series of such books are printed afresh. Curiously enough, Madhavi like novel in English or even a flawed masterpiece is yet to appear in Kangleipak. In 1977, I, on an occasion, defended a prominent writer (name with-held) when his book was accused of misleading the people of Manipur.

Cyclostyled pamphlets were distributed to streng-then the veracity of his book, and a note of support to the writer was forwarded to the B.R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. Now, sounding lou-dly, one may be prompted to ascertain my credibility or even revile me of being sensational as long as someone's level of intellect remains unknown.

In my humble submission, it may be of even below an average academic. Then, why this rebuttal? In short, it is undoubtedly clear that due to negligence, most of the intellectuals are still unaware of the components and size of the tribal society of Manipur. Forget about the general public.

Nevertheless, clear thinking, soundness of judgement, comprehensiveness of views, forceful and logical argumentation, moderation, and dignity are the outstanding features of an anthropologist or a history writer. Let's imagine what could be the picture of Manipur and its people of varied culture, customs and tradition at the turn of the century if the above corporations continue to publish haphazardly written books, of which many are solely for fame.

It's believed those books are sent abroad too. If so, the Americans, the Koreans, the Europeans, the Japanese, etc. will have wrong concept of the people of Manipur. Modern book writers bend their endeavours thitherwards by writing books of the best type to bear with the taste of time for worldwide circulation.

R Yangsorang wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on June 14th, 2006

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