TODAY -

Romanticizing the monumental and antiquarian past and delaying change: The Manipur context
- Part 1 -

Wangam Somorjit *



In 1780 CE, Chingthang Khomba commissioned his uncle Ananta Sai, the minister, to recompose the lost court chronicle Cheitharol Kumpapa. The narration begins: "In the year 3135 Kali Yug (33 CE) Meidingu Pakhangba became the king."

Once the past is regulated it becomes a force. By the above dictum, the ambitious dynasty had established the ruling idea, legitimizing the dominant consciousness of this emergent state with the discovery of two 'civilized' or 'alien' concepts, "Kali yug" and "pakhangba"; the former is a borrowed Hindu era, presuming the genesis of the dynasty dating back as far as the beginning of Sakendra era, and the latter is a dynamically translated Buddhist philosophical term "enlighten" assuming as a distinctive regal title of ruler in Scott's phrase "in the form of symbolic jujitsu", thereby justifying the claim of absolute arbitrary authority to coerce certain enslaves and subordinates designated as subjects and tributaries, thus naturalized its rights to rule; whereby demarcating a line between inhabitants, as state people and state repelling people, correctly bondage people and free people.

The Royal Proclamation of November 7, 1737 CE, clearly reflects the demarcation line that premised stateness as the higher class and statelessness as backward, served to persuade bondage or enslaved people of their bestowed privileged status, that runs as follow:

"The inhabitants are now divided into two classes –those invested and non-invested with lagun (sacred Hindu thread). Those Kshatriya who are invested with lagun are the seven clans whereas non-invested are those (hill) people who refused to incorporate to the authority. Intermarriage between these two classes is prohibited."

The ruling class generates a form of belief which it imposes on other classes. The consecration of the idol of Govindajee in 1780 CE marks the accomplishment of state's oeuvre, the social system based on hierarchy, an ideal form of feudalism.

The royal proclamation made on this occasion stated that in order to avert the recurrence of calamities as then oppressed by the Burmese invasions, King Chingthang Khomba wholly made over his country to his celestial proprietor, henceforward holding the government in his name, and no descendents of his without the possession of this image should ever be raised into royal dignity or as ruler.

In feudal Manipur, the kings had the political, economic, and military power to take the lead in defining themselves as rulers and in establishing class hierarchy, dividing the enslaved or 'incorporated' populations, excluding the ungoverned people, who were designated as 'enemy' in the Proclamation of 1737, into different classes as 'lups' (legitimate subjects, later substituted by the term pana, borrowing from the Mughal's jagir system), slave classes, viz, Phunganai, Potshangba, Ayokpa and Kei, who were all formerly hill people, and Loi class the subdued tribes and communities, viz, Andro, Sekmai and Khurukhul.

The royal order of King Surchandra (c.1886-1890), further clarifies the division of "state space" as Imphal and Louwai. Imphal was the capital and the elite residential area, "dedicated to luxury and amusement" as documented in the Austrian Daily News in 1891 and Louwai was the paddy field zones beyond the centre assigned to the serfs and artisans. Beyond Louwai was the non-state space where 'booty and slaves' were seasonally collected or 'harvested'; the term "Lokpa" which literally means harvesting, is regularly used in the official chronicles to denote collection of booties; "hao naba chatpa" for military expedition into hills; and Lan phaiye for enslavement; Lan-pha, for captives and war prisoners; loi-pot for tributes.

And in the end of each expedition the rulers dubbed themselves with high sounding titles like captor or victor of the subjugated tribes, such as 'Maramba', literally victor of Maram; Khongjai Ngamba, Victor of Khongjai, and so forth. Sometimes the non-state space was used as 'game preserve' where non-state people were raided as a part of the coronation ritual called Phambal Lan, in which the regal name of the king was assumed in accordance with the name of the captive.

These are the few historical proceedings where dominant ideology in Manipur takes its birth, encapsulating that official historiography tends to write history from the perspective of the dominant group, in the words of Gramsci, "The State has always been the protagonist of history", and that the owner of this history, the ruling class, developed hegemonic ideas, which disseminate its values and norms, materializing this knowledge in the consciousness of the majority to conserve the status quo and hinder the development of another contradictory environment.

The historiography in Manipur relies almost exclusively from the sources with royal seal, such as the list of the kings, court chronicles, hagiographical accounts, royal epigraphic stones, coins and archaeological structures erected by the kings. So, the 2000 year old official 'written' history of Manipur emerges from the womb of ruling class hegemonic system. This 'written' history is the prologue to the proud legacy of dominant group, which 'chooses to close its eyes' to its responses, the history of those who do not have written history, legitimating valley and hill divergence, and the history of those whose lived experience has been overlooked or skipped in the official and academic history, but intertwined with it –undermining and interrupting the political domain and aspiration of the subaltern social group, above all, delaying human growth and progress.

The ideology of the dominant group and its common sense value gradually extended with pervasive power, playing a role in shaping contemporary political and common attitudes and social behavior. In short the dominant ideology persists in every area of practice. In Manipur democratic experiment began in the mid-20th century. The birth of Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha is believed to be the effect of this experiment. Although it endorsed dominant values, which is exemplified in its significant 4th Session resolution took in Imphal on 30th December 1938, presided and signed by the pioneer revolutionary figure Hijam Irabot.

'Hypocritically' the conference resolved the 'hill and valley unity' in the 10th resolution and at the same time questioning on calling the hill people as Manipuris in the 18th resolution, distinctly underestimated the hill people as inferior people. The 'unity' is a self-centered perspective of state-space, as the resolution runs, "If the hill areas are excluded, the valleys are not greater than a Sub-division."

To be continued ...


* Wangam Somorjit wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is the author of the books"The Chronicle of Meetei Monarchs, 1666 to 1850 CE" and the forthcoming, "Manipur: the Forgotten Nation of Southeast Asia"
This article was posted on February 10, 2016.


* 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
  • Tripartite Talk: GOI/GOM/UNC :: Gallery
  • Governor's Cup Fencing :: Gallery
  • 13 Aug @Kangla & BT Park :: Gallery
  • Bruce Dickinson: "son-rise" of Iron Maiden
  • Biren should learn from Mamata Banerjee
  • The globe is in your fist
  • AR I-Day festivities with Myanmar army
  • AR celebrates 71st Independence day
  • Unconstitutionality of TR Government
  • Stadium upgrade for I-League
  • NE film festival in Delhi from Aug 18
  • Myanmarese advised to follow traffic rules
  • The human torch and AFSPA
  • The real taste of Independence Day
  • Mission XI football @ Andro :: Gallery
  • Krishna Janma @ Mahabali :: Gallery
  • Blood Donation for 13 August:: Gallery
  • Mahabali Temple , Imphal :: 360 ° View
  • Graphic & plastic arts of Zeliangrong #3
  • Silence :: Poem
  • Sport Univ: Promises kept but corruption?
  • Job requirements at SKY Hospital
  • Jobs @ National Informatics Centre (NIC)
  • I-Day Celebration at BJP State Office
  • Celebrations amid militant boycott call
  • 3 Manipur terrorists arrested in Delhi
  • NSCN/GPRN condemns raid
  • NSCN-K signing hinges on cross-border..
  • Meira Rally on Patriots' Day #1 :: Gallery
  • Patriots' Day @ Kolkata :: Gallery
  • 26th NAMA Convention Report, Houston, TX
  • Forming Plurals in Manipuri Language
  • Mammography and frequently ask question
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • NPF Office Bearers reaffirm support
  • DAN Co-ordination Meeting Resolutions
  • India and China: From rivalry to enmity
  • For better tomorrows
  • Security forces round up NSCN (IM) cadres
  • Survey 'finds' jumbos in Manipur
  • Kirti Chakra for brave major
  • President medal for IPS officer- Robin Hibu
  • 13 August @Hicham Yaichampat :: Gallery
  • Achingliu, Haokhulan, Hiyaichenbi: eMing
  • Patriots' Day @ Hojai, Assam :: Gallery
  • Protest: malpractices of MPSC :: Gallery
  • On MPSC scam & people defending it
  • 126th Patriots' Day observed in Delhi
  • 126th Patriots' Day observed in Hojai
  • Lajong U-12 to represent India in BRICS
  • Learn something from 2015 experience
  • The district creation headache
  • State Thang-Ta Competition :: Gallery
  • Search operation [Aug 12] :: Gallery
  • 13 August Patriots' Day : Read all about it
  • Thangal General : The Patriot
  • Proxy examination and Wrong politics
  • Women should not live in fear ....
  • Summer Thoughts :: Poem
  • NPF Youth serve Ultimatum to Rio
  • A slap on the face of Christianity
  • U-Morok @ Shirarakhong :: Gallery
  • Dangers of 'Trial by Media' & the MPSC
  • Is Culture of insensible activism taking root
  • Meiteilon never been Tibeto-Burman
  • Mechanized threshing of foodgrains #2
  • ZSUB Foundation Day, Fresher's Meeting
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Breaking the barrier
  • Natural Body Building #3 :: Gallery
  • National Handloom Day @ GHY :: Gallery
  • Chirom Indira shine in hearts of NE Weavers
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Investigate killings as ordered by SC
  • MSTC CMD met with CM of Manipur
  • Conspiracy behind the toppling game
  • Armed groups attack..a human right abuse
  • Drawing Competition at Khengjoi, Chandel
  • Govt firm on protecting indigenous people
  • Suspension of Operation term extended
  • Rs 100 cr allotted to study NE floods
  • Save the indigenous people cry : Valley..
  • A matter need to ponder
  • Earthen wares of Ningthemcha Karong
  • Indigenous Wrestling @ SPT #2 :: Gallery
  • Awunching Biodiversity Park #3 :: 360 ° View
  • XXVIII State Thang-Ta Competition 2017
  • India's HLPF review of SDGs & Manipur
  • Robotics as career options
  • International Day of Indigenous People
  • Rejoinder Issued By Shurhozelie Liezietsu
  • Hard facts of political crisis (Nagaland)
  • Viewing through one's community
  • Darkening shadows of doubt
  • Ziumi village, Maram Landscape:: Gallery
  • Inter School Handball Tournament :: Gallery
  • The Proud Bamboo Tree :: Folk Tale
  • Populated Attitudes :: Poem
  • Marijuana, Mahadev and Maneka
  • Notice for MSc Biochemistry Admissions
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Assam edition of NE India Fashion Week
  • Being different from Cong Govt
  • Cracking down on fraudulence
  • Hanuba-hanubi paan thaba :: Funga Wari
  • ... All The Flowers Gone? #1 :: Gallery
  • Need to bust racket running inside MPSC
  • Will PM Modi betray Assam in No ST, no rest
  • State Level Essay Writing Competition
  • RIST Condolence Function at MU
  • When we stumble and fall
  • Customer Care Executive @ basicP, Imphal
  • Petition for Disqualification of 10 MLAs
  • Cracking down on fraudulence
  • Rape of small newspaper
  • Landscape of Ukhrul District #2:: Gallery
  • Jhulon Nupi Pala Phamsak :: Gallery
  • TR is CM by technicality sans Legality
  • One Day in Heaven :: Poem
  • Libraries Vs Google: Are we heading there
  • ..for electrical distribution rearrangement
  • Lessons to learn from CCpur: public hygiene
  • Angaoba Film Scenes #1 :: eRang
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • The dawn of cricket in Manipur
  • Lumbini Leikolda Shat-houba Leirang
  • Workshop on MU Reservations held
  • Job posting at C-DAC Silchar
  • Lafikul murdered to stir communal tension
  • Wayward rules of law
  • Indigenous Wrestling @ SPT #1 :: Gallery
  • Tourist Watch Tower, Khongjom #4 :: 360 °
  • Admission for B.Ed at Manipur University
  • The Evening Blues :: Poem
  • A village called Nbena :: Book Review
  • Employment Generating Hands on Skill
  • Unnatural death of Sainik School student
  • Condemns killing of KNO/KNLF leader
  • AR conducts Pre Recruitment Training
  • Makeshift sheds at Lamphel
  • For a clean future generation
  • Mr Maipak Body Building #2:: Gallery
  • CM referring to ST Comm is ultra vires
  • VIP culture out, VVVIP culture in
  • Be an unchained raindrop :: Poem
  • Holistic education : Trends & challenges
  • Jobs - Going Officers Pamjei
  • Providing Various Health Benefit Plans
  • larification to Tokheho's recollections
  • SoO groups in the news for wrong reasons
  • Confession
  • Nongbrang, bank of Thoubal River :: Gallery
  • Pukpha Fest @Tamenglong :: Gallery
  • Binalakshmi Nepram at UN, NYC : 1 Aug
  • Free Computer Course by KEN @ Imphal
  • Where is the justice in mob justice
  • Ishu : Feature Film in Assamese :: Review
  • Flood: State efforts are too little too late
  • Crisis within NPF unfortunate : KG Kenye
  • decision-making body of NPF resolve: 2 Aug
  • NPF Legislature Party Statement : 2 Aug
  • ..honoring martyrs by raising Tri-colour
  • ..strong Opposition: Cong MLA striving hard
  • Battle Of Khongjom & Manipuris in 1891 #3
  • Khongjom War Memorial #2 :: 360 ° View
  • Oops! They've Done It Again!
  • Photography: Career through lenses
  • Mega Marathon Manipur : Download Form
  • Chemical Ecology: Info for college/Univs
  • Jobs - Nursing Aides in Singapore
  • NPF responds to MLAs' demand
  • Overlooking one's own Cabinet decision
  • Potential of our state
  • Drinking joints in a dry State : Liquor tragedy
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper
  • Singcha Wayawon opening #2:: Gallery
  • Meetei bears more tribal characters ...
  • The slumbering Beauty :: Poem
  • Selected to Global Shapers Imphal Hub
  • NPF Legislature Party Meeting on 31st July
  • Indo Myanmar Post Level Meeting at Onzia
  • Notice: Employment Exchange Imphal East
  • The unintended windfall
  • Singcha Wuya Won (flower) #2:: Gallery
  • Hepatitis C is upto 95 pc curable
  • Sit-in-Demand : ST Demand Committee
  • Police na maheiroi singda kahenba..
  • Manung Kangjeibung, Kangla :: 360 ° View
  • My visit to Shri Lanka #4
  • 1st Mao Market day @Nagamapal:: Gallery
  • ILP : Students protest [27 July] :: Gallery
  • Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon #2 :: Gallery
  • Nomination for State Journalist Awards
  • Rare historical stone inscription #1
  • Singcha Wayawon opening #1:: Gallery
  • Huidrom Kirankr- Fellowhsip for Thang-Ta
  • Ethoi Oinam (Actress) #2 :: eRang Photos
  • Echum Lairembi, Khurkhul #3:: Gallery
  • Tapta :: Funga Wari
  • Nungbi Khullen, Ukhrul #1 :: Gallery
  • NH-102 (Maram road) landslide :: Gallery
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #3 :: Gallery
  • Landslide at Jiribam Highway #2 :: Gallery
  • Tribute to Sapam Robinhood #2 :: Gallery
  • Lai Khong Chingba @Thangjing #4
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #5 : Ooba
  • SPONSORED ADS