Sex, normlessness and political economy
- Part II -
...drastic changes were brought in during Pamheiba's era. Instead of a value system anchored to the actual mode of production or rather the actual political economy, there was unprecedented import of external value system...
The notion of Meitei sexuality and mores including the evidence of sex education in the folk mould can be prominently assessed from the ultimate reflection of Meitei worldview during the Lai Haraoba including the last day or the Lairoi Numit.
Lai Haraoba is significant for better understanding of the forms of cultural articulations as Kanglei society went through different stages of agrarian development. Beginning with jhum cultivation to the arrival of a settled agricultural economy, almost every detail can be deduced from what has been exhibited and displayed without doubt in Lai Haraoba.
The Lai Haraoba is not just a festival or a folk simplified narrative of Kanglei worldview but it also reveals much more about different stages of human development including the origin myth of the Meitei besides giving a wholesome description about moral ethics and philosophical notions that have guided the Kangleichas.
It also reflects the mode of production in a broad sense where the dignity of labour was directly linked to human behavioral patterns including inter tribe, clan and community exchange of knowledge about labour patterns.
Even in the advanced wet land cultivation phase, everybody in the society was deemed equal in terms of their responsibilities. Both man and woman had equal rights as they had equal roles to play in the economy. If man had to plough the land, the woman had to participate in transplantation and more directly related process of production and not just procreation. This labour pattern also impacted on specific value system based on the socio-economic base. The value system remained intact while being in a dynamic possibility of natural ability to be adjusted while the basic social psychology was deeply rooted in the soil.
However, drastic changes were brought in during Pamheiba's era. Instead of a value system anchored to the actual mode of production or rather the actual political economy, there was unprecedented import of external value system which were not only based on the realities of the time but also later had a drastically different profound impact on the mode of production itself.
In many senses and other words, the post Pamheiba era can be called an era where value system without historical roots took shape. For instance, the introduction of new religious belief system based on what can best be described as Brahmin-Monarch alliance and conspiracy was imposed in Kanglei society. Thereon, the society saw the crumbling effect of an earlier value system that even had impact on the sexual mores of the society.
The concept of caste system which was foreign to Kanglei society was brought in to replace earlier division of labour or the horizontal composition of a society. The hierarchical order as represented by Brahmin (in charge of religious affairs, Kshatriya (the political ruling class), Vaisyas (the agricultural class) and Sudras (the manual workers including the untouchables) seemed to have gate-crashed into a broadly egalitarian society.
Though at the intellectual level, there was an expansion of knowledge about different worldviews based on Indic civilization or a worldview based on Vedic ideas.
Despite the expansion of larger knowledge system, the imposition of a new religious practice brought in ideas based on hierarchical order both in terms of social set up as well as gender delineation thus dislodging a prevalent value system.
Indoctrination was at its peak with the sanction of the all powerful feudal king which not only elevated the new class of people to the already existent societal order but also made the same class (Brahmins) the medium to spread the indoctrination. From a horizontal division of labour, the society began to view itself with a different perspective of low and high parameters.
With the introduction and imposition of the hierarchical order in a relatively egalitarian society, even the understanding of labour relationship among the Kanglei society as adequately recorded and exhibited in the folk tradition was not only co-opted but also got severely distorted. Once the relationship based on the actual mode of production and its reflection on the value system got corrupted, there was a completely distorted view of the actual world.
Perhaps, this could have been one of the many reasons why some classic and folk wisdom of acknowledging labour expertise or capability that were associated with individual tribe/clan began to be treated as or rather looked at with contempt indirectly attaching low social values verging on mockery of the some people who were the hands on expert in specific role in an interdependent agrarian society.
Despite the absence of a specified caste or community for engaging in agricultural activities unlike the existence of Vaisyas exclusively reserved for the same, the import or the attempt to impose a new value system based on caste have led to the value degrading the idea of not only those people who were primarily farmers and peasants or those who were engaged in manual labour.
With the introduction of such practice, the value system took a drastic turn impacting not only the existent values but also the political economy of Kangleipak.
To Be Continued.............
* Ibomcha wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on September 10, 2012.
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