Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) :: Translated from Meeteilon
- Part 10 -

James Oinam *

 Lady in the Pond 'Chayom Thupki'
'Lady in the Pond' : An illustration of 'Chayom Thupki' by James Oinam

Chayom Thupki (Translation): Part 10

Book Title: Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy)
Author: Makar Luwang
Publisher: S. Achauba Khaba Nganba, Khurai Khongam Leikai
Year of Publication: 1995

Ashabana ashaba lok-e nungtana nungbu laknei

[The hot begets the hot, only you torments yourself]

What we suffer is the result of the past actions. So when one is unable to punish himself, others do it for him (the other interpreted as an extension of the self). Manipuri word for water is 'eshing' ('e' from the word 'blood' and 'sing' from 'sinba' or 'sille' meaning 'replaces').

The word comes from the believe that 'water' is something that replaces the blood. Therefore, blood and water are equivalent. When someone drowns in water, it is called 'eraknaba'. The word comes from 'e' (blood) 'laknaba' (torment). (Water as equivalent of the blood can torment it.)

Nom nom saygaido chanaba leite takhet-thang

A time will come when in spite of working hard and ruining one's body nothing much will come out of it. At that time, when asked listen to things of Meetei, one will shake his head, and thinking that saving money is more important, will leave part with discussion like scratching out with a knife.

Yum yaurabra thong yaurabra
Yumshu yaure thongshu yaure

[Reached home? Reached the bridge?
Home reached, bridge also reached]

This saying is about returning to traditional religion from the Hindu religion. There is another saying related to above, 'Ningthi turel wangbada Govinda lallani' (Govinda will cross Ningthi river). This is referring to Hindu religion leaving the land. The bridge referred in both the sayings if symbolically the same.

Hanuba meira paibabu theiduna chatli nahana
Maduna humduna thiruri meira mutkhre phut

Old men holding the light, the young go sideways, avoiding them. The old men have the experience and wisdom (the light), but the young would not listen to them or take their advice. When the enemies are all around, the young starts searching for the old men but they are gone and fire has extinguished.

Kallabadi hinganiye
Hinglabadi semganiye

[If saved will survive
If alive will make/create]

In order to save the tender seedling, one has water it and apply manure. Then it will grow to a strong tree and bear fruit. A dead plant do not need any caring. Just like the soil is essential for the plant, the land is important for human. Therefore, it is imperative that people should protect their land. Only through the prosperity of the land can men prosper.

Eshingda khurum tong-u
Ukhada yenpak tup-u

In water wear khurum (a kind of wooden sandal). Under the tree, wear head band. The saying is to protect one's feet and head from injury.

Wari li singbun pun wakhataba koijomba
Makoi phar phoidatlu

Tell stories a lot. When discussion is held together, one has beard. Pull off his beard. It means someone who does not know but acts as if he knows a lot. But when people get together and discuss things, all the nonsensical and stupid things are revealed (beard). Get rid of such opinions so that the truth and the right remain.

Wakhal lang lawai tang
Laushing lang kuru shung

'Lang' means a net used to catch a prey. Some people think a lot, as if they are caught in the net (wakhal lang). But they end bald in the head (lawai tang).

Another thinks he is intelligent and does not venture out (laushing lang). And he develop gangrene in the knees. However, no one can know everything under the sun. So people should talk to each other for wisdom.

Leipak puriba ningthaune
Phage phuge phoige amning-ni
Leipak ngakliba miyamne
Pa-ge puge penge mathauni

The saying highlights the difference between the king (ningthau) and the common people (miyam).

The king thinks it is his whimsical right to catch (phage) and beat up (phuge) when someone disobeys him. And when his share of the crop is not given, he has the right to pluck (phoige) or snatch the harvest.

The common people, on the other hand, think it is their duty to face (lamba paba) the enemy (in battle), to bear the burden (puge) of the land and be satisfied (penge) in honouring an evil person (the king?).

Chaoraba aloo shanglaba yongchak pulle
Hakthi khanbina uningda nokli

[Big potato and long stinky bean got together
One who sneezes hides behind the tree and is laughing]

In Manipuri, the wealthy and powerful people with connections are referred to as 'achau-ashang' (big-long). Hence, the big potato and the long stinky beans are insinuating the big and powerful people. They think that when they get together anything can be done. Without the commoners/the slave it cannot be.

Sneezing reminds of chilli powder. One of the popular spicy Manipuri dishes prepared with potato and stinky beans is eronba. The dish is incomplete without a little bit of fermented fish (ngari) added to it. Hence, the slave/ngari is laughing at them from behind.

Lamjangda khongnang thadaba
Phungada haudong kundaba

[Not planting banyan at the entrance of the land/property
The cat not sitting near the kitchen fire]

The advice is to plant big tree like banyan at the entrance to the land and not letting out the fire of the kitchen so that the cat will be always be near it.

If there is a big tree the entrance then one can spot his land even at night and know the direction. Also, the big tree will provide shade under which people can rest and have hold discussions. Also, there is a saying, 'Uoodagi chaoba khongnangni mana pungba heinauni' (The banyan is bigger than the tree and the mango tree has thick leaves).

It is important to have the cat around because the cat knows where things are kept. That keeps the woman of the house on her toes. That is why the cat is called 'yumleima' (the lady/god of the house). Also, the cat keeps away the rats that can cause considerable damage to the property. There is also a saying that the sin of killing cat cannot be washed even by offering the head of an elephant.

 Cover of 'Chayom Thupki'
Cover of 'Chayom Thupki'

To be continued.....

* James Oinam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 01, 2019.

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