TODAY -

Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) :: Translated from Meeteilon
- Part 1 -

James Oinam *

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

Chayom Thupki (Translation): Part 1

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

Note from the Translator

An event that still conjures up a lot of passion is the incident of Puya Meithaba, literally the burning of the Puyas. The Puyas were sacred scriptures of Meeteis. These texts have been closely identified with the traditional religion, the Sanamahi. However, it seems the texts were not restricted to traditional deities, and covered many miscellaneous topics like the boats used by various kings. It was allegedly burnt at the behest of one Santidas Gosai, who influenced the king to make the kingdom adopt the Hindu faith.

Therefore, a lot of the sayings or proverbs centre around the forsaken religion and call for revivalism—anger, frustration, despair, hope etc. can be seen in them. The king was perhaps driven by a reformist zeal. In the book Land of Gods and Goddesses, the author N. Khagendra says, the king allowed his own daughter to take part in the Raas Leela (a dance form depicting lord Krishna and his girlfriends).

The king was very particular that the dance form developed for the land did not have any sexual innuendoes. Some claim Santidas Gosai was adept in chemistry and could play hand tricks. It is difficult to say anything for sure what was in the mind of the king, if at all he acted with some strong-held convictions of his own. Whatever the case, it is said he came down heavily on his court scholars, the seven maichaus, who left the palace in protest.

Other than this, it seems other religious differences existed. For example, in The Maharaja’s Household authored by Binodini Devi, the author says the royalty worshipped Pakhangba while the common folks worshipped Sanamahi. That is why the king did not enter the house of the to-be queen, who before marriage belonged to a common family and worshipped Sanamahi. She had to come to the palace a few days before the marriage.

However, the great scholars and thought-leaders of Manipur have been seeking harmony and compromise not just within the traditional religion but also between the traditional religion and the Hindu religion. This has been amply brought out by the author Pramodini Devi in her book The Depth of Sanamahi Laihui & Sanamahi Laining. There is reference to some later scriptural texts where gods of traditional religion and Hindu religion are mentioned together.

Even non-local authors, who have taken interest in Manipuri culture and religion, have tried to synthesize these two streams of religion. To lump them all together under religio-political conspiracy may not fair. For instance, Vimala Raina, in her book Khamba Thoibi and Poems on Manipur, brings in elements that look alien to local tradition. But one will find it difficult to question her love and admiration of Meetei art and literature.

Many proverbs show serious attempts at philosophy, predictions for the future, and a general curiosity of the environment for the well-being of mankind. As my understanding of Bengali script and archaic Manipuri words is rudimentary, reader’s discretion is advised.

James Oinam


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



Epigraph

Matam mapham maram kainaphade
Leipak ningthau maichau thanaphade
Enat enil langdaba shangle
Leipung yakashu yaodaba kuire
Taibang lamjeldi hangchitni
Khongkap noppada wagani
Khuningthekki laikolda
Chayom thupki kharadang
Thupchanana yallamshi


[It’s not good to divide time, place, and reason
The king of the land should leave aside the scholar
Peace has reigned for a long time
There has been no disturbance in the land
The race a life is day after tomorrow
If the steps are weak, then there will be misery
In the garden of ‘khuningthek’
A little food bundle
Let’s hang carefully]
(Hidden Treasures)

Yapharol
(Best Wishes)

Chingna koina panshaba haona koina pan-ngakpa
Meitei sana pungmarolna yaiphare
Ma-ngang, Luwang, Khuman, Sharang-Leishang, A-ngom,
Khaba-Nganba, Moirang tille
Nongmadol thetpa Kaubru, pakla langla Loktak
Ching-u magi khutsemna nille
Sana thok-u thokliba mapham, Lupa thok-u thokliba leipak
Ching tam pokpi emani
Numit kari-ngei kahauro, thabi chauri-ngei chauhauro
Leipak ningthau punna yaiphare
Yaiphare, yaiphare, yaiphare
Sidayai, nadayai phangle
Tingpanba mapuna yaiphare


[The mountains form the barricades, and the tribes guard them
Blessed be the Meiteis
Ma-ngang, Luwang, Khuman, Sharang-Leishang, A-ngom,
Khaba-Nganba, Moirang have come together
The sky-high Kaubru, wide glistening Loktak
The world reverberates with sound of what has been made by Ching-u
The area the produce gold, the land that produce silver
She is the mother of the hill and the plain
Rise while the sun rises, grow while the moon grows
Together with the king, blessed
Blessed, blessed, blessed
Become free of death and of disease
Blessed be the lord Tingpanba]
(Makar Luwang)

There are 126 sayings or maxims, with explanations, in the book. Some of them throw light upon unexpected areas of Meetei culture as the quotations below from the book shows:

(1)

Thangyi Loktak eyaida lodam khaj tillu kalei kakyen yawa khonjenda tharo lemphu taobagum heitana pot-thirubada leipakki lemphu taorani wayel hei-ngam sing-ngamloiye.
(Khongngang Thaba)

It is a prediction of a coming time when there will be no manners and discipline, and people will not know love. Parents and children will not know each other. Loktak will be filled with the blood as the stronger cut each other with swords. Those who stand in the middle, trying to reconcile and bring peace, will hung their heads.

When the cocks are high up the sky, just like the water lilies of the Loktak float over the water, calling in those who are ignorant, collecting those who are not able, the land will be in turmoil as the wisdom required to deliver justice will be absent.

(2)

Leipak maiba khurai tang
Ningthau maiba chirai tang


The maiba (shaman) of the land has bald knees. The maiba of the king has a bald head. The shaman who looks after the land is running here and there serving the people, night and day, in good and bad weather. The king’s maiba is always worried as he is supposed to fulfil the flimsy wishes of the king all the time. Hence, he has a bald head.

To be continued.....


* James Oinam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 28, 2019.



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