Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) :: Translated from Meeteilon
- Part 3 -

James Oinam *

 Lady Fishing 'Chayom Thupki'
'Lady Fishing' : An illustration of 'Chayom Thupki' by James Oinam

Chayom Thupki (Translation): Part 3

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

Tumdaba haudokpa lui, Hao natatpa ngangnaba yaroi
One who is not sleeping cannot be awakened because he is pretending.

Natatpa means severed ears. Here it means someone who has heard so much things in the past that he has made up his mind and no amount of talking will make him change his mind (ngangnaba yaroi). Here, 'hao' (tribe) is used in metaphorical sense. Meetei kingdom fought many battles with the tribes. Therefore, 'hao natatpa' is anyone, not just tribe, who has past bad experiences.

Lang-ganu langda thugani
Lan-ganu lal tagani

[Do not make noise or you will get trapped in the net
Do not wrong (to other) or there will be war]

When someone is working on a new project, making noise will ruin it. If the king is making plans, being critical of it will land you in trouble. If you attack the weak, then everyone will turn against you.

Mari thadatkanu mahei yalloi
Matashu leishanu [leinashu?] makhong khanloi

[Do not break relations; else it will stop bearing fruits.
There seems to be typo in the second line, which has changed the meaning of the sentence. Instead of 'Let the relations be there also, they will not know the roots/stem/legs', I think it should be 'Even though they are relations, they will not know the roots/stem/legs'.]

The explanation given for the saying reminds me of a Chinese saying, 'It is better to have good relations with your neighbour than a relative who is living far away.' In this saying, one is advised to maintain good relations with those one mingles with because they are useful. However, there are those distant relatives, not necessarily living far away, who are of no use to you.

Sana-o, naril-o lamphelnu chawainu
Chunkhang pelona

Strength and will power are different. A strong elephant would run away (from danger?). But a python will die protecting its territory. Due to lack of strength, due to fear of being punished by the king, an important word was spoken incorrectly because of which the import of the question became unclear. Instead of saying 'palona' (rule), it became 'pelona'.

Our ancestors used to say 'Son, son saba' to the children. After this they ought to teach 'sanaribasimak sonsinba'. In order to keep up your courage, build your strength. Then follow your path and do not waver (phelganu) to agree to others, withstand them, and rule.

Poklaga shiba lamanni
Mullaga kenba mayekni

[If born (you) owe (it to God) to die. When ripe, it is natural to fall.]

This saying has both Indian and Chinese counterparts. Human body is something that one borrows from the God to watch the play of life. In time, it has to be returned to don a new body. The later part can be related to Daoism, I think. Things have a way of going back to its place of origin (a ripe fruit falling to ground). There is a path which is in harmony with nature. A flower withers to give way to the fruit. The fruit when ripe should fall to the ground to grow into a plant. If not, it will be eaten by the birds and it will be unable to grow.

Yubi kollaga karigi yongna kapli
Loknungda karigi echelna leptuna laori

While embracing the coconut, the monkey is crying. Why the river endlessly shouting while flowing in the valley.
The monkey is said to be very mischievous and knows what is inside the coconut. But he does not have the strength to peel the strong husk of the coconut. The river is telling the monkey that it is flowing to reach its destination. What you want you have already got, 'just cry but hold fast' (kapta kappu chetna kollu).

Sengna charie phadi shet
Mangna chaksheng chao

[Wear the pure 'charei' towel. Impure, eat the pure.]

What binds the straw into a bundle is called 'charei'. From this comes the 'charei' towel which is used to wrap food. The second line has advice specific for the present and future generations of Manipur. Due to conversion by King Pamheiba, and fear of upsetting him, people are eating the impure. But remember the 'charei' towel of the mother is the pure one so that when the time comes you leave the impure and eat the pure food again.

Yotchabina yot chingle
Heinabida nung naple

The iron (yot) is the food of the magnet (yot chabi, literally iron eater). That is why iron is drawn towards the magnet. But humans are not the food/slave to habit. Therefore, if you stick to your habits, it your own choice.

Meewa meepao tadraba
Mashata mee oinaba hotnaba
Mahakto athoiba meene

It is said the more the people the more the words/opinions (mee yamaga wa yammi). If listen to everyone, you will have to spend your entire life. Stay within the bounds of humanity and do your work. When people start liking your work and follow you have won.

Maroi mapang hekchillu
Pannao singnao namsillu

[Pick 'maroi mapang' (maroi is a generic name for green condiments used in cooking; mapang is a collocation which means more or less the same as the main word and do not exist independently). Bury the tubers and 'singnao'.]

Identify those who will stay with you for a long term, through thick and thin, from those who will stay with you for the short term. The author uses 'pannao thaba' (planting tubers) which was advice to plant the local tubers so that when the right season comes, one can harvest the fruit. Parallel to this, we have 'singnao thaba'. 'Sing' as in 'lausing' means knowledge. Consequently, it means preserving the knowledge of the forefathers so that they may be used in time.

Apangbaga phatabaga yumlonnei
Asingbaga aphabaga keilonnei

In Manipuri a word(s) with the same meaning is repeated for emphasis. 'Yumlonnaba-keilonnaba' means to be neighbours. The fool and the bad are neighbours. Similarly, the wise and the good are neighbours. What a fool does is not good. Hence, they are neighbours.

 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 June 10, 2019.

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