Poireiton Khunthok: An Abridged Translation
- Part 2 -

James Oinam *

 An illustration for the book 'Poireiton Khunthok'
An illustration for the book 'Poireiton Khunthok'

Author: Pundit Shrimoirangthem Chandrasingh
Manipur Sahitya Parishad, Imphal, Manipur
First Published: 1979
Publisher: Manipur Sahitya Parishad, Paona Board, Imphal
Printer: The Friends Union Press, Imphal

Chingkhong Poireiton asked Khumarong and Maimarong to lead the way. A tiger hidden in the bush came out and ate Khumarong and Maimarong. Chingkhong Poireiton asked, "Who can face the tiger barring the way?" Son of Urit Nonyanbi called Yanba Serai Kangi replied, "Let me face this tiger. Give me a rice farm in return. I will hold the ears of this tiger and fight with him." But alas, he was defeated by the tiger.

"Now, who can defeat this tiger blocking the way?"

The old red bird claimed, "O Ebudhou Chingkhong Poireiton, let me face this tiger sitting on the way. Cut my tail and make colour my body into stripes; put necklace in my neck." However, the old red bird wasn't able to shoo away the tiger holding his ears.

Eyuwa Chingkhong Poireiton demanded again, "Who will scare away the tiger from our path?"

Black bird Ching Charoi said, "Grandfather Chingkhong Poireiton, let me face this tiger. I will hold his ears and make him leave. Make my tail into cross and cover my entire body with a black cloth." Saying this holding the tiger's ears he tried to make the tiger leave but to no avail.

"Who can make the tiger sitting on my way to leave?" enquired Chingkhong Poireiton in desperation.

A matured bee, with small hip and sharp sting answered, "Make my head look like a snake, make my body colour of turmeric, and sting like a needle. I will get between the hairs of the tiger and hit him." Then entering between the hairs, the bee stung the tiger. With loud roars, the tiger ran away.

Eyuwa Chingkhong Poireiton gave the following advice: "Those who want to become 'mayang' (foreigner, generally referred to mainland Indians), carry a long sword on your left, chew tobacco in your mouth, carry a bag and go to the land of mayang. Those who want to become Takhel Langang, wear a white pheijom (cloth worn on legs by men) and go away dangling a long sword on the left.

Those who are to become Kabo shave your face, bind hair behind, and dress your son and daughter according to their gender. Those who are to become Tangkhul wear pheijom in slanted manner and enaphi in vertical manner, carry your sword behind, wear earrings, put bone in slanted way on your head, use strips of bamboo to tie your hair. Let that be your ornaments.

Those who are to become Tarao-Maring tie a handkerchief on your forehead. Those to become Kabui Lamshang wear phanek of the hills. Those who are to become Kharam Manung wear your hair behind like women. Those who are to become Kege Moirang put decoration your hair and go. Those who are to become Poirei Meitei spread ordinary mat when older men come and spread costly mat and offer food to men of high rank when they come."

[Chingkhong Poireiton names various hills after various events encountered by him. This forms a large section of the manuscript.]

Chingkhong Poireiton lost many sons and daughter. He complains his wife Leinaotabi, "Sister-in-law Leinaotabi, second wife of brother Leinung Thongarel, you loved him well. At night you fed him soft rice, during daytime you offer to search delicious vegetables. You forgot to bring Taimarel grass that grows in mountains. The medicine that when given to ill person will not die and when given to the dead will not putrefy. Now many of my sons are dead and many daughters have been separated from me. Even we might get separated."

(The names of sons and daughters of Chingkhong Poireiton who died and whose names he takes, kicking his legs and crying, are sons Chakha (eldest?) Khonghanba, Sagang Yaimaba, Kangdon Leinaupa, Leishang Khekwaiba, and daughters eldest Khayoynu Huirai Kongdingnu, Haojeng Latmeinu Shakphabi.)

Chingkhong Poireiton and Leinaotabi searched a hill where there was no death and illness. On the way they came across 100 young men who had died and 100 young girls carrying cloths on their heads who had also died. Leinaotabi remonstrated, "While we searched for hill without death and illness, we have instead come across dead people."

Chingkhong Poireiton wanted to be the lord of all the hills. On the way however his dog got caught in net. He had to go back to retrieve his dog.

In the land of Kabo, Chingkhong Poireiton searched for land where there were no death and illness. He searched so far and wide that even his iron staff was worn out. On the way he met a mature young man riding a tiger. He asked, "Tell me young man riding a tiger what is the cause of the tall smoke rising above the sky. Is it forest fire, is it fire from pottery-making, or is it fire from burning straws?"

"O Chingkhong Poireiton it is not forest fire or fire from pottery-making or burning straws. The son of Phallaungambi called Shangphuroipa had a fall and died. It is his funeral fire."

"Sister-in-law Leinaotabi, as there is a funeral, gods who eat raw fruits and gods who eat ripe fruits will come and will be prayed," saying this they changed their path and left quickly.

[Lots of places in the land of Kabo are named after various incidents in the journey of Chingkhong Poireiton. Again this forms a large section of the manuscript.]

While searching for valley with medicine, they met Nangoi Yoymongba who was draining a river.

"Who are you?" asked Poireiton.
"I am Nangoi Yoymongba who drains river. And who are you?"
"I am Chingkhong Poireiton friend."

"If so, you are not friend. You are ebudhou (great grandfather). Let us compare whether the weight of things you carry searching a valley is heavier than my thing used for draining the river."

On comparison, Yoymongba's things was heavier as Chingkhong Poireiton had to carry his things while travelling on foot. When asked to foretell future, Chingkhong Poireiton was told he will have a son and it came true.

Chingkhong Poireiton named his son as Singdabung Tabung Singminnaba. Grave misfortune fell because the baby died and went to the underworld to the land of Leinung Thongarel.

On reaching the land of the dead, Leinung Thongarel enquired, "O little baby, who are you?"

The baby answered, "My name is Tabung Singminnaba. My father is Chingkhong Poireiton and my mother is Leima Leinaotabi."

"O child, your father Chingkong Poireiton and I are born of same mother, and your mother Leima Leinaotabi was my second wife. Your elder brothers and sisters have also died and come here. If you also come to our world, your father and mother must be worried thinking who will continue their lineage.

Your father must be crying till his tears are dry. You must go back to the land of the living. Tell you parents the reason why their sons and daughters are dying is because you need to offer the bull who opened the stone door of the underworld as sacrifice.

He must save himself and his progeny by sacrificing a grown pig and chicken. When the paddy is ripe and bees hum, make offerings to gods. Thus, he can protect himself and his children."

Tabung Singminnaba replied, "The land of underworld is full of drains and huge stone door. I cannot go back."

Leinung Thongarel sat Tabung Thongarel on his lap and persuaded, "Your parents are waiting to take your body to the crematory. You must return quickly before the doors of crematory are opened."

Beating the drums, Leinung Thongarel sent up the child Tabung Singminnaba to the land of the living. Tabung Singminnaba returned to the land of the living.

Chingkhong Poireiton and Leima Leinaotabi asked, "Son, how did you return from the underworld, the land of the dead, so quickly? Did you meet father Leinung Thongarel? What advice your father gave you?"

Tabung Singminnaba narrated the advice given by the ruler of the underworld, the land of the dead. Chingkhong Poireiton said, "O son your name Tabung Singminnaba can longer be used because you went to the land of the dead. We will rename you as Ningol Shahanba."

The singer-narrator has not been to the underworld, the land of the dead. Facing the direction of Kaubru mountain let me end here. The book has been written by ignorant and simple Shrithangshaba Bhadrasing.


* James Oinam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on March 31, 2023 .

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