TODAY -

The Cassay Horse trails and opening of the Eastern Gate: Undying memories and shadows
- Part 1 -

Puyam Nongdrei *

Manipuri pony with Arambai: The secret weapons of Manipur in an exhibition in November 2010
Manipuri pony with Arambai: The secret weapons of Manipur in an exhibition in November 2010



Hada Samadon Ayangba Marjing laigi khunetsha Heingang chingda khubam ya yanggoiriba langgoi sha kouge nangbu chinglemba sagal tufang lamba sha…arambai gi khutsuna Meeteina awabu ngamkhiba langgoi nangi napalna langam firal thetkhiba...

The above lines sung by Mangka Mayanglangbam (watch video in ooba here) as special theme song of the 8th Manipur Polo International Tournament 2014 will be written down in the annals of Manipur. The sweet voice, talents of Mangka and lyrics of the song have awakened the heart and mind of Manipur to a great extent. The soul of Manipur has entered the body to give birth to a resurgent society. It narrates the wars fought by kings of Manipur against the Burmese and heroic sacrifices and laurels brought by the cavalrymen of the once powerful kingdom.

But it was not just about the wars and conflicts Manipur experienced in its long history of independent existence. The lines truly convey the message of the priceless Manipuri polo ponies. The vitality, power, spirit and courage of Samadon Ayangba (winged horse) will enhance the consciousness of the dormant society.

Samadon Ayangba has been remembered like the Pegasus of the Greek mythology. The song in itself is a search for a new place of the rare breed of pony. However, many more songs can be composed about the Cassay Horse. The main objective of this article is to create more songs of the Manipuri pony and the sacrifices made by the great cavalrymen of Manipur Kingdom.

Decline of Manipur and the Cassay Horse trails

In the post-Pamheiba (Garibnawaz) period, Manipur was defeated many times by the Burmese forces and Manipur was a declining power. In fact the establishment of the Konbaung dynasty in Burma (now Myanmar) by Alaungpaya was the darkest period in the history of Manipur. Its existence as an independent kingdom was time and again challenged by the mighty Burmese empire. The resistance movements put forth by Chingthang Khomba (Beigyachandra), Heerachandra, Yumjaotaba, Gambhir Singh and Nar Singh are still sung with great fanfare.

History has proven that the Manipuris love freedom like any other nation and people on earth. The children of this ancient land resisted every occupation with all means at their disposal. The Burmese got modern firearms from the French and the Portuguese while the Manipuris did their best to get the same from the British power much later. Love for freedom and patriotism were not the monopoly of few peoples. Manipur will always remember it. Nevertheless, the fame of the Manipuri pony and the skilled cavalrymen of the kingdom were recognised by the Burmese empire. This fact has been written down clearly by the Burmese chroniclers as well as the British Government.

The defeated Manipur Kingdom was extracted of its skilled artisans, weavers, craftsmen, cavalrymen and economic resources. The Burmese Kings put them to good use like in other kingdoms. The war captives from Manipur especially the Meeteis were recruited as cavalrymen of the Konbaung dynasty leading to the formation of the well-known Cassay Horse. Can Burma forget the thousands of Meetei cavalrymen who fought for Burma against the Thais and the British power?

In fact Manipur was the gold mine of Burma to maintain the Cassay Horse in good shape to expand, consolidate and defend Burmese power in Southeast Asia. One day the Manipuri descendants in Myanmar will surely reap the fruits of the sacrifices made by their forefathers for Burma. The legacy of the Cassay Horse in Burma is something which cannot be erased. The undying memories and shadows of the Cassay Horse still walk across mountains, plains and great rivers of Myanmar and Thailand.

The trails of Cassay Horse also have to narrate the history of both Manipur and Lanna Kingdom in the wider canvass of the Asian history. Lanna Kingdom was hit hard by the Burmese forces and was later on absorbed into the Siam Kingdom (Thailand). Manipur managed to regain its glory and place in the history for a short period until its defeat in the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. The pains and sacrifices made by Chinglen Nongdren Khomba (Gambhir Singh) of Manipur and Prince Kawila of Lanna Kingdom will not be forgotten by their peoples.

While Chinglen Nongdren Khomba took help of the mighty British power to liberate Manipur from the Burmese occupation, Kawila sought support of Siam to fight against the Burmese occupation of Lanna. However, their sacrifices and courage could not reclaim the past glories of the two kingdoms. The powerful geopolitical forces acting upon Manipur and Lanna included Burma, Thailand, China, British Empire, French and Portuguese. Lanna Kingdom could not establish its independence after overthrowing the Burmese supremacy in the China, Laos, Burma and Thailand junction. It was annexed as part of Thailand under the Chakri Dynasty.

The British, Chinese, Siamese (Thai), Laotian and Burmese experienced the skilled cavalrymen of the Manipur in one way or the other. So the place of the Cassay Horse deserves a better one. When the undying memories and shadows of the ponies and cavalrymen enter the hearts and minds of the peoples living in India, Myanmar, China, Thailand and Laos, the opening of the Eastern Gate of Manipur will also be achieved. The "Opening of the Eastern Gate" (Nongpok Thong Hangba) cannot be achieved without the recognition and reclaiming of the Cassay Horse trails. One has to travel across the continental Southeast Asia passing through Myanmar for this.

Cultural exchange, educational exchange and greater people-to-people interaction are the need of the hour. The official recognition of Manipur's place in the history of Asia and respect for the sufferings and contributions of the people of Manipur are the only ways for the successful opening of the Eastern Gate. India and Myanmar have to start the process with sincerity in hearts.

The "Look West" policy of Thailand, the "Bridgehead Strategy" or "Western Development" of Yunnan (China) and the "Look East" or "Act East" policy of India cannot succeed without due recognition of Manipur's contribution to the shaping of the Asian destiny. The Silk Road or BCIM Economic Corridor also needs the same homework.

Most importantly, involvement of the people of Manipur as beneficiaries will determine whether the "Look East" or "Act East" policy of India is equal to the "Opening of the Eastern Gate" (hereafter OEG Policy) or not. The Eastern Gate of Manipur is Myanmar without any doubt. The closing of the Indo-Myanmar border since the military regime took control of the once prosperous country soon after gaining independence was a historically dark period. Similarly, the political reform initiated by the SPDC for a democratic Myanmar under the 2008 Myanmar Constitution is the beginning of a new era in the history of both Manipur (India) and Burma.

The developments in Myanmar, Thailand and China will have impacts on Manipur. The integration of the small state into the global market requires certain reforms in the state. Everything done for making the people of Manipur as beneficiaries of the "Act East/Look East" policy will be counted as part of the "Opening of the Eastern Gate (OEG)" policy.

Moreover, anything done by the Manipuris for the general well-being and advancement of mankind or at least a section of it will also be counted as part of the OEG policy. Myanmar is the key country in the east of Manipur and there is no doubt about it. Friendship and understanding with Myanmar is needed for the successful implementation of the OEG policy. Indo-Myanmar Relations are not openly discussed in public as there are grey areas still under the cover from public. People in the Ministry of External Affairs, Defence Ministry and Home Ministry know the details.

The historians have written enough about the number of deaths, rape victims, war captives, destruction and bloodshed committed by parties involved. Now, the new era calls for policy makers to count the number of craftsmen, technicians, intellectuals, investors, cultural enrichment, and economic contributions made by the human and material resources from both sides of the border. Mutual respect, mutual benefit, cooperation and exchanges across the borders are the things to be accomplished.

It is the time for all parties to pay homage to the departed souls for their sacrifices and sufferings during the period of wars and man-made hardships. Everything is changing. Former arch-enemies have turned into partners and friends. As the world is fast changing, we are not the exceptions to be left out. What remains undone is the sharing of joy and misery of life with those descendants of Cassay Horse who are settled in Mandalay and other parts of Myanmar.

A general awakening of the people of Manipur and adoption of a broader outlook to take part in the "Asia-Pacific Dream" will be the ultimate goal of the OEG policy. New Delhi and the Government of Manipur have to move everything they ought to for enabling the Manipuris to join the race of awakening, rejuvenation and competition to take part in the shaping of the destiny of the mankind. Manipur must not be left as the grey area. Good lobby, initiatives and proper channelling of voices to reach New Delhi are also required.

The undying spirit of the Manipuri pony reflected in the Cassay Horse will take us safely to Yunnan Province of China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. The famed cavalry raised by Alaungpaya and his successors in Burma was the contribution of the war captives transported from Manipur. Thousands of Manipuris were sacrificed on the altar of territorial expansion and consolidation of empires. But they have left a deep footprint in the history of mankind.

Despite the losses, the fame of Cassay Horse and skills of the cavalrymen produced in the soil of Manipur will remain recorded as long as human beings inhabit the earth. There are thousands of Manipuris in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and other parts of the world who can make more contributions in the days to come provided we are not repressed and subjugated for petty political and strategic interests. One can go to an extra mile to ask the question: Can they be repressed forever?

A careful study of the contributions made by the People of Manipur (POM) and the People of Manipur Origin (POMO) will be helpful to those negative minds sitting in comfort zones. Enabling the Manipuris to make further and greater contributions irrespective of their citizenship and location in the world will open alternatives to the course of human civilisation and the destiny of mankind. The ASEAN, China and India really need it.

Distorted history, assimilation, hatred, subjugation and repressive measures in the name of national interests have brought only counter-productive results. A small population concentrated in the Asian landmass (India, Bangladesh and Myanmar) having at least 2000 years-old recorded history on the surface of the earth deserves proper care and handling in the name of humanity and mutual respect.

The world is becoming a small village and it should be big enough to accommodate the "Manipuri Dream". The "Manipuri Dream" is possible when the Manipuris scattered in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and the rest of the world can live with dignity and work in peace. A room for a dignified life of the POM and POMO should not invite the wrath of other peoples and nations in the world. Specifically speaking, this is the core interest of Manipur. The course of history calls upon the Manipuris to play without fear in the great playground of the Asian landmass if not in the Antarctica.

The Manipuri ponies have been there for ages to expand, consolidate and defend Manipur. But the larger picture with trails across the Southeast Asian landmass began when the Konbaung Dynasty began successive invasions of Manipur in the 18th century. The memories are still fresh in the minds of the Manipuris. The shadows still walk in this planet.

Recognition of these shadows and giving voice to them will change the course of time and face of the land. They are not dead bodies though they are dormant. They are also the living history and living museum. Our forefathers shed blood and pieces of flesh to make fertile the vast plains and ranges of hills in Myanmar. Their blood has been nourishing different societies in Laos, Yunnan and Thailand.

The rivers like the Ningthi (Chindwin), Ayeyerwady, Salween, Mekong, Chao Phraya, Wang and Ping have carried their blood downstream to the mighty oceans. The tear drops that fell down from their cheeks are still preserved in the deepest layers of the ground. Tachileik (Shan State), Chiang Mai, Chiang Saen, Lampang, Phitsanulok, Kanchaburi and Tennasserim hills still remember their faces. The Three Pagoda Pass showed them coming to invade Thailand on horsebacks. They helped the Burmese to destroy Ayutthaya. But they also contributed to the construction of new capital in Bangkok as prisoners of war taken to Thailand.

To be continued ...


* Puyam Nongdrei wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at khuman_mei(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on January 12, 2015.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Mera Chaorel Houba @ Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • Chingangbam Ranju: Gold in Skateboarding
  • Clean India Campaign 2022 at MU
  • Prof without a PhD
  • Bio-security to prevent diseases in livestock
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Befitting response from 'unwanted' parents
  • Stand of STDCM & WMC : ST demand
  • Lamyanba Irawat Birth Anniv #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • North East cheers for now
  • Loving Her :: Poem
  • Revoke Show Cause Notice to Dr Sanatomba
  • This Gujarat Model is worth replicating
  • The age-old art of Chola bronze statues
  • Laklaroi Amuk Hanna Yeningtha #2 : Gallery
  • October Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Old Lambulane, was a trend setting locality
  • Agniveer recruitment rally at Mizoram
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #3
  • The ground zero of gratitude
  • Eye makeup products every girl should have
  • Another statewide observance of Irabot Day
  • Saluting the Lamyanba : Respecting dissent
  • How does the full moon make waves...
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Legalising production & sale of liquor
  • RKCS Children's Painting Competition
  • Online Essay Competition
  • Significance of World Heart Day 2022
  • A kind of feeling :: Poem
  • Free rice and plight of state's farmers
  • Lifting prohibition after 3 decades
  • Linthoi Chanambam : First Judo Gold Medalist
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #4: Gallery
  • Sore Admiration :: Poem
  • Accountant Assistant @ Amber & Arthur
  • World Heart Day 2022
  • Indo-Naga Talks (2012-) :: News Timeline
  • Plastic menace: Time over for warning
  • Promoting cycling in Imphal
  • Mera Chaorel Houba @ Kangla #1 :: Gallery
  • Tripura Fashion Week @ Agartala :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • ST status demands in India #2
  • Socio-cultural tourism in NE India
  • Investigation against CRPF Personal
  • Backache in diabetics: Never ignore it
  • 'Poison' liquor still favourite for commoners
  • What has happened to the ban on SUP ?
  • Maibi Jagoi @ Thangjing Haraoba :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha : Plantation
  • World Pharmacists Day 2022
  • Workshop of Wildlife Crime Prevention
  • Genius is knowing when to stop !
  • Naga final pact as Nagaland polls near
  • Lifting prohibition : Talk of the day
  • Tarpon Chaklen Katpa @ Andro #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha : Fingerlings
  • Tripura Fashion Week in Agartala
  • World River Day & our environment
  • Nubank : banking industry in Brazil
  • Opposition parties struggling to dent BJP
  • From High Court to Supreme Court ?
  • Lokchao Bridge @ NH 102 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • What were Phizo's last words to Khodao?
  • Priyadarshini, Priyanka: Everest Taekwondo
  • I swear :: Poem
  • Incomplete lifting of prohibition
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #2
  • Wakhal Eronba- Sumang Leela #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Arbin Tonjam: best designer - Miss Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha at Ithing
  • Ferry to Ganges :: Poem
  • Making public health messaging entertaining
  • Student schooling order exposes fault...
  • Discipline : The common thread
  • Camping @ Shirui Lily Fest #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Youth : An idea can change the world
  • Perceived class conflict triggers friction ...
  • The tale of a forgotten diary
  • Face Redness- How to get rid of it
  • CADA - Govt on collision course
  • Inching towards a final pact ?
  • Border Pillar Inspection @Kamjong :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Strange bed fellows attempting to cohabit
  • Training for entrepreneur in Food Processing
  • Recalling Alzheimer once again !
  • New Education Policy : The CUET rigmarole
  • Liquor for better health! Indigestible
  • Now focus on ST demand
  • Byron Aihara - A True Lover of Manipur
  • International Day of Peace 2022
  • Human Capital Formation, need of the hour
  • Prevention is better than cure !!
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #1
  • Security Conference at Tamenglong
  • Concrete action must follow 'CM Da Haisi'
  • Tag of a dry State for the last 30 years
  • Pungyam Yeiba Fest @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • National Bamboo Innovation Challenge
  • International Day of Peace & environment
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha: Social Service
  • World Bamboo Day celebrated
  • Domestic capitalists unwilling to trust & invest
  • Street food vogue boon for youth
  • Sit-ins demanding inclusion in ST list
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #3
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Licypriya to attend UN General Assembly
  • Screenwriters invited to 6-month screenlab
  • An ideal civil servant
  • Tripura Fashion Week in Agartala
  • Opposition parties struggling to dent BJP
  • Taking the customer for granted
  • Miss Manipur 2022 #2 :: Gallery
  • Irabot Ningsing Tha : Jagoi Competition
  • Bringing drug users to mainstream society
  • Namo Birthday special: India matters globally
  • Criticizes village occupation in Ukhrul
  • Use of local agri wastes as substrate
  • Jiribam Keithel [15 June] #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Boeing University Innovation Leadership
  • ST status demands in India #1
  • Literacy enhancement as a career choice
  • Agniveer recruitment rally at Assam
  • Ignoring the perfect solution to everything
  • Eyeing to end insurgency in next 5 years
  • Laklaroi Amuk Hanna Yeningtha #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipuri Muslim (Pangal) Historical Society
  • 7th election: NE Student Org, Jalandhar
  • Macnivil releases new song: Price they'll pay
  • Youth advocating for sexual health & rights
  • Engineers : The backbone of any Nation
  • IBSD celebrated Hindi Diwas
  • Who is at fault for shrinking roads?
  • After 25 years of negotiations
  • Heikru Hidongba @Bijoy Govinda #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Joint Accordant by NSCN/GPRN & NNPGs
  • In search of Khubak Ishei
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha at Bishnupur
  • Beauty benefits of Amla
  • STDCM sets sight on bandh to draw Govt
  • The unplanned city of Imphal Concrete jungle
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #2
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Constitution & flag still dogs settlement
  • Churachandpur - The chaos and mess !
  • Rice Afrika is using tech to increase rice
  • Voluntary Blood Donation: An act of solidarity
  • Nagaland desperate for solution to Naga issue
  • Final solution likely very soon: Note key word
  • Miss Manipur 2022 #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Is there a need for another Nupi Lan ?
  • Consultation: Development at Lairouching
  • Bullying : Losing of children's dignity
  • Social Entrepreneur, social currency they earn
  • AMSU in dire need of support of CSOs
  • Mum on the points of JCILPS, STDCM
  • 57th Hunger Marchers' Day #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • 1st Anniv: The Keithel Store Pune :: Gallery
  • Beyond Teachers' Day
  • On farm production of Mycorrhizae
  • Onam and the legend behind it
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Fake voters testify official nepotism
  • From 1999 to 2022 : TSE is now 23
  • Yaoshang Thabal Competition #3 :: Gallery
  • Kholao Deben went with the Queen
  • Imaginary grudge severs human relations
  • A Phenomenally Him :: Poem
  • Bharat Jodo Yatra: Last ditch effort...
  • Special Lok Adalat for Imphal & Bishnupur
  • Pineapple Fest @Bunglon, CCpur :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Tarpon: Annual offerings to the dead by living
  • Book review: Aeromycology over Kachai lemon
  • On saying Hello
  • Himalayan Day celebrated at IBSD, Imphal
  • Get rid of strawberry legs at home
  • Manipuri driver primary source of 'Loyalty tax'
  • The 'tax-extortion' argument
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #1
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • [Jobs] Biotechnology ignition grant for NE
  • 1st Anniversary of The Keithel Store Pune
  • International Literacy Day & our Environment
  • 1 Lakh Hand Sanitizer Bottles handed over
  • Pinning hope on Sangai fest to draw tourists
  • Points to study from Mizoram
  • Heikru Hidongba @Bijoy Govinda #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Schedule Tribe Demand, Recent cries
  • Intricacies of core issue in Naga insurgency
  • On Poiroukhongjin High School issue
  • Celebrating International Literacy Day, 2022
  • Condemn physical assault on women vendor
  • Scoundrel official undermining essence of ILP
  • Is the ban on SUP effective ?
  • Ayekpam Shyamsunder's life & works
  • Book release: 'Osman Thambal' at Imphal
  • World Sexual Health Day celebrated in NE
  • Manipur Tech Univ: top at India Hackathon
  • Insomnia :: Poem
  • Change - Inside Out!
  • Biological control in agriculture #2
  • Nearest-to-home posting of teachers policy
  • Addressing shortage of teachers
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #6 :: Gallery
  • Ancient Manipur kingdom and Brahmanism
  • Teachers' role in multicultural North East
  • Regarding closing 34 Assam govt schools
  • mPharma is revolutioning access to medicine
  • Asking to believe as we receive
  • 10 years of TPC: Success collectively shared
  • Significance of observing Teachers' Day
  • Krishna Janma @ ISKCON :: Gallery
  • Growing support globally to end HIV medicine
  • Teachers' Day & My Rumbling Thoughts
  • Soibam Bindeshori : Indian Prime Icon Award
  • Can't public figures drink & dance
  • Climate emergency
  • Jumping ship trademark of state's politicians
  • Switching side from JD (U) to BJP
  • Sit-in for Meetei ST @ Kongba :: Gallery
  • Meira Rally against Drug Traffic #2 :: Gallery
  • 57th Hunger Marchers' Day #2 :: Gallery
  • Reception of Linthoi Chanambam :: Gallery
  • Jiribam Train station [15 Jun] :: Gallery
  • Haipou Jadonang - Martyr Day :: Gallery
  • 13 August observed by CSOs :: Gallery
  • Mirabai Chanu: gold @ Commonwealth Game
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download