TODAY -

Haipou Jadonang : A social reformer and religious leader of Zeliangrongs
- Part 3 -

Dr Budha Kamei *

 88th Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang at Keishampat, Imphal on August 29 2019
88th Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang at Keishampat, Imphal on August 29 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



After his journey to Bhuban cave, Jadonang constructed Rah Kai, House of God with the help of his followers as a place of worship and religious discourse. In the temple, there was a shrine and pulpits and aisles of bamboo. He built two different temples at Kambiron; such houses for religious purpose were not a feature of Zeliangrong culture except abodes or places of deities. A large number of people came to the Rah Kai of Jadonang and worshipped Tingkao Ragwang through prayer-hymns, songs and dance.

Jadonang said: “Worshipping consists of facing east, putting the hands together and saying Tingkao Ragwang, ‘Do what is good for us.” In short, the worship was in rational forms; with community and individual worship of God for welfare and prosperity through sacrifices, ritual hymns and dance. Jadonang erected his temple facing to the east. East is vital for two factors: it signifies the direction of Bhubon cave, as well as that of the sunrise.

In view of Evans- Pritchard, “The west is the side of death, the east the side of life” (1977:153). Jadonang advocated adoption of Tingkao Ragwang as the only God (monotheistic cult), encouraging the abandonment of the minor, local gods. In other words, he has shown that sacrifice of animals was not the only way to worship of Tingkao Ragwang/Tingwang.

The introduction of this new cult was a great landmark in the religious history of the Zeliangrong people. With the help of this cult Jadonang was able to bring a social unification among the Zeliangrong people. Indeed, religion and religious movement greatly help in the reinforcement and conservation of social cohesion and discipline and it played a great role for promoting social integration and solidarity.

Jadonang religious concept was highly influenced by revolutionary ideology and consciousness. His new religious cult gave two important features for the welfare of his people and their society; first, it was “an answer to the silent religious aggression of the Christian religion and secondly, it made a basis for the solidarity of the people” (Singh 1992:57).

In each temple, there were two places of purification (bath rooms), one for male and other for female; the devotees had to purify by taking bath in these places before entering into the temple. Entering into the temple without being purified both physically and mentally was strictly prohibited (Kamei 2009:32-33; Yunuo 1982:54). Water purification is a means of gaining for the “worshipper the protection of water deity against the consequences of pollution” (Jevon, 1988:83).

The proverb says, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” He also introduced new prayer-hymns, songs and dances to be sung and performed during the worship of Tingkao Ragwang (Mahadevan 1974-75:47). The hymns, devotional songs and dances introduced by jadonang are now performed by the followers of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak (TRC) and Heraka.

Of all the hymns, the most famous and popular one was the Jug Nei Mei Luh, the psalm of prayer of glory. Indeed, it was its religious and political content telling the true motives of Jadonang’s mission. A new style of singing has now come to be known as the hymns of Jadonang Luh. Jadonang had successfully introduced the worship of Tingkao Ragwang in the spiritual system.

True, his philosophical reform was the “worship of Tingkao Ragwang/Tingwang through prayer.” Rani Gaidinlu also with the initiation of her Guru built a Rah Kai in her village, Nungkao. The first temple was built in 1929 and the second was six months before his arrest in the year 1931. In his second temple, images of God Bisnu and his wife wearing typical Rongmei dress were installed on the way of Hindu idolatry worship which signifies further development in the religious ideas of Jadonang.

Indeed, it was a revitalized and simplified form of worship of God. Some scholars observe, the new religion of Jadonang is a synthesis of Christian Monotheism and Hindu idolatry and temple culture (Fuchs 1965:151). But, whatever he introduced reformation was the revelations of God. At his early age of 21, Jadonang constructed a Taraangkai in his village, Kambiron for wellbeing and prosperity of the Zelangrong people (Parratt 1995).

Following the footstep of Jadonang, the people of Heraka and Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak constructed Kalum Kai/KalumKi, house of worship for the purpose of worship of Tingkao Ragwang/Tingwang, the Supreme God. The devotees of TRC and Heraka come and worship Tingkao Ragwag, the Almighty God at the Kalum Kai/KalumKi every full moon day and every Sunday regularly offering prayer, devotional song, libation of holy wine, traditional dance etc. for wellbeing and prosperity.

They are consecrated by Ten Mhaimit, a kind of thatching grass and water before entering the Kalum Kai/Kalum Ki. There are about twenty number of Kalum Kai of TRC in three states of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland in the same fashion of Jadonang. Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak and Heraka, the two cults of Zeliangrong are the products of Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu.

Heraka is a monotheistic cult, only the worship of Tingwang/Tingkao Ragwang abandoning the lesser god and deities while Tingkao Ragwang ChapRiak is polytheism which worships of multiple gods of different categories, though it gives emphasis to the worship of Tingkao Ragwang. The evil spirits (Rahsi-Rahrou) are not worshiped but they are propitiated not to give trouble to men.

After having achieved the status of a successful man, a prophet in the society, Jadonang as a part of purification of his religion had abolished the innumerable taboos and gennas such as birth of a child, a piglet, puppy or hatching of chicken, a kite or crow sitting over the roof, a dog climbing the low roofs, burning of house, earthquake, a still birth, death by drowning, hanging etc. in the name of Tingkao Ragwang with an iron hoe (a symbol of sanctity of God) in his hands as no longer taboo (Dena 2008:101).

He also categorized some gennas namely, gennas for good paddy and crops, gennas for safety from rats and rodents, pests and birds, animals and beasts and gennas for rich harvest etc. to be observed by the people for prosperity. Neimei (genna) is the collective form of worship of Tingkao Ragwang by the whole community or individual families abstaining from physical work for a certain period of time on the occasion of the beginning of various agricultural operations.

Neihmeis (gennas) serve a dual purpose: to avert epidemics, natural calamities, or unforeseen circumstances on the one hand; and restoration of prosperity on the other. Abolition of superstitious practices and liberalization of elaborate and expensive rites and rituals such as bride price and feasts had completely reduced the economic burden on the common people.

Here, it may be noted that the new cult of Jadonang did not have any kind of anti-Christian teachings. But, some writers and historians led by F. S. Downs condemned the Naga Raj movement of Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu as an anti-Christian movement. It is an uncharitable and wrong criticism of Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu.

Jadonang and Gaidinliu reached the apex of the religious and spiritual achievements in their last pilgrimage to Bhuban Hills in 1931. It was during their last pilgrimage, Tingkao Ragwang through God Bisnu revealed a new cult to Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinlu.

Jadonang did not live to see it culmination, on his return journey Jadonang was arrested on 19th February, 1931 at Lakhipur by Assam police for declaring a Naga Raj at Kambiron. Jadonang was hanged on 29th August 1931 in Imphal on the charge of murder which he never did. But, the new cult was organized by Rani Gaidinlu and it came to be known as Heraka, pure religion (Yunuo 1982:49, 72).

Conclusion

In conclusion, we can say that Haipou Jadonang is a God sent prophet on this earth to save the Zeliangrong indigenous religion from the onslaughts of alien religion, Christianity. Jadonang is the philosopher of the Zelangrong greatness. Every year, the people of Manipur pay homage to the great leader Jadonang for his supreme sacrifice and holy deeds.

Really Jadonang was a gifted leader, a freedom fighter, a social reformer and religious leader who wielded Zeliangrong people into a strong and united community and taught them a philosophy to drive away the British from the soil of Manipur.


Concluded .....


* Dr Budha Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at budhakamei(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 10, 2019.



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