TODAY -

Bhuban cave: Holy place of the TRC people
- Part 1 -

Dr Budha Kamei *



Introduction

The Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak people are one of the natives of Northeast India. They are found in the districts of Tamenglong, Noney, Churachandpur, Senapati, Imphal West, Imphal East, Jiribam, Thoubal and Bishnupur; outside the state of Manipur, they are found settling in Nagaland in its Paren District, and Kohima District, and in Assam in its Haflong sub-division of Cachar District and Hailakandi District. The paper attempts to delve into the significance of Bhuban cave in the religion of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak.

Background

Bhuban cave is believed to be the abode of God Bisnu, the eldest brother of seven brother gods of the TRC pantheon. It is a prehistoric cave and a place of pilgrimage. God Bisnu was looked upon as the God for welfare and prosperity of men, creatures and the universe as well as the earthly world. Bisnu is recognized by different names such as Munchanu, Bonchanu, Buisnu, Bisnu etc.

This prehistoric cave was first discovered by Gairemnang, a semi-historical, semi-mythical culture hero and poet, but it was unknown to the TRC people. It was rediscovered by Jadonang only in the 1920’s. In other words, the Bhuban Hills cave legacy was revised by Jadonang. Jadonang and many other pilgrims went to the Holy cave and worshipped God Bisnu and Tingkao Ragwang, the supreme God there.

The mouth of the cave is about fifty feet high, with a sloping roof of two hundred feet; and it bears a resemblance to the front of Taraangkai, ornamental ritual house of Taraang sacrifice. It became for Jadonang a holy shrine, a place where he offered sacrifices and where he communicated with God Bisnu.

For the devotees of TRC and Heraka, Bhuban cave represents the point of reformation began there as in this cave the blessing of Tingkao Ragwang, the Supreme God was bestowed upon Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinlu to introduce new cult. 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 new cult to Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinlu. Jadonang did not live to see its culmination, on his return journey Jadonang was arrested on 19th February 1931 at Lakhipur by Assam police for declaring a Naga Raj at Kambiron, Tamenglong District, Manipur.

Jadonang was hanged on 29th August 1931 in Imphal on the wrong charge of murder. Therefore, it becomes a pilgrimage site for the devotees of TRC and Heraka in the month of February every year. A temple of God Bisnu was constructed at Bhuban Hills under the chairmanship of (Late) Prof. Mangthoi Thaimei and the same was inaugurated in the year 1982. The followers of TRC of three states (Assam, Manipur and Nagaland) worship Lord Bisnu at the temple, Bhuban Hills, Cachar, Assam.

Seven brother gods (Na Ragwang Chanren Chanei)

According to myth, Tingkao Ragwang created Didimpu (Kadipou), his wife Thingtunbungpui and his sisters to look after the affairs of the world. Didimpu had seven daughters but no son. On a favourable day, Didimpu prayed to Tingkao Ragwang, for granting sons; and Tingkao Ragwang accepted his prayer on one condition that if somebody (god/man/creature) sees them while they are love making the child will go to the person.

One day after sending away all his sisters to distant places for fetching water, collecting firewoods, working in the field etc. Didimpu had intimacy with his wife but his sister Chrasinglangpui came back and saw their love scene so the blessing of God went to Charasinglangpui.

After some months, Charasinglangpui got conceived and to avoid gossiping, she laid eight eggs at the confluence of Agu River near the banyan tree growing in the sandy soil. Before leaving the place, she placed a Dandi Baang, a divine sword of Didimpu and stones around the eggs with the words: “Hey my offspring, one who hatches out and holds the Dandi Baang will become Na Ragwang, the King of the lower realm.”

According to Didimpu, the first laid out egg would be the king of the lower realm. The Radaopui, evil spirits were waiting for an appropriate time to eat the eggs. In course of time, the eggs hatched out one after another except one.

The youngest brother picked up the Divine Sword and killed all the evil spirits as the six elder brothers were scared to hold the sword. There was one egg remained which could not hatch out and was told to eat the offerings (blood, wine etc.) on the floor of the earth.

The seven brothers because of non-available of their mother started looking for their mother by disguising into crows and flew over 7 (seven) hills ranges and finally perched on a branch of Jarengbang tree growing near the mustard field where Charasinglangpui was working. After a long conversation with the crows, Charasinglangpui came to know that the crows are none other than her own sons.

Charasinglangpui met her elder brother, Didimpu and introduced her seven sons. She in secret told her youngest son not to accept any name proposed by Didimpu except his name would be Apouna. At the residence of Didimpu, all the sons were made to sit in line and named them by his maternal uncle as:
(i) Bisnu
(ii) Napsinmei
(iii) Chonchai
iv) Charakilongmei
(v) Koklou
(vi) Karangong
(vii) Apouna.

Among the brothers, the strongest and bravest man would become the king of the lower realm. There would be a number of competitions such as shot put, javelin throw, pestle throw, wrestling, going round the world etc. to select the winner is the decision of Didimpu.

However, Apouna won all the competitions with the aid of his mother as she loved and wanted him to become the king of the lower realm. This was the main factor which finally led to conflict between the two brothers (Bisnu and Ragwang). So mother should love and treat her children equally.

In marriage too, all the six brothers accepted the proposal of their maternal uncle but Apouna did not agree with his maternal uncle due to his mother’s instruction. Didimpu readily accepted the proposal of Charasinglangpui to give his daughters in marriage to her sons except the youngest daughter as he loved her very much. It is said that he did not even call her name, as a substitute, Jenlu (good girl loved by all).

Didimpu told Apouna not to marry his youngest daughter as she was ugly but Apouna did not accept and stuck to his previous words. Didimpu finally agreed to give his youngest daughter (Madilu) to be the wife of Apouna. Thus, there was a marriage of Didimpu’s seven daughters with seven sons of Charasinglangpui.

Didimpu wanted to hand over the throne to one of his nephews. He knew that Bisnu would beat all the competitors if there was no Charasinglangpui behind Apouna. Apouna’s victory in the competitions was the creation of his mother. Madilu, the wife of Apouna came to know from a talk with her mother that as long as the fattiest hair of her mother present on her head, her father would never be defeated in any competitions.

In wrestling with Apouna, Didimpu was defeated as Madilu removed the fattiest hair of her mother in the name of searching louse and threw it to her father’s legs and warped and Didimpu fell and gone to the underneath of the earth thus became the king of under-world (Banglagwang).

The next competition is going round the world seven times. The seven brothers riding on the horses and demoniac tiger started the competition but Apouna instead of doing it moved round the throne of his maternal uncle seven times which is similar to going round the world as suggested by his mother.

After rounding seven times he touched the feet of his maternal uncle and thus Apouna ascended the throne by hoisting a flag. Apouna came to be known as Ragwang as he became the king of the lower realm.


To be continued....

References

1. Gangmumei Kamei. 2012. Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak: The Zeliangrong Primordial religion. Imphal
2. Gangmumei Kamei. 2004. The Zeliangrong Nagas from Makhel to Rani Gaidinliu.
3. Chaoba Kamson. 2015. The Zeliangrong Social System. Imphal
4. Gangmumei Kamei. 2009. Jadonang: A Mystic Naga Rebel. Imphal


* Dr Budha Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on January 18 2021 .



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