Buddhism in Manipur
- Part 2 -

Holkhongam Haokip *

A Buddhist Temple at Tamu, Myanmar near India Border town of Moreh in April 2015
A Buddhist Temple at Tamu, Myanmar near India Border town of Moreh in April 2015 :: Pix - Nganthoi Lourembam

Sangduma Buddhist Monastery

Altogether, there are more than eight Buddhist Gumpas in Manipur. One of the earliest Gumpa in Manipur, Sangduma Gumpa Buddhist Mandir was established by the Sherpas of Manipur in Upper Maohing (I.T.Road 7 miles) way back in 1975. It was founded under the collective efforts of the first settlers of the village who later become pioneers in the Manipur's Buddhist history. They include Ming sherke Sharpa, Lakpa Lama, Phurba Lama, Thile Sherpa, Kote Sharpa, Temba Sherpa and Shangge Lama.

Few years after, through the initiatives of the pioneers, contributions of the villagers and donations from well-wishers, the Sangduma Gumpa was enlarged and extended to the present size in 1978. Kote Sherpa became the first lama of the Sangduma followed by Temba lama and Shangge lama. The approximate size for the Sangduma Gumpa is 34 x 26 sq. ft. built on the foundation measuring 60 x 50 sq. ft. The height of the Gumpa is 11 ft. and has four wooden windows.

The Sangduma Gumpa is surrounded by Chingjams a secret long -clothed religious flag and has two pointed pillars made of brick stone and mud to the right and left front of the Gumpa called Lobaba Sherten and Choke Sherten. The height of these two Shertens is about 12 ft. Lobaba Sherten was erected in loving memory of the Buddha's mother and has a figure of the Sun on the top, whereas a miniature of moon is kept on the top of the Choke Sharten. Both the Shertens are 3 x3 sq. ft. in size. On big occasions like Lochchar, Purnima and Buddha Jayanti, the Lama with a traditional redish-coloured cloth will performed the needed rituals. The devotees with Khada on their shoulders will gathered inside the Gumpa and listen to the recitation or mantras delivered by the Lamas.

One of the most secret song goes
"La mala kepsumse, Shangge la kepsumse;
Choi la Kepsumse, Geden la kepsumse;
Sherpa Namlakepsumse
". . . . . .
(Three times)

After the rituals is over, the Choa or Prasad like Pumba, thui, chedil, chejeng, detar are offered to the worshipers. During the New Year celebration (Locchar), Special eatables called Khapsu made of atta or moida having different varieties and taste is offered. At present, all the rituals and ceremonies are conducted by Phurtemba Lama. Phurtemba Lama has been assisting Shargge Lama since 1989, and took over the responsibility of the "Religious Orders' after the latter's death in 2012. They followed Mahayana form of Buddhism.

The Lama is traditionally assisted by a few selected men called Onje in discharging religious duties. The Onje's are responsible for imparting Buddhist tenants to the people and supervised all religious activities. In fact, teachings of Buddhist oriented education were started during the tenure of Late Shangge Lama. Since then, it has been continued, and according to Mingma lama Sharpa, altogether, five students have been sent abroad to study more about Buddhism and its principles. The Sangduma Gumpa is growing in all its aspects, and now the leaders are planning to expand the size of the Gumba in a much grandeur size.

Shri Mingma Sharpa, one of the Buddhist pioneer was borne to Shri Lakpa Sherpa and Smt. Lapti Sherpa on the 24th of Jan.1947 at Darjeeling. He came to Manipur (7th mile) in 1952 and joined the military service. He got retired in 1972, and now he is living happily with his twelve children including 7 boys and 5 girls (all except one married) and more interestingly with all 34 grandchildrens.

Buddhist Gumpas in Manipur

S.No.    Name of Gumpa    Yr. ofEstablishment    Place/Location
1.    Sanga Chhoiling Monastery    1971    Surya Basti, Senapati
2.    Sangduma Buddhist Gumpa    1975    Upper Maohing, 7 Miles
3.    Kundu Ningma Gumpa    1991    Chuchekhop, 13 miles)
4.    Palyul Orgen DorjeC Choiling Gumpa)    2012    Nepali Basti, 10 mile
5.    Sherpa Gumpa    2013    Lanka Basti, Siddim
6.    Tamang Gumpa    Lanka Basti, Siddim
7.    Tamang Monastery    Timsina, Siddim
8.    Buddhist Gumpa    Manedara, Kalapahar

Sanga Chholing Monastery

The Monastery was established by the Sherpas in the year 1971 at a place called Surya Basti in Taphou Nepali part-II. The Monastery is the earliest Monastery to be established in Manipur. It is situated in the North-West of Senapati district Head Quarter, and is under 47 Karong Assembly Constituency. The village is purely inhabited by the Sherpas who migrated into the state from Illam in Nepal in the late 60s.It has thirty households with nearly hundred heads. Their primary source of livelihood is cultivation. They tilt the mountain sides and planed mustard, maize, rice and pulses of different varieties. Mustard is grown extensively for producing its oil.

The exact size of the Monastery is 25 ft. long, 18 ft. wide and 10 ft. high. Like other Buddhist religious structures, the Sanga Chholing Monastery is surrounded by Chinjams (local term is Lunghar) in all its four corners. It has a manuscript written on each Lunghars believes to be a Tibetan Script.Inside the Monastery, the statues of the Buddha, Guru Rinpoche(a local name for Buddhist Guru Padmasambhav who helped the Tibetan to establish the creed in Tibet) and Guru Sange Opongmeis installed. At present, the Monastery is looked after by a 65 years old men called NimaRinji as Lama. In any great occasion, the Lama is seen with his traditional attire called Bokhu with his Thengua and Dhupaoru.

Palyul Orgen Dorje Chyoiling Buddhist Gumpa

Chawangkining, a Liangmei-Naga village in the IT Road just 10 miles away from Kanggui (formerly Kangpokpi) is also a home for the Tamangs of the Nepali community of Manipur. There are around 150 household Tamang Buddhists in the village and their areas of settlement falls under the PoudyalBasti. They are the followers of Mahayana form of Buddhism. Mahayana or the "great vehicle" as a new paradigm of Buddhism gradually developed from the first century BC onwards.

Palyul Orgen Dorje Chyoiling Gumpa was erected in 2012 through the constant efforts, valuable gifts and contributions from the leaders, villagers and well-wishers. The Gompa is built on a small upland area and is about 20 ft. sq. in size. It has Chingjams in its four corners, and the fifth one is erected in the left entrance of the Gumba. All the four Chingjam is erected in the name of the Buddha and the fifth one called Lungthar is erected for the deaths. Every Buddhist houses also has Chingjam being erected in one of the corner of the house symbolizing protection from all evil spirits.

Lama Jyangsher became the first Lama of the Gumpa under the title called "Youjon". He was later succeeded by Lama Zettha, Lama Birbal, and Dawa Lama. LakhmanPokhring is the fifth and the present Lama of the ChyoilingGonpa.

To be continued...

* Holkhongam Haokip wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao / The Sangai Express
The writer is a Lecturer in the Department of History, Mount Everest College, Senapati, and can be contacted at Holkhongamtvm(at)gmail(Dot)com
This article was posted on May 01, 2015.

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