TODAY -

Burning of Holy Scriptures: Religious Conversion and its impacts

Dr H Indrakumar *

A page from 'The Puya of CHAINAROL' (The Way of the Warrior)
A page from 'The Puya of CHAINAROL' (The Way of the Warrior)
Pix Copyright : Human Right Alert (HRA)



Introduction : Social theories and academicians have considered religion to be the socializing agent playing an important role for unity and harmony even though Karl Mark desired it when he rejected religion as the opium of the masses in his communist showdown. Some take it as having norm of ideas and action which will have morally and spiritually connected with achieving higher values of the self.

Some regard it as a means for salvation through highly spiritual austerity. Others take it as ritualism by means of which peace, security, prosperity, etc. can be attained. What Pamheiba embraced fanaticism at the first instance of its letting loose by some Bengali refugees did not suit well the worthiness of being a benevolent native ruler. That he was too much adamant and whimsical as to whether his autocratic decisions deserved any consideration for abrupt change in favour of Sanskritisation or Ramanandi cult would be inconsistent with rulership and kingship tradition in the history of Meetei nationalism. Religion must bear a holy concept otherwise it appears to take on malevolent and violent or mischievous acts discarding humanism or human values.

Historicity: The Meeteis had their own chequered history and got experienced a distinct entity consistent with a national ethos. They were freedom loving people who could not be accustomed to toleration for imposition and domination. There was no social stratification by birth as seen in the caste system in which functional division into four varnas is strictly regimented. A cohesive social order prevailed discernible through inter-dining and intermarriage (except inter clan). Benevolent Kingship with democratic norms was found recorded prevailing from early times. Faiths and beliefs were in line with Sanamahi and Pakhangba as ancestral worship which was the oldest pattern of Meetei religions system.

The Meeteis had keen senses of identity and integration and which was why such native sensation of indigenization and homogenization had brought in all historical times all the inhabitants under one roof of nationalism.

This paper seeks to analyse the contents of the burning of the Holy Scriptures called the Puyas of the indigenous people and evaluate them in the light of the identity crisis. To begin with, it was turning point in the history that a king had been converted in an easiest way by a mere fakir who came from Sylhet, now a part of Bangladesh. When Shantidas failed to speed up conversion of the masses through Nongkhrung Oath for mass conversion and idol worship by using force under the despotic order of Pamheiba, the last violent act of crime was the burning of the Puyas on the pyre. He spent many a sleepless night conspiring about the plans for conversion of the whole kingdom into a Hindu one.

I have been wondering why Pamheiba yielded to what Shantidas conspired with ill-devices to harm and malign the Meeteis. He told the king that the native religion was so unique that the Ramanandi cult could not be accomplished and the idol worship in the temples also failed to attract the masses. Hence the next device was to destroy all the existing scriptures called the Puyas including all literature in order to introduce the Devanagari script for the victory of Sri Ram. All the books and scriptures were collectted and piled up at Kangla Uttra.

The collected Puyas were placed on the pyre and Pamheiba lit the pyre himself. Most of the Holy Scriptures which could not be burnt by fire had been blown away in different directions signifying that such Puyas would be kept harmless and safe in the true custodians. The two whispered that the Meetei religion must surely return as most of the Puyas had blown to different directions. The Maichous passionately smiled with tears knowing that native religion would come back after a short departure.

Pamheiba and Shantidas committed deliberately an unpardonable crime to impose conversion on the Meeteis. Valuable Puyas which were blown out of the pyre meant that the Meetei religion would come back because truth prevails in the end.

Chingu Khongnangthaba, the Head Priest, once warned Pamheiba:
"The Kingdom will be plunged into deep sorrow as all the Meetei Holy Scriptures are being burnt down.
O King Ningthem, little child !
Even though a few nominally small books are burnt down.
Yet Meetei scriptures dealing with history and tradition have not been burnt.
All such have been blown away to different directions.
You have got things done at your own will for same time since Nongkhrung Oath was taken before you.
O Ningthem ! Do listen !
For your responsibility Ningthem !
the Holy scriptures will have to be preserved throughout and in every Meetei home.

"Oh Ningthem ! Today I do speak out, the journey of an age has arrived today.
All the Meetei luminaries are quite retired.
They have absented from the Nongkhrung Oath not to annihilate Meetei tradition.
I am also to negotiate for some time now.
Look wide, open your eyes !
O Ningthem, if you are crazy enough for the alien cult you won't live long
".

Immediate Impact :

(i) Shantidas knew that his religion would never last long. The next step was that all the bones were taken out of the graves and thrown into the Ningthi River.

(ii) Shantidas replaced the name of the Meetei Kingdom by Monipur. He was happy to name a land at his own discretion and became fruitful of his mission. As the original name of the Meetei native was changed into Hindu nomenclature, its religions and cultural aspects came to be followed.

(iii) The palace at Kangla was burnt while the king and the priests were on a visit to the Loktak Lake at Phubala.

Chingu Khongnangthaba Asserted Strongly :
"The Kingdom cannot be allowed to lose. This naked fire will be extinguished now."

The barricade was broken open and Chingu Khongnangthaba penetrated his hand into the burning fire and put the fire out.
"O great fire burning up high!
All the seven satans coming from the West has been kept expelled beyond the Maklang Khong in the Kangla passage.
The fire I see through my eyes outside has been extinguished.
The fire which is burning inside will be burning without getting it known to anybody else.
The time to put out this internal fire is not a matter of just now.
The time will arrive when the Meetei progenitors of true blood reconcile Kangla with the true knowledge of the origin, the fire internal will be extinguished.
As though the fire internal can be extinguished just now it will not be allowed to do so since the western culture is being adopted during your time."

"Lest I am compelled to do so as such you should die and your jewel chain should be broken into pieces
".

An Evaluation :

Religion is a factor for overthrowing the whole superstructure of Meetei society. The Hindu faith turned Pamheiba and Shantidas into fanatics and emerged to be a cult figure under his despite regime. If both of them knew the Ramayana values properly, they would not have committed such criminal acts. The Sanskritization process continues till today and it can be easily evident from the following facts of identity crisis.

(1) Nongkhrung Oath is performed as holy dip in the Ganges.
(2) Bamon practice of wearing lukun with diksha.
(3) Conversion of Yek-Salais into gotras means Meetei orgin goes to Bamon ancestor.
(4) Idolatry, construction of temples and idol worship patronized by Hinduished King.
(5) Stamping mud on the forehead and other parts.
(6) Meetei names are changed into Hindu names.
(7) The Puyas like the Hindu Puranas are destroyed so as to annihilate Meetei origin.
(8) Throwing the skull bones into the alien river is practiced as mark of submissiveness.
(9) Burning of dead body is introduced with the ritual arrangements as were done in the burning of Puyas.
(10) Krishna cult, Vaishanava Cult, Guoriya cult and several other cults follow consequently.
(11) Bamonism is more predominant than Hinduism.

From these historical facts, it can be understood that a despotic fanaticism can take religion into his own hand just like men in power do whatever they like without considering the popular values. Chingu Khongnangthaba prophesied as apocalypse or doomsday after which the Meeteis regain their lost vigor and vitality. He concealed all these in time capsule. Larei Lathup, Langtailol, Ngamtailol, Kaipilol and a few other holy treatises and Revelations dealing with the future. The Nongkhrung Oath for seven generations was over and regeneration is taking place now on.

Chingu Khongnangthaba is still with us because his prophesy comes true. He saved us from the complete ruin in the hands of fanatics and despot. He is guarding Kangla, the holiest of the holy abode of Lord Sidaba. All the crises can be resolved if we go by the saying of Chingu, and there is nothing to disbelieve in this proposition.

Identity Crisis :

The burning of the Puyas has serious impact on the identity crisis of the original people of the Kingdom. The religious conversion to Hinduism created a fissure in the society. Social segregation and discrimination, stratification and alienation were imposed. Pollution and untouchability became widespread resulting in psychological disturbances and sociological imbalances destroying the kinship and affinitive pattern of relationship. Eventual moments of conflict situation of and identity crisis broke out frequently orienting towards undue polarization into the pure and the impure, and the high and the low being practiced as Hindu import.

The following factors may be considered to be constraints and contradictions.
1. Psychologial Factor
2. Religious Factor
3. Cultural Factor
4. Social Factor
5. Linguistic and Scriptural Factor

Renaissance :

In the course this abridged evaluation I have taken note of a unique source of Renaissance in the1930s beginning with the life and activities of Naoriya Phulo and Takhellambam Bokul. I have also observed to propose five points for resolving the Meetei identity crisis on the social as well as individual level which I personally used to mobilize and materialize under the banner of my organization.

In conclusion, I visualize a prospect of conciliation and resolution based on Chingu Khongnangthaba's Revelation which ultimately warns that a doomsday is coming. I owe my whole-hearted reverence to him for he is a staunch protagonist of social justice, harmony and peace, and understand that without social justice there cannot be economic equality and political development in such a caste-imposed society as ours.


* Dr H Indrakumar wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is HoD, Political Science dept, Modern College
This article was posted on January 23, 2014.


* 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
  • Imoinu @Yumnam Leikai :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Our Ailing Planet: My locality as a facet
  • Stop Oil Palm Plantation in Manipur
  • General election in hard times :: Poem
  • Being free from freedom
  • Roaring 40 in first list of Cong
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #2
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Wake Up My People Wake up :: Poem
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • A tribute to Athokpam Indrakumar Singh
  • Stunted fingerling- Replacement of fish seed
  • Training Program at Dimapur
  • Gaan-Ngai @Kakhulong :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Classical Language Vs ST for Meetei
  • The Great Green Walls, conserving nature
  • Webinar: The Birds and Bees Talk
  • Covid Booster Campaign at Tamenglong
  • IVF Centre in Guwahati
  • Easing curbs as cases spiral
  • Third wave is on!
  • Ecotourism Complexes @ Ramrei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • No excuse not to end acute pandemic stage
  • Palm-oil in Manipur: Bad to worse
  • For sons and daughters :: Poem
  • Effective methods for facial hair removal
  • Subdued dissent over Sunday as poll day
  • Embracing the party hoppers
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #2:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Cultural Activists of Manipur honoured
  • Male infertility: What are the options ?
  • Is celebrating New Year Day really worth it
  • Third wave: State on record breaking spree
  • Compulsion of power politics
  • Imoinu Thouniba @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Jonga! O Jonga :: Poem
  • Grey market for election tickets
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #2
  • Lilong Haoreibi College awarded 'B' grade
  • State used as transport route of drugs
  • Possible post poll scenario
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #1
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Lunghar path in springshed conservation
  • Lament of love :: Poem
  • Career options in Lift Technology
  • Brief tale of one year COVID vaccination
  • Bickering among allies in coalition politics
  • Low vaccination coverage
  • NH-2 : Remember Khongnem Thana
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Kolhen! O Kolhen :: Poem
  • Program on POCSO Act at Thoubal
  • The Killing Fields (2013-22) :: News Timeline
  • A spate of 'defections' in UP elections...
  • High performing individuals work alone
  • Onus on ECI to avert crisis situation
  • Keeping people informed is key
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • The church is & must remain apolitical
  • Tamenglong Battalion celebrated Army Day
  • How prosperous NE India became backward
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni @ Koubru #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Read all about Gaan Ngai
  • Justice, Peace and Change :: Poem
  • Mass Surya Namaskar at Tamenglong
  • Padmanabha Swamy Temple
  • Overcoming vaccine hesitancy
  • Nothing grand about 'Grand Old Party'
  • Lainingthou Sanamahi Complex #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #1
  • How to keep your hair healthy this winter
  • Third wave: Litmus test for NE states
  • High TPR, low vaccination
  • Maharaja Gambhir Singh
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Rani Gaidinliu Open Air Lounge inaugurated
  • NAAC peer team visit for assessment
  • National Youth Day
  • Conservation Agriculture: intensified farming
  • Negligence galore as Covid cases rise
  • Back to the spike in three figures
  • How AFSPA undermines 'Act East' Policy
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • P Achevei : Mega Mister North East 2021
  • Stop Violence related to Election
  • Civil / Project Engineer @ R-Square
  • Business Development @ R-Square
  • Customer Representative @ Property Geo
  • No matter what :: Poem
  • Stealthy extension of AFSPA
  • Confiscating 'suspected heroin'
  • 188 Death Anniv: Maharaj Gambhir:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) 20th Call
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #2
  • Account Assistant @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • Business Dev @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • The 5G Race :: Samarjit Kambam
  • Manipur elections not for the faint-hearted
  • Guns & violence in run up to polls
  • Climate Change in Ukhrul in last 50 years
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Are we able to break chain of transmission
  • 100 new Sainik School- opportunities for girl
  • Joyjeet Waikhom / Ksh Maradona: Mr India
  • Money flying in or out ?
  • Will partial lockdown help curb transmission
  • Voting during Covid pandemic
  • Food items @ Singjamei, Pishum :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Curfew : Measures to combat COVID
  • IMFP - Indian Made Foreign People
  • Happy 2022 to you !
  • Manipur Press Foundation Day :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Politician must practice, preach on COVID
  • Makeup routine during pandemic
  • Third wave threat no more a mirage
  • Queuing up for BJP
  • Thangal Lambi & Ima Keithel :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Before I sleep... II
  • Election Brawl :: Poem
  • Impact of Covid on Employer Branding
  • Chasing peace in Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #1
  • The art of New Year's resolution
  • Cong struggling to keep its house in order
  • Manipur's place in the eyes of Delhi
  • Makru bridge, Oinamlong Waterfall : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Depression : A New Time Bomb
  • School & Student Championship Quiz
  • Concern over child labour
  • ECI on sluggish vaccination rate in state
  • Vaccination rate in hill districts
  • Fusion of contemporary dance & theatre
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Crackdown on violators
  • AMAND, Pune released 2022 calendar
  • Rising poverty in Manipur
  • Sunset, the most memorable!
  • Election time season of plentiful promises
  • Interesting role of NPP, NPF
  • Pineapple @ Ngariyan Hills #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • kLlQtre :: Seireng
  • National Day for our feathered friend
  • Value of purposeful life
  • Homemade face packs for winter beauty
  • Dreadful start to New Year as cases spike
  • Manipur steps into Year 2022
  • Tarpon Katpa @ Loktak #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • OneHealth: towards pandemic preparedness?
  • Before I sleep...
  • Meitei ST demand & the opposition
  • Bye Bye 2021 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #6: Gallery
  • Manipur : National Futsal C'ship 2021
  • 'Unlocking Locks Under Lockdowns' released
  • Baby corn cultivation for livelihood
  • Extension of AFSPA to Nagaland
  • Hoping for a better New Year 2022
  • Appeal of AMCO to Chief Minister
  • NK Sanajaoba- Star in Dark Sky of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Danube Kangjam : Miss North East 2021
  • In search of Christmas party
  • Demise of Film Producer: Guruaribam John
  • Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland extended
  • Thyroid cancer- The Good, Bad & Ugly
  • Same old order to tackle most potent threat
  • Putting tighter restrictions in place
  • Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • January Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Carol on Christmas :: Poem
  • Formation of 13 Farmer Producer Orgns
  • Indian Army Inquiry Team visits site in Oting
  • Review home isolation rule or punish violator
  • Lining up for saffron party
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • curaNTbdi nYte AE :: Seireng
  • Marriageable at 25 not 18 or 21
  • IMA Manipur wins 7 awards at NATCON-2021
  • Impact of climate change in agriculture
  • Dual threat to state in election season
  • Another panel to study AFSPA
  • Indigenous under-utilized fruit crop Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Can we deliver on #HealthForAll
  • Business Executive @ Property Geo, Imphal
  • 13th Seniors National Futsal C'ship
  • National Curling Championship
  • Centre benevolence crucial for development
  • Taking the elixir of life to all village
  • Omicron now in town
  • Job-Fair 2021 @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Remembering great grandmothers :: Poem
  • Grand finale Mega Miss North East 2021
  • Kodo - A miracle food millet crop in Manipur
  • Preparing HCWs for long battle against Covid
  • Bid to arm twist the media
  • Christmas Eve @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My idea of justice- For the old aged folks
  • Amit Shah holds conclave with Naga leaders
  • Horses - some tidbits
  • The best skincare routine for teenagers
  • Christmas Eve @ Churachandpur : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My Christmas
  • Mary : The Unwed Mother
  • O Come, let us adore Him
  • Violence in election: Will it sustain?
  • Hymn on autumn :: Poem
  • Crackdown on liquor sale in election
  • Another Christmas comes
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Secy raises CCpur ambush with Myanmar
  • Gossiping with flowers, bees & butterflies
  • Careers with Migrants
  • Climate literacy to tackle climate crisis
  • Violence in AC with 2 fmr education minister
  • Heirok AC: Shooting to kill : Abhorrent
  • Of AFSPA, Manipur and NE States
  • The Price of Justice!
  • Seminar on 'Bioeconomy from Bioresources'
  • Shija: 1st Pvt medical college in NE
  • Water saving techniques in hill agriculture #2
  • Plight of women in land of brave-hearts
  • Not a question of If but
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #2
  • Painting: Tribal Freedom Fighter #1: Gallery
  • New Barak Bridge @Jiri highway : Gallery
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #1
  • RK Meghen tribute @ Nupi Lal : Gallery
  • Protest: massacre of Naga Brethen: Gallery