Demystifying the creator Gods in Meetei genesis to understand their intelligent design

Puyam Nongdrei Khuman *

Lai-Haraoba at Khunthokhanbi,
Lai-Haraoba at Khunthokhanbi, 2009 :: Pix - Gnet Cyber Cafe,

To understand the origin of the universe, we have the following lines given in the Wakoklon Heelel Thilel Salai Amailon Pukok (WHTSAP) puya. It is difficult to make any easy conclusion from these lines for a better explanation of the origin of universe. But let's try our best so that we get some clues to build up a theory of our own. The excerpt from the puya is as follows:

"Tingpalpaki Mapu Eepungloinapa Aapakpana talang oina leilingei
Tingpalpa amaki mawongpu leptalingei, mei, ishing, nungshit, numit, tha, thouwaimichak,
amam-angaan khaitalingeita pumnamakna leitalingeita mathanna onna-onna
talang malang oina sai-ontuna leilingeita talang
Aatingpapu Eepungloinapa Aapakpana talang malangna
Im oina haina humna asumna leilingeita Malem,
Nongthou manung oinapa semke ninglakle.

Many of us know that the 'Taipangpalpa' is about this planet inhabited by living beings. But 'Tingpalpa' is inclusive of the 'Taipangpalpa'. The universe (Tingpalpa) was not in existence as it is today at a certain point of time. When the physical universe was not in existence (Tingpalpa amaki mawongpu leptalingei) as we see today, Tingpalpa Mapu/Sitapa Mapu was in a state of 'talang malang' (Tingpalpaki Mapu Eepungloinapa Aapakpana talang oina leilingei). He was living as 'talang malang' alone (mathanna onna onna talang malang oina sai-ontuna leilingeita). We cannot say what this state of 'talang malang' is in the simplest understanding of day-to-day use.

The last part of the above paragraph, "...Talang Aatingpapu Eepungloinapa Aapakpana talang malangna Im oina haina humna asumna leilingeita Malem, Nongthou manung oinapa semke ninglakle" has something to explain more. At this point, he has a 'thought' of his own. If the universe is the transformation of the Tingpalpa Mapu thus creating planets, stars, moons etc, the whole universe is the manifestation of 'AMA'.

Another explanation could start with 'Talang Aatingpa' as something like the existing infinite space but without the complex physical developments such as planets, and stars. Another problematic part is talang malang' as his home while he was also in a 'talang malang' state. Thus one can say that 'everything had a talang malang phase'.

When Tingpalpa Mapu was in a primordial formless state of 'talang malang', the universe was also in the same state. Therefore, it is said that when fire, water, air, the sun, moon and star were non-existent and no separation between light and darkness, he was in a 'talang malang' state.

The puya is trying to draw the picture of the universe in the beginning when matter was not in complex formation like moon, planets, stars etc. This paragraph is simply narrating how the complex universe started from a primordial state of 'talang malang'. Some scientists call such early period after Big Bang as 'Radiation Era' when energy/radiation prevailed over matter across the universe. Here I am talking about cosmic evolution.

The puya is not telling us the whole 'Wakoklon' to clear all our doubts. But part of the origin of the universe is stated to be beginning from 'talang malang' state and gradually towards the development of complex entities such as stars, moon, planets etc. The missing link between this 'talang malang' state of Sitapa Mapu and his physical form descending on earth to cause the emergence of the seven Laipungthous from his 'nungsa satum' is difficult to be bridged.

However, he is the beginning of all life forms on earth. Anyway, the WHTSAP puya can be supported by other puyas to expand our understanding of the origin of the universe. As of now, we must settle with this 'talang malang' phase suddenly starting to think about creating the planet earth habitable.

The Meeteis are polytheistic with many gods and goddesses. But the origin of all these is 'AMA' who is generally known as Sitapa Mapu/Tingpalpa Mapu by the Meeteis. Believing or non-believing in the existence of god is not the focus of this article.

I am simply trying to understand the significance of how the Laiyam created this Taipangpal after much struggle. The rest is the product of my questioning mind to dissect and discuss many of the events mentioned in the scriptures. We all say, 'nothing is perfect in this world'. Is god perfect? Many will say 'yes'. I have doubt regarding this response after studying the Puya.

This 'Taipangpal' is the wonderful creation of these laiyam who are not-so-intelligent from my point of view though highly capable compared to human beings on earth. Taipangpal is the outcome of Sitapa Mapu's 'Nungpung Wakhan' (Intelligent Thought). If the whole universe is of his design, he could have made the earth habitable planet with living beings thriving on it without making hard efforts in the four chaks.

Instead, the primeval planet earth was under water and he had to use his 'nungpung wakhan' to lift 'Malem Leisa' from below the super ocean. The 'sai-on' which was used to lift 'Malem Leisa' caused the interplay of fire, water and air. Was it something very necessary? He could have done it without using his underwater 'sai-on' and causing 'mei-ishing-nungshit chainaba'. I believe this to be caused by strong underwater explosion.

Sitapa Mapu caused the Laiyam to emerge for the creation and this is known as Laiyam Sathokpa/khunthokpa in many Meetei scriptures. Why did he need the support of the Laiyam for the creation? He is supposed to be all knowing and all powerful supernatural father. Does it mean something hidden in the whole creation design?

Sitapa Mapu did not create this Taipangpal in few days without any difficulty like in many creation myths. He made the Laiyam populate the earth for the creation and their stay was not in few years period but in terms of 'Chaks'. The creation must be a hard job indeed and that's why they celebrated the success as joyously as depicted in the Lai Haraoba festival.

According to WHTSAP puya, Lainingthou Sanamahi was instructed to create human beings by his father Salailel Sitapa by reminding him the 'talang laipao'. He failed in many of his attempts. Creation of many plant and animal life forms before he successfully created the first human being on earth was a total waste of efforts if one thinks that they can do anything they wish. The failures show the not-so-intelligent laiyam struggling to fulfill the wish of Sitapa Mapu.

There were trials and errors on the part of the Laiyam during their long struggle for creating this Taipangpal. Or, the emergence of complex forms of life could have been after much scientific innovation and many experiments.

Creation of seven Laipungthous out of Sitapa Mapu's 'nungsa satum' and seven Lai Nulas out of Salailel Sitapa's 'Sana huksang unsa' are indications of these beings in blood and flesh like us. If one has to think of them as all powerful omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, they could have avoided all these efforts. They could have made the Laipungthous and Lai Nulas emerge out of nowhere like in many mythical stories.

But many puyas which were fabricated versions will carry interestingly such stories which are far beyond human understanding. Therefore, we can say clearly that the puya burning episode was followed by circulation of many such fabricated versions with mystification of all sorts. Religious dogmas and mystification filled the air like anything. Superstitions reigned supreme and it is still very strong.

Another instance is how Laipungthou Pangkalpa drained away the water from the valley of Kangleipak by drilling a hole at Chingnunghut by transforming himself as 'Huttang-nga'. Was it very necessary for him to use his 'huttang-nga sai-on' for the drilling work? I believe that this 'huttang-nga sai-on' is nothing but submarine drilling vehicle. To make the primitive human beings understand it, it was made to believe as some kind of fish which can drill hill ranges for draining the water away.

When Salailel Sitapa married Haolokpam Chanu Tampha, daughter of king Konthoupa, the Laiyam opposed saying that many descendants of such marriage will claim themselves to be the children of Laiyam. Konthoupa was Maliyaphampalcha's son whose name figures in the annals of Kangleipak (Manipur). To avoid such inter-mixing, a restriction was declared saying that no human and lai inter-marriage should ever take place to avoid enmities. King Konthoupa's daughter Tampha was a human daughter.

We have the legend of Konthoujam Lairembi Tampha and Lainingthou Soraren (Salailel).Why such intermarriage in the beginning to be stopped for some reasons better known to the Laiyam? Do the Bible and the Sumerian texts also mention about similar intermarriages? Such stories are in the ancient texts and oral traditions of many civilizations.

Another interesting incident is the 'Nongshaba Cheiraak'. The 'Saloi Phulup' was annihilated for interfering in the doings of the Laiyam. They were a threat to the creation work and their activities needed to be checked. Many scriptural writings mention the forces of destruction interfering in the creation of man and Taipangpal. The Laiyam had to defend their interests by destroying such elements.

This shows that they also had their security concerns like the human beings on earth. There are arguments by many scholars that gods being the invention of men are full of human emotions and feelings. So they think and act like human beings. One can ask whether there was another force against such creation which later on manifested as 'devil(s)' in many religions.

When their creation project was finished, the Laiyam informed Tingpalpa Mapu/Sitapa Mapu to join the celebration which is still observed as 'Lai Haraoba'. Therefore, I conclude saying that this dance festival is the most complete ritual dance festival narrating how everything on earth started with the intervention of Sitapa Mapu. This is the only ritual dance festival revolving around creation myth with such elaborate and systematic ritual observations celebrated by the Meeteis since time immemorial.

The first Lai Haraoba was really a 'merry-making' of the Laiyam thus celebrating the successful completion of the 'Taipangpal semba'. The present Lai Haraoba is just remembering this creation works of the Laiyam for the posterity to understand who we are. And we are still observing this dance festival though some changes in ritual contents were made during Hindu kings. I believe a time will come when every major library in the world will have one book on Lai Haraoba.

Here, I am demystifying the creator Gods and Goddesses in the Meetei genesis. They were on earth for a purpose and they fulfilled it. One can only speculate on their physical existence or in any form at present somewhere in the universe or in our planet. The creation of the Taipangpal was the outcome of Sitapa Mapu's whole design to populate the planet with human beings. Because he knew that this planet can be habitable for intelligent beings like the Homo sapiens.

From all these, we can see how everything about Meetei religious and cultural life revolves around the creation of Taipangpal and safeguarding the same. One good example is the ritual practice of 'Khayom Laakpa'. Their efforts say that Laiyam struggled hard for the successful creation. They could have done it without hardships if they were all powerful beings. Or, did they enjoy working as fun? There must be an explanation to their making efforts after effort for the realization of this Taipangpal.

We need to critically analyse the writings left behind. In this attempt, I am historicizing the myths of human civilization and reclaiming our treasures of knowledge left behind by our ancestors for the higher purpose. Emergence of Sitapa Mapu is clearly mentioned in the scripture but his origin and the origin of this universe is cryptic and somehow mystified. If not, it will not be possible to have religions on earth.

* Puyam Nongdrei Khuman contributes regularly to
The sender can be contacted at khuman_mei(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on December 07, 2011.

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