TODAY -

Gaudiya Vaishnavism : An Integrating force in the Amalgamation of Meitei Nation
- Part 1 -

Manindra Konsam *



INTROUCTION: The present day Manipur with a geographical area of 22,327 sq. Km. is a land of hills and valley. The hills almost occupied ninth-tenths of its total area. The valley being one-tenths is only about 2,000 Sq. Km. of stretching plains in the centre of surrounding hill ranges in all sides.

The surrounding hill ranges bordered to divide mainland India in the northwest and Myanmar in the southeast. It also lies almost in the halfway between the tri-junctions of India-Burma-China. As such, the valley and the surrounding hill ranges of Manipur naturally became an important station of migration and trade route between South Asia and South East Asia.

Alongside, it also became a cradle of civilization for various remarkable groups of people who came in search of land for better living and glory. So, the history of Manipur is the story of evolutionary amalgamation of varied cultures and societies and shaping of an unique cultural tradition for an integrated society which was befittingly essential for a nation building.

Archeological evidences proved that the land of the present day Manipur had experiences of paleothic, neolithic, ancient and medieval cultures which have affinity with the Hoabinhian and are of non-Hindu origin. However, in the courses of amalgamation history of Manipur which started from 33 A. D., by the turns of the 19th c. A. D.; Gaudiya Vaishnavism of the Hindu emerged as the main integrating forceespecially among the groups of people so amalgamated and known under one nomenclature : Meitei, the major community of Manipur.

Now, this paper, from a journalistic point of views, is trying to overview the evolution courses of history of Manipur where the Gaudiya Vaishnavism of Hindu religion became an integrating force in the amalgamation process of the Meitei Nation : Manipur. For the purpose, the following brief factual accounts of history are taken for a logical conclusion on the topic of this paper.

Two-Day National Seminar on
CULTRO-RELIGIOUS TRANSITION AMONG THE NATIVE COMMUNITIES OF NORTHEAST INDIA
9th -10th September 2018
at Central Hall, Dhanamanjuri University, Imphal Jointly
Organised by : INDIA FOUNDATION, New Delhi;
Department of Social Work, Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Regional Campus, Manipur; &
Centre for Manipur Studies, Manipur University.

Gaudiya Vaishnavism:
An Integrating force in the Amalgamation of Meitei Nation - Manindra Konsam, Editor, Sanathong Monthly
NOTE: The English in this article is subject to corrections and improvement as the writer is not habitual of writing in English. - The writer.

-2-1. LAND and PEOPLE of MANIPUR:

The history of Manipur started from 33 A. D. and according to its history there was no any group of people known as Meitei on the earth till the begining of its history. Historically it can be concluded that the present days Meiteis are the descendants of the migrating people from the parts of South East Asia which in the course of time intermingled with number of ethnic groups from south Asia like India, China, etc.

These ethnic groups on successive migration waves made thier settlements at the different parts of the valley and hills of Manipur and established their independent principalities with distinctive dialects, folk religion, culture and traditions and definite territorial boundaries. Number of such groups and their independent principalities are mentioned in the recorded history of Manipur, viz. Angom, Khaaba, Ngaanba, Luwaang, Khuman, Moiraang, Mangaang, Chenglei, Haorok Konthou, Heirem Khunjaan, Thaanga Kambong, Haokhaa Lokkhaa, Selloi Langmai, Maanting Maraang, Lera Khongnaang, Chakpa, Sektaa, etc.

2. EMERGENCE of MEITEI and MEITEI KINGDOM:

At the start of the recorded history of Manipur, i.e. in 33 A.D., a group of men comprisingly drawn from different groups, led by one Nongda Lairen Paakhangba, a man from the Angom invaded and devastated the group of Khaaba who occupied Kangla and its nearby adjoining areas as their principality. After the Khaaba, Nongda Lairen Paakhangba established seat of power at the Kangla for his group which later bacame to be known as the Meitei and started process of amalgamation to build a Meitei nation by subduing different groups with annexational expansion of Meitei power and territory which became to be known as Poirei Meitei Leibaak (the land of Meitei).

The amalgamation process so started since the time of Nongda Lairen Paakhangba continued by his subsequent lineal successors and completed during the reign of Meitei King Chingthangkhomba (1763-1798) by totally bringing the principality of Moirang, a group of people with distinctively rich cultural heritages completely into the Meitei kingdom and Meitei fold.

3. Process of CULTURAL INTEGRATION in the AMALGAMATION of the MEITEI NATION:

Historically and logically, it can be concluded that the group of people led by Nongdaa Lairen Paakhangba who devastated the Khaabas from Kangla and established seat of power for his group had no any compact cultural tradition for a common bonding amongst themselves as they were comprised with men from different groups (whose descendants became to be known as the Ningthoujaa group in the seven clan lineage system developed in later period).

As such, the group started blending of different culture in the proximity to suite for the amalgamated Meitei power and society to come. For such conclusion, the followings may be cited as example-i. Paanthoibi the daughter of Lairen Tauroinai of Mangaang and his wife Lainaamung Naamungbi was betrothed and married off to Taram Khoinuchaa, the son of Khaaba king Shokchromba.But -3-Paanthoibi eloped from her husband's house and stayed with her lover Angouba Khongjaamba Nongpok Ningthou, the king of Langmai Cheeng.

After Paanthoibi left the house of Khaaba, her father in-law Khaaba Shokchronba became aware of her extraordinary spiritual qualities and started worshipping Panthoibi's belongings which were left by her in Khaaba's house. Later he invited his ex daughter in-law with her husband Nongpok Ningthou and for the first time celebrated Lai Haraoba. II.

Yielding to instigation from a queen, Hongnem Punshiba, the king of Luwaang divorced and sent off the youngest of his nine queens, Khayoirol Ngaanu Thumbi of Khuman with her infant son Senba Mimaaba to her paternal house. With turns of events, after attaining manhood, the son obliging his mother's wish and advice brought Imoinu, the Goddess of Luwaang to the Khuman. Then after, during the reign of Meitei king Meidingu Chalaamba (1545-1562 A.D.), obliging his mother Nongbaallon Haochongambi's suggestion brought Goddess Imoinu to the Poirei Meitei Leipaak.

From the above two episodes, it is known that both the Goddess Panthoibi and Imoinu was not concern as of the Meitei before. Goddess Panthoibi had been the only concern of the Khaabas till the time Nongdaa Lairen Paakhangba devastated and brought the Khaabas under the Meitei power. But after the Khaabas becoming a part of the Meitei power, Goddess Panthoibi became a common Goddess of the amalgamated Meitei power. Likewise, Goddess Imoinu was also the only concern of the Luwaang and Khuman till the reign of Meidingu Chalaamba and thus became a common bonding Goddess for the entire amalgamated Meitei power.

To be continued...


* Manindra Konsam, Editor, Sanathong Monthly, wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on November 10, 2018.



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