TODAY -

Gaudiya Vaishnavism : An Integrating force in the Amalgamation of Meitei Nation
- Part 3 -

Manindra Konsam *



-6-3. HINDUISM IN MANIPUR:

Regardless of the following facts:
(a). There florished a Hindu kingdom of Tagaung in Upper Burma which was founded by King Abhiraja of the Sakya Clan from Kapilavastu in 800 B.C. and remained till the Chinese Buddhist devastated in 600 B.C.

(b). The Ahom kingdom established in Upper Assam by Sukampha, a Shan prince in 1228 A.D. florished in whole of the Brahmapura valley as a Hindu kingdom till 1826 A.D. was a friendly kingdom of Meitei LeipaaK with matrimonial alliances.

(c). Takhel (Tripura), the kingdom where locally produced Ramayana was translated in Sanskrit during the reign of Maharaja Dharma Manikya (1431-1462 A.D.) also had established both martial and matrimonial relationship with the Meitei kingdom since the time of Meidingu Kabomba (1524-1542 A.D.).

(d). Just across the bordering hills of Manipur in the north-west of Imphal at presen day Dimapur, the Hindu kingdom of Dimasa (later Cachari) florished till the Ahoms devastated in 1536 A.D. This kingdom of the Dimasas had also both martial conflicts and matrimonial alliances with the Meitei since the time of Meidingu Kongyaamba (1324-1335 A.D.). The presence of the Brahmins from the mainland India in the valley of Manipur is recorded since the time of Meidingu Kiyamba (1437-1508 A.D.).

The king with the help from a Brahmin who was found settled in a village nearby the Kangla in the north east (present Lairikyengbam Leikai), initiated worshipping of Lord Vishnu by establishing a sanctum at the present day Bishnupur. After that, there are records of Brahmins arriving in Manipur from different parts of India.

Out of those records, the followings may be taken into account as to concieve a roundabout of the chaotic scenarios by the Hinduism and its culture in Manipur during those days: -I. During the time of Meidingu Charairongba (1697-1709 A.D.), in 1703, a Brahmin, Rai Vanamali from Puri, Orrisa, arrived in Manipur with his wife. The king was impressed by the talk of the Brahmin on Radha-Krishna cult.

In the following year (1704) King Charairongba embraced Nimandi Vaishnava of Hinduism happily along with many of his subjects from the Brahmin Rai Vanamali as their Diksha Guru. After that the king built many temples of Radha-Krishna. Before the arrival of the Brahmin Rai Vanimali, another Brahmin, Purushottam with wife Lakshmipyari also from Puri arrived with the idols of Balarama-Krishna and Subhadra in the royal court of king Charairongba.

Since then, with the royal patronage, the Bhrahmins in Manipur started celebrating Ratha Yatra annually. On the other hand, Meitei King Charairongba also built temples of Kalika (Durga) which shows the presence of Shakta cult of Hinduism in Manipur since his time.

II. During the reign of Meidingu Garibaniwaz (1709-1748 A.D.), in 1715, a group of 39 Brahmins led by one Guru Gopal Das from the royal court of Ahom arrived in the royal court of Manipur. In 1717 the Meitei king (Garibaniwaza) along with many of his subjects were initiated into Vaishnavism (of Sankardeva school of thought) of Hindu.

But soon after Guru Gopaldas left Manipur and arrival of a Goshai : Shantidas from Srihatta (Sylhet) in 1719, the king shifted his allegiance from the Vaishnavism of Sankardeva school to the Ramandi Vaishnavism. On the other side, Smrata, another sect of Hindu Vaishnavism also sprang up in the valley of Manipur.

Under the above chaotic scenarios of different Hindu cultures, the king himself must had faced much troubles in controlling the situation. Records of punishing and fining of non Ramandi Vaishnavas are found during the time of Meidingu Garibaniwaza.

However, amidst those chaotic cultural transition periods of the amalgamated Meitei Power and Nation, Meidingu Chingthangkhomba @ Bhagyachandra (1763-1798 A.D.) emerged and stood firmly equipped with Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a Vaishnav cult based on love and devotion with equality for all without any distinction of caste and creed and also with open venues for embracing everything of humanity.

In no time, the amalgamated groups of the Meitei Power and Nation accepted the new Vaishnavism as of their own. The Gaudiya Vaishnavism introduced by the King Bhagyachandra started a new evolution of culture common for all the amalgamated groups of the Meitei Power and Nation in an unique form as an integrating force. In that course of new cultural evolution, all differences amongst the amalgamated groups waned and brought a complete shape of oneness with a nomenclature: Meitei and Meitei Culture.

The Gaudiya Vaishnavism introduced by the Meidingu Bhagyachandra has so uniquely shaped the culture and traditions of the amalgamated Meitei with total exclusiveness that, the Gaudiya Vaishnavism of the Meitei has become rightly to be known as the Meitei (Manipuri) Gaudiya Vaishnavism with its unique form.

COCLUSION:

We have histories of uniting peoples for a nation and for an exclusively common cultural traditions. We know groups of people trying hard for integration through common cultural tradition to gain an unified Identity with glory. Whereas, the Meiteis are integrated with a hard earned long history. Why Meiteis should not stand united to safeguard its integrated identity with glory? !

-7-PS: The English in the above article is subject to correction and improvement as the writer is not habitual of writing in English. - The writer.

Concluded ....


* Manindra Konsam, Editor, Sanathong Monthly, wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on December 03, 2018.



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