The Great Meitei Nation & Its Socio-Economic Evolution
- Renaissance of Meitei Hinduism -

Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh *

 Modern Meitei Societal Structural Evolution
Modern Meitei Societal Structural Evolution

Social Evolution was an essay by Benjamin Kidd, who wrote a book and published it in London in 1894. It summarised the thinking of Karl Marx, at a time when people in the West, were bemused with Darwin's biological evolutionary ideas and Social Darwinism.

Most of us are now quite familiar with Darwin's evolution through natural selection of species, which is now coming to a close. But his idea of social evolution that was more difficult to understand, still, keeps going imperceptibly.

A few thinkers at the end of the 19th century, had this idea that that Social Darwinism was drawing to a close. Social Darwinism was a theory in that Humans are subject to the same laws of natural selection as plants and animals. The theory is now mostly discredited.

Social evolution as I understand it, means continuing changes towards a more perfect society. It is going on, at least among the Meiteis of Manipur. It will continue in the foreseeable future. By social evolution I mean modern cultures of Meiteis are different from those in the past.

The Meitei society is moving on progressively with an evolutionary behavioural change towards a social existence that will make it possible for everybody to live together without much of inherent Meitei narcissism.

If you follow research in cultural neuroscience, you will find that the culture of the post-War Meitei youth was conditioned by the relational recoding of a host of cognitive functions (ie mental processes that allowed them to navigate the world around them) related to that part of WWII, incident in Manipur, which enabled the formation of their socially shared thinking and practices.

The greatest social evolution of the Meiteis in the beginning of this 21st century, is the revival of various Hindu festivals that were dying out in the later part of the 20th century, especially YAOSHANG a local variant of Mayang HOLI, and Ras Leela. This renaissance of Hindu culture among the Meiteis is important as it particularly appears in terms of art and literature, and sports, rather than on issues of religious nature.

Meitei-style Holi - Yaoshang Meithaba ; Meitei-style Ras Leela   -Thabal chongba ; The artistic Meitei Ras-Leela

With this preamble I will try to centre my essay on a particular pre-War Meitei culture for effect, rather than on academic writing.

I have written before how the relationships between Meitei culture and events of WW-II incident in Manipur, shaped the thoughts of premodern Meiteis, and how the cloistered Meitei worldview and poor economic pattern during the period between 1897- 1947 began to change.

Cultural evolution is an evolutionary theory of social change in a society from information that an individual acquires from other members of human society. The experience of meeting a variety of ethnic people and their diverse cultures during the War, began to nudge Meitei society for an evolution.

The British rule in Manipur began on April 25 1891. Following which, the Meitei culture was in a limbo, in a state of shock. Meitei men became couch potatoes having no incentives.

At this stage of Meitei history (2019) as I write this piece, and looking back to that period of which I was a part of its fag end, it will not be too difficult to paint a picture of Meitei cultural history and cultural evolution. The best example of Meitei cultural evolution is in the concept of time.

In the old Meitei culture, time had no value as they had all the time in the world. And time and space was one. Not from any mathematical knowledge but simply from their perception

 2nd KEN Convention in London on July 27 2019. President Dr Mohendra Irengbam handing over mementos to delegates
2nd KEN Convention in London on July 27 2019. President Dr Mohendra Irengbam handing over mementos to delegates

of the reality of living in small world of their own. The concept was prevalent long before Einstein said time and space are so intimate with each other that one can think of time and space being one as 'space-time'.

Einstein, who contradicted his predecessor Newton, who said "Time is Absolute, proved mathematically that 'time and space' is indeed one'. Long before Einstein, Meiteis had the concept of the oneness of time and space. It was partly because of the small space of the oval shaped Imphal valley (1813 sq km); 58 km, north to south, and 29 km across ie 174 km around the periphery. Ultra-marathon runners can do it in one day. The vast majority of Meiteis had never seen a train. For them, Manipur Sanaleibak was everything. Time stood still.

The unlettered Meiteis had a culture, a national culture that became a bit stagnant. It needed a breath of fresh air. WWII brought that whip of fresh air to the Meiteis, who needed it for both physical and mental health. When the war ended in 1945, new sprouts of Meitei culture began to erupt, and Meitei society began to evolve into what is today.

In general, the organisation of social structure, for example, by industrialisation, will influence the economic system, and as a result, the social system.

There will be an increase in the standard of living, and also a rise of population in the urban areas, such as Imphal, Churachandpur, Ukhrul and Tamenglong. Industrialization broadly refers to the change from rural- agrarian societies to industrial-urban societies that are dominated by manufacturing and services.

The economic pattern of Meiteis of the premodern period (arbitrarily, before 1947) was shaped by their social structure and patterned social arrangements ie the way they lived their lives in Imphal town and in the agrarian rural countryside. It was a stable and self-sufficient economy, having all the mineral resources for a comfortable subsistence.

After WWII, Meitei socio-economic structure is now undergoing a gradual and perpetual change towards urbanisation and industrialised economy with the availability of modern technology and close affinity with Mayangs outside Manipur.

Meitei social evolution has now become more and more materialistic. Craving for modern amenities of life with a higher societal status has become part of modern Meitei social structure, while a few getting on the bandwagon of vulgar social climbing by becoming friendly with the rich, and Mayang military brass.

Well! Having indulged in a bit of past socio-cultural and economic structure of Meiteis, I should now stop barfing back the contents of a semi-digested food. You might say 'past is past'. But, though we have done with the past, the past has not done with us. The actual lapse of time has got nothing to do with it.

The Meitei social and economic evolution, as it continues from the past, should now be more integrated with the global economy, harnessing the skill and expertise of Manipuris within and Manipuri Diaspora organisations without, such as KEN (knowledge Exchange Network- a global platform), based in Boston, Massachusetts, US, in the production process for goods, and creation of income by attracting outside direct investment for a diversified structure of production.

Meitei cultural evolution has begun with increasing economic development in Manipur, especially in the rural areas, affecting local social structures. It is unstoppable.

Vive La Manipur.

* Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at irengbammsingh(AT)gmail(DOT)com and Website:
This article was webcasted on August 11, 2019.

* 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 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.

  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #2: Gallery
  • Jhulon @ Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • A Soldier speaks over Timeline of Kashmir
  • Tamenglong not be used as a money field
  • Food intolerance - Diagnosis & tests
  • That Jungle of a Garden :: Poem
  • International Day of Indigenous People
  • Saving future Manipur- need of the hour
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #9
  • Independence Day : Gallery
  • Suicide: how it looks like & what is
  • Manipur's 1st photojournalist, Santosh Ph
  • Mutum Ramo : President's Police Medal
  • A Letter to my Mother
  • Candle Light at Delhi for Babysana
  • In search of the elusive unity
  • Naga solution anytime soon, says Ravi
  • Landscape Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Indigeneity: Expression & Experience : Book
  • Cry of a Dying River - 89 :: Poem
  • Career in youth development
  • The Wind Will Carry Us : Film screening
  • Communication Course for Development
  • Impact of Christianity among Vaiphei #1
  • Dolaithabi Barrage: An emerging failed Dam
  • Chamba, Ayung, Paomilal :: eMing
  • New India in Konung Lampak
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • High Court & Workers on Sand Quarrying
  • Niranjoy attempt to break Guinness Record
  • Scripting Congress Mukt slogan
  • Bharat Mata has no place on August 13
  • Heikat-Leikat [13 Aug] #1 : Gallery
  • 13 August: Day to remember the heroes #1
  • Jallianwala: Manglen Onkhraba Lamjao
  • Lets us preserve indigenous languages
  • Hepatitis and pregnancy
  • On statement by Hoho & Naga Mother
  • Thangmeiband : Distasteful politics
  • Remembering patriots
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #5
  • Patriots' Day @ Pune : Gallery
  • Historical War fought by Manipur :: Articles
  • Police adapting to challenge by trafficking
  • Preventing TB is rooted in medical ethics
  • In the name of Love :: Poem
  • Expensive motor laws on the way
  • 13th August observed at Pune
  • Youth conclave with a difference
  • Alarming State of Students Life in Manipur
  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #1: Gallery
  • On Manipur Handlooms: A Clarion Call
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #2
  • Of Colours and Sunset
  • A Beautiful Mind :: Poem
  • An apple a day keeps wrinkles at bay
  • From hostels to the school
  • Renaissance of Meitei Hinduism
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #2: Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Azha - Id Festival :: Book
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #2
  • Artic Haobam won 1st ArP championship
  • Invitation : RIST Talk - 40 @ MU
  • Condole demise of Phanjoubam Santosh
  • Making a New India & fate of Manipur
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #1: Gallery
  • Some basics that many people ignored
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #2
  • Condolence : Photo Jounalist Ph Santosh
  • World Indigenous Peoples at Khumulwng
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Zo Forum celebrates Indigenous day
  • Lukanand Ksh wins at Mister North East
  • Post mortem reports fail to cut ice
  • Babysana: Student protest- Aug 8: Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #2
  • Manipur topped rankings in Breastfeeding
  • Cry of a Dying River - 88 :: Poem
  • World Indigenous Peoples Day
  • Criticizes scrapping of Article 370
  • Naga leader compromise Naga future
  • Free Children Heart Surgery Camp
  • Another bandh after 12 hours bandh over
  • Babysana death: What ails this society
  • Folklore of Hao communities #3
  • Programm @Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #2
  • Haris Adhikari: Finest Whiskey in Writing
  • Manipur bag 6 medals at National Fencing
  • Agriculture and skill training
  • Resolutions on Naga Political Issue
  • Need for Imphal to reach out to hill CSO
  • ..should be justice for 1000s babysanas
  • Ibudhou Pakhangba Haraoba #2: Gallery
  • Mob Culture in Manipur
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #1
  • Abrogation of Article 370
  • Issue of illegal mining of minor minerals
  • Annual Legal Awareness Program at Pune
  • Power, Works back to Biswajit
  • Redefining India
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #1 : Gallery
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #1
  • The Truth Lie :: Poem
  • An opportunity to end AIDS & TB
  • Soft skills?? What are soft skills
  • Community - Road to healthy environment
  • Scrapping Articles 370, 35A
  • Matsyanyaya: Law of the Fish
  • Babysana: protest @Khuyathong : Gallery
  • Road from Haochong to Noney : Gallery
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #1
  • The World We Want
  • My Lil' Hamlet :: Poem
  • CM meet with CSO: Naga solution at hand?
  • Aliyah #2 (Film Scenes) :: eRang
  • Old Age Home Kumbi : Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #1
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #1
  • Vocationalisation of education in Manipur
  • Tourism Festivals & Tourists in Manipur
  • The World Turned Upside Down :: Poem
  • Think about the future
  • Nachom : used traditionally by Meitei
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #2 : Gallery
  • Trend of private drug rehabilitation centre
  • Saffronites unhappy with power politics
  • IABP (Balloon Pump) saved life
  • Mega Mister & Miss North East
  • Anti-terror laws & victimization of innocent
  • The state today: blame the representative
  • Will remain true to Framework : IM
  • Laonii Fest @Phuba #1 : Gallery
  • No #endAIDS without #endTB
  • Cry of a Dying River - 87 :: Poem
  • Green your skills for green jobs
  • Ji Ingobi Chingtham: Bicycle tour
  • Will surrogacy law be really effective?
  • Vacancies at Hadron Techs, Imphal
  • 14 hours out of 24 hours
  • When people turn violent against HC order
  • Babysana's last rites performed: Gallery
  • August Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Parade @ Manipur Police, Pangei: Gallery
  • War with Climate
  • Matric, UG & PG days of an aerobiologist
  • Invitation : Workshop on Mathematica
  • Job vacancies at Makok Technologies
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Arrested but not on murder charge
  • Threatened future and the way out
  • Downside of Khuga Multipurpose Project
  • Manipur State Drug Policy #2
  • Scope of career in legal field
  • Demising the Adolescent Miss :: Poem
  • Threats against Rights defender Sobita
  • Demands action against scribe-assailants
  • Back home after Delhi's suggestion
  • Babysana's death and its questions
  • Licypriya: Abdul Kalam Children Award 2019
  • Two positives attracting each other
  • Kakching World War-II Memorial Run
  • Assessment your Tax for ITR
  • Who is responsible ?
  • Rejoinder to branding me as Fortune Teller
  • From Dec 8, 2016 to July 29, 2019
  • Of faith and failed justice
  • Neli Chachea: Doll Maker : Gallery
  • Traditional Practices of the Kukis: Book
  • Zero HIV transmission is must to #endAIDS
  • North-East students of Aryans Group shine
  • Th Tababi: gold at Asian-Oceania Judo
  • Mary Kom: Gold at President Cup, Indonesia
  • Rio on contribution of Himalayan States
  • Stand off to Babysana's death
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #4: Gallery
  • CMHT cards to journalists : Gallery
  • Understanding land for peace
  • Politics & farmers waiting for a downpour
  • An Endless Summer :: Poem
  • Tobacco harm reduction - A realistic option
  • NDPP reacts to statement of NPF President
  • The fools think we can be fooled easily
  • Twinkle Twinkle Scientists Star
  • Rohan Philem Reception @Pune : Gallery
  • Keisham Geenita : tops AIEEA-PG-2019
  • Are we putting efforts on grassroot football
  • Condemns insensitive attitude of police
  • Skin problems that arise during monsoon
  • Countdown to Year 10 of Weekender
  • Light at the end of peace process
  • Of human rights and open world
  • General strike on Babysana : Gallery
  • Manipur State Drug Policy #1
  • Kindness - A Virtue
  • L Sarita nominated at AIBA commission
  • We don't lack talents :: Hidam Rajeev
  • Cry of a Dying River - 86 :: Poem
  • Courses on Information Technology
  • Three decisions vis-a-vis Babysana's death
  • Corporal punishment - violation of RTE
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #2: Gallery
  • Haj pilgrims send-off : Gallery
  • Is Lack of rain a problem for Paddy ..
  • Mission 'School Phagat Hanshi'
  • Labour Codes threaten Press Freedom
  • Program for IHGF Delhi Fair at Kakching
  • Heart Camp at Health Centre, MU
  • Questions on safety of school hostels
  • Babysana's case, safety of our children
  • Nupi Pali @ Kang festival: Gallery
  • Some Chase Goal, Some Hunt Goal
  • Himalayas: Where India Meets China..
  • Preventing TB is critical to #endAIDS
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Career option in Anthropology
  • Deafening silence of Govt
  • BJP's image in serious trouble
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) : A synopsis
  • Social service @Ibudhou Thangjing: Gallery
  • Sanamahi Cheng Hongba #2: Gallery
  • Weaving at Nongpok Sanjenbam : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #3: Gallery
  • Social service @ Moirang : Gallery
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #3: Gallery
  • 3rd Singcha Wuyawon Festival 2019
  • seL tiHZakaNdta nuHZa_Iba :: Seireng
  • Cracks at Thong Nambonbi : Gallery
  • Yumnam Shamu : Natbhusan (Duhar)
  • The Great June Uprising #5: Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download