The Concept of Soul in Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak
- Part 2 -

Chaoba Kamson *

A Scene from The Zeliangrongs :: Pix by Haobam Ronel (Director)
A Scene from The Zeliangrongs :: Pix by Haobam Ronel (Director)

8. Belief in the concept of Taroiram :

Taroiram means the land of the dead where ancestors live. Soul after departing from the body will live in a new place temporarily with his ancestors. That new place is called Taroiram.

The soul will come across the following places on the way of Taroiram :

(i) Ambaan Raangbang (a village gate)
(ii) Bamdondai (a resting place)
(iii) Tanungduipaang ( a river running between the border of Taroiram and human world)
(iv) Marinbangjang (a beautiful place situated at Taroiram)
(v) Phoulenlong (a windy place of Taroiram)
(vi) Taroi Bamdondai (a resting place of Taroiram)
(vii) Taroi Raangbang (a gate of Taroiram)
(viii) Taroi Kaidai ( a village of Taroiram)
(ix) Taroigwangbam (a place of Taroigwang)

The human soul will come and take rest at Marinbangjang and pass through the range of Phoulenlong.

Tingkao Ragwang created a male god called Taroigwang (Tamanpu) and his wife called Tamanpui empowering them to look after the souls in the land of the dead. Taroigwang means king of the Taroiram where he presides over. At the behest of Tingkao Ragwang, Taroigwang gives right direction to the soul to go this way or that way.

It is also believed that Taroigwang will give divine punishment to human soul in the land of the dead for wrong doing. The soul of good doer will climb paradise through the golden ladder culminating ultimately in the place of Tingkao Ragwang which is the highest place. Human soul is asked many questions relating to his activities during his life time by Taroigwang.

If good deeds done are more whereas bad deeds are less, the soul will start for rebirth. If good deeds done are less, such soul continues to live in the land of the dead suffering from anxiety and pain with a specific period. If such stipulated time is over, the soul will lead for rebirth. When a man dies, an elder will shout Au Auwe against the crown of the dead.

Au Au we mean giving courage to him, not to be afraid on the way of Taroiram. Thereafter a piece of ginger purifies the whole dead body addressing his name that his nature of death is normal and not unnatural (Theigai). The elder will tell him to go a good way and pour a little quantity of water in the hearth. A ritual called Gu-Kasetkeimei will be performed.

Unless this ritual is performed, the dead body cannot be taken a bath. After that, some hair of the dead will be cut followed by taking a bath. On reaching in the land of the dead, Taroigwang asks the dead man whether he takes bath or not. If not taken bath, Taroigwang is very angry with him. So it is compulsory to take bath for the dead as per custom. After burying the dead, diggers of the grave will go round the grave for three times starting from left side and again turning three times in right side.

Thereafter, the soul will leave the grave and proceed to his destination. The soul will travel on the back of frog while crossing over the river of Tanungduireng. So, the devotees of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak (TRC) never kill any kind of frogs. And a dog slaughtered for the dead man will bark the evil spirits. Singing a mourning song (chun-Luh) for the dead man means to have a drink in the land of the dead. Garments for the dead are always worn on the left side so as to avoid removal of the same by the violent wind of Phoulenlong.

Therefore, left is always used for the dead. As soon as the dead man reaches the land of the dead, his ancestral relatives also ask many questions to him relating to worldly life. When he crosses over the river of Tanungduireng, he expresses melancholy and cries rolling over the surface on the earth looking back the material world.

When a man dies, a goat or a dog or a cow or a pig is slaughtered in honour of the dead. He uses the goat as a horse and the dog as his bodygurad. There is a belief that the human soul eats all the offerings but he does not eat solid things simply he enjoys smell only.

After Gaan-Ngai festival, the living descendents never offer any kind of rice or curry or drink or eatable on the grave. Good soul crosses the bridge constructed over the river of Tanungduireng whereas sinful soul crosses over the bridge sadly which is as small as hair.

The frogs carry on their backs those souls who cannot cross over the river. They have forgotten all the pleasures of the worldly life by eating a fruit of LUNG-NIM-THAI. Lung means mind, Nim means control and Thai means fruit. He will proceed to the land of the dead, the place of Taroigwang.

Those who commit suicide always live in a dark place where there is no light at all. They feel regretted why do they commit suicide ? They will spend the rest of their life in sadness and disappointment.

9. Belief in the concept of Rebirth :

The followers of TRC believe the concept of transmigration which is known as rebirth. If a man is born, he will die; if he dies he will be reborn. When a transmigrated soul is born in new life that is called rebirth. After death, the soul goes to the land of the dead. After living there the soul will be born to human world. There is a belief that if a married sister dies, her brother will slaughter a pig or a cow or a fowl for her. That is called Theigui Loumei.

The purpose of Theigui Loumei is for her soul to be reborn in the family or clan of her father. Vivid evidence in this respect is that when a person dies the members of his family out of love with the colour of garlic or dried charcoal put a mark at a visible part of the dead body to identify the soul.

After some years, a person is born with such a visible mark then it is affirmed that the same soul is born and returned to his family. This indicates that an old member of the family returns home. During his long staying at Taroiram, Tingkao Ragwang will judge whether the said soul can be reborn or will continue to stay there. If satisfied, the soul will lead for rebirth. There is also a belief that the present people who were once born are the rebirth people.

10. Belief in the concept of Thundijang (Thuntadijang) :

Thundijang means place of extinction of life. Thun means a kind of plant and Dijang means place of extinction of life. Unpardonable sinful soul will go to Thundijang. The said soul lives in the midst of insects, mosquitoes etc. feeling hungry and spending in dark place.

Such soul expresses why does he commit such immoral sins of man and divine ? After living there, the soul converts into a big tree. Such soul will take a lot of time to become a man.

Whereas, the soul who converted into Thunbang will become as human being quickly. There is a belief that the inexcusable sinful soul will grow as Thunbang which will automatically be rotted after expiry of its life, the rotten plant will convert into worm, this worm is eaten by a bird again and this bird is eaten by man, and then the soul will be reborn among human being. So, there is no concept of extinction of life forever in TRC faith.

11. Concept of Sin :

Sin is a deviation from the accepted social, moral and spiritual norm of a society. In TRC belief, when a man breaks the social and moral code of conduct, it is called a sin. He gets retribution in different forms.

After death, human soul will transform into lower beings of animals, plants, trees, or vegetables and ultimately extinction of life or conversion into non living objects. However, there is a strong belief in the atonement of sin for wrong doings of man by Tingkao Ragwang if proper and prayer are offered to Him.

12. No concept of Hell :

There is no concept of hell in TRC belief. Taroigwang will punish the evil doers of the human world when they come to the land of the dead.

13. Calling of Soul :

The Zeliangrong people have the practice of Bukaomei ritual which implies calling of soul. The objective of this ritual is to return the soul to its original place, human body. Sometimes, soul goes out of body because of startling news or action caused by accident or unexpected events.

14. Ritual for Restoration of Soul :

When human soul is detained by Taroigwang, a ritual called, Taroijaimei Thoumung is performed by a priest beseeching him to release the captured soul.

15. Where does the soul go out of the body after death ?

It is believed that the soul goes out through nine natural openings of the body after death. they are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, penis and anus. If the soul goes out of the eyes, his eyes open alive, his mouth open wide so and so forth.

Therefore, as soon as, a man dies, efforts are made to check up whether his mouth and eyes are in normal shape. It is also believed that good soul departs from the crown as exception whereas a sinful soul goes out through penis or anus after death.

16. Unnatural dead soul :

Unnatural death soul means one who commits suicide by consumption of poison, hanging, jumping down from a tree etc. Such soul is denied to access to the abode of Tingkao Ragwang as a divine punishment. So, the soul shows signs of mental anguish and haunts the human being. Such act of suicide is a great crime and immorality.


* Chaoba Kamson wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is General Secretary, Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom, Assam, Manipur & Nagaland.
This article was posted on December 27, 2011.

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