Love Story of Tonu Laijing Lembi : A Scientific Perspective

Raghu Ningthoujam *

----"Revival of the love story of Tonu Laijing Lembi & Kadeng Thangja Hanba in the light of modern science"----

Tonu Laijing Lembi & Kadeng Thangja Hanba of Moirang Kangleirol from the history of Manipur state (erstwhile Kangleipak) are considered to have lived in the 12th century in the timeline of 1138-1210 AD, during the reign of Moirang king Iwang Puriklai Laijing Punsiba.

The legendary hero & heroine could not fulfill their wishes of happy union, but was it possible to keep their love trapped inside the long stretch of king's fortress...??? Let's have a look of its scientific perspective.

Who were Tonu Laijing Lembi and Kadeng Thangja Hanba..?

Ancient Moirang of Kangleipak (modern Manipur state) was full of fascinating love stories of various incarnations of Gods & Goddess. Tonu Laijing Lembi & Kadeng Thangja Hanba were famous heroine and hero for one of the incarnations in the epic love stories of Moirang Kangleirol.

Kadeng Thangja Hanba was a courtier of the ancient Moirang king Iwang Puriklai Laijing Punsiba Ningthou in Moirang, who is considered to have ruled Moirang during 1138-1210 AD. Tonu Laijing Lembi was a very beautiful girl and the only daughter of Laijing Lakpa, another courtier of the king.

Kadeng felt in love with Tonu at his first sight and they were in love. The lemans (sabi-sanou) prayed god & goddess to bless them for a happy union of their love. However, destiny has written the other way.

What was their love story about...?

During the reign of the king Iwang Puriklai Laijing Punsiba Ningthou, a serious drought and famine visited Moirang for long 3 years. As a measure of relief, the king Laijing Ningthou prayed to Gods. Lord Thangjing Koirellai gave the prophecies that to relieve from the natural calamities caused by famine and others, one hundred varieties of animals and one hundred varieties of fishes (which shows richness of bio-diversity of then Manipur) had to be offered to Him.

To fulfil the divine orders of God, the king ordered the courtiers to expedite a mission. Kadeng along with other king's men set out the mission.

On the previous day of the expedition, Tonu and Kadeng met each other. Tonu was very sad but being helpless, she consoled herself by presenting a heartily prepared Lei-Nachom (a small bunch of flower) to Kadeng and requested him to take it as herself. She reminded Kadeng that if the flower withered suddenly then presumed that misfortune had come to her. She wished Kadeng to bring deer for her. Kadeng told that he will make her wish to be fulfilled.

Thus, during the expedition, the legendary hero Kadeng Thangjahanba of Moirang captured a deer from Torbung Lamjao for a gift to his beloved Tonu Laijinglembi, to fulfil her wish. However, he suddenly noticed withering of Lei-Nachom which was presented by Tonu. Kadeng was so tense and immediately he returned to Moirang.

As fate would have it, he found his beloved Tonu Laijinglembi was got married to the king on his return. The heartbroken Kadeng released the deer free in the wild of Keibul Lamjao. From that time onwards the deer was known as Sangai (animal-in-waiting as if Kadeng was waiting for Tonu ever and vice-versa) and the place became the home of Sangai.

Also, on return to Moirang, Kadeng came to know about Tonu's abduction by the king and her circumstantial marriage to the king unwillingly. On hearing, Kadeng was completely shattered with the happenings. However, he was helpless. Thus, Tonu spent her life inside the royal palace surrounded by stretches of fort all around. Tonu was always under the influence of king inside the palace.

Though Tonu spent her life in the mansion, she was never happy there and she was in constant thought of Kadeng. On the other hand, Tonu did not have enough courage (energy) to overcome the huge fort (barrier) but she fondly remembers Kadeng always and never forgot Kadeng at heart. Was there any other means for Tonu to emerge out of the mighty fort? Have a look later!

On the other side, Kadeng was fully dejected and was also not having means to meet Tonu by overcoming the royal fort. Thus, Kadeng spent his life in fond memory of his beloved Tonu. Years pass by, heartbroken Kadeng was seriously ill and he died after sometime in memory of Tonu. He never forgot Tonu till the last moment of his life.

Today, Tonu and Kadeng are no more. They could not fulfil their wishes of happy union. But, their true love at heart can never be separated by any physical barrier (the thick & tall fort of the king). How is it possible? Let's have a look from the scientific analogy and perspective.

What does Science say?

In order to explain and correlate the love story of Tonu & Kadeng with science, let's consider first a ball rolling from one side of a valley to the other side of valley over a hill. If the ball has enough energy (E) to overcome the potential energy (V) at the top of the barrier, then it can roll from one side of the valley to the other side. Classically, if the ball does not have enough kinetic energy (E<V), to overcome the barrier it will never roll from one side of the valley to the other side.

However, when quantum effects are taken into effect, the ball, even if its kinetic energy is less than the potential energy of the barrier to the top of one of the hills, can have some probability of appearing on the other side of the hill. The ambiguity between classical and quantum effects arise due to wave-particle duality of objects.

 quantum effects

Now, let's consider an intricate process called Alpha decay or α-decay which is a type of radioactive decay in which the atomic nucleus emits an alpha particle thereby transforming or decaying into a new atomic nucleus. An alpha particle consists of two protons and two neutrons and hence it is also known as a helium nucleus. Alpha decay occurs in very heavy elements with Z ≥ 81 like uranium, thorium, and radium. The nuclei of these heavy elements are called parent nucleus and they are basically unstable.

Thus, emitting its two protons and two neutrons in the form of an alpha particle and they attain a very stable configuration. The kinetic energy of these emitted alpha particles are of the order of 8 MeV and they are trapped inside the potential with a Coulomb barrier of about 26 MeV.

Thus, classically, alpha particles can never come out of the Coulomb barrier (as 8 MeV < 26 MeV) and will be permanently trapped inside the nuclear well. However, quantum mechanically, alpha particles find a way to come out of the barrier trap and make themselves available outside the barrier. How it is possible?

Tunneling: The Rescuer

This problem is quantum mechanical problem of a particle with energy E that is confined in a box which has a barrier of height V > E. While solving the problem using Schrödinger equation, there is some probability of finding the particles on the other side of the barrier! It is assumed that the alpha particle in the nuclear well is in constant to and fro motion.

The motion is confined to the region surrounded by the potential barrier. Therefore, it is associated with a standing wave. Thus, beginning as a sinusoidal wave, a particle begins penetrating through the barrier and goes into exponential decay until it exits the barrier and emerges out the other side as a final sinusoidal wave with a smaller amplitude.

The energy of the tunneled particle is the same but the amplitude is decreased. The probability, P, of finding the particle on the other side of the potential energy barrier, is found as:
P = exp [(−4aπ/h) * {2m(V−E)}^(1/2) ] with E<V
Where V is the potential barrier,
E is the kinetic energy possessed by the particle,
a is the thickness of the barrier,
m is mass of the particle and
h is Plank's constant.

Therefore, there is finite probability (P ≠ 0) of finding the object on the other side of the barrier, though small. This is called Tunneling phenomena in quantum mechanics.

Love never dies: it cannot be trapped inside

Thus, in nuclear Alpha decay, the wave function representing alpha particle must vary smoothly with sinusoidal waveform, going from within the nucleus to outside the nucleus. Inside the Coulomb barrier, the wave function does not abruptly become zero (never dies); rather, it decreases exponentially. Outside the barrier, the wave function is small but finite, and there it smoothly becomes sinusoidal.

Thus, the particle can tunnel through the barrier and hence there is a small probability of finding the alpha particle outside the Coulomb barrier. Thus, by virtue of wave-particle duality, everything happens as if the wave representing the particle, is digging a 'tunnel' through the barrier of potential to move across on the other side of the barrier.

The particle(s) can never be stopped from tunneling by whatever massive the barrier is! There is always non-zero (non-stoppable) probability which signifies that love never dies.

Tonu Kadeng love story vis a vis Quantum Tunneling...?

Having seen the above aspects, the undying love story of Tonu & kadeng can be best fitted to happenings of radioactive alpha decay which can only be explained by quantum mechanical Tunneling phenomenon.

 radioactive alpha decay

The undeliberate and circumstantial marriage of Tonu to the king is equivalent to sudden decay of alpha particles and then got trapped in the well of nuclear potential (king). The nuclear potential is like the king and the massive coulomb barrier is equivalent to the thick and tall royal fort (barrier).

Tonu Laijing Lembi is equivalent to Alpha particle which is a free particle & allowed to move freely only inside the potential well (premises of the mansion) but was always under the influence (supervision) of the potential (king). Tonu (alpha particle) was not having sufficient energy (like 8 Mev < 26 MeV) to overcome the coulomb barrier (royal fort). Thus, Tonu (alpha particle) was forced to live inside the mansion unwillfuly, but Tonu was never happy and was in constant thought of Kadeng.

This is equivalent to the constant to and fro motion of alpha particles inside the nuclear well. Tonu's life was confined to the region surrounded all over by the royal fort, and was not allowed classically any interaction with outside environment. This is equivalent to confinement of the motion of alpha particle to the region surrounded by the potential barrier.

Thus, Tonu's life was associated with Standing (Romantic) waves like the standing waves associated with alpha particle. However, these romantic waves are unstoppable and are able to propagate through the massive Coulomb barrier (royal fort) by the means of quantum mechanical Tunneling and it emerges from the barrier as a progressive wave with a small amplitude, which means that Tonu (or Kadeng) had manifested herself (himself) to wave and make a way somehow by tunneling through the massive Coulomb barrier (royal fort), with a very small finite non-zero probability.

Thus, tunneling of (romantic) waves of Tonu (or Kadeng) through any barrier is a natural process by virtue of physical laws of Quantum mechanics and no barrier could stop it. This helps them to reach each other making unforgettable of each other till the last moment of their lives. The love cannot be kept trapped inside the well by the king.

This feeble non-zero finite probability outside the barrier signifies the enduring love i.e. Love never dies ... They could not fulfill their wishes but can never be separated at hearts by any odds.

Today, they are no more, but the glory of their true love remains forever and nothing could change their devotions for each other.

* Raghu Ningthoujam wrote this article for
The writer is a Scientist currently serving at Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
(Alumni of IISc Bangalore, IIT-Guwahati, DM College of Science Imphal
The writer can be contacted at raghumeetei(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on July 24 2020 .

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