TODAY -

On the reconstruction of Manipuri history

Pooja Elangbam *

A statue of Pakhangba at Ningthem Pukhri Mapal on the Imoinu night on Dec 31 2006 :: pix - Ranjan Yumnam
A statue of Pakhangba at Ningthem Pukhri Mapal on the Imoinu night on 2006 :: pix - Ranjan Yumnam



Having studied Indian History for two years, I was hard-pressed to find any mention of the histories of north-east India. The term north-east India is itself a misnomer considering how diverse the traditions and culture of different groups of the respective region is but for the sake of convenience, the term may be retained while referring to the whole of the region.

But if we decide to get into regional histories, we would have to pick up individual strands such as Manipuri history, Ahom history and so on and so forth. The reason (which is a perfectly good excuse to leave out huge chunks of the history of a significant population of India) given by Indian universities for not including the histories of the north-east is that they have not been adequately researched or written about which, unfortunately, is true to some extent.

Taking the case of Manipuri history (because this is the one I am familiar with), we will find that the Cheitharol Kumbaba(Royal Chronicle),which is of one of the major sources of history, is a list of genealogy of kings of the Ningthouja clan that ruled Manipur and most of the accounts are fantastical records of myths and legends which are used to legitimize the divine rights of kings by raising their ancestral kings especially Nongda Lairen Pakhangba to the status of God.

This kind of legitimization and justification is not confined to Manipur but it can be found in many other parts of India where the king is projected as incarnation of Rama, Krishna and other gods.

At the same time, Cheitharol Kumbaba being a court chronicle must have been written to please the ruling family and therefore there will be an exaggeration of the generous qualities of the kings. It is pertinent to find out when this chronicle was first written down to get a better understanding of the social, political and economic conditions of that period.

History writing is no longer confined to narrative history of kings and the royal skirmishes and battles, we need to examine the social and political conditions under which the Ningthouja clan is supposed to have unified(or subordinated) the other clans and to have emerged as the ruling clan.

In most probability(as some of the esteemed scholars of Manipuri history have surmised), the Ningthouja clan gained ascendency after winning important battles against the other independent principalities so it was military superiority that enabled its rise to power.

There are many questions that need to be asked at this point-
Was it a war state?
Was the kingdom of Manipur well-defined?
Was it organized on a military footing?
How was the control over the defeated principalities exercised?
What kind of an administration was set up?

All these questions need to be re-asked at crucial periods of Manipuri history to mark important changes that might have come about.

British writing of Indian history in general condemned India as uncivilized and negates the idea of the process of evolution of institutions of not just the state but other aspects of society. They also dismissed the indigenous sources of history as un-historical because they dealt mainly with accounts of only myths and legends and not facts and figures.

This view has been discarded by the scholarship that has emerged-post Independence and this critical analysis may be applied to the study and research of Manipuri history. Instead of confining ourselves to the stories that we find in our sources, we can read between the lines and try to interpret the kind of society and political order that existed.

What was the role of women in society? There is a common consensus that women in Manipuri society were given far more freedom than those in other communities of India. But this needs to be backed up by evidence. It is important to ask if the freedom of the women included economic freedom such as right to own property, individual freedom such as right to choice of husband otherwise the so-called freedom would be limited.

It is also important to understand the process of Sanskritization of Manipuri culture in the 18th and 19th centuries with the advent of Vaishnavism and the adoption of Vaishnavism as state religion. So at this point could the state be called a theocratic state? Did mass conversion and proselytisation take place? Was this mass conversion sanctioned by the state or other non-state institutions?

The fact that the name of kings like Garib Niwaz meaning “King of the Poor people” is a distinctly Hindu name suggests a syncretisation and interaction with other Hindu communities? Does it suggest that Manipur was under the ambit of a pan-Indian Sanskrit culture to some extent? The outcome of the amalgamation of the indigenous culture of Manipur and the pan-Indian Hindu culture is what we still practice in our times and it would be interesting to trace the process of evolution.

The new generation needs to take the torch from the previous generation of historians and make further inroads into the study of regional history by not just delineating the chronology of kings but by trying to paint a larger picture of the civilization that existed and has passed on its traditions to us in the 21st centuries.


* Pooja Elangbam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a student of St. Stephens College, Delhi University and can be contacted at poojaelangbam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on July 04, 2013.



* 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 e-pao.net. 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.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • NEROCA, 2nd Div League winner:: Gallery
  • Thounaojam Loiyangamba :: Gallery
  • Nachom Arts Residency #1 :: Gallery
  • Bombing of a bridge in 1944 during WWII
  • Road side hawker culture in Khwairamband
  • Maharaja Bodhachandra Samadhi :: 360 °
  • Jadhav case: Return to India will need more
  • Admission Counselling in NE, Delhi
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Letting professionals run DIPR
  • Articulating freedom of speech
  • HSE 2017 : Toppers in Science :: Gallery
  • CCpur victims laid to rest :: Gallery
  • Class XII result announced :: Gallery
  • 2nd Startup Weekend Imphal
  • Interdependence is key to #endTB
  • Urban flood effective mgmt strategies #2
  • Public Meet resolves No Oil Exploration
  • UG admission info for Delhi University 2017
  • College Principals' Conference at NEHU
  • Mortal remains of CCpur victims laid to rest
  • Redefining Manipuri Hindu
  • Last rites of CCpur bodies performed
  • Private tuition : Financial burden on parents
  • Nungbi Chaphu - Ukhrul Pottery :: Gallery
  • International Yoga Day #1 :: Gallery
  • New Government, New Hope #2
  • Auditorium of High Court of Manipur :: 360 °
  • Book publishing as a career option
  • Simplifying the pursuit of happiness
  • Shirui festival: Let us not go with words..
  • Count pigeons around you
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Hill dists : Lagging in Science stream
  • The lesser truth of National media
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Science Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Arts Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Commerce Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Science Stream
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Arts Stream
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Commerce Stream
  • Barak Spring Festival @Senapati :: Gallery
  • Phalneilhing, Sinchui :: eMing
  • Incarnations of Goddess Nongthang Leima
  • Ebudhou Thanjing Laishang #1 :: 360 °
  • Media & Contemporary Manipuri Society #2
  • Cleaning up the air we breathe
  • 'Maj Rati Keteki', an author's insight
  • SC notices in Biren son case
  • Army act extended by six months
  • Timely acted, but need to rethink...
  • Lamkang Cultural Day @Chandel :: Gallery
  • Ambassador Of Japan with CM :: Gallery
  • JNIMS Ortho scripts history
  • Indigenous people are ST, so are Meeteis
  • Grooming security experts in admin service
  • Parents are supposed to be cheer leaders ..
  • Applauds CM for Building Peace & Harmony
  • 2 trucks carrying logs seized
  • Japan to invite 25 people from Manipur
  • Bomb blasts rock border town in Manipur
  • Shirui Lily Festival, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • 73rd anniv of Battle of Imphal :: Gallery
  • Nachom Arts : Encouraging Artists
  • Manipur: In the waiting room of justice
  • Cheiraoba Ching Kaba :: 360 ° View
  • Of storms, flying saucers & lazy thoughts
  • Anti-Terrorism day observed
  • Ex-Servicemen Meet organised
  • Managing natural resources
  • Ksh Bhaktakumar- Mr India 2017:: Gallery
  • Tanglei Music Festival :: Gallery
  • Effort To Bridge The Hills And Valley
  • Colloquium: Japanese Culture & Nationalism
  • Meet rejects oil exploration at Khaidem
  • Training on Service Marketing in Healthcare
  • Illegal migrant detection with 1951 cut-off
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Ghost of 2010 continues to haunt
  • Brahmacharimayum Roji - Actress :: eRang
  • Handloom @Temporary Market #1:: Gallery
  • New Government, New Hope #1
  • Nightmares of event management
  • Big data for big impact
  • Free Counselling & Awareness Program
  • One belt one road
  • Jobs: Counseller for Family Court, Ukhrul
  • Sadar Hills Demand 2011-2017 : Timeline
  • Total shutdown against blast in Moreh
  • Tribals reject MoU signed- govt, JACAATB
  • Naga Hoho appeals NIA over arrests
  • First visible step to check corruption
  • International Dance Day :: Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai @Majorkhul #2 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Children Club:: 360 ° View
  • Take smart choice before admissions
  • Love one another ... for living together
  • Shirui Lily Fest off to a grand start
  • On Shirui festival
  • Seminar on 'Life of Gangmumei Kamei' #2
  • Shirui Lily Fest @Shirui, Ukhrul #1 :: Gallery
  • Civil Service Tennis Tournament :: Gallery
  • Barak(Spring) Festival at Senapati
  • When will India cashless island go cashless
  • The winsomeness of human mind
  • Jobs at NIELIT centers
  • Aadhar Registration & Distribution Program
  • Work starts on Trilateral Highway in Myanmar
  • AI plans NE expansion, to inject more flights
  • People's Day Bridging the gap
  • Reality bite - something seems fishy
  • Meeyamgi Numit hosted by CM :: Gallery
  • Andro AMMA FC : Winner of Doon Cup 2017
  • How great is my mother's love for me
  • Boat House, Kangla :: 360 ° View
  • Pinch of love :: Poem
  • Fingerprint & Iris code for Aadhaar
  • Sharmila solidarity with Africans
  • Trust deficit in Framework Agreement
  • Equality in place of majoritarianism
  • A hope for better Manipur
  • Kangleipak Kang Trophy #3:: Gallery
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #2 :: Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai : Festival of Zeliangrong
  • Fishery as an agenda for Barak Festival
  • Supermom :: Poem
  • 2nd Startup Weekend Imphal
  • May Day #2 :: Essay
  • For inclusion of Meitei in ST category
  • Hands that rock the cradle rule the world
  • Film Personalities #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Handicrafts of the Zeliangrong #2
  • High Court of Manipur :: 360 ° View
  • From head-hunters into money-hunters
  • Importance of dialectic in Philosophy
  • Binalakshmi Nepram threatened by Police
  • Cleanliness drive conducted at CCpur
  • Gudui Ngai @Majorkhul #1 :: Gallery
  • Bringing TB out of the shadows
  • Women are the salt of the earth
  • Superstition and its side-effects
  • Temples of learning
  • Guidelines of play schools
  • Bucket of cold water after a hot shower
  • Breaking the barrier
  • Lai Lamthokpa @Yaiskul #2 :: Gallery
  • MIMS (MU) - ManFete #4 :: Gallery
  • Impact of October Revolution Manipur #2
  • Bir Tikendrajit Park :: 360 °
  • Nurses are heart beat of healthcare
  • Go to the hill districts too
  • Beginning of a new era; but ...
  • Seminar on 'Life of Gangmumei Kamei' #1
  • OORJA football Closing ceremony :: Gallery
  • May 10, 1942: first bomb hit Imphal in WW2
  • Manipur killings: Amicus Curiae on Army...
  • A white paper on good governance
  • Butterfly a living parable of resurrection
  • Global Manipuri Mega Photo Contest
  • Inquiry on "School Van accident"
  • Inking an MoU with CCpur JAC
  • Calls for human security
  • Laishram Lalitabi - Actress :: eRang
  • Manipur & Nagaland CMs :: Gallery
  • Cheirao Ching Kaba #1 :: 360 ° Photo
  • MLA - defection politics in Manipur
  • Japan interest to develop Education in NE
  • CM floral tribute to Martyred Jawans
  • More than a 'courtesy call'
  • Development & security matters
  • Thongjao potters adapt to modern reqt
  • Prize Distribution- MU Sports :: Gallery
  • Handicrafts of the Zeliangrong #1
  • Imphal Intl Airport : How International?
  • The mystery of nine :: Poem
  • RIST popular talk 29 - Molecular Electronics
  • 122nd rank in the list of cleanliness
  • Consumers' rights
  • Sagol Kangjei Exhibition :: Gallery
  • Musuem, Kangla :: 360 ° photo
  • Keeping workforce healthy-smart business
  • Brief story of Karl Marx (199th Birth Anniv)
  • Manipuri resurgence & Jewish lessons
  • Visit of Japanese Ambassador to MU
  • Poems released at Barapani, Meghalaya
  • CMD, NHPC Visit to Loktak Power Station
  • Right venue for seminar on bridging the gap
  • Landscape of Manipur #6: Wallpaper
  • Lai Lamthokpa @Yaiskul #1 :: Gallery
  • Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon #1 :: Gallery
  • Arbind Soibam - Emerging Singer :: eRang
  • MIMS (MU) - ManFete #3 :: Gallery
  • Traditional Thabal @Pourabi :: Gallery
  • Henjunaha - A folk play :: Gallery
  • The Mighty Mystic Manipuri Women
  • Arambai show #2:: Gallery
  • Shakuhachi meets Pena, Manipur & Japan
  • Laishram Birendrakumar recieve Padmashri
  • Kei Onba Kom Gi Eshing :: Funga Wari
  • 'Nura Pakhang'(Video) @Portugal:: Gallery
  • Mr India 2017- Ksh Bhaktakumar :: Gallery
  • Purul, Senapati :: 360 View Panorama
  • Ethoi Oinam #1 (Actress) :: eRang
  • CM N Biren visit to Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #4 : Ooba
  • Nungshiba Khongel @Sylhet :: Gallery
  • Maphou Dam :: 360 View Panorama
  • SPONSORED ADS