Raja Dumbragi Jeevan Charitra :: Part 3
Author: Moirangthem Tomcha Singh

James Oinam *

 Cover Illustration of Raja Dumbragi Jeevan Charitra
Cover Illustration of 'Raja Dumbragi Jeevan Charitra'

Raja Dumbragi Jeevan Charitra: Part 3
[The Nature of King Dumbra’s Life]
By Moirangthem Tomcha Singh

Rinda Library and Preservation Foundation, Manipur
First Published: September 30, 2008
Publisher: Rajen Khumukcham
No. of Copies: 501
Price: Rs 30
Printer: B.S. Printing Press, Sagolband Road, Nipa Keithel, Near Arian Theatre, Imphal

In mid September 1891, one day sound of Pakhangba was heard in the inner big drain of grandfather Ramananda's garden. Early morning Pakhangba appeared in in awang-chingkhei (north-east) direction. Flower and rice were offered. Grandfather Ramananda called out his grandsons and asked them to pray.

Four days later, in the morning, Political Agent Colonel Maxwell, Pukar Mani and few Meitei dignitaries came to Grandfather Ramananda. On the courtyard "tangbah" was put ("phabangji with white cloth over it").

At that time Raja Dumdra Singh was only 20. Grandfather Ramananda called out grandchildren and introduced them. They had come to discuss who should be the king. Child Churachand could be influenced, hence preferred. However, it is claimed that 6-year-old Churachand came and sat on the "tangban" without no one asking him to do so, while others sat on "pharanji". Political Agent showed due respect with a smile.

They returned happily. On September 18, 1891, 6 years and 5 months old Churachand (later on Meidingu huyen langjan phaba [coming of age?] called Sir Churachand Singh KCSI CBE) was given the title "Raja" by Governor General in Council. On September 29, 1892, he was declared king of Manipur as per tradition.

Not long after visit of Colonel Maxwell in 1891, along with mother Shija Lalita Manjuri and brothers and sisters Raja Dumdra Singh moved to what is now known as Purana Rajbari. Raja Dumdra Singh became guardian of his brothers and sisters. In that place, "mantup" and temples were built. Brahmin colony Rajpurohit (known to be the oldest purohit) was established. Shri Shri Govindji was set up and served.

To the west of the temple, a golden sagai (hamlock?) was built. To the north of the temple, sagai for Raja Dumdra Singh was built (not far from the temple). To the east, sagai for other brothers were built.

Beginning 1892, people were released from slavery. Lallup for 10 days each for the king was abrogated. Instead of lallup, Rs 2 per year was given for service (yumkok yeiba). In 1897-98, for the first time "hal jarip" (ploughing) was done.

In 1899 Rs 2 per head per year was abolished. Instead tax was collected set at Rs 2 per head per year in the valley and Rs 3 in hills for 1 acre of land. Sons of Brahmins and ningthem (royal blood?) were not taxed declared Assam Chief Commissioner on April 18, 1898. That year cholera was widespread. Many people died. Grass grew on roads and doors were locked at sunset.

In 1895 young Raja Churachand Singh went to Mayor College for studies. Political Agent also acting as Superintendent ruled on major matters. Later, an ICS came to act as Superintendent. From the side of the king, Raja Dumdra Singh acted as guardian and looked at matters including custom, religion, and tradition.

Some events during the rule of the Political Agent, Superintendent, and Raja Dumbra Singh:
1. In 1896, Colonel Maxwell and Burmese Captain Memaksha discussed borders with Kongkam Thanaga.
2. On February 3, 1898, Assam Chief Commissioner Mr Quinn came to see Manipur and watched festivities of Meitei. Raja Dumdra Singh discussed with elders on following matters:
(a) To relocate to the old palace.
(b) To write off taxes of Brahmins and ningthem.

Chief Commissioner after discussion with the Political Agent expressed unwillingness regarding relocation to the old palace. A palace was proposed to be built on north of Johnstone School and Ngowarkhan (after going through khuyathong).

The Political Agent was told to write a note regarding the same (mainly regarding numbers 1 and 2). On April 12, 1898, the Political Agent sent the note. British soldiers were to be kept in the old palace; hence, it was not given. Also, it was claimed that it can be had by repaying the cost incurred by the British in reconstruction.

In 1898, Angom land, Brahmin land (in 1891 many left during the war leaving the land vacant) and ground of Guru were used for construction of palace. British engineers presented many designs out of which one was selected to build today's Rajbari. In 1905, the construction was completed. From old Rajbari, Shri Shri Govindji was shifted. Festivities were organized.

3. In 1892, Kuki attacked Chingjaroi village. In 1897 Somnga village started rebellion. The village was burnt. In 1904 tribal rebellion began. Superintendent Mr Uller taking Meitei soldiers destroyed villages and captured the king. In 1905, Political Agent Mr Makespear taking Meitei soldiers burnt Khoirao tribal village.

4. In 1903, Raja Dumbra Singh attended Delhi Durbar with Raja Churachand.

5. In 1904, Viceroy of India Lord Frazen (Lord Curzon?) came to Manipur. In Thangapat of old Rajbari boat race was organized.

6. In 1904, at midnight Hapta Bangla got burned. The Political Agent held Meiteis responsible and asked one man from each house bringing some item should build it again. Few women led by Samujaobi protested. Even king's lallup has been abolished, why should their husband go to lallup for sahib. The government relented and built it again with bricks on its own.

7. On November 22, 1904, Commander-in-Chief of India Lord Kitchener came to see Manipur.

8. Laws were made for law and order and powers given to appropriate authorities. Assam's governor was made the head.

9. On May 15, 1907, Raja Dumbra Singh came of age (nabalak oikhi). On February 4, 1908, Lieutenant Governor of West Bengal and Assam Sir Lancelot came to Manipur and gave the throne to Raja Dumbra Singh. Maharaj Churachand was made the head.

Five senior Meiteis were made members of newly established Durbar. West Bengal and Assam government sent an ICS British officer as vice president. Till today it is remembered as 8-member Durbar. Raja Dumbra Singh as a member ruled the land.

To be continued....

* James Oinam wrote this book translation for
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on August 29 2023.

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