An ancient kingdom called Manipur

H Bhuban Singh *

Geographically, the Indian State of Manipur can be divided into two distinct areas - namely, (a) Hill areas and (b) Valley areas. Areawise, the hill and valley are as under:- Valley - 2352
Total area 22,347

2. Thus, we can see that the valley is one-tenth and the hills occupy nine-tenths of Manipur. The valley is inhabited mainly though not totally, by Manipuri Hindus, known colloquially as Meiteis and hills are occupied by tribal peoples only.

3. The independent Kingdom of Manipur came under British rule after defeat at the Battle of Khongjom fought on April 23-25, 1891. My grand-father fought in that battle. Since grandpa died in 1934 at the age of 68, I had very faint memory of him, as I was about six years of age only, at the time of grand-pa's death.

4. But my brother, Captain (Dr.) Baruni Singh, a Second World War veteran, who was born in March 1914 had good interaction with grandpa. Through stories told at Phunga (fire-place) known as Phunga Wari (fire-place-stories), we came to learn that the British Indian Army had Meiteilon (Manipuri language) speaking troops, and they used to advise grandfather and other Manipuri troops to run away from the battlefield since the British had canons and Enfield rifles. Indeed, it was true, because the British Indian Army had Subedar Khelendra Singh, a Manipuri from Silchar town of Cachar District of Assam and others. The British had come prepared for all eventualities.

5. Our peoples used to sing paeans that Manipur was and is still a golden country (Sana Leipak). Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru praised Manipur as 'Jewel of India'. Indeed, Manipur deserves to be praised in such a manner. I am writing this article in the last week of June without my ceiling fan rotating. The climate of Manipur is simply superb. I am told that the mid-day temperature of New Delhi is about 45 degree Celsius.

6. Further, tiny Imphal valley is encircled by nine ranges of hills. Thus, the hill areas and the valley areas are held together as one solid block of land-mass. So, earthquakes find it difficult to shake the total land mass - the hills and the valley blocks together. Only mild tremors sometimes come feebly. There were no cyclones, no tsunami, no tornado, no earthquake etc. because the hill ranges block all . Thus, we indulge in sending relief materials to Andhra Pradesh or West Bengal cyclone victims or Maharashtra earthquake victims.

7. Manipur had suffered economic blockades many a times for days, weeks and months. But Manipuris could not careless about those silly economic blockades. The only thing that happened was that NSCN (I-M) had lost their taxes in crores of rupees per month. I feel very very happy at the financial loss to NSCN (I-M) even though we are also suffering.

9. Manipuri food-items are such that we can live very well without mustard oil, ghee, onions, garlic, spices etc. and also without cooking-gas. In fact, foods cooked by fire-wood or charcoal are far tastier. All that Manipuri Meiteis need, are chillies, salt and rice - three items only. Vegetables are aplenty since Imphal Valley is a very fertile area. Of course, sun-dried/smoked - fishes like what the Eskimos of Iceland or of Alaska (USA) or Scottish Highlanders of the U.K. also eat, are welcome, but not essential.

10. Since living is very cheap, climatic conditions salubrious, Manipuris indulge in self-taught creative arts. For example, the late Rajkumar Chitrasen Singh (RKCS) was a painter of repute without a Guru or teacher. RKCS Arts Gallery at Keishamthong Imphal has attracted many VVIPs from India and abroad.

11. Similarly, my cousin brother the late Haobam Shyamsunder Singh of Chingakham Leirak, Moirangkhom, Imphal, was a self-taught painter, sculptor and artist of repute, though he had an ordinary qualification of Bachelor of Arts (BA) of Calcutta University plus a short Diploma Course on painting from Shantiniketan University. During those days of early 1930s, there were the University of Calcutta and the University of Dacca only, in the entire NE India.

12. When I passed my Matriculation examination, prior to Indian Independence, the total number of universities in India were only nineteen. Now, there must be hundreds of universities / deemed universities.

13. Brother Shyamo, as he was popularly known to the public of Imphal, always indulged in criticizing almost all the celebrities of Imphal public as bunkums and idiotic peoples. Anyway, I loved to hear cousin brother Shyamo talking about the silly and stupid Imphalites of Meitei society. Any way, he rose to become the Principal of Imphal Arts College. His paintings and sculptures had taken part in International exhibitions like in Tokyo. I offer my obeisance to the late Shyamsunder Singh.

14. Perhaps because of Mother Nature's abundant gift, Manipuris indulged in wives-hunting etc. For example, my grand-father who faught in the Battle of Khongjom (para 3 above) had two wives. My father (grandpa's eldest son) had three wives. So, I had three mothers, all living together under one roof!!!

15. Unfortunately my eldest step-mother, Tonsana Devi's only son died young. She did not have any more issue. My mother, Chandani Devi was father's wife number two. My mother had two sons and two daughters. All had died except me. My last step-mother had one daughter. This step-sister of mine, Chongtham Ongbi Ruhini Devi of Chingamakha Chongtham Leikai, Imphal had also died.

Thus, I am the only surviving child of my father. I am telling these stories about the kinks in the behaviour of Manipuri males with examples like that of my grand-father, my father etc. indulging in polygamous habits, simply because examples from other families will draw flakes from the allegedly offended families. But these polygamous habits of Meitei aristocrats are universal. One Maharaja of Patiala was reputed to have more than on hundred Queens. It must be a terribly long wait for the Queens lasting for months for the their turns to sleep with the Maharaja.

16. During those ancient days, the Kingdom of Manipur had to fight constant rebellions fomented by our own Princes, or fight attacks by Burma or wars with Kingdoms of Cachar or of Tripura. Thus, we needed more male population for soldiering and dying. As a result, procreation by the dozens through polygamy and gala-hunting were the favourite past-times.

17. Thus, Meiteis indulged in Lai-Haraoba (worship of sylvan deity), normally held after harvesting. The kind of songs sung in these functions were very sexy during the pre-second world war days, when I was a young boy. Nowadays, songs sung in Lai-Haraoba functions are more respectable and decent.

18. One typical and spectacular weapon used by Meitei Kings was Arambai. It was a poisoned steel arrow with a small tail of fine ropes, for use as a swing like the chain of a hammer-thrower. We all know that the game of polo started from Manipur. Polo-horses or ponnies of Manipur were small in size, but very sturdy and absolutely fearless. Manipuri Cavalry troops riding these ponnies, hid themselves behind the trunk or body of the animal on one stirrup only and sling-shot the poisoned arambais, which came, as if from nowhere but from horses and the enemy got killed. The Burmese Army with whom we fought many wars, were mortally afraid of these arambais.

19. Maharaj Garibniwaz (1708-1748) conquered Burma upto Mandalay and to etch his conquest, he put a cut-mark by his sword on the main door of the famous Pagoda of Mandalay. The cut-mark was visible till about 1990s but on account of construction of modern four-lane/six-lane highways, the Pagoda had been dismantled and the main-door with cut-mark of the sword of Maharaja Garib Niwaz, had also disappeared in around 1990s.

20. The First World War (1914-18) was fought between Great Britain and Germany with their respective allies. Manipur also sent a contingent of troops of two thousand men raised under Colonel HWG Cole, the then Political Agent and helped the British forces in France. The contingent also included personnel of SMP (State Military Police) now renamed and expanded as Manipur Rifles of several battalions.

My maternal uncle, Khwairakpam Nabakishor Singh of Yaiskul, Yumnam Leikai, husband of my father's eldest sister also went along with the Manipur contingent to France. I think (though not very sure) the Manipur contingent was led by Captain Blackie, who was tutor-cumcompanion of Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh.

21. During the Second World War, Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh, KCSI CBE contributed a sum of Rs. 58,000/- in 1941 to the Brits to meet the cost of producing a fighter plane.

22. By 1941, Maharaja Churachand Singh's health was failing. A devout Hindu, that he was, he felt a strong desire to die at a holy place. He selected Nabadwip, where there was a Royal Enclave. There he awaited his death. When his end was approaching, he abdicated his throne in favour of his eldest son, Yuberaj Bodhchandra Singh in September 1941. Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh died on 5 November 1941 and was cremated at Nabadwip.

23. The coronation of Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh and of Maharani Iswari Devi a Nepali Princess took place on 1st April 1942. I was one of the eye-witnesses of that Coronation function. I saw the Maharaja and the Maharani in tribal dresses. After the Coronation function, both of them retired into a thatched house with thick grass roofing and walls, decorated with the head of a bison or buffalo with horns at the ridge of entrance door.

This conclusively proves that Meiteis had tribal origin before Hinduaisation. The only difference now is that most of the Meiteis have become Hindus and most of tribal peoples have become Christians. But we must never forget that our origin is the same- ethnically, linguistically and racially.

*** NB :: This article was written during the economic blockade in the NH-39 during July/August 2010.

* H Bhuban Singh wrote this article for Huieyen Lanpao (English Edition) . This article was webcasted on October 29, 2010.

* 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.

  • Sangai Day 10: Closing #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 10: Crowd scene :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Will Thailand lead in antimicrobial resistance
  • Webninar @NEHU : India-Japan Relations
  • Keeping up with time :: Poem
  • World AIDS Day 2022 at Tamenglong
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Doctor-Govt stalemate, public in peril
  • Progress of the Naga peace talk
  • Sangai Day 9: Dancing Drummers :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Aimol Dance :: Gallery
  • December Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • A flight of the Hornbill
  • Working with children as career
  • Stable situation essential for attracting tourist
  • Selling Manipur to outside world
  • Sangai Day 8: Shumang Leela :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Kom Dance :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Innocence :: Poem
  • Foreign Secy's Myanmar visit ... Naga peace
  • Cancellation of residential proof certs
  • Derelict teachers threat to govt schools
  • Many questions, but no answers
  • Sangai Day 8: Food Stall #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 7: Vaiphei Dance :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 1st & 2nd session of 12th Manipur Assembly
  • Organic seed production- Issue & strategy #3
  • IFFI means to upscale to Manipuri Cinema
  • Continuous bid to save endangered ponies
  • Arguments over ST : Meiteis are indigenes
  • Sangai Day 6: Elowe: Dzuko Valley :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 5: Khunung Eshei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Alligator weed: Indigenous fodder resource
  • Two lives :: Poem
  • People don't actually care !!
  • The beauty in tea
  • Healthy response to Sangai Fest
  • Lessons from Japanese fans at WC
  • Sangai Day 5: Fashion parade :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thangal Dance :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Masterclasses add value to 53rd IFFI at Goa
  • 7th Charuangc 2022 : Rongmei of Delhi-NCR
  • Miss India from Manipur
  • Startup Innovation Conclave 1.0
  • National Constitution Day at Lilong
  • Sangai Day 4: 3 Types Of Drums :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Chothe Dance :: Gallery
  • Involuntary Displacement in Manipur
  • Forgotten feature Film comes alive at IFFI
  • Will we protect medicines that protect us
  • God gives us our daily bread...
  • NPF consultative meeting at Zunheboto
  • Lapses in education laid bare by student
  • Adding a new flavour to War on Drugs
  • Sangai Day 3: Polo International :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Tangkhul Dance :: Gallery
  • 1st L. Keivom Memorial Day
  • Eina Khankhiba Natte : Movie Review
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Eight Meet of Astronomers concluded at MU
  • 'Manipuri films projecting Manipuri culture'
  • Condemn govts of Assam & Meghalaya
  • Corruption-free Manipur resolve under scrutiny
  • Asia at the World Cup
  • Sangai Day 2: Khutpak Chatkoi #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Tarao Dance :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Screening of Manipuri films at IFFI
  • Nagaland Govt has no economic policy: NPF
  • Organic seed production- Issue & strategy #2
  • Reinvent Northeast - Dimapur launched
  • Uneasy calm in northeast as border rows rage
  • FIFAWC and Sangai Festival : Splendid recipe
  • Ningol Chakkouba @ Pune :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Pune
  • Free mega health camp at Nagamapal
  • Outlaw glyphosate and its derivatives
  • Creators Meet of Tripura at Agartala
  • No respite from drug and tobacco threats
  • Manipur: Fountainhead of drugs ?
  • Sangai Day 1: Laihui Folk Music #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 1: Opening ceremony :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Copa Manipur at Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • South Asia's film market features Manipur
  • ST Demand: Decided by merits; not by poll
  • Ecotoxicology- needed to save living beings
  • 'Look East policy into Act East Policy'
  • Tourism promotional fest litmus test for state
  • Sangai & Pony, the twin face of Manipur
  • Tarpon Chaklen Katpa #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival 2022 :: Activities List
  • The Dream Kangleipak :: Book Review
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 53rd IFFI featuring Manipuri Cinema kicks off
  • World Toilet Day 2022
  • Pulicat Lagoon, Flamingos' haven
  • Amid substance abuse, thrust on open gym
  • FIFA World Cup 2022
  • 1st CM's Sagol Kangjei C'ship :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Sangai Fest as a way to Look East Policy
  • 1st Chief Minister's Sagol Kangjei C'ship
  • Organic seed production- Issue & strategy #1
  • For PM Modi, G20 has come at the right time
  • Rock band Arogya releases latest single
  • Community Ningol Chakouba #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Out of the heart comes the issues of life
  • NE Startup Showcase @ Manipur Tech Hub
  • Immortal Gallows :: Poem
  • Workshop on Amrita Meditation at RGU ArP
  • Skin Pigmentation in Winter
  • Influx issue headache for all indigenes
  • Wanted: Visionary leaders :: Follies of past
  • The changing idioms of Manipuri theatre
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • DFC Shillong launched with Model workshop
  • Antimicrobial resistance... to reverse progress
  • 2nd North East Olympic Games closes
  • Unending quota system & National excellence
  • Solar energy can help India achieve net-zero
  • Sangai Festival as launch pad for tourism
  • All eyes on Qatar
  • Manipur Journalist Awards #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Delegates for IFFI, Goa
  • Intellectual Class- First Line of Defense
  • Who are ST in true spirit of Constitution
  • Journalism is a public good ...
  • Vaccine transported through Drones in ArP
  • Mass tree felling depreciates existence...
  • ST demand : Let Delhi have the say
  • 5th Kwatha Festival #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • This Eleventh Edition of Sangai Festival
  • The garden of Kew #2
  • NE International Fashion Week 2022
  • Housing system for sow & piglets
  • Doctors grieving relentlessly, Govt silent
  • Law catching up after 21 years
  • Leima Jagoi @ Nongshaba #1 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Technology innovation Hub
  • North East BJP Karyakartas Sammelan
  • Supreme Court call for revisit of reservation
  • Rural Immersion Camp at West Kameng
  • World Diabetes Day 2022
  • Undeserving PDS rice beneficiaries
  • Leaving the doors wide open
  • On author, research & publication #3
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • MSAD : newly elected executives for 2022-23
  • 'Trust deficit' in Naga talks
  • Professor Bimola : A Life Fully Lived
  • Love's Twist :: Poem
  • Rani Gaidinliu Training Camp concluded
  • Job for all promise as unemployed rises
  • Presenting Manipur to the world
  • Manipur Fashion Extravaganza #3 :: Gallery
  • Seminar on Role of Women in Sports : Report
  • The great Asian Highway : Tokyo to Istanbul
  • Seminar : Reconstruction of Education
  • 4th National Lok Adalat for the year, 2022
  • Rishi Sunak .. is a pucca English Burra sahib
  • Ningol Chakkouba : Gift presents :: Gallery
  • Conference on Metallomics @ Manipur Univ
  • An awakening sprout in darkness :: Poem
  • Narration from a man who chase mountains
  • Jobs @ JCRE skill solutions, Thangmeiband
  • Masterclass on Social Photography kicks off
  • Training on mushroom cultivation
  • Probe into PMGSY project blot on graft-free
  • Opinion poll & quest for ST status
  • MANITEX @ Nilakuthi #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Consultation: Indigenous Rights in Manipur
  • Aphababu Oiragadi, Shokloidaba Oiragadi
  • Office Assistant @Horizon Studio, Gurgaon
  • Howrah Bridge- A bridge without nuts & bolts!
  • Pollution affects beauty
  • EV boost plan after failure of diesel-auto
  • Raining drugs and drug peddlers
  • Downloadable Manipuri Calendar for 2023
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Golden Jubilee Manipuri Cinema at IFFI Goa
  • Legal Services Day Ceremony
  • Art of stopping bandhs & blockades
  • Seminar on Role of Women in Sports
  • No time for debate, but action
  • Taking ST campaign to Ministers' doors
  • Camping @Shirui Lily Fest #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Aku Zeliang : Young Talent of the Year Award
  • 'Soul search' a must for media
  • Safe and sustainable tourism
  • Preserving environment as a Career Choice
  • Manipur in UN's drug cartel map...
  • Manipur on the tourism map ?
  • Hiyang Tannaba @ Loktak #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Application: AgriEntrepreneur across Manipur
  • Sangai Festival 2022 :: Program & Venues
  • Ningol Chakouba at Bengaluru
  • Nightingale Award: 3 nurses from Manipur
  • Uneasy over ambiguous inter-district boundary
  • Prescription from Dr Sapam Ranjan
  • Linthoi Chanambam- Judo Player :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Will global family planning meet galvanise govt
  • Prohibition law vis-a-vis Manipur
  • Soil: Earth's skin is the environment cleaner
  • The future of students
  • Low conviction diluting object of POCSO
  • Shortage of teachers dating back to 2012
  • Indo-Naga Talks (2012-) :: News Timeline
  • Hari-Uthang Kang Chingba :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • The garden of Kew
  • Objectionable content have to be answered
  • Rising Sun Water Festival at Umiam Lake
  • Busting fake news a big challenge
  • Ningol on way to her mapam #2 :: Gallery
  • Kut Festival @ Churachandpur : Gallery
  • AMAND Pune: Cultural Program #2 : Gallery
  • Kangpat Khullen Primary School :: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba Shopping #2 :: Gallery
  • Ningol on way to her mapam #1 :: Gallery
  • Okram Kumar : Archaeological researcher
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • Olympians & National awardees of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #4: Gallery
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download