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Birth Centenary Celebrations of Jananeta Irabat Singh, 1996 : Book Translation
- Part 4 -
Patriotic Songs of Irabot: Part 1

James Oinam *

 Birth Centenary Celebrations of Jananeta Irabat Singh, 1996 : Book Cover
Birth Centenary Celebrations of Jananeta Irabat Singh, 1996 : Book Cover



Patriotic Songs of Irabot: Part 1
B. Jayantakumar Sharma


Translator’s Note: Translated from Manipuri section of the book below
Book: Birth Centenary Celebrations of Jananeta Irabat Singh, 1996
Editor: L. Damodar Singh
Joint Editor: Dr. N. Tombi Singh
Jointly Organised by Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Calcutta
and Department of Art and Culture, Manipur,
Sept. 29 and Oct. 13, 1996

Cover design: Premananda Roy
Published by: Shri Th. Subol Singh
Printed at: Padma Printers (Computerised), Paona Bazar, Imphal – 795001

In this world, it can be said that republic revolutions begin with the philosophers and literature. Famous political philosophers—Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, among others—sang the clarion song of the 1789 French Revolution. Their writings awakened the desire to be free which was sleeping in the hearts of the public.

The same is the case for the freedom struggle in India. Well-known poets Bankimchandra, Rabindranath Thakur, Najrul Islam, Premchand, Subramanium Bharati, and similar poets, novelists, and writers lit the fire of thought for freedom in the hearts of people from the-then British empire.

Bande Mataram” in the Anandmath novel written by Bankim remained on the lips of freedom fighters and chanting this many died at the hands of British. World poet Rabindranath’s song “Ekla ekla chal, yadi tor dakche kayona aachile tabe kela chalre” (When no one hears to your call then go alone) emboldened the disheartened minds of Indians.

In Manipur also, it is not that no poet was born to hold the torch of freedom. Who is there whose heart would not be full of patriotism after reading Kamal’s “Kanagumba Swadesh Bhakta Amada” (To Someone Devoted to Indigenous).

Poet Hijam Anganghal’s Laman (Debt) and Meitei Rang (translated as Homemade Cotton on the internet) engender flow of patriotism in the hearts.

Poet Chaoba’s “Labanga[?] Lata” and “Meitei Leibak” (Land of Meitei), “Uhanbiyu Aroibada” (Let Me See in the End), “Nijaroi Ema Atoppa Ama” (Wouldn’t Ask for Another Mother) shine with love of the motherland. Poets simply love their motherland without any condition. Poets like Shelley, Keats, and Byron were born and many will be born some day.

In India, before independence, towards the middle of the 20th century, Hijam Irabot, also known as Jananeta Irabot, was the one who held the shining torch of patriotism in the north-east. Irabot did not become a poet by choice.

When the motherland and community dwelled in the dark cell chained in slavery, to awaken the poor, ignorant, and full of superstitious farmers and the public, to tell the dawn has come, sleep no more, all this gave rise to poetry. Simple songs are lovely, simple words are lovely.

A child’s simple laughter is lovely. When someone cries their heart out, it touches the hearts of others. One doesn’t like to listen to affectations, and it doesn’t touch the heart. Poet Irabot’s songs and poems of patriotism all of them came from the lips of child who has been beaten, farmers’ call to each other after putting on the sack and sickle before the sunrise, and child’s cry who has been separated from the mother.

He slept his last sleep looking at the thin faces of farmers living in old huts burnt by the desire of republic in the hills and valley and the public he loved. He only scribbled the pain from chains of slavery on the white paper.

But today just like digging up of a gem the two books have brought out the gem to the light of the day: (1) “Republic Yakairol Eshei” (The Dawning Songs of Republic) and “Emagi Puja” (Worshipping the Mother)—presented by Irabot Lairik Phongba Lup (group publishing books of Irabot; questionable whether it is the name of an organization or simply a description).

Both the books are about songs and poetry of patriotism. Poems of republic songs call upon the people to listen to the war happening around. In China, Japan, and Russia people have won. While victory of the people filled the ten directions, in Manipur and in India in general there was fighting among communities like fire. Victory to the people was the song sung to stop people from annihilation.

Thus, the song called “Hauro Awaba Ahinggi Amamba Koktuna” (Awake relieved from the misery of dark night) was meant by the poet for those who he feared have locked their doors and chasing their dreams while sunrise of freedom has come and your friends are in front of you at the doorstep calling for you while the citizens have become numbed like the dead from exploitation.

For freedom from chains of slavery, and to light the torch of love for motherland with life that one day will end, the only choice is unity. Victory, victory, victory to the unity; do not be afraid; unity will be victorious. For us who are dependent, what do we have other than unity. Thus, the poet sings:

Swadhinta lansay nattene marannai
Maikei marikoina yeng-u apunbana oiri jai.

[The war of freedom is not responsibility of any individual
Look in four directions, unity is victorious.]

Truly, unity will be victorious. Strength of the united people is the strength of god; no other power can defeat this power. When people agree to stand together, there is nothing that cannot be done. Without people there cannot be a state.

Without the people how can there be a king. Thus, people are important; over these people in the olden days, the king ruled by exploitation and by force. To satisfy them many common people lost their lives. Hence, the unity of the people is the power of god which nothing can suppress.

To tap that strength Irabot calls:

Laklo laumi simmi laklo
Nahakki sabha mapangal haplaro
Ema leibakpu maning tamhallo
Ngakpa ngamgani lairabagi mai.

[Come farmers come
Add strength to your sabha
Free the motherland
Save the face of the poor]

To be continued .....


* James Oinam wrote this translated article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 04 2024 .



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