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A BRIEF HISTORY (PUWARI) OF THE MEITEIS OF MANIPUR
         By : P.lalit


CONTENTS
 
1.GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OF MANIPUR
2.HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS
3.PERIODS IN THE HISTORY OF MANIPUR
     (i) The Ancient (before christ)
     (ii). The Early Period
     (iii) The Medieval Period
     (iv) The Modern Period
Main Source
REFERENCES CITED
Further Readings



1.GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OF MANIPUR

Manipur is one of the eight north eastern states of India. Its boundary is surrounded by  Myanmar (Burma) in the east and  south, and Nagaland state in the north, Cachar (Assam state) in the west and Mizoram state in the south-west.  Manipur is a meeting point, epicenter, between South East Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The Manipur valley, in the middle of the state, is at a height of 790 meters above the sea level and is surrounded by nine hill ranges in circles creating a hill and trough geography. More than  60% of its inhabitants are Meiteis including Bamons and Pangans  who settled mostly in the valley and the remaining are  hill tribes, namely, Tangkhul, Thadou, Zeliangrong (Zemi, Laingmai, Roungmei - Kabuis), Mao, Maram, Poumai, Paite, Hmar, Maring, Anal, Aimol, Angami, Chiru, Chothe, Gangte, Monsang, Moyon, Kom, Purum, Ralte, Sema, Simte, Salte, Vaiphei, Lamgang, Zhou, etc.  Each group has its own language, tradition and culture.  Meitei-lon (Meitei language or Manipuri) is the common language  adopted by all tribes for communication.   Imphal is the  capital and a major trading centre. The present political system in the state includes nine districts with headquarters at Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal, Bishenpur (Valley Districts), Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur (Hill Districts) bearing similar names for the districts as well.



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2.HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

The history of Manipur Meities is chronicled in Puyas or Puwaris (stories about our  forefathers), namely, the Ninghthou Kangbalon, Cheitharol Kumbaba, Ningthourol Lambuba, Poireiton Khunthokpa, Panthoibi Khongkul, etc. in the archaic Meitei script, which is comparable to the Thai script.  The historical accounts presented here were recordings from the eyes and the judgment of the Meitei Kings and Maichous (Meitei scholars).  Hill tribes have their own folk tales, myths and legends.  Manipur was known by different names at various periods in its history, such as, Tilli-Koktong, Poirei-Lam, Sanna-Leipak, Mitei-Leipak, Meitrabak or Manipur (present day). Its capital was Kangla, Yumphal or Imphal (present day).  Its people were known by various names, such as Mi-tei, Poirei-Mitei, Meetei, Maitei or Meitei.  The Puwaris, Ninghthou Kangbalon, Ningthourol Lambuba, Cheitharol Kumbaba, Poireiton Khunthokpa, recorded the events  of each King who ruled Manipur in a span of more than 3500 years until 1955 AD (a total of more than 108 kings). Ningthou Kangba (15th century BC) is regarded the first and foremost king of Manipur.  There were times when the country was in turmoil without rulers and long historical gaps in between 1129 BC - 44 BC.  In 1891 AD, after the defeat of the Meiteis by the British in the Anglo-Manipuri war of Khongjom, Manipur’s sovereignty for more than three millenniums was lost.  It regained its freedom on August 28, 1947 AD but did not last long. On 15 October  1949, Manipur was annexed into the Indian territory.

“Many a history has now been written. But none is so authentic as it seems. The reason is, of course, not far to seek. Manipur was absolute all through its past. Its society evolved on its own course or got revolutionized in its own way.  So did its religion.  And its government followed the suit.  Neither India nor Burma had much direct influence thereon, but for a tint from time to time.  Its history flowed on in its own course with little disturbance from outside until as late as the eighteenth century when several cults of Neo-Vaishnavism flowed into this soil and wrought the present-day Manipur.  Its activities and its achievements are all recorded in its own scripts unintelligible to the world.  So the writers however profound scholars they may be, had to work at a forfeit, no less considerable since the building of history of Manipur must need call for a study of some of them at least.  So, their works turn unauthentic.  Some indegenous scholars also have produced some works.  But they are students more of Purana than of history.  So their works fall more in the category of Purana than that of history.  So is the case, this country badly needs an authentic history of its own.” [A. Minaketan Singh (1958), Forward p. vii, in “History of Manipur” by Dr. Jyotirmoy Roy, 1958,1973 editions].

“Leen-Wai Yi-Maru,
Taangja Leela Paakhangba Waai-Chat-Lam,
Hang-Goi Konthing Nuraabee Waai-Chat-Lam,
Hao-Rei Laina Paangba-Lam,
Leel-Wai Yi-Maru,
Paat-Lou Lai Makol,
Leel-Wai Kharang-Pok,
Kak-Len Seenaang Sang-Kon,
Meera Pong-Thok-Lam,
Ouri Saamei-Thaang,
Lam-Yen Konbiraa ....”
In Short, this piece of script expressed a part of the ancient history of Manipur in a concised manner. [K.C. Tensuba (1991): An Approach to the History of Meiteis and Thais, page 54].



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3.PERIODS IN THE HISTORY OF MANIPUR

A careful study of a language may reveal a considerable amount  of the historical events, the origin, migration, the art and culture of the people.  Sir William Jones, a British judge in India  in 1786 while studying the Sanskrit literature revealed that it bears a striking resemblance with other two ancient languages - Latin and Greek.  The Sanskrit word for father - Pitar - is astonishingly similar to the Greek and Latin - Pater.  Similarly, Sanskrit - ‘Matar’ - Latin and Greek ‘Mater’ and English - mother - and Hindi ‘Mata’ share a considerable affinity. Two hundred years of linguistic research had provided evidences that one-third of the human race might have come from this Indo-European “common source” - probably between 3500-2500 BC in the central Europe from where people migrated to the West and East.
In case of the Meitei people, since there were no modern system of recording, where the sense of originality was always contemplated with the modern history, the reconstruction of the ancient manuscripts and languages has yielded a considerable knowledge on the history of ancient Manipur. The following is a brief history or Puwari of some prominent Meitei rulers with a view to bring out an understanding of the various developments in Meitei history, art, culture, tradition, sports, etc.  The account is not complete but hope to provide an overall grasp on the history of Manipur.



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The history of Manipur may be divided into four main periods: (i) The Ancient (before Christ), (ii) The early period (1st-13th AD), (iii) The Medieval period  (15-18th AD) and (iv) The Modern (19-20th Century AD).

(i) The Ancient (before Christ)

(a). Ningthou Kangba (1405-1359 BC):  Tang was the 14th generation ruler of a tribe known as Qi who inhabited the central part of the present day China. He founded the Shang Dynasty (1523-1027 BC); therefore, also known as Tang-Shang dynasty by the ancient Meiteis. They were known as the upper  or higher class of people. They domesticated horses and used them for transportation. The rulers paid due attention to agriculture. They also developed glazed potter, silk weaving and making of bronze vessels.  It appeared that a group of people from the Tang-Shang dynasty might have moved West following the Yangtze river, and  came down the Ningthi turen (the Chindwin river), now in Myanmar, passed through the Somra hill range and settled somewhere at the origin of the Ireel river in Manipur. After settling there for many years, a leader from that group followed the Ireel river and reached Koubru hill ranges to the north-west (~35 km) of present day Imphal. The Tang-Shang people settled along with Lei-Hou tribes, an Asiatic Tibeto-Burman group, who were original inhabitants of Koubru.
The Chief of Tang-Shang group married the daughter of Lei-Hou Chief, Sinbee Leima and established his kingdom around 1445 BC. He became to be known as Tang-Ja Leela Pakhangba (1445 BC-1405BC) (Tang-Ja=short name for Tang-Shang; Leela=who followed the Ireel trail; Pa=forefathers, Khangba=knew his forefathers, the Tang-Shang people). His wife gave birth to a son, named Kangba. Thus, the first Mi-Tei kingdom was established. Mi-Tei later came to be pronounced as Mee-tei, Mai-tei or Mei-tei at various period; but carries the same meaning.
Kangba, son of Tangja Leela Pakhangba, ascended the throne after his father’s death. He named his kingdom - Tilli Koktong and constructed a Lai-Yum (a temple) for Saree or Sannamahi God at Waroiching.  He ruled over his kingdom for 46 yrs. His wife was Leima Taritnu, daughter of Nongpok Ningthou at the eastern hills of present day Imphal. This indicated that the contact between the people of the North and the East started very early although these places were separated by water until the begining of the 1st centuary AD. At that time Manipur valley did not exist. King Kangba gave the name “LOKTAK” (LOK=water or stream  in hillocks; TAK=vast or the end) for the vast water covering the valley.  They  used dug out boats to communicate between them. King Kangba and Leima Taritnu gave birth to a son- KOIKOI. It was expressed that King Kangba introduced “Sagol Kang-jei” the horse polo. Hence the name Kang-jei for the stick and Kang-droom for the round ball. The story of Ningthou Kangba, his father and his descendants were written down for the first time in a Meitei script “Ningthou Kangbalon” by one Maichou (Meitei scholar) named Thongak Kurumba on Thursday, the 3rd of Kalen (May) during the time of Khu-Yoi Tompok (2nd Century AD), the son of Nongda Lairen Pakhangba,  which was transliterated into Bengali script by Nongthombamcha Angou Luwang and published by Thokchomba Ibotombi in 1976.

(b). KOI-KOI, also Known as MARIYA FAMBAL-CHA (1359 BC-1329 BC). Koikoi ascended the throne at the age of 25 yr. From this day, the dating of Meitei calender (Cheraoba) known as Mari-Fam was introduced. Hence, 1359 BC will be 25 MF, and 2000 AD will be 3364 MF in Meitei calender taking the birthday of KOIKOI as 00 MF. The surnames Koikoijam, Keirambam, etc.  were started from this time. Mariya Fambal-Cha (Koikoi) and his wife, Lee-oi Nungoibee had two sons. His first son, Pong left his parents early to start his own kingdom, so his second son, Kaksu Tonkonba (Born on 3rd November, Meitei Hiyangei month, 1355 BC) became Meidingu (Ningthou or King) around 1329 BC. Meidigu Tonkonba was born prematurely at 8 months, hence the nickname Kaksu (for dwarf or not  matured) was given when he was a child. Urum Khou-Chonbi was his Queen.

(c). Korou Nongdren Pakhangba (~934 BC ?): There were no recording of Mari-Fam (dates of kings) at this period. Meidingu Korou Nongdren was a great Pa-Khangba (he who knew his forefathers). During his time, all people lived peacefully and other groups also respected him. His Leima, Queen, was Thadon Leima Lairembi. They had two sons. Kuptreng, the elder was taught the art of administration whereas the younger, Sentreng was taught the art of leadership by his father. Accordingly, Sentreng became the king and Kuptreng became the administrator.

(d). Chingkhong Poireiton (34-18 BC): The region where Myanmar (Burma), Tibet and China meet was once known as Khamtilong or the region of Khams when there was no name for Burma, China, India, etc. Khu, Nung, Lei, Hou, Chakpa, Mon, Lotha, Nga, etc. were the tribes who lived in the region of Kham in the old days. Tai-Pong-Pan was the name of the present Manipur known to the people of Kham-Nung.  For about 700 years, there were no rulers in what was known as Tai-Pong-Pan.  So some people of Tai-Pong-Pan invited Thongarel, Kham-Nung Saowa, the great man of the Nung tribe, to rule over Tai-Pong-Pan.
By that the time Thongarel was old enough. So he asked his younger brother Chingkhong Pireiton to go there and rule over the region. Poireiton had already lost his wife after having four sons and two daughters.  Thongarel offered his second wife Leima Leinaotabi to accompany Poireiton who also accepted the offer.  They crossed the narrow Chaukan pass from the region of Kham and sojourned in the Hukawng valley and followed the course of Chindwin (Ningthi) river and then trickled through the norther region of the present day Ukhrul district of Manipur to reach the source of Iril river. Poireiton settled somewhere near northern Kanglatongbi from where a vast water extent and swampy areas could be seen stretched towards the south.
Poireiton worked hard for the unification of the people inhabiting along the Koubru hill range. In his journey from Kham, Poireiton was accompanied by tribes of Chakpa, Nung, Kham, Mon, Khu, Nga, etc. who were all neo-Tibetans.  Under the leadership of Poireiton, all the people including the original Tang-Shang people lived and inter-married together.  It appeared that they were Buddhists in approach.  During his reign, the kingdom was known as Poirei-lam (the land of Poireiton) and the people were called Poirei-Meetei. The accounts of Poireiton and his followers’ migration were recorded in a msnuscript called “Poireiton Khunthokpa” in a perfect prose.



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(ii). The Early Period

(a). Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33-153 AD or 1431-1551 MF).  Nongda Lairen Pakhangba was the son of Leinung Yabirok (mother) reigned in the 1st century AD. He married Laisra, a daughter of the line of Poireiton kings. Nongda Lairen Pakhangba and Laisra  ascended the throne in 33 AD on one Monday at Kangleipungmayol, the name of his kingdom,  after making bards sing “Ougree” a song sung in praise of the god for prosperity of the King and his people. Meidingu Pakhangba was an able descendent of Ningthou Kangba and  Tangja Leela Pakhangba;  but, the accounts of his father has yet to be traced although Tupu Likleng alias Luwang Langmaiba was suggested his father in “The History of Manipur” by W. Ibohal Singh.   He started moving his kingdom toward the low lying areas after the water in the valley started draining slowly at Ching-Nung-Hut in South-West Manipur. He named his palace Kangla [dry land]. From him, the  Mangang clan originated. When he was a young boy, he used to catch fish at the source of Ireel turen. One day he came across Kouba Angang-nga who tried to invade his father’s kingdom. He stopped the approach of the enemy. He was a great patronage of  Sanna-Mahi. During his long life, Meiding Pakhangba was known as  Leinung Lonja Pakhangba and Lolaang Pakhangba and attained the status of a Lai-Ningthou (God King).  Cheitharol Kumbaba chronicle started from Nongda Lairen Pakhangba.

“Here, one should not be confused with Meidingu Nongda Lairen Pakhangba and the PAKHAGNBA GOD of Meiteis, the younger brother of Sanna-mahi, the son of Yaibirel (Atiya Kuru) Sidaba and Leimaren Sidabee. The story of Sannamahi and Pakhangba are of religious concept reflecting the origin and the creation of life on earth. The story of Sanna-Mahi faith of Meiteis is briefly desribed.  “When there was nothing in this Universe, it was known as Ting-Ka-Kok or total emptiness in the Ancient Meitei verson. Atiya Kuru Sidba (Atiya, the vast and empty sky; Kuru, the round or circular hemisphere; and Sidaba, never ending or no birth and death ever present) asked his elder son Sanna-Mahi (the liquid of life spreading in all direction like the rays of the Sun, so also the Sun God) to create all the life forms on earth. After Sannamahi created the living beings, Atiya Kuru Sidaba, the god-father wanted to appoint a leader to protect the living and to lead a happy life on earth.  Accordingly he sent his son Pakhangba to earth to sustain and propagate life there.”  In course of time, Pakhangba became the protector, the king, and was also represented with  the symbol of a Dragon God. The Sannamahi laishon (also the worship of Sun) became an everyday life of Meiteis with verbal chantings and singings and was common to all people.  On the other hand, Pakhangba laining (mediation) became an art of looking into the self by the self for the self, which was coined as Nung-da Hee-ri Kon-ba. No verbal chanting was allowed in Pakhangba laining and required deep concentration and meditation; therefore, it  was performed by Kings, Nobles and Maichous (scholars) to enlighten his self and to be able to rule the kingdom prosperously.
With the Sanskritization process of Meiteis,  after conversion of the Kings to Hinduism  toward the beginning of  the 18th century, Meitei Gods were transformed to align with the Gods of the Hindu mythology.  So, Pakhangba became Siva Mahadev and the representation of the Dragon God was dubbed to  the snake god, Ananta of Hindus.  Panthoibi, the God of prosperity and  of war became Durga.  Thangjing, the Supreme God of the Moirang Kingdom, was attempted to be personified as Vishnu.  Nongpok Ningthou, at the eastern hills of Imphal, was substituted for Barun or Baruni for the rain god of Hindus. Atiya Kuru Sidaba became Atiya Guru Sidaba.  But, Kuru is not exactly Guru, the Sanskrit meaning of a Master.  In Meitei,  Kuru  would also mean a scholar of all round knowledge,  taking the concept of the limitless semi-circular hemisphere, Kuru Koiba.   Mangang Kuru, Luwang Kuru, Khuman Kuru, etc.  were the titles of scholars of  respective Meitei clans. The process of Sanskritization and Hindunization among Meiteis reached its peak between 1890-1930 AD. With the revival of the Sannamahi faith among some Meiteis in the 1930s, the  desanskritization process, supported by Meitei Marups or Phurups, began.  Nevertheless, the battle continues till today between  the Vaishnavite scholars who cling to their passion for belonging  to a larger Hindu  religion and society,  and the ethnic conscious Meitei Marups of the Sannamahi and Pakhangba faith to resurrect their forefather’s religion and scriptures.
“Before 1891, there was not any remarkable social or religious reform movement in Manipur. Yet  the  acceleration of the 3:37 pm Sanskritization of Manipuri society was notice during this period.  Therefore, it will be worthwhile to trace the historical background of the advent of different cults of Hinduism in Manipur.  The worship of Vishnu was strated in Manipur in the 15th century during the reign of King Kyamba (1467-1508). According to tradition, the idol  of  the Vishnu sitting on a Caruda was presented by Tsawba Khekhomba, the Shan king of Pong in 1474 A.D.; even, now there is a Vishnu temple at Bishenpur.  But the kings of Manipur were not converted to Hinduism till the reign of Charairongba (1697-1709), the presence of Hindu mode of worship in Manipur could be easily implied due to the migration of Brahmins in this kingdom. However, the attempts made by some scholars that Vedic religion was prevelant in Manipur in the pre-historical or historical period are simply excercises on futility.” [Dr. G. Kabui, Professor of History, Manipur University, Imphal, in “History of Modern Manipur (1826-1946)”, pp 89-90, 1991].
“A small section of Manipuris strongly believe that they are western and Hindu descent.  On linguistic and anthropometric grounds this idea is quite untenable. ........ in this respect the Puranas cannot be relied much because they were very much influenced by the Brahminical Purana stories.” [Dr. Jyotirmoy Roy, Vice Principle of D.M. College, Imphal,  in “History of Manipur”, p. 4, 1958 and 1973 editions].

(b). Meidingu Yanglou Keiphaba (965-983 AD or 2363-2381 MF): Khamlang Atonba, the son of Meidingu Chenglei Lanthaba, ascended the throne after his father in 965 AD. One day he went for hunting to a place called Yanglou Louchipan and caught six tigers alive. Henceforth, he became to be known as Yanglou Keiphaba (Kei=tiger; phaba=to capture). He married Lairenjam Chanu Mubisu, the daughter of Louthog-pak Chief. She was a great Sinbee, a master of weaving and embroidary. She invented the Khoi-Mayek style of Meitei Phanek Mapan Naiba [Manipur ladies dress similar to the Sarong of South East Asia]. Still today this design is a favorite for Meitei ladies.

(c). Meidingu Loitongba (1121-1149 AD or 2519-2547 MF): When king Loiyumba, Loitongba’s father, ascended the throne, his mother Sum-Leima was pregnant with Loitongba; hence, the name Loitongba= who ascended the throne together with his parents. He was a man of games and sports. It is mentioned that he invented the game of “Kang-Sanaba” of meiteis. Some scholars argue that Kang-Sanaba had already existed and Loitongba was a master of the game. His son Atom Yoireba ascended the throne (1149-1162 AD) but his brother Hemtou Iwang-Thaba invaded him and drove him out of the Kingdom.



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(iii) The Medieval Period

(a) Meidingu Senbi Kiyamba (1467-1507 AD): Medingu Senbi Kiyamba, the son of Ningthou Khomba and Leima Linthoingambi, became the king at the age of 24 in 1467 AD. He and the king of Pong (Shan Kindom) were good friends. Sanna Langmeirembi, a princess, was married to the Pong King, Chaopha (Tsatwa) Khekhomba. The King of Pong visited Manipur and presented Kiyamba a golden box containing a stone, known as PHEIYA (Almighty),  having the power of God and a sacred spear to guard the stone. At that time, the people of Manipur did not know about the worship of God in the form of a sacred stone. King Kiyamba in respect of the King of Pong built a brick temple at Lamangdong, 27 km south of Imphal, in 1475. Later, a Brahmin, migrated from Cachar understood PHEIYA as the Hindu God, Bishnu. He announced that rice boiled in cow milk should be offered to the deity in order to bring good fortune to the King and the people of his kingdom. Accordingly, Meidingu Kiyamba appointed this Brahmin in the service of the deity. Afterwards, the followers of the Brahmin were known as Bishnupriya and the place was named Bishnupur.
In 1485 AD, King Kiyamba introduced the system of CHEITHABA in which the name of an entire year will be taken after the name of a person so that even illiterate citizens can remember the year. Hiyangloi was the first person whose name was used as the first Cheithaba, which meant he would volunteer to bear the burden and sufferings of the kingdom fell during that particular year.

(b). Meidingu Pamheiba (1708-1747 AD or 3106-3145 MF): Pamheiba was one of the sons of Meidingu Charairongba and Sapam Chanu Ningthil-Chaibi. He was born on 22nd Dec. (Poinu in Meitei month), 1690 AD. After his father’s dead, he became the king on 23rd Aug. (Thawan in Meitei), 1708 AD. Pamheiba had 8 wives and many sons and daughters. During his 39 yrs of reign, he extended his kingdom in the east to Kabow valley, to the west to Nongnang (Cachar), Takhel (Tripura). At one point it was considered that Chittagong hills came under his rule. In 1734 AD, King Pamheiba invaded Takhel and captured 1100 people and brought to Manipur.  These people inter-married with the locals and joined the Meitei community. Pamheiba was one of the greatest Meitei kings of Manipur. He was so intensely involved in extending his territory and warfare that he did not  pay any attention to Sanna-Mahi laishon and Pakhangba laining religious rituals. He latter was influenced by Hindu religion which had reached to Manipur around 15th-16th centuries. He stopped poultry and piggery in the country in 1723 AD. He excavated all Lupungs (burial grounds for kings, his  forefathers) and burnt the remains on the bank of Ningthi turen (at that time Meitei territory extended upto Chindwin) on 20th March, 1724 AD. This began the cremation of dead bodies among meiteis. On full moon day of Mera (October), 1732 AD, he collected all the Holy books, Puya related to Sanna-Mahi religion and burnt them. This is known as Puya-Meithaba among Meiteis. In 1737 AD, he himself was converted to the Ramanandi Sect of Vaisnavism with the help of Shantidas Gosai, a preacher from Sylhet (now in Bangladesh). King Pamheiba expelled all his Maichous (scholars) and those who opposed to this new religion to far away villages. Some of the prominent meitei maichous were Louremba Khongnang Thaba, Langol Lukhoi, Konok Thengra, Wangoo Bajee, etc. He introduced the term “MAHARAJA” in place of “MEIDINGU OR NINGTHOU” for the King.

(c). Ningthou Ching-Thang Khomba (Maharaja Bheigyachandra) 1763-1798 AD or 3161-3196 MF.  Ningthou Ching-Thang Khomba was the son of Samjai Khurai-Lakpa (the eldest son of Pamheiba). Chitsai, Pamheiba’s anonther son, killed his father in Ava (Burma) and became the king (1747-1951 AD). He was expelled by his brother Borot-sai. Chitsai went to Tripura (Takhel) and then to Chittagong. He approached the British East India Company to help him (1751 AD). However, he did not get their help. This was the first contact of Meiteis with the British. Borotsai ruled for 2 years and Gaurisiam, Ching-Thang Khomba’s brother,  became King. Later in 1762 AD., the British and Manipur sign a treaty (signed by Gaurisiam and Mr. Venositart, Governor of Bengal), which spelled that British and Manipur will encourage trade and commerce. The British will give necessary help to protect the kingdom from outside invaders. And Manipur will provide a piece of land in Manipur  for the East India Company posting.
In 1763 AD, after the dead of Gaurisiam, Ching-Thang Khomba ascended the throne. The Burmese attacked Manipur in 1769 AD and he fled to Cachar.  At last, in 1773 AD, Manipur was taken back.  He established his capital at Lamangdong (Bishenpur) in 1775 AD. He moved his capital to Langthaban (Canchipur).  When he moved his capital he made the image of Govindaji from a Fig-Tree growing in the Kaina hill. On the coronation, 11th Jan.  1779 AD, (Wakching month) RAS-LEELA was played for five days continuously in the open grounds of Ras Mandal Pukhri.
The name “MANIPUR” for “MEITRABAK” or “SANNA-LEIPAK” came to existence in 1774 AD when Warren Hastings was the Governer General of India. Mr.  Rendel assigned the name and the kingdom extended from Ningthi in the east to Chittagong in the South and up to Brahmaputra area in the North and Cachar in the East.
During his reign Chaitanya sect of Vaisnavism was established. Yaosang, the great festival of Meiteis, was invented by Ching-Thang Khomba on the full moon day of Lamta (March). The image of Nityananda was curved and coronated on Thursday March 5, 1779 AD.  His brother Ananta Sai and his decendents were made responsible for Sri Bijoy Gobinda and the annual festival of HEGRU HIDONGBA (boat racing) held on the 11th of Langban (September) every year. In 1796 AD his capital was moved from Langthaban (Canchipur) to Konthoujam Yumphal (present Governor’s Bungalow). In 1797 AD, he handed over the throne to his eldest son Labeinyachandra and went on pilgrimage to Nabadweep. He died at Murshidabad, India in 1798 AD.



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(iv) The Modern Period

(a). CHAHI-TARET KHUNTAKPA, 1819-1825 AD (seven years of Manipur anarchy, 3212-3218 MF): When Marjeet was the king of Manipur, Burma invaded again in 1819 AD. At that time the princes of Manipur were fighting for controling the throne and the country was in a political turmoil. Manipuris faced the invasion fiercely for seven days. But they were defeated by the Burmes and the people fled to different places in the West. The king went to Cachar which was ruled by two of his brothers - Chourjit and Gambir Sing - who were appointed by him.
During this anarchy, Burmese occupants destroyed the country badly. The palace was leveled to the ground.  In 1825, Manipuris attacked Burmese occupation led by Gambir Sing and drove them beyond Ningthi (Chindwin) river. On 26th Inga (June), 1825, he declared himself as the king of Manipur and constructed his palace (Konung) at the top of Bishenpur hill in April, 1826 AD. Later,  he shifted his capital to Langthaban (Canchipur).
At the request of the British Government by Governor General, Mr. Scott, Maharaja Gambir Sing went to Khasi hills to help the British who were unable to fight the Khasis. In the month of May 1829 AD, he died at the age of 49 years at Langthaban.
continue to meitei 2 (l).........

(b). Maharaja Chandrakirti (1834-1844 AD or 3232-3242 MF). The only son of Maharaja Gambir Sing and Maisnam Chanu Kumudini Ponglen-Khombi, ascended the throne at the age of 2 years with his uncle Narasing as a caretaker. Previously, before Gambir Sing died, he and British Government made an agreement that Kabow valley will be leased  to Burma for cultivation and Maharaja of Manipur will receive a sum of Rs 6000/- per annum as a tribute. This story was recorded in the Cheitharol Kumbaba by Meiteis, but the actual fact was that the British ignored the Meitei sentiments and tried to please the Burmese by giving the controversial Meitei Kabow valley, which had been in the Manipuri territory for several years. On hearing the news, Maharaj Gambir Sing died of heart-attack.  So, the agreement was signed on 12th January (Wakching), 1834 AD by Narasing, as a representative of the child king, and by British political agents,  Captain Grant, Captain Pamperton and Mr. George Gordon. For the first time a table clock and a big wall mirror were brought from England and presented to the King.  On Jan 27, 1844 AD, when Maharaja was 12 years old, his mother ran away with him in Cachar because of a revolt by Nobin, a descendant of Pamheiba, against Narasing. However, Narasing defeated Nobin and he became Maharaja of Manipur.  He moved the capital from Langthaban to Kangla at Yumphal (Imphal) on May 9th, 1844 AD. He died on April 10, 1850 AD.
Chandrakirti Maharaja came back from Cachar and became King again (1850-1886 AD) at the age of 19 years. In December, 1857 AD, Sepoys at Chittagong revolted against British, and the news was spread in Manipur by the British Government that Hindu sepoys will invade Europeans and take over Manipur. Maharaja with 600 Meitei soldiers led by Nameirakpam Menjor went to prevent the sepoys. A number of sepoys were arrested and handed over to the British. For the first time in 1868 AD photography was introduced in Manipur.
Re-demarcation of Manipur’s boundary (present day map) was done again on
13th Dec, 1873 AD with Dr. Brown (FRCSE) and Thangal General as leaders from both sides. The British considered the Meiteis very illiterate who did not want to be educated. They did not know that Meiteis had a very long history of its own and education system, and the  maichous and puyas were prohibited by the Maharaj not so long ago. Dr. Brown published the Meitei script for the first time in 1877 AD for the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The then Bengal Government donated a few books and started teaching Bengali script and English. The Meitei script became obsolete.
Naga rebels, in the north, at Khonoma killed Dr. G.H. Damant on October 4, 1879. Lt. Col. J. Jonstone, the political agent in Manipur and Thangal General subdued them. Maharaja Chandrakirti was given the title of K.C.S.I. by the British Government for his help and friendship to the British. He also introduced “Sagol Kangjei”, Manipuri Polo, to the British. He died in 1886 AD at Kangla in Yumphal.

(c). Maharaja Surchand Singh (1886-1890 AD or 3289-3294 MF.). Maharaja Surchand, the eldest son of Chandrakirti ascended the throne after his father. He ruled for 5 years. In 1890, his younger brothers, Zillangamba and Angousana revolted against him along with Jubaraj Tikendrajit.  Kullachandra, the elder brother of Tikendrajit, became the king.  Surchand and his brothers left for Calcutta in the pretext of going to Brindabon. He requested the British Government to restore his throne.  Lord Landsdowne, the viceroy of India ordered Mr. J.W. Quinton, Governor of Assam, to recognise Kullachandra as the King but to arrest Jubaraj Tikendrajit. Accordingly Mr. Quinton and his army raided the residence of Jubaraj without prior notice. However, they could not capture Tikendrajit. In further attempts, Mr. Quinton, Mr. Grimwood, the political agents along with five other British officers were killed.
The British Government waged open war against Manipur. Three columns of army were sent to Imphal from three directions: 1. Tamu (Moreh)- in south-east, 2. Kohima (Nagaland)- in the north and 3. Cachar (Assam)-in the west. In this Anglo-Manipuri war, the forces from the west and north advanced to Imphal after strong fighting. But in the south  at Khongjom (40 km from Imphal), Paona Brajabashi and his army resisted repeatedly in spite of the larger and superior British Army. Paona lost his life on the war and British conquered Manipur on 27th April, 1891 AD. Thus, Manipur lost its independence. Jubaraj Tikendrajit and Thangal General were hanged by neck on 13th August, 1891 AD at Mapan Kangjei-bung (Polo ground).

(d). Maharaja Churachand Singh (1891-1941 AD or 3289-3339 MF): On Thursday 22nd of Langban, 1891 AD, the political agent of Manipur called Maharani Moirangthem Chanu and Jubaraj Churachand (8 yrs old) and made him the king. At this time Sri Govindaji was brought to the newly constructed Palace at Imphal. During his reign, NUPI LAN I (Woman’s war, 1904 AD, a revolt against the forced labor) and NUPILAN II (1939AD) occured
.
(e). Maharaja Budhachandra Singh (1941-1955 AD or 3339-3353 MF): After his highness Maharaja Churachand, his eldest son Budhachandra became the king of Manipur with Ishori Devi, the princess of Nepal as Leima or Maharani. World War II broke out in Manipur from April 1942-Jan. 1945 AD. Manipur was bombarded continuously for two years and the country was destroyed completely including Imphal and the Maharaja’s Palace. Markets were closed and paddy fields were not harvested during the war. People were suffering but Manipuris were  too proud to beg for help. Several movements led by Neta Irabot sprang up in the demand for self rule of Manipur against the British Government. He went undergound in 1946 AD and died in 1955 AD in Burma. After the war, at 12 midnight of Thursday 28th August (Thawan), 1947 AD, the British handed over Manipur to Maharaja Budhachandra Singh and Maharani Iroshi Devi.  Maharaja entered Kangla at Imphal and hoisted the National Flag of Manipur bearing the Dragon God Pakhangba. Top-guns were fired 18 times in honor of the Sovereign Kingdom in the presence of a large crowd. However, it did not last long.  The newly formed independent India and its Government in New Delhi pressured the King to sign a merger agreement with India under very unusual circumstances. Maharaja signed the documents on 21st September 1949 AD at Shillong without prior consideration and approval from elected members of the Manipur Assembly. On October 15, 1949 AD, Major General Rawal Amar announced the annexation of Manipur at the Assam Rifle’s ground. Thus, Manipur’s status was lowered to a Part C territory under the Indian rule. In 1953, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru discontinued the payment of Kabow valley agreement to Manipur.  This  angered many of the local people. Budhachandra Maharaja died in 1955 AD.

(f) Present Manipur:  On 21 January 1972, Manipur was granted Statehood after several years of demand by All Manipur Students Union and several political organisations. The ceremony was performed at the Palace Polo ground in Imphal . In 1992, Meitei-lon (Manipuri) was included in the Eighth Schedule as one of the 18 official languages of India. Manipur has yet to see an industry and a proper road connection to the rest of India. Air transportations are provided from Calcutta, New Delhi, Gauhati  and Silchar but much beyond the reach of commoners.



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Main Source:

An Approach to the History of Meiteis and Thais - K.C. Tensuba (1993).

REFERENCES CITED:

Allen, B.C., 1905: Naga Hills and Manipur, Socio-Economic History, Gian Publication, Delhi-7.
Angou Luwang, N., 1976: Ningthou Kaangbalon. Archaeology of Manipur, 1988.
Asoso Yonou, 1982: Naga Struggle against British Rule under Jadonnang and Rani Gaidiuluiu.
Brtanica : B,C,S,T.
Binodini Devi, M.K.: Borsaheb Ongbi Sanatombi.
Bahadur Mutua: Research work on Manipuri Art.
Bhogeswor,O., 1967: Ninghthourol Lambuba.
Bhogeswor, O., 1967: Ninghourol Sereng.
Bheigya, Y., 1982: Ashamba Kumbaba.
Brown, R., 1873: The Statistical Account of Manipur.
Columbia: B,C, S and T.
Choudhury, S.N. : Mulberry Silk Industry.
Edward Gaide, 1963: A History of Assam.
Hodson T.C. : The Meiteis.
Ibungohal L., 1967: Cheitharol Kumbaba.
Ibohal W.: The History of Manipur.
Julon Mutua, 1936: Bijoy Panchalee (History of Manipur).
James Johnstone, 1896, 1971, 1983: Manipur and Naga Hills.
Kosambi D.D.: Myth and Reality.
Kumar Ph. : Kege Moirang.
Keertichand T., 1983: Dhammapada (Translation).
Khelchandra N, 1989: Cheitharol Kumbaba.
Manich, 1979: English-Thai and Thai-English Dictionary.
Meenaketon, A.: Meitei Lairon.
Majijao, N. : Pombee-Laang.
Manipur Today, January, 1989.
Manipur Today, August, 1989.



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Further Readings:

1. History of Modern Manipur (1826-1946) edited - Dr. Lal Dena (1990).
2. History of Manipur - Jyotimor Roy (1958, 2nd edition 1973).
3. History of Christianity in Manipur - Karam Manimohan Singh (1991).
4. History of Manipur - Prof. Gangmumei Kabui (1990).
5. It Began at Imphal: The Combat Cargo Story - John G. Martin (1988).
6. Traditional Textiles of Manipur - Mutua Bahadur (1997) - Mutua Museum Imphal.
7. Cane and Bamboo Crafts of Manipur - Mutua Bahadur (1994) - Mutua Museum Imphal.



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