Described by Lord Irwin as the 'Switzerland of India', Manipur boasts of an exotic landscape with gently undulating hills, emerald green valleys, blue lakes and dense forests. It is the sheer tranquility enveloping it, interrupted only by a soft breeze that sets it apart from the other northeastern states, and makes it the ideal getaway. Manipur, literally meaning the land of jewel, is a paradise on earth when Mother Nature has been extra generous in her beauty. And from the very inception, this princely state of Manipur has always been a shinning outpost of the country in the sparse of the eastern Himalayas.
Manipur is a part of India both from the point of view of geography and
culture. It never lost its basic link with the mainstream of the Indian culture.
The culture of Manipur has been a part of Indian culture. It accepted aspects of
Indian culture and transmitted them to Burma, China and other lands of East
Asia. On political grounds Manipur can hardly be separated from India. We find
the invaders from Cachar, Tripura, etc., during the successive periods of it's
history. The religious movement of Manipur in the 18th century conveys the
spirit of universality and strengthen the bounds of unity. It asserts that
Manipur is a part of Bharatavarsa.(1)
Origin of the Name of Manipur There are different names commonly used in discussing Manipur by
different neighbouring people. To quote W. McCulloch, “The country inhabited by
the Muneepoorees is by the inhabitants of Cachar it is named Moglei ; by those
of Assam Mekhlee and by the Shans or those who inhabit the country east of
Ningthee or Khyendwen river it is known as Cassay of which term the Burmese word
Kathe is a corruption.”(2) The narrative of Symes and the maps of that period
give the name “Cassay” to this country.(3) In Rennell’s Memoir and maps of
India it is mentioned as “Meklee.” Other popular names by which it is known are
Manipur and Meithei Leibak. The Mahabharata, the Bhagavata and Jaimini’s
Mahabharata and Kalidas’s work used it by the name of Manipur. The name
“Mekhele” as used for Manipur is mentioned in the Mahabharata and Skanda-Purana.
This is found in the treaty of king Gourayam and the British East India Company
in 1,800 A.D.(4) According to Kalika. Purana it is the place where the waist of
Devi fell at the time of Daksa-Yajna. Another account declares that the
outer garment, i,e., Mekhela fell to the ground in her dance in this land, Siva
called it “Mekheli”.
Various meanings are given to the word “Manipur.”
According to Atombapu Sharma Manipur means “naval circle on earth.” Another
argument is given by some to show that Arjuna was restored to life by the Moni
(gem) from the nether world and the land came to be known as Manipur.(5)
Another variation of the same theme that the Manipur
Valley was full of water. Lord Siva, in emulation of a Rasa style was in search
of a place for His devine Dance. He, in course of His search, saw this valley
aand drained the excess water from it. The Imphal river with its branches,
Kongba, Iril, Nambul flows towards the south. Entering into an underground canal
the water gets it way out through the three big holes of the mountain
“Chingnunghut” and falls into the river Chindwin which flows to the Irawadi in
Burma. The Work of creation is attributed to Lord Siva. It is suggested that
this arrangement cannot be an accident. There are underground and underwater
passages, each 64 which has the effect of justifying the legend.(6) According
to the will of Visnu the beautiful Valley came into existence. Various gods and
goddesses took part in a dance along with Siva and Durga. This is called Lai-haraoba.
It is said that Ananta was so enamoured of the dance that he brought the jewels
to this country and the land is called Manipur meaning the land of jewels as it
is lighted up by the splendour of the excellent gems gracing the hoods.”(7)
According to T.C. Hodson the land was at one time
Mohendrapura. But subsequently it came to be known as Manipura after
Vabhruvahana’s coming into possession of the jewel. Another tradition about the
name of Manipur makes out that, near Nungoibi and between Taibang- Thong there
is a stone with supernatural power known as Mani or precious stone on account of
which the place is known as Manipur.
Most orthodox Bishnupriya Manipuris and some section of Meiteis believe that they are the people traced their ancestry with the Arjuna ChitrangadaBabhrubahana episode of the Mahabharata and claiming to be the Kshatriyas as described in the Epic Mahabharata. (9) On the other hand there are number of folk stories and legends regarding human inhabitation in Manipur valley. One of them holds that there was a stable kingdom with Imphal as its capital under Pakhangba, the first king of
Manipur, in the first century. (10)
In the reign of Khagemba (15th century) Shri Vishnu was worshiped in
Manipur. After this period, at the end of the 17th century and at the advent of the 18th century, great force of the Neo-Vaisnavism came and spread in this land.
After the king Charairongba, Vaisnavism was highly developed, in the middle of the 18th century, in the reign of king Garibniwaj Pamheiba. In his time, Shantidas Goswami from Sylhet came to Manipur and he initiated the king with his subjects into Ramandi sect.
In 1826, Manipur was brought into India by the treaty of Yandavo by Raja Jai
Singh with the British at the end of the Indo-Burmese war. This followed a
dispute in accession to the throne. With the intervention of the British the
dispute was settled. In 1891 Churachand was nominated the Raja and it came under
British rule as a princely state. During World War II Imphal was occupied by the
Japanese. After Indian independence Manipur became a Union Territory and
subsequently achieved statehood in January 21,1972.
The present State of Manipur is geographically bounded by Nagaland in the North, Mizoram in the South, Cachar district of Assam in the West and bordering
Burma in the East.
The land surface of Manipur is 22,347 sq. kms. And about 90% of the land is mountainous. Its rain varies
between 2600 to 3350 meters. It has also an enjoyable climate almost throughout the year and free from the
rihours of both summer and winter.
The rivers also served as the important waterway link with different parts of Manipur valley connection
Imphal, the capital city. The major river of the land is known as Imphal after which the capital city was named. The other
rivers smaller than the Imphal are the Iril, thoubal, Irnag, Nambul etc. Other smal
ltributaries, viz. Jiri and Chiri constitute the river Bairad of Borak.
Manipur’s sceneric beauty, lake and water resources, craftsmanship etc. are encompassed and picturesque. It is ful of various orchids. Manipur is also famous for its dances and rare and beautiful exquisite handicrafts. It has its famousVishnu Mandir at Bishnupur of
Bishenpur, Govinda Mandir at Imphal, and the Loktak
lake, the biggest fresh water lake in India. Presently, the lake is projected with a Hydro-Electric power plant. The Rathband Bazar of Thangal Bazar of Khuwai at Imphal is administered entirely by the women folk and is the largest Asin market of its kind. Keibul Lamijao is the only floated national park located in Manipur. The Orchid yard of Khongapat is attractive as well as famous too.
The Arjuna and Chitrangada
In the Mahabharata, and Dharani
Sanghita, Manipur is mentioned as the meeting place of Arjuna, the third
pandava and Chitrangada, the crown Princess of Manipur. Prachin
Manipurer Itihas by Shri Mahendra kumar Singh States that this
place, with a bay like Lake Logtak in the centre surrounded by hill -bounded
plain land, was the kingdom of Chitra Bahana, a Gandharva king as par the
epic Mahabharata. According to Mahabharata, his daughter Chitrangada( or
Chitranggoda) attracted to Arjuna from hastinapura and got herself married
to him. Babhrubahana is the son of Chitrangada, belonged to Kshatrya of Chandra
Bangsa, ruled Manipur after Chitrabahana.
Dharani Sanghita ( part 4,
Narad-Janmejoy sambad)States that Manipur or Mekholy was the
meeting place of Arjuna, the third Pandava and Chitrangoda , the crown
princess of Manipur.
are numerous genealogy prevailing in Manipur relating the lands as reclaimed from
water by Lord Siva’s
Trisul, while another lined makes it the place illuminated by the jewel on the crown of
Shesh Nag for Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to play Rasleela
The evidences of
KurmaPurana show that Chitrangada pleases Lord Siva through her worship. And
the place where she worshiped Lord Siva, became a holy place where Vyasa
himself paid a visit.
after sunset. Spurred by the example of Lord Krishna and Srimati Radhika immersed in
Rasleela, their privacy guaranteed by Lord Siva as the gatekeeper, Goddess
Parvati had requested Lord Siva dance with her.(13)
Apart from folk stories and legends, there is historical evidences of some Aryan
migration in the valley took part in the remote past. The myth and lore of Manipur refers to the
supreme deity or Dau Seidaba rubbing hands to create from the Gods and Goddesses the human being to people the new land
Mahabharata, Manipur and the Meiteis
Meitei Scholars like Pandit Atombapu Sharma, W.Yamjao Singh hold that the origin
of the Meiteis can be traced to the Aryan. According to them, the Meiteis
are the descendants of group of people coming from Mithila (Videha) which is the
eastern frontier of Aryan culture for a long time.
(14)The word Meithei derives its
name from mithila. Atombapu Sharma developed his theory on geographical,
Astronomical and philological grounds in his writings. Both of them have shown
that Meitei language is derived from Sankrit and its grammer is based on
Sanskrit. Here are some extracts regarding the relation between Sanskrit
and Meitei language, as stated by W. Yamjao Singh in his work, An
Early History of Manipur, 1966, page 57 -
Goloka - Korou, Heaven
Shylak - Shelou, brother in law
Palak - Phalou, protecter
Shringa - Ching, mountain
Nithakur - Ningthou, king
R.K. Jhaljit Singha says that ".. Chitrangada, the princess of the
kingdom. She was of the complexion of a madhuka flower i.e, mahua flower. A
mahua flower is of golden colour. Chitrangada was of golden complexion. This
suggests that she might be Mongoloid descent".
According to them,
the meiteis are the descendants of group of people coming from Mithila (Videha)
which is the eastern frontier of Aryan culture for a long time. The word
Meithei derives its name from Mithila.
However, sir G. A. Grierson, E.T. Dalton and T. C. Hudson holds that the
Meiteis and their language is affiliated to kuki chin group of Tibeto-Burman
family. According to Dr.M. Kirti Singh, "to say that the earliest form of Meitei
language has been developed out of Sanskrit is a hypothesis which at the moment cannot be proved or
Mahabharata, Manipur and the Bishnupriya Manipuris
On the other hand Bishnupriya Scholars like Shri Mahendra Kumar Singha, Pandit
Sena Singha and some other history writers
hold that Babhrubahana and his descendents comprising of many other colonies of
Indo-Aryan Stock are called Bishnupriya, speaking a language of Indo-Aryan
language. According to them, They are worshippers of Vishnu and Lord Vishnu was
installed by Babhrubahana from Hastinapura. Their view is that, Meiteis
and Meitei language is of kuki-chin origin and a kuki-chin group language group
cannot be related with the people and language of epic Mahabharata.(16)
They hold that BPM
is highly influenced by the Sanskrit and Maharastri as well as Sauraseni
Prakrits that is colloquial language of the soldiers and the people of
Kuru Panchaya and Mathsadesh including Hastina Indraprastha
Shri Jagat Mohan Singha and Sri Birendra Singha developed the theory on
observation of morphology, vocables and phonology of Bishnupriya Manipuri
(BPM) language. They hold that BPM is highly influenced by the Sanskrit
and Maharastri as well as Sauraseni Prakrits.(17) Sauraseni Prakrit colloquial
language of the soldiers and the people of Kuru Panchaya and Mathsadesh
including Hastina Indraprastha etc. All the characteristics of Mahararstri and
Sauraseni Prakrits are exactly found in the BPM. For example, the verbal forms
change following number, gender or the subjects in Bishnupriya Manipuri as
visible in the Vedic, Pali and Prakrit language -
1st person - Mi Jauriga ( I am going )
2nd Person - Ti Jarga ( You go )
3rd person - Ta Jarga ( He goes ), Ta Jakga ( he may go )
Plural 1st person - Ami Jiarga ( We are going )
2nd Person - Tumi Jaraiga ( You go )
3rd person - Tanu Jitaraga ( They go ) , Tanu Jakaga ( They may go )
W.Shaw and Raj Mohan Nath , two eminent scholars are of the view that "
Bishnupriya " with its Devanagari script had been language of ancient
On the other hand, some other Bishnupriya Scholars like Dr. K.P. Sinha has
objected to claim of Manipur to the alleged connection of Hindu legend. Dr.
Sinha tried to prove his theory on the basis that Bishnupriya Manipuri language
as a resultant language of Magadhi Prakrit.(19)
According to him the
origin of a language is to be inferred not from the history of the people; the
origin of a community and the origin of their language do not necessarily go
Whether The Present Manipur is that of the Epic
References of Manipur in
The name “Manipura” never occurs in the Ramayana, the earliest
extant Epic of India . In Kiskindhya Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana there are
certain stanzas which may be interpreted with some sort of imagination as
stating the areas in and around Manipur . The direction of the serch party of
monkeys was given by Sugriva with references to the Kiratas, the inhabitants of
References of Manipur in
The Mahabharata is said to have been written by Sage Vyasa sometime between
400 B.C. and 200 A.D. The word Maha in Sanskrit is an adjective that
means something that is great or extraordinary and Bharata is India, but
this Epic is about much more than just India. It transcends culture and religion
and at the very core of the ancient storyline lies a simple
..it is a story of good versus evil, of families in turmoil, of jealousy and betrayal and at the heart of it all, a fight for the truth. Though they are mixed with a lot of fiction, all the incidents in the Mahabharata have a historical value
theme that all of
mankind can relate too. It is a story of good versus evil, of families in
turmoil, of jealousy and betrayal and at the heart of it all, a fight for the truth.(21)
Though they are mixed with a lot of fiction, all the incidents in the
Mahabharata have a historical value. In Mahabharata, there is reference to Manipur in at least four different places
(1) The first reference to Manipur is in the Adi Parva on the occasion
of Arjuna going from Hiranyavindu to see the astern region. After seeing the
Mahendra Mountains, he proceeded slowly along the coast, reached Manipur and
married Chitrangoda, the princess.
(2) The second reference is in Ashwamedha Parva in connection with the
roaming of the sacrificial (Ashwamedha Yogya) horse guarded by Arjuna and
the eventual fight between him and his son Babhrubahana, the king of
(3) The third reference of Manipur in Mahabharata, is in the Ashwamedha
Parva once again. Arjuna sent a message to Krishna to inform Yudhisthira that
Babhrubahana, king of Manipur, would attend the horse-sacrifice. Then
Babhrubahana arrived in Hastinapura with Chitrangoda and Ulupi and they were
received with honor and affection.
(4) The forth reference is in Mahaprasthanic Parva. The five brother and
Droupadi left the capital to leave India for good and reach heaven in flesh and
blood. Ther were followd by a dog. Subhadra remained in Hastinapura, but
Chtrangoda returned to Manipura city.
We read in the Bhagavata-purana the Adi parva and
Asva-medha parva of the Mahabharata how Vyasa referred to it in the Epic.(22)
The first is in Adi Parva on the occasion of Arjuna going from Anga, Vanga and
Kalinga to see the eastern region . In Manipur he approached King Chitravahana
with a request for the marriage of Chitrangada . The proposal prevailed on the
condition that Chitrangada’s son would be given to Chitravahana . He was without
any male issue to succeed him . Arjuna stayed in Manipur for three years and
begot a son called Vabhrubahana who became king of Manipur .(23)
As regards the the second reference on Asvamedha sacrifice,
we are told that the horse entered Manipur from Sindhu. Arjuna was defeated and
killed by his son, Vabhruvahana . He was restored to life by Ulupi, the daughter
of the Naga chief, whom Arjuna had married before the marriage of Chitrangada.(24)
The Second Reference
R.K. Jhalajit Singh
analyzed the second reference in the following manner - after the battle, the horse, having roamed over the " whole earth
bounded by the ocean", turned his face towards Hastinapura and the
return journey began. Arjuna as before followed the horse. On the return
journey, the horse came to Rajagriha, the capital city of Magadha.
What does the above account prove ? What is the meaning of " whole earth
bounded by the ocean"? Evidently the horse did not roam over the whole
earth as it is known to us today. He simply roamed all over India as known to
the Indo-Aryans of those days. So, " whole earth bounded by the
ocean" simply means India.
Let us take one instance. After the horse sacrifice , Yudhisthiira gave"
the whole earth" to Vyasa as largesse( Dakshina). Evidently,
Yudhisthira could give those areas now covered by say, South America, Africa, or
Newziland. By the word " the whole earth" , he meant India as
known to him. Yudhisthira could give this as it was already traversed by the
horse and conquered by Arjuna.
Evidently the horse did not roam over the whole
earth as it is known to us today. He simply roamed all over India as known to
the Indo-Aryans of those days. So, " whole earth bounded by the
ocean" simply means India
By referring to the sacrificial horse after reaching Manipur as "
having roamed over the whole earth bounded by the ocean", the
author of the epic simply means that on reaching Manipur, the horse had come to
the frontier of India. That this frontier was the western frontier will be clear
next from the incident narrated in the epic. While returning to Hastinapura (
near Modern Delhi) from Manipura, the horse passed through Rajgriha (Modern
Rajgir near Patna). This can happen if, and only if, Manipur lies to the east of
Patna. In plain language, Manipura was on the eastern frontier of India. The
Manipur of today is the Manipura of Mahabharata.
Look at a physical map of Asia.(26)
It will be seen that India before the British conquest was marked out from the
rest of Asia by nature by hills and mountains and the seas. On the north are the
Himalayas. At the western extremity of Himalayas, ranges of hills emerges from
them and reach the Arabian sea or the western seas ancient Indians call it. From
the eastern extremity of Himalayas also, ranges of hills emerge and reach the
bay of Bengal or the eastern sea as the ancient Indians called it. So the
Western Sea, the western arm of the Himalayas, the Himalayas, the eastern arm of
the Himalayas and the Eastern sea formed, broadly speaking, the boundary this
India, on its eastern frontier of India in ancient and medieval times.
Earlier references to Manipuri
and its civilization(27)
There was a regular trade-route by land from China via
Manipur, upper India to Afganistan and thence to Europe. Col Gerini in his
Researches on Ptolemy’s geography says “According to Burmese Royal Chronicles
(Maharaja Vamsa) Dhajaraja, a king of Sakya race, settled of Manipur, about 550
B.C. and later on conquered, Tagaung old or upper Pagan.”(28)
G.E. Harvey in his History of Burma lay inaecessible, true, it was nearer to
China which from the second century B.C. used trade routes through Burma .” A
footnote thereto runs thus, “Two were along the Irrawaddy and Salwen River , the
third down the Chindwin River and through Manipur took Caravans a three months,
journey to Afganistan where the skills of China were exchanged for the gold of
A . Phayre describes the route in his History of Burma . “The route by which
Kshatriya princes arrived (in Burma) is indicated in the traditions as being
through Manipur which lies within the basin of Irrawaddy .”(30)
According to the Chinese texts, the Indian influence
exerted since the second century B.C. in the mountainous regions of Upper
Valleys of the Chindwin, the Irawaddy, the Salwen, the Mekong and the Red River
as far as Yunnan, which was known by its Indian name, Gandhara . It persists for
13 centuries . There are Chinese names of these several kingdoms.(31)
D.G.E. Hall refers to aroad connecting Lower Burma with India via the bank of
the Irawaddy, the bank of the Chindwin and Manipur.(32)
There are four pieces of coins collected by Yumjao Singh from which we may draw
ther trade relationship between Manipur and India in the early period. The
account of Hiuen-Tsang and Kamakhyatantra contain references to Manipur as a
part of Kamarupa .(33)
From these facts we knowthat Manipur was an ancient kingdom and there were
commercial and cultural contacts between Manipur and Burma, China, etc., through
Hindu Dynasties in Upper Burma
If we also go back to historical evidences we shall have to see the root of establishment
of Hindu dynasties in upper Burma. All the Hindu dynasties settled in upper
Burma had to come across Manipur from the western and Northern India by road as
Manipur was only the gateway of Far-East.
(34)The beauty of the land Manipur, lake Logtak and its surrounding areas also might have attracted them and some of them
settled there and reigned there for years together.
All the Hindu dynasties settled in upper Burma had to come across Manipur from the western and Northern India by road as Manipur was only the gateway of Far-East.
Now let us analyze the process of Aryan migration in Manipur. The land
was known to the rest of world
from ancient times. Panini, who lived in the 4th century B.C., mentions in his
famous grammar a good number of places in India. Among the names so mentioned in
Surmasa, which is identified as the valley of Surma. The valley of Surma is, as
it were, the western gate of Manipur. The Valley of Surma or the Barak comes
right upto the western fringe of Manipur. Between Sylhet and the western fringe
of Manipur, there is no
Once the Aryans reached there, it was easy for them to reach the Manipur Valley, for this valley was on an international route connecting the Gangetic valley with Burma and beyond. The route connecting the western bend of the Barak with Torbung in the Manipur valley was the easiest.
impediment such as hills, forests, big rivers or wide
deserts. Once the Indo-Aryans reached Sylhet, they reached the western
border of Manipur in a matter of decades. Once they reached there, it was easy
for them to reach the Manipur Valley, for this valley was on an international
route connecting the Gangetic valley with Burma and beyond. The route connecting
the western bend of the Barak with Torbung in the Manipur valley was the
easiest. It was wide enough to allow the passage of elephants.(35)
Aryan Migration and Influence in Manipur
Let us observe some historical keynotes on the origin of Manipuris and their migration,
settlements and cultural penetration in the land of Manipur -
"Chanting 'Omkar', Sannskrit language, now obsolete, and Vedic
rituals were prevailing in Manipur. As such the race of people inhabiting
Manipur was distinctly Aryan" ( English translation from original
Meitei Puran Bijoy Panchali Edited by L. Mani singh and Shri Mangi
Singh / part II Page 138).
"By degrees, the Meiteis became dominant and that name was applied to the entire colony.
now that they claim to be Hindu decent. It is highly probable that these hordes overrun a country( Manipur) that has been previously occupied by the people
of Aryan blood known in the western India and to the Bards."
Dalton, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, 1872, page 48, 49 .
"Thus from the erliest
time Manipur was a Brahminical kingdom and was learned well enough, their
fame in astrology teaches us as far as the distinct part of China"
W. Yamjao sing, An Early History Of Manipur, Page-23.
"Although the general facial characteristics of the
Mannipurie are of Mongolian type, there is great diversity of fetures among
them, some of them showing regularly approaching the aryan type".
Dr. R. Brown, Imperial hazetteer of India, 1908, Vol xvii , page
" The valley was originally occupied by several tribes
principals were Khumal, Luwang, Moirang and Meitai all of whom came from
different quarters of whom khumals are the most powerful and after them the
Moirangs but ultimately the Meitais subdued them and form them into a single
people." Assam District gazeteer, Part -IX by V.C Elen, page 11.
" It was 33 A.D. that written
language really began among the clans of Manipur specially among the
Luwangs, Angoms, Khumals and the Moirangs"
Dr. M. Kiriti singh,Religious development in
Manipur in 28th and 19th century, page-25.
" In the collection of coins
there are a few pieces of the 2nd century A.D. of the Christian era, its
legend is in the Devanagari scripts" W. Yamjao sing, An Early History Of Manipur, Page-127.
" Hinduism is of comparatively recent origin though
the records of the Brahmin families claim in some cases that founder of
family settled in the valley at so remote a date as the middle of 15th
century" T.C. Hudson, The Meitheis, 1903,page 69.
"The people (Manipuris) are known to the Burmese as
Ponnas that is Brahmanas." Sir G. A. greorson
Lingustic Survey of India, Part III, vol III
"The Chinese record of the 2nd century A.D. - as
stated by Pelliot mentions the existance of great -Brahmins in Manipurt and
small Brahmins in Hukong vally"
R.M. Nath, The Background of Assamese Culture
Page 86, 2nd edn, 1978.
The land Manipur was formerly divided
into small territories occupied by different clans of peoples, namely, the
Khumals, the Moirangs, The Angoms, The Luwangs, the Ningthoujas, etc. The
territories were after the names of the respective clans and they lived
side by side in Manipur for centuries. In course of time the Meiteis occupied
all the territories towards 15th century AD and established a
sovereign kingdom known as ‘ Meitei –Leipak’ ( the land of Meiteis).
E.Geraini, in his work, Researches on Ptolemy's Geography, States that
" Bishnupur was the ancient capital of Manipur and Imphal locally
known as kangla or kangleipak was the capital of the Meitei Leipak of the later
period which finds mentioned in the Meitei purana, i.e. Bijoy panchalee."
So, Imphal come into existence in much later period than that of the city of
Bishnupur as stated by Prof. Padmanath Battacharjee.
we talk of the history in respect of the Aryan population, their migration,
settlements and cultural penetration and the development of political
institutions in Manipur Valley, there are a little source of information's about
this. Ancient temples like the Vishnu temple of Bishnupur, Govindajiew temple in
imphal, the Kohima stone, old palaces and other related buildings etc. supply us
little more historical information's.(37) Furthermore, the establishment of an
indo-Aryanstate in the remote period in Manipur in indicated by Geraini, "
From the Brahmaputra and Manipur to the tonkin gulf, we can trace a continuous
string of petty states ruled by those scions of the ksatriyo race, using the
sanskrit or pali language in official documents and inscriptions, buildings,
temples and monuments of old Hindu style and employing Brahmin priests at the
propitiatory ceremonies connected with the court, and the state".
we talk of the history migration, settlements and cultural
penetration and the development of political institutions in Manipur
Valley, there are a little source of information's. Ancient temples like
the Vishnu temple of Bishnupur, Govindajiew temple in
imphal, the Kohima stone, old palaces and other related buildings etc. supply us
little more historical information's
Moreover, the geographical location of the Manipur Valley gives it a partial
isolation from the mainland for a long period in the past. It was only after the
advent of the Aryans in the valley ages ago, it adopted open door policy to all
and soon it became a part and percale in the Indian panorama.
Whether The Present Manipur is that of the Epic
A brief resume of the views and reasons of the above scholars proves the
following things -
(1) Manipur as a part of India was of immemorial antiquity, The extent of the
country is different but the country remains the same .(38)
(2) The Route by which Arjuna came to Manipur must be the course of the Surma or
Barak river . This was the only hill-route connecting Manipur Valley with Surma
Valley till the opening of the motorable Imphal- Dimapur road in the 20th
century. We read of the Brahmans and other immigrants coming in large number for
settlement in Manipur in historical times.(39)
(3) If Arjuna returened from Manipur to Hastina and halted at Rajagriha we may
infer that Patna and Manipur are on the same latitude.(40)
(4) There is a living popuar tradition in present Manipur
that it represents the old kingdom mentioned in the Mahabharata as the birth
place of Chitrangada and Vabruvahana . No such tradition exist in any part of
Orissa and no memory of a locality named Manalur In some manuscripts of the
Mahabharata as well as in the Adi Parva the name is written as Manular instead
of Manipur) has survived .(41)
(5) The antiquity of Manipur is proved not only by the variant reading in the
Mahabharata Manuseripts but also by unambiguous references in the Puranas , Thus
Bhavishya-Purana (Brahmakhanda) mentions it along with Lauhitya,
Traipura(Tripura) and Jayanta
(Jaintia Hills) .”(42)
People and Culture
The people are simple and happy. They speak sweet words. The place is the land of diverse origins, but of a unique culture. Here different ethnic groups of people are living together for centuries with peace and harmony. Majority people of the State are the
Meiteis. Other people of present Manipur include Bishnupriya Manipuris, Naga,
Meitei Pangal and other colourful communities which have lived together in
complete harmony for centuries. These are the people whose folklore, myths &
legends, dances, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms &
handicrafts are infested with the mystique of nature. The Hill tribes of Manipur although divided into a number of clans and sections, maybe grouped under the two divisions -Naga's and
Kuki's.Manipur is a mosaic of traditions and cultural patterns, best represented by its dance forms. The
Lai-Haraoba, a traditional stylized dance is ritual dance for appeasing gods and goddesses.
is said that when Krishna, Radha and the Gopies danced the
Ras Leela, Shiva made sure that no one disturbed the beauty
of the dancing. Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva also
wished to see this dance, so to please her, he chose the
beautiful area of Manipur and re-enacted the Ras Leela.
Maharaja Bhagyo Chandra Singha - King of Manipur introduced
the "Manipuri Maha Rasaleela " in the Manipur
valley during his reign.
Lai-Haraoba festival is generally celebrated between April and May, after the harvest season, The Ras songs and dances express the
Leelas (sports) of Lord Krishna as a child with the Gopis milkmaids) of
Brindavan, and depict their yearning for communion with the Lord. The tribal dances of Manipur are the expression of love, creativity and aestheticism of the tribal people of the State. Manipuris were earlier recognized as skilful warriors and still practice the arts of wrestling, sword fighting and martial arts.
Sogol Kangiei (Mainipuri Polo) is the principal sport of the State, for polo is believed to have originated here.
Mukna Kangiei (Wrestling Hockey) is also a very popular game in Manipur. The game is part of a ceremonial function and enjoyed due patronage in the olden days. Another popular game known as
Yubi-Lakpi (Manipur Rugby) is played, using a greased coconut.
It is grown at the peak of the Shiroy Kashang Mountain at a height of 8400 feet above sea level situated in Ikhrul district of Manipur.
The Shiroy Lily belongs to Lilium family, but unique in character. By using a microscopic lens, seven colours which claimed its superiority to
other lilies in the world can be seen light pink in color. The height of the plant varies from 2 ft. to 31/2ft. depending on the soils fertility
Shiroy Lily is not grown anywhere in the world accept Shiroy Kanhong of Manipur. It is said
that Priincess Chitrangoda of Manipur had own the heart of Arjuna in her first meeting by offering a Shiroy Lily. Arjuna was so impressed with the beauty and fragrance of the flower that he at once lost himself on her.
This Shiroy Lily starts blooming during the months of May-June every year on the laden mineral mountain of the Shiroy. It was discovered first by a
British naturalists Mr. Kingdom ward, who gave it the Botanical name Lilium Mackleanae and won him the show in London in the 1948.(43)
Manipur was an independent princely State earlier. In 1891, it become a British
protectorate. The State later on merged with the union of India on October 15, 1949. It was than
categorized a ‘C’ group state on January 26, 1960 and finally on January 21, 1972. She got her full
Statehood within constitutional limits of India.
Presently, it is divided into eight administrative units, i.e. districts. These are again
distributed as Valley Districts consisting of Bishnupur or Bishenpur, Imphal and Thoubal and Hils Districts includes Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Candel. Besides,
there are nine other important towns and about 2089 villages in the state. It has six Autonomous District Councils. They are Tengnoura Autonomous District Council. Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council, Manipur North Autonomous District Council, Manipur South Autonomous District Council, Manipur East Autonomous District Council and Manipur West Autonomous District Councils. All these administrative units are well and properly connected with the State Administration. Imphal the capital city of the State of Manipur is the largest and an
important city having over one and a half lakh population. The
population of Bishnpur and Moirang are 1,79,903 ( Males: 90415 and Females : 89,488) as in 1993
The State Symbol
The State symbol or emblem of Manipur is Kanglasha ( Nongsaba), i.e. half lion and half
State symbol or emblem of Manipur is Kanglasha ( Nongsaba), i.e. half lion and half
dragon. Sangai or brown antlered deer is the State animal, while Nongin remained as the State bird. Iningthiu is regarded as the State tree and the world famous Shiroy Lily ( Lilium) is the State flower of Manipur. Friday, January 21 (1972) is the Statehood day and Date of Manipur.
(1) Dr. M. Kirti Singha, Religious developments in Manipur in the
18th and 19th century, 1980, pp 1-2.
(2) Col. McCullock quoted by many writers like W. Yamjao Singh, E.
W. Dun etc.
(3) Yule and Burnell, A Glossary of Anglo Indian Words, p, 597.
(4) Vide Anglo-Manipuri Treaty of 1763
(5) R. K. Sanahal Singh, Glimpse of Manipur, p,3.
(6) Savita Devi, N Mehta's Aricle contributed in A.I.Y.C 1964, pp
(7) H. Kulabiddhu Singh, Manipuri Dances, p, 16; F. Bowers, The
Dances in India, pp, 109-110.
(8) Vide T. C. Hudson, The Meitheis, 1908
(9) Singha Jagat Mohan & Singha Birendra, The Bishnupriya Manipuris
&Their Language, 1975, pp 5-22
(10) Dr.M. Kirti Singh, Religion and Cuture of Manipur, 1988,
(11) Bidhan Singha,Cultural Heritage of North-East India, Guahati,
(12) Vide Shri Mohendra Kumar Singha, Prachin Manipurer Itihas.
(13) References from Bidhan Singha,Cultural Heritage of North-East
India, Guahati, 1999
(14) vide the publication Unfolding Truth edited by S. Janaki, 1992
(15) Dr.M. Kirti Singh, in religious development in Manipur in 18th
and 19th century, pp 15-24.
(16) vide the memorandam to the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India
submitted by Bishnupriya Manipuri Sahitya Sabha, Dated Aug 30, 1990
(17) Singha Jagat Mohan & Singha Birendra, The Bishnupriya Manipuris
&Their Language, 1975, Chapter -II, pp 1-21.
(18) Barun Kumar Sinha, Imarging Pattern of the Bisnupriya Manipury
Society- A Study in Cultural Identity.
(19) Dr. K.P. Sinha, A note on the term Bishnupriya Manipuri, 1975
(20) L.Ibunbgohal singh, Introduction to Manipur, pp 51-52
(21) Lupa's Mahabharata Page at
(22) W. Yamjao Singh, An early history of manipur, pp 7-16, 24-27,
(23) R.C. Majumdar, Expansion of Aryan Culture in eastern india, pp
12,15; M. jhulon Singh, Bijoy Panchali, pp 23-25.
(24) Atombapu Sharma, Manipur Itihas, pp 238-269
(25) References from "Manipur from 1508-1709" by R.K. Jhalajit
Singh, published from Yaiskul Hiruhanba Leikai, Imphal, 1999, pages
(26) R.K. Jhalajit Singh, Manipur from 1508-1709, p 6.
(27) References from Dr. M. Kirti Singha, Religious developments in
Manipur in the 18th and 19th century, 1980, pp 6-7.
(28) Col Geini quoted by L Ibungohal Singh, Introduction to Manipur,
(29) G.E. Harvey, History of Burma, p 9.
(30) Sir A. Phyre, History of Burma, p 3
(31) R.C. Majumdar, Expansion of Aryan Culture in eastern india, p
(32) D.G.E. Hall, History of South east Asia, p 121
(33) W. Yamjao Singh, Report on Archaoelogical studies in Manipur, p
(34) Bishnupriya Manipuri Sahitya Sabha, Movement for safeguard of
ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity, 1993, p 8.
(35) R.K. Jhalajit Singh, Manipur from 1508-1709, pp 4-5.
(36) Bidhan Singha,Cultural Heritage of North-East India, 1999, p
(37) manipuri dance at
(38) Dr. M. Kirti Singha's inference from his discussion in
Religious developments in Manipur in the 18th and 19th century, 1980
(39) This point is based on the materials from Bamon khun Thoklon
and Takhel Ngamba MSS.
(40) L Ibungohal Singh, Introduction to Manipur, pp 5-6
(41) R.C. Majumdar, Expansion of Aryan Culture in eastern india, p
(42) See fn. 41
(43) Ref. of Bidhan Singha,Cultural Heritage of North-East
India, Guahati, 1999
(44) Ref. of Bidhan Singha,Cultural Heritage of North-East
India, Guahati, 1999
(45) Info. collected from E-Pao! News About Manipur at
Sources and references: Dr. M. Kirti Singha
- Religious developments in Manipur in the 18th and 19th century,
1980 Dr. M. Kirti Singha
- Religion and Culture of Manipur, 1988
Johnstone, J. -
My Experience in Manipur
and Naga Hills, 1896 Dr. K.P. Sinha - The Bishnupriya Manipuri Language, 1984 W. Yamjao Sing - An Early History of
Manipur, 1966 L Ibunghal Singh - Introduction to Manipur , 1987 Dr. R. Brown - Imperial hazetteer of India, 1908, Vol xvii R.M. Nath - , The Background of
Assamese Culture 2nd edn, 1978.
Sir G. A. greorson - Lingustic Survey of India, Part III, vol
Panchali - Edited by L. Mani singh and Shri Mangi Singh /
part II Prof. Jyotirmoy Roy - History of
Manipur 1973 Sri Atombapu Sharma - Manipur Itihas, Part 2
Bidhan Singha - Cultural Heritage of North-East India,
Guahati, 1999 Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen - Brihod Bongo, 1935 Shri Ochchutcharan Chaudhury - Srihotter Itibritta, 1905 Shri Sena singha- Prachinadhunik Somkhipta monipurer
Itihas Shri Mukundalal Chowdhury- Manipurer Itihas Shri Mohendra Kumar Singha - Prachin Manopurer
Itihas Shri Krishnamohon Dhar -Purbabango O Assam, 1909 R.K. Jhaljit Singh - Manipur from 1508-1709), 1999 Bhimsen Singha - Let History and Facts speak about
Manipuris, Silchar 1984 NBMM - The Mahasabha review , 1970 NBMSS - Movement for safeguard of ethnic, cultural and
linguistic identity, 1993 S. Janaki - Unfolding Truth, 1992
Bishnupriyas, Manipuri Brahmins, Meitei pangons,Aimols,Kacha Nagas,
Koiraos, Vaipheis,Koirengs,Koms,Marams and Some other hill tribes.
Bishnupriya Manipuri, Hindi, English, Mizo, and local dialects.
Sanamahism, Christianity, Islam.
82 ( per
sqr km )
Imphal, Iril, Nambul, Sekmai, Chakpi, Thoubal and Khuga.
capita State Income
the beautiful capital city in the valley; Mao and Ukhrul,
the picturesque hill resorts; Taminglong, with its exotic
landscape; Chandel, home to amazing tribes; Khonggom
and Moirang, reminders of the British Raj in India.
line permit is required by Domestic Tourists and Restricted
Area Permit is required by Foreign Tourists.