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Manipur
The Land of Jewels
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Contents:

The  Land of Manipur

 

Origin of the name of Manipur

Physiography

 

Manipur,Mahabharata & the Meiteis

Manipur,Mahabharata & the Bishnupriyas

 

Whether Present Manipuri is that of the Epic

People and Culture

 

The Shiroy Lily

Administrative Units

 

Archives

GuestBook

 

Links:

Manipuri Dance

 
Bishnupriya Manipuri Language

Bishnupriya Manipuri literature

 
Bishnupriya Manipuri Culture
A Tribute to Manipuri Religion

 

Manipur: The Switzerland of India

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. (8)

Most orthodox Bishnupriya Manipuris and some section of Meiteis believe that they are the people traced their ancestry with the Arjuna Chitrangada Babhrubahana 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. 


 

Physiography

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 famous Vishnu 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. (11)


 


The Arjuna and Chitrangada Story

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. (12)


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. 


Besides, there 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 Manipur.



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 unproved". (15)

 



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 -  

Singular
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 Manipur.(18) 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 together.



Whether The Present Manipur is that of the Epic

References of Manipur in the Ramayana

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 Manipur.(20)

References of Manipur in the Mahabharata

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 Manipur. 

(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. 

The First Refernce

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 (25) 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 Europe .”(29) 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 these passes.


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) 
    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." 
    E.T. 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 126.
  • " 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). G. 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. (36)

If 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".


If 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. 

 


It 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. 


The 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.

 



The Shiroy Lily

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)

 



Administrative Units

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 census. 
(44)



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


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. (45)


Footnotes:

(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 7-9
(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, introductory notes.
(11) Bidhan Singha,Cultural Heritage of North-East India, Guahati, 1999
(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 www.home.earthlink.net/~shubhrasudha/lopa3.html
(22) W. Yamjao Singh, An early history of manipur, pp 7-16, 24-27, 32-33
(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 5-6.
(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, pp 9-10.
(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 48
(32) D.G.E. Hall, History of South east Asia, p 121
(33) W. Yamjao Singh, Report on Archaoelogical studies in Manipur, p 5
(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 26.
(37) manipuri dance at http://manipuri.20m.com
(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 45
(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 http://www.e-pao.net



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 III
Bijoy 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 SenBrihod Bongo, 1935 
Shri Ochchutcharan Chaudhury - Srihotter Itibritta, 1905
Shri Sena singhaPrachinadhunik 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
 


Archives
(Click the links to view) 

Page 124-125 of Purbabango O Assam, 1909 by Shri Krishnamohon Dhar

Page 32 of Brihod Banga ( Kolkata,1935 ) by Dinesh Chandra sen

Assam Khanda, Page 42 by Dr. Anuradha Banarjee 

Page 722 from Biswakosh (Encyclopedia Indica, vol XIII, 1309, Bangla) by Sri Nagendranath Basu

Sri KrisnaMohan Dhar, writer of Purbabanga o Assam ( 1909),page 126

ByasaDeva's Mahabharata ( Sloks  9 -13,  chapter 211, Adiparva ), Bengali scripts


 


Manipur Profile


Location - North East of India
Capital - Imphal
Area - 22,347 Sq.Km.
Population - 2,388,634 (as per 2001 census)
The People - Meiteis, Bishnupriyas, Manipuri Brahmins, Meitei pangons,Aimols,Kacha Nagas, Koiraos, Vaipheis,Koirengs,Koms,Marams and Some other hill tribes. 
Languages Spoken - Meitei, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Hindi, English, Mizo, and local dialects.
State Emblem - Kangla Shaa
Major Religions - Hinduism, Sanamahism, Christianity, Islam.
Literacy rate - 68.87 % (2001)
Density of Population - 82 ( per sqr km )
Major Rivers - Imphal, Iril, Nambul, Sekmai, Chakpi, Thoubal and Khuga.
Urbanization rate - 27.69%
State Domestic Product - Rs. 7610 Mln. (1991-92)
Per capita State Income - Rs. 4,180 (1991-92)
Tourism

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Imphal, 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.
Entry Formalities

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Inner line permit is required by Domestic Tourists and Restricted Area Permit is required by Foreign Tourists.

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