The arrival of Hinduism to the Manipuri Society during the 17th Century is the root of all this confused state of my mind. Various Manipuri scholars, historians and social activists had interpreted the entry of the Hinduism in their own views and perspectives. Some said it was the beginning of a new Manipuri civilization but some said it was an invasion. As found at some of the writings of social scientists – the arrival of Hinduism during the reign of Miedingu Pamheiba (1709–1748) had brought tremendous change in the religious practices of Manipur.
In his letter to his daughter Indira Gandhi, the first prime Minister of India wrote – Gods comes as a product of the fear of mankind. If scientists have succeeded in making a time travel machine, where we could go back to the prehistoric days, all sorts of confusions would have been solved. Even though we don’t have the opportunity to go back to the pass we could still culled the series of events that might have happened during the days.
Scholars say – early people had to struggle hard for their survival. Professor Ratan Kumar Singh of the Manipur University while presenting his famous paper –”God in Manipuri Literature” in the Oxford Round Table Conference during April month in 2011 vividly explain the life our ancestors. As according to his presentation the early people were surrounded by hostile forces of nature and the environment. Their living conditions, to a great extend were influenced by the forces beyond their control. And they had a need to provide some explanations and accounts for the good and the bad things which happened to them along with those of the favourable and the adversaries. It is a very interesting fact that many of the forces were often personified and given name and personalities. This phenomenon was perhaps the first step for having beliefs and religious rituals. And consequently a number of gods and goddess representing the various elemental forces and qualities appeared.
The reason for bringing up this piece of write up is to remind that religions and rituals are the product of human civilization. Be it metiesm Sanamahi or the Hinduism or the Christianity – they are product of the human civilization.
May be our foremost ancestors might not have a god or a religion as they were yet to begin a civilization. The great grandparents of our great grandparents who were survived before the reign of Meidingu Pamheiba might have been following a religion which was counterproductive of their ancestors. May be, after force conversions or willy-nilly adoption, my ancestors, who were born after the reign of Meidingu Pamheiba have become Hindu. In course of time the Hindu rituals finds its way to the veins of the Manipuri society and become a part of it. The rich culture of the region which were flourished since Meitei civilization became into existence began to establish in a new outlook. These new traditions, along with the ancient indigenous traditions, were in existence simultaneously in Manipuri Culture. To the words of Professor Ratan – It was in some aspects we find a beautiful amalgamation of pre-Hinduism and Hinduism element in Manipuri Culture.
The rich heritage of Manipuri Culture and its recognition to the world community is the product of the ancient indigenous traditions streams through the newly invaded religion called Hindu. The Hindu that has been flourishing to the society this erstwhile kingdom is in no way a curse but rather a boon.
Indeed the traditional Meiteism culture and the newly entered Hinduism adopted by our ancestors are the two sides of the same coin. There are beauty and respect to the rituals of Hindus and we have reason to feel proud to the rituals of my Sanamahi religion.
Except that our looks sometimes made us guilty in identifying as Hindu while travelling to the mainland country.