Repeating the History & Absorption of RSS ideology will lead to Identity crises in Meitei Society

/ Guest Column / Wednesday, 14 October 2020 18:29

By- Buyamayum Liyaquat Al
Sources from historical data indicates that Hinduism came in Manipur during the reign of King Kyamba. Kyamba was one of the greatest kings of Manipur. He was a great conqueror, a wise statesman and administrator who made a remarkable contribution to the civilization of Manipur. The king of Pong(Assam & Myanmar), Khekhomba presented Kyamba a stone image of God in a silver casket. Kyamba directed his officials to bring the Brahmins who will be able to worship the statue. The officials found some Brahmins taking bath at the PaonamHiden of the Imphal river and brought to the king. The Brahmins identified the statue as Lord Vishnu, the supreme God of the Hindus. The Brahmins were entrusted by the king to worship Lord Vishnu and it was the beginning of Hinduism in Manipur. Despite the beginning of Vishnu worship by Brahmins, Kyamba followed the traditional Meitei religion. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries many Brahmins migrated to the hill states of North east India due to the fear of Emperor Aurangazeb in mainland India. They pushed for Hinduism in Manipur instead of traditional Meitei religion. Burning of Meitei Puyas, destruction of traditional deities, sanskritisation, adoption of Hindu gotras in the Salai system and identification of Meitei festivals with Hindu festivals were some of the acts done by them to absorbed the traditional Meitei religion but the people of Manipur were strong enough to protect the Meitei religion and culture till now.
History of acts done by Hindus to engross the smaller traditional religion is repeating again by RSS, the ideological mentor of BJP. RSS is an organization mainly comprises of Upper caste Hindus. Their ideology is a serious threat to survival of the traditional Meitei society who have their own distinct language, culture, religion and identity. “Oneness of India” the main ideology of RSS will subjugate all the distinct socio-cultural identities of the Meitei society and they can easily propagate their ideas under the BJP government since both the organizations are of the same coin.
Tradition & Religion: Majority of the Meitei community got converted into Gauriya Vaishnava religion in the eighteenth century. Meitei’s had rejected Nimandi and Ramandi cults but accepted Chaitanya Vaishnavism because of Sankirtanas being a form of worship of Krishna and Radha through hymns of praise dramatazation of scenes from their lives and sporting in the garden of Vrindaban. The community which was already infested by Hindu traditions will be at stake if the RSS further push their ideoloy of oneness of religion in India and Manipur.
Festivals: The festivals of Meitei were given Hindu names or modified with Hindu form in the past. The HeigruHitongba festival was renamed Jal Yatra. AyangYoirenIruppa was converted into an annual Snan. The WairaTenkap festival was converted into a Kirtan of Lord Rama. The KongbaLeithongPhatpa was changed to Vishnu Samkranti. The AhongKhongching was substituted by RathaJatra. Offering to the ancestors in the month of september was replaced by Tarpan. The WakambungChingnungNongombi was substituted by Durga Puja. But all the efforts failed due to opposition by the traditional followers of Meitei religion. If the government under the influence of RSS started recognizing the festivals in Hindu names, there is possibility of losing the unique identity for the traditional festivals in future.
Language: Sanskritization of language started in the first half of the 18th century. Manipur was influenced by Bengali language and literature since the Brahmin religious preachers were Bengali speakers. The distinct language of Manipur, Meitei mayek, is now on the revival stage. Union home minister Amit Shah’s comment that people should increase the use of their mother tongue and also use Hindi to realise the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel has again sparked off a row over suspicions that the RSS intended to promote Hindi as the national language. Efforts to impose hindi will lead to negative impact in traditional Meitei Mayek.
RSS ideology is one nation, one language, and one culture, which is not acceptable. It will be an easy task for RSS to penetrate their ideology in Meitei society since both the religion has similarities due to the mixing of traditions by past generation. Losing the unique identity of Meitei society to gain political mileage will lead to an identity crises as it happens in Tripura.

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