TODAY -

E-Pao! Features - Buddhism In Manipur

Buddhism In Manipur
By:- Prof. M.S. Ningombam *



Buddhism in Manipur has never been well developed in spite of its geographical proximity with Myanmar. The people of Myanmar are of Mongoloid stock, having similarities in the social practices with the people of neighboring country in absence of caste system, agrarian life style, and women's role in society, beliefs and temperament with the people of Manipur.

But the elements of Buddhism are found far and wide in the hills and valley of Manipur long before the advent of Hinduism. The Epic narrative of Khamba and Thoibi, the folk tale of a boy who became a king of Burma, Mitay chronicle of Nongpok Haaram (a record of the migration of people from the east), to mention a few are examples of close relationship of the people of the two sides. The migration of the people of Shan origin in large number is also a historical fact.

Hinduism flourished in Manipur during the reign of king Garibaniwaaj (1709-1748), adopted it as state religion; reached the climax of ritual dance in the theme of Raadha and Krishna and later became the well known Manipuri Raas. Thus he established a Hindu kingdom.

The Nongpok Haaram (an account of the migration of people from the east) and Nongchup Haaram (an account of the migration of people from the west) bear undoubted evidence that those people who migrated to Manipur were assimilated in the Hindu fold.

Saikyamuni, for Buddha in China, is known as Kawtumuni (Gautam Muni) in Manipur. It is a term familiar to the common people of Manipur before the advent of Hinduism (C. 17th century). Another term Sanaa khongnaang is sacred to the ancient Mitays, for they bow down to it before they start a journey.

The Sanaa has denotative and connotative meanings. The word 'gold' is the denotative meaning and 'royal' is its connotative meaning. A prince is always addressed as Sanaa Ibungngo (Ibungngo means a young man / boy or a male descendent of noble birth) and a princess Sanaa Ibemma (Ibemma means a young lady or a lady of noble birth).

Sanna, its literal meaning is gold and Khongnaang means Baniyaan tree. It may also means the Golden Tree or the Royal Tree perhaps symbolizing the tree under which Prince Siddhartha attained his enlightenment.

Sanaamahay, the royal fruit, has always been implied to the essence of the teaching of the Buddha. Over the time, the connotative meaning of it has vanished into thin air due to the impact of Shaivism. Perhaps the term Sanaamahi has been derived from Sanaamahay.

The myth of the circumambulation of the throne of Shiva by his off-spring, Ganesh and Kartika has skillfully introduced in Manipur in the guise of Sanaamahi and Pakhangba, appearing to have nipped the growth of Buddhism in the bud.

In 1470, the king of Pong (of Myanmar), Chawphaa Khekkhomba presented a statue (perhaps of Buddha) besides other gifts, keeping it in a silver cascade to king Kiyaamba (1467-1508) of Manipur.

King Kiyaamba is said he was neither a Buddhist nor a Hindu, a Sanaamahi by faith (Jamini: Khuroy Haawraa Lamlaang-tong P. 16).

But, later on the same statue been considered Vishnu of the Hindu pantheon, was installed in a temple at a place known as Lammaangdong (Lamlaangtong), and the place is now known as Vishnupur. The circumstances under which Khekkhomba, a Buddhist king of Myanmar presented a statue of Vishnu to a non-Hindu king of Manipur is a matter of debate even now.

There are a number of places at the periphery of Manipur valley where worship takes place, such as: Inggawrok Mahaadeba (Shiva), Thongngaam Mondum, Kwaarok Mahaadeba, etc., which are believed by modern historians as statues of Buddhisatvas. Gangmumei in his history of Manipur says "In Manipur Buddhistvas are worshipped as Shivas".

The Shiva cult was once had its influence in the Mitay society is well documented in a well known novel Paanthoybi Khonggul and also in Paanthoybi Naaherol written in archaic Mitay language.

The indelible evidences of Buddhist architectures in and around Imphal city are the roofs of G.M. Hall, Open Air Theatre Hall at the palace compound and temple building at Hiyaangthaang about 11 kilometers off Imphal.

Besides, the drawing found in the Subikaa (a book on astrology in archaic Mitay language), are of Buddhist elements. And marble statues of Buddha, collected from different places of Manipur, are well preserved in the State Museum, Imphal.

In spite of the evidences of the cultural impact of Buddhism in the life of the people of Manipur in the early history of the land, Buddhism as a religion was hardly known to the people in general.

And for those who knew it considered Buddhism as part of Hinduism. It has also been considered that Buddhism spread to Myanmar passing through Manipur by successive waves of Buddhists from mainland India. However, curiously Buddhism did not flourish in Manipur; perhaps Hinduism of the later period had absorbed it, as the political climate was not favorable.

About the Author: In 1972, Prof. Ningomba, himself a Buddhist, formed a small group of Buddhists, conducted group meditation, seminars, and arranged meditation camps, published booklets giving outlines of Budhism, translated books on Buddhism including Dhammapada in Mitay language (Manipuri).

Soon the group became larger, increased its activities and through media coverage the existence of Buddhism and its group was thus known to the people of Manipur. Thus was born the All Manipur Buddhist Association (AMBA) and got registered under section 20 of the Societies Registration Act of the Government of India and as in force in Manipur on May 17, 1982 and the first Buddhist monastery was started at Moreh, a border town 110 km off Imphal towards south-east.

Now people started taking interest in Buddhism for its catholic outlook, absence of caste system, for its principle of self-reliance, simplicity and modesty in daily life especially among the educated elites of Imphal.

The majority of the members of the All Manipur Buddhist Association, Imphal are the teachers of various colleges, and the universities in Manipur. With the opening of a new policy of 'Look East' of the government of India, we now see a future of Buddhism in Manipur by having closer tie with our brethren of the South-East Asia.

Currently Prof. Ningomba is the chairman of All Manipur Minorities (Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Sikh) Forum, Imphal.


* Prof. M.S. Ningombam, a devout Buddhist, wrote this article.
(Courtesy: Indo Myanmar Fraternal Alliance, Manipur)
This article was webcasted on 19 October 2005.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • CCpur Dance @Keibul Lamjao : Gallery
  • The East Wind from Yunnan
  • Journey into Nature of Human Culture #1
  • Yaoshang Thabal :: Poem
  • North East NSS Festival begins
  • Talking... ending social media introversion
  • Opposing stand on ST demand
  • Kounu Lairembi Haraoba #1 : Gallery
  • Nipalsuba Mapok : Shumang Leela
  • Women's Bill : A passage to nowhere?
  • Challenges in elderly for medical tests
  • All's fair in love in war: Nitza :: Review
  • Why I write ?
  • Looking back to 2012, 2014 elections
  • Mukna Kangjei #2 : Gallery
  • Mova Cave of Hungpung in Ukhrul
  • Catapults, Molotov Cocktails & Music!
  • Appeal for Meitei's demand for ST
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Google News Training for Journalists
  • Of Crimes Against Humanity :: Poem
  • Bedtime beauty hacks to look young
  • Mary Kom to skip Asian championship
  • Thabal chongbagi SenKhaiba : Gallery
  • Zeliangrong women: Role in society #2
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Cry of a Dying River - 69 :: Poem
  • Nationality & Gorkha statehood movement
  • Free Children Heart Surgery Camp
  • Workshop on Python Programing at MU
  • Lining up for BJP, Cong
  • Indian Politics after Pulwama Terror Attack
  • Sory Wahengbam : eRang Actress Profile
  • International River Day @ Nungbrung Village
  • Nongthombam Biren: People's CM
  • Can Jamir Do A Lazarus ?
  • Dr. Shantibala's The Sacred Witch :: Review
  • Rural development process
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Eyeing 22 out of 25 in North East
  • Interfering the media
  • Myanmar army cracks down on NSCN (K)
  • Phayeng Koubru Haraoba #2: Gallery
  • Chirangchaibi, Abenao :: eMing
  • Komorebi - The Longing :: Poem
  • Little love in twilight of life
  • Election code of conduct anytime
  • Surveying India's unemployment numbers
  • DAMMS' statement on Meitei ST Demand
  • Choosing the right candidate
  • Demand for ILP :: Articles/Photos...
  • The Innampei festival of Chothe #2
  • CC Meet: SU vs NACO : Gallery
  • AEbu tuMduna lEKi gad_ra :: Seireng
  • That Hurts :: Poem
  • Workshop on Statistical Data at MU
  • The International Women's Day
  • Politics : A way of life !
  • Celebrate festival of democracy responsibly
  • The truth unfolded
  • Nipalsuba Mapok #1 : Gallery
  • Maisnam Renuka's Painting : Gallery
  • Parental Alienation: Poem 2 : Poem
  • The cost of a vote
  • Motivation & rewards for development
  • Career options in Commerce stream #2
  • Forest rights more than nine-tenths
  • Setting back final deal by 60 days
  • Traffic woes
  • slams Nagaland CM's statement on ILP
  • Symbolism in the Tribal Art #4
  • Laiphrakpam Ashok Kumar: Akademi Award
  • ST Demand Rally [Mar 3] #2: Gallery
  • Mee Manukhang will not be televised
  • Govt should grant prosecution sanction
  • Zeliangrong women: Role in society #1
  • General Strike mapung fana chathari
  • Rolling out Lok Sabha schedule
  • Saroi Khangba @Imphal : Gallery
  • 'Women Health' Workshop : Gallery
  • Manipuri Muslims Conference : Report
  • Meetei ST demand bu lanna uhanbiganu
  • Caveman & Children of (19)70s : Poem
  • Workshop on "Women Health" at Pune
  • Natural facial at home for glowing skin
  • Inauguration of NSS Camp at ADBU
  • Changing Manipur - which direction ?
  • Nongkhrang Ehanba @Lilong #2 : Gallery
  • Cessation of hostilities to POW
  • Magical power of music
  • Intl Women's Day requires regrouping
  • General Strike Mapung Fahanbiyu
  • Pravish's Case disposed by CJM
  • NSS Camp at Assam Don Bosco
  • Former Cong leader welcomed at Dimapur
  • Never asked India for land quip
  • Issues of women's rights
  • Barak Fest @ Senapati #2 : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #1: Gallery
  • Reading Megh-dut in Manipuri #2
  • To be a woman and to be in India
  • Cry of a Dying River - 68 :: Poem
  • Can Meitei/Meetei be a tribe ?
  • Raging debate over ST demand
  • Climate change matters
  • Class X Exam @Johnstone : Gallery
  • ciH Amadi tMgi KeYnaba :: Seireng
  • Yaoshang be observed as 'Sports Week'
  • Hmar Inpui Assembly at Churachandpur
  • Jute bags versus Lenobags
  • ...Work for social justice
  • State of higher education here
  • Creating an education-friendly atmosphere
  • Shopping for Shivaratri #1: Gallery
  • 3rd World Bamboo Workshop #3 : Gallery
  • Reinvigorating the Awl-len festival
  • I am a poet :: Poem
  • Roles of Members of Parliament
  • Don't just age gracefully - Age beautifully
  • SRF/JRF for Mizoram University [Upd]
  • ST status campaign : An overview
  • May be this time it may happen
  • ST Demand Rally [Mar 3] #1: Gallery
  • Sanaroishingee Nunit : Gallery
  • Rejoinder to TNL's Diatribe on the Kukis
  • Schemes of Panchayati Raj #2
  • Career options in Commerce stream
  • 3 Resolutions from ST Demand Rally
  • NPF on Nagaland Budget Session [Feb 25]
  • LS elections :: Key : Choice of candidates
  • Price of development
  • Phayeng Koubru Haraoba #1: Gallery
  • Nagaland Dance @Sangai Fest : Gallery
  • Bad Boy Eats the Yellow Snow
  • Name :: Poem
  • Alcohol prohibition
  • Treading murky waters
  • PM Kisan: Reducing risk..increasing return
  • Rallying around ST demand for Meiteis
  • Myanmar Army takes control of NSCN (K)
  • Henjunaha #3 :: Funga Wari
  • Reading Megh-dut in Manipuri #1
  • Purnima Ngangom's Painting : Gallery
  • Impact of Anglo Manipur War 1891 #2
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Lived across LoC
  • Most Beautiful Woman in World : Poem
  • CAB no more issue
  • Traditional Raas Dance #2: Gallery
  • Cultural @Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • RS adjourned without CAB: What now? #3
  • Retrospection on Sport person's Day
  • Marriage ceremony : Zeliangrong & Tai #3
  • Thadou Inpi & TSA not under KIM & KSO
  • Bioscope show
  • The haunt continues
  • Positive change in behaviour of cops
  • Maharaj Kumar Priyabarta Singh : Profile
  • March Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • CV Raman & National Science Day
  • Cry of a Dying River - 67 :: Poem
  • Tour of laboratory by a blood sample
  • MU celebrate National Science Day
  • Science Day at DM Community College
  • Displeasure over attitude of PDA :: NPF
  • The making of a united India
  • Morning air raid at JeM camp
  • Lui-ngai-ni @Senapati #3: Gallery
  • Arunachal PRC Issue: Vis-a-vis Gorkha
  • Literary representation of political violence
  • Understanding distance learning
  • Good governance required in Arunachal
  • Save energy, ecology & humanity
  • Framing of guideline for school transporter
  • Yubi Lakpi #1 : Gallery
  • Holi Pala @Sangai Festival : Gallery
  • Indie films: Loktak Lairembee & Soni #2
  • Workshop on Python Programming at MU
  • They say :: Poem
  • Election manifesto for all & sundry
  • Camellia oil for heavenly beauty
  • Programme on Road Traffic Safety
  • PRC: Appeal to Governor of Arunachal
  • Towards optimistic ideology
  • The task ahead of STDCM
  • The Innampei festival of Chothe #1
  • My encounter with a Japani
  • Korean Seminar of Hangeul Day at MU
  • Total ban on polythene bags need of hour
  • The Masked Painter :: Poem
  • Arunachal Issue : Representation to HM
  • The Consumers' Rights
  • CAB in a new avatar ?
  • Singcha Wuya Won @Kamjong #2 : Gallery
  • Konthoujam Maikel's Painting : Gallery
  • Impact of Anglo Manipur War 1891 #1
  • RS adjourned without CAB: What now? #2
  • Hole in the bag :: Poem
  • Climate change: Dual perspective
  • Pui Jianna Thangamliu :: eRang
  • March Past: Republic Day: Gallery
  • Dark light and The Wishess' might
  • Manipur on Meitei edge
  • Belshazzar's feast - A failed mission
  • Education in the era of Google
  • Healing is different from cure ....
  • RPL trainees of Garo Hills - II
  • MHA "notification"
  • Nagaland- Feb 26 : Sense of urgency
  • Lui-ngai-ni @Senapati #2: Gallery
  • Police check @Jirimukh, Jiri : Gallery
  • Nongkhrang Ehanba @Lilong #1 : Gallery
  • Traditional Raas Dance #1: Gallery
  • Rajkumar Singhajit : Tagore Award 2014
  • Mukna - Indigenous Games : Gallery
  • Dzukou Valley, Senapati : Gallery
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #2 : eRang
  • Thamoise Foidattuna :: e-pao Radio
  • Check Post (ICP) @ Moreh : Gallery
  • Konthoujam Maikel (Painter) :: Profile
  • Onetwo Okram : Singer- Profile :: eRang
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3 : Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • List of Restricted Holidays for 2019
  • List of Public Holidays for 2019
  • List of General Holidays for 2019
  • SPONSORED ADS