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
  • Purnima Ngangom (Printmaker) :: Profile
  • CAB Protest [11 Jan] #3 : Gallery
  • Poetry Of Manipuri Women Authors #2
  • CAB & scoring 21 out of 25 ?
  • Complications :: Poem
  • North East Business Summit at Delhi
  • Almond oil is the ultimate skin care
  • The Bill that haunt the government
  • Over 50 police personnel chargesheeted
  • Insurgency related incidents in NE states
  • Myanmar border fence going nowhere
  • Protest against CAB [Jan 15] #1: Gallery
  • CChongkhong, Apanthou :: eMing
  • Crop diseases & organic way of managing
  • War and Poetry :: Poem
  • Landeng-Pena yakaiduna Poster Campaign
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Condemns communal nature of CAB 2016
  • PCC, Arunachal Pradesh on CAB, 2016
  • CAB and other issues before LS polls
  • Sit-In against CAB [Jan 14] : Gallery
  • CAB : Our Identity & Culture is at stake
  • Re-Imagining the Naga Peace Process
  • Demand for ILP :: Articles/Photos...
  • Northeast Startup Summit 2019
  • Ponder them to live like human beings
  • No Shield for Manipur against CAB
  • Missing link: NE, CAB & obscure assurance
  • JCILPS Protest against CAB : Gallery
  • AMUCO Rally against CAB : Gallery
  • Poetic Justice - II :: Poem
  • Makar Sankranti Musing
  • Biren should release Kishorchandra
  • New archaeological site in Senapati
  • A Christian perspective on solidarity #1
  • New craft gallery to promote NE products
  • Rights body warns Nagas on Article 371 (A)
  • NE Black Day against CAB : Gallery
  • CAB Protest [11 Jan] #2 : Gallery
  • Narendra Modi @ Imphal #2: Gallery
  • Myanmar-India Business Summit, Sagaing
  • Cry of a Dying River - 61 :: Poem
  • Preventing the Dengue threat
  • NPF on Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016
  • Nagaland Chief Minister On CAB 2016
  • Hijacking by pseudoscience
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Mr. CM, you can't fool people on CAB
  • CAB 2016: Adoption of foreign citizens
  • CAB Protest [11 Jan] #1 : Gallery
  • CAB & question of India's North East
  • Poetry Of Manipuri Women Authors #1
  • Local actions for #GlobalGoals
  • Know your HIV status
  • Pope Francis - the last Pope!
  • CAB is unsecular discriminatory bill
  • When Govt. disregard Constitutions...
  • Citizenship Bill: An exceptional exception
  • The Walking Lady : A Short Story
  • 4th Convocation Ceremony of CAU
  • The Voice of Silence :: Poem
  • Against CAB 2016 : 6 Student Bodies
  • Need for a separate time zone
  • BOOM MMA : 'Manipur Top Team' members
  • Against Citizenship Bill Act 2016
  • Lt Gen Rajeev Sirohi at Spear Corps
  • Is the middle man responsible
  • Economically weak at Rs 8 lakh per annum ?
  • Umanglai Haraoba: Traditional Institution
  • Strike against CAB : Gallery
  • People - animal conflict
  • Fine on relieving in public
  • Flawed/divisive Citizenship Bill dangerous
  • Broken :: Poem
  • Meetei gi mayokta leiba Political party..
  • NE uniting under shutdown call : CAB
  • Trains in NE to get 'glass-top' coaches
  • Yubi Lakpi #2 : Gallery
  • Freedom's fault lines
  • Traditional Manipuri Curries
  • Governance in Multi-Ethnic States
  • Understanding animal welfare
  • Unite against corruption for development
  • Manipurgi Maraibk Kari Oihougani
  • On restoring of director of CBI
  • Citizenship Bill : scourge for NE
  • Feel good factor from UNC
  • New Year picnic at Sekmai #2: Gallery
  • A tale of two falcons
  • Artificial Insemination in livestock
  • The Naked Truth :: Poem
  • My itinerary visit to Veeranapalya
  • Test for Free Coaching for IIT/AIIMS
  • Critique of Transgender Persons Bill
  • Press Rejoinder from NPF [7 Jan]
  • Nagaland Cabinet on Citizenship Bill
  • Can we expect something from govt
  • Mova Cave, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Sumo Wrestling #2 :: Gallery
  • Maipaksana RK: Entrepreneurship Award
  • Poetic Justice - I
  • IIT-G Technology Incubation Centre
  • Sana Chahi Ahum & 1857 revolt #2
  • Economics of climate change & growth
  • Singhat Students tour to Delhi & Agra
  • Congress against Modi on Rafale Deal
  • Press Club celebrates foundation day
  • NSF to impose 11-hr bandh on Jan 8
  • 518 drug traffickers arrested in 2018
  • Gangmumei Kamei Memorial lecture
  • Taking the Street Vendor seriously #1
  • WWII museums in Japan: Gallery
  • Schedule : HSLC Examination 2019
  • Schedule : Class XI Examination 2019
  • Schedule : HSE Examination 2019
  • Caste System in Contemporary India: Book
  • Save energy and save your skin
  • Benefits of henna for beauty
  • Coronary In-stent obstruction treated
  • A take on PM visit to Imphal
  • No over the top promises, assurances
  • Narendra Modi @ Imphal #1: Gallery
  • Management of commercial broiler farming
  • 61st CC Meet Football Tournament 2019
  • Noise Ruins & Blights Lives
  • Social media & freedom of speech
  • Cry of a Dying River - 60 :: Poem
  • Declare war against air pollution
  • Winter relief at Thanga
  • Of monologues and conveniences
  • Raising posers before PM's arrival: Cong
  • Irengbam Bedamani :: eRang Photos
  • Poireiton Chakhao at Loktak Lake
  • Hojang :: Poem
  • New Year: Challenges & opportunities
  • One Rank One Pension Paper (OROP)
  • Fasting before diagnostic tests
  • Open Mic. event at Agartala
  • Happy New Year '2019' :: NPF
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Respecting life & the trust deficit
  • Need to look beyond New Year-2019
  • New Year picnic at Sekmai #1: Gallery
  • May the Year 2019 bring integrity of Manipur
  • Sangai Fest: Evening Prog #2: Gallery
  • What I learned from Kishorchandra detention
  • Charlie, the angel :: Story
  • Against NSA to Kishorchandra Wangkhem
  • Quality New Year
  • Reminder to PM on Pravish Chanam death
  • What is there to be happy on New Year
  • Nupi Lal Ningsing Lamjel #4: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Village Authority in Hill Areas of Manipur #2
  • Sana Chahi Ahum & 1857 revolt #1
  • Local leaders commit to #endTobacco
  • Transformation of China in last 40 years
  • Boys Hostel for Pangal Students
  • From the diary of an insomniac - II
  • From nomenclature conflict of oral tradition
  • Gearing up for Parliamentary polls
  • Dimapur Meetei Council donates
  • Bye Bye 2018 !!! : Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2018 #6: Gallery
  • Unforgettable Revolutionary NK Sanajaoba
  • Life's pain :: Poem
  • New Year resolution of our honorables
  • Certificate distribution at Namsai, ArP
  • Indo-Myanmar Relations : Talk @ MU
  • Butchering a Pony for meat! Shameful
  • Top 5 Indie/Alternative Picks of 2018
  • Sangaithel Park @Sangai: Gallery
  • Things that change educational settings
  • Good Times around the Corner :: Poem
  • Mann Ki Baat - A Chicken Hide
  • Indira Gandhi - An ephemeral encounter
  • A view of Ukhrul Town #1: Gallery
  • January Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • National Mathematics Day & Ramanujan
  • Thougal Jagoi @Sangai: Gallery
  • Training Program at DM Community College
  • Ode to Radio Telegraphy
  • To the Muse :: Poem
  • Respecting the Freedom of Speech
  • Attending to homeless lady : Humane
  • Wildlife return after 50 years
  • Snowfall @Tamei, Tamenglong : Gallery
  • China spreads across Indochina Peninsula
  • Ningol Chakkouba Shopping a#2: Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 59 :: Poem
  • Match words with actions to #endTB
  • Hacking : Base of all cyber crimes
  • Illegal adoptions in hospitals
  • Controlling the school transporters
  • Detention under NSA : Stand of MUSU
  • Xmas: Churches @Lamphel : Gallery
  • 27th Imphal Book Fair #2 : Gallery
  • The Crying Call of Motherland :: Poem
  • Jobs at C-DAC: International centre posting
  • Bye-Bye Congress Grass: Biological Mgmt
  • How to prevent your kajal / eye make up
  • Jobs at Manitech Consultancy, Imphal
  • Of politicians & their electoral politics
  • AFSPA: Politico-legal sanction for impunity?
  • Kwatha Festival #3 : Gallery
  • 12th Manipur Polo Intl #2 : Gallery
  • Oinam Dilip : Rising Star Award 2018, Delhi
  • Harvard Leadership Program at Don Bosco
  • Manipur Fest 2019 in Bengaluru
  • Christmas @Churachandpur : Gallery
  • UN Rapporteur briefed on Kishorechand
  • Nupi Lal Ningsing Lamjel #3: Gallery
  • Irengbam Bedamani - Actress :: eRang
  • Communities @ Barak Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Khumanthem Prakash : Akademi Award
  • List of Restricted Holidays for 2019
  • List of Public Holidays for 2019
  • List of General Holidays for 2019
  • Ningol - mapam lamdam : Gallery
  • Fabrics of Bangladeshi Manipuri: Download
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS