The Concept of Soul in Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak
- Part 1 -

Chaoba Kamson *

A Scene from The Zeliangrongs :: Pix by Haobam Ronel (Director)
A Scene from The Zeliangrongs :: Pix by Haobam Ronel (Director)

The Zeliangrong people of North East have followed a profound indigenous religion known as the Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak, the religion of Tingkao Ragwang, the Supreme God. This Sanatan Dharma is basically based on polytheism, worship of many Gods though it gives emphaisis to the worship of Tingkao Ragwang.

These people are found settling in the states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. The total figure of the devotees of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak is 23,000 (twenty three thousand) approximately (2001 census). The present article throws light on the concept of soul of the people.

1. Source of Soul :

According to myth, Tingkao Ragwang, the Supreme God after creating the universe, nature, Gods, creatures, man etc. ordained Dampapu, a male god and Dampapui, a female goddess to create a human being. Accordingly, they created a human being in the form of a fish, Khagak and showed it to Tingkao Ragwang who rejected the creation of fish which could not be a human being. As created, they asked Tingkao Ragwang where to keep the fish. Tingkao Ragwang ordered them to set free the fish in the water and they did as ordered.

Secondly, they created again a human being in the form of a frog. That was also rejected and freed the frog on the earth.

Thirdly, they created a monkey as a human being that was also not satisfied and set free the monkey in the forest. The Divine couple was in a dilemma what to do. Not knowing how to create, they prayed to Tingkao Ragwang for His guidance. Tingkao Ragwang told them to adopt His image as a model of man. They created a man and a woman out of the clay of ant-hill.

But the created man and woman were lifeless and could not move their limbs. They were disappointed and approached Tingkao Ragwang for His help. At last, Tingkao Ragwang breathed soul or life on their crowns. Only after that the man and the woman became alive and started crying. Tingkao Ragwang's breath is called Buhmang, meaning soul. So, human soul originates from Tingkao Ragwang.

2. What is Soul ?

Every creature has its soul but cannot be seen. When we place our hands against the heart, we feel the existence of the soul. When the heart beating stops man dies but the soul never dies. An invisible living force exists in man while alive and goes out of the body after death.

All the living beings feel cold and sensitive when touch, have sweet and foul smell, have a good and bad taste, have the power of moving limbs, have intention, intellectuality and thinking capacity because of presence of living life. When this living life departs from the body, all living beings die. The said unseen living force never dies nor becomes old nor loses. Such living energy which cannot be seen by our naked eyes is known as soul.

3. Soul exists in the following places.

(i) Soul exists in human being

(ii) When the soul departs permanently from the body, the man dies. Before reaching the land of the dead, the soul is on the way, this is the 2nd place of soul.

(iii) After death, the soul will go first direct to the land of the dead where he will lead another world. He cannot forget the pleasures of the worldly life. He strongly still wants the material things. So long he desires the worldly precious things; the soul will continue to exist in the land of the dead. After sometimes his wants will vanish and the soul will go to the 4th place.

(iv) On reaching the 4th place, he does not hanker after any kind of mundane things and he will forget the materialistic world. He will be planning for rebirth with the blessing of Tingkao Ragwang.

(v) The fifth place is Heaven or Paradise. Reaching this place, it is believed that he had performed extra ordinary works which give him salvation and bliss of life in Heaven.

(vi) This place is also Heaven. It is the highest place where there is no hunger, no sorrow and suffering. There is always bright light throughout the year. Life is peaceful. To reach such place he has to do reghteousness and justice.

(vii) In this place, there is no rebirth. Soul will exist in the place of Tingkao Ragwang permanently.

4. Belief in the concept of Tingkao Kandi/Kaidai :

It is believed that there is a concept Tingkao Kaidai/Kandi where Tingkao Ragwang exists. To reach at Tingkao Kandi is the ultimate goal of mankind. Everything is available there. There is no sorrow and pain. Life always leads in peace. To reach this place, man has to do some wonderful works and achieve remarkable results.

He should possess a good moral character; have a quality of courtesy, charity, sympathy, charity, love and affection to others. Without these qualities, his soul cannot reach at the place of Tingkao Kandi after death. He should get rid of thinking of enmity, hatred, prejudice, pride, anger, telling a lie, adultery, theft, ego, greed etc.

He should not look down the poor people. When he gives up such thinking and activities, his mind will change to right direction. Helping hand to other people should be given a top priority. The word, mine should be secondary. Mine means selfishness. Charity is for soul. If we follow this principle, the human soul will reach the spiritual world.

5. Righteous works heighten Soul :

Soul is like a flying bird and body means nest. Human soul can move and work without body. That means a flying bird can fly high and a long distance deserting nest. Similarly, man can go leaving behind his house. Therefore, soul and body cannot live together permanently. Today, a man may not reap benefits of his hard labour but he will certainly get the same in next life.

His hard toils will not end in vain. If he commits wrong or sinful acts, his soul always follows them. So, he should avoid such nefarious and immoral activities. Every work with a good intention is very important. Good intention brings a peace of mind and bad intention causes an anxiety and a full of tension.

If a man performs good works during his life time, his soul will go to paradise automatically after death. Like wise, we cannot stop smoke from going up in the sky. Whereas, if a person commits unpardonable sinful acts, his soul will go to the place of extinction of life (Thundijang) so as water cannot run upstream instead it will run away to low place.

6. Soul reaches Paradise by performance of Highly spiritual Rites :

The main object of ritual performances of Maku Banru and construction of ritual ornamented house is to make the soul good, to do good works, to speak the truth and to worship the Supreme God. In order to execute these ritual functions, he should abstain from participating funeral service or eating the funeral dinner. He should not kill any kind of animals nor tear even a net of spider. His duty is to worship Tingkao Ragwang. This is the highest spiritual form of worship.

After performance of the above ritual ceremonies, he can take part funeral service and can have its dinner etc. While performing the ritual ceremony of charity (Joulumei) the performers of both husband and wife should not witness. They should confine inside their house worshipping Tingkao Ragwang. Performance of such ritual services of feasting all the people present, giving charity and distribution of all ritual items means to reach the abode of Tingkao Ragwang by the soul after death.

Therefore, the performers of such ritual ceremony are not care for a heavy expenditure. In such function, according to belief, Tingkao Ragwang also participates. If he carries out the said ritual performance in the name of Tingkao Ragwang, his soul will go to the paradise. There is belief that those who perform the ritual construction of ornamented house namely; Taraang kai Sumei, Shenlon, Lonmei, Laakpui Kai, Huai kai, Thingku Kai, Chonglen Kai, Puichep Kai and ritual performance of Feast of Merit (Maku Banru) and smaller ritual of Ragaidai, Bamjou Kimei will have a good place at Heavenly abode.

Tingkao Ragwang warmly welcomes such souls after death. To feed mankind is tantamount to feed Tingkao Ragwang. Offering of charity in the name of Tingkao Ragwang is honourable. It is also believed that receiver of charity should not be identified nor recognized. The blessing of elders clearly states that "Let him be a good host of guests and feed them not being reduced the rice stocked in the granary".

The elders also give blessing words: "Let him build a big and high ritual ornamented house so that many people will come and see the scripts of House (Taraang Kaihiak). Construction of ritual ornamented house and performance of Feast of Merit (Maku Banru) signify worship of Tingkao Ragwang by offering holy wine to Him.

The soul of such person who performs any one of the above rituals will go to the Heavenly abode of Tingkao Ragwang. However, if he commits immoral activities during his life time, his soul will not reach the spiritual place instead will go to the place of extinction of life even if he performs the above ritual ceremonies and give charity generously.

7. Righteous Soul :

Those who cannot perform the above ritual ceremonies, their souls will also go to the paradise if they sincerely do justice, speak the truth and love to all beings. Such souls will not feel hungry and lead a peaceful life not facing any kind of difficulties.

to be continued...

* Chaoba Kamson wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is General Secretary, Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom, Assam, Manipur & Nagaland.
This article was posted on December 22, 2011.

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