Manipuri Maichou 7: Book Review

James Oinam *

 Manipuri Maichou 7 :: Book Cover
Manipuri Maichou 7 :: Book Cover

Manipuri Maichou 7: Book Review
(The Seven Spiritual Leaders of Manipur)
Author: Ak. Dhiren Meitei
Publisher: AK Publication
Year of Publication: 2012

The introductory chapter briefly describes what are the Puyas and sets the historical background during which the Puyas were written.

Few select paorous (predictions) of the Puyas given in the book are as follows:
Leikai thongal khudimak keithel kagani. Leikai thongal khudimak maiyek pallani. (There will be market at every gate. There will be evil person at every gate.)

Nung taorani, lashing luplani. (Stones will float, cotton will sink, meaning stones will become ubiquitous, cotton will vanish. In the olden days, rocks could be seen only in the riverbeds, but nowadays due to roads and concrete houses, stones can be found everywhere. Also handloom, which was popular in the olden days, has declined due to waning interest traditional cloths.)
Arubana mataida, aneibana mayaida chellani. Asengba Sana maklani, aruppa sana langlagani. (Clear water will flow at the corners, and muddy water will flow in the middle. Pure gold will lose its shine, and impure gold will shine more. This apparently refers to corruption of the society.)

Haying keithel karani. (Flies will go to the market, meaning there will be dirt all around in the market.)

Lepna, lepna shirani, mapa leitaba macha yamlani. (People will die standing (unnatural deaths), and there will be many fatherless children.)

The seven wise men (maichous) who served as advisors to the king are discussed in the following chapters, one chapter dedicated to each of them. Brief biographical (leaning towards hagiographical) accounts of the seven maichous are given in the following order in the book.

Maichou Khongnangthaba: Born in Thoubal, Khongnangthaba served as advisor to the king Pamheiba (Garibniwaz). His was named Khongnangthaba because of the fact that he used to plant khongnang (banyan) and used to worship and meditate under it. An exchange of miracles and counter-miracles between him and others, namely Santidas Gosai and Moirang Lalhanba (another maichou), are given.

Ultimately, as the king became partial towards Santidas Gosai, the seven maichous left the capital Kangla and turned into various plants to guard various places and directions of the kingdom. It is said that Maichou Khongnangthaba dictated the Puyas and Maichou Konok Thengra wrote down the dictation.

Maichou Samurou Chigong: Samurou Chigong was born in Samurou. He was very independent and strong. The machi (horns) of Pakhangba is known for its strength. Due to comparison with the horn, he was often referred to as Chigok (chikok) (machi + makok, or head of horn), which later became Chigong. He is considered to be one of the incarnations of the god Chingu.

Maichou Debipa: Also considered to be an incarnation of god Chingu, Debipa (Tepipa) was born in Khongngakhul (village) in the hills. It is said that he carried the stone incarnation of the god Chingu from Ningthourok ravine to the top of Loibi mountain and worshipped it. It is said that when he came to Kangla for the first time in the attire of hill men, Samurou Chigong, not recognizing him, worked some miracle on him. But he successfully counteracted the spell, upon which Samurou Chigong called him ‘Ahal’ (senior) and asked for forgiveness.

Maichou Konok Thengra: Konok Thengra was born in a place called Kumbi Khathong. He was considered to be an incarnation of Chingu Marjing. He was an authority figure of the Puyas. The king consulted him in matters related to construction—auspicious days and times. It is said that when Maichou Khongnangthaba was sentenced to be hanged, Konok Thengra miraculously burnt the rope. Due to the belief that he could produce fire from his mouth, he was also nicknamed Konok Meihouba.

(There seems to be some inconsistency in the name in the book. In the chapter, written in Bengali script, the name is Ganak Thengra, whereas in the photo, the name is labelled as Konok Thengra (in English and in Meitei script); hence the latter spelling has been followed here.)

Maichou Langol Lukhoi: Also considered an incarnation of god Chingu, Langol Lukhoi was born in a village called Khoidem. He belonged to the Nongmaithem family. He had curly hair from his birth. So he was named Lukhoi, which means curly haired. It is believed among the Meiteis that one who has curly hair have deep heart and mind. A saying in the Puyas that it is bad omen for five people to go on a journey together (mangnagi khommi khongchat phattay) is attributed to this maichou.

It is said that when king Pamheiba wanted to rewrite the Puyas to favour the Ramanandi religion (Hindu religion), he could not find any of the maichous at their homes. At last, a servant, Khwai Keku, was employed for the job. As the revised Puya was written in front of the king’s bed, it was named ‘Phammang Puya’. When Langol Lukhoi came to know about it, he came riding in his horse and dragged away Keku. Then with his spell he killed him. Later Khongnangthaba found the decaying body of Keku in a stream, which he named as Kekupat (pat, or patpa, means decay).

Maichou Moirang Lalhanba: Moirang Lalhanba is said to be an incarnation of Chingu Thangjing. His surname Moirang came from the fact that he was born in Moirang. He was skilled in sword fight, wrestling and other martial arts, and always came first in such competitions. Hence, he was named Lalhanba (lal = war, hanba = to be ahead). He is said to be among the first to oppose Santidas’ entry at Kangla.

Maichou Kharam Thadoi: Also considered an incarnation of the god Chingu, the real parents of Maichou Thadoi is not known. He was born in a place called Kharam near Kashar. He was brought up by a hill couple by the name of Shameirang and Chingshurakpi. Upon growing up, he married the only daughter of his guardians, Wangtambi. It is believed that he left his necklace made of Nongthrei seeds on the top Marjing mountain, which shines at night and can be seen from far and wide.

* James Oinam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 28, 2018.

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