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The Manipuri Religion

The Manipuri Religion, i.e., the religious culture of Manipur said to be the oldest organized religion of south-east Asia.

Manipuri religion is Open, Universal in outlook and without any founder prophet or any holy book. The deeply philosophical Manipuri religion propounds  the universal concept of equality of mankind that all human made on the image of God, in other word all human are made equal since there is only one creator.

The recorded history of Manipur commences from 33 A.D. onwards. The cultural and social system, recorded in not less than 1,000 old Meetei scriptures is a living testimony of the rich heritage embodying Manipuri sciences, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, fabulous arts, and above all, the universal, casteless Manipuri religion.

From the period before Christ upto the advent of Hinduism around l8th century A.D., Early Manipuris were devotees of Supreme Almighty God "Lainingthou Soralel" following the footprint of their Godly ancestors. That particular kind of ancestor worship and animism, with the central focus of worship on Umang Lai - that is, local governing deities worshipped in sacred groves. The religious life of the people, even when they have come much under the influence of Hinduism, retains many characteristics inherited from their prehistoric ancestors. The essentials of this religion remain recognizable to the present day.

Manipuri faith synthesizes the essential truths of Buddhism, Vaishnavism, Christianity and the tribal religion assimilating into one and pursuing the ultimate truth and godhood in such a way as if they belonged to it as its different aspects and parts. Sanamahi Leining, the ancestor worship, the Burmese Buddhism and the Hindu cults have been welded together in Manipuri Religion, whose aim is he ralization of God and its reflection in human beings.



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Compilers Note:

This compilation mainly based on certain works on Meetei Religion and Faith by some eminent Manipuri scholars, including research works of some Indian writers and some foreign writers as well. Also several Meetei and Bishnupriya inhabited areas in Assam, Tripura and Bangladesh were surveyed to investigate the doctrines and practices of the people. I have discussed and taken interviews of more than 1000 old members, members of social organizations, women's groups, priests and priestesses, Manipuri Bamons, farmers, weavers, goldsmiths and custodians of sacred texts.

A limited attempt to set up a link between the traditional Manipuri Gods with Hindu Gods may be found in some works of Manipuri writers. The process of detection should be viewed with the facility of Hindu Gods to absorb and become identified with local Gods. The ideas have been taken up by those Manipuri writers who were involved to establish a Vedic or Hindu ancestry of them, the theories are also mentioned here along with the name of the writers/researchers name.



SOURCES AND REFERENCES:

  1. Religious developments in Manipur in 18th and 19th century by Dr. M. Kirti Singha 1980
  2. Religion and Culture of Manipur by Dr. M. Kirti Singha, 1988
  3. The Religion of Manipur by Saroj Nalini Parratt, 1980
  4. My Experience in Manipur and Naga Hills by Johnstone, J. 1896
  5. The Meitheis by T.C. Hodson, Delhi, 1972
  6. The Naga Tribes of Manipur by T.C. Hodson, Delhi, 1982
     
  7. The Bishnupriya Manipuris by Dr. K.P. Sinha , 1984
  8. Prabondha Mala (part 1, Part 2 and part 3) Dr. K.P. Sinha , 1990
  9. An etymological Dictionary of Bishnupriya Manipuri by Dr. K.P. Sinha , 1978
  10. The Bishnupriya Manipuris &Their Language by Singha J.M. & Singha Birendra,1975
     
  11. Manipuri to Manipuri and English Dictionary by N. Khelachandra Singh, 1964
  12. The Religious Beleif of Ancient Manipur by W. Yumjao Singh, Imphal, 1st Edn.,1966
  13. An Early History of Manipur by W. Yamjao Singh, 1966
  14. Introduction to Manipur by L. Ibunghal Singh, 1987
  15. Manipur Itihas by Sri Atombapu Sharma, Part 2
  16. Traces of Pre-Hindu in Meitei society by Singh, K.B., 1964
     
  17. Khumal Puran by Pandit Navakhendra Sharma translated by Navadip Singha
  18. Bijoy Panchali - Edited by L. Mani singh and Shri Mangi Singh / part II 
  19. Cheitharol Kumbaba edited by L. Ibungohal Singh and N. Khelachandra Singh, Imphal 1967  
  20. Ningthourol Lambuba edited by O, Bhogeshwar Singh, Imphal 1967
  21. Oikhoi Meetei, Published by Meetei Marup,Imphal, 1965
  22. Meitei Ishei by Naoriya Phulo, Imphal,1980
  23. Meitei Puya Wari Machang by K.Dhana Singha, 1975
     


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

 

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W e b  L i n k s :

The Meitei Culture and Religion of Manipur - By P.Kunjo Singh,M.A.

... Vaisnavism came to Manipur without any infiltration to the old Manipuri (Meitei) Culture and faith of the ancient time. We can see the two different faiths the Vaisnavism and the Meiteism mingling and going together in this culturally fertile land..
Environmental Ethics in the Culture of Meeteis from North East India - By L. Jeetendro Singh,N. Biraj Singh and Abhik Gupta.

...Sacred groves, or Umang Lais, as they are called in the Meetei language, are an integral part of the Manipuri tradition of nature worship. About 364 sacred groves are reported to be present in Manipur...

Disintegrating Manipur: Sown seeds - By Manindra Konsam

...Meitei revivalist (Sanamahi Culture) movement among Meiteis has started during the beginning of fourth decade of the last century.The first ever Meitei Sanamahi revivalist group came into existence under the leadership of LAININGHAL NAORIA FULO (1888-1941 AD) at Cachar, Assam...

The Place of Dragon  Pakhangba - By Ningthemcha Mayum Ongbi Brinda

...This is shown by the fact that, no matter how hard-liner a Meitei who follows Hinduism might be, there is always a place customarily preserved for Ebudhou Sanamahi and Leimrel Sidabi Ebendhou, at least...

The Cultural Policy of Sana Leibak Manipur - By Th Raghumani

...We Meitei have been worshiping and devoted to the Supreme Almighty God `Lainingthou' and, since 1709 when even three generations have not been completed most of us had been forcefully converted to Hinduism with distress warrant and under duress by the then Meitei King in connivance with one Hindu (Bengali) hermit...

 

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