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History of Manipur

 

The Medieval Period

Meidingu Senbi Kiyamba (1467-1507 AD):           
       Medingu Senbi Kiyamba, the son of Ningthou Khomba and Leima Linthoingambi, became the king at the age of 24 in 1467 AD. He and the king of Pong (Shan Kindom) were good friends. Sanna Langmeirembi, a princess, was married to the Pong King, Chaopha (Tsatwa) Khekhomba. The King of Pong visited Manipur and presented Kiyamba a golden box containing a stone, known as PHEIYA (Almighty),   having the power of God and a sacred spear to guard the stone. At that time, the people of Manipur did not know about the worship of God in the form of a sacred stone. King Kiyamba in respect of the King of Pong built a brick temple at Lamangdong, 27 km south of Imphal, in 1475. Later, a Brahmin, migrated from Cachar understood PHEIYA as the Hindu God, Bishnu. He announced that rice boiled in cow milk should be offered to the deity in order to bring good fortune to the King and the people of his kingdom. Accordingly, Meidingu Kiyamba appointed this Brahmin in the service of the deity. Afterwards, the followers of the Brahmin were known as Bishnupriya and the place was named Bishnupur.
        In 1485 AD, King Kiyamba introduced the system of CHEITHABA in which the name of an entire year will be taken after the name of a person so that even illiterate citizens can remember the year. Hiyangloi was the first person whose name was used as the first Cheithaba, which meant he would volunteer to bear the burden and sufferings of the kingdom fell during that particular year.
Meidingu Pamheiba (1708-1747 AD or 3106-3145 MF):
        Pamheiba was one of the sons of Meidingu Charairongba and Sapam Chanu Ningthil-Chaibi. He was born on 22nd Dec. (Poinu in Meitei month), 1690 AD. After his father’s dead, he became the king on 23rd Aug. (Thawan in Meitei), 1708 AD. Pamheiba had 8 wives and many sons and daughters. During his 39 yrs of reign, he extended his kingdom in the east to Kabow valley, to the west to Nongnang (Cachar), Takhel (Tripura). At one point it was considered that Chittagong hills came under his rule. In 1734 AD, King Pamheiba invaded Takhel and captured 1100 people and brought to Manipur.  These people inter-married with the locals and joined the Meitei community. Pamheiba was one of the greatest Meitei kings of Manipur. He was so intensely involved in extending his territory and warfare that he did not  pay any attention to Sanna-Mahi laishon and Pakhangba laining religious rituals. He latter was influenced by Hindu religion which had reached to Manipur around 15th-16th centuries. He stopped poultry and piggery in the country in 1723 AD. He excavated all Lupungs (burial grounds for kings, his  forefathers) and burnt the remains on the bank of Ningthi turen (at that time Meitei territory extended upto Chindwin) on 20th March, 1724 AD. This began the cremation of dead bodies among meiteis. On full moon day of Mera (October), 1732 AD, he collected all the Holy books, Puya related to Sanna-Mahi religion and burnt them. This is known as Puya-Meithaba among Meiteis. In 1737 AD, he himself was converted to the Ramanandi Sect of Vaisnavism with the help of Shantidas Gosai, a preacher from Sylhet (now in Bangladesh). King Pamheiba expelled all his Maichous (scholars) and those who opposed to this new religion to far away villages. Some of the prominent meitei maichous were Louremba Khongnang Thaba, Langol Lukhoi, Konok Thengra, Wangoo Bajee, etc. He introduced the term “MAHARAJA” in place of “MEIDINGU OR NINGTHOU” for the King.
Ningthou Ching-Thang Khomba (Maharaja Bheigyachandra) 1763-1798 AD or 3161-3196 MF:
        Ningthou Ching-Thang Khomba was the son of Samjai Khurai-Lakpa (the eldest son of Pamheiba). Chitsai, Pamheiba’s anonther son, killed his father in Ava (Burma) and became the king (1747-1951 AD). He was expelled by his brother Borot-sai. Chitsai went to Tripura (Takhel) and then to Chittagong. He approached the British East India Company to help him (1751 AD). However, he did not get their help. This was the first contact of Meiteis with the British. Borotsai ruled for 2 years and Gaurisiam, Ching-Thang Khomba’s brother,  became King. Later in 1762 AD., the British and Manipur sign a treaty (signed by Gaurisiam and Mr. Venositart, Governor of Bengal), which spelled that British and Manipur will encourage trade and commerce. The British will give necessary help to protect the kingdom from outside invaders. And Manipur will provide a piece of land in Manipur  for the East India Company posting.
        In 1763 AD, after the dead of Gaurisiam, Ching-Thang Khomba ascended the throne. The Burmese attacked Manipur in 1769 AD and he fled to Cachar.  At last, in 1773 AD, Manipur was taken back.  He established his capital at Lamangdong (Bishenpur) in 1775 AD. He moved his capital to Langthaban (Canchipur).  When he moved his capital he made the image of Govindaji from a Fig-Tree growing in the Kaina hill. On the coronation, 11th Jan.  1779 AD, (Wakching month) RAS-LEELA was played for five days continuously in the open grounds of Ras Mandal Pukhri.
        The name “MANIPUR” for “MEITRABAK” or “SANNA-LEIPAK” came to existence in 1774 AD when Warren Hastings was the Governer General of India. Mr.  Rendel assigned the name and the kingdom extended from Ningthi in the east to Chittagong in the South and up to Brahmaputra area in the North and Cachar in the East.
        During his reign Chaitanya sect of Vaisnavism was established. Yaosang, the great festival of Meiteis, was invented by Ching-Thang Khomba on the full moon day of Lamta (March). The image of Nityananda was curved and coronated on Thursday March 5, 1779 AD.  His brother Ananta Sai and his decendents were made responsible for Sri Bijoy Gobinda and the annual festival of HEGRU HIDONGBA (boat racing) held on the 11th of Langban (September) every year. In 1796 AD his capital was moved from Langthaban (Canchipur) to Konthoujam Yumphal (present Governor’s Bungalow). In 1797 AD, he handed over the throne to his eldest son Labeinyachandra and went on pilgrimage to Nabadweep. He died at Murshidabad, India in 1798 AD.