Rajkumar Jhalajit Singh’s (1924-2021) contribution within the historiography of Manipur
Kakchingtabam Ruhinikumar Sharma *
Rajkumar Jhaljit Singh :: Pix – Donny Luwang
The final word curtains down has arrived for Rajkumar Jhalajit Singh (1924-2021), historian, trainer, poet, literature and above all a social and political activist, agency believer in Gandhian philosophy of straightforward dwelling and excessive considering. Revered in educational circles for his frank opinion and observations, but derided by critics for his political opinions for crusing in opposition to the currents of his time.
In his passing away, Manipur has misplaced a valuable son who was deeply dedicated to the concept of Manipur. A real son of the soil, a agency believer in harmonious existence, soft-spoken to all with out the barrier of officialdom and age, such was the persona dignified referred to as Rajkumar Jhalajit Singh.
In brief, he could also be described because the final of the vanishing tribe of a Manipuri Bhadralok actually ‘gentleman’, ‘well-mannered individual’ for the brand new class of ‘gentlefolk’ and trendy western educated who arose throughout British rule in Manipur. These are my private opinions of Oja Rajkumar Jhalajit Singh, the historian who pioneered a brand new historiography of writing a historical past of Manipur.
Born on 14th September, 1924 at Yaiskul Hiruhanba Leikai, Imphal, to late Maipak Sana and Ningthemcha ongbi Rajani Devi, Oja Jhalajit has been honoured with many coveted awards together with the Padmashri in 1999. Began his early training at Yaiskul Nupimacha College, Pattigrew L.P. College, Moirangkhom Higher Major College, Johnstone Excessive College until tenth normal. He studied at Gauhati Cotton Faculty for commencement and accomplished his Grasp in Economics and LLB from Calcutta College.
As already talked about he was deeply engrossed with the concept of Manipur and this very thought prompted him to discover and uncover Manipur as mirrored in “A Brief Historical past of Manipur” (1965), “Manipur” (1975), “A Historical past of Manipuri Literature” Quantity I (1976 and 1987), Quantity II (1998), “Bharatki Swaraj” (a translation of Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj, 1995) and as well as innumerable essays together with a serialised autobiography and a ebook of poems “Kavita Nikunja” (1997).
He additionally laid his hand in journalism as editor of “Anouba Matam“, a Manipuri day by day newspaper for a while. In 1999, Oja Jhalajit printed a ebook titled “Manipur from 1508-1709” as a studying textual content for increased secondary college students beneath the Council of Increased Secondary Training, Manipur. Objection from some quarters pressured the withdrawal of the ebook’s circulation over the remarks and commentary made by the creator which was deemed to be opposite to the views of the time.
The current author being skilled within the self-discipline of historical past wish to concentrate on the contribution of Rajkumar Jhalajit Singh as a historian based mostly on his “A Brief Historical past of Manipur” (1966). Earlier than coming to the evaluation of the late historian’s work permit me the freedom of penning a couple of traces on the state of historic data in Manipur previous to Jhalajit’s magnum opus, “A Brief Historical past of Manipur” (1966).
Rajkumar Jhaljit Singh at an Award ceremony :: Pix – Donny Luwang
The historiography of Manipur could be broadly divided into three classes viz, i) conventional Meitei historiography, ii) colonial historiography, and iii) modern historiography. The traditional Meiteis possessed a robust sense of historical past. Their conventional idea of historical past is Pu-Wari (story of forefathers) which is kind of nearer to Sanskrit idea of Itihasa-Purana relatively than Greek idea of ‘historia’ or English ‘historical past’.
The Meitei idea of Pu-Wari consists of legends, family tree and historic accounts of their nation moreover the cosmological traditions, origin and genealogies of the clans, the non secular accounts, the dynastic accounts of the clan chieftains are given a distinguished place. Chronicles with or with out chronology kinds the core of historic literature of Manipur. There was no separate self-discipline of historical past as such; historical past or historic data was part of the entire data.
The Sanskritisation of Manipur which was a direct end result of the massive scale conversion of Meiteis into Hindu non secular fold within the 18th century had given a Sanskritised orientation to the expansion of historic data. Makes an attempt have been made by students with royal patronage to establish the land and other people which was mirrored within the chronicles and family tree of the ruling Ningthouja dynasty.
The Hindu eras have been adopted thereby giving a chronological sequence to the normal Meitei/Manipuri follow of retaining chronicles. One of the best instance of this new follow was present in Cheitharol Kumbaba, the royal chronicle of Manipur stored and maintained by the Pandit Loishang (Royal Faculty of Monks).
Haodeijamba Chaitanya’s ‘Manipurer Itihas‘ printed in 1890 although given a Bengali title could also be thought of as the primary try at writing historical past of Manipur based mostly on indigenous sources. It was adopted by Pukhrambam Parijat’s Manipur Purabritta (1917), Manipur Itihas (1918), Khumanthem Kaomacha’s Manipur Itibritta (1933), Mutum Jhulon’s Vijay Panchali (1939) and Atombapu Sharma’s Manipur Itihas (1940) have been influenced by Indian historiography.
These accounts present how the non secular ethos of pre-Hindu Meitei faith, Vaishnavism and Aryanism and so on. performed a really influential function within the conventional Meitei historiography. After the formal graduation of Anglo-Manipuri relationship and extra significantly after the conclusion of the primary Anglo-Burmese Struggle (1824-1826) and subsequent Treaty of Yandabo, colonial historiography had germinated its seed.
R.B. Pemberton’s Jap Frontier of British India (1835) was the primary try on this course. It was based mostly on James Mill’s historical past of British India (1819) which was adopted by William McCulloch’s Account of the Valley of Manipur and Surrounding Hill Tribes (1859), Dr. R. Brown’s A Statistical Account of Manipur (1874), E.W. Dun Gazetteer of Manipur (1886, 1891), James Johnstone’s My Experiences in Manipur and Naga Hills (1895) whose writers have been British officers posted as Political Brokers in Manipur.
These works take care of a portion of Manipur historical past, but historical past as such was not tried. In Alexander Mackenzie’s Historical past of the Relation of the Authorities with Hill Tribes of North Jap Frontier of British Bengal (1884) devoted a portion on the historical past of Manipur which is taken into account an necessary contribution to the colonial historiography. Robert Reid’s Historical past of Areas Bordering Assam (1942) which comprises a portion of Manipur historical past was a mere documentation work.
Of the ethnographic accounts point out could also be manufactured from T.C. Hodson’s The Meitheis (1908), The Naga Tribes of Manipur (1911), John Shakespeare’s Lushai Kuki Clans (1913) offers precious info on the life, beliefs and practices of the ethnos. The Anglo-Manipur Struggle of 1891 elicited quite a lot of curiosity amongst sure sections of Indians significantly extra so amongst the Bengalis. Because of the constraint of area, solely two works are talked about.
Janakinath Basak, a small-time dealer who occurred to be current at Manipur in the course of the tumultuous days of Palace Revolution of 1890 and consequent Anglo-Manipur Struggle of 1891 had written a extremely reliable account entitled “Manipur Prahelika” (1891) giving an eyewitness account of what transpired in the course of the trial of ‘Manipuri’ rebels. Janakinath Basak was the one unofficial who attended the trials of Tikendrajit as he acted as interpreter cum counsel of the accused Prince.
Basak’s ebook was quickly adopted by Mukundalal Chaudhury’s “Manipurer Itihas” (1892 & 1909). These two accounts are well-written ones with necessary paperwork and images and illustrations. Aside from historic narrations, each these accounts additionally take care of numerous points of Manipur’s social, non secular, financial and cultural life offering mine of data relating to Manipur to the skin world.
Nevertheless, one main criticism in opposition to these accounts is a portrayal of Manipur throughout the pan Indian Brahmanical mannequin of historical past writing and depicting Manipur as one of many historic land of Aryabrata ensuing within the portrayal of Manipur as extension thereof.
eceiving Padmashri in 1999 by the then president of India Ok.R. Narayan :: Pix – Donny Luwang
The idea of Manipur having a reference to Aryabrata has been severely criticised and rejected as a mere concoction by later students. This mannequin of historical past writing too was adopted by later students like Wahengbam Yumjao (Manipur Itihas, R.Ok Sanahal (Manipur Itihas, 1947). Jyotirmoy Roy, who joined the historical past school of Dhanamanjuri Faculty, Imphal in 1951 made a substantive contribution within the examine of Manipur’s previous by the publication of “Historical past of Manipur” in 1958.
J. Roy’s ebook really crammed within the long-felt want of an ordinary ebook on Manipur Historical past. However on main weak spot of J. Roy’s work is his ignorance and close to absence entry to the native sources written in native language leading to his scant therapy of historic and medieval Manipur as much as the start of 18th century as ‘Puranic’ and ‘Unaccounted Interval’ which mars the standard of this in any other case extremely readable account.
Another strategy which can be thought of a paradigm shift in finding out Manipur’s previous historical past was the publication of R.Ok. Jhalajit Singh’s A Brief Historical past of Manipur (1965), which was primarily based mostly on indigenous sources, significantly Cheitharol Kumbaba and Ningthourol Lambuba. Jhalajit’s goal of writing historical past was to current a historical past of Manipur within the perspective of the expansion of the Meitei kingdom and growth of Aryan tradition in Manipur. It was primarily a historical past of the Ningthouja dynasty from the early interval to the center of the 20th century.
The publication of the historical past could also be thought of as one other necessary landmark within the historiography of Manipur within the post-independence interval. What Professor Gangmumei Kamei had noticed about Jhalajit’s work aptly describes the significance of the scholar, “The historical past covers all of the durations of historical past, historic, medieval and modem from the primary century to the Merger of Manipur to the Dominion of India (1949).
He utilized the indigenous sources in Manipuri language and the British archival sources. His goal was to report the growth of Aryan tradition and Hinduism to Manipur. He was beneath the affect of Brahmanical College of historical past writing that the Meiteis are ethnically and linguistically Indo-Aryan”. Thus R.okay. Jhaljit’s celebrated work continues to obtain acclaim and condemnation from many quarters.
Nevertheless, Jhalajit and different students who adopted the Brahmanical custom of writing Manipur historical past obtained a light rebuke from the celebrated Indic scholar R.C. Majumdar who rejected the speculation of Aryan reference to Manipur whereas delivering the Pandit Raj Atombapu Memorial Lecture at Imphal in 1966. Later students additionally rejected the Aryan reference to early Manipur historical past as concocted and now it has turn into an exploded fable.
Then how will we situate “A Brief Historical past of Manipur” as a path-breaking work and recognize its contribution within the examine of Manipur historical past? To be sincere, Jhalajit by scripting this necessary piece of historical past has significantly widened our Weltanschauung of Manipur’s previous to a better stage. It was he, who confirmed to the skin world that the historical past of this land may very well be written based mostly on the obtainable native sources as completed in different elements of the world.
He served with sincerity the reason for Clio, the muse of historical past. Late Professor Gangmumei Kamei, my trainer confided me in non-public that his most referred and extensively learn work on pre-colonial historical past of Manipur is the results of his steady engagement with Oja Jhalajit’s work whereas instructing the Put up-Graduate college students at Jawaharlal Nehru College, Imphal Centre and later at Manipur College.
It might be that among the concepts contained in “A Brief Historical past of Manipur,” might now not stay tenable to the students of our era but there are specific insights on this work which deserve the eye of aspiring historians. As a result of what we referred to as new genres of historical past writing like environmental historical past, historical past of disasters like famine and flood and ailments and so on. would discover point out in lots of pages of the ebook lengthy earlier than historians of the area thought of it worthy of highlighting.
Thus on the finish, merely setting apart this work as outdated, outmoded and concocted, we may be charged with doing a grave injustice to the self-discipline of historical past itself. If historical past is all about questioning and steady engagement between the previous and current, Oja Jhalajit has made a everlasting mark of his personal. With these few traces it’s prayed which will Oja Jhalajit’s soul relaxation in peace.
* Kakchingtabam Ruhinikumar Sharma wrote this text for The Sangai Categorical
The creator is a school member, Division of Historical past, Supreme Ladies’ Faculty, Akampat, Imphal-East.
He could be reached at kruhinikumar(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This text was posted on February 10, 2021.