The martyr, Haipou Jadonang Marangmei

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Dr Heera Marangmei

Some of the historians, writers have emphasised incomplete name of Jadonang. It is a misnomer. Jadonang was born in Marangmei clan of Kabui (Rongmei).It is more appropriate to mention surname. It is a Kabui (Rongmei) customary to provide surname after his or her name whatsoever personality he or she possesses. To cite some great personalities with their surname are John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru,Subhas Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Ratan Naval Tata, Angami Zapu Phizo, Jananeta Hijam Irabot etc. It is traditionally customary to name a person with surname among the Kabui (Rongmei) Community. Full name of Jadonang Marangmei will provide more understanding to the present and future generations to which family’s Clan of Kabui (Rongmei) he belongs to.

Puilon, a small Kabui (Rongmei) village, located in Nungba Hill range under the Tamenglong District of Manipur, where a promising baby boy, Jadonang, was born in 1905.He was the younger of the three sons of Thiudai Marangmei and his was Tabonliu of Dangmei clan.The full name of Jadonang was Jadonang Marangmei.Madunang Marangmei was his elder brother and Tiningam Marangmei was his younger brother.But he had one younger sister, Sulunglu Marangmei.

Jadonang Marangmei lost his father when he was a child.He grew up under his mother’s care.His bother;Madunang loved him dearly and never let him feel the absence of his father.He was descended from a very simple and cultured family.His mother foresaw him as an extra ordinary child. But at the same time she was afraid of all mysterious happenings to him. She had some intuitions and believed that someday Jadonang would lead the Makam-mei (Makam means Zemei,Liangmei,Rongmei(Kabui) & Puimei) to the highest.

When jadonang was around four years of age,while sleeping on a mat at the portico of his house, a cyclone came and he was swift away. Later he was found in the noon, unharmed and lying on fresh and cozy shrubs near his house. His mother thought he was lost in the cyclone.His mother was over joy with relief on seeing his son lying on the shrubs.

At the younger age of five,young Jadonang went into trances for hours, even for four to five days. Sometimes for ten days.His trance was manifested as “Talking and meeting with Haipou Ragwang (the Supreme God,the creator of Heaven and Planets)”.His long sleep or trances were termed by his grandmother and maternal family as he was suffering from a  dreaded disease like epilepsy.He underwent trances and deep meditation quite often as grew older.This phenomenal behaviour of Jadonang worried his mother very much and helpless. He specifically told his worried mother not to disturb his trance or meditation. He further clarified and consoled his mother that his trance was nothing but meeting with Haipou Ragwang, who imparted him spiritual knowledge for the wellbeing of Makammei. His mother belied that he would become a Mhu (a priest).Gradually he began to foretell the future of an individual or village, which proved to be true. His undisputed spiritual discussion with the elderly persons proved his godly quality. Inspite of his young age, he suggested the elders to change the traditional way prevalent in his village such as religious and social prejudices and superstitious beliefs. As a child, he was soft spoken and gentle, truth loving and serious in thoughts.
Occasionally he used to walk in the forest and found talking friendly with the unseen being. It was said that the unseen being was not other than Lord Vishnu. Sometimes in the forest he spent deep meditation for hours. His mother was greatly amazed by an incident, while returning home from the jhum field. The mother unloaded the basket containing the vegetables. The boy picked up the ripe chilies and pieces of ginger and told her not to collect the vegetables from other fields which did not belong to her. His mother was ashamed of but she was glad to see the true nature and divinity of her son. The condition of the family began to improve as he grew older. He and his elder brother Madunang sometime had to carry belongings of British officials. From his childhood, he had seen British army passing through his village, since the village road connected with Silchar and Imphal. He was aware of Kuki Rebellion of 1917-1919 and had seen the movement of British Platoon in his village. He was aggrieved with the British oppression and exploitation over Makam people. During the Rebellion, the British failed to protect the Makam people who were not at war. The Kuki migrants of nineteen century separated the Native land of Makam leading to The KUKI-ZELIANGRONG FEUD.

There was a great famine in Puilon due to the flowering of bamboo. Jadonang was barely twelve years old at that time of famine. He told the elder people of the village that wrath of the divine famine could be saved through performance of religious ritual by offering a mithun. The villagers offered a mithun to Haipou Ragwang.There after no such famine was heard but received a good and bountiful agricultural harvest during the time of Jadonang. His proximity to Haipou Ragwang, prediction through deep meditation, healing all evils and calamities in the society, finding the root cause of diseases and traditional methods of treatments made him popular among the Makam communities from far and wide. Many believed him that he was the God sent Messiah for Makam people. Jadonang was ordained as Mhu or priesthood after performing customary rite known as Raren loumei. Puilong village became a centre of religious institution of Makam communities.

Jadonang as a religios and social reformer :
Jadonang worshipped Lord Bisnu or Bonchanu (not to confuse with Hindu God-Vishnu) or God of Pubon or Bhuvan Hill in Binnakandi in the District of Cachar. The discovery of Bhuvan Cave had a great influence in Zeliangrong’s religion. The cave of the Bhuvan Hill was known as the abode of Lord Bisnu. Jadonang received divine power and enlightenment from Lord Bisnu. He propounded the indigenous religion of Zeliangrong as Heraka Religion. He inspired this name when he was in Bhuvan cave. He spread Heraka Religion to the Kabui (Rongmei) dwellers in Cachar also. He treated the sick people and prayed for the dead people. He frequently contacted Lord Bisnu in his deep meditation and received advices from Lord Bisnu. He visited the holy places.He was seen communicating to the unseen being several times by his followers on the way to Bhuvan cave. His followers did not know what the conversations made with God was. He advised his followers to pray for what they wanted. Gaidinliu Pamei,a young girl from Longkao (Nungkao) village, came to know Jadonang in her dream journey to Bhuvan cave.

The four Zeilad lakes are 1. Zeilad,the biggest lake among four lakes; 2. Goiphop-jei, the lake of tortoise because of abundant of tortoise; 3. Rou-jei,the curse lake and 4. Napsham-jei,the lake of paddy.

Zadonang also undertook a journey to Zeilad Lake, which was believed to be a store of holy water and a store house of magical weapons. According to Gaidinliu, the deity of Zeilad Lake appeared in the form of a python. If they wished to possess the secret and magical weapons of sword (Khonchaibang) and a spear (Phentubui), they should sacrifice the head of a female mithun to the deity of Zeilad Lake. But the magical weapons were not received by them.In those days,no temples were constructed by the Makam people.It was Jadonang, who reformed the traditional religion by constructing two temples at Puilon,one at Kekru Naga and one at Binnakandi in Cachar. Gaidinliu also constructed one at her birth place,Longkao.This worshipping place was known as Kelumkai. He enriched the Heraka Religion and removed the prejudices, orthodox ideas. He instructed the people to worship only one God, the Lord Bisnu. He was greatly emphasized on the physical and spiritual holiness at the time of worshipping in the temple. He advised his people to take bath before entering into the temple. A restriction was made for those who did not take bath.
Makam community were very discipline and strict in observance of age old customary gennas and taboos (Neimei, Kabui language meaning Genna; Nuhmei, meaning Taboo).Temple (Kalumkai) became the place of congregation for religious and social activities. In the temple Jadonang introduced to abolish certain social taboos and gennas.
He abolished the taboos of first birth of a child in an individual or in a village, first birth of piglet, pup, chicken , dog climbing and vulture sitting on the roof of a house, delivery of still born baby, death of a woman after five days of delivery, first rain or hailstorm of a year, earthquake etc.He also asked the people to observe the following gennas like genna for good harvesting good crop, genna for protection of corn from rats and rodents and birds etc.
He was not only a social and religious reformer. He was also a great composer of devotional and patriotic songs at the same time he composed new dance forms. It was said that most of the songs were composed when he was with Gaidinliu at the Bhuvan cave.

Jadonang as a freedom fighter :
Makam Communities were gradually converting into Christianity mostly in the hills District of Tamengrong and its surroundings. Jadonnag was very aggrieved and pained to see his fellow people discarding the ancestral religion. The Christian Missionaries under the British administration was propagating Christianity all around the villages. Their policy was to promote Christianity and to establish the British Rule in Manipur. Above all, they wanted to suppress the Movement of Jadonang. They diverted all resources and money towards Kabui (Rongmei),Zemei,Liangmei and Puimei to win their hearts. They won the confidence over some sections of native and converted them to Christianity. Some section of Christian belonging to Makam communities turned hostile to Jadonang and his religion.He did not loss heart, rather he gained more spiritual energy. He encouraged construction of temples, KARUMKAI, in Makam dominating areas and organized the people to avoid such conversion. He emphasized to follow the ancestral custom and to believe in the Heraka religion. He established Heraka Army,known as Riphen. Jadonang was not pleased with the British for imposing House Tax in the Hills and forced labours to be rendered to the Government Officials, when they were on tour in the hills. He and his people opposed the two laws of Pot-thang Bekeri and Pot-thang Senkhai.

The first law of Pothang Bekari stated that the villagers in the hills had to carry the goods and luggages of the Government Officials free of cost while they were on tour to the areas. In case of refusal they whipped the villagers and forced to carry the loads. The Second laws stated the villagers had to contribute money to feed the touring officials and other employees of the Government. The house tax in the hills and Pot-thang Senkhai are akin to Salt March in which Mahatma Gandhi opposed to British and started Salt March March 12, 1930.  Jadonang imparted regular and massive training to the youths of Riphen (Army) to keep them fit to fight against the British in Manipur. The training consisted of catching cattle,cultivation of agricultural crops and military training like gun shhoting,gunpowder making,spear hurling and making of traditional weapons etc.The young girls were trained by Gaidinliu.

On getting the people’s momentum; Jadonang announced his objective of establishing, “Makam Gwangdi”, which meant Makam Kingdom. He coined the objective that Kacharies had their own King, so as Manipuris; what was wrong if Makammei had their own king. The exciting slogan of Jadonang was –”Makammei rui Gwang Tupuni” (meaning Makam people will be the rulers) which was inspired and believed by the masses.

Gradually Makam people began to accept the idea of an independent state. They refused to cooperate with the Government’s orders. They denied to pay house tax to the British and did not participate in any executive works etc. However; Jadonang did not declare his policy of freedom movement, but he started a political movement under his trend of religious and social activities against the British Rule in Manipur,particulary in the hills region of Tamenglong. Jadonang came to know about the Freedom Movement of the Indian National Congress under the able leadership of Mahatma Gandhi on his frequent visit to Binakandi and Lakhmipur in Cachar. Takhenang of Binakandi was his agent and mediator,who supplied all sorts of information to him.In 1926,after AICC Session at Gauhati,Gandhi was scheduled to visit Silchar in January 1927,Jadonang arranged a cultural dance programme in honour of Gandhiji by sponsoring 100 boys and 100 girls in Silchar.He could not meet Gandhi  because Gandhi had postponed his tour programme to Silchar. He gained milestone in his movement against the British and he openly neglected the foreign policy. He did not salute Mr. S.J. Duncan, SDO of Tamenglong even if he met Mr. S.J.Duncan on the way in Tamenglong. Mr.Duncan could not tolerate the insult and decided to punish him. Mr. Duncan issued a warrant to Jinlakpou on 22.11.1928 to arrest Jadonang on charge of Independence. Jinlakpou was working as Lambu (peon cum messenger) and a petty road mohori under British Administration in Manipur. Jadonang was arrested along with his friend Namdichung on 6th Dec. 1928 under the pretext of spreading the news that he was the king and declaring the end of the British Raj.

Jadonang was sentence to rigorous remand in jail for seven days. But he was released on third day on the ground of religious and social reformist. (To be contd)

Source: The Sangai Express

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