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Who are Bishnupriya Manipuris?

By RK Rishikesh Sinha
We have to reclaim, redefine and emphasise what our ancestors lived and believed (according to Dharmic lens): Manipur as their janmabhoomi and being the descendants of Arjuna’s son Babruvahana.
A week back I received an email from a student studying in Gurucharan College Silchar, Assam, requesting to give details about us (Bishnupriya Manipuris), specifically the life cycle. She had been given a project to study on Bishnupriya Manipuri.

Before I write something and click SEND button, I for a moment thought I must know: what is her prior rudimentary knowledge about us, the Bishnupriya Manipuris.

I didn’t ask her. Even I didn’t respond to her email knowing the fact that the academic discourse towards our jati is distorted and prejudice. Reason being that the approach the academicians take is very much western as if they have got a template and they have to just fill in the blanks. They work as an academic mafia.

Please read: Academic lens on Bishnupriya Manipuris

A century has been wasted understanding our jati vis-à-vis Meitei. The anthropological and sociological theories don’t add a word. Today, we see the results of this studies : there is deep misunderstanding. Something has gone wrong. We have to accept it.

That is one reason that I didn’t respond to the request. I don’t want to give more ammunition to the western armory.

Till date, the standard western definition of our jati has been :
  • They speak a language called Bishnupriya Manipuri.  
  • They are Vaishnav.
  • They have this and that rituals.
  • The Bishnupriya Manipuri language is an Indo-Aryan language.
That’s all!

The above given markers are not necessary and sufficient conditions anymore. Like we have people who speak Meitei as their first language. Anyway.

We have to reclaim and redefine and add what our ancestors lived and believed (according to Dharmic lens): Manipur as their janmabhoomi and being the descendants of Arjuna’s son Babruvahana.
It is not that western lens of academics in their work missed Manipur being the land of Mahabharata. They put this fact under Religion (again wrong) or it in “Mythology”, as if they are myths. Today, the Sanskritisation theory of Manipur goes down the drain. Rajiv Malhotra work has punctured this theory brilliantly. 

The assertion of Manipur being the janmabhoomi and descendants of Babruvahana for Bishnupriya Manipuris will work as a Poison Pill for other. (Please follow Rajiv Malhotra to understand the concept of Poison Pill).

The Pill will safeguard cannibalizing of our jati internally and externally. It will work as a protective shield from hostile takeover.

Let us understand. How?

(a) Our people are widespread in all parts of India, consider a family or a person or a group of people converts to Christianity or Islam, they are outright NOT Bishnupriya Manipuri even if they speak the language. The poison pill will stop the cancer outright since they will not believe on it. Let them go and name themselves and follow whatever in their converted faith.

(b) Suppose a point of time come in future when a large number of people identify themselves as Bishnupriya Manipuri but don’t have the language practically. They will be Bishnupriya Manipuri as per our dharmic understanding.

Many of you might be knowing there were Bishnupriya Manipuri people in Manipur in some pockets who used to identify themselves being Bishnupriya Manipuri but they were speaking Meitei.

According to the western (linguistic) framework, they are Meitei but not identified as Bishnupriya Manipuri. 

The dharmic understanding will bring to our fold and give an opportunity to come together.

A case in point, take it as an example. Suppose there is increase in Meitei Christian in Manipur in the valley. They are Manipuri and Meitei by western Christian definition. Since they would have every parameter required to be included in the Meitei / Manipuri fold. What would be result of the takeover. Hindu culture goes into the drain. The world famous Manipuri dance will be secularised, it will be devoid of any shraddha and bhakti. In one word: It will be Christianised Manipuri Dance like  Bharathanatyam has been Christianised. The state Manipur would be devoid of its sanskriti.

(c) Hypothetically suppose, there is a neighbouring jati near us and they have accommodated every thing like language, ritual and customs but they don’t go by our belief of Manipur being Janmabhoomi and Babruvahana descendants. 

They will be not be in our jati. So, there will not be any hijack of identity.

So, hereby I would reply to the student with the following markers. 

He or she has to introduce our jati in the dharmic terms and lens. 

  • Bishnupriya Manipuri have shraddha and bhakti being Manipur their Janmabhoomi and being Babruvahana descendants. 
  • They speak a language called Bishnupriya Manipuri. 
  • They are Vaishnav. 
  • They have this and that rituals. 
  • The Bishnupriya Manipuri language is an Indo-Aryan language. (Optional) 

And if these points are not accommodated, the academic work is wrong and baseless and it is junk. And the work will be categorized as “anti-Hindu”, “Hinduphobic”, “anti-Bishnupriya Manipuri”.

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