Meidingu Pamheiba (1690–1751) was an emperor in Manipur in the early 18th century. After conversion to Hinduism, he made it the official religion of Manipur in 1717. He is also one of the enemies of the Thangal tribe.
Early life and conversion
He was born on December 23, 1690 CE in Manipur to Pitambar Charairongba and was crowned Meidingu ("king") on Wednesday, the 23rd of thawan 1631 Saka Era( August 28, 1709 CE). During the early 18th century, Hindu missionaries from Sylhet arrived in Manipur to spread Gaudiya Vaishnavism. They were led by Shantidas Goswami and his associate Guru Gopal Das who succeeded in converting the King from the old Meitei religion to Vaishnavism in 1710. Later during his reign, Pamheiba made Hinduism the official religion, and converted nearly all the Meitei people to Hinduism.
His reign lasted 39 years and during that time, the realm of Manipur extended from the Irrawady in the east to Cachar and Tripura in the west. At some points during his reign, his realm extended into the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Shortly after taking power, in his father Charairongba he invaded Burma after the Burmese King insulted his sister. The Burmese King asked for the hand (in marriage) of another of Charairongba's daughters. Instead of a princess, the King of Burma was met by cavalry, led by Pamheiba that massacred the Burmese army, and brought many POW to Imphal.
Though most of Manipur was at least nominally Hindu especially the Bishnupriya after the 15th century, the major religions among the Meitei people were Sanamahism in all the areas. Pamheiba treated a Bramhin Hindu Pujari as his Guru who was from Sihlet of Bangladesh enter through western mountain of Manipur. The king followed whatever advice suggested by the Shanta Das Goshai, the Bengali Brahman, who had a very strong attitude to exploit the tradition, culture, script and religion of Manipur by influencing the kind Pamheiba. After Shanta Das Goshai's suggestion only King Pamheiba forced every people of Meetei/ Meitei to follow Hindu as their religion. Otherwise people in the Manipur should have been followed their nature worship and traditional Gods for example Iputhou Sanamahi and Iputhou Pakhangba as biggest Gods with highest beliefs. After 1717, he outlawed the consumption of pork, poultry and beef. He also converted many Sanamahi Laishang shrines followers into Hindu mandirs and fought with the traditional clergy for religious power. But the people of Manipur still have great belief on their traditional religion, worshiping Ibudhou Sanamahi. As the people of Manipur were forced to follow the Hinduism by the King, they maintained this as the external face religion just to show the respect for their king. Hinduism was not successful to influence majority of the Meitei community. Shanta Das Goshai was killed afterwards by the people paying off his disrespect and rude behavior towards the original religion of the Meiteis. After the death of monarchy people started independently following their original religion ‘Sanamahism’ worshipping ‘Ibudhou Sanamahi’, and the influence of Hinduism started degrading. People can eat pork or beef if they wish. And now in the present era the Meiteis are following ‘Sanamahism’.
Pamheiba had eight wives, and a large number of sons and daughters. His eldest son, Samjai Khurai-Lakpa, was assassinated by his younger son Chitsai, who came to power after Pamheiba's grandson Gaurisiam. The reign was then followed by Ching-Thang Khomba.
- Thangal General, Charai Thangal And Pamheiba Manipur Online - May 13, 2003
- Sana, Raj Kumar Somorjit (2010). The Chronology of Meetei Monarchs( from 1666 CE to 1850 CE). Imphal: Waikhom Ananda Meetei. p. 59. ISBN 978-81-8465-210-9.
- Manipur, The - Banglapedia
- Garib Niwaz: Wars and Religious Policy in 18th Century Manipur KanglaOnline
- History of Manipur - IIT Guwahati
- Traditional Religion Of The Meiteis Manipur Online - September 25, 2006
- A Land of Krishna Conscious Culture - ISKCON
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