Meitei literature

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Meitei literature is the literature written in the Meitei language, including literature composed in Meitei by writers from Manipur, Assam, Tripura, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The history of Meitei literature is uncertain.

Indian literature

Early era[edit]

The Meiteis had a long tradition of writing. It is not completely clear when the archaic Meitei puyas (old scriptures) and the Meetei Mayek script first came into existence. However, the literature of Meitrabak or Manipur includes Loiyamba Shinyen (1110),[1] during the regime of Meidingu Loiyamba (1074–1122), vividly connotes the practice of writing in this era. It has been further confirmed that from the time of Meidingu Thangwai Ningthouba (1467–1508), later as Kiyamba, the Royal Chronicle – Chitharon Kumpaba was continued until the end of kingship (Meidingu Bodhchandra, 1941–1955).[citation needed]

The Numit Kappa is a common work.[2] The excerpt below in archaic Meitei is from the Numit Kappa: "Haya he Liklaio / Yipungthou nongthourel o lahalnong / Laicha tarang ipakthakta / … … … ".[citation needed]

T.C. Hodson was the first English person to attempt to translate this archaic Meitei literary work into English in his book The Meitheis.[3]


The excerpt in Meitei below is from the beginning part of the Ougri Sheireng (i.e. Ougri Poem):

"Hoirou haya haya … … … / He hupe he / Ougri O kollo / Lamlenmada madaimada / Kangleiyonda pungmayonda / Yoimayaibu Taodanbabu / Taoroinaibu Anganbabu /… … … … … … … "

Ougri, which was also known as Leiroi Ngongloi Eshei, was also an anonymous and undated poetry written in archaic Meitei. But it is believed to have been written in the pre-Christian era.[4]

Medieval era[edit]

Puya Meithaba – Burning of the Sanna-mahi Puyas

The Naga boy adopted as son, became King Garibaniwaz, also known as Meidingu Pamheiba and ruled from 1709 to 1748. He was a religious and social reformer, himself a convert from Sanamahi to Chaitanya's school of Vaishnavism (Hinduism). He had led many successful wars, particularly with Burmese kingdoms. In 1729, according to Komo Singha, Meitei Puyas of Sanamahi religion were "burnt completely" at Kangla Uttra under orders of Meidingu Pamheiba.[5] These Puyas contained the holy texts and cultural history of Sanamahi, and were completely devastated.[5]

Discovery of Puya manuscripts

Medieval era Meitei manuscripts have been discovered by scholars and Christian missionaries, particularly the Puyas.[6][7] These are chronicles, and evidence that Hindus arrived from the Indian subcontinent with royal marriages at least by the 14th century, and in centuries thereafter, from what is now modern Assam, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Dravidian kingdoms, and other regions.[7] Another manuscript suggests that Muslims arrived in Manipur in the 17th century, from what is now Bangladesh, during the reign of Meidingu Khagemba.[7] Meitei literature documents the persistent and devastating Manipur-Burma wars.[8]


Other scholars provide a different account to that of Komo Singha. The burning year was 1732,[9] and the word Puya states Soibam Birajit is not found in Meitei chronicles and archaic inscriptions of Manipur, and it is likely a derivative of the ancient Sanskrit word Puranas. Further, if the manuscripts were completely destroyed, all claims as to what was in them and whether they were scriptures, are speculative and without evidence.[9] The Manipur Puya manuscripts that have been discovered, like the Indian Puranas (Hindu, Jain), discuss cosmology, genealogies of gods and goddesses, history of solar (son-based) and lunar (daughter-based) dynasties of kings, and the reign of Manus.[9] While historical evidence suggests Meidingu Pamheiba consigned Puyas to flames, the evidence also suggests he did not burn all Puyas, such as Cheitharol Kumbaba, Numit Kappa and hundreds of classics in his royal library.[9] It is unclear, why the king ordered the burning of a bundle of selected books.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Naorem Sanajaoba, Manipur Treaties and Documents-Vol I,1993, New Delhi. Book I: "Twelfth Century Meetei Constitution To Pemberton Report".
  2. ^ Chanam Hemchandra, Numit Kappa, translated and rendered into modern Meteeilon, 2008, Imphal, Manipur.
  3. ^ T.C. Hodson, The Meitheis, 1908, London. Appendix II, page 180.
  4. ^ Ningthoujongjam Khelchandra, History of Ancient Manipuri Literature, Pub-Manipuri Sahitya Parishad, 1969.
  5. ^ a b Singha, Komol (2012). "Nexus between Conflict and Development in India: A Case of Manipur" (PDF). International Journal of Humanities and Applied Sciences. 1 (5): 142–143. Retrieved 18 June 2015. Further, as an effort to popularise Hinduism and to make it as a state religion, on a full moon day of October (Wakching in Meitei), in 1729 AD, he collected all the Holy books (Puya) related to Sanna-Mahi religion and burnt them completely, devastated the ancient Meitei scriptures and cultural history. 
  6. ^ FS Downs (1979). Indian Church History Review: Missionaries and Manuscripts. 13. Church History Association. pp. 159–163, 167–168. 
  7. ^ a b c Naorem Sanajaoba (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization. Mittal Publications. pp. 12–14. ISBN 978-81-7099-853-2. 
  8. ^ Naorem Sanajaoba (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization. Mittal Publications. pp. 3–6, 11–12, 15–18. ISBN 978-81-7099-853-2. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Soibam Birajit (2014). Meeyamgi Kholao: Sprout of Consciousness. ARECOM Publishers. pp. 120–121. GGKEY:3Z4QYHH8K7K.