History And Influence Of Vaishnavism In Manipur In English

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History And Influence Of Vaishnavism In Manipur

History

  • Manipuri Vaishnavism, also known as Meitei Vaishnavism, is a regional variant of Gaudiya Vaishnavism with a culture-forming role in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur.
  • Manipuri Vaishnavas do not worship Krishna alone, but as Radha-Krishna. With the spread of Vaishnavism, the worship of Krishna and Radha became the dominant form in the Manipur region. There is a Thakur-ghat and a temple in every village.

Background

  • Vaishnavism has spanned history in Manipur. While the Puranas contain records as accounts of pre-historic forms of Vaishnavism or Bhagavataism in the region of the present state, the modern history of Vaishnavism practices in Manipur began with the gifting of an idol of Vishnu by a king of the Shan kingdom of Pong.
  • Chakra to King Kayamba of Manipur, so from the 1470s the kings of Manipur started worshiping Vishnu.
  • Many Brahmin priests from the mainland west of India came to Manipur and settled there. The account of the arrival of the members of the Brahmins is found in the records of the book called Bamon Khunthok.
  • King Kyamba built a Vishnu temple, a notable architectural monument, at Vishnupur.
  • In 1704 Raja Charai Rongba was initiated into the Vaishnava tradition and from then on Vaishnavism became the state religion. This further strengthened the cultural contact with India.

Raja Bhagyachandra

  • King Ching-thang Khomba, also known as Rajarishi Bhagyachandra, was the most devoted ruler and propagator of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, under the influence of the disciples of Narottama Dasa Thakur, and who visited the holy place for Chaitanyatis Nabadwip. He ascended the throne.
  • in 1759; However, in 1762 the Burmese invaded Manipur, and the king, along with his queen and some attendants, fled to the neighboring kingdom, now known as Assam.
  • It is believed that Bhagyachandra had a revelation from Lord Krishna in a dream; Based on this revelation, he committed himself to make the worship of Govinda the state religion upon his return to power in Manipur.
  • It is believed that the idol of Govinda was to be made from a specific sacred tree and the rasa-lila dances were carefully planned in the country, retrieved with the help of the king of present-day Assam.
  • On restoring the throne, a Govinda idol was installed and worshiped regularly; Later a Radha idol was installed and worshiped next to it.

Influence of Gaudiya Vaishnavism

  • The Meiteis or Manipuris were initiated into the religion of Chaitanya in the middle of the 18th century.
  • With a vast cultural change during the then king Bhangyachandra, including the development of the Raslila dance drama of Manipuri Raas Leela dedicated to the Raas of Krishna and the Gopis, which is well known to the world, the image of Manipuri society changed and Developed as a Sanskrit society. Many other literatures of the Gaudiya Sampradaya were translated and studied extensively.
  • It also included chanting and sankirtan. Many other dance dramas like Gaura Leela and six forms of Ras Leela were also composed and performed in the villages of Manipur.
  • The Manipuri Ras Lila dance evolved from the dance of Lai Haroba performed by Maiba and Maibi, priests and priestesses of traditional Meitei religious beliefs before Vaishnavism in Manipur.
  • Rasa lila and Manipuri sankirtana or nata sankirtana, which is also a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, became important features of daily life. Non-vegetarian is completely prohibited in all rituals.
  • The advent of Vaishnavism had added various aesthetic elements to the existing cultural beauty of Manipur. The Meitei’s spirit of creativity and devotion has indeed given internationally recognized elements to the art and culture of the Vaishnava world, such as Manipuri dance and Nata Sankirtan.

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