The old king is dead, long live the Hungpung King!

    24-Mar-2020
Mutum Yoiremba
Contd from previous issue
He exists not as an artefact of a proud historical past but as shameful memory of historical injustice, of pushing them away as the untouchables by the Hindu King. One cannot help but blame the rule of religion that the kingship had brought in the 17th century and with it practices and meanings embedded the word “hao”, bringing with it the practice of “amang –aseng” or “pure-impure”. The kingship despite its repugnance, its contempt is a seed of power at least culturally in the present or as a political power through the collective memory if not in living form, and so it constitutes symbolic yet real power. The present move to induct the king in the upper house of the Indian parliament also shows the recognition of this power by the ruling government.
If one is to go beyond the lip service of bridging the hill valley divide, of at least in some way or the other, and if one believes in making at least some minimal effort to recover from some of the historical injustice, then perhaps the Civil Society Organisations of the valley as well as the people who talks about the king, from the Marxist rhetoricians, to the “armed groups”, and all the meeteis/meiteis should see the silver lining in the recent developments. The silver lining being that the Titular King should be separated from his kingship and the kingship been throned with a new king/Queen from the hills. The pragmatism from the recent developments can be as such that for example the Hungpung Tangkhul King or the Maram king or a king from Churachandpur, regardless should be crowned. Meeteis/meiteis should give up the throne and transfer the power of symbolic yet real powers of kingship to the hills; democratisation and redistribution of cultural capital embedded with the king and Imphal, and the meeteis/meiteismay hence at least begin there. The Marxist rhetoric of beheading the king sounds fancy, but the pragmatic progression instead may be doing away with the divine kingship before and Gulags and communes; and before it the cure of the structural amnesia the meeteis/meiteis suffer i.e. of the historical injustices of the Meetei kingship.
(The writer believes in the prevalence of indigene metaphysics over European modernity; the writer also believes that the more dangerous sovereigns are the natives sitting in the anthropologists’ chair gifting mind to the fellow natives, more of it in the next article. Marx and many “Marxists” also sat on that chair.)
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