Bhuban cave: Holy place of the TRC people

Dr Budha Kamei
The Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak people are one of the natives of Northeast India. They are found in the districts of Tamenglong, Noney, Churachandpur, Senapati, Imphal West, Imphal East, Jiribam, Thoubal and Bishnupur; outside the state of Manipur, they are found settling in Nagaland in its Paren District, and Kohima District, and in Assam in its Haflong sub-division of Cachar District and Hailakandi District. The paper attempts to delve into the significance of Bhuban cave in the religion of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak.
Bhuban cave is believed to be the abode of God Bisnu, the eldest brother of seven brother gods of the TRC pantheon. It is a prehistoric cave and a place of pilgrimage. God Bisnu was looked upon as the God for welfare and prosperity of men, creatures and the universe as well as the earthly world. Bisnu is recognized by different names such as Munchanu, Bonchanu, Buisnu, Bisnu etc. This prehistoric cave was first discovered by Gairemnang, a semi-historical, semi-mythical culture hero and poet, but it was unknown to the TRC people. It was rediscovered by Jadonang only in the 1920’s. In other words, the Bhuban Hills cave legacy was revised by Jadonang. Jadonang and many other pilgrims went to the Holy cave and worshipped God Bisnu and Tingkao Ragwang, the supreme God there. The mouth of the cave is about fifty feet high, with a sloping roof of two hundred feet; and it bears a resemblance to the front of Taraangkai, ornamental ritual house of Taraang sacrifice. It became for Jadonang a holy shrine, a place where he offered sacrifices and where he communicated with God Bisnu. For the devotees of TRC and Heraka, Bhuban cave represents the point of reformation began there as in this cave the blessing of Tingkao Ragwang, the Supreme God was bestowed upon Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinlu to introduce new cult. Jadonang and Gaidinliu reached the apex of the religious and spiritual achievements in their last pilgrimage to Bhuban Hills in 1931. It was during their last pilgrimage, Tingkao Ragwang through God Bisnu revealed new cult to Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinlu. Jadonang did not live to see its culmination, on his return journey Jadonang was arrested on 19th February 1931 at Lakhipur by Assam police for declaring a Naga Raj at Kambiron, Tamenglong District, Manipur. Jadonang was hanged on 29th August 1931 in Imphal on the wrong charge of murder.  Therefore, it becomes a pilgrimage site for the devotees of TRC and Heraka in the month of February every year. A temple of God Bisnu was constructed at Bhuban Hills under the chairmanship of (Late) Prof. Mangthoi Thaimei and the same was inaugurated in the year 1982. The followers of TRC of three states (Assam, Manipur and Nagaland) worship Lord Bisnu at the temple, Bhuban Hills, Cachar, Assam.
Seven brother gods (Na Ragwang Chanren Chanei)
According to myth, Tingkao Ragwang created Didimpu (Kadipou), his wife Thingtunbungpui and his sisters to look after the affairs of the world. Didimpu had seven daughters but no son. On a favourable day, Didimpu prayed to Tingkao Ragwang, for granting sons; and Tingkao Ragwang accepted his prayer on one condition that if somebody (god/man/creature) sees them while they are love making the child will go to the person. One day after sending away all his sisters to distant places for fetching water, collecting firewoods, working in the field etc. Didimpu had intimacy with his wife but his sister Chrasinglangpui came back and saw their love scene so the blessing of God went to Charasinglangpui.
After some months, Charasinglangpui got conceived and to avoid gossiping, she laid eight eggs at the confluence of Agu River near the banyan tree growing in the sandy soil. Before leaving the place, she placed a Dandi Baang, a divine sword of Didimpu and stones around the eggs with the words: “Hey my offspring, one who hatches out and holds the Dandi Baang will become Na Ragwang, the King of the lower realm.” According to Didimpu, the first laid out egg would be the king of the lower realm. The Radaopui, evil spirits were waiting for an appropriate time to eat the eggs. In course of time, the eggs hatched out one after another except one. The youngest brother picked up the Divine Sword and killed all the evil spirits as the six elder brothers were scared to hold the sword. There was one egg remained which could not hatch out and was told to eat the offerings (blood, wine etc.) on the floor of the earth.
The seven brothers because of non-available of their mother started looking for their mother by disguising into crows and flew over 7 (seven) hills ranges and finally perched on a branch of Jarengbang tree growing near the mustard field where Charasinglangpui was working. After a long conversation with the crows, Charasinglangpui came to know that the crows are none other than her own sons. Charasinglangpui met her elder brother, Didimpu and introduced her seven sons. She in secret told her youngest son not to accept any name proposed by Didimpu except his name would be Apouna. At the residence of Didimpu, all the sons were made to sit in line and named them by his maternal uncle as: (i) Bisnu (ii) Napsinmei (iii) Chonchai iv) Charakilongmei (v) Koklou (vi) Karangong (vii) Apouna.
Among the brothers, the strongest and bravest man would become the king of the lower realm. There would be a number of competitions such as shot put, javelin throw, pestle throw, wrestling, going round the world etc. to select the winner is the decision of  Didimpu. However, Apouna won all the competitions with the aid of his mother as she loved and wanted him to become the king of the lower realm. This was the main factor which finally led to conflict between the two brothers (Bisnu and Ragwang). So mother should love and treat her children equally.
In marriage too, all the six brothers accepted the proposal of their maternal uncle but Apouna did not agree with his maternal uncle due to his mother’s instruction. Didimpu readily accepted the proposal of Charasinglangpui to give his daughters in marriage to her sons except the youngest daughter as he loved her very much. It is said that he did not even call her name, as a substitute, Jenlu (good girl loved by all). Didimpu told Apouna not to marry his youngest daughter as she was ugly but Apouna did not accept and stuck to his previous words. Didimpu finally agreed to give his youngest daughter (Madilu) to be the wife of Apouna. Thus, there was a marriage of Didimpu’s seven daughters with seven sons of Charasinglangpui.
Didimpu wanted to hand over the throne to one of his nephews. He knew that Bisnu would beat all the competitors if there was no Charasinglangpui behind Apouna. Apouna’s victory in the competitions was the creation of his mother. Madilu, the wife of Apouna came to know from a talk with her mother that as long as the fattiest hair of her mother present on her head, her father would never be defeated in any competitions. In wrestling with Apouna, Didimpu was defeated as Madilu removed the fattiest hair of her mother in the name of searching louse and threw it to her father’s legs and warped and Didimpu fell and gone to the underneath of the earth thus became the king of under-world (Banglagwang).
The next competition is going round the world seven times. The seven brothers riding on the horses and demoniac tiger started the competition but Apouna instead of doing it moved round the throne of his maternal uncle seven times which is similar to going round the world as suggested by his mother.  After rounding seven times he touched the feet of his maternal uncle and thus Apouna ascended the throne by hoisting a flag. Apouna came to be known as Ragwang as he became the king of the lower realm.
Bisnu returned to the residence of Didimpu after rounding the world for seven times but the throne of his maternal uncle was occupied by his youngest brother. Bisnu knew the mischief of his mother and decided to destroy the world. He started the work of destruction. Bangalgwang, with the request of his daughter, Madilu, emerged out of the earth with an earthquake and persuaded Bisnu with the words: “Listen to me for a moment, everything on the earth and the earth on which you rule was created by me before you were born, so you cannot destroy the earth. Even if you do not accept the decision of your mother you should at least accept my request.” Though Bisnu was angry, he half-heartedly accepted the proposal of his maternal uncle to be the Neikei Ragwang. So, he went to settle at Pubon (Bhuvan) cave as Neikei Ragwang.
Bisnu left Koubru village at night and settled at Longrang (Nungnang). But all of a sudden, he planned to settle at the top of Khoupum Hill where he levelled and completed the foundation work of his house in a night. In the morning, he went to Pubon (Bhuban) Hill and settled there because he could see the house of his younger brother. Not satisfied with the intrigue of his mother, Bisnu carried away everything and the divine world became abnormal this made alarm to men, god, and creatures. To remove the grievances of gods and men, an old god suggested that if the son of Apouna marries the daughter of Bisnu there would be peace and Bisnu also would bring back everything that he carried away for the sake of his daughter. Other gods present in the discussion also supported the suggestion. They decided to send Shashokpou and Shangampou, intelligent and well conversant to custom and tradition to negotiate with Bisnu for the marriage proposal. Bisnu out of anger fenced his residence area with Kurampui (caterpillars) so that the agents of his youngest brother (Ragwang) could not enter. The two Nouthanpous (marriage negotiators) could reach the gate of Bisnu but at the gate they were killed by Mangloipu (gatekeeper).
After the failure of the mission, the gods discussed and decided to kidnap one of the daughters of Bisnu for Diphungpu, son of Ragwang.  Some youth were appointed and assigned the task of kidnapping. The youth were waiting for an opportune time. Many days and months went by but one day, Dikoilunglu came out to fetch water and they, without any delay, kidnapped her for the wife of Diphungpu. When Bisnu came to know about the kidnap of his daughter by the men of Ragwang he sent out Pongwang to find out the whereabouts of his daughter Dikoilounglu. Pongwang with his divine power destroyed all trees and plants in the Koubru Range including houses and granaries. The divine world was devastated and gods, men were hard to live. All gods came out and persuaded Bisnu with good terms and advice. One of the old gods narrated the whole episode of the kidnap and requested him to restore the normal nature. After the narration, Bisnu carried away his daughter without any words.
After some time, Charasinglangpui went to the house of Bisnu and she was warmly welcomed by her daughter-in-law, Kudinei. Charasinglangpui was satisfied with the good manners of her daughter-in-law. Bisnu came out from his bed and asked his mother about her coming. Charasinglangpui tried to persuade Bisnu with the words: “My dear son, you are my eldest son. You know the occurrences in the past and present and foretell the future. You are the wisest among my sons. There is no mother who does not love her offsprings. Don’t be angry. You will have the best life. Everything will be in your hands, nothing shorts for you.” Bisnu cooled down his temper by forgetting the past he had with his mother. Bisnu gave seeds, plants, birds, creatures etc. which she kept in her conical basket. In return, Charasinglangpui gave a blessing to both Bisnu and her daughter-in-law. Then, she left the residence of Bisnu for home.  

To be contd