A tribute to Sagolsem Ibochouba Singh, a devout Krishna bhakta

    23-May-2021
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Salam Rupachandra Singh

Late Sagolsem Ibochouba S
‘Mamo’ I fondly address  him in our custom meaning thereby uncle from  maternal side as he belonged to the same locality and he addressed to my mother as ‘Iche’i,e big sister. My maternal grandfather was an agriculturalist besides he practiced Nat Sankirtan and as such at his prime  time of  life, became consultant for others in the field of  Nat Sankirtan. Moreover, in his advanced age, he served as visiting Guru of Nat Sankirtan in Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy for a couple of years. However, due to age, unlike these days, he was discontinued from holding the  post.
My grandpa distributed residential and agricultural lands not only to all his sons but also to three daughters. A custom of Manipuris to care for daughters subsists to the extent that at least some portion of dwelling land be earmarked for unfortunate and destitute daughter who becomes widow or otherwise, staying back to parental home. The practice had been followed on my mom as she returned to her parental home and she occupied a portion of land of grandfather. As three daughters were born to my grandpa, he decided to equally distribute the land to all his daughters during his life so as to do justice to all.
Very unfortunately, his second daughter who had been destined to receive one third share of land got inflicted with heart disease requiring treatment expenses. Option was to sell out her share of land and preference was given to my mom to take it. As the family consisted of widow mother, children the students and there was no other means to arrange the agreed amount, planned to dispose of the agricultural land gifted to my mom by her father at Langol. It is generally termed as a-oon-lou in the context of Manipur tradition and I approached Mamo to buy it to meet our needs.
Though Mamo was not ready to accept my proposal initially, on my insisting pressure, he accepted to it and we went together to see the site. The consideration was fixed and when I requested Mamo to add some more to the price advocating that the value of the land would be high in due course of time, he softly uttered, ‘Ibungo, (dear young boy/ man), money never sleeps’. I got a great lesson from the said line of Mamo in my life because it entails volumes in using and earning money.
Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari have been endeavouring to branch out their centres in the length and breadth of the country. In the early seventies. Vivekananda Kendra was opened in Manipur by deputing one life worker called Bibekananda Roy and ran its office smoothly for some years. Many activities took place thereby imparting practice of Yoga, singing Bhajans and motivating people to lead good life and do good for others too.  Further, the aim of the Kendra was to establish Vivekananda Kendra Schools to provide education with the ethos of the Indian culture and inculcate the inspiring thoughts of Swami Vivekananda, the saint patriot.
Various life workers visited Manipur for their mission and Mamo was allowed to manage the financial matters in the state by allowing him to work as Treasurer. The life workers who visited Manipur were Eknath Ranade, the man behind the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari, Laxmi Didi- the then All India President of  Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, Balkrishnan, the present President, etc etc. Due to certain reasons, the Kendra in Manipur stopped functioning in the late eighties, however, from time to time, the workers came here to revive the same. After Bibekananda Roy was posted out to Anantanag, Kashmir, another life worker namely Kuldeep Khare worked  here for sometime.
In 2011, two Vivekananda Kendra life workers namely Km. Sujatha& Km.Meera came off and on in Manipur and organized seminars/ lecture series etc. The year long 150th  Birth Centenary Celebration of Swami Vivekananda was successfully organized in the state too, (the author being co-convenor of Organising Committee) and Mamo was the Treasurer. It is the trait of the life workers to make contacts with people and for them it is a pledge not to stay in hotels but in the homes of sympathizers, well wishers and have food with the family members of the hosts.
A couple of year ago, shri Balkrishnanji,  Rupeshji, Meeraji visited Manipur  in  connection with the commemoration of the Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari and met many including the Hon’ble Governor and Chief Minister of Manipur for the same purpose. As a practice, we approached Mamo to offer a lunch to the life workers and as such Mamo happily offered prasadam of Isckon to our guests. Mamo himself was an indispensable man in any of the Vivekananda Kendra related activities. He was very clean and accurate in financial matters and advised us to practice the same
Late Sagolsem Ibochouba Singh was born on 07/05/1946 as the first son of Late Sagolsem Mani Singh &Yumlembam Ningol Rajani Devi at Thangmeiband Hijam Leikai among eight sisters and three brothers. He matriculated from Johnstone School in the year 1964 and did BSC from DM College thereafter. He led married life with Sagolsem Ongbi Rasheshwori Devi, two sons and three daughters were born to them. He was a businessman by profession and he had role in chamber of Commerce. Not only this, he is a devout Bhakta of Isckon and had a pivotal role in the construction and management of Isckon Temple and Bhakti Vidanta Institute. He took a keen interest in production of a ballet entitled Rajashri Bhagyachandra under the aegis of Isckon. A fine gentleman, soft spoken & one clean in financial matters, injustices were found done to him in many ways by others. He consulted and entrusted some of his legal matters to be handled by our chamber. He traced and tried to file legal suit against a fake company which assured him to give flat in Bangalore by collecting premium amount. And also got justice from Manipur Government Departments in connection with their inaction to refund of supply deposits etc. only when he took legal  help. As he willingly expressed me to visit site at Nabadwip, I fulfilled the same and visited the Samadhi of Damodar Swami.
The last meeting with him was in a marriage ceremony, where he was seen calmly sitting by the side of Mandir. Mamo& I had routine talks on daily life when I came out of the Mandop, he then said, ‘Let’s sit inside the Mandop’. I said, ‘Mamo, I have other ceremonies to be attended’ and took leave by saying, ‘Hare Krishna’, which Mamo used to wish to every one a peace loving, religious and social activist Sagolsem Ibochouba Singh is no more during this III WW alike pandemic as he breathed his last on 16/05/2021. May his soul rest in peace in the abode of God. I do wish my last ‘Hare Krishna’ to my beloved Mamo!