Maharaja Gambhir Singh
Dr Budha Kamei
Maharaja Gambhir Singh was a great liberator who emerged as the National Hero at the hour of the crisis in the History of Manipur. His regnal title was Chinglen Nongdren Khomba; popularly known as Samuphaba to his earlier followers and admirers. Bagyidaw (1819-1837), the defeated Burmese emperor reluctantly called him “The Ruler” of Manipur. No ruler in the history of Manipur was given such an exalted international personality of a recognised and re-conquered kingdom and its ruler, as that of Maharaja Gambhir Singh, by dint of his courage, gallantry and military expertise.
Gambhir Singh was born on 28th day of Phairen, 1787. He was an illustrated son of the great king Bhagyachandra Singh; the youngest son of Bheigyabati, the fifth queen of Bhagyachandra Singh. Bhagyachandra Singh willed that the throne of Manipur might be succeeded alternately by his sons. This created a jealousy among the princes and ultimate political conspiracy and instability of the kingdom. In the beginning, Gambhir Singh was a silent spectator of the happenings in the palace. He was a teenage then but supported Chourajit Singh. When Maharaja Marjit Singh occupied the throne of Manipur with the help of Burmese in 1813, Chourajit Singh fled to Cachar. Gambhir Singh and his elder brother followed Maharaja Chourajit Singh to Cachar and took shelter at the court of Govind Chandra. Raja Govind Chandra appointed Gambhir Singh as the commander-in-chief of the army of Cachar kingdom. Gambhir Singh extended his support to the Cachari Raja. But he came to know the clear picture of the Raja, his unpopularity, weakness and cruelty. He waited for an opportunity.
Gambhir Singh remained a prince in search of a Kingdom. He was a determined and brave prince who had faith in his own destiny. The opportunity came in 1817, when Marjit Singh invaded Cachar on the pretext of taking revenge on Raja Govind Chandra who insulted him some years ago confiscating his beautiful pony. The real cause was the conquest of Cachar, where the Manipuri princes were taking refuge.
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