Ching-Thang Khomba

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Ching-Thang Khomba
King of Manipur
King of Manipur
Reign 1759-1762,
1763 - 1798
Coronation 7th Sajibu, 1759
Predecessor Maramba
Successor Labeinya Chandra
Born 13th Poinu 1748
Janmasthan Moirangkhom, Imphal
Died 1798
Murshidabad, West Bengal
Spouse Akham Chanu Bhanumati
Issue Labeinya Chandra
Madhuchandra
Tulsijit
Chaurajit
Marjit
Daoji
Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba
House House of Karta
Dynasty Mangang dynasty
Father Shyamjai Khurailakpa
Mother Wahengbam Chanu Chakha Loikhombi
Kingdom of Manipur
Part of History of Manipur
Kings of Manipur
Pamheiba 1720-1751
Gaurisiam 1752-1763
Chitsai 1754-1756
Ching-Thang Khomba 1769-1798
Rohinchandra 1798-1801
Maduchandra Singh 1801-1806
Chourjit Singh 1806-1812
Marjit Singh 1812-1819
Gambhir Singh 1825-1834
Raja Nara Singh 1844-1850
Debindro Singh 1850
Chandrakirti Singh 1850-1886
Raja Surchandra 1886-1890
Kulachandra Singh 1890-1891
Churachandra Singh 1891-1941
Bodhchandra Singh 1941-1949
Manipur monarchy data
Ningthouja dynasty (Royal family)
Pakhangba (Symbol of the kingdom)
Cheitharol Kumbaba (Royal chronicle)
Imphal (Capital of the kingdom)
Kangla Palace (Royal residence)

Ningthou Ching-Thang Khomba (also Rajarshi Bhagya Chandra, Jai Singh Maharaja) (1748–1799) was a Meitei monarch of the 18th century CE. The inventor of the Ras Lila dance, he is a legendary figure in Manipur,[1] and much of his actions as King had been mythologized. He is also credited with spreading Vaishnavism in Manipur State after his grandfather Pamheiba made Hinduism the official religion and for creating a unified Manipur.[2]

Early years

Maharaja Bhagya Chandra ascended to the throne of Manipur in 1759, a few years after the death of his grandfather Pamheiba and his father Samjai Khurai-Lakpa at the hands of his uncle Chitsai.[3] In 1762, Manipur was attacked by the Burmese, assisted by the Chitsai. He, along with the Rani and a few loyal attendants fled to Ahom (modern-day Assam), where they lived under the protection of the Ahom ruler, Rajeswar Singha.

Life in Assam

Bhagya Chandra’s crafty uncle wrote a letter to the Ahom king Rajeswar Singha saying that the person taking refuge at his court was not the true Bhagya Chandra. The uncle advised Rajeswar Singha to get rid of him. King Rajeswar Singha was somewhat persuaded by this letter and began treating Bhagya Chandra with suspicion.[4]

In Meitei legends, the real Bhagya Chandra was said to have supernatural powers. To see whether the usurper was correct, King Rajeswar Singha designed a test at the behest of his court. In a public arena, Bhagya Chandra, while unarmed, was to catch and tame a wild elephant.

First epiphany

Confronted with insurmountable odds, King Bhagyachandra prayed to Lord Govinda (Krishna) for guidance. Govinda appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to enter the arena donning a garland while holding japa beads. At the end of the instructions, Govinda assured him of victory.[4]

The dream also stated that Bhagya Chandra would be the sole king of Manipur. Upon regaining the kingdom, he should install a Krishna murti. The Deity, Govinda, should be carved from a certain old jackfruit tree growing on the slopes of Kaina hill.

After installing the Deity, Govinda said the king should arrange for the performance of a Rasa-Lila, in which Krishna would be worshipped with song and dance. Bhagya Chandra also received in this vision a complete plan on how to execute the Ras Lila.[4]

The test of power

Bhagya Chandra entered the arena, donning the garland and japa he was instructed to in the vision. In the ensuing fight, the spectators noted that the elephant seemed to recoil as if struck by a ghost. King Bhagya Chandra said that he saw "Lord Krishna as the mahout".[4]

The retaking of Manipur

First expedition

After the duel, Bhagya Chandra appealed to Ahom king Rajeswar Singha for military assistance. Rajeswar Singha agreed to send an army to overthrow Chitsai and reinstate Bhagya Chandra. The expedition hit many snags in Nagaland where they were attacked by Naga tribesmen and poisonous snakes. Rajeswar Singha called off the unsuccessful venture in 1767.

Second expedition

In November 1768, Bhagya Chandra and Rajeswar Singha decided to make another attempt to invade Manipur. This time Bhagya Chandra led 10,000 Ahom troops across the Kachari kingdom to the Mirap river. Many battles ensued between the Ahoms and Meiteis on one side, and the Naga, Chitsai and the Burmese on the other. In 1773, Bhagya Chandra was reinstated as Ningthou of Manipur[5]

Dealings with the East India Company

In 1762, the British and Manipur signed a bilateral treaty with Gaurisiam, which spelled that the British and Meiteis would encourage trade and commerce. The British gave necessary help for protection against the Burmese and Naga. Manipur gave up a village for an East India Company post. The name "Manipur" (assigned by the British for Ching-Thang's kingdom) for what was called "Meitrabak" came into being in 1774 when the Governor General of India Mr. Rendel, surveyed the area westward from Ningthi to Cachar and Northward from Chittagong to the Brahmaputra and renamed it.[3]

Reign

Monument of Bheigyachandra Maharaj

In 1775 he established his capital at Bishenpur and carved the Govinda murti at the hill of Kaina. On January 11, 1779 he was "re-crowned" amid many performances of his now-popular Rasa Lila.[3]

During his reign, the Meiteis repelled the Burmese from Manipur. Though his exploits, did not equal Pamheiba's, his reign was characterized by security. He was a great patron of the arts and religion, and his strong Vaishnavism reflected on the Meiteis. He was an ardent devotee of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and during his reign a statue of Nityananda was created.

In 1796 he moved his capital to Kangla and a year later on February 5, 1798 he abdicated the throne to his eldest son Labeinyachandra.[6] His last few years were on pilgrimage top various Vaisnavit holy sites, including Nabadwip. He died on December 25, 1798 in Murshidabad, West Bengal.[7]

Family

Ching-Thang Khomba was son to Samjai Khurai-Lakpa, who had two brothers Mantri Ananda Shai and Chitsai. Ching-Thang had many siblings, the most famous of whom was Gaurisiam, King of Manipur until his death in 1763.[3]

Cultural works

The tradition of Rasa Lila in Manipur is attributed to Ching-Thang. The first Manipur Maha Rasleela was performed in 1777.[3][8] Under the influence of Bengali missionaries, he also started the tradition of Sankirtan in Manipur. [9]

Literary works

  • Laithok Laikha Jogi[9]

References

  1. ^ Sheram, AK (2012). "Manipuri, The". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ "Manipur". Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "History of Manipur— The Medieval Period". IIT Guwahati. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d Swami, Jayadwait. "Manipur - A Land of Krishna Conscious Culture". Archived from the original on 4 October 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  5. ^ A History of Assam by Edward Gait Geographical Journal, Vol. 69, No. 3 (Mar., 1927), pp. 271-272
  6. ^ Sana, Rajkumar Somorjit (2010). The Chronology of Meetei Monarchs ( From 1666 to 1850 CE). Imphal: Waikhom Ananda Meetei. p. 188. ISBN 978-81-8465-210-9. 
  7. ^ Sana, Rajkumar Somorjit (2010). The Chronology of Meetei Monarchs (From 1666 to 1850 CE). Imphal: Waikhom Ananda Meetei. p. 189. ISBN 978-81-8465-210-9. 
  8. ^ "Manipuri Dance: Both Ritualistic and Recreational". Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Information - Snippets - narthaki.com". Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
Preceded by
Chitsai
King of
Manipur

1769–1798
Succeeded by
Labeinya Chandra
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