Seng Khasi – An Oath to the Truth

The Khasi people reside in the central and eastern part of the state of Meghalaya in North East India. They are known to be one of the oldest inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent and a significant number also live in the state of Assam and in Bangladesh. The word Khasi includes the various sub tribes of this pristine part of the world: Pnar, Bhoi, Khynriam, Maram, War, Nongtrai, Muliang, Lyngngam. The language and dialects spoken by the Khasis belong to the Austroasiatic family of languages (Mon-Khmer) at their root, but words derived from Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian are found in common usage and have enriched the language. Anthropologists and scholars have offered many theories as to the origin of the Khasi people but no single theory has been accepted conclusively. However, there is no dispute as to their mythological origins. According to Khasi mythology they descended from the celestial abode of the Divine Creator, U Blei. The foundations of the indigenous faith ‘Niam Khasi- Niamtre’ are lodged deep in the story of these origins. The spiritual truth of the faith shines within the inner meaning of the legend of ‘Ka Jingkieng Ksiar halor U Lum Sohpetbneng’ (The Golden Bridge at the Navel of the Universe).
All religions of this world convey their meanings through parables and so too does our religion. 1
(H.O. Mawrie)
The story begins at the dawn of consciousness, when the Sun and the Moon were young, and the world was silent and calm. Sixteen families of Man (Ki Khadhynriew Trep) lived in the celestial realm beyond the visible sky, beyond the stars, in cosmic harmony with the Divine Creator (U Blei). The Earth remained quiet and desolate until, Mei Ramew (Mother Earth) and U Basa (Guardian spirit of the World) were blessed with three children- Air, Water and the youngest, Fire. With time, the world began to grow. Rivers flowed, mountains grew, birds sang, flowers bloomed, the creative fires of Biskorom grew brighter- Natures song had begun. The deafening quiet was replaced by the sound of life bursting open. However, Mother Earth would need help in governing the chaos that ensued, so she pleaded to U Blei and she was answered. It was decreed in a Grand Assembly of the Gods (Dorbar Blei) that Seven families would be entrusted with the sacred task of nurturing life on Mother Earth. The seven – U Hynñiewtrep – are believed to be the progenitors of the Khasi people.
Before the seven families descended to begin their sacred duty they were blessed by U Blei with their own Way of Life and Worship (Ka Niam ka Rukom), and they made an oath to never lose their spirituality. They traversed the two worlds through a Golden Bridge (Ka Jingkieng Ksiar) that stood at the summit of the sacred hill, U Lum
Sohpetbneng – the Navel of the Universe. The bridge was a divine link that connected Man, Mother Earth and the Divine Creator. This period of harmony and unison is known as Ka Sotti Juk (Age of Purity) or Ka Aiom Ksiar (Golden Age). But, the clear conscience of the Hynñiewtrep would soon be gripped and swallowed by greed and envy (U Thlen). Man grew distant from himself, his fellow man and his sacred duty. The Golden Vines (Tangnub Tangjri) were severed. The seven had grown in wealth and numbers but they had also grown distant from their spiritual bond. The joyous soul was broken.
If they were to rebuild the divine connection they would have to look within, guided by the three tenets of Ka Jutang Sohpetbneng. The Golden Bridge (Ka Jingkieng Ksiar) now resides within a Golden Heart (Mynsiem Ksiar)- a place where the limitless energy of a joyous soul grows with and in, Truth. U Lum Sohpetbneng, stands witness to this heritage and to the spiritual reality of the ‘Hynñiewtrep’. It is the unshakable foundation of the indigenous faith, Niam Khasi- Niamtre, and a light for all to find true inner peace.
The Khasi way of life, worship, philosophy, spirituality, identity are all tied to Lum Sohpetbneng and the three tenets of the indigenous faith:
• Kamai ïa ka Hok
• Tip Briew Tip Blei
• Tip Kur Tip Kha
‘Kamai ïa ka Hok’ means to earn righteousness. Only a path of Truth brings Divine Blessings. It is stressed in the teachings that righteousness can not be given or taken – it must be earned.
‘As nothing material can be carried to the House of God, the emphasis is on earning righteousness, which is the only thing that can be associated with one forever. Hence living on Earth is a blessing as it offers greater opportunity to earn righteousness’. 2
(Sib Charan Roy jait Dkhar Sawian)
Tip Briew Tip Blei’ literally translates as ‘Know Man Know God’ but there are an infinite number of interpretations. However, they all converge into the wisdom that in order to reach the Divine, one must first search within oneself and strive to understand our fellow man. An understanding of one without the other is to fail at self-realisation.
‘Tip Kur Tip Kha’ stresses the importance of knowing both Matrilineal (Cognates) and Patrilineal (Agnates) lines. The religion is practiced based on knowledge of these relationships. The descent system is matrilineal but knowing and understanding both lines are crucial, particularly in matters pertaining to Marriage. Graceful manners are imbibed as one follows this system of respect.
The tenets weave into and greatly inform the conduct of Khasi rites, rituals and ceremonies especially in:
Ka Jer Ka Thoh- Khasi Naming Ceremony
Ka Poikha Poiman- Khasi Marriage Ceremony
Ka Ïap Ka Duh)- Cremation and last rites of the deceased.
The Khasi identity is tightly bound to the traditional faith, and the social systems, traditional forms of governance, custodianship and kinship all sprout from its foundations. Niam Khasi-Niamtre is a spirituality, philosophy, a way of life, guided by Truth – it leads, and it stands above all. A single word of Truth is greater than all untruths put together.
“Ieng ka Hok ka Shi Kyntien khyllem ka Pop Shi Byllien” (Motto of Ka Sengbah Nongshat Nongkheiñ Hynniewskum Hynñiewtrep)
“To revive the true faith of our forefathers; to understand the true meaning of conscience and truth as handed down by them, which were being neglected, misled and blinded by the teachings of foreigners”. 3
The need to protect and preserve the ancient yet timeless wisdom and knowledge of the land led to the formation of the Seng Khasi on November 23rd, 1899 by sixteen young Khasi men, all under the age of thirty. The Khasi way of life was being uprooted and replaced at a rapid rate by the imperialists who had gained control of most of the land by the latter half of the 19th century. Initially called ‘Khasi Young Men’s Association’ it took shape as the custodians and protectors of Khasi religion and culture under the guidance and mentorship of U Jeebon Roy Mairom, a pioneer, social reformer and spiritualist, described by many as the “Father of Modern Khasis”.
The Seng Khasi movement is driven not only by the aim to protect and preserve ones roots but also to progress with them intact. The founders wished to instill a true sense of pride in the Khasis, for their unique way of life and worship. They foresaw that this would bring confidence, clarity and strength to the lives of future generations. It is said that a divine thread connects the culture, traditions and values that have developed over centuries. The sixteen understood that for the religion to survive, and for peaceful and positive growth to be achieved, then this thread must be kept intact. The strength and resilience of Seng Khasi is drawn from this belief.
The last century saw a large decline in the population of Niam Khasi-Niamtre faithful. The most significant factor contributing to this fall is the proselytisation that occurred with the advent of Christianity in these hills. It began in the mid 19th century, when the British colonists ruled India and it flourished under their aegis. It continues to be seen in present times. High rates of conversion were achieved using this method in conjunction with a control over education. Education leads to material betterment in any society and in this field there was a clear monopoly. Not only was there a monopoly, a cap was kept on the level of education given. The motive for imparting education, in the early years, was to teach the natives how to read the holy book of the colonial masters.
Efforts by Seng Khasi to establish schools of their own met several hurdles. Funding was often denied unless their curriculum conformed to the ideology of the mission schools. A circular written by the first Seng Khasi Chairman, U Rash Mohon Roy Nongrum, decrying the bias in allocation of funds even reached the hands of Mahatma Gandhi, who published the circular in his magazine ‘Harijan’ and concluded with this statement:
“If what is stated here is true, it enforces the argument often advanced by me that Christian missionary effort has been favoured by the ruling power. But I advertise the circular not for the sake of emphasising my argument. I do so in order to ventilate the grievance of the Secretary of the school. Surely he has every right to object to teaching proselytising literature prepared by the missionaries. It should be remembered that the School has been in receipt of a grant from the Government. It is not clear why the question of the missionary books has now cropped up. It is hoped that the school will not be deprived of the grant of the Secretary’s very reasonable objection ”. 4
(Mahatma Gandhi, Harijan Magazine, 9th March, 1940)
As proselytisation through education progressed swiftly, the aspirations of those who had converted began to also change quickly. Khasi beliefs were deemed backward and a harsh rejection of the traditional culture and its values set in. This seed planted in the days of divide and rule has not fully withered, but the work of Seng Khasi and its sister organisations has awakened younger generations to the beauty of their ancestral faith and its universal wisdom. Self discovery through the prism of ones own culture has magnified the uniqueness as well as revealed similarities with other cultures in the subcontinent, diminishing significantly the sense of alienation and distance from fellow countrymen.
Abandonment of the traditional faith was also caused by the de-stabilisation of the unique traditional family structure, with the arrival of external forces of change and the onset of urbanisation. In the traditional set up, the eldest uncle (U Kñi Rangbah), is the caretaker, the mediator of the family, and the youngest daughter (Ka Khatduh) is the custodian of family property. The ancestral home is a place that upholds the sanctity of the lineage. It is in this home that all important family matters are discussed and religious ceremonies performed. As families relocated, maintaining this system posed many challenges, subsequently leading to a breakdown in the completion of important rites, rituals and ceremonies. This caused a withering in spirituality and in the understanding of the deeper meanings within the teachings of the religion.
By the late 1960’s, as calls for statehood started to resound, so too did a non-secular political ideology. A Christian state was envisioned by some in the chambers of power. A political wave energised by religious fervour disregarded the sentiments of the population who still belonged to the indigenous faith of the land. Even today, it is not uncommon to find articles and letters in local newspapers projecting and claiming Meghalaya as a Christian state, while simultaneously defending the need to keep India secular and decrying anyone or anything that may suggest otherwise. The existence and growth of Seng Khasi always serves as a gentle reminder that there is a religion born of this land that carries a universal ethos and fosters co-existence. This was eloquently described by an outstanding leader of Seng Khasi, U Hipshon Roy Kharshiing: “The world of religions is a garden of flowers and each religion with all its settings blooms with all its beauty and fragrance and each adds to the beauty and glory of the whole garden. Theirs is to supplement and theirs is not to supplant”.
The last 122 years have seen active steps taken by the Seng Khasi to address these issues.
Several working bodies and committees have been formed over the years that have all helped to keep the movement and its spirit alive. Today there are over three hundred branches of Seng Khasi in the Khasi Hills. In the field of education a great milestone was achieved this year as The Seng Khasi Higher Secondary School celebrated its centenary.
The working bodies of the Seng Khasi, armed with greater spiritual understanding and organisational power, have been able to revive ancient rituals and mass movements.
Amongst the most successful and powerful of revivals is the annual pilgrimage to the sanctum sanctorum at the summit of Lum Sohpetbneng (Kiew Pyneh Rngiew), held on every first Sunday of Ferbruary. On June 18th, 1989, U H. Onderson. Mawrie, who was president of Seng Khihlang at the time, wrote a letter urging U Dipshon L. Nongbri to conduct a survey of the summit of Lum Sohpetbneng, for the purpose of holding a gathering there for the Niam Khasi Niamtre faithful. Thus began the process of securing the sacred hill. Respected Seng Khasi elder, U Sumar Sing Sawian, one of the greatest Khasi minds, through his writings, brought great clarity to the origins of the faith which are found in the legend of this sacred hill. With the combined efforts of these individuals in particular and countless other, who cant all be named here, the first pilgrimage was held on 20th February, 2000. Thousands climbed to the top of Lum Sohpetbneng on that day and now even greater numbers continue to participate, growing with each passing year. The pilgrimage has created an awakening that has strengthened the spirituality of the followers of Niam Khasi Niamtre. With Lum Sohpetbneng secure under the guardianship of Seng Khasi, the indigenous religion ‘Niam Khasi-Niamtre’ it can be safely said, will never be lost.
The Seng Khasi and its sister organisations follow a philosophy of preservation through practice. The fruits of which are showing in the growing participation in religious festivals. ‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ (Dance of the Joyful Hearts), a spring dance festival held across the Khasi hills, is witnessing increasing numbers of participants on the grassy fields. The dance is a form of public worship where peaceful souls exhibit love for their culture and offer gratitude to the Almighty. Behdeiñkhlam and Chad Sukra, organised by Seiñ Raij (a socio-religious organisation focussed on the spirtual awakening and preservation of the traditional faith in the Jaintia Hills region) are celebrated by thousands. Indigenous festivals banned by the British and kept supressed after they departed are steadily being revived.
Beginning in the late 70’s, a mass contact programme was initiated by Seng Khasi. Dynamic and fearless leaders such as Hipshon Roy Kharshiing, H.O. Mawrie, and R.T. Rymbai, toured all over the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, lecturing about the ideology of Seng Khasi and the philosophy of the traditional faith. They wanted to instill a sense of pride in religious identity by awakening the people to the wisdom and beauty of the ancestral faith. In 1981, they founded Seng Khihlang (The United Endeavour Society), a branch of Seng Khasi which comprises of members of Seiñ Raij too. Two invaluable pieces of literature on Khasi religion, traditions and the history of Seng Khasi were commissioned by its Executive Committee: ‘Where Lies the Soul of our Race’ and ‘The Essence of Khasi Religion’. Another congregation aimed at inspiring and educating the future generations is Ka Lympung ki Khynnah (a gathering of Seng Khasi and Seiñ Raij youth). Ka Sengbah U Nongshat Nongkheiñ Hynñiewskum Hynñiewtrep (Grand Organisation of Diviners) was also born out of the mother organisation and their contribution in keeping the religion alive especially in the rural areas is outstanding. The social and spiritual aspects of the ancestral faith, deeply entrenched in the teachings of its forebears, have stayed relevant to each generation due to such congregations. All these branches stem from the mother, Seng Khasi Kmie, and each one strives towards the same goal, encapsulated in the slogan “Im Ka Niam, Im Ka Jaitbynriew”, which carries the message that if the religion survives, so too will the Khasi.
“The founders of the Seng Khasi, however were firm in their resolution and steadfast in their aims and objectives. So also, in their thoughts, words and deeds. They took up the leadership with an amazing unique statesmanship to establish the organisation in a humble way. They had in their simplicity, a deep concern for the future of the Khasi race – its traditional faith, its social structure, its moral ethics; its cultural heritage and highest of all ‘Human Right’ as a Khasi”. 5
Inspired and guided by the great work laid down by those who have come before, a revival grows energised by a positive philosophy directed at awakening the spiritual truth of the land. The internal strength drawn from this has brought spiritual upliftment and community progress. Niam Khasi Niamtre, will continue to bloom in a harmonious garden of flowers, growing in strength with the spirit of Mother India. Khasi spiritual knowledge is gaining recognition as a treasure of humanity and the Seng Khasi momentum set into motion on November 23rd, 1899 grows stronger into the future.

Always take heed
O ye elders, you the youths,
All around keep vigil,
The wisdom of forebears,
Remain visible like the Sun
For Truth to ever prevail;
Cling to the Roots
Blessings from Divine Creator would shower (Poem by Sumar Sing Sawian)
The article was scripted and compiled in consultation with: Sumar Sing Sawian (Author and Scholar on Khasi Culture), Paia B. Synrem (Secretary, Seng Khasi Literary Committee) and elders of Seng Khasi (Kmie).
Bibliography

  1. H.O. Mawrie: “The Essence of The Khasi Religion”. 1981 Edition.
  2. H.O. Mawrie: “The Khasi Milieu”.
    [Translation of moral commandment in “Ka Niam ki Khasi”- Sib Charan Roy Sawian.
  3. Introduction. Pg 11]
  4. Seng Khasi Series No. 2: “Where Lies the Soul of Our Race”.
    Selections from the Sneng Khasi English Supplements on Khasi Culture and Religion. 1982. Page 11.
  5. Seng Khasi Series No. 2: “Where Lies the Soul of our Race”. Selections from the Sneng Khasi English Supplements on Khasi Culture and Religion, Page 17.
  6. Sweetymon Rynjah- “The Living Patriotism: A Khasi Thought” Seng Khasi Centenary Celebration Souvenir. (1899-1999). Page 126.
Hammarsing L Kharhmar, President of ‘Ka Tbian Ki Sur Hara’, a Performing Arts School of Seng Khasi (Kmie)

Ramakrishna as Example, Guide and Presence

I am a Western secular adherent or aspirant, and my talk was based on reading the many accounts of Ramakrishna. In addition, I want to comment on the presence of Ramakrishna which is part of my meditative practice and everyday life. We have many written accounts but we each only have our own everyday experience.
I find that the written and the everyday experiences penetrate each other. Without the written, the everyday loses its context, substance and logic. But without the everyday, the written is more abstract and less meaningful. Both are necessary. I suggest that one can’t meditate using the process of the Ramakrishna tradition without being exposed to his life in whatever detail makes the most sense to the aspirant.
For the non-Hindu Westerner, however, there are two aspects of his life that are puzzling: his devotion to Kali, and his status as an avatar. His devotion to Kali is the source of his understanding of himself and of his realisation of himself as God in a man’s body. His devotion explains many if not all of his actions and the basis of his discrimination. Was this devotion necessary for him? Scholars may debate this. I can say that I had a powerful very brief moment at Dakshineswar walking by statue, which had a resonance unlike other holy objects at the compound. As for his status as an avatar, I believe this is specific to Indian tradition and foreign to Westerners, and perhaps to those in some other countries with meditative traditions. For example, Tibetans (and Buddhists in general) have a belief in incarnation but not in god in man in a repeated way. One could say that the role of an avatar is to induce devotion and help mankind become more spiritual. Christianity thinks of Jesus in this way but would not use the word avatar to characterize him. These two aspects of Ramakrishna are therefore somewhat alien and perhaps outside the core of his meaning for Western aspirants.
For me Ramakrishna has three roles: an example, a guide, and a presence. Let me discuss these in turn.
I will start with Ramakrishna as an example. To illustrate this, we can use four of his well-known characteristics, his austerity, his rejection of false reasons for devotion, his openness to all paths to God and his personal renunciation.
As for austerity, there are many stories. He spent six months in thrall being fed by an itinerant monk, who struggled to relax him enough to stuff some food in his mouth by force. Ramakrishna experienced long periods of nirvikalpa samadhi. And he went through a range of rituals over twelve years (Tantric, Vedantic, Vaishnaic and Islamic) leading to extraordinary experiences.
He also rejected false reasons for devotion. First, he had a visceral opposition to anyone who came to him seeking siddhis and used them as a test. In a well-known story about Narendra, Ramakrishna asked whether he was interested in powers or God and was pleased to hear that Narendra was focused on God only, a good and right answer. Finally, Ramakrishna was averse to anyone trying to fulfill a wish through him. He could feel the wish in any gift he was offered and rejected it.
Regarding his catholic attitude towards the path to God realization, he was markedly inclusive. His path included the realisation of God through Kali, the practice of rituals in a wide variety of spiritual traditions. He experienced Jesus and Buddha and sensed the location of Chaitanya’s temple under water. My guess is that if something else had come up, he would probably have tried that too.
Last, he strengthened his personal character through renunciation. He was able to attach his mind to whatever was apparent to him at a particular moment. He therefore focused on his own personal achievement as an individual.
Next, Ramakrishna is a guide. He was devoted to anyone who was devoted and provided direction for future aspirants.
As for his openness to different degrees of devotion, there are three examples ranging from the most disorganized to the most organized individual. The most disorganized was Girish Chandra Ghosh, an actor in Calcutta who came to see Ramakrishna wanting to build a spiritual practice.
Girish asked Ramakrishna: what should I do? Ramakrishna told him to just keep doing what he was doing and think of God in the morning and at night. Girish said – I can’t do that, my schedule doesn’t allow me to have a morning and a night practice. So Ramakrishna said okay, how about thinking about God when you eat and when you go to bed; and Girish said, I’m sorry I can’t do that, I eat at different times and I sleep at different times, so it’s too confusing for me. Ramakrishna then said just give me your power of attorney, basically meaning that he himself would be the way. And that worked. Girish said alright – you’ll just take over my life.
Then, moving up in terms of an organized life there is the example of Hriday, his cousin and factotum. Hriday was not known to be a spiritual person but the more time he spent with Ramakrishna, the more interested he became in ecstasy. Ramakrishna put him off repeatedly, saying – serving me is all you need. But Hriday was persistent, and one night Ramakrishna went out to meditate and Hriday followed him. Hriday looked at Ramakrishna and saw that he was luminous. He then looked at his own body and saw that it too was luminous. This caused him to panic and he started yelling. Ramakrishna became upset with him because Hriday might wake everybody. In one telling of this story, Ramakrishna rubbed Hriday’s chest to calm him down, reducing the pain of the ecstasy he was feeling.
Finally, an example of the most organized spiritual aspirant is Gopal Ma, an elderly woman who lived in Kamarhati near Calcutta and worshipped Gopala – Krishna as a child. Gopal Ma had become attached to Ramakrishna and one night had a vision of him. The next day Gopala appeared at her house, and for two months she played with him in delight. The young god had been manifested by Ramakrishna. After their sojourn together, Gopal Ma and Gopala went to visit Ramakrishna and she saw Gopala enter into Ramakrishna’s body and come back out. Gopala then vanished, and Ramakrishna told Gopal Ma that her sadhana had been completed. She didn’t need to repeat japa any more and so on. She was upset about that but he was quite clear.
Thus, there is the spectrum from Ghosh through Hriday to Gopal Ma in terms of daily discipline and God focus. Ramakrishna was there for each one of them in a different way. I think that is important because when you think of him as a guide you need to understand that he is there for you in the same way, no matter what your life may be at a particular moment.
Also associated with Ramakrishna as a guide are two lists of directions – in a sense – for life and meditation – the eight tethers and the five moods. The eight tethers – to be conquered – have been listed in several ways, but a composite includes: shame, hatred, fear, pride, good conduct, ego, fame, hesitation, secretiveness, and grief. When you read the list, you see that it comprises what you face in meditation. The five moods are part of the Vaishnava tradition: peace, parenting, the role of a lover, friendship, and being a servant. These moods are obviously not be conquered but describe the emotional tenor of the mind, singly or in combination, when you are meditating at any particular moment.
In contrast to Ramakrishna as an example or a guide, his role as a presence is perhaps more straightforward since it involves current personal experience. In an interesting way, he is a constant in a calm, attractive way that induces trust and acceptance in meditation. He can also be present exterior to meditation, an awareness that is however inextricably linked to meditation itself. For me the meditation creates the presence that can be called upon in daily non-meditative life, but his presence can also be involuntary.
Ramakrishna talked about his bite as like a cobra, not a non-poisonous snake. I think that is a good metaphor for his insertion into a particular life. It’s not something you can get better from. You are either bitten or you are not. There is no half-way.
Finally, I would like to present some valuable instruction that exists on a panel outside Ramakrishna’s room at Dakshineswar, which you have likely also seen. The panel is called Om Tat Sat – the absolute truth. I don’t know who wrote this panel, but probably not Ramakrishna, although he conceivably inspired it. The panel contains a list of principles in threes. I will present them in order:
In human life we should not have: embarrassment, pride and fear; worth pride: compassion for living beings, respect for elders, love for God; worth respect: love for justice, humility, equanimity; worth praise: helpful to others, good behavior, good company; worth happiness: beauty, simplicity, freedom; worth love: knowledge, wisdom, dispassion;
worth disgust: saying ill of others, backstabbing behavior, ingratitude; temporary: wealth, life, youth; things that will certainly happen: disease, loss, death; deliver us from: lust, anger, greed; things we should give: kind words, forgiveness, good treatment to others; worth defending: truth, friendship, self control; worth removing: sloth, overactivity, decadence; worth suspicion: sycophancy, deception, untested friendship; worth wishing for: health, positive disposition, good character; worth interacting and living with: a saint, good books, good thoughts; scarce things: humanity, desire for higher goals, and the blessings of great men; worth praying for: respect for god, love, peace.

Prof Gordon Walker, is Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Entrepreneurship and Chair of the Strategy and Entrepreneurship Group at the Cox School of Business at SMU. His executive training programs include senior management seminars at SMU, the Wharton School, Yale University and INSEAD. He has been listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. He was named among the best Business Policy teachers in the U.S. in 1994 and 1998 by Business Week magazine and received the President’s University Teaching Award in 1999 at SMU. He is closely associated with the Vedanta Society, Providence.

The Goddess who came to live with Mankind Illustrations:

On a certain day, when the lads came as usual to the familiar rendezvous, they were surprised to see, sitting on the top of the rock, a fair young girl watching them silently and wistfully. The children, being superstitious, took fright at sight of her and ran in terror to Mylliem, their village, leaving the cattle to shift for themselves. When they told their news, the whole village was roused and men quickly gathered to the public meeting-place to hold a consultation. They decided to go and see for themselves if the apparition seen by the children was a real live child, or if they had been deluded by some spell or enchantment. Under the guidance of the lads, they hurried to the place on the hill where the rock stood, and there, as the boys had stated, sat a fair and beautiful child.

The clothes worn by the little girl were far richer than any worn by their own women-folk, so they judged that she belonged to some rich family, and she was altogether so lovely that the men gazed open-mouthed at her, dazzled by her beauty. Their sense of chivalry soon asserted itself, however, and they began to devise plans to rescue the maiden from her perilous position. To climb up the face of that steep rock was an impossible feat; so they called to her, but she would not answer; they made signs for her to descend, but she did not stir, and the men felt baffled and perplexed.

Chief among the rescuers was a man called U Mylliem Ngap, who was remarkable for his sagacity and courage. When he saw that the child refused to be coaxed, he attributed it to her fear to venture unaided down that steep and slippery rock. So he sent some of his comrades to the jungle to cut down some bamboos, which he joined together and made into a pole long enough to reach the top of the rock. Then he beckoned to the child to take hold of it, but she sat on unmoved.

By this time the day was beginning to wane, yet the child did not stir and the rescuers were growing desperate. To leave her to her fate on that impregnable rock would be little less than cold-blooded murder, for nothing but death awaited her. They began to lament loudly, as people lament when mourning for their dead, but the child sat on in the same indifferent attitude

Just then U Mylliem Ngap noticed a tuft of wild flowers growing near the cave, and he quickly gathered a bunch and fastened it to the end of the long pole and held it up to the maiden’s view. The moment she saw the flowers, she gave a cry of delight and held out her hand to take them. U Mylliem Ngap promptly lowered the pole and the child moved towards it, but before she could grasp the flowers the pole was again lowered; so, little by little, step by step, as the men watched with bated breath, the little maid reached the ground in safety.

U Mylliem Ngap, with general consent, constituted himself her champion. He called her “Pah Syntiew”, which means “Lured by Flowers”, for her name and her origin were unknown. He took her to his own home and adopted her as his own daughter, cherishing her with fondness and affection, which the child fully requited.

Bhogtoram Mawroh is a freelance Cartoonist and Artist. He works as Senior Associate, Research and Knowledge Management at North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society.

Ka Jingwan Iuhkjat U Swami Vivekananda Sha Shillong

U nongthoh poetry ba radbah bad ba pawnam ka ri India u Rabindranath Tagore u la ai ka jingim ba shijunom ïa ka jing itynnad bad jing pyniapmat ka jaka jong u Lumshyllong bad ka sor bah jong u ha ka poetry ba u la thoh ha u snem 1928-29 kaba kyrteng ‘Ka Shesher Kabita’. Une u nongthoh poetry bad ruh u ba dei u riew khraw pyrkhat ula juh wan iuh kjat teng ha kane ka jaka rilum, ka sor Shillong ha u snem 1919 bad ula sah la kumba lai taiew eiei, bad ruh ha u snem 1923 u la wan poi biang bad u la sah la kumba ar bnai eiei. Hynrei ha shuwa jong kane ka jing wan iuh kjat u ne u Nongthoh bad riew khraw pyrkhat sha kane ka jaka ruh, ha u snem 1901 uwei na ki riew khraw ka Ri bad u ba dei ruh u riew ieid ri bad Riew khraw pyrkhat u ba baroh shityllup ka sla pyrthei ka ithuh bad ka burom, uta u dei U Swami Vivekananda, u ba la wan ban kham pyn kyntang shuh shuh ïa kane ka khyndew ba kyntang jong ka nongbah Shillong da kaba u la wan iuhkjat ha kane ka sorbah ha u snem 1901. Kane ka jaka kaba la shong ha pneh ka khasi bad ka jaintia hills (ha kaba mynshuwa la tip kum ka Assam, Northeastern province of India), ka sorbah ka la ju long bad kaba dang iai long ka jaka ki lum ki wah kaba don ka bor pynkoit pynkhiah bad ki briew na kylleng ki jaka ki ïa wan ban sah kai pyngngad, ban pyn jahthait ialade bad ruh ban wan ioh biang ïa ka jingkoit jingkhiah jong ki sha kane ka jaka; ki juh sngew tynnad eh ruh ban ïa lehkai golf ha ka madan ialeh kai Golf kaba pawnam ha ka pyrthei baroh kawei, kaba la plie lai snem ha shuwa ban wan iuhkjat une u riew khraw ka Ri u Swami Vivekananda, kaba don kumba khatphra tylli ki thliew ialeh kai golf, kaba la shna lane pynwandur ha kaba ïa syriem bad ka St. Andrew jong ka ri Scotland. Tharai lada u Swami Vivekanand un iohi ïa kane ka jaka ialehkai golf un da lah kynmaw tharai ïa ki por ba u ialeh kai golf ha ka sien ba nyngkong bad ka sien ba khatduh, kata ha Ridgely Manor ha Stone Ridge, kaba don ha New York ha u snem 1899; ha kata ka por ula ioh ban pynrung saw thliew ha ka hole-in-one on a par-four hole- ka badei ka “double eagle” ha ka Golf’s lexicon. 1
Ha u snem 1901, ka nongbah Shillong ka dang hap ha ka Administrative Headquarter jong ka Assam, kaba la pynlong pura kum ka Chief Commissioner’s province ha u snem 1874. Kaba don kumba 5000 feet eiei ka jing jrong na ka sla duriaw, kane ka nongbah ka long kawei na ki jaka jngohkai lane ka hill station kaba pawnam tam ha ri India. Ha ka jingsah kynmaw, Ki nong Bilat kiba lah juh sah teng ha kane ka nongbah ki shait khot ieid ïa ka “Ka Scotland Of The East” kata ka Ri Scotland Jong ka thain Mihngi, na ka jing itynnad jong kane ka jaka kaba lah ban pyn shohbiej ïa kino-kino ruh ki khmat bad ruh ka jing itynnad ki lum kiba ïa ker ba da ïa kane ka nongbah. Haduh u snem 1972 kane ka jaka ka la long ka nongbah jong ka Assam, bad hadien ba lah ioh ïa ka state lane ka Jylla Meghalaya ka sor Shillong ka la long ka nongbah jong kane ka Jylla bad ka Gauhati kaba la tip mynta kum ka Guwahati kala kylla long ka nongbah jong ka Jylla Assam.
KABA SDANG
U Swami Vivekananda hadien ba u la wanphai na ka jingleit jngoh kaba ar jong u sha ki ri Sepngi, ha u bnai Nohprah, 1900, u la pynlong tang kawei ka jing leit sha Mayavati ha shuwa ba un sdang ïa ka jingleit iaid jong u sha East Bengal (Bangladesh) bad sha Assam. Kane ka jingleit jngoh jong U Swami Vivekananda ka long ruh ka jingthrang ba shida jong u ban ioh leit ialam iala ka kmie sha ka pilgrimage, kum ka kamram bakhuid kaba u khun rangbah u hap ban pyndep kat kum ka jing bthah ha ka rukom ka lariti ki Hindu. Ha ka Shithi kaba u la thoh sha ka Mrs. Bull ha ka 26 tarik u kyllalyngkot, u la thoh – “La shem taiew ngan leit ialam iala ka kmie sha ka pilgrimage. Ka lah ban shim por da ki bnai ban pyndep ïa kane ka jing leit pilgrimage. Kane ka dei ka jingkwah kaba khraw bad kaba kyntang eh jong ka briew Hindu ka ba la sah wei briew. Baroh shi katta nga lah ai tang ki jing sngewsih bad jing diaw suda ïa ki briew lajong, nga dang pyrshang ba la kumno-kumno ngan lah ban pyndep ïa kane ka jingthrang jong i mei jongnga”. 2
Hynrei kane ka jingpyrshang jong U Swamiji kam lah satia ban urlong haduh ba ha ka 24 tarik u Lber, ka kmie jong U Swamiji ha ryngkat bad kiba ha iing jong u bad u Swami Sadananda (Gupta Maharaj, U nongbud) kila ïa mih na Calcutta ban leit iakynduh bad U Swamiji ha East Bengal, ban leit sha ka jing iaid pilgrimage. U Swamiji u la don lypa ha Dacca naduh ka 19 tarik u bnai Lber ha ryngkat bad katto katne ki nongbud jong u; kumba ngi la ioh ban tip hadien na ka dairy jong u Swami Brahmananda, U Swami Nityananda (Nitai) bad U Nirbhayananda (Kanai) ki dei kiba la don ryngkat bad U Swamiji ha Dacca. 3
U Swamiji u la ïa kynduh bad la ka kmie ha ryngkat ki ba haiing jong u ha Narayanganj bad kila ïa leit sum ha ka wah Brahmaputra ha Langalbandha, lane Langalbandh. {Footnote: Lah ban ong ba Dei ha Rajghat ha kaba U Swamiji Bad ki ba haiing jong u kila ïa shim bynta ha kane ka jing ïa sum ba kyntang ha kane ka wah. (T.Acharjee, Mahatirtha Langalbandh (Toma Prakashan, Dhaka, 2004, Page no. 85)} kaba don kumba khatar mile shaphang shathie phang mihngi jong ka Dacca, kane ka jing ïa leit sum ba kyntang, ka lah ban iadei lang bad ka sngi kha jong u Buddha ( 8 tarik u bnai Hindu ha ki bnai Lber-Iaiong), kaba hap ha ka 28 tarik u Lber 1901. Da ki Phew hajar ngut ki riew ngeit ka niam Hindu kila ïa wan ban shim bynta ha kane ka jing ïa sum ba kyntang kaba la tip kum ka Astami Snan, kaba juh long manla u snem ha kata ka sngi.
Hadien kata kila leit phai biang sha Dacca bad ha ka 5 tarik u Iaiong kila leit sha Chandranath kaba don hajan Chiitagong. Bad ha kaba khatduh sa sha Kamakhya Dham ha Guwahati. Baroh ar kine ki jaka ki don ka jing iadei bad ka Riewblei Sati, ka bynta ba shiteng jong u Blei shiva (Lord Shiva’s Consort). Bad kiba la ithuh kum ki Shakti peeth. Ha ka lynti iaid jongki sha Kamakhya, Baroh ki ïa sahmiet katto katne sngi ha Goalpara bad Gauhati. Don katto katne ruh ki jing ngeit ba U Swamiji Ha ka por ba u dang leit sha Kamakhya, U la leit iuh kjat ruh katto katne ki jaka kiba don ha rud ka wah Brahmaputra.
Shwa ba U Swamiji un pynkut ïa ka jingiaid jong u na Dacca bad leit sa sha Assam, U la sah kumba ar taiew eiei ban ïa kynduh ïa shibun bah ki briew bad ai shi bun bah ki jingkren, haduh ba Ka koit ka khiah jong u ka la sdang ban hiar stet. Ka long kaba eh bad kaba jynjar bha ïa U namar ba shuwa ba un leit sha Kamakhya ula sdang ban ioh sa ka jingpang dap shadem, kumba la tip kum ka asthama. Hamar hangta ula pyrkhat ban leit sha Shillong (Halor ka jing ai jingmut lang kiwei ruh), ha kaba u tharai ba un ioh jingiarap na ka jinghiar ha ka koit ka khiah jong u. 5 kumba ngi lah ban iohi, lehse ki don kiwei ruh ki daw kiba la pynurlong ïa U Swamiji ban wan iuh kjat sha Shillong.
Ka long kaba la tip shai ba, ban bud dien ïa ki Khnapkjat jong u Swami Vivekanand, ki shithi jong u ki long kiba la ai shibun bha ki jing iarap. Hynrei naduh ba u la mih na Dacca ha ka san tarik u Iaiong haduh ka khatar tarik u Jymmang ba u la leitphai sha Belur Math, hadien ba u la pyndep ïa ki jing leit iaid pilgrim jong u sha East Bengal bad Assam, u khlem la thoh iwei ruh i shithi. U Swamiji ula ioh ïa ka kyrteng kum U “Cyclonic Monk” na America, na ka daw ka jingiad iad lynti ba khlem shong thait jong u ha East Bengal lyngba ki lynti kiba ha khyndew bad ruh ki lynti sla um, haduh ba um shym la ioh por shuh tang ban thoh iwei ruh i shithi; kane ka jingai kyrteng kala pynskhem shisha ïa kane ka jingsnewtynnad shang jong u ha kine ki jaka. Na kane ka daw jong ka jing bym thoh shithi U Swamiji, khnang ban tip ïa ka tarik kaba u Swamiji ula wan iuh kjat sha Shillong ngi hap ban shim jing iarap bad pynshong nongrim halor ki katto katne ki tyllong jingtip kiba ngi don, kiba katto katne ki dei kiba shisha, katto katne ki dei tang ki jingtip hamsaia, bad katto katne kiba don tang ki sur ka jingshisha. Kaei kaba ngi lah ban tip bniah ka long ba, U Swamiji u ai jingtip shaphang ki arngut ki shipara kiba dei naka jait panda “pandas of shri Kamakhya Peetham” ryngkat bad ka shithi ai jing iaroh kaba la thoh ha ka khat Hynniew Tarik u Iaiong, kaba don ka jing thoh “Gauhati” ha jrong jong ka. Ka shithi ka ong kumne :
Nga dap da ka jing sngewkmen kaba khraw eh ban pynshihsa ïa ka jing jemnud, ka jing sngur mynsiem bad ka mynsiem ai jing iarap jong kine ki para, U Shivakanta bad U Lakshmikanta, kiba dei ki Pandas jong ka Shri Kamakhya Peetham. Ki dei ki briew kiba kloi ban iarap shibun bad ki bym juh thait ban ai jing shakri. Khlem da don kano kano ruh ka jing artatien nga tyrwa ïa ka jingkloi jong kine ki ar ngut sha ki Hindu kiba wan peit wan jngoh ïa kane ka jaka lehniam kaba kyntang.6
Kat kum ka jingtip ba ai u Khun ksiew jong U Lakshmikanta Panda uba dei ruh u khun jong u Ramdas Panda, U Niranjan Panda; u la ong ba U Swamiji ula sah la kumba lai sngi eiei ha iing jong kine ki para (Shivakanta bad Lakshmikanta).7 Kane ka lah ban long kaba shisha namar kat kum ka riti dustur, kito kiba wan iaid pilgrim ki shait sah haduh lai sngi ha Kamakhya ban pyndep ïa ki rukom leh niam leh rukom.8 U Niranjan panda u ong ruh ba U Swamiji u la wan sha Kamakhya lyngba ka Parbatipur, Amingaon bad Pandughat. Kane ka jing ong jong U Niranjan kam lah ban long satia kaba shisha, namar ka jing bymdon ka lynti rel kaba pura ban pyniasoh ïa ka East Bengal bad ka Asam ha kita ki por. U Swamiji ryngkat bad ki ba haiing jong u kila wan lyngba ka Chandranath shaduh Pandughat (hajan Kamakhya) Da ka kali Um (Steamer), da kaba iaid lyngba ïa shibun ki jaka ba syndah jong ka wah kiba don shaphang sepngi jongka Gauhati.* {Footnote: Ngim lah satia ban lap ïa ki dak ban pyn shisha ba U Swamiji u la wan lyngba ka Parbatipur (East Bengal). Ka Parbatipur ka jngai kumba hynriew phew mer shaphang sepngi jong ka Dhubri, Bad U Swamiji ula wan sha Gauhati lyngba kane ka Phang. Ka long kaba jngai bha na Ka wah Brahmaputra kaba dei ka lynti iaid jong ka Kali um(Steamer) jong u. Watla katta ruh ka Parbatipur kam dei ka jaka kaba la juh tip kum ka jaka Pilgrimage. Tharai ka lah dei ka Pandughat kata ka jaka rung jong U Swamiji sha Kamakhya (Shaphang sepngi jong ka Gauhati). Lada U la leit beit sha central Gauhati ka jaka rung jong u kan lah ban dei ka Sukreshwar Ghat, sha kham shakhmat shaphang Mihngi jong ka Pandughat.} Kat kum ka jingtip jong nga, ka lynti rel kaba nyngkong eh kaba pyniasoh ïa ka Parbatipur(East Bengal) bad ka Dhubri(Assam) la sdang ha ka 1902, Bad la pynjrong shaduh sha Amingaon ha u snem 1907.9 U Niranjan Panda ula pyrkhat tharai ba u Swamiji Ula wan sha Assam da ka Lynti Rel.
Ka long kaba suk eh ban ong ba u Swamiji ula ialam nyngkong eh sha Kamakhya ïa ki ba haiing jong u, khamtam na ka bynta ka kmie jong u. Hynrei ban ong pat ba kila poi mynno hangta ha jaka, ka long kaba eh. Na Pandughat ban poi sha Gauhati la hap iaid lyngba na Kamakhya. Ka shithi kaba u la thoh sha ki shipara ki panda, kaba dei artat tang kawei ka sakhi kaba ngi don, ka lah ban long ba u la thoh ïa ki hadien ba u la poi sha Gauhati. Lada dei ka shithi kaba la thoh na Kamakhya, te u la thoh hi hajrong jongka “kamakhya” lane “Kamakhya Peetham” ha ka jaka ba un thoh “Gauhati”. Ha kawei pat ka liang, ka Kamakhya ka don ha Gauhati. Tharai na kane ka daw ruh u lah ban thoh ha ka shithi “Gauhati”.
Lada ngi ngeit ba u la thoh ïa ka shithi na Kamakhya hi, da kaba thoh Gauhati hajrong jong ka, ngi lah ban ong ba lehse U Swamiji u lah ban poi ha Kamakhya ha ka khatsaw Tarik u Iaiong bad u la sah ha iing ki shipara ki Panda lai sngi bad ha ka khathynniew Tarik u Iaiong u la mih noh sha Gauhati. Ki briew barabor ki shait thoh shithi ha ka sngi ba ki mih na ka jaka ba ki sah, hadien ba ki lah ioh ban mad ïa ka jingleh sbun bad jing iarap na kata ka iing. Ha kane ka rukom ngi ruh ngi tharai ba U Swamiji ruh ula leh kumta hi. Ha u snem 2001, katba ka jing rakhe ïa ka jingdap shispah snem ka jingwan iuhkjat U Swamiji ha Kamakhya Ka dang iaid, ngi iohi ïa ki jingthoh ba la shim na ki shithi jong u kiba la tyngshain ha ki iing.
KA JING LEIT SHA SHILLONG
Hadien ba la sah bad la ai jingkren ha Gauhati kumba lai ne saw sngi, ha kaba la suba ba u la sah bad u wei u Brahmin uba kyrteng u Padmanath Bhattacharya u ba la tip ruh kum u Padmanath Saraswati, U Swamiji la mih noh ban leit sha Shillong ha ryngkat ka met kaba shitom. U Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra Das bad U Jatindra Nath Basu, kila wan ialam ïa U Swamiji sha Shillong ha ryngkat bad ki nongbud bad ki tiar ki tar jong u. Ha ryngkat Ka jing jngai kaba la don la kumba Hynriewphew saw mer lane shispah ar kilometers eiei. Ka la shim por ïa ki kumba ar sngi ban poi sha Shillong da ki kali kulai, bad kila ïa sah miet sha rud surok da kaba shna da ki iing trep ba shipor. U Kailash Chandra Das bad U Jatindra Nath Basu kila shu ïa iaid kjat narud-narud ka kali kulai naduh Gauhati shaduh sha Shillong. U Rai Saheb Kailash u la pdiang sngewbha ïa U Swamiji ha ka iing jong u kaba don ha Laban, baroh ki jait bynriew Bengali kiba sah marjan bad ki paralok jong u, kila ïa sah lang hangtei baroh ki por ba u dang don ha Shillong.10
Kat kum katei ka jingkdew haneng ngi lah ban ong ba U Swamiji u la wan poi ha ka 23 Tarik u Iaiong ha sor Shillong. Ka la long kaba eh bha ban pyrkhat ba kila lah ban poi Shillong tang hapoh ar sngi ha ryngkat ki ar ngut ki nong ialam ba shu iaid kjat bad ruh ka kali kulai kaba kit ïa ki kynthei bad U Swami Vivekanand uba don hapdeng ka met kaba tlot. Halor ka lynti kaba kiew lum bad ruh ki kulai kiba donkam shongthait manla ka por lane ba hap bujli kulai naka por shaka por. Tharai lai sngi ka la long kaba sngew dei eh ban shim por ïa ki ba kin poi sha Shillong. Watla katta ruh U Swamiji ula ioh teng ban mad, ban iaid kum kine ki jait lynti balong lum da ka kali kulai kaba la tip kyrteng kum ka ‘Deligences’, ha ka por ba u don sha Switzerland ha u snem 1896.
Ha ka kot ba la thoh da u Prof. Shyamadas Bhattacharya (1931-2017) kaba kyrteng ‘Shillonger Bangalee’ lane ‘Ki Bengali Ha Shillong’ *{Footnote: U prof Shyamadas Bhattacharya u dei u nonghikai History ba la shongthait, ha Lady Kean college kaba don ha Shillong naduh u snem 1956 haduh 1991. U dei u nongthoh, Nonghikai bad u briew u ba ieid bha iala ki riti-dustur bad u ba don burom bha. U dei ruh U ba la ioh pdiang ïa ka khusnam na ka Sorkar India, ka “Bharat Jyoti” ha u snem 2001, na ka bynta ka jingnoh synniang bapher-bapher jong u ha kiba bun rukom na bynta ka roi ka par jong ka Jylla Meghalaya baroh kawei.} Ngi lah ban shem ïa ka jingthoh shaphang ka jingiaid lynti jong U Swamiji na Gauhati sha Shillong.11 Ha ka jingthoh kaba u la ai kyrteng ka “Shillong pahare Swami Vivekananda” lane “ U Swami Vivekananda ha U lum shyllong”, U professor u la pynphuh rong da la ki kyntien ïa ki jingshisha ha kaba u thoh shaphang kane ka jing iaid lynti jong u Swamiji, kane ka rukom thoh jong une u nongthoh ka la pynlong ka jingeh ïa ngi ban pyn iapher ïa ka jingshisha bad ki rong ba u bet ha ki jingthoh jong u ban pyn sngew tynnad ïa ki nongpule. Ka la long ruh kaba sniewbok ïa ngi namar ba u ne u nongthoh u khlem lah iathuh eiei shaphang ki tyllong jingtip jong u kiba u la thoh ha kane ka kot, hynrei u la shu thoh kyllum lang ha kaba kut jong kane ka kot, tang ïa ki kyrteng jong ki kot bapher-bapher kiba u la pule khnang ban ioh jingtip ban thoh shaphang kane ka kot. Kane ka la wahrah ka jing eh ïa kito ki nongpule kiba kwah ban tip bniah ban pyn iasoh ïa ki jingthoh jong u bad ki tyllong jingtip ba u ioh. Watla katta ruh kine ki jingthoh jong une u nongthoh kila iarap shibun ban ai ïa ki jing donkam kiba lah ban pyniasoh lang bad kiwei pat ki jingtip kiba la don lypa, khnang ban shna biang ïa ka jingiathuh khana kaba lah ban long kham shajan ïa ka jing shihsha. (Lehse une u nongthoh u la thoh lane pynbeit pynbiang ïa kine ki jingthoh jong u hadien u snem 1997, namar une u nongthoh ula jer kyrteng napdeng ki tyllong jingtip ba u shim jingiarap, ïa ka Diamond Jubilee Souvenir jong ka Shillong Ramakrishna Mission kaba la rakhe ha u snem 1997. Ka kot jingthoh shaphang kane ka jingrakhe la pynmih ha u snem 2004).
Ngin shu ngeit ba Ka kmie jong U Swamiji ryngkat bad ki saw ngut ki ba haiing jong u ruh kila sah lang bad u shi lynter katba u dang don ha kane ka jaka, watla khlem don kaei-kaei ruh ka jing pynshisha kaba lah ban batai shai shaphang kane ka jing sahlang jong ka kmie bad ki ba haiing jong u. U prof. Bhattacharya u la thoh tang shaphang kawei ka kali kulai kaba la pyndon kam ban kit ïa U Swamiji bad ar ngut ki nong synran kiba la ïa wan poi lang sha Shillong. Lada shim ïa kane kum ka jingshisha, te kita ki ar ngut ki nong synran kilah ban dei U Swami Sadananda bad U Swami Nityananda (Nitai) lane U Swami Nirbhayananda (Kanai). Watla katta ruh ka jingthoh shaphang ka Jingim jong u Swamiji ka kdew ba “U Swamiji ha ryngkat U Swami Sadananda, ka kmie jong u, ka para jong u, ka aunty jong u bad ka lok jong u Ramadas kila wan phai na Shillong sha Calcutta ha ka 12 tarik u Jymmang.”12 Lada kine ki longkmie kim shym la don ryngkat bad U Swamiji ha Shillong, te kila ïa leit shaei baroh shi katta ki por? Kat kum ka jingtip ba la ioh na ka khun jong u Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra Das, ka Dipanjali Majumdar, ka la iathuh ba; “U Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra Das Bad U Jatindra Nath Basu kila wan ialam ïa U Swamiji bad kiba bud ïa u sha Shillong”, hynrei kam shym la iathuh ba kidei mano kita kiba la wan bud ïa U Swamiji sha Shillong.13 Kat kum ki jingtip ba la ioh lum shaphang ka jing leit iaid U Swamiji sha East Bengal bad sha Assam, Halor ka bynta kaba u Swamiji u la leit ban pyndep ïa kata ka jing iaid “Pilgrimage ba pura” na bynta jong ki, ka la thoh khyndiat eh shaphang ka kmie bad ki ba haiing jong u.
Ka jingthoh jong U prof. Bhattacharya shaphang ka jing iaid lynti U Swamiji ka kdew ïa ngi ba U Swamiji ryngkat bad ki kynhun jong u, kila wan synran da uwei u Ophisar Phareng uba Kyrteng U Mr. Norton. Bad ba kila sahmiet shimiet ha kawei ka shnong Umiam kaba jngai kumba khatar mile eiei na Shillong. Tharai, kala jia ba U Chief Commissioner ka Assam ha kata ka por u Sir Henry Cotton, U la iawer ïa U Swamiji ba un wan long u Guest jong u sha Shillong, ba un wan ban ioh biang ïa ka jingkoit ka jingkhiah kaba pura jong ka met jong u ha Shillong. Ka dei artat halor ka hukum jong une u Sir Henry Cotton ba u Mr. Norton ula wan ban synran ïa U Swamiji sha shillong. U Swamiji U la ai khublei ïa ka jingkhot sngewbha jong u Sir Henry Cotton, bad u la ong ruh ba ki briew jong u kila pynkhreh lypa na bynta ka jing wan sah jong u sha Shillong.14
HA SHILLONG BAD KI NONG SHILLONG
Kat kum ka jingthoh jong u Prof. Bhattacharya, la don bun bha ki briew kiba la wan ban ïa kynduh ïa U Swamiji ynda u la poi ha Shillong, ha Laban ha ka iing jong u Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra. U la thoh ruh ïa ka jing don ryngkat u Deputy Commissioner U Capt. Herbert hangta ha iing, khnang ban pynbeit bad ban khmih ïa ka jing bun ki paidbah kiba la wan ban ialum ban iohi ïa U Swami Vivekananda. U capt. Herbert u la iathuh ïa U Swamiji ba u Doctor Civil Surgeon un sa wan ban peit ïa u ha ka por mynsngi bad ba u Sir Henry Cotton pat un sa wan ban ïa kynduh ïa u ha ka step ka ban wan.15 Kat kum ka FIBIS (Families in British India Society) kaba don ha London, U capt. Herbert, I.C.S., U dei u Deputy Commissioner jong ka Shillong ha kata ka por. U ta pat u Doctor Civil Surgeon, Uba u Sir Cotton ula bthah ïa u ban sumar ïa U Swamiji, La tip kyrteng kum U Major Robert Neil Campbell, U ba dei ruh u Civil Surgeon jongka Shillong naduh u snem 1896-1897 haduh 1906; U la bat ïa kane ka kam naduh u snem 1897 ha ka por ba u la wan u jumai ba radbah ha Shillong (Assam) ha u snem 1897. 16
Katto katne ki riew rangbah kiba la ïa don ryngkat lang ha kata ka sngi ban pdiang burom ïa U Swamiji ki dei, U Rai Bahadur Sadaya Charan Das, U Rai Saheb Prasanna Kumar Bhattacharya, U Upendranath Kanjilal, U Bishnu Prasad Barua Bad U Munsi Mohammed Amatullah. Tharai U Swamiji u la don ki jing ïa kren bad kine ki riew rangbah namar ba, ha ka step kaba bud kine ki riew rangbah kila ïa poi biang ban ïa kynduh bad U Swamiji. U Hormurai Diengdoh, u dei u wei na kine ki nong wan kynduh bad U Swamiji. Kine ki riew rangbah kiba wan ban ïa kynduh bad U Swamiji kidei kiba trei na bynta ka Imlang-Sahlang lane ki kam kiba iadei bad ki kam niam. U Rai Bahadur Charan Das ha kata ka por u dei u Secretary jong ka Brahmo Samaj kaba don ha Police Bazaar.
U Sir Henry (John Stedman) Cotton(1845-1915) u ba dei U Chief Commissioner jong ka Assam, bad ka Office Jong u ka don ha Shillong ha kata ka por. Ïa une u saheb la kha ha South India ha ki kmie-ki kpa kiba la wan long briew ha india hi (Indian-Born British Parents). Hynrei u la pyndep ïa ki jingpule jong u naduh Elementary haduh ba un dep ïa ka jing pule Indian Civil Service Examination na England. U la sdang trei naduh u snem 1867 ha kylleng ki jaka jong ka Bengal ryngkat bad ka Calcutta. Naduh u snem 1896 pat une u saheb ula wan trei noh ha Shillong bad U la trei ha ka kyrdan kum u Chief Commissioner haduh u snem 1902. Namar ka jingdon mynsiem sngewlem jong u ïa ka jing ialeh laitluid jong ka Ri India, la jied ïa u ba un long kum u President jong ka Indian National Congress ha u snem 1904. Hadien nangta ula leit phai biang sha England bad ula long u dkhot jong ka House Of Commons.
U Sir Henry u la thoh kawei ka kot kum ka dak jong ka jing sah kynmaw ïa ka Ri India, kaba u la ai kyrteng, ka “Indian and Home Memories”, kaba la pynmih ha u snem 1911. U la thoh-“Sha ka Ri India kaba nga la ai ka jingshakri, ka jingim samla bad jingim rangbah jong nga. Nga dap da ka jing babe bad jingsahnud kaba jurbha. Hadien ka jing pynkut noh ïa ka jing shakri jong nga kaba la kot kumba laiphew san snem eiei.” 20
U la thoh shibun shaphang ka jingwan jumai bah ha u snem 1897 ha Assam, ha kaba, ma u bad la i kurim kila shu ialait salit na kane ka jingwan u jumai bah. Tangba halor ka jing lyngngoh, shaphang ka jingwan iuhkjat jong U Swami Vivekananda pat u khlem la thoh eiei ruh em. Ha kane ka kot jong u, u la buh khnang kawei ka Lynnong kaba kyrteng “Men I have Known”, ha kaba u la thoh ïa shibun ki kyrteng ki riew donnam donburom jong ka Ri kiba u la iashem, ïa khana ha kipor ba u dang don ha India. Napdeng kita, U Bunkim Chunder Dutt, Robindro Nath Tagore, Arabindo Ghose, Mohendra Lal Sircar, Keshub Chunder Sen, Romesh Chunder Dutt bad kiwei de ki riew donnam, tangba u khlem la thoh pat ïa ka kyrteng U Swami Vivekananda. Kane ka la long kaba pynlyngngoh bad kaba pyn kyllain jingmut bha bad kaba pyn sngewsih bha ïa ngi. Kane harum ka dei ka jingthoh naka kot ba la thoh shaphang ka jingim jong U Swamiji, kaba batai shaphang ka jing ïa kynduh jong u bad u Sir Henry:
“U la juh ioh sngew shibun bah shaphang U Swami Vivekananda bad u la kwah eh ruh ban ioh iakynduh bad u. Halor ka jing kyrpad jong u hi ba U Swamiji u la ai ka jingkren ha khmat ki ophisar bilat bad ruh kiwei pat ki kynhun nong India. U Sir Henry Cotton, uba la sngewtynnad eh iaki jingkren U Swamiji, u la iakynduh bad U Swamiji bad kila ïa kren bad pyllut por ban ïa kren shaphang ka Ri India bad ki jingeh jong ka kum ka ri baroh kawei. Haba u iohi ba U Swamiji u khlem da sngew khlain, ula bthah ïa u Doctor Civil Surgeon ba un ai ki jingiarap ban sumar bad ban pynbiang katba lah ïa ki dawai kiba iadei bad ka jingpang jong U Swamiji. Katba U Swamiji u dang don, une u Chief Commissioner ula phah kylli man la ka sngi ïa ka jinglong-jingman jong ka koit ka khiah jong U Swamiji. U Swamiji u kren shaphang jong u kum u briew uba sngewthuh ïa ka ri India bad ïa ki jingeh jongka kumka ri, u ba don ka jingsngew ban trei na bynta ka jingbha bad jingroi jingpar jong ka India kum ka ri baroh kawei. U la long u briew u ba donhok ban ioh ïa ka jingieid jong ki nong India kumba ki ieid iakiwei.” 21
Une u Sir Henry u la long u briew uba don jing sngew synei ïa ka jingbha jong ka ri India bad ïa ka jing ieid ri jong ki nong India, bad U Swamiji u la shem ba une u ophisar u don ki shkor kiba kloi ban sngap bad ba burom ïa ki jingkren kiba iadei bad ka hok. Lehse kila ïa kren daka ktien Bengali namar une u Sir Henry u la long uba nangbha ban kren bad ban pule ruh iaka ktien Bengali.22 U Swamiji bad u Sir Henry ki ïa don ha kajuh ka madan ha ki ba bun ki liang. Baroh arngut hi ki ïa don kane ka jing pyrkhat ba ka jingpule kadei kawei ka phang kaba kordor tam. Ka Cotton College kaba don ha Gauhati, kaba la long ruh ka college kaba la rim tam napdeng ki college kiba don ha katei ka thain shatei lammihngi ka ri India (Norhtheast India), la seng da une hi u Sir Cotton ha u snem 1901. Kane ka college ka la ioh ïa ka kyrdan University (Cotton University) ha u snem 2017. U Sir Henry u la wan iakynduh bad U Swamiji ha ka Iing ba don ha Laban; u ju kylli khubor ruh manla ka sngi shaphang ka jingkoit jingkhiah jong U Swamiji.
The English version of the present Article can be found in
https://unknownsylheti.com/2021/03/17/swami-vivekanandas-visit-to-shillong/

Ehsing Khiewtam: Author, Poet, Senior Research fellow, Hindi Dept, NEHU

शिलाँग मे मेरा प्रथम वार्षिकोत्सव

शिलाँग के संस्मरणों की यह एक किस्त पेश कर रहा हूँ। प्रथम किस्त में केवल वहाँ के पेहले दिन की स्मृतियाँ शब्दबद्ध की थी; इससे ऐसी आशँका न हो कि मैं वहाँ के प्रत्येक दिन की स्मृति एक एक लेख में प्रस्तुत करने जा रहा हू। पाठकों पर इतना अत्याचार करने का मेरा कोई इरादा नहीं है। इस किस्त में प्रारम्भ के दस दिन की कुछ विशेष स्मृतियों को लिपिबद्ध करने का प्रयास कर रहा हूँ।
जीवन का हर अनुभव कुछ शिक्षा लेकर हमारे पास आता है। मेरे जैसा कोई साधारण व्यक्ति भी पीछे मुड्कर बीते दिनों पर नज़र डालता है तो देखता है कि छोटे छोटे प्रसंग भी बड़ी सीख देने की क्षमता रखते हैं। प्रसंग विस्मृत होने के बावजूद भी उस्से प्राप्त शिक्षा भीतर बनी रहती है।दूसरे दिन से श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानन्द जी और आश्रम के अन्यान्य संन्यासी-ब्रह्मचारी मुझे वहाँ का काम समझाने में लग गये। कई कार्य मेरे लिए बिल्कुल नये थे। नागपुर में रहते समय हिसाब-किताब रखना मैंने कुछ हद तक सीख लिया था, किन्तु वहाँ कोई सरकारी अनुदान नहीँ मिलता था। ऐसे अनुदान का प्रस्ताव ठीक शासकीय पद्धति के अनुरूप बनाना होता था। उसका जमा-खर्च इत्यादि भी, जो सारे सरकारी नियम थे, उसी ढाँचे मे डालने पड़ते हैं। मेरे लिये यह कुछ अजीब सा मामला था, थोडा हास्यपूर्ण भी। उदाहरण के तौर पर – वहाँ साफ सफाई का काम करने वालें दो कर्मचारियों को “लाइब्रेरियन” के नाम से तनखा दिखानी होती थी। इसके पीछे क्या कारण हैं मुझे यथावकाश समझाए गए। कल औपचारिक रूप से कार्यभार ग्रहण करना था।
आश्रम के कई भक्त, संचालन-समिति (Managing Committee) के कुछ सदस्य, कर्मी और स्वयंसेवक मिलने आ रहे थे। कई फ़ोन भी चल रहे थे। यहाँ के भोजन के विशिष्ट गंध से भी परिचित होना मेरे लिए सहज नहीं था। विशेषकर ‘शूटकी’ पकाने की गंध। यद्यपि आश्रम में ‘शूटकी’ शायद ही कभी बनती थी, चारों तरफ से वह गंध (जो मेरे लिए अति दुर्गन्ध थी, अन्य लोगों के लिए वह कोई परेशानी नहीं थी; कुछ ऐसे भी थे कि उस गंध से वे बडे खुश हो जाते थे, मुँह में पानी आ जाता था। इससे यह सिद्ध होता है, कि कोई भी गंध, या कोई भी इन्द्रियानुभव अपने आप में अच्छा- बुरा नहीं होता; हर व्यक्ति की रुचि भिन्न होती है)। नाक को भर देती थी, और फिर भोजन करना एक प्रयास बन जाता था। शिलाँग में रहते रहते ऐसे गंधों से मेरा नासिकेंद्रिय परिचित हो गया। मैं माँस, मछ्ली इत्यादि कुछ नहीं खाता था – मुख से; किन्तु नासिकाद्वार से वह मेरे भीतर प्रविष्ट हो रहा था। ‘घ्राणेन अर्धभोजनम्‌’ यह उक्ति कितनी सार्थक है !
दूसरे दिन, अर्थात गुरुवार, २८ मार्च १९९६ को श्री रामकृष्ण का दर्शन कर मैं और रघुनाथानन्द जी दफ्तर में आए। अन्य साधु – छात्रावास के छात्र भी उपस्थित थे। मैने अनुमति पत्र (Letter of Acceptance) पर हस्ताक्षर किए। अब इस औपचारिक कार्यक्रम से इस आश्रम के सेक्रेटरी का भार रघुनाथानंद जी से मुझपर आ गया। हंसते हुए उन्होंने कहा, “अब बाघ की पूँछ तुम्हारे हाथ देकर मैं मुक्त हो गया।” मुझे इस कथन का तात्पर्य समझ में नहीं आया। तब उन्होंने केरल देश में प्रचलित कहानी सुनायीः
“एक नंबुद्री ब्राह्मण (ये लोग अपनी जिज्ञासु वृत्ति, चतुराई, तीव्र बुद्धि के लिए जाने जाते हैं) जंगल की एक पगडंड़ी से गुजर रहा था तो उसने देखा कि किसी शिकारी ने लगाये हुए पिंजरे में एक बड़ा बाघ फँस गया हैै। कौतूहलवश वहाँ जाकर उसने बाघ को एक टहनी से नोचा। गुस्से में आकर बाघ ने टहनी को खींचा, नंबुद्री ने भी खींचा दोनों की खींचा-तानी मे वह टहनी की अटकनी लगी और पिंजड़ा खुल गया। बाघ बाहर निकल ही रहा था कि बुद्धिमान नंबुद्री ने पिंजडे के बाहर निकली हुई बाघ की पूँछ कसकर पकड़ लिया। अब बाघ बाहर निकल नहीं सकता था। पर कितनी देर वह सारी शक्ति लगाकर पूँछ को पकड़ कर रख सकता था? कुछ थोड़े ही समय में वह थक गया; किन्तु पूँछ छोड़े तो बाघ बाहर निकलेगा और फिर…?
जान की बाजी लगाकर वह पूँछ पकड़े हुए वह बै्ठा था तब उसने पगडंड़ी से गुजरते हुए एक व्यक्ति को देखा और उसे पुकार कर कहने लगा, ‘यह बाघ मेरी पकड़ में आ गया है; बस अब इसे राजा के पास ले जाऊँगा और बहुत बड़ा इनाम पाऊँगा। तुम मेरी थोड़ी मदद करो तो तुम्हें भी कुछ हिस्सा मिलेगा; एक मिनट यह पूँछ पकड़ो, मैं अभी पेशाब करके आता हूँ। ’ उस मूर्ख व्यक्ति ने पूँछ पकड़ते ही नंबुद्री जी तो तेजी से भाग निकले। ” इतना कहकर रघुनाथानंद जी और हम सब हँसने लगे। उन्होँने मुझे बाघ की पूँछ पकड़ा दी है, इसका प्रमाण चंद दिनों में ही मिला। वह प्रसंग बाद में इसी किस्त के अंतर्गत बताऊँगा।
श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानंद जी ने फिर एक सुन्दर सा कोट निकालकर मुझे दिया। ‘मेरे पूर्ववर्ती सचिव देवदेवानंद जी ने दस सालों तक इस कोट का इस्तेमाल किया और फिर मुझे दिया; मैंने भी पिछले दस साल इसका उपयोग किया और अब तुम्हें दे रहा हूँ। मेरी इच्छा है कि तुम भी दस या अधिक साल उसका उपयोग कर फिर अपने उत्तराधिकारी को दे दोगे। ’
उनकी इस इच्छा को मैं पूर्ण नहीं कर सका। मात्र चार सालों के तुरन्त बाद ही मेरा शिलाँग से तबादला हुआ और मेरे उत्तराधिकारी श्रद्धेय स्वामी जगदात्मानंद जी को यह कोट (और बाघ की पूँछ भी) सौंपकर मैं शिलाँग से निकल पड़ा। जगदात्मानंद जी का कद उस कोट की लम्बाई से अधिक ऊँचा था, बाहें भी लम्बी थीं। उस कोट का उपयोग उन्होंने शायद ही कभी किया हो। उनके उत्तराधिकारी श्रद्धेय ब्रह्मदेवानंद जी को उस कोट की कोई जानकारी भी नहीं थी।
शुक्रवार, २९ मार्च १९९६, ठीक सढे नौ बजे संचालन समिती की मीटिंग शुरु हुई। श्री आर. टिं. रिम्बाई, मेघालय के जयंतिया जनजाति के एक प्रमुख व्यक्ति, इस समिती के सम्मानीय अध्यक्ष थे। आने वाले दो-ढाई सालों में उनके साथ मेरा धनिष्ठ संपर्क रहा। मीटिंग में उपस्थित सभी सदस्यों से वार्तालाप हुआ। इन सभी का आंतरिक सहयोग आश्रम की गतिविधियाँ सुचारु रूप से चलाने हेतु आवश्यक था। विगत दो महीनों का लेखा-जोखा और मीटिंग का इतिवृत्त (minutes) सारा रामकृष्ण मिशन के मुख्यालय को भेज दिया गया। श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानंद जी को बिदाई देने का (send-off) बड़ा समारोह करना होगा इसपर भी सभी ने उत्साहपूर्वक सहमति दर्शायी।
रामकृष्ण संघ के परमाध्यक्ष पूज्य भूतेशानन्द जी, उपाध्यक्ष रंगतानन्द जी, गहनानन्द जी इन्हें पत्र लिख्कर आशीर्वाद याचना की।
इसके दूसरे दिन रामकृष्ण मिशन चेरापुंजी (जिसे अब सोरा नाम से जाना जाता है) जाना था। बचपन से ही चेरापुंजी का नाम सुनता आया था – जहाँ दुनिया की सर्वाधिक बारिश होती है। जीप गाड़ी से सुबह निकले; शिलाँग में तो सुनहरी धूप निकल आयी थी। चेरापुँजी तक का लगभग ४० कि. मि. का पहाड़ी रास्ता पूरा करने को पूरा एक घण्टा लगा। शिलाँग से १५ कि. मि. के बाद ही दृश्य बदल जया। बायी और गहरी घाटी से घने बादल भी हमारे साथ मानो चेरापुँजी चल रहे थे। ‘देखो, अब आप की समझ में आएगा कि चेरा में इतनी बारिश क्यों होती है। ये सारे बादल जल से पूर्ण है। इस घाटी से गुजरते हुए वे चेरापुँजी के ऊँचे पहाड़ से टकरा जाते हैं। इतना सारा पानी का वजन लेकर ये बादल पहाड़ चढ़ नहीं पाते तो सारा पानी बारिश के रूप में वहीं फ़ेंक देते हैं’- हमारे एक सहयात्री, जो कि इस प्रदेश में कई साल रह चुके थे, बना रहे थे। उनका यह कथन मेट्रॉलाजी की दृष्टि में कितना वैज्ञानिक था, ये बताना मेरी औकात के बाहर होने पर भी बड़ा ही रोचक प्रतीत हुआ। आनेवाले कई वर्षों में उनका यह कथन मैंने कई बार नवागतों के सामने (कुछ अधिक मिर्च-मसाला डालकर) दोहराया है।
चेरापुँजी के रास्ते पर विभिन्न ग्रामों में रामकृष्ण मिशन, चेरापुँजी द्वारा संचालित कई स्कूल दिखाई पड़े। उन स्कूलों के बच्चे हमारी जीप को (जिसपर रामकृष्ण मिशन, शिलाँग लिखा था) देखते ही ‘खुब्लेई महाराज’ का घोष लगाकर अभिवादन करते थे। हम लोग भी गाड़ी जरा धीमी कर उन्हें ‘खुबलेई शिबून’ कहकर आगे बढते थे। रास्ते में दोनो तरफ कहीं कोयले के और कहीं बालू के ढेर लगे थे। कई ट्रक उन्हें उठाकर विक्रय के लिए अन्य स्थानों पर ले जाते थे। इस सम्बन्ध में पूज्य भूतेशानन्द जी महाराज एक विनोदपूर्ण किन्तु शिक्षाप्रद घटना सुनाया करते थे। उसे बाद के किस्त में लिखूँगा।
चेरापुँजी आश्रम के प्रमुख स्वामी इष्टानन्द जी मेरे साथ ही बेलुड़ मठ स्थित ‘प्रोबेशनर्स ट्रेनिन्ग सेन्टर’ में दो साल थे और हमारी अच्छा मित्रता थी और अभी भी हमारी आपसी मुलाकात और वार्तालाप आज भी जारी है। मेरे अमेरिका आने के कुछ महीने पहले वे भी यहाँ पहुंच गए थे और इन दिनों सेण्ट पीटर्सबर्ग, फ्लोरिडा में स्थित रामकृष्ण मिशन के वेदान्त सेंटर के प्रमुख बने। एक कार्यकुशल संघटक और अच्छे वक्ता के रूप में इस देश में भी सुख्यात हैं। हम दोनों एक-दूसरे से मिलकर बड़े हर्षित हुए। वहाँ का मंदिर, स्कूल, छात्रावास इत्यादि देखकर बहुत आनन्द हुआ। पिछले 20 सालों से से इस आश्रम के स्फूर्तिशाली इतिहास को मैंने गौर से कई बार पड़ा था, और मराठी मासिक पत्रिका ‘जीवन- विकास’ (जिसका प्रकाशन रामकृष्ण मठ, नागपुर से होता था) मैंने उसके विषय में प्रबन्ध भी लिखे थे। वहाँ अब मैं जब प्रत्यक्ष रूप से सब देख रहा था तो कितनेही पवित्र, ‘त्याग और सेवा’ इस स्वामी विवेकानन्द जी के मन्त्र से प्लावित भावतरंग मन में उछलने लगे थे। अच्छा खासा भोजन हुआ। वहाँ की संचालन समिती के एक सदस्य के रूप में मुझे सम्मिलित किया गया। उन की मीटिंग भी सम्पन्न हुई और शाम तक हम लोग शिलाँग आश्रम आ पहुँचा। चेरापुँजी के संस्मरणों को किसी अगली किस्त में लिखूँगा।
इसी बीच मुझे व्याख्यानों के लिए चंडीगढ़ जाना था। शिलाँग में तबादला होने के कई दिन पहले ही यह कार्यक्रम निश्चित हुआ था। ४ अप्रैल को शिलाँग से रवाना हुआ और वहाँ का व्याख्यान इत्यादि कार्यक्रम समाप्त कर १० तारीख को सुबह ७ बजे शिलाँग लौटा तो एक बुरी खबर मेरा इन्तजार कर रही थी।
वहाँ विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर (क्विण्टन हॉल) में दो लोग निवास करते थे – एक भक्त – स्वयंसेवी और एक वेतन कर्मी (उनके नाम यहाँ नहीं दे रहा हूँ)। इनमें जो वेतन कर्मी था वह मानसिक-पीड़ा से त्रस्त था और स्वयं वो भक्त से सख्त नफरत करता था। पूर्व रात्रि को उसने उस भक्त के मस्तक पर हँसिया से वार किया। वह लहुलहान अवस्था में भागकर जान बचाने में किसी प्रकार सफल हो गया। पुलिस ने उसे अस्पताल में भर्ती किया और हमलावर कर्मी को जानलेवा हमला (Attempt to murder) करने के जुर्म में गिरफ्तार कर लिया।
क्या करूँ मुझे कुछ समझ में नहीं आ रहा था। ऐसी परिस्थिति से सम्मुखी होने का प्रसंग मेरे जीवन में पहले कभी भी नहीं आया था। आश्रम के मेरे सहकारी साधुओं के लिए भी ऐसी जटिल समस्या का कोई अनुभव नहीं था। एक अच्छा समाचार इतना था कि उस भक्त की हालत ठीक हो रही थी, जीवन को खतरा नहीं था, पर पूर्ण रूप से स्वस्थ होने में अभी काफी समय लगेगा। उस प्रसंग के कारण पुलिस स्टेशन में और वकील लोगों के पास कई बार जाना हुआ। फिर अब विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर में अब काम कौन करेगा यह भी एक बड़ी समस्या थी। यह हादसा क्यों हुआ और इसमें दोष किसका है इस बारे में भी साधुओं में मतभेद था।
कुछ महिनें के गुजरने के बाद यह समस्या समाप्त तो हुई किन्तु उससे काफी शिक्षा भी मिली। यहाँ इस घटना से सम्बन्धित एक बात लिखना चहता हूँ। जिनसे मैंने कार्यभार स्वीकार किया था वे श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानन्द जी इस सम शिलाँग में ही थे। उनसे जब मैंने इस बारे में सलाह पूछी तो उन्होंने हँसते-हँसते कहा, “हाँ, अब बाघ की पूँछ तुम्हें सौंप दी है; मैं फिर से पकडने की मूर्खता नहीं करूँगा। ”
और उसी दिन आश्रम का वार्षिकोत्सव शुरु होने जा रहा था। किन्तु आज भजन- गान होने वाला था, किन्तु गायक-वादकों का दल – जो दिग्बोई से आनेवाला था- वह नहीं आ पाया – उन लोगों में जो मुख्य थे, उन्हें चुनाव के कारण छुट्टी नहीं मिल पायी। यहीँ आश्रम से सम्बन्धित कुछ गायकों ने भजन किया।
उत्सव में सहभागी होने हेतु काशी से स्वामी शुद्धव्रतानन्द जी और तपनानन्द जी पधारे थे – दोनो रघुनाथानन्द जी के घनिष्ट मित्र थे; वे तीनो १९६० के दशक में शिलाँग आश्रम में लगभग एक ही साथ ब्रह्मचारी के रूप में प्रविष्ठ हुए थे।
शुक्रवार को दोपहर ३.३० को उत्सव का दूसरा कार्यक्रम हुआ। आश्रम के ही एक स्वामीजी ने कुछ और गायक-वादकों के साथ ‘गीति-आलेख्य’ (गीतों के माध्यम से श्री रामकृष्ण के चरित्र का आख्यान) सादर किया। फिर श्रीमती दीपाली चक्रवर्ती, शुद्धव्रतानन्द जी, तपनानन्द जी के सारगर्भित व्याख्यान हुए।
अच्छा भक्त- समागम हुआ था। उत्सव और दो दिन तक चला। बड़े अच्छे व्याख्यान और भजनादि हुए। एक बड़ा कार्यक्रम विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर में भी हुआ। श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानन्द जी को ‘विदाई पार्टी’ (send-off) भी इन्हीं दिनो दी गयी। शिलाँग आश्रम में मेरा प्रथम व्याख्यान भी हुआ। बहुत सारे भक्तों से वार्तालाप हुआ। प्रायः सभी भक्त मेरे साथ बांगला में और आपस में सिल्हेटी भाषा मे बात करते थे, जिसे समझने में मुझे काफी कठिनाई होती थी।
अगला दिन रविवार, १४ अप्रैल बांगला सालगिराह ‘नोबो बोर्षो’। प्रातः काल से ही भक्तों की बड़ी भीड़ लगी थी। उन सब के साथ मिलना हुआ, परिचय हुआ। सुबह- शाम विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर में उत्सव का अंतिम दिन मनाया गया। एक विख्यात गायक का सुंदर गायन सुबह हुआ और शाम को कई स्वामीजी लोगों के सुंदर व्याख्यान!
शिलाँग पहुँचकर मुझे केवल १२ दिन हुए थे, (उनमे से ६ दिन चंडीगढ़ की यात्रा मे खर्च हुए) किन्तु लग रहा था कि मैं यहाँ कई बरसों से हूँ।

स्वामी योगात्मानन्द वेदान्त सोसाइटी आफ प्रोविडेन्स के मंत्री एवं अध्यक्ष हैं। ये 1976 में रामकृष्ण मिशन में शामिल हुए और 1986 में संन्यास की दीक्षा ली। 20 वर्ष तक रामकृष्ण मिशन नागपुर, में कार्य करने के उपरांत रामकृष्ण मिशन शिलांग मेघालय, के अध्यक्ष के रूप में कार्यरत रहे। तदुपरांत आप सन् 2001के ग्रीष्म ऋतु में अमेरिका में वेदांत सोसायटी आफ प्रोविडेन्स के मंत्री के पद पर आए।


The Music of the Brahmaputra Valley.

An appreciation of culture helps immensely if we wish to understand a people, a society. For the person who comes newly to a region, or a State, several aspects of the ways of life of a place are often so novel that she finds herself exposed to a different world view altogether. This is the reason that well travelled people find such delight in the cultural richness and diversity of the state of Assam.

Geographical location is undoubtedly the single most important factor in shaping culture. It is geography that determines how accessible a place is, and this in turn, determines whether it is accessible to migrants from different lands, people who bring with them the influences of their own cultures, and their own ways of life. Geography also determines to a great extent how attractive a place is for potential migrants. Is the place well watered, is the climate suitable for agriculture and for living?

The location of Assam is unique in the sense that it is situated at the cusp of two great civilizations, the Indian and the East and SouthEast Asian. It is therefore inevitable that it should reflect the influences of both of them in various spheres. Till the other day, Assam, bound by heavily forested hills, and one of the biggest river systems of the world, was largely inaccessible to the rest of India, as well as to the lands to its east. But these fertile valleys that bask in the mellow sunshine of a moderate climate could not fail to attract migrants from great distances. The difficulty of the terrain leading into this golden land however ensured that historically, these migrations have taken place slowly. These migrants brought with them the culture of the lands of their origin. Because of the slow pace of migration, the assimilation process of each of these influences threw up newer creations, while retaining the flavour of the original. Over time, these mixed and melded with the local culture, to produce something that remains unique to this day. So whether it is cuisine, dress, textiles or literature, music or indeed the many other facets of traditions that manifest themselves in our everyday life, there is always something distinctive about the cultural markers of this land.

The musical ancestry of migrants is often a kind of race memory of the land from which they have come, even centuries after the actual migration has taken place. Music is the nostalgia, the recollection that migrants carry with them as remembrances of the land they have left behind for ever. In Assam, the various strands of its rich repertoire of music, both the vocal and the instrumental heritage, glisten with those memories. The melodies of this land are a seamless intermingling of the airs of the rest of India, particularly Northern and Eastern India, and also, on the other hand, of the many tribal cultures that surround the valley, in the hills of the region. There is also the Oriental aspect. These two latter influences are seen in the more staccato nature of the melodies of this part of the world, compared to the music of the rest of India, which is based on “meends”, or glides. Also, the melodies of the ethnic music of Assam are usually based on a descending scale, unlike the folk and Raag based melodies of much of the rest of the country. The mingling of the influences over the centuries has ensured a composite melodic end product that is as attractive as it is unique.

The music of Assam is rich in both the traditional as well as the folk kinds. Both these categories are often an accompaniment to dance, though they are also performed without this pairing. Among the most luminous of traditional music forms are those that spring from the Sattriya culture. These Sattras, or monasteries, were established by the great Vaishnavite saint, Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1568) and his primary disciple, Madhabdev (1489-1596) Sankardeva himself wrote many works of devotion, among them the Kirtan Ghosa, Bhaonas and Naats (dramatic works) and so on. The Borgeets, or Great Songs that he wrote are performed with great piety even today. These are effulgent with devotion, and are based on Raags whose nomenclature is different from both the Carnatic and Hindusthani systems, and also a complex system of Taals or rhythmic patterns. The lyrics are in the sweet language known as Brajawali, a mixture of the Assamese of the time, and the language of Braj. The accompanying instruments of the time were the khol and the taal, or cymbals, but today, recitals of Sattra music are accompanied by the taanpura, violin and flute as well.

It is not the Vaishnavite faith alone that has beautiful devotional songs. Several other deities are worshipped through music. The Mother Goddess, in various forms, has always been very important here. Ai Naams extol her virtues and glories, and are usually sung by women.

Another category of traditional songs are the OjaPalis, where a group of men, and, these days, women too, divided into the main singer/narrator and the accompanying chorus, play out a dramatic musical narration, complete with basic dance steps and hand gestures. Small cymbals accompany the songs.

Muslims have their own songs of piety and devotion in Assam, known as Jikirs. These often sing of moral values and are accompanied by hand claps.

Assam is very rich in folk music, of which there is a large variety to be found here. In the Westernmost districts of the State, in Goalpara and Dhubri, for instance, one finds the luminous Goalpariya folk songs. These are related to the river songs of nearby Bangladesh and North Bengal, though their melodic development and vocabulary is different. These are the regions of the great wandering elephant herds. It is no wonder that “elephant songs ”have such a distinctive position in the folk music of this area. Boatmen’s songs from these musically rich districts are also very evocative in both their melodic and rhythmic schemes.

The adjacent districts also have a rich repertoire of folk music, Kamrupiya Loka Geet being highly melodious. There are also some intriguing categories, such as the “Moh Kheda Geet”of Barpeta which is sung by groups that fan out with burning torches, to chase away mosquitoes. The boat songs of Barpeta “Nao Khelor Geet”sung during boat races, are vigorous and energetic. There are several other categories of folk music, heard up and down the valley. These include the Tokari Geet, the Bongeet, the soothing lullabies or Nisukonigeet. Besides, there are the group songs such as Biya Naams (wedding songs) which are often extempore. These can be sad, as well as merry.

The best known folk form of Assam is the Bihu, an expression of joy and merriment, which is today a dance that is synonymous with the people of Assam. It is a dance celebrating fecundity and fertility, and is part of the Bihu festivals of April and January. The Bihu of Spring, especially, is a joyous one, with dancing and singing galore. The songs that accompany these dances are an integral part of the whole performance. The rhythm encompasses a vibrant double beat that is guaranteed to set feet tapping, and bodies swaying. The lyrics are often quite risqué, and depict the boy wooing the girl, and the girl’s teasing reply. Indeed, the whole tone of the songs is lighthearted, with lots of teasing and double entendres, guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of the audiences. These songs are full of stunning descriptions of nature, evoking the lush beauty of the fields, the rivers, the trees and foliage all around. An intriguing aspect of these lyrics is the fact that they lend themselves to extempore creations quite readily. Many events of a contemporaneous nature are often incorporated into these short stanzas, as are teasing references to the audiences, especially if they are too inhibited to join in the dancing and singing!

Indeed, every tribe of Assam’s multi-ethnic community has its own distinctive music The Bodos celebrate “Baishagu”with song and dance. The Bagurumba dance, accompanied by song, describes the beauties of Nature. Every tribe celebrates Spring in its own way, with its own songs and dances, which enrich the composite culture of Assam. The Adivasi people of the tea gardens have their lively and graceful Jhumur dances and songs.

Among the traditional instruments of Assam are the flute made of bamboo, which is ubiquitous in the rural areas. There are, besides, the stringed folk instruments such as the Ektara and Dotara, which yield tunes that are resonant with feeling. There are also instruments such as the pepa or pipe, sometimes made from the horn of a buffalo, and the gogona or Jew’s harp. Among the percussion instruments are the khol, mainly used for music of a religious nature, and the more secular dhol, the nagara, and the bamboo clappers. It is to be noted that these are all made of material found in abundance in nature. The Ciphung Bahi of the Bodos is a long bamboo flute, played during festivals.


Contemporary music in Assam draws on this solid musical foundation. The amalgamation of various categories, and also more contemporary influences from outside the region, has resulted in some beautiful outpourings of music. Renowned artistes such as Bhupen Hazarika, Zubeen Garg, Papon and Kalpana Patowary, who have been nourished by the musical streams of this land, owe much to this rich heritage, which has nurtured their genius to produce their remarkable musical outpourings.

Marriage Rituals of the Tribes of Meghalaya

Meghalaya literally meaning the ‘abode of clouds’ is a small hilly state in the North eastern part of the country. Its landscape is not only dotted with green hills, deep valleys, crystal clear rivers and rivulets and gushing waterfalls but also has several natural wonders such as the longest sandstone cave (krempuri), the wettest place on earth called Sohra or Cherrapunji, multitudes of root bridges, the cleanest village in Asia called Mawlynong, a variety of flora and fauna, which have all made this state one of the most sought after tourist destination of the world. This tiny state has a matrilineal society endowed with a vibrant culture that pulsates at the core of it.

The Khasis or the Khriems, and the Jaintias or the Pnars belong to the Mongolian race while the Garos belong to the Tibeto Burman race and call themselves as A’chiks. The people of Meghalaya are rich in cultural heritage and one of unique tradition is the matrilineal system where the lineage and inheritance are traced through women. For example, a boy or as girl born of a Khasi mother belong to the family of the mother. The property is inherited by the youngest daughter or the Ka Khadduh who is the custodian of ancestral property. She cannot dispose or sell the property without the consent and approval of the maternal uncle and the brothers. The matrilineal system of society involves a very close relationship between religion, social life, economy and political life of the people. Dance and other festivals are celebrated by all the three tribes throughout the year and are mostly related to the sowing or the harvesting season and also as a thanksgiving gesture to the God almighty. These traditional festivals are a way to maintain the balance between man, his culture, his natural environment and the ecosystem.

The foundation of the Khasi society is based on the concept of Kur and Kha. Ka Tip kur ka Tip kha is a respectful recognition of the basic social structure, which consists of either maternal or paternal relationships. All those who are descendants of the same ancestral mother belong to the same Kur or clan and members of the father’s clan are not Kur but Kha. It enjoins all to know and respect each other, to recognize one’s relation on both sides and to give due regard to them. It involves an intricate network of kinship relationship and sentiments, obligations, convictions and beliefs that weave the Khasi society together. Each clan or Kur has its triad- ka Tawbli, the ancestral mother, U Thawlang, the ancestral father and U Suidria, the eldest brother or the eldest son of Ka Tawbli who is the ancestral maternal uncle of the clan.

Traditionally the origin of the Khasis is stated to be from the seven huts or seven families (HynniepTrep HynniesSkun) who were the progenitor of the whole Khasi race and from them the organization of the Khasi and the inter-clan relationship is based. Each hut or trep signifies a Kur. Kur or clan multiplied and increased in numbers out of inter-marriage among the different Kurs. Each Kur traced its descent to Ka Tawbli Tynrai or root ancestors. The kur is subdivided into jaids, which claim Ka Tawbli tymmen or old ancestress or their ancestress. The jaids are further subdivided into a number of kpohs, which claim Ka Tawbli Khyraw or young ancestress or their ancestress. Each Kapoh is further subdivided into a number of families or ing and belong to the same jaid. Religion too starts within the Kur and religion plays a predominant role not only in the social life but also in the political life of the people. Though over 70% of the population in the state follow the Christian faith, but Christians or non-Christians alike observe the Khasi customary law and adhere to the Khasi idea of life. Through migration some Jaids might have changed their names but as long as they belong to the common ancestors, they cannot have an inter-marriage.

The family or the Ka Ing forms part of the sub clan called the Ka kpoh (sibling) and a number of sub-clans form Ka kur ka jait or those originating from the same ancestress. Those having a direct lineage to the father’s side are called Ki Kha ki Man or cousins. Family in the past was a joint family that consisted a father, mother, brothers and sisters not yet married, sons and daughters who were not married and also the grandchildren. At present there is a kind of change taking place in the family, which now consists of only the father, the mother and the children, which is more or less like a nuclear family that does not include other members having close relations. The mother is still considered the custodian of the family rites and a family priestess although in the task of sacrifice and other religious celebrations of the house it is the male members that play the most important role. The mother, the maternal uncle and the father are revered as the makers of the clan. Children receive a lot of guidance from the father and the maternal uncle or the brother of the mother.

MARRIAGE RITUALS OF THE KHASIS

Marriage is considered as one of the oldest social institution. Throughout human history it has been endorsed by religion, laws, social norms etc. Though marriage ceremonies, rules, and roles may differ from one society to another, marriage is considered a cultural universal, which means that it is present as a social institution in all cultures. It is a bond between a man and a woman. A bond for cooperation and understanding to build a new home. Among the Khasis too, a marriage is a bond which connects two Kurs, the Kur of the woman and the Kur of the man.

The traditional Khasi system of marriage is quite simple. Both love and arranged marriages are permissible. Marriage is prohibited between people who are related by blood which means that clans who descend from common ancestors cannot marry as it is believed that it is an incest or a great sin. As it is a taboo, this system is quite rare. Marriage also cannot take place between a man and a woman whose father and mother have blood relations. It is a great sin to marry within the related clans. Those who go against this basic principle are ex-communicated from their kinsfolk. In a Khasi marriage, the husband is the son from one clan or Kur who marries a daughter from another clan where there is no blood relations.

Therefore marriage among the Khasis takes place between two different clans. Marriage among the Khasis is very sacred; the most remarkable feature of the Khasi marriage is that it is a usual practice for the husband to live with his wife in his mother-in-law’s house, and it is not for him to take his bride home, as it is the case in other patriarchal communities. In the past there was only arranged marriage and love marriage was nearly unknown, these days however love marriages or free choice marriages are more prevalent after due approval by the family.

Before the man decides to marry he must first of all examine the pros and cons because after the marriage the man goes to the woman’s house and becomes U Khun ki briew or son of other people. He also has to have some earnings for himself so that he is not looked down upon. He is expected to earn for his Kur termed as Kamai ing Kur and the remaining period of his life he devotes to earn for his wife and children or Kamai ing khun. Proposal for marriage comes from the boy’s side with the approval of his maternal uncles as well as the relatives of his father. They also check if the girl has a respectable family background. After elaborate examination, the elderly men will go to the girl’s house to ask for her hand in marriage with the boy. The engagement ceremony or Pynhiar Synjat thereafter takes place. Parental and maternal uncles of the boy goes to the girl’s house. Female members are however not permitted to be a part of this process. The engagement ceremony that is conducted by the elderly males can be with either a gold or lead ring depending on the capability of the party concerned. The period between the engagement and the marriage is not more than three months. If the engagement is broken by either party it is considered as Klim ka Synjat or adultery over the engagement which is almost like the breaking of the covenant of God.

There are two types of marriages among the Khasis – the first one is ‘Ka pynhior synjat’ that is exchanging of rings between a man and a woman who would be husband and wife and in the second type of marriage
called ‘Ka lamdoh’ there is no exchanging of rings. After the wedding day is fixed, the boy leaves his home to his new home or his would be wife’s home, after receiving the blessings of all his maternal and paternal aunts and other relatives and friends. Female relatives from the boy’s side are again not allowed to go along with him and only his uncles, male relatives and friends go along with him.

As a part of the tradition, a portion of the bride’s wedding attire as well as jewellery is given by the groom. The bride dresses herself in traditional Khasi outfit for her wedding day. She wears a Dhara or Jainsem as it is known in local language. The groom too dons a traditional outfit for his special day which is known as Jymphong. Jymphong is basically a long coat without any sleeves or collar, and is fastened with the aid of two straps attached in the front. Now-adays most grooms also team up their Jymphong with Sarongs, and some of them also wear turban on their heads. Both the bride and the groom team up their wedding outfits with apt accessories for their special day. The bride accessorizes her outfit with various ornaments such as necklaces and earrings made from silver or gold. She also wears a gold pendant known as Kynjri Ksiar.

In a marriage ceremony there must be a maternal uncle (U Kni) from the bride’s side and a maternal uncle on the groom’s side as well. They are called ‘Ki Ksiangs’ or the negotiator who will cite the marriage ceremony. On the marriage day as the groom and his entourage are on the way to the bride’s house, at the half way point the party is received by representatives from the girl’s side to welcome them. An exchange of betel nuts or Kwai with vines and lime takes place. On reaching the girl’s house the ceremony begins. The couple take their seat side by side and the whole audience witnesses the solemnisation. The spokesman recites from each side and declares the marriage of the bride and the groom. The Ksiang from the male side introduces the groom, upon which the opposite spokesman welcomes and explains that he has come to stay with his wife, and to live with her through bright and dark days, as well as through sickness and health. The Ksiang from the girl’s side rises up and agrees that the marital union has now come to be solemnly pledged in the presence of the congregation gathered. As a token of the marriage link, the priest pours libation or fermented brew from the two respective vessels. After this, he takes three pieces of dried fish and addresses the Goddess Synchar to bless and guide the couple. The ritual ends with the placing of the dried fish upside down on the roof of the house to be removed only after the birth of the baby of the couple. All relatives’ hands over their gifts in cash or kind and after the cutting of the wedding cake made of grounded rice, scrumptious meals are feasted upon by all present. The next day morning the boy leaves for his home for some time and returns back. After around three days the boy takes his wife along with her relatives, both males and females to his mother’s house and where she blesses her new daughter-in-law to increase her own Kur and applies a little oil on her head as a symbolic gesture. Mutual visits between the two Kurs starts from here on.

For a Khasi, procreation after marriage is very important. A Khasi does not believe to live without children or without a Jaid. To live without a Jaid is a curse. Therefore to expand one’s family after marriage to a Khasi is thought to fulfil one of the purposes of life on earth – to multiply and expand the clan. A childless couple are free to separate which is always performed in the presence of senior members of the community. When a husband and wife feel that they cannot live happily together any longer, they can divorce through mutual consent in the presence of the Headman. The procedure is simple, both the husband and the wife hold in their hands five cowries or five pieces of betel nut each. The husband hands over the contents of his hand to that of his wife. The later returns them with those of her own and the husband takes them and casts them away from his hand. Both husband and wife cannot remarry until they are separated.

Thus marriage for the Khasi is sacrosanct and is therefore solemnised with all the revered rituals and ceremonies. But with the passage of time such traditional marriages have become rare and no longer a common practice as most Christian couples are adopting the elaborate church weddings. But though a traditional wedding may have become exceptional especially among the urban city dwellers but it not totally unheard of even in the present times of today specially in the rural areas.

Khasi Philosophy Expressed Through Dance, Music, and Poetry

Philosophy is a term coined by the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras-(c 570-495 BC).It is a study of the fundamental questions connected with reality and our existence and act as a guiding principle for our thoughts and way of life.

Philosophy is expressed in varied ways in all the civilizations in the world throughout the ages. Before we learned to read and write we expressed our philosophy in our prayers, songs and dances and other art forms. This Paper explores this aspect of philosophy

Khasi philosophy is based on our firm belief that we come into this world to earn righteousness and walk on the path of Truth, (Kamai Ia Ka Hok), to be aware of the divinity within to be able to connect with the divinity beyond, (Tip riew-Tip Blei) and to know our agnates and cognates, our maternal side and paternal side and conduct our social behavior accordingly, (Tip Kur-Tip-Kha).All the three precepts are the base of the religion and philosophy of the Niam Khasi -Niam Tre of the Khasi-Pnar of Meghalaya.

I begin with the discussion of the annual thanksgiving dance, Shad Suk Mynsiem, the Dance of Peaceful Hearts of the Khasis held in April each year. Besides rituals, dance is an integral part, in all the religious festivals of Meghalaya. The Shad Suk Mynsiem is the only form of community worship among those who still believe in the indigenous religion, Niam Khasi. Otherwise prayer is a personal communication between Man and God, U Blei, in the simplest of language anywhere, any time. The Khasis believe that every house is a temple and every inch of the earth is worthy of prayer and every good word, thought and deed is an offering to U Blei and a form of worship unsurpassed by any other. U Blei is the Great Divinity, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent, imageless and formless. There are only three main ceremonies-Naming, Marriage and Death (the last rites) which each family perform when the occasion arises.

Dance is the truest form of expression of a community. To understand a people one must be part of their festivals and watch and understand their dance. Among the important festivals in Meghalaya we have the Chipiah Dance and Behdeinkhlam of the Pnars of Jaintias Hills, the Shad Nongkrem and the Shad Suk Mynsiem of the Khasis, the Wangala festival of the Garos. This article focuses on the Shad Suk Mynsiem of the Khasis.


This spectacular dance is celebrated in Shillong and all over the state in the months of April and May every year. The first one is held in Shillong, in Lympung Weiking. The maidens gloriously attired in traditional finery, dance to the music of drums, flutes and cymbals. Their movement is slow and studied, their eyes cast down, their feet firmly gripping the ground, their faces calm and peaceful because it is a dance of worship.

The female dancers are all virgins and they symbolize Purity-one of the most important goals of our earthly life-ka jingim ka ba khuid bad ba suba (a life that is clean and unblemished). The men as grandly attired dance around the maidens, their movement confident and energetic as they wave their yak tail whisks and flashing swords. They symbolize Protection, protection of the purity of the entire race. The maidens are referred to as ‘thei sotti’- thei means girl and sotti is pure. This is meant to remind us of the Age of Innocence and Truth, Sotti Juk, a period in the history of Mankind that one must try to recapture to the best one’s ability and to nurture the divinity within each one of us which is essential for leading a life of honour and integrity. This is the essence of this annual festival of dance, Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem. In one visual sweep, as one watches the dance, the philosophy of an entire community is unraveled.

The music changes from time to time symbolizing that life is a movement of different, ever-changing hues. The dancers perform, with full respect and sincerity, to each beat with peace and understanding knowing that it has its own time and glory and will soon give way to yet another mood breaking the monotony, adding to the excitement. The dance encapsulates Life where every experience, bad and good, traverses through one’s life and one has to accept it with grace and humility for everything comes from the Almighty, U Blei who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, imageless and formless. The brilliant colours that are worn represent Joy and the positive energy that one must always focus on and radiate to bring about all that is good and true. A good soul is an ever joyful soul for it has complete faith in God.

During the three days of the festival the people show their gratitude to U Blei for all the blessings that He has showered on them throughout the year, for the abundant yield of crops and rich harvest, for all the fine clothes, gold and silver that they wear during the dance. Each item, they believe, is a sign of His blessing and generosity, His reward for their hard and sincere work and efforts. That is why one sees the extravagant and lavish display of the most exquisite jewellery and clothing. Traditionally, the Khasis are not attuned to displaying their material wealth. It is not part of their culture and way of life and thought. This dance gives them an opportunity to do so as a mark of respect and gratitude to God.

The festival commences with a prayer said by an elder in the Seng Khasi Hall in Mawkhar in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. The dancers stand in a row with their swords and whisks by their side. The senior members of the Seng Khasi stand on either side of them. The elder who will pray, along with other elders, face the dancers while the musicians and the flag carrier stand on the left.

The prayer in brief is as follows –‘O God Lord, Master, Creator, Today the time has come as scheduled to set forth, to rejoice, to dance/Lord Creator with hearts filled with peace and contentment we bow to Thee, We bow to Thee in gratitude for Your love and mercy, blessings and care throughout the year. We set forth to dance according to our religion and culture based on Truth and Righteousness, We aim and pray that we may engage only in what is good and true so that our land may prosper, progress and shine according to tradition So that we may gain wisdom and learning, wealth and prosperity, prestige and honour, etiquette and exemplary behaviour according to thy will/Bless us all-the dancers, the musicians, our kith and kin, our friends and well wishers and all those who will come and be with us, Give your blessings O Lord so that the festival be one of peace and splendor, joy and harmony.
This is followed by the collective prayer in which each one gathered there declares himself a good Khasi “who is well versed about one’s cognates and agnates ”and who will adhere to the rules and regulations of tradition as they set forth to worship U Blei in a dance of reverence and jubilation. The prayer is said on all three days of the festival at the Iing Seng, Seng Khasi Hall in Mawkhar, Shillong.

The prayers, too, encapsulate the philosophy of the Khasis based on Man’s deep connection with God as he expresses all his thoughts, his hopes, aims and achievements to the Creator in the simplest of language. It shows his sincere belief that the Almighty and His love is all-encompassing. It exemplifies Man’s deep gratitude to the Almighty based on the belief that everything comes from Him and must be shared and blessings are, therefore, showered upon one and all with whomsoever one interacts with-including the audience, from far and near who have come to the festival. They are also blessed by their presence on this occasion of joy and prayerful gratefulness to the Creator.

After the collective prayer by all those present, the flag carriers lead the procession, the musicians play the Ksing Lynti as the dancers and the rest of those present walk behind the flag and musicians till they reach the venue, Lympung Weiking, one and a half kilometers away. Once they reach Lympung Weiking the procession takes three full rounds of the grounds after which a prayer is said and the Seng Khasi flag is hoisted. The musicians then play the beat, Ksing Lum Paid to announce that the dance is ready to begin. This is followed by the Ksing Mastieh as the male dancers dance while the maidens are engaged in the final touching up of their costume, hair and make-up and then slowly make their way to the ground. The dance then begins with the Ksing Padiah. There are six different kinds of beats, Ksing Nalai, Ksing Padiah, Ksing Dum Dum, Ksing Klang, Ksing Mastieh and Ksing Lynti.

What beat is played as the dance progresses depends on the conductor-u nonglam ksing-he keeps changing the beat which finally, ends, with the awesome shad mastieh performed by the boys and men. This dance of joy, jubilation and victory represents the success and culmination of the day’s celebrations and a show of reverence to U Blei who made it so for without His blessings nothing is possible.

The attire and the jewellery worn by the dancers are part of the history of the people. The intricate and detailed designs speak of influences that that have come from beyond these hills. Gold and silver are used along with coral. Coral is the only stone used probably for its hardiness and supposed qualities to protect one from negative influences and other medicinal benefits including curing infertility. The girls wear long- sleeved, high necked velvet blouses, silken wraps and the dhara. The main pieces of jewellery are the pansngiat, the crown traditionally embellished with the fragrant cactus flower, tiew lasubon. This flower blooms with a rarity that indicates its beauty and exclusiveness, like Purity. On their necks they wear a choker, khonopad and on the arms and wrists, the taad and mohu, the long, multi-stringed silver sash drapes the body from shoulder to the waist. On their hair styled into a chignon bun, the sai khyllong hangs right down to the lower back. She is covered from head to foot with the fine clothes and jewelry for she worships with her head, her heart and her soul.

The men wear a beautifully embroidered sleeveless jacket(jainphong), a dhoti(jainboh) and a turban(jainspong). His turban is embellished with the thuia, feathers of birds, depending on the area the dancer comes from. It is commonly believed that it stands for manliness. More importantly, however, birds signify Truth, Honour, Strength and Freedom. Birds are closest to the sky above, that is their realm, this enables Man to communicate with the Almighty and also attain celestial wisdom and power to complete his duty on earth while he dances in worship. The quiver, also a wondrous piece of jewelry has three arrows in it. ‘Nam Blei, ‘Nam Thawlang, ‘Nam Iawbei. This represents the trinity of the three most potent influences of his life-God, the First Paternal Ancestor, the First Maternal Ancestress.The three arrows are meant to protect himself and his family, his clan and community, his hima (state) and country.

The Shad Suk Mynsiem in Shillong is followed by dances in the village greens all over these hills. Though these dances are on a smaller scale the fervor and energy is made more special by the quaint and picturesque settings and the charming simplicity of the participants. There they dance “like no one’s watching/like no one’s listening/like they have never been hurt/like it’s heaven on earth.”

We are totally connected with the Divine in the dance. The religion is based on the precept Tip Briew -Tip Blei. Its literal translation is Know Man-Know God which actually means godliness is also within us and we must know it and connect with it at all times to enable us to live a life correctness and virtue.

The religion and philosophy is based on Truth as the Ultimate Reality and Respect for all God’s creations animate and inanimate. From the highest mountains to the smallest rivulets, from giant trees and plants to the littlest blade of grass, animals and birds of all sizes, flowers of all hues and scent and all the peoples of the world irrespective of caste, creed, colour class. We are not animists. We show respect to everything in Nature because we revere U Blei, the Creator.

Etiquette is also linked to respect and it is, for the Khasis, not merely social grace. It is also an integral part of our way of life and philosophy that when we respect all God’s creations we are revering U Blei, the Creator. The book of etiquette and ethics by Rangbah Radhon Sing Berry Kharwanlang is a literary masterpiece, Ka Jingsneng Tymmen, was first published in 1901 by my maternal great-grand father, U Jeebon Roy Mairom in his printing press Ri Khasi Press, established with the specific purpose of publishing works on indigenous literature. I had the privilege of translating it into English in 1997 and it was published in the same press and now the subsequent editions have been done by Vivekananda Institute of Culture, Guwahati. The Teachings of Elders was handed down from time immemorial through the oral tradition until 1843 when the Welsh missionary Reverend Thomas Jones introduced the Roman Alphabet.

The Teachings of Elders consists of a hundred and nine stanzas with perfect rhyme and meter and written in exquisite Khasi.I quote a few lines :

Whatever you now whatever you gain, 
 It’s useless if not by Truth sustained;
  Even if very rich you become 
 If no one respects you, what use is the pomp?
 All superficial pomp and ostentation;
  Undermines Truth and is the root of destruction; 
 Once your character is destroyed;
  Whatever you achieve no one will applaud.

I end with these lines from the song, To Sngew, To Sngap, from the Seng Khasi book of songs, Ki Jingrwai Seng Khasi which expresses with depth and beauty the Khasi philosophy of life and living. It was written by Rangbah Nalak Sing Iangblah in early twentieth century soon after the Seng Khasi was established in 1899.

“La duk te lei, sha! La shitom te lei ?
  Burom kaba tam hangne ha pyrthei.” 
 Even if you are poor, even if you are suffering how does it matter? 
 Honour is of paramount importance in this life of ours.” 

These beautiful lines are an integral part of Khasi philosophy.

Ramakrishna Reborn?

-William Page

William Page, nicknamed Bill, was born in 1938 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Raised as a Congregationalist, in his early teens he became interested in Buddhism and Hinduism. In 1958 he met Swami Akhilananda, the founder of the Vedanta societies in Boston and in Providence, Rhode Island. This experience solidified his commitment to Sri Ramakrishna Bill became one of the members of Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand (RVAT) in 2004. He was posted to Taipei, Taiwan, where he served as a Chinese Mandarin translator. Subsequently he got into teaching in overseas American and international schools in Taipei, Singapore, Iran, and Luxembourg. He is the author of a collection of short stories on religious themes, like ‘The Nirvana Experiments’ and ‘Other Tales of Asia’, and has contributed articles to Prabuddha Bharata, The Vedanta Kesari, American Vedantist, and Global Vedanta. Recently he has done editing work for Advaita Ashrama and The Vedanta Kesari. E-mail: wpage108@gmail.com.

Kolkata, 15 July 2096

It was when a little Finnish girl began speaking her first words that the world first got a hint that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the great nineteenthcentury Indian saint, had been reborn.
The little girl’s name was Anni Makinen. She lived in the town of Kittila, in northwestern Finland, not far from the Swedish border, with her parents, Jussi and Leena. Jussi was a computer engineer working for Nokia; Leena was a housewife. In 2090, Anni was two years old, an adorable, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl with nothing unusual about her. Except for one thing. When she spoke her first words, they were in Bengali.

Her parents were mystified. They didn’t know that the words were Bengali. To them they sounded like gibberish. The neighbors thought they sounded vaguely Indian. After some searching, Jussi managed to contact Asit Banerjee, a Bengali businessman who lived in a nearby town. When he met the Makinens, Mr. Banerjee was amazed. Anni was a little chatterbox, and once she started talking, she went on and on in a stream of fluent Bengali.
“Well, ”Mr. Banerjee reported, “she’s speaking Bengali. But it’s not Kolkata Bengali. It’s a rural sort of Bengali, the kind a country bumpkin would speak, and somewhat old-fashioned.”
“What is she saying?”her parents inquired.

“Oh! Don’t ask me, ”Mr. Banerjee replied, throwing up his hands. “It’s all about religion, and I’m an atheist. You need to telephone the Vedanta society in Helsinki. The swami there is a Bengali, and he can tell you everything you need to know.”
The Makinens did that, but they couldn’t reach the swami. His name was Swami Bhavishyananda, and he was visiting India. So they left a message on his answering machine. By the time he got back to Finland, a month had passed.
But when he learned that they had tried to contact him, and why, Swami Bhavishyananda’s curiosity
was piqued. He knew about the prophecy that Sri Ramakrishna had made, that he would have to be reborn in two hundred years, somewhere northwest of Kolkata. (See Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play, p. 360.) Sri Ramakrishna had made the prophecy in 1885, so two hundred years meant sometime around 2085. Anni had been born in 2088. Sri Ramakrishna’s contemporaries had assumed that he might be reborn in the Bengali city of Burdwan. But northwest of Kolkata covers a very large territory indeed, and if you go far enough you might end up in Finland.
So Swami Bhavishyananda went to Kittila to investigate.

The Makinens welcomed him warmly. By then Anni had stopped speaking Bengali and was starting to speak Finnish. But when she saw the swami, her face lit up. “Sadhu, ”she said. “Nomoskar.”And she got down on her little knees and prostrated.
The subsequent conversation, as later recounted by Swami Bhavishyananda, went like this. It was conducted in Bengali:

Swami: Hello, Anni, do you know who I am?
Anni: You are sadhu.
Swami: Do you know who Sri Ramakrishna is?
Anni (squirming uncomfortably): I know. But that was then. Now is now.
Swami (gently): Can you tell me who Sri Ramakrishna is?
Anni (after a long pause): That was my old name.
Swami (still gently): Are you Sri Ramakrishna, Anni?
Anni: I was once. Now I am Anni.
Swami (suddenly prostrating himself before her, bursting into tears): O Lord! We have been waiting for two hundred years! What is your mission this time?
Anni (changing her tone; severely): Don’t do that. I’m just a little girl. Give me time to grow up. You’ll know everything when the time comes.
After that, she refused to speak further. But Swami Bhavishyananda couldn’t let it end there. He prostrated himself before her and begged her to bless him. Anni looked exasperated, but when he wouldn’t get up off the floor, she relented. “All right, ”she said in Bengali, and now her tone was tender. “I bless you, Dhruba Maharaj. You will attain the goal.”She raised her little hand in blessing.
Swami Bhavishyananda’s face lit up with joy, and when he left the house he was fairly floating on air. When he arrived back in Helsinki, they say his face was shining like the sun. His premonastic name had been Dhruba.

And that was the last time Anni spoke Bengali. From then on she settled into life as a normal little Finnish girl.
Her parents were relieved. “It was crazy, that Bengali stuff, ”her mother said later. “But she finally stopped, and from then on, all she’s spoken is Finnish. It’s a big relief. We were afraid those Indians might want to take her to New Delhi or somewhere, and we want to keep her here with us.”
Swami Bhavishyananda reported his interview to the trustees at Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission north of Kolkata. Those wise old men deliberated, but in the end they decided to leave things alone. “Let her grow up, ”declared the President of the Order. “Thakur has his own plan and purpose. We mustn’t meddle, lest we upset the applecart. If she really is Thakur, he will reveal himself at the proper time and place.”
Now it is 2096, and Anni is eight years old. So far as anybody can see, she’s just a normal Finnish girl. She goes to the local Evangelical Lutheran Sunday school and is devoted to Jesus. But her parents have noticed that on their rare visits to Helsinki, Anni likes to go to Little India, the neighborhood where most of the Indians live. At one Indian shop she purchased a small image of Kali, and when she saw a sweets shop she went straight for the jalebis.