Northeast India has over 220 ethnic groups and an equal number of dialects with rich and vibrant culture. At present prospective, if we explore and unravel, we shall find that the tradition of North East is very much related to the rest of Bharat.
Lokmanthan, the churn of the nation, is a journey embarked upon by Prajna Pravah to seek the cultural and traditional treasures hidden in the various corners of our country. Lokmanthan is that intended churn which would provide a chance to all ethnic groups and communities to bring forth their traditional knowledge in various spheres which are entwined in their cultural practices. It is a platform to all thinkers and practitioners for whom the national interests are primary. The very concept of Lokmnthan is conceived as a “Colloquium of Nation First Thinkers and Practitoners’ that offers a common platform to not just intellectuals but all those who have excelled in their respective fields and contributed to realizing the idea of Rashtra (Nationhood).
For the last ten centuries India was in a state of insularity facing political and social precariousness which not only had an impact on its social and religious values, but also knowledge and economic prosperity. However, the essence of our Rashtriyata lays not in religious, political or administrative apparatus but on an immutable culture binding masses across the country. This is an attempt to connect intellectuals and practitioners in connecting the present to the past, and thus create a future which can secure our cultural heritage.
Lokmanthan was first organised in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh in the year 2016 and the theme was “Decolonising of Indian Minds” which is an attempt to reinventing the national self-consciousness and linking the young generation to the lost roots of our culture. Similarly in 2018 Lokmanthan was organised in Ranchi, Jarkhand with the theme “Bharat Bodh-Jana Gana Mana”. Through Bharat Bodh, it is to remind that Bharat was well known throughout the world for its economic prosperity and philosophy, and was rich culturally and economically.
Lokmanthan 2022 is being organised in Guwahati, Assam at Srimanta Sankardev Kalashetra and the theme is “Lok Parampara”. North East in context of Bharat is the “Isahan Kon” of the geographical region. It is the land of rising sun and connects north with the east which is considered as one of the holy place. Earth magnetic field travels from North to South and Sun magnetic field travels from East to West. These two magnetic field superimposition happens in the North East and is our believe that our gods are based in this region, Himalaya.
Since ages past, the North Eastern region of India has either been disregarded, unexplored, misunderstood, or inaccurately portrayed in both ethos and sentiments on one hand, and on the basis of theme, contextual, and logical reasons on the other hand. The widely held belief has been that the North Eastern region of our nation not only differs significantly in its Mongoloid details, but also holds a separatist, nonconformist, and dissident perspective on its historical past and cultural present. The eight North East States including the seven sister states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and the eight-brother state in Sikkim have been obtrusive examples of the other’s blurred or ignorant gaze and the insider’s distorted or misunderstood perspective.
However, North East from the very Vedic period is very much bonded with Bharat and have given birth to many famous heroes. In Kalikapuran it is mentioned that Bhagwan Parashuram to evade his ills took bath in present Parashuram Kunda which is situated in Lohit River near Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh. It is mentioned in Mahabharat that King Bhagadat was the king of Pragjyotishpur. The name Pragjyotishpur was mentioned more than 20 times in Mahabharat. Undivided North East was known as Pragjyotishpur which means “Ancient” (Prag) “Jyotish” (Astrology) : City of Ancient Astrology”. In ‘Vishnu Puran’ the war between Krishna and Narakasur, King of Pragjyotishpur was mentioned.
Bhagwan Krishna married Rukmini the princess of Bhishmaknagar of Arunachal Pradesh. The Misimi tribes still consider them as the descendants of Rukmini. While returning from Bhishmaknagar, Krishna with his wife Rukmini took rest and Shiva and Devi Parvati welcomed them with flowers which is at present known as Malinithan. The name Malini got its name as Krishna used to call Devi Parvati as Malini. The Akashiganga that is situated near Malinithan is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Pith of Bharat. Nilmat Puran written by Saint Neel mentions that the Nag Kanya Ullupi was married by Arjuna. The Dimasa of Nagaland consider themselves as the descendants of Hidimba, the wife of Bhim. The Bodo community of Assam consider themselves as the descendants of Vishnu the creator and the Karbi’s of Karbi Anglong consider themselves as the descendants of Sugriva the younger brother of King Vali. Similarly, the Tiwa community consider themselves as the descendants of Sita.
In contemporary history, Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva was a great saint-scholar, poet, playwright, dancer, actor, musician, artist social-religious reformer and a figure of importance in the cultural and religious history of Assam, Bharat. He was instrumental in bonding the North East with mainland Bharat. “Hena jani naratanu nena aale jale, Katikhyan pora aashi dharileko kale. Devara durlava etu janma bharatat, Horai Chintamani jena janiba hatot” (from Bhagavata Adi Dashan) meaning, It is very difficult for “Devata” (Demigoad) to be born in Bharat, so do not spend the human life in vain because a being never knows when death calls upon Him, so do the needful to serve Lord Krishna, or else you will let loose the most precious thing (Chintamani) from your hand. His main disciple, Sri Sri Madhabdev in his quote “Dhanya Dhanya Kali Kal, Danya Nara Tanu Bhala, Dhanya Dhanya Bharat Barikha”. Apa apa Jagya Tezi, Tumaro Charane Bhaji, Tuwa Naam Ghosibu Harise (Borget). Glory to the Kaliyuga blessed human birth and the land of Bharatvarsha; renouncing penance, sacrifice at your feet, let all sing in praise of Your name with blissful joy in praise of your name.
It is worth mentioning that the great leader Lachit Borphukan defeated the Mughals 7 times and saved the entire South East Asia from the barbaric rule of Mughals. Historically, the North eastern region had been an integral part of India’s freedom struggle.
Kanaklata Barua was a freedom fighter who sacrificed at the age of 17 during the Quit India Movement.
One of the most revered figures of the Anglo-Manipur War in 1891 was Major Paona Brajabashi, a soldier of the Kangleipak kingdom (Kingdom of Manipur) under Maharaja Kulachandra.
Bir Tikendrajit Singh, the crown prince of Manipur, who laid down his life along with his General Thangal for protecting the territorial integrity of the state against British imperialist design, has gone down in the annals of history as a hero of supreme sacrifice and extraordinary valour.
“We are free people, the white men should not rule over us,” said a 13-year-old Rani Gaidinliu of the Rongmei Naga tribe in 1927, while issuing a clarion call to all ethnic Naga tribes from remote hills of the North Eastern region.
Haipou Jadonang, A Rongmei Naga leader from present-day Manipur, he was a spiritual leader, social reformist, and political leader who sought to emancipate the Naga people from the clutches of British colonial rule during the early decades of the 20th century.
Born in 1802, U Tirot Sing Syiemlieh was a native chief of Nongkhlaw, a territory in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, who led the Khasis in their fight against the British during the 1829-1833 Anglo-Khasi War.
Moje Riba became the first INC President from Arunachal Pradesh. For his sacrifices and contributions in the India’s movement, he was conferred with Tamra Patra by the then PM of India, Smt. Indira Gandh.
Born on 6 June 1890, Gopinath Bordoloi not only challenged the British, but also ensured that at the time of Independence, Assam remained part of India, and eventually became the first Chief Minister of undivided Assam.
Northeast India has over 220 ethnic groups and an equal number of dialects with rich and vibrant culture. At present prospective, if we explore and unravel, we shall find that the tradition of North East is very much related to the rest of Bharat. In Assam we celebrate “Bohag Bihu” in the month of April similarly in Northern India it is celebrated as Vaishakhi, as Vishu in Kerala and Puthandu in Tamilnadu. The North East communities had a close binding but was divided by the Britishers in the name of Tribals-Non tribals, Hills-Plains, and in the name of cast and creed. The conversion of people to Christianity by certain tribal policy during the British Rule divided the people of Northeast. In the name of protection the Bharatiyas of the plain needed passes and inner line permits visit their own countryman in the hills and forest but the Christian missionaries were given easy and free access which helped them to fulfil their agenda of conversion.
The oneness that we seven sisters and one brother along with the Bharat with our similar Lok Parampara is an example of Akhand Bharat. As famous Hindi Novalist and Historian, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi said “The meaning of the word ‘Lok’ is not tribal or rural, instead, it is the whole people residing in cities and villages, whose practical knowledge was not based on texts. These people are more simple and trained in organic lifestyle in comparison with the city dwellers”. This Lokmanthan 2022 will be a curtain raiser for the people of North East to be in oneness and bring back the tradition and ethos of its own community and assimilate the region with Akhand Bharat.