50 Great Bishnupriya Manipuris
Great Personalities who have made a difference to Bishnupriya Manipuri society in the fields of Arts, Music, Dance, Education, Literature, Religion, Social work etc and contributed a lot to Bishnupriya Manipuri culture and spirit. Let us have a look on profiles of those great personalities who make us feel proud to be a Bishnupriya Manipuri.
Part One (1920-1960)
Perhaps the most remembered idols among the Bishnupriya Manipuris are Late Gokulananda Gitiswami and Late Sri Bhubaneswar Sadhu Thakur. Gokulananda’s song immortalizing Mother Bishnupriya and Bhubaneswar Sadhu Thakur spiritual teachings played a pivotal part in defining Bishnupriya Manipuri culture, both in Bangladesh and India. The impact of this great wandering social reformer Gokulananda on the Bisnupriya Manipuries has been manifold. He traversed the whole of Bishnupriya-speaking region – singing with a missionary fervour of the ills of our society and their remedies He devoted his entire life to the serve the community, to improve the condition of our people and to keep pace with the progress of other communities. He dramatized the plight of our women against the comparative indolence of men. He came under lot of turbulence of the times and he appeared to have wider sympathies. Because of all these qualities of a very high order, grateful people conferred on him the title “Gitiswami” along with a silver medallion, in a special session of Nikhil Bishnupriya Manipuri Mahasabha, in 1935. On the other hand, Sri Bhubaneswar Sadhu Thakur was a popular spiritual master who born at Baropoa, now renamed Bhubaneshwar Nagar, in Cachar. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, charity, contentment, inner peace, devotion to God and Guru through his teachings and songs. He saved the people from spiritual degeneration owing to abject poverty. They have learnt from him to live honestly and peaceably with what little they have. He established the temple Sri Radha Gavinda Jew Mandir popularly known as “Govindabari” at Nabadwip in West Bengal which is a veritable abode of peace for the devotees.
Late Sri Mohendra Kumar Singha (B.A., B.T.) of Silchar was a renowned social worker of Bishnupriya Manipuri community and also one of the few knowledgeable persons of his time. He was the pioneer in Bishnupriya Manipuri historical research. His historical work is compiled into three volumes of “Manipurer Prachin Itihas” which took him a vast amount of research works and findings. He edited ‘The Bishnupriya”, the month-piece of Mahasabha. In the third decade of 20th century, when a group of young and educated persons started publishing journals and literary magazines like, a wave of consciousness and nationalism sparked the society – the foremost among the young fellows was Late Sri Falguni Singha. Falguni was the editor of ‘Jagoran'(1925) and ‘Manipuri’ (1933). Beside literary activities he was a very good organizer. He worked in many ways to solve conflicts among Bishnupriyas and Meiteis. That time, other scholars like Late Sri Sena Singha, Late Krishna Kumar Singha and Sri Haridas Singha also contributed a lot in the field of historical research. Here we also remember with deep respect the social works done by Late Sri Tonubabu Singha Superintendent, Sri Manik Singha, Sri Kamini Singha, Advocate Sri Babuchand Singha, Sri Hemachandrajit Rajkumar and few others. Shaid Rajbabu Singha was a social worker, who sacrificed his life in 15th march 1933, when a rival group took away his life for what he is doing for the society.
In the field of dance, Guru Nileshwar Mukharjee from Bangladesh (of kamalganj Thana of undivided Sylhet district) and Guru Senarik Singha Rajkumar from Cachar district of Assam are well known to Manipuri society as with them the new department of Manipuri Dance was created in the Shantiniketon (Calcutta) in the early 30’s. In 1921, the poet Rabindranath Tagore encountered Manipuri dancing in Sylhet district, a Bishnupriya Manipuri enclave (Machimpur) that is now part of Bangladesh. Tagore was fascinated with a Ras performance and he consequently invited these two Gurus. That was an epoch making events in the history of Manipuri Dance and within a decade in crossed its regional as well national fields and became a reputed international style.
In the field of Arts, Literature and Music, the name of the eminent dramatist Leikhomsena Sinha from Singari near Silchar comes frist. Leikhomsena was the father of Guru Bipin Sinha, the great exponent of Manipuri dance. Leikhomsena singha was the author of the dramas entitled ‘Harishandra’, ‘Manipur Patan’ and ‘Khamba Thoibi’ and composer of many padavali songs. Madan Mohan Sharma of Sanicchara was one the four main writers of pre-50’s Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature. Madan Mohan Sharma was the author of a number of Kiratana-type works namely – ‘Balipinda’,’ Subal Milan’, ‘Tilottoma’, ‘Basak’, ‘Sudama Bipra’ etc. Amusena Singha of Cipersangan was also one the four main writers of early modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature.Amusena sinha wrote a number of Kirtana-type works based on Ramayana, namely – ‘Angada Raybar’, ‘Saktisel’, ‘Taranisen Badh’, ‘Nagapas’, ‘Mahiravan Badh’ etc.
The Mahasabha Review,1970
Souvenir of Word Conference 2003 by NBMM
Kothika Matek by Prof. Ranjit Singha, 1992
Loktak 10th issue, 2005
Nuwa Ela, 23rd year, 6th Issue, 2005
Late Sri Lalitmohan Singha, Tilakpur
Sri Nilmani Chatarjee, Ghoramara