A language with written literature can rightly be called as independent language. Today Bishnupriya Manipuri is recognized as an independent language all over the world only because of gigantic efforts of our godly forefathers to safeguard our language from extinction through various literary activities. Otherwise, like the historical records of Manipur, the history of the language is a story of deprive and exile.
Curiously enough, there is no authority goes beyond 13th century except the rain-songs, proverbs and other folk literatures. Sir GA Grierson treats this language in his “Linguistic Survey of India”. He calls the language Mayang although he uses the term Bishnupuriya Manipuri. He also refers to the vocabulary of the language in Lieut-Col W McCullock’s “An Account of the Valley of Manipore and other languages” published as early as 1859. Considering the authorities and evidences it can be safely said that the Bishnupriya Manipuri language is originated in the land of Manipur long before the advent of Hinduism in this valley. As the speakers of Bishnupriya Manipuri (ইমার ঠার, as known to the speakers themselves) had their headquarters at Bishnupur, they were called Bishnupuriyas, i.e, the habitants of Bishnupur, and Bishnupriya is only contracted form of the term Bishnupuriya.
Linguistic study however, creates a little confusion about the origin and root of Bishnupriya Manipuri language. There are different stories from different sectors of people opposite to each other hence difficult to draw any synopsis, resulting in controversies. Dr K P Sinha, who has done considerable amount of researches on Bishnupriya Manipuri language, described four theories as believed by different section of people. Dr Sinha, in his work “The Bishnupriya Manipuris” (1975), also tried to analyze the theories critically with due logic and justification. On the other hand GK Gosh in his work “Tribal and their cultures in Manipur and Nagaland”(1982) putted forth six different theories on the origin of Bishnupriya Manipuri language. There are several other beliefs too. The diverse theories on the origin of Bishnupriya Manipuri are summarized as follows –
- The Mahabharata Theory
- Meitei-Origin theory
- 18th Century theory
- Bengali-Origin theory
- Far-Eastern theory
- Khala-Chai theory
- Indo-Mongoloid theory
1. Sir G. A. Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, Vol-3,19
2. Dr. K.P. Sinha, Bishnupriya Manipuri Language, Calcutta, 1981
3. G.K. Ghose, Tribals and Their Culture in Manipur and Nagaland,1982
4. Raj Mohan Nath, The Background of Assamese Culture, 2nd Edn, 1978
5. S S Tunga, Bengali & other Related Dialects of South Asia, New Delhi, 1995
To be continued….