Manipuri Language

Two Manipuri Languages

Manipuri community is comprised of Aryans and Kuki-chin people and thus the people of this community speaks in two distinct languages namely " The Meitei language" and "the Bishnupriya Manipuri language" . As the Meiteis entered Manipur from the east, their Language is of the Tibeto-Burman group. The Bishnupriyas entered Manipur from the west and so their language is of the Indo-Aryan group.

The records maintained by the British India Government as well as the Government of India in independent India attest to this practice and in Govt. records Manipuris are classified into two sub-heads: Meitei and the Bishnupriyas. During the British regime, in the school statistics maintained by the Cachar School Board, Cachar, the main heading "Manipuri" was sub-divided into "Meitei" and "Bishnupriya". The Census of India, 1961, also subdivided the main heading "Manipuri" into "Meitei" and "Bishnupriya". Commission for Linguistic minorities in India states - "The manipuris residing in Cachar district are divided into two distinct Sub-groups, viz, Meithei and Bishnupriya"


The Meitei Language

Meitei (called Meiteilon in the language itself) is a Tibeto-Burman language belonging to the Kuki-Chin subgroup. As the term "Meitei" was taken to be wholly synonymous to "Manipuri" by passing a language bill in Manipur states assembly, the language is included as Manipuri language in the Eighth schedule of the Constitution of India. The Resistance, a journal from Imphal, Manipur dated 9 January, 1976, observed thus - " Manipuri, used to denote Meiteilon (i.e, Meitei language) is a misnomer. It neither signifies that it is the language of Meiteis nor does follow that it is the language of the Manipuris"

Meiteilon or Meitei language is spoken primarily in the valley region of the State of Manipur, Assam, Tripura, Nagaland in Índia, some parts in Burma and in Bangladesh.

Meitei language have its own scripts named Meetei-Mayek, that is the script which was used to write Meeteilon (Manipuri) till the 18th century. Subsequently, Bengali script was adopted to write the language and is being used till date.

For details on Meitei Language please visit

The Bishnupriya Manipuri Language

The Bishnupriya Manipuri language (also known as BPM or BM) is highly influenced by the Sanskrit and Maharastri as well as Sauraseni Prakrits, though some words of the Hindi language of Northern India , some demoting terms of Meitei and Assamese language and a little influence of Benignly language are incorporated in the BM language.

Bishnupriya Manipuri has two dialects, namely,(1). Rajar Gang ( Kings Village) and (2). Madoi Gang ( Queens village ).

Bishnupriya Manipuri was originally confined only to the surroundings of the Lake Loktak in Manipur. The principal localities where this language was spoken are now known as Khangabok, Heirok, Mayang Yamphal, Bishnupur, khunan, Ningthankhong, Ngakhong, Thamnapoxpi and so on. However, later a great majority of speakers fled away from Manipur and took refuge in Assam, Tripura, Sylhet and Cachar during eighteen and nineteenth century due to internal conflicts among the prices of Manipur and due to Burmese attack. Consequently, it was difficult for the small number of Bishnupriyas who remained in Manipur to retain their language in face of the impact of Meitei, although Dr. G.A. Grierson, in 1891 found the existence of a considerable number of speakers in two or three villages near Bishnupur, locally known as Lamangdong.( LSI, Vol -V, Page 419). This Language is now spoken in parts of Assam, Tripura, Manipur( Jiribam Sub-division) in India ,in Bangladesh, in Burma and some other overseas countries.

The Bishnupriyas also claim that they have their own scripts that is Devanagari Scripts which was used to write Bishnupriya language till 1627 A.D. W.Shaw and Raj Mohan Nath , two eminent scholars are of the view that " Bishnupriya " with its Devanagai script had been the court language of Manipur and was replaced by king Khagenba. R. M.Nath says "so in Manipur in spite of Devanagari scripts which the kala-chaias might have been using, the Meitai when they came into power introduced the new scripts."

For details on Bishnupriya Manipuri Language please visit

Compiled by Ashim Kumar Singha on  November 12, 2002