Literatures of Bishnupriya Manipuri

Written documents of Bishnupriya Manipuri literatures of older periods are unavailable, because records and historical books including literatures had been destroyed and efforts had been made to destroy the history of Manipur and Manipuris. There are, however some rudiments of folk-literatures of Bishnupriya Manipuri which are of elder origin and are handed down to this day through oral traditions. These elements originated during the period from the 16th century to the beginning of this century.  Thus the history of Bishnupriya Manipuri literature can be broadly divided into two periods namely  ancient Folk-Bishnupriya Manipuri literature and  modern Bishnupriya Manipuri literature.

Ancient Literatures of Bishnupriya Manipuri

Ancient or Folk literatures of Bishnupriya Manipuri is represented y folk stories, folk-songs, folk-poems, rhymes and proverbs. Of them, a rain-invoking song called “boron-ddhanir Ela” and a song hrelating to the conjugal life of Madai and Soralel known as “Madai Soralel Ela” are most important. Researches had proved that the rain invoking song , in its nucleas, was composed in the middle of 16th  century. Besides this, there are many rhymes which are recited by children in various kinds of sports and there are many csaddle songs. Proverbs occupy a remarkable position in Folk-Bishnupriya Manipuri literature. Proverbs are numerous and they exhibit the sense of metre , poetic ornaments, witticism etc. most of the proverbs have been collected by the Pratisruti, a literary magazine edited by Shree Brajendra kumar Singha.

Modern Literatures of Bishnupriya Manipuri

The modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature may be divided into two stages (a) Early period and (b) Later period. The Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature of early modern period   is marked by devotion towards Isvara and love for language and the land of Manipur and the culture of Bishnupriya Manipuri. Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature of the later period is marked by the love and feelings, hopes and desires, joys and sorrows of the writers and poets.

Early Modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature

The Early Modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature was initiated during the second quarter of this century mainly by four writers,namely, Leikhomsena Singha of Singari(Assam), Madan Mohan Sharma of Sanicchara, Amusena Sinha of Cipersangan and Gokulananda Gitiswami of Ratacchara. Leikhomsena singha was the author of a drama entitled Manipur Bijoy, Madan Mohan Sharma was the author of a number of Kiratana-type works namely, Balipinda,Harischandra, Subal Milan, Tilottoma, Basak, Sudama Bipra etc. Amusena sinha also wrote a number of Kirtana-type works based on Ramayana, namely, Angada Raybar, Saktisel, Taranisen Badh, Nagapas, Mahiravan Badh etc. Gokulananda Gitiswami composed a few Kirata works namely, Nouka Bilas, Basak, Mathur etc. He also  written a number of song and poems relating to social reformation and two dramas one of which is named Matrimangal Gatabhinay. Of these poets and writers, Gokulananda Gitiswamy was the most popular because of his depth of feeling and refined taste as revealed in his Padavalis and songs relating to social reformation, after these writers the names of Krishnadhan singha, Gandharaj singha, Golapsena sinha, Gosho bihari singha, Rohini Rajkumar and Gaur Mohan singha are worth mentioning.

Modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature

Actually the history of Manipuri literature began in 1925 with the magazine – “Jagaran” edited by Falguni Singha who was a Bishnupriya Social worker; this magazine published articles both on Bishnupriya and Meitei language. The Manipuris of Surma valley formed together their first formal association, Surma Valley Manipuri Society (later changed its name to Surma Valley Manipuri Association) in 1934. The members included the Meiteis, the Bishnupriyas and the Pangals (Manipuri Muslims).From the 1933 we find a number of journals viz.Manipuri(1933), Mekhali(1938) and Kshatryajyoti(1944) etc which had fostered nationalism as well literary and cultural activities.

In modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature, we meet a number of poets,dramatists,Short story writers, and essayists. Of The Dramatists the most popular are 1. Aswini Kumar Singha, the writer of Harischandra, Sabitri Satyaban etc. 2. Indra Kumar Singha, the writer of Haribola-Ehari, Kailas lailat etc. 3. Sudhanva Singha,the writer of Number of Fagiram Drama's and 4. Birendra Kumar singha the writer of Manur Kothai Gor Na Bagyo. Among short Story writers Brajendra Kumar Singha, Indra kumar Singha, Symananda Singha, Oja BBabulok Dabi are worth of reference. The remarkable essayists of this era are Dr. K.P. Singha, Brajendra KumarSingha, Birendra Kumar Singha, Jagot Mihan Singha etc. Poets of this period are huge in number. Among them Modon Mohan Mukhopadhyay, Brajendra Kumar Singha and Dhananjoy Rajkumar are the most successful.

The Late modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature is ruled by a number young and a few old Bishnupriya Manipuri writers. Of them the names of Dhanajoy Rajkumar, Brajendra Kumar Singha, Smriti Kumar Singha, Dil's Laxindra Singha, Sri Samarjit Singha, Sudhanya Singha, Srikanta Singha, Biswajit Singha, Mothura Singha, Kumari Sandhya Sinha,Ranjit Singha, Radhakanta Singha can be mentioned.

Modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature of Bangladesh

Modern period of Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature of Bangladesh started with a number of Journals – Khongchel (1972), Imar Thar (1979), Mingal(1981), Satyam(1981), Manipurir Sahitya(1989),Pouri(1989), Jagaran(1990), Jebaka Jedin(1991), Ithak(1994) etc. etc. Also there is a parallel development in the Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature in the fields of poetry, prose, story, novels, Biography,Travelogue, drama took place here with Assam and Tripura. Gopichan Singha’s Lyrical work “Bangobandhu baro Bangladesh”( 1974), Prof. Ranjit sinha’s historical works “ Bhanubil Krisak Proja Andolan” (1982), “Swadhinata Sangrame Manipuri Samaj” (1999), “Bangladesher Manipuri Kobita” (2001) deserves special mention.

Translations of number of Sanskrit and world literature was done successfully. Of them Srimadbhagabat Gita, Ishoponisd, “Meghodutom” of Kalidas, Rubayaate-Umar-Khayam, Greek drama “Anigone”, Eliot’s “The waste Land”,  Japanese Haiku, Poems of Rabindrnath and also from Bertold Brekht, Bodleyar, Apoliner,Lorka, Poul Eluar, Ejra pound, Malarme, Rilke and other world literatures worth mentioned.

The post modern writers have given up many time-honored conventions. They have come to contact with English, French and German literature with are rich in all respects. There is also the influence of contemporary Bangla literature of Bangladesh, West-bengal, Assam and Tripura.

Compiled by Ashim Kumar Singha on  July 12, 2004