The adoption of Hinduism by the Meitei people may have been due to political necessities of the time. The political scenario of that time - that is during the reigns of Meidingu Charairongba (1697-1709), Meidingu Pamheiba (1709-1748) and Meidingu Chingthangkhomba or Bhagyachandra (1749-1798) was described by historians as – at the most critical junctures. And it was also during the reign of these three successors that the social live of Meitei people was transformed to a momentous changed.
They played very significant roles in the history of Kangleipak. After the death of Paikhomba, his nephew Charairongba, the son of his younger brother Tonsenngamba, ascended the throne in 1697. His reign was a transition period from traditional Meetei social situation to a Hindu Meetei Society. He constructed several temples for Meitei deities like Panthoibi, Sanamahi and Hindu deities after his espousal with Vaishnavism. The relation with Burma was deteriorated and more strengthened with India after conversion into Vaishnavism.
The compulsion for strengthening of Hinduism to the Meitei society was well debated by Professor MC Arun of the Manipur University at one of his play “Rajarshi Bhagyachandra”. The play was performed by artists of Banian Repertory Theater under the directorship of MC Thoiba. According to former news editor of the AIR, BB Sharma, Professor MC Arun was trying to depict the reality of the 18th Century, which was a crucial period in the history of Manipur. The problem arises out of animosity and disunity among the Meitei people of the time was well depicted in the play. Prof. M C Arun regarded Rajarshi Bhagyachandra as an icon for cultural Nationalism. He, as a keen observer of the society, culture, ethnicity and contemporary conflicts found a suitable character in none other than Rajarshi Bhagyachandra to depict his dream of social engineering in present Manipur.
In his play MC Arun asked himself a few questions; firstly, can the people of Manipur sideline Govindajee, who was so dear to their forefathers ?; secondly, can we continue the same Vaishnavite faith which is often criticised by the younger generation for creating a rift between the valley and the hill people? thirdly, is there any alternative to the present crisis in Manipur by way of a synthesis between transcending thesis and its antithetical distractions?
In the play, MC Arun successfully attempted to depict Govindajee through the eyes of a Tangkhul woman. By doing so he made a genuine effort to show a cultural affinity with the west rather as a political compulsion than as a religious one. Admittedly, Manipur's threat then came from the East and not from the West. And as such the Vaishnavite cult in Manipur is an indigenous one and an ingenious product of our soil. Hence, there should not be any conflict among Vaishnavism, indigenous faith and tribal culture in Manipur.
Can we the new generations Meitei skip the reign of Rajarshi Bhagyachandra? Are we - the new generation feed enough to throw away the amalgamated culture called Meitei Veishnavite – for the hate of its origin being from the mainland Indian people ?
Before we go ahead with any hard decision we need to think on whether a single mistake committed would sink the whole society of ours – which is famous for its rich cultural authenticity.