Distortion of local history

Monday Musing

[ Bengia Ajum ]

A historical correction is being done to the holy Buddhist pilgrimage site of the Memba community, known as Neh-Pema Shelphu, in Shi-Yomi district. Located a few kilometres away from Mechuka town, the holy site was converted into a Sikh shrine years ago, and the locals have been objecting to it. The site which was converted into a Sikh shrine has been finally returned to the Buddhist community after so many years. The matter has been amicably resolved and for this, both the Sikh and the Buddhist communities deserve appreciation for peacefully resolving it.

The peaceful dialogue initiated by prominent Sikh and Buddhist leaders has helped to bring a peaceful end to this controversy which occasionally had threatened to escalate into major tension in the past. It is said that Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) and three others – Khandu Yeshi Chogey, Menmo Tashi Chorden and Nyamde Arasale – meditated in the cave for several years. To justify their claims, the locals say that historic evidence of the body and head prints are seen in the rock inside the cave. The locals also made it clear that there was no evidence of Sikh and Guru Nanak’s influence in the Mechukha area before the deployment of the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army in 1987. As per the version of the local people, things started to change when the Sikh Regiment was deployed in Mechukha in 1986-87. Some personnel of the regiment not only started considering the Pema Shelphu cave as the meditation point of Guru Nanak, but also started constructing a temporary gurudwara nearby.

This historical correction gives a ray of hope to other such places where distortion has been done by outsiders to suit their narratives. There are many other such narratives imposed by people of mainland India which make us ponder what was its originality and when such narrative was imposed and why our elders did not oppose it.

Curious minds want to know what the original story is and how and when things were changed. It is a known fact that, before India gained independence in 1947, the majority of the tribal people of the state had no connection with the rest of the world and were living a nomadic life in the forests. The concept and idea of a country called India is something that was new to us. Therefore one wonders how a story like Rukmini being Idu came up.

How did present-day Parshuram Kund come into existence and when? It is time the local indigenous people went back to the past and did proper documentation of what is the origin of this place. Today, Hindus have claimed it as a religious site known as Parshuram Kund, and everyone has duly accepted it. But we need to know the origin of the place and its history before it was discovered as Parshuram Kund by the Hindus.

India is a secular country and every religion has the right to propagate and promote religion. Therefore people can construct temples, churches, masjids, monasteries, etc, but it should not be done at the cost of distorting the local history and tradition.

Both Hindu and Christian missionaries have been at fault for attempting to distort tribal culture, tradition, history, and faith to suit their respective narratives. Truly speaking, all the established religions are alien and foreign to the indigenous tribal communities, barring the indigenous faith. People have adopted different faiths as per their choice and the Indian Constitution gives them the freedom to do so.