Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Manifestation Of Love In Shingen Indu: Separation And Union – Part 2

This is the third in a series of essays by renown Manipur literary critic, Prof. Nongmaithem Tombi Singh, carried in parts. The original essays are in Manipur and has since been translated into English by B.S. Rajkumar and published in a volume: “Confluence: Essays on Manipuri Literature and Culture”

Contd from previous issue

The poet might have been thinking of envisaging a love at first sight scenario. But, when she was brought to Gopal’s house Indu was so young. She was only six years old at the time. “I wondered how she accompanied Jatra with her little brother at the age of six only.” (p.295) Gopal’s father Jatra had brought the orphaned brother and sister to Manipur to look after them. “Taking the girl on my back and gathering the young child in my bosom while crossing the hill ranges I brought them across to Manipur.” (p. 233) He could have left the particulars of their age and the beginning of their love. Anyway, it might be supposed that Gopal was smitten with love to see this girl who was not exactly a blood sister to him. But, at what time did he disclose his love for Indu? Did he express his love for the first time at the time of giving the golden ring as he was leaving home for Malugram? How long had Indu been in love with her foster brother Gopal? Did it become clear to her only after Gopal left home? These things are not made clear and a mist of confusion pervades the situation. The confusion increases as the poet is keen on painting externally a sanguine love between Gopal and Indu as if they were real siblings.

Then the poet makes Leipaklei to change her mind in her last moments and she starts showing a growing love for Gopal and Indu as if she had known their love relationship from the very start which resulted in her confiding it to her husband Jatra. This kind of disclosure is damaging the plot construction. Leipaklei is made to confide in Jatra her knowledge in this manner-

She called in her husband to make a disclosure

To the ears of nobleman the dying woman


The truth about the two youngsters hiding none.

Jatra felt as if awakened anew

Mumbling Hari Hari he shed tears.


What was the secret that Leipaklei disclosed in Jatra’s ears? We understand that it must be about Gopal and Indu’s love relationship. But why would Leipaklei remain silent for so long knowing well that the two had fallen into love? Why did she not try to solve the matter bringing it up to the notice of her husband? It is said that Jatra went through a change of mind after listening to Leipaklei’s intimation. But this kind of change of attitude may not be called a right one. Because Jatra was angry with his son Gopal because of his way of conduct. It is not that Gopal has become morally a changed person altogether. In this situation how was Jatra going to accept his son? It seems that Jatra’s firm mind, strict discipline and respect of his ideals weakened instantly. That Leipaklei had worked on a secret agenda before her death is insinuated. She had apparently made a request to the King to get Gopal and lndu married. The King was only glad enough to accept her request. The King brought Indu to the royal household from where he gave her in marriage to Gopal with pomp and gaiety. This turn of events cannot be said to have evolved naturally, it smacks of artificiality. There is contrivance in the poet’s effort to unite Gopal with Indu. The illness of Leipaklei, the manner in which Gopal was called out to Manipur because of this, the sudden change in Jatra’s thinking, the manner in which the sequence in the story is forced to forget or to keep in the background of a public scandal and the marriage of Gopal with lndu because of the King’s approval, these cannot be regarded as an example of good plot craft. At best it appears that the poet had forced his will to unite the hero and heroine at the end by hook or crook. Otherwise the sequence of the plot will hardly result with the union of the two. As Anganghal did not possess the mind of a social revolutionary the story should have naturally ended a tragedy.

Then Indu was engaged to be married to Nobo and Jatra also had by that time decided to support Nobo. In the meanwhile the King’s household started proposing Gopalsana, the son of the King’s elder brother for Indu’s hand. It is rather confusing to give the namesake to these two persons-Gopal and Gopalsana. It is not a good idea to give the same name to such different persons. Gopalsana was in fact villainous by nature, in the tradition of Nongban of the Moirang legends. And the poet had kept in the dark such incidents as the Queen’s efforts to give Indu to Gopalsana, the rivalry between Nobo and Gopalsana on account of Indu, Gopalsana’s plans to kidnap Indu consequent to which Lala a friend of the protagonist Gopal had to keep Indu in hiding which some had taken as elopement of Indu to Lala. Such important sequences in the general plot of the poetic narrative had been cut short without rhyme or reason not to be mentioned again. It was as if two goats were in fight or a storm in a cup of tea has taken place. These will be deducted as faults in the plot construction. Moreover there are many points of digression that hampered progress of the plot. Even after supposing Lala had been entrusted with looking after Indu and Gopal’s interest, these acts appear at best in the form of deus ex machina, as if they had been created to serve the said purposes. He had not given any reference to Indu’s little brother except at the time of Indu’s marriage. He has not given a name to the brother. The characters are mere expressions of ideas. Not one of them may be counted as individuals. Gopal’s character weakens a lot after his departure for Malugram.


The most complete, and resplendent character in the canto poem is that of Indu. She is depicted as a beautiful, wise, sweet girl with modest manners.

What gentleness filled with wisdom

Sweet in words her beauty blameless

Made for beauty above loveliness

No fault there is seen

Such a damsel never was seen in the past

Nor in the future would one be there like her.

Sweet, mild and gentle she is, her beauty and manners became the talk of the people. Her beauty a joy to every heart was. Besides her beauty and attributes, this recent incident of her life had become yet another point of gossip for everyone.

Indu is an ill-starred girl. She had been separated from her parents, relatives, friends and birthplace. As she had been adopted by Jatra she started giving a daughter’s love to her foster parents. She had not crossed them even for once in her life after her adoption. She had regarded Gopal as her own brother. When Gopal did not give consent to marriage with Thabalsana, she was terribly perturbed, could not endure the thought. She felt at odds with him so much so that she could not try to change his mind for she did not want to talk to him. Only after Gopal gave her his ring and left for Malugram, we come across a change in Indu. Afterwards she started playing upon small tricks against her foster parents. She also began telling lies to them. “Since yesterday night Indu had started telling lies.” She spent whole nights complaining of sickness. Her hair fringes were wet with tears all the time. Depiction of lndu’s agony which remained hidden is excellently done. “Autumn season has come to Indu’s life/Every part in her body dried up! Her appearance remains cretfallen every day/ She is about to fall off like a leaf in autumn.” Indu’s love for Gopal and her unexpressed love for him is expressed in a dream during which she saw him.

Unlike Jahera we find lndu not firmly resolved and she did not have the courage to put up a challenge. She flows following the stream giving no resistance whatsoever against the bunds. For instance, she could not openly protest against her engagement to Nobo. She remained an obedient daughter who must follow her father’s will even though it was against her desire. Again she could not say a word against the villainous Gopalsana who had occupied the seat next to hers during a game of likkon. One day she told her brother Lala “Arbitrator of my Fate! What should your sister do nOW?” Thus she hands over to Lala the decision making part concerning her very self. Indu’s innocent thinking and virtue become explicit at the time when Gopalsana was planning to abduct her and she was perforce made to elope with Lala. People could not slander her because of that. Rather they began to give her more affection on that account. Jatra also recalled her without making any fuss. When everybody began to know of her innocence her foster mother felt so pleased with her care when she had fallen ill. Finally the King took her in his household as a daughter accepting her totally.

Thus Indu is a pure, virtuous and most innocent girl. So, we cannot become angry with her. We cannot accuse her of any moral transgression. With such behaviour she could win every heart. The poet describes Indu’s purity in these lines-

A dirty mop cleans the dirt off the floor

Likewise this girl cleans an unclean heaJ”t,

The girl’s character had cleaned Leipaklei’ s being.

(p. 260)


It will be wrong to say that pity and a true heart cannot win. Most of Anganghal’s male characters are symbols of pure hearts. Indu has kept in heart such an image of love for Gopal undisclosed and closely held.


Gopal shows a firmness of mind with regard to his love. He fell in love with his own sister like lndu. It was a wild, unforeseen love. At first he did not think of getting Indu as his wife nor did he think of challenging the norms of society. So he thonght of obliterating himself and his own existence. He decided to to depart for Malugram when the proposal for the hand of Thabansana was afoot. He gave his golden ring to Indu at the time of farewell.

“0 Star crossed girl, don’t worry, god’s will will be done/Worry not, cry not, crying won’t help.” He had expressed his true love for her. He had also asked her not to disclose their love to anybody. it was a serious matter for a man to flee away after engagement to a girl at the last moment. He WaS doing exactly the same thing since he had been engaged to Thabansana. It amounted to a breach of trust. But he was resolved. “No more obedience to my parents’ will I show’. No fear for man or God do I have now, nor consideration of royal punishment. Let me be a public example – let them mortify me in public.”

People cannot believe that Gopal would act like that. Because they used to say “That young man Gopal not unruly he is/Others do not find reasons to be against him.” This feeling is generally acceptable. None in Malugram during his stay there found any reason to be reproaching him, all and sundry gave him their love and affection. Inside his heart he possessed a fast resolve – he told of Indu’s love to none. “The scent of the flower does not spread outside the folds of the heart.” The Yaksha in Kalidasa knows that he had to endure only a year, so he had a means to wait out the period. On the other hand, Gopal had no way to know for how long he would be parted from his love. It might possibly be for life – so his pains of parting increased manyfold during his self imposed exile at Malugram. During this period he remained inactive, doing nothing like a sapless person. But, Gopal’s period of agony was over. His heart has been incinerated in the furnace of love and his guilty heart purified. The obliquity with which his parents had looked at him now straightened. The King and master of the land has exonerated him of all his guilt as well as conscience was cleared. He was called back to his motherland. Sadly, he found his mother had died before she could see the happy ending. He could not meet his mother for the last moment. Thus, though he was able to get his beloved Indu, he got the punishment of separation from his mother. Thus the poet metes out such a punishment to Gopal – it is a moral punishment.

Now, in the long meditation of the hero and heroine’s separation every sort of impurity in their hearts have been washed away, and like a moon uncovered of its screen of clouds light shone bright and clear in the hearts of Indu and Gopal. In their marriage ceremony everyone present felt brimful of emotion in their hearts, shedding tears all prayed to God for the welfare of the newly weds. Anganghal’s depiction of love pertains to an exalted spiritual love. It is a manifestation of something close to an idealistic spiritual love.



  1. Hijam Anganghal Neinaba Wareng, ‘Shingel Indu’, Haobam Gouradas, Naharol Sahitya Premee Samiti, Imphal, 1988 p.7
  2. Kalidaski Meghdoot (Introduction), Tr. Khumanthem Gourakishore Singh, 1987
  3. Ibid, (I), 8.
  4. Anganghal: Sahitya, Samaj Amadi Sanskriti, Boby Publication, Imphal, 1992


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