A decade ago, there was a cry of crisis of identity. Every now and then, political leaders, church leaders and social organisations said that the path which the Naga society had adopted would lead it nowhere and the image of the Naga society would continue to remain tarnished. Economically, the society is climbing high step by step but morality- the other important aspect of development-is missing. There are political leaders, social leaders and church leaders but, of late, the crisis of leadership has also emerged adding doubly to the already existing problem-crisis of identity. The crisis of identity is still there, rather, on increasing trend but the present-day leaders have now shifted the focus elsewhere. They are diverting the people’s attention from one problem to another without solving any of them.
The person who guides the society not by words but by deeds putting his own life as an example is a leader in true sense. Can Nagas find even a single person who is a leader up to the mark who practises what he says? How many present-day Naga leaders will qualify the above-mentioned efficiency check?
Not that there was no worthy leader in our society. There was, but we failed to recognise them due to storm of westernisation in the name of modernisation.
Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu were such Naga leaders who practised word-by-word what they preached. They sacrificed their everything even their bodies for the cause of society without expecting anything in return.
Spiritualism, strong commitment to the society, bravery and fighting spirit for the genuine cause of the country were the in-born qualities of Haipou Jadonang all rolled into one. From the very childhood he was of uncommon qualities. He used to go in trances for consecutive several days. He toured the area and mobilised the people to unite for fighting against British rule whose reign was expanding in Naga areas through deceptive means. He imparted military training to youths and formed a formidable Naga army. He composed patriotic songs to rejuvenate the patriotism in youths.
“Haipou Jadonang (1905-1931) was a mystic Naga leader who was spiritually inspired to organise the religious and social reforms among the Zeliangrong Nagas of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. He also visualised a kingdom (Makam Gwangdi) of his people which was described by British as the Naga Raj. His concept of Makam Gwangdi brought him to headlong clash with the British government. He was distantly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress movement for national freedom” (Prof Gongmumei Kamei in his book: Jadonang-A Mystic Naga Rebel). Jadonang was imprisoned at Tamenglong in December 1928 for prophesising the end of British Raj and coming of the Naga Raj. He was executed at Imphal on August 29, 1931, on fake charges.
Rediscovery of Jadonang
Jadonang was forgotten by his own people due to fear of suppression by British and Manipur government. After the release of Rani Gaidinliu, things had changed but her conflicts with the underground Nagas in 1960s produced a feeling of misunderstanding among the Zeliangrong people. But from 1966 onward, a group of young intellectuals and social activists have been engaged in the interpretation of Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu in the contemporary historical, social and political perspective. Their efforts started bearing fruits when the movement for Zeliangrong integration was started. The leaders started referring to Jadonang’s Naga Raj concept for the fulfilment of Zeliangrong dream for a homeland.
Now Jadonang, who was really the philosopher of the Zeliangrong greatness, is now understood as a martyr, a religious leader, a social reformer and a protagonist of the Zeliangrong kingdom. Today, the country remembers him as one of the great revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the country from the British misrule. Jadonang Day is observed every year. Memorials to him are constructed. Children are named after him. His freedom stories are taught in schools. Jadonang has resurrected in spirit of his legacy. In larger perspective, Jadonang represents a tribal attempt to reform themselves and preserve the indigenous faith and culture to meet the challenges of the modern times.
Such were the greatness and glory of Haipou Jadonang. His life, if taught in schools and colleges, can inspire not only Zeliangrong community but the whole of the Naga society. Let us emulate his ideals in our day-to-day life.
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected])