A workshop on ‘Philosophy and Spirituality in Eternal/ Primordial Religions of Janjatis of North-east Bharat’ was held in Guwahati from October 22 to 24 under the aegis of Janjati Dharma Sanskriti Suraksha Manch. A total of 82 papers were presented from various Janjati scholars, historians and academicians hailing from 36 Janjati communities. A total of 260 delegates including 40 women from 31 Janjatis hailing from all eight states of the region including Sikkim participated in the workshop.
Two press conferences-one in the beginning and the other before the closing ceremony, were jointly addressed by founder president of Janjati Dharma Sanskriti Suraksha Manch Shri Bikram Bahadur Jamatia, secretary Shri Jaleswar Brahma, president of Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh Shri Nalam Atum and former minister in Sikkim Shri SD Lepeha.
The workshop was unique in more than one way. The topic itself was unique. With a view to give a vent to local Janjati scholars, historians and academicians the papers had been invited from local communities only. All the participants, speakers, resource persons and conductors were locals barring an exception of Prof. Braj Bihar Kumar – a venerated scholar and thinker who is a retired Principal of Science College Kohima, Nagaland but a resident of Katihar, Bihar.
The Chief Guest in the opening session was Padmashri Rong Bong Terang, president of Assam Sahitya Sabha-the most reputed literary body of Assam. Shri Terang hails from Diphu in Karbi Anglong district of Assam. A retired Principal of Diphu Governement College Shri Rong Bong Terang is an author of 30 books mostly novels and stories on Karbi samaj and other local issues.
The other most venerated personality was Guru Tulku Rinpoche, the head of Tawang Buddha Monastery situated near the international border adjacent to Tibet. He is the most venerated Guru in Buddhist community of the world after His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was in the workshop for last two days interacting with the participants and finally he graced the closing ceremony as chief guest. Shri Nalam Atum, Shri SD Lepeha, Dr Sonam Palzor (Sikkim) and Shri Nab Kumar Jamatia, Akra (president) of Jamatia Hoda, were some of the luminaries at the workshop.
In his vision statement in opening session Shri Bikram Bahadur Jamatia said, “The Sanatan Dharma of all the Janjatis of this region advocates polytheism – the belief in existence of many gods and deities assigned by supreme God. It encompasses every aspect of human life.” Drawing attention on the danger posed by Christian missionaries and Islam Shri Jamatia said the Christianity killed lakhs of followers of Sanatan Dharma and imposed Christianity on them. “We, the Janjatis, are the first and foremost target of the
three intolerant groups- Christianity, Islam and Communism/Naxalism. They are working visibly and invisibly through their masked men in the garb of religious preachers, social workers and armed caders. The attack on us from every corner and more rigorously continues because of strategic location of this region.” He cautioned the Janjati communities to remain ever vigilant against the proselytising and subversive agents of hostile religions like Christianity and Islam.
Padmashri Rong Bong Terang said, “The Sanatan Dharma and Sanskriti of Janjati communities are still oral handed over by our forefathers from generation to generation but this tradition is almost blocked due to most unrealistic English education eclipsed by pseudo-secularism. Today, the young generation is deprived of this treasure of knowledge. It is more due to non-availability of relevant literature on philosophy and spirituality of Janjati religions.” He said due to influence of English education, the large section of modern day youths is not able to speak their mother tongues. Also, they are not familiar with their customs and traditions. They are in the state of cultural confusion. And therefore, the compilation and publication of religious books of each and every Janjati community should be taken up with the sense of urgency. He underlined the declining role of places of worship and family in imparting the religious education. This role should be revived.
Guru Tulku Rinpoche hailed the activities of Manch for congregating the different Janjati communities on a common platform and providing an opportunity to discuss about the most relevant topic like philosophy and spirituality in Janjati religious of this region. He said that conversion to Christianity is the most burning problem which Arunachal Pradesh and other states of nort-east region are faced with. Silent invasion of Bangladeshi Muslims has already posed threat to the sovereignty of this country. The civil society is required to be made aware of these threats. He advised that necessary strategy should be evolved to guard the society against subversive elements.
Prof. Braj Bihar Kumar said the Janjati communities are required to shun the defeatist mentality and prepare to face the psychological and intellectual war thrust upon them by church and western anthropologists and historians who are well-trained in twisting and manipulating the anthropology and history of our country particularly of the Janjati samaj.
Over 60 delegates spoke in different sessions. Prominent among them included secretary of Rangfraa Faith Promotion Society of Arunachal Pradesh Shri L Khimun, Shri KS Marbanijang and Renomoh Sungh of Meghalaya, Chauba Kamson and Budha Kamei of Manipur, Aning, Tasile and Thunbui Zeliang of Nagaland. Ramkui Wanghe and Ranjit Ronghong of Assam, Naresh Deb Burma and Chandra Krishna Molsom of Tripura, Dr Khema Sonowal and Nojendra Nunisa of Assam.
Kalyan Ashram president Shri Jagdeoram Oraon and general secretary Shri Gunwant Singh Kothari exhorted the elders of civil society to come forward to assist the national cause so that novel deeds undertaken by the Manch yields the expected result.