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Tripura, the land of History and Legends


The Creation Theory of Universe among the Tripuri philosophy is same as that of Main stream Hinduism. In fact it surprises whether the theory was taken from the ancient Kiratas vis--vis the Tripuri people. One of a great Tripuri philosopher Sri Alindra Lal Tripura had inscribed the creation of Universe in his famous book "TRAIPUR SAMHITA" as follows.

According to the Hindu view of life, there does not exist any unbridgeable gulf between mind and matter, human and non-human beings. The universe of matter and spirit is governed by one fundamental law which, in the physical world, operates through scientific law and, in the spiritual world, through religious law. It is through reason that scientific law is discovered, while introspection-examination of the self-helps in the attainment of spiritual law. Hinduism denies the ultimate reality of the phenomenal world and emphasizes the reality of the spirit. In the long run, therefore, a seeker of truth must completely renounce attachment to the physical world. But a beginner regards the physical body and the universe as real and therefore when he tries to reach the sole reality, he does it through matter-animate and inanimate objects of nature. Plants as well as animals, mountains as well as rivers are therefore believed to be endowed with supernatural power. It will be wrong to say that Tripuri faith in attributing a living soul to inanimate objects and natural phenomena (i.e. animism) is something opposed to Hindu religion. As the main stream Hindus also worship all the natural objects, like Sun, Moon, Water, River, Earth, Snake, Monkey, Elephant, Tiger, Birds, Stone is similar to what Tripuri people are worshipping. Indeed, far from this, the Tripuri faith merely represents a particular approach to seek truth from a particular level of experience. The Hindu methods of philosophical investigation consist in the study of Sruti (Vedic evidence); Yukti (reasoning ) and Anubhava (experience) The last, one that is, Anubhava, is emphasized much by Hindu philosophers.  

Now, any philosophy or way of life is based on one's own experience or anubhaba. The Tripuri philosophy or way of life is no exception to this. Hinduism known for its catholicity and a spirit of accommodation, does permit the study of reality from different stand points based on different levels of experience. The conclusions arrived at may be different but they will be different aspects of the same reality. As Swami Vivekananda put it, man does not proceed from error to truth, but from truth to truth-from lower truth to higher truth.

 1. Thus in the Tripuri way of life, one may find less emphasis on reasoning and more on experiences. Essentially religion is based largely on intuition and emotion and not always on purely rational attitude of mind. It is often fed and inspired by faith and belief rather than reason and argument.

 2. The worship of tree, fire and water and the figures of various animals might be symbols or carriers of deities who were the real objects of worship.

 3. Therefore, a change in emphasis does not entitle one to say that their religious faith is born out of fear only andlor is full of superstition: The point is that our concepts are often coloured by our own imagination, feeling and experience.

And when that is so, we get a distorted view of the subject. But whether the view is a distorted one (or, what the Hindu philosophers would call illusory reality) or not, would depend on the level of experience. An illusion like seeing a ghost (or a lover) in a tree, snake in a rope is the observer's inner feeling for the time being and, therefore, transitory. One can only get rid of such illusion by reasoning which can only negate it but we should remember that to negate, it requires a higher level of experience.

 The point is that Hinduism has various ramifications, all derived from common roots-the Vedas and the Upanishads. "Hinduism is not...a single religion with a creed to which everybody must subscribe, although each individual cult offers its allegiance to the Vedas and the Upanishads as the source and origin of Indian religion and religious experience. Hinduism is thus a federation of different kinds of approach to the Reality behind life. That is the unique character of Hinduism."

 Looked at from this angle one would find adequate justification why our Tripuri brethren in Tripura, like other Hindu peasants elsewhere in the country celebrate pujas which arc directly related to cultivation. Or, why the Tripuris, like other Hindus in the rural areas propitiate gods by sacrificing something which they hold dear so that members of the community (or family) can keep good health. According to Rig-Veda Samhita, the idea of definite gods comes as a normal evolution from the striking phenomena of nature. "The Samhita shows that the development of the Aryan religion and philosophy proceeded along two well-marked directions. On the one hand, we find the idea of propitiating the different gods by means of worship, which led to the religious sacraments known as yajna or sacrifice. On the other hand, there developed a more philosophic concept about the nature of these gods, which culminated in the idea that all these gods are but the manifestations of a higher spirit. The Brahmanas developed the ritualistic side by elaborating the mechanical details of the yajna, while the philosophical ideas were developed in the Upanishads." Thus, shorn of very minor details the dividing line between the Tripuri religious faiths, and beliefs and those of the non-Tripuri seems to be extremely thin.

As Professor Bose observed, "All men have their hopes and fears, and to single out a few elements of Tripuri religions and to say that the latter are born only of fear is doing great injustice to them." In Tripura one finds an expression of some of the highest qualities of the Indo-mongoloid people under Hindu inspiration. The Tripuris, like other Bodo groups, had their Tripuri religion modified by Hinduism. At the same time, under the patronage of the Tripura rajas, a good deal of their religion and its rituals are preserved as a part of their religion. The Cantais (Priests-in-Chief) and the Deodais are regarded as the custodians of the Tripuri religion, and still occupy as exalted a position in society as the Brahmins in Hindu society.

An overwhelming majority among the important tribes in Tripura-the Tripuris, that is Tipras, Reangs, Jamatia, Noatias and Halams-are, to all intents and purposes, Hindus, and practise all the Hindu religious rites like any other Hindu. Certain rituals connected with even those pujas which are confined exclusively to them bear close similarity to those of the other Hindus. Similarly, the worship and festivities connected with the harvesting of the new crop by the Reangs have a close resemblance to the navanna festival of the Bengalees. The Halams and the Noatias are generally the followers of the Sakta cult, but most of the people belonging to the Kalai and Rupini sections of the former tribe follow Vaishnavism. The form of worship practiced by the abovementioned tribes is akin to that of other Hindus. At the same time, they are animistic, and believe in the existence of God in all elements of nature. God is one and omnipresent. They believe in the existence of spirit possessing supernatural power of doing harm. All places are holy as they are the seats of either good or bad spirits and, therefore, have to be appeased separately. The appeasement of the spirit is necessary (sometimes with sacrifice of animals held dear to the devotees) so that people are saved from a calamity in the form of failure of crop, famine, flood or epidemic.