Transcendent Melodies: Nat Sankirtan and the Spiritual Voyage of the Meitei in Manipur

A form of singing known as Nat Sankirtan was brought to the Meitei of Manipur, a small state in North East India. Maipur has a lengthy history as a princely state under the authority of numerous monarchs. The great masters and scholars of that time founded the composition of the Padavali on the traditional Raga-Ragini of classical music tradition as well as on the Bhagawata and other important Vaishnavite texts. Modern study has found numerous regional undertones in the specific Raga and Ragini's architecture. The recital of Nat Sankirtan, which the Meiteis claim as their own, is unquestionably a sort of communal prayer, or Mahayajna as they call it. It is intensely ritualized and lasts for nearly five hours. The dances and rhythms closely resemble Vaishnavite beliefs. A Sangeet in the truest meaning of the word, Nat Sankirtan is a synthesis of music, dance, and tala. Additionally, it is a poem rendered visible, or Drishya Kavya. Nat Sankirtan plays a significant role in Meitei society's daily existence. The reason for this is that as people age and approach mortality, they listen to Hari-naam to atone for all the wrongdoings of the past and allow them to pass away peacefully.Following death, the deceased would be taken by family members for final rituals. Raga will be the first note of the Nat Sankirtan during the shraddha ritual. Pinddaan cannot be offered prior to the beginning of the prayers and the invocation of the deity. The spouse or son of the deceased individual will take a bath and put on clean clothes after offering the Pindadan. When Raga Vijay is being performed towards the conclusion of the Sankirtan, he will then arrive and pay his respects. The guardian (main vocalist) of the Mandap sends the deceased spirit to Baikunthdham, a paradise, to conclude the Shraddha ceremony. Naam Sankirtan is crucial in the event of a demise within a home. The process will begin with Naam Sankirtan during a ten-day period of sorrow, or Dashahan, and continue with other activities such as comprehension of Srimad Bhagavad Geeta.Once the Sankirtan has started, the Gira Thangba, the bereaved person, will offer Pindadan. Asti Sanchay, the ceremony for removing the ashes from the grave, involves the singing of Sankirtan. In this way, Meitei Nat Sankirtan Mahayajna has long since established itself as a necessary occasion in people's lives. Nat Sankirtan is, in a nutshell, the highest form of karma in Meitei culture. This essay makes an effort to comprehend Nat Sankirtan's significant contribution to Manipuri culture.


The Meitei community of Manipur, an Indian state in the northeast, engages in Nat Sankirtan as a customary religious ritual. It is a distinctive style of devotional music that tells the narrative of Lord Krishna's life and teachings through singing, dance, and storytelling. We will examine the background, significance, and cultural setting of Nat Sankirtan of Meitei in this study paper. The Vaishnava saint Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu introduced Nat Sankirtan to the Meitei people in the 18th century, which is when Nat Sankirtan's origins can be found. It soon became well-liked among the Meitei people and was a crucial component of their religious and cultural identity. With the addition of new instruments like the harmonium, dholak, and mridanga, Nat Sankirtan developed into a complex art form over time. Nat Sankirtan is a vital component of Meitei culture and heritage and is done today in a variety of ways, including Raslila, Sankirtan, and Kirtan.

For devotees of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Nat Sankirtan is a form of worship. It is regarded as a Mahayajna (complete sacrifice). The aesthetics and philosophy of Srimad Bhagawata are the foundations of Vaishnava architecture. The Srimad Bhagavata claims that the only honour in the Kaliyug is Hari Sankirtan (chanting the Lord's name), and that via Sankirtan, a person can achieve their goals and achieve moksha. Through dhyan in the Satyayuga, yajnas in the Tretayuga, pooja in the Dwaparyuga, and Hari Sankirtan in the Kaliyuga, one can achieve mukti. To achieve salvation in the Kali Yuga, the aforementioned dhyan, puja, yajana, etc. are all combined or fused into the shape of Hari Sankirtan. As a means of liberating the mortal and assisting him in obtaining moksha, Sri Chaitanya or Lord Gouranga gave a discourse on the importance and significance of Sankirtan.

Nimai Sannyas          

Nimai Sainyas is one of the prominent sankirtan sung in Shraddha ceremony. Performers are using their costumes with white clothes like Feijom (Dhoti), Kokyet (Turban), Lengyan (Sawl) without shirts. The bit of 4/4 and 3/4 is used in the composition and they have their particular name. Some names of Taal used in this Sankirtan are- 1. Teental (with 7 matras) 2. Tanchap (with 8 matras) 3. Menkup(with 6 matras) 4. Chari Taal(with 14 matras) 5. Rajmel (16 matras) etc.  Manggang instrument is used only on the first day of the death and during Dasha Hon period or Ashthi Sanchay sankirtan. music is used to perform.musical instrument Moibung (wind instrument), Meitei Pung (Manipur Percussion Instrument), Kartal, Jhal is used .The honor of the family, Brahman, Arangpham, Shaman and performers are interconnected to each other for celebrating the ceremony. The lyrics of the Naimai Sannyas is too long and it is of minimum three hrs performance in Shraddha ceremony. The lyrics of the Nimai Sainyas is majorly taken from the Nimai Chitrakatha and some other books of Nimai Sannyas. And it conveys the social message that Nimai is leaving the physical world and the asking to take care of mom on behalf of his absence. Few verses of the lyrics of Nimai Sannyas is mentioned below in Manipuri dialect and also the English translation of the lyrics sung during the Shraddha ceremony. 


In Manipuri Language


Leihouroko Bishnupriya

Eidi Chatlage Sainyas Fanglage

Leihouroko Bishnupriya…


Mapok Asima Nangbu Hundoklamledo

Nang Warouganu

Leihouroko Bishnupriya


Emagi Pukning Nungshihanganu

Luna Touko Emabu

Eidi chatle Pran Priye

Eidi Chatle Eidi Chatle

Leihouroko Bishnupriya


Ei saktuna Nangna

Emagi Seba Touro Prem Priye

Ei Saktuna


Nungaiba saruk Fangjaraktrabi

Eibu Pokpi Emani

Eidi Chatle Prem Priye

Eid Chatle Chatle

Leihouroko Bishnupriye


English Translation


Goodbye Bishnupriya

I am leaving as as sanyasi

Goodbye Bishnupriya


For this life I am leaving you

Don't be distressed with me

Goodbye Bishnupriya


Don't make my mother melancholious

Do take good care of her

But I am leaving oh my sweetheart

Goodbye Bishnupriya


On my behalf sweetheart

Please serve my mom as your own


Happiness and joy was never her life

Who gave birth to me

I am leaving though my sweetheart

I am leaving

Goodbye Bishnupriya

Fig :1.1 Shradha Ceremony

Note: Full Paper is published as Book chapter (AERA) RM Research International Pte.Ltd, Singapore 2023, and can be access from ISBN 978-981-18-1725-2


Kumar Sargam, Monica Soibam, Dr. Vishweshwari Tiwari and Rashmita Saikia 


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