The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes taken by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: Jadonang's house in Kambiron, and his temples
caption: extract from the report of the trial of Gaidileu
medium: notes
person: JadonangGaidileuGaidileuGaipuiga/ of KambironKhengui/ of KambironTiningam/ of Kambiron
location: Kambiron
date: 11.1938
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, folder 3
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: (further notes by U.G.B.)
text: Jadonang's own house in Kambiron village was large and elaborately decorated, and in front of it were a number of posts marking sacrifices, mostly of mithan. There seem to have been about thirty posts all told. As far as I know the house is still standing and is the one we visited in November, 1938, but all trace of the posts has disappeared, and there is no sign of either of the temples.
text: Both the temples were built to Jadonang's orders and stood on high platforms approached by ladders or steps, and the older of them stood near his house. It was oblong in plan and contained side-benches described as being like 'canon' stalls in a cathedral'. In the middle were four chairs which had been sent up from Cachar, and each had a dirty white felt had on the seat; the P.A. reported that they were where the elders sat, but Jadonang himself said that they were for the girls, who were supposed to put the hats on when they prayed. It was suggested that the hats represented the four Manipuri heads, but this was denied by Jadonang and the other Nagas. There was also a pulpit, or a raised and railed place from which he used to preach, and in a side aisle or a room apart from the main nave were a perambulator for his son and a tin bath, said by the P.A. to be 'not much used'. Jadonang said that this was for the worshippers to wash in before they prayed or offered sacrifice.
text: The other temple was much more elaborate. The centre room had the same side benches, but in the middle was a sacrificial block covered with blood. Behind that was an inner room or shrine reached by an ornamental stair. Behind the shrine door was a red curtain, and inside the room itself were two clay figures - about two or three feet high, to judge by the photographs - both of Nagas, and dressed in complete miniature Kabui costumes. They were painted white, with 'black hair, eyes, mouth, etc.' There was also a clay model of a mithun, small in proportion to the other figures, and looking much the same size and shape as a Boston bulldog. Jadonang stated several times that the figures represented Vishnu and his wife, but their dress was purely Kabui. Also in the shrine were five black stones, described as 'lucky', and Rs. 1/9/6 in small change.
text: Above the shrine was a platform reached by another stair, and on the platform was a chair with its back to the main room. Above the chair was a live python, coiled along the ridge of the roof. Three pythons were caught at various times, but one died and one escaped, and the only survivor was this one at Kambirong. It seems to have been fed on the goats sacrificed on the block below, but no details about ritual appear anywhere in the files.
text: There are said to have been similar temples at Nungkao and Binnakandi. I have not been able to find anything about that at Nungkao, except that an attempt was made to keep a python there. The Binnakandi temple was an important one, and there are constant references to it. It seems to have stood near a cave, to which the only account which gives any details refers as 'a tunnel'. Goats were sacrificed here too, and the account goes on to say that a Manipuri Brahman was in charge of the temple, but that it had now been defiled and nobody went there.
text: One of the most surprising features of the whole affair is the extraordinary influence exerted by Jadonang and Gaideleu. Quite early in his career Jadonang had collected no less than seventy mithan, offered more from fear of possible harm than in the hope of benefits. He seems to have done nothing in return except promise prosperity to the village concerned and hand out bottles of what purported to be medicine and was most probably water. There is no mention of any increase in harvest or miraculous cures as a result of the offerings made to him, but village after village heard that its neighbours had sent gifts and immediately followed suit. Chief among what one might call the planks in his platform was the promise of the Naga Raj. This was to be preceded by a general massacre of the Kukis, the excuse for which being a story of atrocities committed by Kukis on two captured Naga girls. When the Kukis were stamped out the Nagas would be supreme with Jadonang as their head. Also mixed up with the idea of the Naga Raj was a vague story of a magic spear and dao, or dao alone, which were to be recovered from under water - at least two tanks are mentioned, and the Barak River twice - and would make their possessor great, or invincible, or the Naga Raja, or all three together.
text: (Further handwritten notes) If Jadonang's influence was great, it was completely eclipsed by that of Gaideleu - not so much among the Kabui, who had had quite enough trouble for the present, and professed themselves heartily sick of the whole affair - but among the Katcha Nagas; and it was only her spectacular failure to bullet-proof her followers, as she had promised, in their attack on the police-post, which damped the mounting enthusiasm for her cause.
text: The following minor points may be of interest. Gaideleu, speaking of the murder uses the expression 'Killing a white fowl' as a recognised euphemism for killing human beings. The murder was only discovered through one of the young men involved in wearing head-hunter's insignia - a cloth with human hair woven into it, or used as decoration in some way - and boating of the killing.
text: In conclusion, it is surprising how little information there is on the beliefs and ritual of Kambiron's new religion; nothing came out of the evidence beyond the sometimes contradictory account by Jadonang, and the only other references are the accounts in letters and tour diaries.
text: Extract from trial of Gaidileu.
text: Gaipuiga of Kambiron: - I know of the murder of the 4 Manipuris in our village two years ago. (March, 1930 - Ed.) I was ill in my house at the time. During the murder a boy came and called me, saying I was called by Gaidileu to the murder. I went up in spite of my illness and there I saw Gaidileu standing outside the Rest House Compound on the road. When Gaidileu saw me ill and weak she told me to go back to my house after feeling my pulse.
text: Q. Before the trial in P.A.'s court you said it was Gaidileu who came to your house and called you to the murder. Is that true?
text: A. No. I meant to say I was called to the murder by Gaidileu. She did not actually come to my house to call me.
text: Q. You also said "Gaidileu took me as far as the bungalow, but as I was ill she let me go home again". Is that true?
text: A. No. I meant to say I was called there by Gaidileu.
text: Khengui of Kambiron: - I was not present in the village when the murder was committed. I was away at Jirighat buying salt. I returned two days after the murder. When I returned Gaidileu was in the village. Gaidileu is the present accused. I was told on my return that Gaidileu and Jadonang instigated the murder.
text: Tiningam of Kambiron: - I know of the murder of the 4 Manipuris in our village. I was not present at the murder and I do not know if Gaidileu was present or not. I know she was in our village on the night of the murder, but I do not know in whose house she was living. The morning after the murder, Jadonang gave me a head of the dead Manipuris to be taken to Okoklong, and that morning I saw Gaidileu in the summang of Jadonang.