The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Five. Heathens and Baptists
caption: discussion of supernatural events, gods and spirits
medium: books
person: Sakchimtuba
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Merangkong Chantongia
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: I thanked my hosts for the delicious rice-beer by offering them cigarettes, which were much appreciated even by the ladies; and as it so often happens when alcohol inspires the mind, our conversation turned to supernatural things. I welcomed this turn, for I wanted to clarify a doubt about the deities of the Aos. The old men were delighted to find a white man who took an interest in their beliefs instead of decrying all their old gods as evil spirits.
text: "Why should we not pray to Lunkizungba?." wondered Sakchimtuba. "Is not he lord over all? Even our life belongs to him."
text: But when you invoke him, does he really help?" I asked carefully.
text: "Certainly, Sahib; he sees all and helps everybody. If we ask something of him, we receive it. Of course," he added with a smile, "we cannot become rich when we want."
text: "You say that Lunkizungba is the lord over all, but in Chantongia the people told me that they prayed to Lichaba at their sacrifices."
text: "Oh yes, Lichaba ! We, too, give him offerings. He made the earth. But first we always call Lunkizungba, for he was there first. He is like the wind, and he made the sky. Also the sun and the moon he made -- only afterwards Lichaba made the earth. But it (55) was Lunkizungba who made men, therefore we belong to him." "Well, then Lunkizungba is certainly greater than Lichaba. But do you know how he made man?"
text: "No, Sahib, how shall we know that? It was a long time ago, and the people have always said only that it was Lunkizungba who made man."
text: "And when a man dies, what do you believe happens to him ?",
text: "The dead -- they go to a distant land. At its entrance Moyotsung keep guards. He leads the men who have lived a good life into a good village, but thieves and murderers he sends to a bad place. Men are afraid of him, and therefore they try to be good."
text: Sakchimtuba became pensive and was silent for a while; then, as with a sudden resolution, he turned again to me and asked almost timidly :
text: "Sahib, I should like to ask you something. The white men say that Lunkizungba is an evil spirit to whom we should not pray, they say that all who do not believe what they believe are cast into a great fire. I had a wife -- she was a good woman and gave me many children, never did she stop working. Then she died -- it must have been five years ago. Do you think, Sahib, that she, too, was thrown into a fire? Our fathers, who all sacrificed to Lunkizungba, have they all been thrown into the fire?"
text: "No, Sakchimtuba, you must not worry about your wife. I am sure that she went to the same place where all honest people go. Lunkizungba is the same as the God of the Christians; only the names are different. But Lunkizungba, who knows everything, does not care about the name we give him. He looks after you, and he is looking after your wife in the land of the dead, where you will meet her again."