Whither are We Nagas?
A veteran preacher from Israel addressed a mammoth gathering at the Kohima Local Ground (which I attendedearlier this year (2016). What is particularly relevant about his sermon, interalia, was his relevant revelation that the word “Naga” in Hebrew means “God’s hands outstretched over a Nation”.
The preacher went on to elaborate that his belief was God’s concern for the Naga people also True it is that the Israelites (Jacob’s genealogy) have been described as God’s “Chosen People”. But the roots and genealogy of the Israelites have been recorded as in Genisis 32: 28. Jacob was grandson of Abraham which means “Father of a Multitude”. From this it follows that Abraham was the Patriarch of descendants who eventually formed Nations comprising numerous communities. Genesis chapter 25 refers to the offsprings of Abraham through his first wife Sarah, her maidservant Hagar, and second wife Keturah after Sarah’s death. Ketura was a Hittite (Mongolian) and they had five sons and Our Khezha tradition maintained that we follow Medan and Angamis follow shuah’s religious rites. These two names are found in Genesis Chapter 25:1-3.
The dispersal of mankind is vividly described in Genesis Chapter 11. In course of time, historians and archaeologists have estimated that it could have been in around 3,000 B.C.
The Flood (Great Deluge) of 40 days and nights from which Noah, his wife, sons Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives survived in the Ark along with two every, sort of living creatures. According to Biblical calendar the Great flood came in 4990 B.C. The one mass earth (Pangea) was divided into our present continents etc during Peleg’s life i.e. 3153-2914 B.C – (Genesis 10:25).
Our Naga folklore speaks about the Great Deluge “Suluzhai” in one Poumai’s folksong and Miao Nagas maintained a legend that Noah carried a stone in his ark. According to the biblical calendar, the Great Deluge took place in 4990 B.C. MIAO in Tenyidie (Angami language) means “man”.
It has also been estimated that the legendary Chinese Yellow Emperor Huang Ti ruled people around Hwang Ho River basins in about 2,800 B.C. interestingly, our Zeliangrong brethren maintain that our ancestors had known about the Yellow Emperor Huang Ti-in fact, had lived during his time.
Hung Ti was reputedly a godly man. He was the transmitter of the earliest Acupuncture Treatises called “Familiar Conversations” as it is known today and confirmed by a recent excavation that an angel had been sent to treat him with Acupuncture. He and his personal physician Chi Po were taught the most important aspects of how life processes were maintained and how life force circulates in the body and how they can be re-ordered when there are disturbances to its proper flow by manipulating at the acupuncture points. This is described in the“Familiar Conversation”.
Yet interestingly, due to its floods that destroyed villages and farms and cultivated fields over the centuries, Hwang Ho, the Yellow River has also been described during the 20th Century as “China’s Sorrow” just as the river Damodar is called “Bengal’s Sorrow”.
Legend has it that during Huang Ti’s reign, 1,400 miles of China’s “Great Wall” was constructed to ward off the Mongols and other “Cruel” races who dared to venture into Chinese land to maraud and disturb them.
According to some historians, some of the people who lived in those days were known as “Miao”. I believe that they were our Naga forebears. To substantiate this, is the fact that there are many Miaos extant in Changlang and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh and the Naga Hill District of North Burma (now Myanmar). In fact, many Nagas in these areas are known as Miao. I visited Miao Town in Changlang District in 2012. I went there because I had read about the Miao in “Evidence of Truth;Science” written by Dr. E.K. Pearce (Page 139).
These Myths are called the “World Views” of primitive people. F.M. Savina reports in Histoire Les Miao published in Hongkong in 1930s. It concerns the World view of the original inhabitants of China called Miao.
“The Miao held an essentially monotheistic faith, they had never had a written language; they lived in tribes and are an ancient people having inhabited China before the present Chinese (notably the Majority Hans) pushed them towards the mountains in the south. They believe in a Supreme Being, Creator of the world and of men. Death came as a consequence of man’s sin. The woman had eaten white strawberries forbidden by the Lord of heaven. They know of a deluge followed by a dispersal of peoples.” (Is this not somewhat reminiscent of the story of creation as mentioned in the book of Genesis? And also descriptive of Naga folklore?
Be that as it may, it seems that after the Hans came to China (today 95% if Chinese are Hans – also known as Hansons), they used force even brutally on all aspects of life not the least being continued construction of the Great Wall of China. It was during Ching rule (228BC – 221 BC) that remaining 6000 miles of the Great Wall was continued with forced labour. Not able to tolerate this excessive brutality the Miao were not only driven to mountains but also deserted in droves towards the South. The Hans followed the Yangste Sui Kiang River which flows along the mainland of China and merges into the Chinese Sea around the part of Shanghai.
In fact, our Naga ancestors moved to the mountains by different routes throughout South and South East Asia to escape from their persecutors. This I will describe in detail in another write-up book.
Meanwhile, suffice it to say for now, that as there are more than 40 (forty) tribes comprising the Nagas and each different tribe has its own version of their origin. However, the common factor binding them all is the common origin/descent from the Miao dispersed all over south and South-East Asia and yet preserved certain traditions and customs which are definitely similar. This in spite of all their afflictions under various ethnic and political compulsions.
As an instance, when the Late Isak Chishi Swu was Foreign Secretary under Federal Govt. of Nagaland, he had been in Burma for over 15 (fifteen) years had interacted with Kachins. He came to learn that Kachins and Nagas had very common custom. He had also mentioned about our migration in more detail particularly while they were leaving Kachin.
Hence there is no doubt that God’s hands have been outstretched over the Naga people throughout the centuries.
In all their vicissitudes, our Naga ancestors survived and their legacy is still being carried on forward in Naga-inhabited areas primarily in Nagaland State and the contiguous areas. The father of the (now) Naga nation, A.Z. Phizo had once passed through my village Pfutseromi (then Tekhouba). He reiterated to our people that India would cause us much sorrow and even take over our lands.
In effect, he implied that in politics there is always the factor of negotiations (literally bargaining) to emphasize and assert Naga sovereignty. This meant adhering to the essence of give and take to the satisfaction of the contending parties viz:- Government of India and the mandated entity of Nagas as a whole.
Thus, enthused by Phizo, 99.9 o% of the Nagas gave their thumb prints in the plebiscite of 1951 for sovereignty. As a matter of fact, where peaceful means through dialogue fail or break down, violence through the barrel of the gun follows. Enough of violence in our lives. A Chaplain, Yiethihu, who was gifted with some visions, asserted that the “kingdom of Nagaland is very precious” and that “arms will not be used but that faith will be used in the fulfilment of Naga aspirations.
The full text of the framework Agreement between Government of India (GOI) and NSCN (IM) is yet to be made public thus giving rise to all kinds of speculations. In a time of globalization when the world itself has become a global village, sovereignty of any nation or people cannot be isolationist. There has to be some sort of give and take (compromise ?) but with honour for all concerned.
Many times in the past, some solution was inherent but got scrapped because of differences among our national workers/leaders, unfortunately so. Now the position of Government of India is that sovereignty is out of question. So also is integration of all contiguous Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with Nagaland is a no-no. Also had not the integration of contiguous Naga –inhabited areas been a major point of Naga aims also? Of our Naga brethren in Myanmar, it has international ramifications and so warrants another chapter.
So then, what is the most likely political solution that all sections of Nagas will accept without loss of dignity?
And yet, remember always that the hands of God are outstretched over the Naga people. Keep praying for it so. The book of Ezekiel chapter 17 is also reminiscent in this connection. Please read it.
Dr. N. Kezienuo
(The writer is a retired Deputy Director of Nagaland Health &Family Welfare. He has been engaed in Naga medicinal research for many years and promoting Naga healing methods. He has also written books in this connection.)