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Points To Ponder
First published 2013
Have you ever wondered why belief is so powerful that it masks the facts; atheism is a prophetless religion; the Sun was once a god; Why does a person’s skin darken in the Sun; Why do people have to die; why do Africans have short flat noses, while Middle Easterners and Indians have big noses; and why do Meiteis have less body hair?
This book is all about these questions, with the addition of a personal study of the Meitei race and their language.
Points To Ponder is a splendid collection that is fascinating for a browser and is a ‘must read’ for every intelligent Manipur youngster and adult alike. It covers a variety of topics, ranging from the current to pre-War political and social aspects of Manipur. It gives easy explanations of evolution, theology, philosophy, agnosticism, cosmology, physics and archaeology, and contains abstract ideas and principles, as well as narrative events of a historical nature.
Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood – Friedrich Nietzsche
Any man, who will look into his heart and honestly write what he sees there, will find plenty of readers – Ed Howe
Do not trouble yourself about standards or ideals, but try to be faithful and natural with your writing … – William Dean Howells
Dr. Mohendra Irengbam is a man whose writing proficiency fulfills what the above adages say about, and is a writer with many more unexpected rare talents of much higher calibre than those of many other popular writers; unexpected because he is a physician, an MRCP who did enormously heavy practice in the UK. This, any reader will easily see in his book ‘Points to Ponder.’ Knowing it, howsoever, one does not become a good writer the next day. To be a good writer it takes lots of things: study, hard work, experience, wide reading and traveling, calibre, honesty, a good amount of rational sensitivity, appealing language, courage and boldness, a keen insight; most of all, a style of his or her own.
Points to Ponder
Dr Mohendra Irengbam Singh
Vrinda Publications (P) Ltd Delhi 2013
Price: Rs. 350/- Pages 420
If you are searching for a book that says everything about Manipur, Manipuris (Meiteis specifically) and relevant matters with other ethnical groups in the state: their history, socio-politico-economical matters, art & culture, literature & language (again Meiteilon specifically), hypothesis about the genesis of the Meiteis, conflicts in Manipur: the list is long; hardly is there anything, to do with Manipur, left out: this is the book.
Apart from what is about Manipur he has dealt highly intellectual accounts excellently on the origin of the universe: Big-bang theory, God particle, black hole, origin of life, genetic transmission, mutations of genes in homo-sapiens to get separated from apes although of common ancestry, so on and so forth. Precisely his is a knowledge-packed ‘page opener’, a ‘must read’ book for youngsters as well as for adults who would like to seek knowledge and intellect, maybe of Manipur, or elsewhere in any part of the world for that matter.
When his writes-up appeared in the Sunday columns of the local daily, Sangai although the topics stirred the readers, however the impression did not last long; but now when they are arrayed in the book then the reading has become much more appealing and meaningful, not to let down journalism products.
The book has 4 chapters: i) Meiteis and Manipur with 38 articles ii) God and Religion with 25 articles iii) Science and Philosophy with 30 articles and iv) Historical Events with 17 articles. These 4 chapters have covered almost everything there is to it of world-knowledge with a profile of world view on each topic. The author himself says that his book is all about questions on ‘why do people have to die’, ‘why do Africans have flat noses while Middle Easterners and Indians have big noses’, ‘why do the Meiteis have less body hair’, ‘atheism is a prophet-less religion’, ‘the sun was once a god’, ‘why does a person’s skin darkens in the sun’ and ‘the birth of Meitei ethno-nationalism’, and of course many more interesting topics with catchy captions like ‘how was Kangleipak (Manipur) raised from the bottom of the sea’, each a treatise with captivating salient elements on the subject matter.
In his article, ‘A Meitei’s Dream’ he writes, ‘Though there is no country in the world where the people in it are equally happy but in Manipur all the people are equally unhappy’. This is the art of writing. With this short half-metaphorical sentence he has sketched the true picture of the present Manipur. He knows how to use idiomatic ironical parlance in his writing.
To the aspiring belligerent youths of Manipur he says, ‘Wherever there is a will there is not always a way’. What he wants to say is perhaps the youth better take up sensible, reasonable and realizable approaches like mass movements to achieve their goal or dream instead of taking up arms that has proved to be a bounce-back-damage to their own end.
He touches areas which will arouse intense interest in the minds of any knowledge-thirsty reader: ‘Modern geneticists worldwide now have proven from DNA studies that about 50,000 years ago our human ancestors left North East Africa … One group … through the north east land corridor of India (perhaps Manipur) into South East Asia … Back in freezing Manipur at the end of the Pleistocene age, when the expanse of water in the valley dried up … at the end of the Ice Age (the last Glacial Maximus) about 21,000-17,000 years ago … our ancestors came down to settle in the valley’ Meiteis and Manipur, page 22. ‘The origin of the Meiteis … the missing link of Meitei evolution will be found in the foreseeable future by decoding the full sequence of DNA of the Meitei genome’ page 29.
To verify Mohendra’s hypothesis it is strongly suggested that the Depts. of Anthropology, Linguistics, Manipuri Language of the Manipur University, and Art & Culture and Education Depts. of the Government of Manipur should lose no time to take up a project on the determination of the Human Genome among the Manipuri ethnics. In fact researchers had already accomplished such fact-finding explorations for the Khasis of Meghalaya, the ethnics of Arunachal Pradesh and even for those of Nagaland, and had revealed many new data. Perhaps it is Manipur which is left alone without such a venture. This is another example of the old habit of lethargy and slow fall-behind nature of the Manipuris and their intelligentsia.
From Mohendra’s book we have come to know that certain Indian linguists have published books about Meiteilon (Meithei) to the world’s notice e.g. Shobana Lakshmi Chelliah, Prof of Linguistics at the University of North Texas.
However Dr Irengbam shows his doubts about her book because he challenges the lack of authenticity of Dr. George Abraham Grierson, an Irish who with his interest elsewhere sat in Calcutta (1894-1928) and wrote about the Meithei language based on information collected from some local superficial enthusiast. Mohendra has pointed out that her book is based on what Grierson accounted.
REVIEW II – POINST TO PONDER
A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure in which he reveals to us the inner working of his soul – Leo Tolstoy
The writer does the most who gives reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time – Sydney Smith
Dr. Mohendra Irengbam taunts at the innate mutterings of religious people or people of faith saying, ‘Ishwar kee leela’ or ‘Allah kee meherbani’ or ‘it’s God’s will’. He wants to be a free thinker. Whether he believes in the existence of God or not, or is it a fallacy, he seriously debates in depth here in this book.
Points to Ponder
Dr Mohendra Irengbam Singh
Vrinda Publications (P) Ltd Delhi 2013
Price: Rs. 350/- Pages 420
However he has challenged with a vital question, ‘What was God doing before He created the Universe?’ The answer will be difficult. Logically God also must have been born with the birth of the universe. He captions a paragraph, ‘God Particle – Found on July 4, 2012’ in his article ‘The God Particle and God’, page 319-324. Perhaps scientists are going to claim, in fact they have already begun to, that neutrino, a sub-atomic particle that permeates everywhere in the universe and in the bodies of the living organisms, in reaction with ‘Higg’s field’ is the phenomenon that created the universe and lives on earth later. Hence scientists have used the word ‘God Particle’ as the nomenclature of this complex.
About the ‘flat-broke’ grim situation of power supply in Manipur Dr. Irengbam remarks, ‘Some 15 million babies are born prematurely every year in the world and one million will die while many others are disabled. But 75% of these deaths could be avoided if electricity and expensive drugs that only science provides were available in both the developed and developing countries’ (WHO), – Energy Conservation and Immoral Electricity in Manipur, page143-146. He is absolutely right to have commented, ‘Electricity is an energy that does all kinds of work.’ The modern world is one where energy and its technology is the cornerstone of everything. If a place or region is deficient of this essential merchandise then it has to live in its history only. It is baffling what Manipur is doing about electricity at this kind of situation at this present age. Who can say what if it is the wish of the state or the people. In vision of a Green Earth some countries have already started to generate electricity from ‘technologies … to use saline sea water for energy production … from solar ponds and algae (kang in Manipuri)… solar ponds with salt water trap the heat from the sun that can be used to generate electricity’.
Many immensely interesting and mind blowing topics in good numbers are here in this book. A modern man better read it if he wants to know where he is living, where he stands, what happened before he was born, what is going on in the environment around him and many more new things, explored lately.
Mohendra is a born writer. His evolution from being a physician clinician to becoming a writer itself is the evidence. The outer cocoon may be of strong elemental sheet, if one is to be a born writer, nothing can resist the writer inside the cocoon. Perhaps he never toyed with the idea of becoming a writer at the first place during his early days. When he began to drift towards retiring from active professional job he took to reading. The fruit came out, his first book, My Search for God, followed by two more, Quest beyond Religion and another. During his boyhood and youthful days he grew up as an agnostic and skeptical unbeliever (if not non-believer). Who could say reminiscence of these boyhood days of his will bring nostalgia of his home and neighborhood to him later in his life? Meandering into the memory lane how he went to swim with friends in the ponds at Lamphel Pat under the shadow of the Langol Hills, how he and his friends came back from school, barefoot on the Uripok-Kangchup road, dusty during winter and muddy during rainy season, how they used to clasp at the back of a truck (a Chevrolet Lorry, they used to call it) that used to trudge along that road to reach home faster or maybe just for the heck of enjoying a short ride, intense nostalgia very often rushed in him. It is a natural feeling for somebody who loves his birth place. The fruit of this love was his book, The Origin of the Manipuris: Manipuri is not a Tibeto-Burman Language. He did not stop with that. He continued writing a Sunday column in the local daily Sangai Express (English version) and this book Points to Ponder took its birth.
It is difficult to judge what genre this book belongs to. There are certain elements to call it kind of an autobiography or kind of a travelogue, or a scientific essay on the origin of the universe and lives on it, or something all about Manipur. Part by part he writes as an anthropologist, at times as an archaeologist, a geologist, a physicist, a geneticist, a linguist, a historian, a philosopher, a theology expert, a psychologist, a neuroscientist, an astronomer, a cosmologist; he can fit anywhere, with fascinating facts and truthful materials at that. An anthropologist or an archaeologist or geologist normally goes to the field for their works; Dr. Irengbam’s work-field is his library which undoubtedly has a huge collection of information and documentations. It is a feat of the philanthropist in him that he started to contribute his columns with this series of information for the sake of the growth of knowledge among the youths in Manipur, or of any place elsewhere.
I am sure I would not be wrong to say that Dr. Mohendra Irengbam Singh is maintaining a good health in spite of his age, and I wish he lives many, many more years to write more precious things to enlighten the knowledge-thirsty pillars of the future generation of the human race.