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The Historical, Archaeological, Religious & Cultural Significance Of 'Kangla': The Ancient Citadel Of Manipur

Pandit N.Khelchandra Singh


5.Lallup & Panna Systems As Introduced By Pakhangba:

All the seven erstwhile principalities of Manipur became united under Pakhangba as the overlord. However, T.C.Hodson10 would doubt if the Moirang principality enjoyed independence even as late as 1413 A.D. Likewise even the Angoms and the Khumals would be doubted. But the otherwise irrefutable fact used to be the warring nature of all seven principalities, wherein such overlordship might easily be challenged at a particular point of time, thereby necessitating reclamation on behalf of the overlord. The upshot is however that Pakhangba attained unprecedentedly superior position over ancient Manipur.

The significance of Pakhangba's reign lies in his bold attempt to turn the tide against joint family system by introducing Lallup (forced male labour in return for land-use) and to also restructure the then disorganized society in his kingdom into four Pannas or divisions and consolidate the system of administration, including stationing of 400 regular militia always available in Kangla. Lallup or forced male individual labour per se has been described by Brown as 'an institution…of the greatest consequence to the people of Manipur.'11

And this system of Lallup 'was first introduced, it is said, in the reign of Pakhangba, and it has undergone little change since.' For it remained in force till the Britishers overran Manipur and abolished it while introducing land revenue system based on permanent land settlement to farmers so as to realize land revenue with which modern administration with proper budgeting could be had. A brief account of Lallup as perceived by none other than Brown is thus in order:

"The general system of lallup is based on the assumption that it is the duty of every male between the ages of 17 and 60 to place his services at the disposal of the state, without remuneration, for a certain number of days in each year….The number of days thus placed nominally at the disposal of the state is ten days in every forty. This ten-days-service is so arranged that a man works his ten days and has an interval of thirty with regularity all the year round. On an individual coming of age to perform Lallup, he is entitled to cultivate for his support one purree of land, subject to the payment in kind of the tax to the raja. In the case of permanent illness or disability, a man under sixty may be excused from labour, but notice must be given and the authorities satisfied of the true nature of the case."

"In the event of an individual wishing to escape his turn of duty, he must either provide a substitute or pay a certain sum, which sum goes to pay for a substitute if required, or the rest of the lallup may agree to do the extra duty receiving the money. In no case does the money paid for exemption go to Government. A payment of twelve annas will, it is said, exempt a man for forty days. Over every Lallup or class of labourer independent of number is an officer named the "Lakpa" who is responsible for the performance of the prescribed duties. There is no lallup for women."12

To summon all these lallup to the Kangla at the king's command, a big royal drum (Kangla Pungjao) had to be beaten five times to herald invasion by attacking enemies or declaration of war. Subsequently cavalry unit would be utilized to inform the people and gang up the lallup. Every able-bodied countrymen had to report running to the Kangla.13 Such signal used to play a vital role, as the palace had very few regular infantry. After 1627, the Kangla drum was replaced by gunshots. McCulloch describes the Manipur Royal Army as 'militia'. L.W. Shakespeare comments: "The Raja's army was of the nature of a militia 3,000 strong, of whom 400 men at a time were embodied for a year's service, after which they were changed for others, so that in course of time all in the militia received military training."14

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