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WHO ARE THE BRU (Riang) PEOPLE OF INDIA ?
The term ‘Bru’ is name of a particular tribe of Sino- Tibetan orTibeto-Burmese origin, having different dialects, but bear some culture, heritage, habit, mentality, physical appearance and so on ( Linguistically some way little familiar to Austro-Asiatic family). Most of the so called research scholars do not have any clear cut idea about the meaning of the term Bru. In his book ‘The Riangs of Tripura’ Dr. Jagadish Gan Chudhury, ex- assistant Professor of Bir Bikram Evening College, Agartala, has misinterpreted the meaning of Bru as Man. In Bru language Man or entire human being is called ‘ Brouh/Brok/Borok’.In India, especially in north-eastern states, the Bru are popularly and widely known as the Riangs. As a matter of fact, the Riang is one of the major royal clans of the Bru tribe.In course of time, the tyrannical Kaskau (King) who belongedto the Riang clan had forced his subjects belonging to all clans of the Bru people to assimilate themselves with his particular clan and consequently, the Bru people have come to known as Riang in north-east India.Anthropologicalsources available with us revels the original home place of the Bru people was the valley of the Yangtse and Hoangho rivers in China, from where they had migrated about 3000 ( Three thousand) B.C in different waves to various places of south-east Asia like north-east India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Bangladesh in searchof fertile shifting cultivation.The above statement is more promptly supported by the BruAukchaih (Priest) kaumahthai (The hymn of the Bru Priest). “Among Yangrima, Among Hangrima, Tuibuni bu Magrama, Moingni bu Tuiphangyouhma,Mairjang-Muirjang rinaima, Ha-ni Kaingmali-chungmali bagrama, Among Yangrima, Among Hangrima, Aiyang bai kongye khlumyauhnaima,Dutong-Raitong,Samsa-Dusa, Kirti-Sigol bai ktaoh saye khlumyauhnaima,Bru baithangni bu saroitima…”In English, “Oh! Mother Yangtse and the Mother Hoangho rivers; you are the mother of all rivers and streams. The valleys, the Mountains and the hills are all yours. They follow the direction of all yours ways. You are the treasures of all wealth, crops and vegetables. The tallest and the biggest trees beneath their heads on your mighty feet. The creepers, the flowers, the grasses and the flora-fauna salute you with heartfelt respect. The Bru people had come into the existence both from your blessing and loving care…”The Bru tribal have a several Sub-Tribes, having different dialects. The dialects may vary with the neighboring villages.In Tripura there are 17 (Seventeen) Sub-Tribes or “Panji” (Clans) available. The Riangs are one of the Sub-Tribes of theBru people. For the non-Bru speaking people it may be astonishing, that in Tripura among the Bru people the Riangs Sub-Tribe are found very rare and they are the Minority groups in Tripura. All over Tripura, the Riangs are found only in Kanchanpur Sub-Division at Machmara about sixty to seventy families, in Santir Bazar Sub-Division seven to eight families, Amarpur Sub- Division hardly five to six families.The Bru people have a tale, how their ancestors had happened to be the subject of Tripura Maharaja. The Bru people have their own independent kingdom. The Bru name of Chitagang was Chati-kati, where they living independently, under the rule of Bru Kaskau (King). But in course of time the Riang Sub-Tribe under the leadership of Siyangha from upper-Myanmar invaded Chati-Kati and killed the Kaskau, who belonged to the Msa Sub-Tribe of the Bru. The kaskau of the Riangs stared to rule over Chati-Kati. The eldest son ofSiyangha was Paiyarai. Therefore Siyangha was also called Paiya Pha, later on the second son of Paiya Pha was Iyangha.Iyangha was croned as Kaskau (King). The eldest son of Iyangha was Sawrthangha, the son of Sawrthang was Pawrsaih, and the son of Pawrshaih was Nakehha. In this was Howangha, therefore Nakehha was also known as Howang Pha. Howang Pha was very cruel and tyranny. He forced all other Sub-Tribes to introduce themselves as RiangSub-Tribe. Since then, by the non-Bru speaking people the Bru are popularly known as Riang and the kingdom was also came to be known as Riang kingdom. Being unable to bear his (Riang kaskau’s) rule the ordinary people of Riang kingdom, dispatched twelve emissaries to the court of Maharaja Govinda Manikya of Tripura for the Military assistance to fight against the Riang kaskau. The emissaries were-1.Yongsika2.Paisika(Two brothers) 3.Tuilongha 4.Tuikluha (Two brothers) 5.Somsawha 6.Paisomha (Two brothers) 7.Mondokha 8. Sondokha 9.Sorjongla 10.Rjongla (Two brothers) 11.Mongoho 12.Mtomha (Two brothers).Theemissaries got lost in the huge valleys and forested peaks of Devtamura and so were forced to take the river route, along the river Gomati. As fate would have it the king of Tripura had closed that route as he was performing Ganga puja near his capital at Udaipur. The emissaries were arrested and were about to be sacrificed but the king deprived them. After hearing their tale, he dispatched a huge army with themto destroy the kaskau, But the troops were defeated by the kaskau’s forces. Some were killed; other married to Bru damsels and settled down there. Many expeditions sent later, similarly failed to return. The Maharaja got worried and sent seven of his most well trained and faithful armies along with big number of forces. This time the kaskau who belonged to Riang Sub-Tribe was defeated and killed. During that time the Riang Sub-Tribe fled to upper-Myanmar and leftonly a few number in Riang kingdom. So, since then onward the Bru people became under direct control of Maharaja of Tripura. Some Riangs were arrested and brought to the courtof Maharaja for slavery life and sometimes they were forced to the Maharaja’s palanquin bearers.After the defeat of Riang kaskau, the Riang Sub-Tribes were very often harassed and tortured by the other Bru Sub-Tribes. Obviousely, many Riangs left their title and with ritual performances entered into the other Sub-Tribes, especially into the Msa Sub-Tribe. During those times, the Msas Sub-Tribe was known to be the strongest Sub-Tribe. Probably, this is the major reason in becoming minority of Riang Sub-Tribe in Tripura.Needless to say, Bru people are n of the most backward down-trodden and neglected classes of the country in terms of socio-economic,educational and cultural condition. The illiteracy, object of poverty, misery, superstitions have dominated in every work of their life. As far as our practical experiences are concerned, the Bru people are by and large unconscious about their rights, rich language (which is known as Bru language), colorful cultural, tradition, heritages and modern lifestyle etc, even, today when the world is mark by the climaxed of the human civilization.The Bru tribe are the most vulnerable section of the tribal population of the state based on their pre-agricultural level of technology, extremely low level of literacy and socio-economy backwardness, the Bru tribe of Tripura are identified as primitive tribal group (particularly vulnerable group) by govt. of India. Most of the Bru habitations are in the forest areas and in the reserved forest land. They remain isolated from the main stream of national life and extremely backward in all parameters of human development. In fact, there are no sources of sustainable livelihood for them. The representation of the Bru community government services under the different departments of the state govt. is very poor. Even the number of employees of the Bru community serving Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) is also very negligible.The Bru people speak in Bru language and their mother tongue is also known as Bru. It is markedly a different language separated from the Kok-borok language. According to some aggressive Kok-borok scholars, Bru language is a dialect of the Kok-borok language and there is no different between Kok-borok and Bru. This argument is not correct and acceptable from the actual linguistic point ofview. Though originated from the some stock of Tibeto-Burmese linguistic family, there is a remarkable difference between kok-borok and Bru. In fact, Kok-borok is the standard language of the Tripuri community holding the Titleof “Debbarma”. The people of other communities such as Jamatia, Rupini, Koloi, Murasingh, Tripura, Noatia etc. have already accepted Kok-borok as their own language because of over 90% similarities among their language. Despite, minor similarities, there are remarkable and distinct dissimilaritiesbetween Kok-borok and Bru language. Naturally Bru language is purely a separate language from Kok-borok.The Bru tribe is categorized as primitive tribal group (now particularly vulnerable group). Most of the Bru people are innocent and ignorant; they are unconscious about their language. But many scholars admitted themselves that among the tribal language in Tripura the Bru language is the richest language. Therefore, all the well wishers of the Bru people must come forward to protect and safe the Bru language; instead of trying to assimilate it to other tribal language. Because the Bru language is also a gift of God, it isnot existed by itself or created by someone. So, dishonoring Bru language may be indirectly dishonoring to God’s gift.Prepared by –J.V. Riang
BRU NI KSUNGKAUTMA
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