Family Time! The Arambam Triumvirate

I never like the old folks, especially if they are a family member. Talking to them is like inviting ourselves to a grand lecture of preaching stuffs, whatever it means. However, I have been influenced by so many of them. A few uncles and aunts have always been the role models. I was particularly in awe, in my growing up days, listening to the tales and tribulations of one of my uncles, who was so spoiled yet he achieved what he had aspired for. Others set the benchmark of accomplishment in life high. Now what I would do in my life is left; and I’ve no idea where I’ll be ten years down the line, leave alone what the old folks have been successful in life. I’m glad, though, there are people in the family who keep motivating us. This post is a simple tribute to three of the deceased Arambam torchbearers: my grandfather, Ibungotomcha, his half brother Dorendrajit and the latter’s son, Somorendro—all of them are public figures. May their soul rest in extreme contentment and may the living uncles and aunts guide us through every leikai and leirak of awareness, as always and their guidance keeps accentuating the meaning of our lives.

ARAMBAM IBUNGOTOMCHA (1902–2000)     A former Durbar member and the first Finance Minister of pre-merger Manipur. A brilliant student in his school and college days, Ibungotomcha held many positions under King Churachand and King Bodhchandra. During World War II, he was a member of the Air Force Precaution Organisation and was also a member of the State Law Codification Committee. He left politics after the merger of Manipur into the union of India and not even his eldest son knows the reason why he took that step. He was also a founder member of DM College, Imphal College and many other prestigious educational institutes in Manipur.

ARAMBAM DORENDRAJIT (1907–1944)         A poet, playwright and stage actor who was amongst the pioneers that shaped modern Manipuri literature, Dorendrajit was a graduate with honours in Sanskrit from Calcutta University. He was a school teacher by profession. He was a profound lover of his native language and a literary master of the 20th century—even if he was unable to distinguish between the Hindu hegemony and the desperation of making our identity as authentic as it can be. In his epic poem, Kangsabada, he made new experiments in language by blending Manipuri and Sanskrit. He was greatly influenced by Shakespeare and Kalidasa.  He was an editor of the first Manipuri monthly journal Lalit Manjuri Patrika and a publisher of Tarun Manipur, a weekly journal that was published during the Thirties and Forties. For his contribution to Manipuri literature, the state literary society honoured him with the title of Kabiratna posthumously in 1948. Some of his remarkable works include Moirang Thoibi, Bhagyachandra and another epic, Subhadra Haran.

Note: Arambam Dorendrajit is the father of two of Manipuris’ most distinguished personalities, Arambam Somorendro, whose brief is inserted below and Arambam Lokendro, a public intellectual, a theatre director and a former university professor, who divide his time, to mention a few, between taking the role of an advisor as a senior citizen, making films, redefining creative arts, advising civil society organisations on pressing socio-political issues and taking performing arts into newer levels consistently.   

ARAMBAM SOMORENDRO (1935–2000)     A dramatist, writer and revolutionary, Somorendro postgraduated in political science from Pune University. Some of his acclaimed works have been made into films. The first Manipuri film, Matamgi Manipur, is also based on one of his writings. Some of his notable plays include Judge Sahebki Imung, Karbar, Leipaaklei, Meerang, Dasa, Yenningthagi Isei, Tirtha Yatra and Nong Tarakle. He was among the new breed of playwrights who incorporated social issues and political problems critically in literary works and awarded the Manipuri Sahitya Akademi Award in 1995 for his drama, Leipaaklei. Somorendro was a founder general-secretary of Manipur’s oldest rebel organisation, the United National Liberation Front that was formed in 1964. He considered political consciousness of the mass should be prioritised rather than launching an armed struggle. This reason of ideological difference has been alleged to be the motive behind his assassination by unidentified gunmen during a public lecture in 2010. (PS: Nobody would even know if it was a handiwork of the state terror force. He came over-ground in 1975 and one of the radical factions, Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, had already been formed around a decade earlier to his death).

Some of the triumvirate’s work available online:

1 A Life of Poverty is a Life of Misery, a translation of Lairaba Awabagi Punsini

2 Chaikhre Ngasi Nangi Labukta (translated by Arambam Sophia)

3 Kangsabad, from Arambam Dorendrajit Ki Apunba Khorjei Kangsabad Part 1.
Courtesy: DLI (



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