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Nyishi Myths on the Creation of Universe

According to Nyishi mythology, before the creation or evolution of the universe, there was emptiness and nothing existed. This particular phase was called Miim-Mama. After the phase of Miim-Mama there were two concurrent phases which were called Kullu and Kurium.

Among the Nyishis, there are three different hypotheses/stories of the creator or the supreme power that creates the entire universe and its components are concerned. In other words, there are three schools of thought relating to the origin and evolution of the universe (Changte-Dote/Nya ballah barnam) including the human race. One school of thought is, that believe in Jingbu-Pabu Abu as a creator, the second one is, that who name the creator as Kullu-Kurium, while, the third one is, that believe that the creation was through Poyub and Nyayub.

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The first two are almost identical as their difference is just only in the name creator but the third one is a little bit different even in the context of the evolution process. However, all three accept the belief that a miraculous spirit called Chene Rulum-Dola was used to create the universe and its components. Among the Nyishis, Jingbu-Pabu Abu as a creator is much admired.

Out of oblivion/nothingness, in the beginning, the universe was created in a fraudulent or messy shape. This artistic process of the universe is explained in the following phrases:

  • Sachang Ngarngum Tapam Rulum,
  • Nyudo Ngarngum Tapam Rele,
  • Rulum Rele Pepa,
  • Ho…Riumrium Riamriam Pepa…

[The whole universe was in a fragile state and was seems like snow-capped objects. And there was a droplet of water everywhere as if it was floating on leaves].

In such circumstances, Jingbu-Pabu Abu summoned his supremacy through diverse mystical means to create and evolve the present-day universe. It is noteworthy here that the Nyishis always been attached to the creator as a male figure, which can be easily or clearly realize from the very suffix word Abu (father). Initially, the Lawngkh Chene Dola and Jingkio-Urh Chene Dola were called upon to furnish a tangible or substantial figure to the universe. The Kawmkh Chene Dola was engaged to create Sachang (earth), whereas through Kamchang Chene Dola the living beings including man and animals were created. Invoking with the power of Dote Chene Dola, heaven was created.

The Ish (water) was created with the help of Kela Hariak Chene Dola. Biyang Chene Dola was invoked to create Donyi (sun), while Paa Chene Dola was engaged in the creation of Polu/Polo (moon). After the creation of major components of the universe, Jingbu Abu (creator) was dejected to witness that whatsoever he had created was in a state of complete disorder. Consequently, at last, he invoked the powers of Ngumngo Abu to categorically separate the universe into two parts i.e. Changte (earth) and Dote (heaven).

In course of the evolution process, the Sachang/Changte (earth) was prepared suitable for accommodating the entire living beings including physical features like streams, rivers, valleys, gorges, hills, mountains and plains. On the other hand, the natural objects together with the celestial bodies like the sun, moon, planets, stars etc. were set in the Dote (heaven). With this, the evolution or creation process of the universe completed and Jingbu Abu disappeared from the scene.

In the above-mentioned process of evolution of the universe, we have witnessed the coming of Sachang (earth) and Nyudo (heaven/sky), but later on, another world called Uyub Nyoku (world/land of spirits) evolved. As a result, the Nyishis believed that the whole universe is divided into three worlds/parts i.e. Sachang (earth), Nyudo (heaven/sky) and Uyub Nyoku (netherworld/world of souls & spirits).

Sachang is a dwelling place for living creatures including men, animals and plants; Nyudo is the abode of Gods and Goddesses and other celestial bodies; while the Uyub Nyoku is believed to be a place of souls and spirits which may be simply understood as a place meant for the life after death. The Nyishis has also a belief that there is an imaginary world called Tallang Nyoku, which is believed to be lies between Sachang (earth) and Nyudo (heaven). This imaginary world, which the Nyishis treat as hell, is usually believed to be a dwelling place for the persons who die of unnatural death like an accident, murder, suicide, etc.

In the above paras of the creation or evolution of the universe of the Nyishis, we have seen that the power of Kamchang Chene Dola was invoked to create all living beings including the human being. In this process, Loma Chene Dola was employed to create Nyiku Tani, the first man on earth. With the creation of the first man, a chain of descendants like Nyima Tani, Nyiya Tani, Nyidar Tani, Nyikum Tani etc. were born on the earth. According to Nyishi mythology, the Tanis prior to Atu Nyiya Tani was partly human and partly spirit and were living together with all other living creatures on the earth. In fact, the Tanis (men) were endowed with extraordinary power to reign over the earth.

The other creatures including the Uyubs felt jealous of the power and authority enjoyed by the Tanis and hence, there was continuous intrigue and hostility between them. At last, Tani was almost defeated by the Uyubs in a deceitful and treacherous manner. At one moment, Tani decided to demolished and finish the entire earth, but, at this juncture, Tu Tugung consoled him not to feel disheartened and advised him to go to Ayu Donyi, who will indubitably help him out of the trouble. Thus, he went there and subsequently entered into wedlock with Jangte Ne, a daughter of Ayu Donyi. Atu Nyiya Tani was believed to be born out of this marriage.

The Nyishis believe that it was from Atu Nyiya Tani, the concrete human race began to flourish on the earth. It is very interesting to note that, with the completion of the creation or evolution process, the supreme power or creator had virtually disappeared but the creator had vested his powers in different ways and means for the wellbeing of the whole human race. Tu Tugung was one of them who played a conciliator role to resolve the dispute between Tani and the world of Uyubs (spirits). Many of the belief systems, faiths and practices of the Nyishis are evolved out of the struggle between Tanis and Uyubs and ultimately the concept of religion emerged out of their struggle.

REFERENCES:

1. Bora, D.K. (1995); Myths and Tales of the Nishings of Arunachal Pradesh, Directorate of Research, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar.

2. Bora, D.K. (2000); Traditional Nishing Religion and the Change, in M.C. Behera (Ed.), Tribal Religion: Change and Continuity, Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi.

3. Choudhury, S.D. (1981/2008); Gazetteer of India: Arunachal Pradesh (Subansiri District), Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh/Himalayan Publishers, Itanagar.

4. Choya, T. (2009); English-Nyishi Dictionary, Living Word Communicators, Shillong.

4. Nyokum Souvenir (2009); Central Nyokum Committee, Itanagar, A.P.

5. Rikam, N.T. (2005); Emerging Religious Identities of Arunachal Pradesh: A Study of Nyishi Tribe, Mittal Publications, New Delhi.

6. Showren, T. (2007); The Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh: Brief Ethnographic Outline, Published by All Nyishi Students’ Union (ANSU), Talang-Hira Memorial Complex, Itanagar.

7. Showren, T. (2009). The NYISHI of Arunachal Pradesh: An Ethnohistorical Study, Regency Publications, New Delhi.

8. Tara, T. T. (2006). Nyishi Ancestors, Bhabani Offset & Imaging Systems Pvt. Ltd., Guwahati.

9. Tara, T.T. (2008); Nyishi World (2nd Edition), D.B. Printers, Banderdewa.

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