The ‘Last man’ of the Lost Khasi State: A Tribute by Juster Lyngdoh
By migrator | May 26, 2020, 17:07 IST
FEATURE | MAY 26, 2020:
By Juster Lyngdoh
The duality of nature and man or nature and culture stems from a particular cultural thought (Enlightenment Europe) for which it has dominated and established as the accepted way of things.
This foundational conception has become imperative to the construction of the modern world. In such unidirectional understanding or the one-dimensional world, nature is now weaved with aggressive developmental attributes to be dominated and exploited.
As Herbert Marcuse suggests, the instrumentality of science is to control nature and set it in the one-dimensional of consumption. This aggressive expansion, exploitation and irrationality of the whole have permeated in almost every corner of the earth.
Even in society such as the Khasis and other indigenous peoples, this man-nature relationship has considerably changed from being participants to controllers of nature and one apparent reason for this is the changes in the perception coupled with socio-economic pressure to adapt and 'evolve' as the western industrialised world by seeing nature as commodity.
The story of the last inhabitant of the lost Khasi State diverged from this modern outlook. This write-up is no means intended as a traveller's tale for the amusement of the readers but a sincere tribute to a man who taught the writer the language of nature.
The unfamiliar, the strange, the odd, the outcast, the esoteric and the likes are always the people who have great tales and lessons to learn from, even if their accounts contradict, or seems preposterous or even regressing in the mainstream world. Mr Das Iawim is one of those people.
A thought- provoking figure that refused and defied to leave the dying State and chose to stay back with nature and affirmed himself the custodian of all co-existents. To situate this in context, during the colonial period, there were 5 southern Khasi States neighbouring Bangladesh and Khyrim and Sohra Syiemship called by the British as the Panch (5) Punjee.
Comprising of Nongjri Elaka, Umniuh Elaka, Tmar Elaka, Tynriang Elaka and Lakading Elaka and these were designated and governed as British Area.
The present composition of these five Khasi States has changed, Umniuh and Tmar has merged into one State as Umniuh-Tmar Elaka with the resolution sanctioned from the joint Dorbar Elaka (council) in 1937, leaving only three Elaka.