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Paona Brajabashi THE GREAT PATRIOT OF MANIPUR

-By Sunzu Bachaspatimayum

Any discourse on patriotism and patriots in Manipur, would almost always bring up Paona Brajabashi – the National Hero of Manipur who gave his life for honour and valour. He was the commander who led the Manipuri Army against the British columns coming from Myanmar in the last Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891.Paona embraced death rather than retreat or surrender.

Although they were no match for the British columns in terms of numbers and firepower, the 300 strong warriors under the command of Paona Brajabashi fought gallantly until their last breath at the battle of Khongjom, some 35 km away from the capital Imphal. Their courage and heroism drew admiration even from the enemy.

Kachingtabam Hemchandra, a Thang-Ta exponent illustrates this with a myth.

“Despite giving a spirit opposition and fighting valiantly, there was no one left standing except Paona Brajabashi, a Manipuri British Army Officer asked him to switch sides and join the British army. But Paona refused.Impressed by his martial arts skills Freedom should not be bartered away or compromised at any cost or under any circumstances. Freedom from the British was attained after a prolonged struggle in which thousands of freedom fighters sacrificed their lives and valour, the British insisted that he switch change luring him with plump post. Paona replied, ‘death is more welcome than treason.’Saying this Paona took off his protective, magical cloth wrapped around his head gear and asked the British Officer to behead him.” This was the honour and valour that immortalized Paona even to this day.