BY SHITAL PRADHAN
I am not an expert on Sikkim History nor I am any sort of prolific historian but my interest on Sikkim olden times makes me feel, there are many vacant spaces yet to be filled. When I was going through the different pieces of paper on Sikkim history I believe there were much stuff we still do not know about our Sikkim or I say we know very little about it. Time has come the account of Sikkim history should be reworked from its primary period, though we know that we have inadequate resources with us. I am sure to capture the early days of Sikkim (from that epoch when we find the first settlements to this land) in 2008 isn’t as easy as it seems, but we can give an attempt. As a student of Sikkim History I feel it is not within our perimeter to come up with the entire scene of near the beginning era of Sikkim till now at once but we can create a room for our coming generations to carry forward those works we shall leave for them. Today we hold responsible towards our anchestors (hereby i am not talking about Rishley, Das, Ray and others, I believe our local people could had come with exact and more prominient accounts of our past) for not recording their times of yore and who knows the future age groups interested in learning about Sikkim shall act the same towards us if we too fail to put aside what little we know about our Sikkim.
I am sorry to say but I personally discovered many events of our yore missing from the pages of Sikkim history. Just to say that we know little on the subject of Sikkim’s prime is more of a layman excuses. If efforts are to be taken I believe we can make most of it. Until now, we had looked back Sikkim’s earliest record as dating back to 9th century when Guru Padmashambhava had his mysterious flight to Tibet via Sikkim. Well let’s not make our prime past much of a folk tales, we had the evidence of the findings of the Neolithic tools from the state which says that the earliest men were present in Sikkim prior to 10,000 BC and I believe that is much before Guru Padmashambhava’s visit. But after that what happened about those tools is little known. Those tools were the valued assets of Government of Sikkim and it should be brought back to where it belongs. How often we come across in news that such tools are dug out. But are we really concerned about it? Another instance that the finding of the murali maize fossil in 1950s from Sikkim had placed Sikkim as the secondary origin of maize also takes our existence towards 5,000 to 10,000 BC. If only we dare to find out our prime past we have ample chances that we can trace our origins, but if we wish too, is the big question? To add more on these findings how do we fit the result of the fossil rock of algae discovered near Namchi to the present scenario. Isn’it the land of Sikkim much older than we had ever assumed?
Let me talk about few stories which try to defy what we had been following so far. Let’s begin with Kabi, a journal mentions that blood of a limbu woman was used for the treaty while there are other books that mention the blood brotherhood treaty was held between lepcha, bhutia and limboo, one of a book on Sikkim history mentions Chanakya’s death was successfully planned by the Lepchas, our so-called history says the generation of Khaye Bhumsa was predicted to rule the mountainous region of Sikkim but it is strange it took 300 years to prove, are we sure it was all due to that prediction. Where is the written version of the blood brotherhood treaty? How many of us do have a slight knowledge on the then Sikkimese Lepcha population sharing refuge at Antoo Hills of Nepal after their Lepcha Prime Minister was killed by the Chogyal. We never dare to know who was that Lepcha man that helped Joshep Dalton Hooker identify with the names of the floras he gathered from the himalayan belt of Sikkim. The list seems long…..to the latest how many of us know about S. Mahinda Thero, a Tibetan Buddhist from Sikkim who is regarded as a nationwide hero in Sri Lanka for spreading Sinhalese litreature during freedom movement in that tiny Island. Let’s be more specific can anyone name the mountain that is shown in the revenue stamps of Sikkim since 1930s, it is more of a strange the photograph used has never changed for the last 80 years, how about Sikkim Rocketmail Experiment (1935) that made Sikkim the first country to have world’s first parcel mail dispatch over the river. Most of the books written about the early Sikkim is referred from 1884 published H.H. Rishley’s “Gazetteer of Sikhim”, say it a mother of all Sikkim based book. The book is no doubt very neatly written and very informative but can we put it as the final output of our history!
From a small Himalayan Kingdom to a 22nd state in the mighty Indian Union, the stamp sized state of Sikkim had witness many major transformations. Much like folklore the history of early Sikkim is divided between the facts and the uncertainty. Sikkim is mysterious, very rich in legends and yet we have never presented ourselves in the scientific ways. We never tried to collect the exact data of those numerous folklore that had been part of every man’s life since ages. Defining the exact time eon of certain incidents including those of pottery pieces found around the fields of Daramdin and stories of the Great Flood at Mt. Tendong could possibly put the state of Sikkim on the world map in a different dimension. The foot prints found at Chungthang have developed a sort of controversy over the two scholarly men of the bygone centuries. There are mixed believers that those foot impression belong to either Guru Rimpoche or Guru Nanak! These are just few outlines from the strings of legend that are associated with our Sikkim.
I am not an expert of Sikkim history yet of my little knowledge I had tried to classify Sikkim into three part viz…early, middle and modern period just to ease out my research work. The primary phase or the early days of Sikkim starts from the time this mountainous land was created till the episode of Kabi, where the Blood Brotherhood Treaty is said to had happened. This phase shall look for the folks and legends assotiated with Sikkim and try to give a proper explanation to it. To some extent we can say that Sikkim was re-born at Kabi; we do have some-information in sequence on Sikkim its political, socio-cultural environment after that. Due to this I filled up my middle age of Sikkim from Kabi Brotherhod Treaty towards 1950 when Sikkim agreed to be the Protectorate of India. I believe the seed of the statehood was very well-written in 1950 and the year 1975 when Sikkim merged into mighty Indian Union was just a formality. The period from 1950 till now is my modern period of Sikkim history.
My only institution about recaling the importance of understanding Sikkim is just a mere fact that we believe in age old ethnicity and words of scholars but the real truth remains the fact that our future generations needs to be explained the mystic forces of time immemorial that build up our Sikkim, from the days of so called earliest life of the first men in this land to the three century old Namgyal Dynasty and further towards the making of the Sikkim that we live in today.