The most Rev. Dr. T. Lunkim: Our man of destiny

Published on April 10, 2006

By N. Lhungdim

April 10, 2006

No man of woman born, coward or brave can shun his destiny” — Homer

Pu Tongkhojang Lunkim, popularly known as T. Lunkim is inarguably the most distinguished personality among the Kukis. Lunkim combined in his person all contradictions that characterize exceptional men. Some of his achievements are highlighted in the accompanying box. If the list therein looks exiguous, it is because life is governed by such unpleasant reality as word limits.

Lunkim was born in Kamu, a nondescript village, about 20 kms from Imphal. He was married at the age of 16 to Pi Deiting, daughter of his maternal uncle, considered customarily right among the Kukis. It was only after his marriage that he became a Christian and also-started his peripatetic schooling. He realized that learning and understanding English had great prospects and it was this vision and that gave him the drive to pursue his education when he was already in his twenties. He was not satisfied with the quality of teaching in the village schools and so, while making the best use of his potentialities he contrived to educate himself and through self study read up to standard VIII.

Meanwhile, he got actively involved in nascent church planting and its organization. He was hardly 22 when he became the leader of the North East Kuki Baptist Christian Circle Conference, which later on became to be known as North East Kuki Baptist Association (NEKBAM). This is an affiliated association of the Kuki Baptist Convention (KBC), the apex body of Kuki Baptist Christians in Manipur. In 1955, he became the first Field Director of NEKBAM and in 1958, he became the general secretary of K.B.C. The next year, in 1959 he became the founder president of the Kuki Christian Council (KCC), a federal body of the Kuki Christians belonging to different denominations scattering over Manipur, Nagaland and Assam.

Soon, by self education he appeared and passed the matriculation exam of Serampore College. The exam also known as ‘Serampore Matric’ was a gateway to joining the Serampore Theological College and he then joined the Pre-BD course, which he passed with distinction. He then took up the BD degree course from the same college which he completed in April 1964. By the time he graduated, his sense of mission was not in doubt. Destiny had much more in store for him.

In May 1964, he was selected/appointed as ‘Translator’ of the Holy Bible in Kuki dialect by the Bible Society of India, Bangalore. It was this work that meant more to him than any other though it bought him most heartache. He had to undergo huge obstacles and though it was this work that catapulted him to fame, it also landed him in controversy and even a brief jail term of 43 days from 23 Nov, 1966 to Jan, 1967. This was due to the machination and conspiracy of some of his adversaries who were vehemently opposed to new ideas. But neither the highest honors nor the barbs flung at him by a small but noisy band of detractors could distract him from his mission. Instead of feeling frustrated by these uncontrolled elements, he was determined to continue his work.

Driven to the wall by his antagonists who made it clearly impossible for him to stay in Manipur, he left for Madras where he joined the Gurukul Theological College. There he not only pursued his MTh degree course in the Old Testament but continued his Bible translation work. A year later he joined Fuller Theological College at Pasadena, USA where he completed his MTh degree in the Old Testament, Hebrew and Greek language.

John Wycliffe (1330-1390) translated the first complete Bible in English from the original Latin text as did Lunkim in Kuki. So he can be called the John Wycliffe of the Kukis. One remarkable achievement of Lunkim is the completion of the Bible in a record time of four and a half years – from May 1964 to Dec. 1968. It is the shortest time ever taken by any Bible translator, a feat unparalleled in the history of bible translation. He did the translation work from the original Hebrew text for the Old Testament and Greek text for the New Testament. However, it took another three years for printing and other details. It was finally released for distribution on 20 June 1971, at Molvom Baptist Church, Nagaland. On that day 1000 copies of Pathen Lekhabu Theng was sold in a short 15 minutes. The next consignment of 4000 copies was sold within six months.

Such was the thirst of the people and the eagerness to read the scripture in their own dialect. A section of people might have opposed his work for reasons best known to them but the cold fact is that were it not for his efforts, the Kukis would be deprived of reading the bible in their own language. At present, almost all the tribes in the North East have translated the Bible in their own dialects but none have completed in such a short span as did Pu Lunkim. Also none have encountered such hardship and torture in the process of their translation work except William Tyndale (1490-1530), who was martyred for similar work in the hands of Roman Catholic inquisitors.

In his autobiography, ‘Son of a Shaman: Son of God’ Lunkim writes about the unmistakable revelation that God has chosen him for a definite purpose from very early in his life. In his book he talks about the invisible work of God in his life during his darkest hours, which he says is still a mystery to him. In 1965, in fulfillment of the ultimate wish and desire of any church leader he was ordained as Pastor by Rev. Seikholet Singson at the annual Assembly at Bongmol. He quite fulfilled his fathers’ desire when he became a Christian priest as he had groomed him to be an animist priest but fate turned his father’s desire in a rather different way but true in principle.

In a befitting recognition of his distinguishing services in the growth and development of the Church, the Louisville Theological College, Kentucky, USA conferred upon Rev. T Lunkim the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity (DD) in 1984 and henceforth he became popularly known as Dr T Lunkim. He is the first to be conferred DO among the church leaders of Manipur. In addition to this honor, in 1994, the Senate of Serampore, a deemed university in theological studies conferred on him the honorary degree of the Doctor of Divinity. He thus had the sole distinction of holding two theological doctorate degrees i.e., a Double DD-a rare honor and distinction received by any church leader in the North- East India.

Undeniably Dr T Lunkim is surely made of sterner stuff highly intelligent, always assertive, having proactive views and ideas; he is truly devoted to his work and has a great passion for work. Nothing stops him from doing what he feels right and good for the church as well as his community. For Lunkim, engaging himself in God’s Ministry is not only a vocation but a passion which he pursues with great zeal and enthusiasm.

Love him or hate him, but none can ignore him. His contributions to the community cannot be ignored. He may be called the angry old man of the Kukis, but his anger is for a reason. His anger is towards the social obscurantists in the community who failed to see the changed reality. It is indeed remarkable that a man who never entered a high school building would scale such heights in academics, scholarships and learning. He has achieved more in his life than most of us would hope to accomplish in two lifetimes. Indeed he is our man of destiny- Gods ‘chosen man.

We are but the instrument of heaven, our work is not design, but destiny“. — Owen Meredith

12 Comments

  1. Kuki Forum hi Kuki te kihet to nading ham katileh, Major T.Lunkim ki vahchoi na forum ahibouve. KIF website content 80% hi Majorpu ideology ngen ngen ahibouve.

    Kuki Forum akiti leh ipi dinga Thadou thusim jouse Kuki thu-dan na kijih-a, Simte,Vaiphei, Paite etc ho thu jaolou ham? Tripura-a, Darlong, Hrangkhawl kiti ho khu Kuki hiu vam? Ahileu, ama ho thu jong jih angai je…

    I am a firm supporter of the saying, ‘T.Lunkim to hell with Satan’…

    Major Tongkho hi, it umtah pamai umtah
    Athi leh ama tobang eimi hung um kit talou ding, ahin jongleh Nampi asuh boi kit…. Its best to wait for his death… Kuki nation would be meaningful only if a person like him meet the end of his life…

  2. I’m not gonna argue with you all… Dear brethren, I wholeheartedly thank GOD for making us realised one of the biggest mistakes we hv done for ourselves and for the Kuki nation. Let me put it this way -there was/is Thadou dialect, Gangte dialect, Lushai dialect, Hmar dialect..just to name a few. However, there was/is nothing such as “KUKI DIALECT”..never ever!!!! because “KUKI” is not a damn tribe, it is a nation.
    If you still couldn’t understand, here is another example :- (see the Nagas) angami dialect, ao dialect, konyak dialect, sema dialect, zeliang dialect etc etc….but nothing called as Naga dialect..cos naga is also a nation. Know what!!! they communicate in english/hindi or at times Nagamese which is actually a borrowed assamese. Therefore, if you are still one of those arrogants who thinks he speaks Kuki dialect, you are a spoilsport/disease of this nation we all want to cherish which is burdened with so many sick people like you. Lets think for what we hv got today due to our bloody ignorance and stupid arrogance – THE KUKI NATION IS IN FACT IN SURVIVAL MODE. Help us God! Painfully yours, Lalboi Haokip/Zion Veng/MOREH(09665908968)

  3. Kuki chapa

    Sopi.Letminlun nang ep bol thei na nanei ja pathen tun mikhat na chu t dem htam? Forum hi nang mi dem nadi ham? Bol thei na ep na nei ham?

  4. Letminlun Haokip

    sopi @jalencha. coment masapen letminlun haokip(febuary 20 2012) kiti toh Letminlun Kuki(march 20 2012) kiti khu keimin a ki chem a coment apih ahibou e. kei suhmin set nadinga kibol ahin koi hijong leh nahet them diuvin kahin tiem uve

  5. Jalencha

    Article kasim masangin Letminlun Haokip’s comments kasimin article in ipi asei kahechen theije. Ama hi Kuki/Thadou chapa dihtah ahie(Thil jouse ase lam’a vet ding – kichih sah ding – ibol theilou khat min abol jouleh dem ding etc etc.)

    Hiche topic hi T Lunkim thu hilouvin Pu Prim Vaiphei, Pu Tintong, Pu Enjakhup, Pu P S Haokip ( name anyone) thu hijong leh adem thou thou ding ahie. Ama tobang mi itam jeh uva ikhan tou joulou u ahie.

  6. Pathen nin Hou Lamkai ho hi, amite kipumkhat tah a Pathen hou khom dinga asem ahi. Hibanga Rev. T. Lunkim nasei pha in, 1958 na KBC General Secy. khat chun iti dana Kuki te Houbung faction ahi sah’a KCC aphu doh ham? John Wycliffe of Kukis chun Pu Ngulhao Thomsong New Testement chu a copy dem? Hou lamkai hon Nam boina a akikum ji naove, iti dana Kajolpa seibanga chu KLA aphudoh hija ham? T.Lunkim Vangam alut leh Saddam Hussain nin ana welcome minte.

    • Helen

      Koima Aperfect Aumpoi Sopi.Mi amitmo nadi ihol leba ipi seidi umda diham.Bible pheng1 cha bon kisim ngaplou a min hichan gei a lekha bu manlupen eipao a isimthei diuva inledohpeh u hi jana sangpen johpiute.

      • PU T LUNKIM hi jana sangtah changdia lom ahi, hinlah “THADOU PAO” titalouva “KUKI PAO” ativangkhu koiman kipahchalou ahi. Ajeh chu KUKI in ahuop tribe danghon eithetnau lentah in apangtai ti ihetcheh u ahi. Kin loichel in Bible Society of India ho suhdih sah uhitin OR athahbeh a iledohkit uva “Thadou O.V Reverence” itiu leh hitalou ham? Tua Pu Tongkhojang ledoh pahi isimpeh dahel teng uleh achamlou vin beitante. Ikito nadiu leh Nampi’n kinel-baotam umlouva Pathen heng ijotcheh nadiu tia ngaidan kahinpeh ahi gelthem ute!!! Pathen in phatthei eibohcheh tauhen.

    • Kateijo! min THADOU hohi alen/lamkai hidi ithanopdan uchu humpi mei(tail) hisangin mengcha luchang hidi adeijou ve eitiu chula…KEIVANG GET..minungjui jong kajou hih e.

  7. Letminlun Haokip

    Ka chunga comment hinbol pa hi kamin ki bah pi2 mong2 nahim? or kei min a kichem nahim hung kisei chin le chun phante.

  8. Pathien thu a kisel a mithi nadi bol2 chu gotna lenpen amu d ahi. KLA jong amasem ahin. Thadou te chunga gaal pandoh jong ama ahi. KLA chu khongsai sepai anti-thadou dinga anasem ahi. Hichi tobang ganhing tobang uicha thi a thi ding mihem ahi.

    Letminlun haokip
    9402882950

    • i appreciate your ecnocrn as the share the same view and opinion. SOmetimes i look back to the glorious past of our brave forfathers who gathered their strength to resist the might british force from occupying our land. It was then , now it pains and hurts to see that the so called land has been snatched away from us let alone the kuki nation or our dream Zalengam but even a district of Sadar Hills could not be claimed. we have nobody to blame but ourselves. it is our lack of unity which comes from lack of a good leadership. The underground or so called Armed Wings under the KNO is appalling as they are under KNO simply on papers in reality i feel sometimes KNO has lost touch with them . They dont even supervise control over them de jure or de factto .. they operate like MAFIAs in manipur and extort money from our own kuki community gone were the days wen patriotic kukis leaves their families and wandered into teh thick jungles of Kachin to be trained took oath and fought for the nation. the present day is different there is no sense of patrotism nor sense of nationalism. mostly unemployed and uneducated youth for quick money joins such organisation and has become more of a menace to our society . I wonder how many such organisation wud be establishd in the near future. If KNO is serious on behalf of the kukis to fight for Kuki Nation they should chaneg their appraoch and not only involves the so called group but also arouse a sense of nationalism among the other kukis youth and imbibe the a patriotic appraoc to involves them in movement.