The Spiritual Truth of Lum Sohpetbneng ‘Navel of the Heavens’

By Hammarsing L Kharhmar

A creation myth is a story of the beginning of the world. It describes the origin of a community and creates the foundation for their existence. It is the foundation of a belief system, from which a culture grows. The Khasi Mythology of Creation explains how our world came into being and also speaks about Man’s abode and beginnings before settling on Earth. It focusses lucidly and emphatically on the relationship between Man, Nature and Divinity, and it is centred around a sacred point on planet earth that exists in its pristine form till this day and is highly revered by the people of the land. This point on the planet is known as ‘Lum Sohpetbneng’.

The name of the most sacred site of the Khasis translates as the ‘Navel of the Heavens’ and there could not be a more suitable name for a location believed to be the point of origin and divine connection of a people said to have descended from the endless and boundless realm, above and beyond.

Sohpet: Navel; Bneng: Heaven

The navel or umbilicus is a unique and important point in every human body. It is the point at which a child is connected to the mother while in the womb, and it remains an important centre of energy even after birth, when the umbilical cord is severed. In Khasi cosmogony the Heavens and the Earth were connected by a Golden Bridge through which Man traversed the two realms. It is believed that the Golden Bridge – Ka Jingkieng Ksiar – was connected to Earth at the summit of the sacred peak, U Sohpetbneng. Like an umbilical cord, the golden bridge was severed but the divine connection remains forever. The physical link can no longer be seen in human perception, but the relationship between Man and the Divine Creator lives within a pure heart, Ka Mynsiem Ksiar.

The creation myth or origin story of the Khasis is a fountain of wisdom and knowledge. It is a way to fathom the minds and souls of ancestors, and it is necessary to delve deeper and explore the deep meanings within the story and its details, to awaken a consciousness that we are born into. The beginning of the Universe, the World and Mankind seen through the Khasi lens of Creation is a reminder that we are part of something boundless and infinite. It helps us realise that the wisdom passed down millennia through oral form is one of the greatest treasures of human consciousness.

Khyndai Shajrong, Hynñiew ha Tbian

Nine Above, Seven Below

Khasi mythology describes the Age of Truth – Ka Sotti Juk – as an age of purity and oneness. Sixteen families would descend to Earth at dawn to cultivate by day and return before dusk to the celestial abode of the Divine Creator through the golden bridge of sacred vines – Tangnoob Tangjri – that connected the two realms at the summit of Lum Sohpetbneng.

Truth prevailed. Life proliferated into great wonders. Man and Nature coexist in harmony, until the natural balance is broken as the world expands beyond control. Mother Earth pleaded for order to be restored. An assembly of the Divine – Ka Dorbar Blei – listened and resolved that Nine families would remain in the celestial abode while Seven would make the Earth their home, to serve as rulers of the world with the sacred duty entrusted upon them to caretake of the Eternal Mother, Ka Mei Ramew. The Seven families who remained on Earth are known as ‘U Hynñiewtrep Hynñiewskum’ – Seven Families, Seven Huts -. They are believed to be the progenitors of the Khasis. They can also be looked at as the first humans or the beginning of mankind on Earth, seen through the Khasi lens of Creation.

U Blei Ka Blei Ki Blei

(Khasi: God)

The Khasi Mythology of Creation unfolds without absolutism, but it has a definite point of origin. The origin story has no ending. On the contrary it will only continue to stretch farther and farther through the culture born of it. Each generation will find clues to unlock the pieces that connect the past and the present, to the future. The Creation Myth is a reminder that Khasis have always been deeply connected to the Divine and Mother Earth. The hills, rivers, caves, trees, roots and vines, songs, dances, words, thoughts, beliefs and promises that make up this land loved by the Gods – Ka Ri Ba Ïeid Ki Blei – belong to the future and we must grow from the intangible inheritance preserved and protected by ancestors.

The Spiritual Truth born of Khasi consciousness, belongs to the diverse sea of thoughts and beliefs that have flowed across the sub-continent since time immemorial, and as details above have shown there is a unique Khasi way to the Eternal Truth. The story is no longer detached from the sanctity it preserves. Beyond borders drawn by the hands of man, the only identity that can survive is the one that fills the soul and strengthens one’s essence – Ka Rngiew. The origins of ‘U Hynñiewtrep Hynñiewskum’ is a sacred belief and for those who hold firmly to it, life will always be powered by the Spiritual Truth of U Lum Sohpetbneng – Navel of the Heavens, Centre of the Universe, Origin of Divine Consciousness.

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