In the mythology of Numit Kappa, the two suns were even synonymously known with the two kings, ruling together in roster. This may be because of the fact that in the ancient time, kings were considered to be so powerful like sun.
By Raghu Ningthoujam
“Numit Kappa” is a Manipuri word (Meeteilon) and its literal meaning is “shooting down of sun”. Numit Kappa is a prehistoric divine text written by the then great Meetei scholars (maichou) of Kangleipak (present Manipur state), who could read the various harmonics of nature and cosmos, with their divineness. The text is considered to have written in immemorial time, thousands of years ago.
The tale of Numit Kappa is very fascinating to us. Upon reading Numit Kappa, we are naturally curious to know that – was there really a second extra sun in our solar system or was there a twin brother of our sun when it was born 4.5 billion years ago? Has something been kept concealed about it in mythology? Or does it tell something intriguing beyond this? What does science say? Let’s have a look at the intuitive meaning of Numit Kappa below.
MEETEI’S LORE: The Lore of Numit Kappa
In the Numit Kappa puya, it was so written that “once upon a time there were two brother suns in the sky and one sun was shot down by an archer”. The two brother suns were known as (i) Tauhuireng as elder sun and (ii) Yoimayai Taudanba as younger sun. The then solar system, with two suns, there was searing heat, no nights at all and was not friendly to earth. This is because as soon as one sun sets, the other sun rises immediately.
In the mythology of Numit Kappa, the two suns were even synonymously known with the two kings, ruling together in roster. This may be because of the fact that in the ancient time, kings were considered to be so powerful like sun. As the two kings rule throughout the day, the people on earth were suffering as if there was searing heat coming continuously from the two suns.
While serving as a King’s man to the two kings, “Khwai Nungjengbam Piba aka Khwai Nongchengbam Naicha” could not spend any time with his son Haotang-khu and daughter Haotang-han. So, he decided to shoot down one sun (king). To carry out his plan, he asked his wife Haonu Cha-khanu to go and beg for divine bamboo for making bow and arrow.
Accordingly, Haonu Chakhanu went to Selloi Langmai ching for bamboo but she could not get it. Then, she went to Karal Ningthou Sokpamba and requested him for bamboo. The Karal king Sokpamba heartily gifted her a piece of divine bamboo, from which Khwai Nungjengbam Piba made a divine bow and arrows to shoot down the extra sun (king). Then, as per his plan, he practiced archery rigorously for 15 days, along with his wife, aiming at various targets till he became perfect and achieved high degree of precision. He was now confident that he will be able to shoot the sun.
One early morning, Khwai Nungjenbam Piba, armed with his divine bow and arrow, was waiting eagerly for a Sun to rise. It so happened as a coincidence that fine morning, it was the turn of the elder brother sun (king) to carry out the duty and thus the sun Tauhuireng rose in the sky. Khwai Nungjenbam Piba, raised his divine bow and arrow, aimed perfectly as the sun Tauhuireng was just rising and he released the arrow, shooting down the elder brother sun Tauhuireng.
Thus, the elder brother sun Tauhuireng was no more in the solar system, and since then, younger brother Sun Yoimayai Taudanba is only left in the solar system. Consequently, the present solar system configuration has come into existence, with one sun which is friendly to earth.
There is a similar story in Chinese mythology too during the Hsia dynasty (2205-1782 BC) when our cosmic environment suddenly changed, ten suns appeared in the sky. Initially the 10 suns would cross the sky one by one, but one day all 10 suns came out at once scorching the earth. The people on earth suffered greatly from the heat, so the emperor Yao ordered the famous archer Hou Yi to shoot down the extra suns.
Hou Yi first tried to reason out with the suns. When that didn’t work, he then pretended to shoot at them with his bow to intimidate them. When the suns again refused to heed Hou Yi’s warnings, he began to shoot at them one by one. Finally, only one sun was left and King Yao as well as the sun’s mother asked for him to be spared for the prosperity of man.
The archer Hou Yi was rewarded with a pill of immortality. But, one of Hou Yi’s assistant called Pang Meng broke into Hou Yi’s house in search of the pill of immortality while Hou Yi was out hunting. However, Hou Yi’s wife Chang’e swallowed the pill before Pang Meng could get it. After eating the pill, Chang’e rose up to reach the moon.
Chinese believe that she (Chang’e) remained immortal and remained there forever on the Moon and became Goddess of moon. Thus, all the Chinese space missions to Moon are named as Chang’e in fond memory of her, like Chang’e-1, Chang’e-2, Chang’e-3, Chang’e-4. It may be mentioned that Chang’e-4 Rover is the historic first mission to land on the far side of the Moon where no other space agencies dare to land.
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY?
What is the scientific context of these exciting ancient folktales? How far these stories are true? In order to explain and correlate the tale of Numit Kappa (shooting down of extra sun), with science, let’s consider first star systems.
A star system is a small number of stars that orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. A star system can be broadly classified as binary and multiple star systems.
BINARY STAR SYSTEM
A star system of two stars is known as binary star system or simply a binary star. The two stars orbit around a common center of mass. In general, the brighter star is officially classified as the primary star, while the dimmer of the two is called secondary star.
Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is a binary star consisting of a main-sequence star called Sirius A, and a faint white dwarf companion termed Sirius B. The distance between the two varies between 8.2 and 31.5 AU, (AU = astronomical unit = 150 million km),) as they orbit every 50 years.
Other examples of binary star systems include – (i) Procyon, the brightest star in the constellation of Canis Minor, (ii) Mira, a red giant star in the constellation Cetus, (iii) Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.
MULTIPLE STAR SYSTEM
A multiple star system consists of three or more stars which are gravitationally bound to each other. Multiple-star systems are called triple, trinary or ternary if they contain three stars; quadruple or quaternary if they contain four stars; quintuple or quintenary with five stars; sextuple or sextenary with six stars; septuple or septenary with seven stars.
The closest star system to Earth – Alpha Centauri, at 4.37 light years, is a triple star composed of a main binary yellow dwarf pair (Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B), and an outlying red dwarf, Proxima Centauri (4.24 light years – the closest star to us).
Another very popular star called Polaris aka Pole star (Dhrubatara) is also a triple star system. Polaris is at a distance of 434 light-years from earth and it is the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor.
The only multiple star systems which are likely to be seven (septuple) star systems and known to scientists are – (i) Nu Scorpii, in the constellation of Scorpius and is approximately 437 light-years from earth. (ii) R Cassiopeiae, in the constellation of Cassiopeia and is approximately 575 light-years away from earth.
Thus, from the details of star systems, we come to know that binary star systems are quite common. Astronomers estimate that around half of all stars in our galaxy have at least one companion. Most stars in the universe are born with a ‘brother’ and our own sun is likely to be no exception.
Hence, scientists believe that the solar system once had two suns. There are two main scientific theories which support the existence of two suns in our solar system several million years ago. One theory is based on the mass extinction of species like Dinosaurs Extinction 66 million years ago and other theory is based on the arrangement of planets of solar system.
THEORY OF A PRIMARY SUN
A study reports that around 200 million years ago, there was a second sun in our solar system, at a distance of 2.27 AU from sun, almost at the center of present asteroid belt and it used to orbit in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
This theory is based on the understanding that closer the planet to the sun, the smaller it is; the farther the bigger. Thus, Mars should have been bigger than Earth. But, it is the other way! Probably, it was the second sun that prevented Mars from having the size that is supposed to have, because Mars was closer to the second sun.
It is considered that in the solar system when the second sun was fully functioning, each sun was having five planets, orbiting around each sun. The first sun (our present sun) was having Moon, Mercury, Venus and Earth as its 5 planets whereas the second sun was having Europa, Lo, Callisto, Titan and Ganymede as its planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune were common planets to the suns.
However, it is believed that gases from the dying second sun was attracted to gaseous outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) and subsequently they grew bigger in size due to large volume of gases, with Jupiter being biggest and Neptune the smallest. Thus, after the death of second sun, the big planets Jupiter and Saturn captured the erstwhile planets of the second sun, as their moons now, due to their gravitational forces.
The second sun was much hotter and brighter than the existing sun. Thus, this second sun was in fact the Primary star and the sun at present was the Secondary star. Since it was hotter, it ran out of fuel much faster and died early. The second sun did not explode as supernova, but slowly cooled down and faded away over time and ended its life as a dwarf star, but with rocks and metals.
Some of its remains are found now in the main asteroid belt and other planets including earth. It is believed that the content of iron oxide on Mars has come from the dying of the second sun.
Thus, the earth, 200 million years ago with two suns, was not experiencing nights, as one sun sets and the other sun immediately rises. However, after the death of the second sun, today’s day-night variation has come into existence.
NEMESIS STAR THEORY
Another theory for the existence of second sun in solar system is Nemesis Star Theory, with Nemesis as second sun, the erstwhile brother of current sun. This is because of the fact that most stars in the universe are born with a ‘brother’ as binary star and our own sun is likely to be no exception. However, some of the young stars lost their sibling as well. Therefore, the existence of Nemesis would not be surprising at all, at least statistically.
Nemesis is a hypothetical red or brown dwarf star, originally postulated in 1984, as brother-star of Sun, to be orbiting the sun with an orbital period of around 26 million years, at a distance of about 1.5 light-years, somewhat beyond the Oort Cloud (icy rocks beyond Pluto’s orbit).
Nemesis was postulated to explain a perceived cycle of mass extinctions of Dinosaurs in the geological record, which seem to occur more often at intervals of 26 million years. Scientists believe that this brother sun Nemesis, might have been responsible for kicking the asteroid “Chicxulub Impactor” into Earth’s orbit which led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Thus, astronomers began looking for Nemesis or second sun in the sky using very sensitive instruments. In 2010, NASA’s telescope Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) began searching for brown dwarfs in the sky. However, WISE could not get signs of a companion of sun.
In 2017, a study using the very large array telescope in New Mexico and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, showed that almost every star like the sun likely had a companion when they were born. Then, they either move closer together or drift apart, breaking gravitational bonds.
Some scientists suggest that there is evidence out there for a Nemesis. Evidence they cite includes the distant orbit of dwarf planet Sedna, the well-defined edge of the Kuiper Belt (a debris disk in our solar system), and the orbits of objects in the Oort Cloud.
However, despite years of searching, nobody could ever find Nemesis. Scientists believe Nemesis must have existed after studying a giant cloud of recently formed stars in the constellation Perseus. However, astronomers could not locate Nemesis still. Thus, astronomers concluded that the only way to explain the observations is to assume that some of the stars like the sun start off with a twin, and some of the brother start split up over time. And some of the twin-brother-stars shrink to form tight binary systems.
Astronomers further believe that the orbit of the second sun (Nemesis) would have been very wide, inherently unstable and could not have lasted long. This instable orbit could have resulted in an orbit that changed greatly over billions of years, and in the next billion years, the second sun might have been thrown free of the solar system. Thus, the sun’s sibling most likely escaped billions of years ago, mixing with all the other stars in our region of the Milky Way galaxy, and impossible to locate. Nobody has ever seen Nemesis, nor has it been located using current technology, never to be seen again.
DECODING THE AGE-OLD MYTHOLOGICAL TALE(S)
Having seen the mythological and scientific aspects of star systems, let’s now decode Numit Kappa puya wherein it was written that “once upon a time there were two brother suns in the sky and one sun was shot down by an archer”.
Now, from the facts of star systems, we come to know that binary and multiple star systems do exist in nature. The tale of Numit Kappa (in Meetei puya) has foretold the existence of binary star systems while the Chinese lore was more of multiple star systems. The mention of “there were two brother suns in the sky” is clearindicative of “binary star systems in nature”.
However, so far there are no findings or signs of ten suns, as mentioned in Chinese tale, in the solar system or even elsewhere in any part of the observable universe. The highest star system is most likely the seven-star system called septuple or septenary, observed at very distant locations of 437 and 575 light years from earth, but not in our solar system.
However, binary star systems, as depicted in Numit Kappa, are quite common in nature. Astronomers estimate that around half of all stars in our galaxy have at least one companion. Most stars in the universe are born with a brother and our own sun is likely to be no exception.
This curiosity of scientists of a second sun in the solar system was kept concealed in the excerpt of Numit Kappa as “once upon a time there were two brother suns in the sky”. Sky could be solar system or anywhere of boundless universe. Here, “Once upon a time” and “in the sky” together was suggestive of a “possibility of a second sun in the erstwhile solar system”.
Thus, scientists believe that our solar system once had two suns. They called the second sun as either Nemesis or Primary sun at the Asteroid belt. In Numit Kappa, the two bother suns were called Tauhuireng (elder) and Yoimayai Taudanba (younger) and Tauhuireng (elder sun) was shot down. This means that Tauhuireng was equivalent to the lost sun i.e. Primary sun or Nemesis. And Yoimayai Taudanba (younger brother) is equivalent to the Secondary Sun which is presently shining in our solar system.
The alternate ruling of the two brother kings, as mentioned in Numit Kappa, can be correlated to the alternate rising and setting of the two suns in the sky, 200 million years ago, thus depriving of nights or time for taking care of the family and children, as desired by Khwai Nungjengbam Piba. Thus, the second sun, if it were existed, was extra sun in the solar system.
Today, nobody could ever find the second sun either Nemesis or Primary sun. Scientists believe the brother sun could have either split up over time like Nemesis or shrink to form tight binary systems like Secondary sun.
The supposed wide and unstable orbit of Nemesis (Tauhuireng) could have resulted in an orbit that changed greatly over billions of years. Thus, the Sun’s sibling Tauhuireng most likely escaped the solar system, mixing with all the other stars in our region of the Milky Way galaxy, and lost in the space-time fabric.
Nobody has ever seen Nemesis (Tauhuireng), nor has it been located using current technology, never to be seen again as if Khwai Nungjengbam Piba shot down the brother sun Tauhuireng (dubbed as Nemesis or Primary sun), as told in Numit Kappa – the ancient divine text of Meetei race.
Thus, in conclusion, the fascinating prehistoric text of Numit Kappa signifies the subtle meaning of the generic existence of binary star (systems) in nature and it even foretold the possibility of a second sun in our solar system, with two suns named as Tauhuireng and Yoimayai Taudanba. Today’s scientific community, in 20th century, has confirmed the very existence of binary star systems in the universe and came to know that such systems are quite common.
Also, the possibility of a second (extra) sun in the solar system, as in Numit Kappa, has been postulated by scientists recently in 20th century, to explain some of the intriguing phenomena on earth & in solar system and such theories has caught lots of interests for a second sun in the scientific community. They conjectured that a second sun might have either died early or lost somewhere in the universe. This is what exactly has been kept concealed in the text of Numit Kappa, stating in the excerpt that “one sun was shot down by an archer”. The word Kappa (shooting down) means the second extra sun was either shot dead as primary sun or lost as Nemesis.
Even astronomers started searching curiously for the second sun in the solar system and beyond. However, still the second sun has not been found, it could have either died or lost. Such astronomical facts and wonders of nature, which science has come to know in the 20th century, were foretold well in advance, as hidden ideas, in the prehistoric divine text (Numit Kappa Puya) of Meetei race. This is clear indicative of advancement in the field of “Khenchanglon (Astronomy)” of then Kangleipak (present Manipur state) and far-sighted thinking of our ancestors in science. Meetei Puya will remain as treasure of all time!
“Kanglei Sana Leimayol, Laina Thaba Lamdamni”.
Disclaimer: The representative image is used solely for illustration purpose and knowledge-sharing. The credit for the image goes to the original sites and the writer does not claim the ownership and/or the infringement.
(Raghu Ningthoujam is a scientist currently serving at Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO and Alumni of IISc Bangalore, IIT-Guwahati, DM College of Science, Imphal. He can be contacted at [email protected])