A Synopsis of Assam History

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A Synopsis of Assam History

A Synopsis of Assam History

A Synopsis of Assam History

By
Menonim Menonimus

 

 

Growhills

————-

A Synopsis of Assam History ( A book of Assam History) in English by Menonim Menonimus. A Synopsis of Assam History

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A Synopsis of Assam History

D. T. P. By
Menonim Menonimus

 

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Preface

A Synopsis of Assam History is meant for those who want to get a quick knowledge of Assam History because it is in no way an exhaustive one. It may be called an overview of Assam’s History from the ancient period to the modern period.
Hope that the readers would like the book. A Synopsis of Assam History
Menonim Menonimus

A Synopsis of Assam History

 

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-1

Assam: An Introduction

Assam is the northernmost state of present-day India. In ancient times it was called ‘Pragjotisha’ and later on ‘Kamrupa’ and much later, especially from the thirteen century it has been called ‘Assam’.  It has a long history as long as the origin of human races on this earth. Ancient Assam’s history covers the period from the days of the epics to the early part of the 13th Century. Long before the coming of the Aryans in India,  the ancient land of Assam was inhabited by a people called ‘Austrics’ or ‘Austro-Asiatic’. They are so called because they are said to have migrated from Austronesia and other islands of the Pacific Ocean to the Asiatic Main Land. The beautiful megaliths or columns of stone which they erected over the graves of their dead are found in different parts of Assam. They spoke the Monkhmer Language, akin to the dialect of the people of the Munda tribe who also came to India from South East Asia. They introduced the system of cultivation in ancient Assam. They are also said to have started the cult of Phallic worship of which the main centre of worship is still the temple of Kamakhya, Guwahati. The Khasis and Jaintia are believed to be the descendants of the Austrics of ancient Assam. The tribes of the Mongolian stock probably entered Assam long after the Austrics had settled in this land. It is said that the Tibeto-Burman tribes of the Mongolian race were followed by the great Bodo Tribes. The earliest literature of ancient India referred to Assam as the land of Miechchas and Asuras i.e. a non-Aryan country.

In the age of ‘Mahabharata’, this country was called ‘Pargjyotisha’. It was, however, known as Kamrupa according to the ‘Puranas’ and ‘Trantas’. With the exception of Khasi, the numerous non-Aryan dialects of Assam belong to the Tibeto-Chinese family and mainly to its Tibeto-Burman sub-family. The dialects of the sub-family which are current in Assam belong in the main to three groups, viz. Naga, Kucki-Chin and Bodos.

In ancient days, according to the Puranas and the Tantras, Assam was known as ‘Pragjyotisha’ and later as ‘Kamrupa’. There are several theories regarding the origin of the name ‘Pragjyotisha’, which referred to the land and the capital city. Most probably, the theory associates the name with the astronomical importance of the land. This finds mentioned in the ‘Kalika Purana’, wherein it is stated that Brahma made the first calculation of the stars in Pragjyotisha. In this connection, ‘Prag’ means the former of eastern and ‘Jyotish’ means a star.  Hence Pragrjyotishpur may therefore, be taken to mean the ‘City of Eastern  Astrology’. The name is interesting in connection with the reputation that the country has always held as a land of magic and incantation and with the view that it was in Assam that the Tantrik form of Hinduism originated. The astronomical significance of the country is justified by a number of references in Vedic literature to its association with the solar cult and planetary worship. It is, therefore, likely that whatever the origin of the name it had acquired astronomical significance attached to it.

According to ‘Jogini-Tantra’ the ancient Kamrupa kingdom had four main divisions as, (i) Ratnapitha  (ii) Kamapitha (iii) Swarnapitha and (iv) Saumarpitha. From all these, it becomes clear that the kingdom included the present Brahmaputra Valley, Bhutan, Rangpur, Koch-Bihar and the adjoining lands.

According to the Puranas, the Kingdom of Kamrupa extended upto the river Karatoya in the west and included Manipur, Jayantiya, Cachar, parts of Mymensing, Sylhet, Rangpur and portions of Nepal and Bhutan.

The Kalika Purana associates the origin of the word Kamakhya with the genital organ of Sati which might bear on the Pre-Aryan Cult of the phallus (Vagina) which received a new orientation of Aryan Culture.

The origin of the name Kamrupa is mythologically expressed as follows-

According to the Purans, once Sati died of vexation at the discourtesy shown to her husband Siva. Siva, overcame by grief, wandered about the world carrying her dead body on his head. In order to put a stop to his penance, Vishnu followed him and lopped away the body into pieces with his ‘Sudarshan Chakra’. It fell on earth in fifty-one different pieces and wherever each piece fell, the ground was considered to be sacred. Her genital organ fell on Kamagiri i.e., the Nilachal Hill near Guwahati, and the place was thenceforth held sacred to Kamakhya, the Goddess of sexual desire.

As Siva continued to do penance, the other became afraid that he would thereby acquire universal power. They sent Kamadeva, the Indian cupid to make him fall in love again, and thereby break his penance. He succeeded in his mission, but Siva was so angry, at the result that he burnt Kamadeva into ashes with a fiery glance of his eyes.

At last, Kamadeva regained his life and as he regained life in this land hence this land was called ‘Kamrupa’ (new life of Kadeva).

Here to note that till the conquest of the land by the Ahoms, ancient Assam was called Kamrupa. But, during the Ahom rule, it became known as ‘Asom’/’Assam’  (meaning unparalleled or peerless). It is said that it was used to describe the invincible might of the Ahoms. According to some scholars, the name ‘Assam’ originated from the uneven nature of the country.

There is another theory of the origin of the name ‘Assam’ according to which, the word ‘Assam’ is derived from Bodo formation like ‘ha-chom’, meaning low-land. But there is no denying the fact that the name Asom or Assam is connected with the Shan invaders, who entered the Brahmaputra Valley at the beginning of the 13th century for the term nowhere occurs prior to their Ahom occupation. Therefore, there is no doubt that the word is derived from the designation applied to the Ahoms. The tradition of the Ahoms themselves, which finds mention in some Assamese chronicles is that the name Ahoms is derived from the term Asama meaning ‘unequelled’ or ‘peerless’ which was first applied to them by some local tribes as a token of admiration of the first Ahom king Sukapha who conquered the aborigines of the land and conciliated them. This opinion is supported and accepted by modern scholars. 0 0 0

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-2

The Mythological Rulers of the Ancient Assam (Kamrup)

Several dynasties ruled ancient Assam (Pargjotish/Kamrup) as-the Danava Dynasty, Asura Dynasty, Bhaouma Dynasty, Veraman Dynasty, Pala Dynasty etc. Let us discuss them in brief as below.

The Danava Dynasty

The earliest king of ancient Assam (Kamrup) was a non-Aryan named Mahiranga Danav. His non-Aryan name was probably ‘Mairang’. He had his capital at Mairangka, which may be identified with a hill called ‘Mairang Parvat’ that still exists at a distance of seven miles from Guwahati on the Shillong-Guwahati Road.

The name ‘Mairang’ was Sanskritised into Mahiranga. According to eminent scholars, it was a Bodo name and the people of this race who when inhabited the country were called Kiratas as they were Mongolian immigrants. When and how he established the kingdom, is not known. But there is no doubt that he was a Kirata Chief. This is evident from the title Asura by his immediate successors.

Mahiranga Danava is said to have been succeded by Hatakasura, Sambarasura, Ratnasura and Ghatakasura. Ghatakasura was described as the ruler of Kiratas who is said to have killed Naraka.

A Synopsis of Assam History

The Asura Dynasty

Narakasura

According to the stories of the Purans and Tantras, Ghatakasura was defeated and slain by Naraka Ashura (Narakasura). According to a legend, Naraka was born of the earth (Bhumi) by Vishnu, the great God, and preserver of the world. It is for this reason that he is called Bhauma (born of the earth) and on account of his supposed divine origin, all families in ancient Assam claimed to be the descendants of him. He was left on the sacrificial ground of king Janaka of Videha, who brought him up in his court along with the royal princess till he was sixteen years old. Goddess Prithvi impersonated herself as a nurse, Katyayni, and looked after the child.

Naraka made Pragjyotishpur (the modern Guwahati) his capital. There is a hill near Guwahati which is still known as the ‘Hill of Narakasur’. His rule extended from the Karatoya in the west to Dikrang in the east. Naraka is said to have settled the people of the Aryan race in Pragjyotishpur after driving out Mongolian Kiratas from the land. He married Maya, the daughter of the Aryan Chief of Vidarbha, and was greatly favored by Vishnu who taught him to worship the Goddess Kamakhya. During his early career as a king, he was pious and ruled the country ably and justly but afterward, he came under the influence of Banasura, the king of Sonitpur, and became irreligious, cruel, arrogant, and presumptuous. Then he began to ill-treat the Aryan of Pragjyottishpur. He even asked Kamakhya to marry him. Goddess Kamakhya is said to have evaded him by laying a difficult condition. She agreed to marry him if he would erect a temple on Nilachal and also a tank and a road to the temple in a single night. Naraka almost accomplished the impossible task, the Goddess caused a cock to crow signalizing the approach of dawn, and on his plea evaded her promise to marry him. Highly enraged with this act of black-mailing, Naraka slew the cock. The place where he did it is still known as ‘Kukurakata’ (a place where a cock was cut). Thus Naraka incurred the permanent displeasure of both Kamakhya and Vishnu. His atrocities also agitated the people. It is said that he even stole away the famous Chatra (umbrella) of the god Varuna and the golden earrings of Aditi, the mother of the gods. The news of Naraka reached Dwarka and Lord Krishna the incarnation of Vishnu, invaded Pragjotisha and subsequently killed him and placed his son Bhagadatta on the throne.

The legend of Naraka is greatly exaggerated, for example, he is said to have ruled for thousands of years. But he was the first chief known to have introduced Aryan culture and civilization in ancient Assam.

Bhagadatta

The Kalika Purana and some epigraphs of ancient Assam mention Bhagadatta as the son of Naraka. The ‘Harsha-Charita’ legends state that Bhagadatta gave his daughter Bhanumati in the marriage to Durjyadhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra and for this particular relationship, he participated in the great Kurukshetra War. He was a powerful warrior king.

It is stated that Bhagadatta was old at that time that, while fighting, he had to tie a rag around his forehead, lest his wrinkles would cover his eyes. In spite of this, he could show great courage and skill in fighting. During the war, the Kalinga army was also placed under his command. Through this eight-day fight with Arjuna, he created terror in the Pandavas’ camp. With the advice of Krishna, Arjuna, at last, cut his rag with an arrow and then killed him. Besides the Mahabharata, other works like Vishnu-Puran, Kalika-Puran and Harsha-Charita contain an important reference to Bhagadatta’s life and career.

Bhismaka

Bhismaka’s kingdom was Vidarbha, which is located in the region of Sadiya. His capital was at Kundila, situated on the bank of the river Kundil, which flows through Sadiya. There are still some remains of an extensive fort, about 24 miles north of Sadiya, between the gorges of the Dikrang and Dibang rivers, which are said to be the remains of his capital.

Bhismaka had five sons and a beautiful daughter named Rukmini. Krishna having heard of her beauty wanted to marry her. Rukmini desired Krishna as her husband. But her brother arranged her marriage with a prince named Sishupala. On her wedding day, before the betrothal ceremony could take place, Krishna, on receipt of a secret message from Rukmini, appeared on the spot and carried her off in his chariot to Dwarka defeating the crowd of princes present at the wedding.

Banasura

The Kalika Purana, the Bhagavata, and the Vishnu Purana state the story of a king called Banasura, He is said to be contemporary to Narakasura. His kingdom extended in the east as far as the modern district of Lakhimpur and in the west to North Bengal. He made his capital city at Sonitpur (now Tezpur). Bana was a non-Aryan king and a devout worshipper of Siva.

Banasura had many sons but only one daughter named Usha.  Her father kept her in a solitary fort where no men could approach. But one night she dreamt Anirudha, the grandson of Lord Krishan, and fell in love with her, and eventually, she married him.

A Synopsis of Assam History

The Bhauma Dynasty

After the Asura Dynasty, there arose a new line of kings called the Varmanas. They ruled ancient Assam for about three centuries. Pushyavarman was the founder of this new line of kings. He traced his descent from the Bhauma dynasty of Naraka-Bhagadatta. The Doobi grants of Bhaskarvarman (594-650 A.D), that in the lineage of Naraka was born a king of kings, named Pushyavarman.

There were many Varmana families ruling in different places of India before and after Pushyavarmana, but with no evidence to support it. Pushyvarmana assumed the title Maharajadhiraja (king of kings) which indicates that he was a great independent king of a vast land, though how far he could extend the frontiers of his kingdom is not known. After Pushyavarman, his grandson seems to have brought this region under the control of Varamanas.

Several kings after him ruled the country and among them one was Balavarman and who was succeeded by Kalyan Varmana (420-440 AD) who had indulged in the supreme pleasure of doing good to others and was of equal strength to Indra. Most probably Kalyan Varman brought the valley of the Kapili river under his control. The Kapili Valley is still called Davaka, which may be identified with the kingdom of Davaka mentioned in the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta.

The successor of Kalyanvarman, whose reign covered the remaining period of the 5th century and perhaps also the beginning of the 6th century were Ganapati Varman (C. 440-50 AD), Mahendravarmana (C 450-485 AD) and Narayana Varmana (C. 485-510 AD). Mahendravarmana was further enhanced by his grandson Bhuti Varmana. His reign occupies a brilliant chapter of military glory in the early history of Kamrupa.

A Synopsis of Assam History

The Varman Dynasty

Bhaskarabarman was the son of Susthi Varamana. After the premature death of his brother Supratisthita Varmana, Bhaskaravarmana took charge of the entire region. He ruled for almost 50 years (594-650 AD) and his tenure of kingship forms a glorious chapter in the History of ancient Assam. He was not only a great king but also a remarkable ruler of ancient India.

Bhaskara was a little senior to Harsha. It is known by the fact that in the religious ceremonies organized by Harsha at Prayag. Bhaskara dressed as Brahma, whereas Harsha as Indra.

The Chinese sources use the prefix Kumarraja before the name of Bhaskara. Hiu-en-Tsung mentioned that his other name was Kimara. He was so called due to his early accession to the throne.

Bhaskar played an important role in the political history of northern India in the first half of the 7th century A.D. In the early part of his reign, he formed an alliance with Harshavardhana, the most powerful king of northern India at that time. This alliance was an act of political wisdom on the part of Bhaskara Verman and it brought fresh glories to Kamrupa and enabled it to participate in pan-Indian politics.  He, with Harshavardhana, invaded the Goura and killed Shashanka, the king of Gaura.

Another great event that crowns the career of Bhaskara and adds pride to the history of ancient Assam is the visit of reputed Chinese pilgrim Hien-Tsung to Kamrupa in 642-43 AD. The pilgrim was warmly received by Bhaskara. During the period of more than a month of his stay in Kamrupa, the king every day arranged some musical performances and banquets in his honor together with religious discussions and offerings of flowers and incense.

Bhaskara’s kingdom included, besides the whole Kamrupa, a considerable portion of Bengal and some portion of Bihar.

A Synopsis of Assam History

The Pala Dynasty

Another dynasty called Pala Dynasty ruled ancient Assam. Ratnapala was the most powerful king of the Pala dynasty. He had a fairly long reign of at least 30 years i.e. the first part of the 11 century. Ratnapala had beautified and well-fortified the city of Hadapyaka and renamed it as ‘Durjya’ or the ‘impregnable one’. Hadapyaka was probably a later name for Haruppeswara, the capital of the Salastambhas.

Ratnapala assumed the full imperial title, Parameswara Parambhattaraka Maharajadhiraja. His epigraphs mention his war-like activities which probably refer to his suppressing the rebellious chiefs within Kamrupa proper or in North Bengal. He also defeated a king of Gauda named Rajapala.

It seems Ratnapala greatly encouraged learning and education as well as trade and commerce. His capital city was inhabited by hundreds of wealthy people and was a place of resort for learned men, religious preceptors and poets. As the Bargaon grant states, ‘It resembles the summit of mount Kailasa in being the residence of the Parameswar (Siva) and being inhabited by Vittesa (Kuvera)’. The people seemed to enjoy peace and prosperity during his reign.

After Ratnapal’s death, the throne of Kamrupa was inherited by his grandson Indrapala. He probably ruled in the middle of the 11th century and ruled for  25 years.

Indrapala’s successors were Gopala, Dharmapala and Jayapala. The Ambari stone inscription mentions the name of a king, Samudrapala. The inscription is dated 1154 saka/ 1232 AD. It means that Samudragupta was a member of the Pala line of kings and that these kings continued their rule till about the middle of the 13th century.  0 0 0

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-3

The Early Part of the  13th Century

The powerful kingdom of Kamrupa  was disintegrated after the fall of the Pala dynasty. Palas was followed by an emergence of a number of independent or semi-independent kingdoms or the feudatory rulers of Mongoloid chiefs. A class of officers, entrusted with the assessment of revenue of certain areas under the old administration, became powerful land-lords and exercised important political powers. They called themselves ‘Bhuyans’ and often behaved like kings. The western part of the kingdom retained the name Kamrupa. There was a line of kings that exercised power till about the middle of the 13th century, after which the Bhyuans gradually rose to power. In spite of the intervention of such kings as Durlav Narayan and Indranarayan, the political scene of Kamrupa was dominated mainly by the Bhuyans.

The early part of the 13th century was the beginning of a series of invasions from the west led by the Turko-Afghan rulers and other was the foundation of a kingdom by the Tai-Shans, who come to be known as ‘Ahoms’ in the south-eastern part of the Brahmaputra valley.

During this period, this land was invaded by Muhammad-bin-Bakhtiyar Khalji, the Governor of Bihar under the Delhi Sultanate Qutb-ud-din Aibek. He started from Devkot towards the close of the winter of 1205 A.D. Bakhtiyar first proceeded with an army of 10 to 12 thousand and well-equipped horsemen to Bardhankot situated on the bank of the river called Begamati, which is said to have been three times larger than the Ganges. Under the guidance of Ali Mech, Bakhtiyar marched northwards along the right bank of the river for 10 days through a country inhabited by the Koch, Mech and Tharo tribes. He then crossed a stone bridge and entered Kamrupa. At that time, Prithu was the king of Kamrupa. Prithu was not strong enough to stand against Bakhtiyar.

The first river crossing by Bakhtiyar was probably the Teesta. Bakhtiyar continued his march in the great straits for 16 days, until at last, he embarked on a populous and well-cultivated plain where there was a strong fortress surrounded by some villages. His solidiers started pulndering the villages. The inhabitants, joining the army in the fortress offered stubborn resistance to Bakhtiyar and Bakhtiya was compelled to retreat. This retreat was disastrous. The road to the rearward of the invading army had been blocked, food supplies cut off and Kamrupi soldiers soon fell upon the retreating soldiers. A large number of the soldiers of Bakhtiyar were killed. With untold hardships, Bakhtiyar reached the stone bridge. At last, Bakhtiyar, with a few of his soldiers, managed to reach the opposite bank and returned to Devkot but only to die soon afterwards.

After the death of Pratapdhvaj, the throne was seized by his cousin Dharma Narayana. Most probably, some powerful Bhuyans strongly condemned the Dharma Narayana and within a very short time, his power to the throne was challenged by Durlabhnarayana, the son of the deceased king Pratapdhvaj.

Durlab Narayana with the help of some powerful leaders of Bhuyans seized a part of Dharma Narayana’s territory and established his headquarters at Garia, near the modern city of Coach Behar.

Durlabhnarayan of Kamatapur (1330-1350AD) was a great patron of culture, literature, and learning. The famous Assamese poets, Hem Saraswati, and Harihar Vipra were associated with his court. Hem Saraswati’s ‘Jayadhratha-Vadha’, Hem Saraswati’s ‘Prahlad Charita’ etc. are worth mentioning as classics of Assamese literature. In Prahlad Charita, Hem Saraswati speaks of Durlav Narayan as the ‘unequaled king of the Kamatamandala’. On the other hand, Sankardeva says in his ‘Rukmini Harana’ that his great-grandfather Chandivar was given the title Devidasa and also lands to settle at a place Bardowa by Durlabhnarayan.

There are two opinions regarding the origin of the Bhuyans. According to one opinion,  they came from Gauda in accordance with the terms of the peace agreement made between Gauda King Dharmanarayan and Kamata king Durlabhnarayan in 1330 AD. Their original homeland was Kanauj. When the city was occupied by the Muslims, they migrated to Western Assam. The Kamata king was established at Lengamaguri situated to the east of Hajo and south of the river Barnadi. Lengaigaon, Maguri, Bhomarabari and Dimu were villages of the early settlement of the Bhuyans.

As per the Vaishnava literature, these Bhuyans returned to Gauda to take their families, family priests, friends, and relatives. Accordingly, five Kayastha Bhuyan families joined the first batch of seven families and their total strength rose to twelve, which constituted the Baro-Bhuyan families of Assam. The Bhuyans could not stay a long time at Lengamaguri because of the Bhutia’s disturbance. Durlabh Narayan then shifted them to Bardowa in the district of Nagaon. 0 0 0

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-4

The Chutiyas in the Upper Brahmaputra Valley

Birpal was the founder of the Chutiya kingdom. Originally he was the head of sixty Chutiyas family. He claimed his descent from the legendary king named Bhismaka.

Birpal’s son and successor Gaurinarayan or Ratnadhvaj was one of the most powerful of the Chutiya kings. Ratnadhvajpal is said to have succeeded to the throne in 1244 AD. Ratnadhvaj had also a quarrel with the king of Kamata. It is said that he demanded the daughter of Kamata king as a bribe for his son Bijoydhvaj. The Kamata king refused his demand. After hearing this, Ratnadhvajpal marched with an army on Kamata. At last, Kamata Raj gave his daughter to Bijoydhvaj.

After his accession, he subjugated the neighbouring hill chiefs of Nilagiri, Dhavalgiri, Chandangiri, Rangalguri, Kalagiri etc. Next, he attacked king Bhadrasen, the ruler of the Swetagiri hills, with a large army, defeated him, and brought many prisoners like Brahmins, Tantis ((weavers), Sonaries(Goldsmith).

Sutars (Carpenters) and Kumars (potters), whom he had settled in different parts of his kingdom. After this victory, Gaurinarayan established his capital at Ratanpur on the North bank of the Brahmaputra and assumed the name ‘Ratnadhvajpal’.

Ratnadhvaj had a very good relationship with the ruler of Gauda. Therefore, he sent his sons to Gauda for higher education. Unfortunately, Chutiya Prince Bhijoydhvajpal died there. The corpse was sent to Ratnadhvajpal, who was engaged in building a city at Sindhukshetra on the bank of Kundil river, where his dead son was cremated, from that time onwards the place came to be known as Sadiya (Sa-Dead body, Diya-to give, cremate) where the permanent capital of the Chutiyas seems to grow up.

Political relations of the Ahoms with the Chutiyas began in the middle of the 14th Century, when the Ahom king Suteupha (1364-76) made friends with the contemporary Chuitya king, after a long gap, it was Suhungmung or the Dihingia Raja (1497-1539), the powerful Ahom king, who had finally conquered and annexed the Chutiya kingdom in 1523 AD When their king was Nitipal.

Actually, the Chutiyas had advanced civilization and the annexation of their kingdom greatly strengthened the Ahoms. They were skilled architects and expert warriors and the Ahom kings fully utilized their services. The latter also entrusted them with important and high offices in Ahom administrations.0 0 0

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-5

The Kacharis and Their Kingdom

The Kacharis are known to be the earliest inhabitants of the Brahmaputra valley. They are also of Mongoloid origin. They have their own languages. Bodo is one of the important languages of Assam which belongs to the Kacharis.

At the beginning of the 13th century, when Ahoms appeared on the scene of Assam, the Kacharis were the most well-organized tribes with their kingdom extending from the river Dikhou in the east to the Kapili in the west and covering the present district of North Cachar in the South.

The Kacharis are known under different names in different places throughout North-east India. India. In Brahmaputra Valley, the Kacharis call themselves Bodo, in Goalpara and North Bengal they are called Mech, and in North Cachar Hills Dimasa. From these statements, it is proved that Bodos or Bodo-Kacharis were very widely distributed and exercised their sovereignty almost throughout the northeast region in different ages with different names.

The first encounter between the Kacharis and the Ahoms took place about the end of the 15th century. In that war, the Ahoms were defeated and compelled to sue for peace. Suhungmung or Dihingia Raja could not bear this humiliation. Therefore in 1526 AD, he inflicted a crushing defeat on the Kacharis and made them feudatory to the Ahoms. But after a short time later, the Kacharis revolted against the Ahom king. After hearing about Kacharis’ revolt, Ahom led an army to subdue the rebels, killed their king, and took possession of their capital city Dimapur. The Kacharis then move downwards and established their headquarters at Maibang on the bank of the river Mahur. In 1562 AD the Kacharis were conquered by the Koches. The Koch king Naranarayan appointed his brother Gohain Kamal as a governor of south Cachar for more than 100 years. Kamal Narayan or Gohain Kamal had built so many temples and settled some Brahmanas and Koches in Cachar.

After the defeat of the Koches in Bengal (1567-68), Kachari king Maghanarayan proclaimed himself as a sovereign ruler. At this level, the Ahom again tried to reassert their dominance over the Kacharis by demanding the payment of tribute, which, however, Kacharis could successfully resist.

It also has been noticed that the Kachari king since the closing years of the 16th century was styled ‘Lord of Hidimba’ and since then the name ‘Hidimba’ frequently occurs in their inscriptions and other records of the period. From this, it has been suggested that ‘Hidimba’ was the actual name of the Kachari Kingdom and that Dimapur is a corruption of Hidimbapur.

The powerful Kachari king Satrudaman invaded Jayantiya at the beginning of the 17th century, whose king Dhana Manik had seized the chief of Dimarua, who was a tributary to the Kacharis. The Jayantiya king, being defeated, gave two of his daughter in marriage to the Kachari king and made over his nephew and their apparent Jasa Manik as a hostage to Sutradaman. After the death of the Jayantiya king, Satrudaman released Jasa Manik and made him king.

After getting the Jayantiya throne, Jasa Manik appealed for Ahom help to overthrow Kachari Vessalage by offering his daughter to the Ahom king Pratap Singha (1603-1641) Satrudaman refused permission to take a bribe through his dominion, which eventually led to a clash of arms between the Ahoms and the Kacharis. The Kacharis were defeated in the first encounter but finally, they won a victory by destroying the Ahom garrison at Raha. After this great victory, Satrudaman celebrated the success by assuming the title ‘Pratap Narayan’ and changing the name of the capital from Maibong to Kirtipur.

Immediately after the Ahom-Mughal war was over, Ahom king Rudra Singha finally subjugated the Kacharis, who surrendered their territory up to river Yamuna and promised to remain feudatory to the Ahoms.

The Kachari kings always patronized art, literature, architecture, learning, and education. The main city of Kacharis was Dimapur. Dimapur was surrounded on three sides by a brick wall of an average length of nearly two miles, while the fourth of the southern side was bounded by the river Dhansiri. There were some ruins of a temple or perhaps a market place, the most notable feature of which is a double row of carved pillars of sandstone, averaging about 12 feet in height and 5 feet in circumference. Some curious V-shaped pillars are also found there, which were apparently memorial stones. Almost the sculptured ruins are representations of elephants, deer, dogs, ducks, and peacocks, but nowhere is there a human form or head. From this, it can be inferred that the Kacharis were free from all Hindu influences at that time. The Dimapur ruin also indicates that the Kacharis at this period had attained a state of civilization considerably in advance than that of Ahoms. 0 0 0

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-6

The Barahis and the Marans

The Barahis Kingdom was bounded by the Dichang in the North, the Dikhou in the South, Nagahat in the East and Barahi Fika in the West. On the other hand, according to one manuscript chronicle, the Marans ruled over the region extending from the Burhi Dihing in the North to the Dichang in the south and the river Safari in the east to the Brahmaputra in the west.

They were from Mongoloid and they had also established their independent and semi-independent principalities in the eastern part of the Brahmaputra Valley.

At the time of Sukapha’s appearance in the Brahmaputra valley, these two tribes together had 4000 fighting men only. The name of the chief of the Barahis was Thakumatha, who had his headquarters round the Charaideo hill. The Maran Chief ruled from Kaktal to the south Sadiya. 0 0 0

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-7

The Koch Kingdom

The great Koch Kingdom was established by Biswa Singha in 1527 AD. He was the son of Haria Mandal Singha. He was a great warrior. He firstly organized the strength of his tribes and defeated all neighbouring Bhuyans and at last, made himself master of the domination extending from the Karatova in the west to the Barnadi in the east. His kingdom was called Koch Behar and the capital was Kamatapur.

Biswa Singha became a great patron of Hinduism. he worshiped Siva, Durga and Vishnu. For his kingdom, he brought Brahmanas from Kanauj, Mithila, Navadeep, Gauda and Benaras.

One of the great Ahom kings Suhungmung or Dihingiya Raja was contemporary to Biswa Singha, Dihingiya Raja (1497-1539) extended the western boundary of his kingdom to the river Suvansiri or beyond in the north bank of the Brahmaputra and of the Kalang river in the south bank. On the other hand, Biswa Singha’s jurisdiction seemed to extend up to the river Mara Dhansiri in the Darrang District on the north bank and some parts of the Nagaon District on the South Bank.

Both powers expanded their kingdom, as because it was sure to lead to a direct confrontation between the two powers sooner or later. Biswa Singha died in 1540. No doubt he was a good administrator of Koch Kingdom.

When Bishwa Singha died, his two elder sons Malladev and Sukladhvaj were studying at Benaras under Brahmananda. Taking advantage of Biswa Singha’s death, Nara Singha, another son, usurped the throne. After hearing the news, Malladev and Suklodhvaj, hastened to their kingdom, raised an army, and defeated Nara Singha then fled to Morang and latter to Nepal and Kashmir.

After expelling Nara Singh, Malladev became king and assumed the name Naranarayan. He made his brother Sukladhvaj, commander-in-chief of his kingdom Koch Behar. Sukladhvaj was very much skilled in military operations and he was nicknamed the ‘Kite King’ or Chilarai.

Nara Narayan came into conflict with Ahoms, soon after accession to the throne. The Ahom king Suklengmung (1539-52) and Sukampha or Khora Raja (1552-1603) were the contemporaries of Naranarayan. There are three battles fought between Ahom and Koch from 1546 onwards. The first one is on the north bank of the Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Dikarai river in the Darrang district. The second and third battles were held on the south bank at Kaliabor and at Sola respectively. Though the Koches gained some initial victory, they were ultimately overturned by the Ahoms.

The famous historical Gohain Kamal Ali, a length of about 350 miles, starting from Koch Behar capital to Narayanpur was constructed by the Naranarayan with a view to keep the flow of provisions to the advanced army regular. This road was constructed under the supervision of Gohain Kamal, another brother of  Naranarayan. After the completion of the road in 1547, the Koches erected a fort at Narayanpur. At this, Suklengmung himself marched against Narayanpur and encamped at fort Pichala. The Koches made an attack on the fort but suffered a disastrous defeat with heavy losses of men and materials. It is said that the victorious Ahoms stored up 5,000 heads of Koch soldiers killed in this battle at a place in the Sivasagar which latter came to be known as Mathadang.

After vast planning, Naranarayan renewed his attack on the Ahom kingdom in 1562. Suklahavaj now organized his army to attack the Ahom kingdom by both land and water. Naranarayan himself also secured the collaboration of the Bhutanese and the Dafalas, who supplied him with large arms and ammunition. This huge united army moved along the newly constructed Gohain Kamal Ali and reached Narayanpur without any resistance from the Ahoms.

At that time Ahom king Sukampha or Khora Raja was not in a position to fight against the united army of Koch, Dafala, and Bhutanese. But Khora Raja knew that Koch royal family were orthodox Hindus, the Ahom king sent his soldiers garbed as Brahmanas, who rode on the back of cows, prominently exhibiting their sacred lines in their foreheads and raising their sacred thread upon their ears. An attack under such circumstances would mean the slaughter of both cows and Brahmanas; like Koch general Sukladhvaj, therefore, retreated without striking. In the following year i.e. 1563 Sukladhvaj (or Chilarai) advanced with a large force to the mouth of the Dikhou river and defeated Ahomss both at land and water. Ahom king Sukhampha did not give resistance and fled to the Naga Hills. Some months later, the Sukhampha proposed term of peace. They accepted the proposal.

After victory in the Ahom kingdom, the Koches led their expedition to the kingdom of Kacharis, Jayantiya, Tripuri, etc. Koch General Chilarai annexed one after another kingdom of the entire north-east.

In course of the second expedition against Gauda, Chilalrai was attacked by smallpox and died on the bank of the Ganges sometime between 1572-75. Naranarayan stopped all warfighting after the death of Chilarai and devoted himself to religion and works of public welfare, for which he came to be known as ‘The pious king’. In 1965 Naranarayan rebuilt the temple of Kamakhya with bricks. Especially, Naranarayan’s name has ever been celebrated in the cultural history of Assam. Because he was the  Chief patron of the Neo-Vaishnative movement than anything else. Sankardeva first started his movement from the Ahom kingdom but failed to get support from the Ahom government. Therefore, Sankardeva moved to the Koch kingdom for shelter and support. Under the help of Naranarayan, he founded ‘Satra’ in order to propagate his teachings. Naranarayan’s other name was Vikramaditya. His court was adorned with scholars of varied branches of learning. Apart from Sankardeva and his disciple Madhavdeva, there were Ram Saraswati, who made valuable renderings of Mahabharata, Ananta Kandali, the translator of the Bhagavata, Purushottam Vidyabgish, who compiled a grammar, Sridhar and Bakul Kayastha, who made Assamese renderings respectively of astrological works and Arithmetic by Lilawati inverse. These all Assamese great men were at the court of Naranarayan.

Naranarayan was childless till late in life. After the great king, Raghudev wanted to occupy the throne of Koch Behar. But, in his advanced age, Naranarayan was blessed with a son named Lakshminarayan. Raghudev was then not in a position to abide by the decision given by Naranarayan. In this critical situation, the peace-loving Naranarayan preferred dividing the kingdom to going on war with his own nephew. After Naranarayan’s death, his son Lakshminarayan became the king. Raghudeva refused to acknowledge the supremacy of Lakshminarayan, declared himself independent and struck coins in his own name. The conflict between the royal family members led the kingdom too weak to rise in near future. 0 0 0.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chapter-8

The Rise of the Ahoms and the Ahom Kingdom

Sukapha, the Founder of the Ahom Kingdom

The Ahoms are the members of the Shan branch of the great Tai or Thai family of South- east Asia. As a result of a dispute with one of his brothers, Sukapha left his homeland in about 1215 AD to seek his fortune. He left his Maulong and came with eight nobles and 9000 men, women and children. For thirteen years he wandered about the hilly country of the Patkai. He had 300 horses, 2 elephants and as weapons swords, spears, bows and arrows, besides ten special swords called hengdans.

Sukapha moved towards the Patkai via the Hukong Valley. He crossed the Daikham hill and proceeded further, crossed the river Khamjang in rafts and stopped near Nong Yang lake. The Wanch, Nocte and Tangsa Nagas who inhabited that region resisted his advance but Sukapha brought all of them under his control by a policy of blood and repine. After this, Sukapha move towards Daikaorang (a collection of nine hills) and conquered the Nagas living in that area. At last, he reached Namruk (Namrup) and subsequently Tipam, where he had established his first headquarters.

It is really strange that Sukapha with a small group of followers could achieve such splendid success in the teeth of the opposition of these wild tribes., who yet to cross the primitive stage of civilization. Undoubtedly this unusual task demanded relentless energy, indomitable courage, rare foresight and diplomatic skill, all of which, fortunately, Sukapaha had. He knew the art of dealing with these tribes. He always gave importance to peace proposals and if they failed, then he applied force. In this stage, he was becoming very cruel.

He reached the Brahmaputra valley in 1228 and had been moving from place to place. In 1253 he permanently established his kingdom at Charaideo.

At the time of Sukapha’s arrival in the Brahmaputra Valley, there were two tribes, the Maran and the Barahis living with 4000 fighting men only, whom Sukapha won over to his side by a policy of peace and conciliation. Those who challenged Sukapha were ruthlessly killed. Thus Sukapha made himself the Supreme authority over these two tribes. He did not make any further extensions but made all efforts to consolidate his early conquests. Sukapha appointed two great officers of the state known as the Borgohain and Buragohain, who exercised powers second only to the king himself. Year-long when he reached the Brahmaputra valley in 1228, he ordered his chroniclers to keep a record of all events. This was the glorious beginning of the tradition of history writing in Assam-a precious contribution to Indian historiography.

Actually, Sukapha and his followers came not as raiding conquerors but as the head of an agricultural folk in search of land. It appears that he did not occupy the lands of local people, rather he opened up new areas for settlement and paddy fields. Thus, Sukapha continued to live amongst the local people, learned their languages, honoured their religious rites, married their daughters and led the simple life of common people, himself cultivating the land. Sukapha accepted the local people to his social fold, placed them on an equal footing with his own men and treated them as his friends. To say the truth Sukapha had greater regards for the abilities and personal qualities of the Chutiyas, Barahis, and Marans, whom he met at different places than towards his own followers. Since that time, there was an admixture of blood, and children were of mixed origin, as the Ahoms had not brought their wives when they first came from their native country. They married the girls of local people”.

The local people did not consider Sukapha as a king exacting heavy tribute from them or one living aloof from them. On the contrary, they considered Sukapha and his men to be their friends, who however were more skilled as cultivators, knew astrological calculations, had some knowledge of the density of water, distinguished themselves by possessing war-horses and therefore, were superior to them. Therefore, the local tribesmen or people did not mind becoming their servitors, supplying, them with elephants, fire-wood, vegetables, honey etc.

The conquest of the Tai-shans changed the political history of north-eastern India. It was the beginning of a process leading to the establishment of non-Aryan hegemony and the end of the long drawn-out period of struggle against Aryan domination. After a long struggle, Sukapha died in 1268. He was succeeded by his son Suteupha (1268-1281).

A Synopsis of Assam History

Suteupha

Suteupha extended the western boundary of the Ahom kingdom to the river of Namdang. Between the year 1281 to 1497) covering a long period of more than two hundred years no extension of the Ahom kingdom was made by the Ahoms.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Sudangpha

Sudangpha or Bamuni Konwar was another powerful king of the Ahom kingdom. He was better known as Bamuni Konwar, as he was born and brought up in the house of a Brahman. He ruled the kingdom from 1397 to 1407. The prince took with him his Brahmana foster-father who was allowed to stay with him in the palace. With the Brahmana, came the worship of Lakshmi-Narayan-Salagram, or the god Vishnu-the first official entrance of Hinduism to the Ahom court. The worship of Vishnu continued along with the Ahom diety ‘Chom-Cheng’ (Chomdeo).

The reigns of the five immediate successors of Sudangpha were mainly busy in suppressing the rising of the Naga rebellion.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Suhungmung

Suhungmung was another powerful king of the Ahom kingdom. In 1447, Suhungmung became the king, who made a new epoch in the political and cultural history of the Ahoms. Another popular name of the king was Dihingia Raja, as he shifted his capital to Bakata on the bank of the Dihing river. He assumed the Hindu title ‘Swarganarayan’. He also adopted the Saka era in place of the Ahom system of calculation by cycles of 60 years.

A new Minister’s post was created by Suhungmung in the year 1504 and it was Borpatra Gohain, whose position was equal to those of the Borgohain and Burahgohain.

In 1523, the Chutiya Kingdom was annexed to the Ahom kingdom and an officer called Sadiya Khowa Goahin was appointed to govern it.

In 1536, the Kacharis, in a bid to regain their independence, revolted against the Ahoms. The Ahom king took the offensive immediately. The Kachari king Detchung was caught and beheaded and the whole of the Dhansiri valley along with the Kachari possessions up to the Kalang river was annexed to the Ahom kingdom. The administration of this was placed under a new officer called Marangikhowa Gohain.

In 1532, Turbak Khan of Bengal invaded Assam. He was a very powerful general and the Ahom took years to defeat him finally.

Suhungmung’s reign was one of the most eventful in the history of Assam. Actually he was the real builder of a greater Ahom kingdom. He converted the small kingdom into a big and powerful one extending to Kajalimukh in the present Nagaon District. Repulsing the attacks of the invaders, he proved the strength of the Ahoms.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Suklenmung (1539-53)

Suklenmung the next king, was popularly called the Garhgayan Raja, as he made Garhgaon his capital. Suklenmung did not like the idea of having both Chom-Cheng (Chomdeo) and Lakshmi Narayan representing two different faiths in the palace. He, therefore, installed the deities of Chom-Cheng in a separate temple outside the palace but within the palace campus. This indicates the growing preponderance of Hinduism in the Ahom Court.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Sukampha (1553-1603)

Suklenmung’s son Sukampha (1553-1603) was called Khora Raja, as he, while hunting on an elephant before the accession to the throne, had one of his feet hurt. During his reign, Ahom soldiers sustained a defeat at the hands of the Koches in the battles fought at the mouths of the Dikhou and Handia rivers in 1562.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Susenpha or Pratap Singha (1603-1641)

After the death of Sukampha in 1603, his successor Susenpha alias Pratap Singha was one of the greatest Ahom kings. His other name was Buddhi Swargonarayan and Burha Raja or old king.

In his long reign, he had to fight with the Kacharis in 1606, and the Mughals in 1615 once. Pratap Singha proved his statesmanship and intelligence in dealing with the Kacharis and Jayantias.

Pratap Singha died in the year 1641 after a reign of 38 years. He was one of the best kings of the Ahom dynasty. He was capable, energetic and ambitious. Although a great part of his reign was distracted by wars with the Kacharis and the Mughal invaders. He was also still able to devote much attention to the internal organization of his kingdom. He constructed Siva temple at Biswanath and Dergaon. He replaced the Ahom Katakis (Messenger) with the Brahmanas, who thus got access to conduct diplomatic relations with the western countries, particularly with Koch Behar and Bengal.

Pratap Singha created the post of ‘Barbaruah’ and Mumai Tamuli was the first to hold the post.

Paike system was first introduced by Mumai Tamuli Barbaruah in Assam. Generally the Paikes were groups of people who rendered their services to the state. The Paikes were broadly classified as – Soldiers and labourers. The most important were the archers, who not only fought on the battlefield during the war but also served as workers in the various public utility concerns as well as cultivators. The rest were assigned to do various works according to their special occupations or professions. The economic and productive activities of the Paikes thus came to be organised in the Khels. A khel means division or units of paikes performing specific services to the state under either a Phukan or Baruah, who were assisted by various graded subordinates i.e. Rajkhowa, Baruah, Saikia and Boras. The Khel system represented the socio-economic groups in Ahom Polity.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Jayadhvaj Singha

Jayadhvaj Singha became the king of the Ahom Kingdom in 1661 and during his reign Mir Jumla, the Governor of Bengal under the Mughal king Aurengzeb, invaded Assam.

Assam king Jayadhvaj Singha was quite aware of the impending invasion of Mir Jumla and made necessary arrangements to resist him. But he needed more time if possible to avert a war. He therefore planned and expressed his desire for peace through two of his most trusted envoys, Sanatan and Madhab Charan and pleaded that he had taken possession of Kamrup only to guard it against the Koches and that he was ready to hand it over to any Mughal officers, authorized for the purpose.

As per the request of the Assam king, Mir Jumla, accordingly deputed Rashid Khan to get back the Imperial Territories. On his arrival, the Assamese army abandoned Dhubri and retreated beyond the Manah. Most probably, Rashid Khan, suspecting the movement of the Assamese army, halted at Rangamati and decided to wait for reinforcement before taking possession of the tract occupied by the Assamese. The Assam king became very angry at the news of retreating his soldiers and ordered his ministers to arrest the officers responsible for it. He quickly appointed Baduli Phukan as the Chief commander, with instructions to strengthen the fort situated at Jogighopa and to construct a new one on the Pancharatna hill.

Later, the Assam king sent a letter to Rashid Khan calling upon him to withdraw his troops from the land of Assam.

Mir Jumla started his Assam invasion on January 4, 1661. After reaching the Brahmaputra Valley, he ordered his army to march slowly along the bank of the river.

On receiving the news, the Assam king immediately sent a large force to Saraighat and Pandu. But due to misunderstandings between his officers and newly appointed officers, Assamese soldiers left Saraighat and Pandu in the hands of the Mughals without any bloodshed.

The Assamese forces were then concentrated in the forts of Chamdhara and Simulagarh. Jayadhvaj Singha became extremely dissatisfied with the mass retreat of his soldiers. Therefore, he made a new deposition of the general and troops, as a last measure for the defense of his kingdom. Unfortunately, the Mughal army made a sudden night attack on the Beltola fort and massacred the Assamese garrison there. Soon afterward they occupied Guwahati (February 4, 1662). Mir Jumla then halted at Guwahati for three days. During these three days, he managed the rajas of Darang and Dimarua to join the Mirjumla, deserting the king of Assam.

At last, Mir Jumla moved towards the Garhgaon, the capital of the Ahom kingdom. At Chamdhora, Raja Sahur, the ex-Barphukan of Guwahati, who had been dismissed from his post along with one Bhortai Deka of Nagaon betrayed the Assam king and showed Mir Jumla the path passes to the plains of central Brahmaputra Valley. This led to winning an easy success for the Mughals.

On March 17, 1662, he triumphantly entered the Ahom metropolis- so long unassailable to any Muslim Commander. He opened a mint at Gargaon and struck coins in the name of Emperor Aurengzeb. Mir Jumla occupied all the adjoining areas and set up lines of outposts in each direction from Gargaon. But soon after his arrival at Gargaon, monsoons set in a more serious form carrying with all pestilences.

The Assam king took advantage of this situation. He came out of his resort in Namrup to Sologuri, appointed Baduli Phukan as the commander-in-chief and ordered him to expel the Mughal from his capital. Within a couple of days, the whole of the occupied possessions, except Gargaon and Mathurpur, was re-occupied by the Assamese. A terrible epidemic of fever and dysentery broke out in the Mughal camp in August 1662 which gradually spread far and wide and tolled the lives of innumerable soldiers.

After hearing of this epidemic, the Mughal emperor ordered Mir Jumla to give up Assam expedition. Mir Jumla left Assam with an agreement with the Ahom King.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chakradhvaj Singha and the Battle of Saraighat: 

The news of the defeat of  the Mughal soldier and the loss of Guwahati reached emperor Aurengzeb in December 1667. He at once resolved to wipe out the disgrace, and with this object appointed Raja Ram Singha to the command of an imperial army. He was accompanied by Rashid Khan, the former Thanedar of Guwahati. The total strength of his army consisted of 18,000 cavalry, 30,000 infantry including 15,000 archers from Koch Behar and a small fleet of 41 war-boats. Ram Singha, advancing towards, reached Rangamati in February 1669 AD. Shortly afterwards the Mughal army arrived in Hajo.

When the news of Ram Singha’s advance to invade Assam reached the Ahom Court, the king Chakradvhaj Singha, sent his forces under some veteran generals to the aid of Lachit Barphukan. The Barphukan, who was the supreme commander of the army made his camp at Andharu between Itakhuli and the Kamakhya hill on the south bank and awaited Ram Singh’s arrival. The preparation for resistance had also been made in the meantime. Despite elaborate preparation, the Assamese forces were not fully equipped to resist the advancing imperial army and the Barphukan, therefore, resorted once again to their old practice of opening tactful negotiations in order to gain time. In reply, Ram Singha demanded the restoration of the areas once settled by the treaty of 1639 but encroached later by the Assam king, and also the release of the Mughal commanders of the last war, in default of which the Barphukan was challenged to have “a fight for an hour”.

Ram Singha, therefore, advanced with the army. But when his attempt to take Saraighat failed, Ram Singha proceeded towards Darrang. Near Tejpur, he defeated the Ahoms in two battles, but the Ahoms, however, gained a naval battle and repulsed a Muhammedan attack on the fort of Rangmahal. Ram Singha was compelled to retire to Hajo where he quarreled with Rashid Khan. Soon afterward, Rama Singha was again defeated at Sualkuchi both on land and water.

Soon after the battle started, Chakradhvaj Singha died in 1669. He was succeeded by his brother, who in his accession assumed the Hindu name Udayaditya Singha and the Ahom name Sutinpha (1669-1673). Ram Singha received reinforcement and decided to play the offensive again. Accordingly, he advanced to Sitamari with a contingent of soldiers. The new king also sent an army of 20,000 soldiers under Atan Buragohain from Chamdhara to Saraighat. There was a narrow opening in the rampart at Andharubali located between Itakhuli and Bharalumukh. Ram Singha steered his boats towards the breach being repaired in the meantime, the Mughals crossed over to Jurina on the north bank. The Barphukan was very ill at that time and this demoralized his soldiers. But the Barphukan who was watching the whole situation from his sick bed at his archery store, witnessed the advance of the Mughal fleet from Juria to Aswaklanta and the retreat of his soldier soon after the battle started and at his crucial stage, he, in spite of his illness, rushed into the thick of the Mughal fleet. He had with him six war vessels. His arrival inspired the Ahoms with new enthusiasm, and they now attacked the Mughals at Saraighat with renewed vigour. This time the Mughal navy was beaten, and a second land victory was gained by the Ahoms.

The battle, known in history as the Battle of Saraighat, brought decisive victory for the Assamese and officially closed their long-drawn conflict with the Mughals. Hadira opposite to Goalpara now became the boundary of the Mughal and Ahom dominions. It is the heroism and the sense of duty of Lachit Barphukan that gained the Ahoms the supreme victory at Saraighat. Shortly after this victory Lachit Barphukan died.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Gadadhar Singh

Last Battle of Itakhuli Between Ahoms and Mughals

Gadapani or Godadhar Singha, the son of Gobar Raja, was the founder of the famous Tungkhungia dynasty. In 1681, Gadapani mounted on the throne after assuming the Hindu name Gadadhar Singha and the Ahom name Supatpha (1681-1696). After his accession to the throne of the Ahom Kingdom, he set his mind on recovering Guwahati from the Mughals and lost no time to send a large army for the purpose. The Assamese army captured Kajali in the very first assault and secured a triumphant naval victory on the mouth of the river Barnadi. The Mughals then retreated to Itakhuli, near Sukleswar in Guwahati, where the last of a series of battles between the Assamese and the Mughals were fought, which ended with a crushing defeat to the latter.  The Mughals then fled rapidly leaving vast stores behind them. The Assamese soldiers pursued the Mughals as far as the Manas. This was the last Mughal war. Henceforth the Manas was accepted by both sides as the boundary.

The victory of the Assamese people in the battle of Itakhuli was recorded in an inscription on the cannon captured from the Mughals in the following manner- “King Gadadhar Singha, having vanquished the Muslim at Guwahati, obtained this weapon in 1604 Sak ”.

Gadadhar Singha never forgot those who had stood by him in his days of wanderings in disguise, pursued by enemies. Nor did he forgive the inhospitable Vaishnavas. Under his orders, many Gossains were sent to Namrup and put to death there.

Gadadhar Singha died in February 1696 A.D. after a reign of nearly fifteen years. When he ascended the throne, the kingship was losing its prestige, he raised it to its proper position and dignity. He restored national unity by suppressing all dimensions among the Ahoms. He was a patron of Sakta Hinduism. He built the temple of Umananda near Guwahati.

Gadadhar Singha accomplished many public works during his reign. He made Dhodar Ali, Aka Ali and so many roads and stone bridges. He was the first king of the entire northeast to have introduced the system of surveying the land.

An idea of principles of his administration can be gathered from the following advice, which he gave to his elder son at his death-bed- (i) Do not trust persons with foreheads smeared with horizontal lines, (ii) Do not entertain the courtiers with female dancers, dancing to the tune of drums and (iii) Do not appoint persons of low social rank in high office.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Rudra Singh (1696-1714)

At Godadhar Singha’s death, his elder son Lai ascended the throne with the Ahom name Sukhrangpha and the Hindu name Rudra Singha. He is considered the most illustrious of the Ahom kings and his reign witnessed the zenith of Ahom power and glory. The new king at once began to reverse his father’s policy in regard to the Vaishnava Gossain. Those of them who were Brahmins were allowed to resume their old position and avocations. The Gossains set up their headquarters in Majuli, which from that time onward became their chief seat.

Rudra Singha is regarded by many as the greatest of all the Ahom kings. The most memorable events of his reign were the expeditions against the Kacharis and Jayantiyas. He not only extended his way over these large kingdoms but is also said to have received the submission of all the hill tribes. He was by no means a mere military adventurer; he was a great administrator as well.

For better administration of the kingdom, he introduced five new khels: Kakati, Kotoky, Bairagi, Khound and Dholai.

There were a number of poets and scholars in his court. Among them, the most notable was Kabiraj Chakravorty, who composed the famous drama ‘Sankha-Chuda-Badh’ and also translated the ‘Abhigyana Sakuntalam’ and the Brahma-Vaivatra Puran’ into Assamese.

The Kareng-Ghar, a seven-storied palatial building at Rangpur, the remains of which still exist, was built during the reign of Rudra Singha. He had also built Jaisagar Tank, the biggest of its kind in Assam, excavated at Rangpur, and a temple called Jaydoul built by its side obviously to commemorate his mother’s name. He constructed two bridges mainly on Namdang and Diman rivers. The survey of Sivasagar commenced during his father’s reign, was completed by him and that of Nagaon continued. The construction of roads completed by him were Kharikatiya Raod, Durbariyam Road and Meteka Road.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Moamariya Rebellion (1769-1770 AD)

With the rise of Kirti Chandra Barbarua, fresh insults were heaped upon the Moamariyas with a view to counteracting the growing influence of the Moamariya Mahanta. The Barbarua himself became a disciple of the Dihing Satra and raised his Guru to an eminent position at the royal court. He also abused the Mahanta’s eldest son Bayan alias Gagini, the Deka Mahanta with insulting epithets on the alleged ground that later greeted king Rajeswaar Singha near his Satra, on his arrival there on his way from Dergaon to Rangpur but remained indifferent to Barbaruah, who also accompanied the king. It is said that Barbarua went to the extent of inventing stories to cast a slur on the moral character of the Mahanta and instigated the Lakshmi Singha to return the Mahanta and caused its bearer to be punished for bringing the unholy person.

This was too much to be tolerated. The Deka Mahanta had already measured the numerical strength of the followers of the Satra, which camp up to eight lakhs. He had also discussed plans of revenge with the Gaonburhas with a view to exterminating Kirti Chandra Barubarua and occupying the Ahom throne.

The king was aware of the conspiracy set on foot by the Gossain. He won over the Mahanta of Dihingia who was equally powerful among the Vaishnavas.

In this way, flames of the first Moamaria rebellion broke out in 1769 A.D. King Lakshmi Singha was greatly alarmed and on the advice of several nobles, he fled towards Guwahati. Raghab Maran captured Rangpur and at once sent his men in pursuit of the king. He was caught at Sonari Nagar, brought back and confined in the temple of Jaysagar.

The weakness of the Moamariyas were properly utilized by the royalists, who soon organised a strong counter-offensive. They managed to get the support of Kuranganayani, the Manipuri Queen of Rajeswar Singha and later his brother Lakshmi Singha, who was forcibly taken as wife by Ragha on the deposition of Lakshmi Singha. On the Assamese New Year’s Day in 1770 (14 April), through the machination of Kuranganayani, Ragha was killed by a Huchary party. Ramakanta escaped but was shortly afterward captured and put to death. Lakshmi Singha was then brought back from his place of confinement and reinstated on the throne.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Barmese Invasion (1817 A.D.)

Badan Chandra Barphukan was chosen next successor after the death of Barphukan. This appointment was the most disastrous one, and was destined to involve the country in even greater troubles than those from which it had only recently emerged. At last, after hearing Badan Chandra’s loose character, Buragohain determined to remove Badan Chandra. Meanwhile, Badan Chandra had struck up a friendship with the Calcutta Agent of the Burmese government and having failed in his endeavor to obtain the intervention of the British, he went to the court of Amarapura, where he was accorded an interview with the Burmese king. At last, he obtained a promise of help. Towards the end of the year 1816 A.D. an army of about eight thousand men was despatched from Burma. A battle was fought at Ghiladhari in which Ahoms were defeated. Again Ahom forces were fought at Kathalbari, east of the Dihing river. The Burmese continued their advance pillaging and burning the villages along their line of march. The son of Aton Buragohain named Ruchinath who was the next successor after the death of Buragohain fled to Guwahati. The Burmese now occupied Jorhat; and the Borphukan; who was formally re-installed, become all-powerful. He retained Chandrakanta as the nominal king. The Burmese were paid a large indemnity for the trouble and expense of the expedition, and in April, 1817, returned to their own country, taking with them for the royal harem a girl who had been palmed off on them as a daughter of the Ahom king and 50 elepphants.

Another Burmese invasion (i.e. 2nd) was taken place in the year 1819 A.D. after the murder of the Badan Barphukan.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Treaty of Yandaboo (1826 A.D.)

After a series of long wars, the Burmese had to be surrendered to the British. The king of Ava was at last reluctantly compelled to accept the term of Peace which were offered to him. By the treaty of Yandaboo 24 Feb February, 1826. His Majesty the king of Avas surrendered, amongst others he shunned his claim over Assam and the neighboring states of Cachar, Jayantia and Manipur to the British Government. Burmese king agreed, among other things, to abstain from all interference in the affairs of the countries that continued in Assam, and to recognise Gambhir Singh as Raja as Manipur. By right of conquest, these territories might be brought directly under the control of the government. But the authorities in Calcutta were then haunted so much by another war with Burma that they had no alternative but to continue the policy conciliating the neighbouring chiefs and tribes as far as practicable.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Maniram Dewan and the Sepoy Mutiny in Assam

Maniram Dewan was the first active man who took part in the great Sepoy Mutiny in Assam. But unfortunately, he was unable to reach his final goal. There was a large number of Hindustani Sepoys in the 1st Assam Light Infantry, then sanctioned at Dibrugarh, as well as in a local artillery corps. There was a considerable, though smaller, number of these upcountry men in 2nd Assam Light Infantry which was quartered at Guwahati. In September 1857 an uneasy feeling began to display itself among the men of the Dibrugarh regiment owing to letters received by some Hindustani sepoys from Shahabad, were found to be entered into a conspiracy with the Sharing Raja, a section of the Ahom royal family who resided at Jorhat.

The task before Maniram was not an easy one. Until August 1857 the sepoys of the Assam remain absolutely passive and strictly loyal. The heterogeneous nature of the regiments, consisting as these did the Nepalese, the Manipuris, the Rabhas, the Jorrowas and the Daoneahs combined with the settled and peaceful life enjoyed by them made even the upcountry sepoys rather indifferent to the occurrences of Northern India. As the news trickled through visitors, fakirs, newspapers and private letters of the murder of Englishmen and women in northern India, the sepoys were led to believe that their kinsmen had occupied the greater part of Hindustan that the English would soon quit Bengal and Assam too. They spurred into activity when they arrived at the military lines of the detachment at Golaghat in the district of Sibsagar. Two confidential agents were supposed to have been sent by Kandarpeswar Singha with tempting baits: “The Raja would double the pay of the sepoys and give native officer’s pay like ‘Jongie  Paltan’. If all the sepoys would join and get the country.” Negotiations under similar terms were carried on with the Sardars of the of Sepoys at Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Saikhowaghat.

Unfortunately, the sepoys couldn’t arrive at a unanimous decision. Some wanted to march out immediately, others desired to wait; while a few not only protested but left the meeting. Immediately on receipt of the proceedings of the mutineers, Major Hannay, the commandant of the First Assam Light Infantry, effected the apprehension of the Subedar and the ring-leaders and removed them to Dibrugarh. On 9th September 1857. Holroyd with a detachment under Captain Lowther arrested Kandapeswar Singha, who was immediately despatched to Calcutta and kept confined as a State prisoner at Alipur. This was followed by the arrest of Maniram Dewan in Calcutta and his collaborators-Dutiram Barua, Mayaram Nazir, Marangikhowa Gohain, Bahadur Gaonburah, and Sheikh Farmud Ali.

At Dibrugarh, the mutinous sepoys were put before a Court Martial and almost all of them were transported for life. Some had to suffer long-term imprisonment, and the sepoys of the detachment at Golaghat were discharged from duty. Through the aid of Haranath Barua, the Sadar Daroga, Holroyd succeeded in procuring a mass of evidence against Maniram Dewan, Peoli Phukan and their collaborators, vested with the powers of a commissioner under Act XIV of 11857, the principal Assistant commenced the trial of rebels including Maniram who had been brought from Calcutta. The Dewan and Peali, both of them publicity hanged on 26 February 1858. Bahadur Gaonburah and Farmud Ali on the charge of seducing the Musalmans at Jorhat had also to leave for the Andaman with confiscation of property. Kandarpeswar was not brought to trial, he was kept as an internee at Burdwan until December 1860, after which he was allowed to settle as a pensioner at Guwahati, where he died in 1880.

Thus ended the endeavours made by Maniram to overthrow the British rule in Assam. This was partly due to his inability to organize a united front of the nobility against the common enemy named the English. Maniram also had failed to realise that the masses, in general, were losing faith in a monarchy that had discredited itself by its oppression, misrule and betrayal at the hour of worse peril. In spite of their failure, the British had provided the people all that they wanted -the security of life and property.

A Synopsis of Assam History

Agrarian Revolts

Phulguri, (18th October 1861): The multiplication of taxes couldn’t but be a matter of serious concern to agricultural riots. In the district of Nowgaon, rumours were afloat that the government was contemplating imposition of taxes on their houses, baries, and pan cultivation. About this time the introduction of the License tax confirmed the belief of the villagers, particularly of the tribals at Phulguri sevel miles from Nowgaon, that before long their pan and betel-nut would be subjected to taxation.

They determined not to pay the taxes and to devise ways and means to bring their grievances to the notice of the authorities. They proposed to convene a meeting of people which had so long decided matters of their common interest. This meeting was scheduled to be held at Phulguri on 15 th of October for five days at a stretch as to enable the ryots of the remotest villages to take part in its deliberations. Considering the situation rather serious, on the 18th Liutenant Singer, the Assistant Commissioner, under the direction of the Deputy Commissioner accompanied by a police party arrived at Phulaguri and found there a gathering of three thousand people, many armed with lathis. After parleys with some leaders Singer ordered the assembled ryots to lay down their forms and disperse. Some of them promptly obeyed, the majority heeded not and acted continuously. Not only did Singer order the police to forcibly disarm the rebels but foolishly attempted to seize the lathies in their possession. A scuffle ennsued and cries were raised Dhoro-dhoro, maro-maro (seize-seize, kill-kill); and in the midst of this a blow from behind struck Singer down to the ground; and the police party, being greatly alarmed took to their heels, Singer was beaten to death and his body was thrown into the river Kalang. On the arrival of the police party at Phulaguri, in the early hours a skirmish followed in which with the ryots could but offer feeble resistance to the fire of the police and several of them died and many were left wounded. At last, Henry Hopkinson, the Commissioner of Assam tried to control the situation and he succeeded.

Pathurughat, Rangia and Bajali: No outward movement of a serious nature occurred for nearly two decades. The matter, however, came to a head in 1892 when Sir William Ward, the Chief Commissioner of Assam, in a settlement raised the rates of revenue on land from 70 to 80 percent and in some cases 100 percent. A no-tax campaign on a vigorous scale was launched by the ryots of Rangia and Lachima in the district of Kamrup and Patharughat in Darrang. During the month of December 1892 people belonging to the tahsils of Pati Darrang, Nalbari, Barama, Bajali and also the five mouza of upper Borbhag and Saarukhetri in their Mmels resolved not to yield to the government demand and to the fine and excommunicate those who would pay revenue to the government. The movement started with the looting of Rangia bazar on the morning of 24th December 1892. In the same evening, while returning from a meeting to Belagaon, a village near Rangia, the mob destroyed the huts at the Rangia bazar and threatened a Marwari (keya) shopkeeper that his shop would be looted on the 30th of December on the ground that their (keyas) presence had caused enhancement of land revenue. On 30 December, actually, a crowd estimated at about three thousand assembled at Rangia, held a demonstration throughout the night, and threatened that they would destroy the thana, post office, and tahsildar’s bungalow. The timely arrival of armed police saved the situation. On 10th January 1893, a crowd of about three thousand, some armed with clubs assembled at the open field near the police station. When they were asked by the Deputy Commissioner to disperse, not only did they disobey, but were gradually drawing nearer to the Thana with cries ‘we would not pay revenue at the enhanced rate. In the evening they attempted to release the arrested men by forcing their way into thana and had actually occupied a few houses within it, whereupon the police resorted to firing which compelled them to disperse.

The ryots of Patharughat in the Mangaldai subdivision were the first to react against the enhancement of revenues on land. The aggrieved, both Hindus and Mussalmans, met in their ‘mel’ (village meeting for deciding something) and protested against the new measures. Anticipating troubles, colonel A. C. Comber, Deputy Commissioner of Daraang, accompanied by the Superintendent of police arrived at Pathurughat on that very night and the party was besieged by a huge crowd, but nothing happened since neither side took to the offensive. From early 1869 Mels were frequently held at Gobindapur, Hadira and Bajali and in the district of Kamrup. Towards the end of January Mr. Campbell, the Sub-divisional officer, Barpeta was informed that about four thousand people had gathered at Gobindapur to protest against the recent enhancement of revenue of land. The police Inspector, Barpeta had only a few men with muskets, the Inspector dared not to go against the assembly of the people.

Simultaneously, troubles of a serious nature broke out again at Patharughat which was not more than twelve miles from the border of Kamrup. Since the middle of January, the ryots assembled in their mels for several days not only to protest against the increase in rates of revenue but also to resist those who would be paying revenue to the government. At last thousands of ryots thronged in front of the rest house where J.D. Anderson, the Deputy Commissioner, Darang was encamping in spite of his orders ro leave the place, the motto continued to advance towards him throwing sticks and clods of earth. Berrington was ordered to open fire. Thereupon, the police fired continuously along the Mangaldai road and scores of them lay dead and wounded.

These popular uprisings, the ‘Assam Riots’ as it was called by the official circles were considered by the press as a very serious affair and the manner of suppressing them was regarded as even more serious.

Golden Age of Assamese Literature

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries constitute the golden age of Assamese literature. Besides the famous works of Sankardeva, Madhavdeva and other Vaishnav writers, this age witnessed the rise of a number of poets and scholars. One of the greatest writers of the age was Bhattadeva who wrote the ‘Kathagita’ and the ‘Katha Bhagavat’ in pure Assamese. Purusottam Vidyabagish and Pitambar Siddhanta Bagish wrote their immortal works “Prayog Ratnamala” and “Kamrupia Smriti”, respectively during this period.

In this age, Ananta Kandali, Ram Saraswati and other poets translated many gems of Sanskrit literature into Assamese and made them accessible to the Assamese people.

The foundation of Assamese literature, in a word, was laid down during the emotional and religious enthusiasm produced by the Vaishnava reformation which was inaugurated by the great scholar, reformer, and saint Sankardeva.

Buranji Literature

During the Ahom reigns in Assam, a new genre of literature came into being called ‘Buronji Literature’ patronized by the Ahom kings.

The period witnessed not only the translation of the Sanscrit epics and the Puranas, but it made a great advance in secular literature. The translation of the Puranas was taken with a double purpose to provide mythology and a series of romances to the common people and a code of law to the Ahoms kings. Bhagvat Mishra translated a portion of the ‘Vishnu Purans’ in the seventeenth century. However, a complete literal translation of ‘Vishnu Puran’ was made by Purasuram Dvija in the first half of the nineteenth century (A.D. 1836).

Kaviraja Chakravarti was the poet laureate under two Ahom kings, Rudra Singha and his son Siva Singha. He translated ‘Brahma Valvarta Purana’. Among his other works may be mentioned -’Sankhasura Badha’, ‘Gita Govinda’ and ‘Sakuntala Kavya’. During the reign of Rajeswar Singha a portion of the ‘Brahmavalvarta Purana’ was rendered by Durgeswar Dvija. A complete translation of ‘Brahma Valvarta Purana’ was however done under the patronage of Hayanarayan of the Darrang Raj family.

Mainly three Ahom rulers patronized Assamese literature. They were Jayadhvaja Singha (1645-1696 A.D.), Rudra Singha (1696-1714 A.D.) and Siva Singha (1714-1744 A.D.). The monarch, Jayadhvaj Singha onwards patronized the emergence of the Vaishnava Satra Institutions which become repositories of the culture of the kingdom and the ground for the growth of literature.  At the behest of Prime Minister Atan Buragohain, Ramananda Dvija wrote the biography of Sankardeva, Madhabdeva, Gopaldeva, and Rama Mishra. 0 0 0

A Synopsis of Assam History

Chronological order of Ahom King:

(1) Sukapha (1228 – 1268 A.D.)

(2) Suteupha (1268 – 1281 A.D.)

(3) Subinpha (1281 – 1293 A.D.)

(4) Sukhangpha (1293 – 1332 A.D.)

(5) Sukhranpha (1332-1364 A.D.)

(6) Sutupha (1364 – 1376 A.D.)

(7) Sudangpha (1397 – 1422 A.D.)

(8) Sujangpha (1407- 1439 A.D.)

(9) Suphakpha (1422 – 1439 A.D.)

(10) Susenpha ( 1439 – 1488 A.D.)

(11) Suhhenpha ( 1488- 1493 A.D.)

(12) Supimpha (1493 – 1497 A.D.)

(13) Suhungmung or Dihingia Raja (1497 – 1539 A.D.)

(14) Suklengmung (1539 – 1552 A.D.)

(15) Sukhampha (1552 – 1603 A.D.)

(16) Susenpha (1603 – 1641 A.D.)

(17) Surampha or Bhaga Raja (1641 – 1644)

(18) Sutyinpha or Nariya Raja (1644 – 1648 A.D.)

(19) Sutamala or Joydhvaj Singha (1688 – 1663 A.D.)

(20) Chakradvhaj Singha (1663 – 1669 A.D.)

(21) Udaditya Singha (1669-1673 A.D.)

(22) Ramdvhaj Singha ( 1673 – 1675 A.D.)

(23) Suhung (1675)

(24) Gobar (1675)

(25) Sujinpha (1675 to 1677)

(26) Sudaipha (1677 – 1679 A.D.)

(27)  Sulikfa or Lara Raja (1679 – 1681 A.D.)

(28) Godadhar Singha (1681 – 1696A.D)

(29) Rudra Singha (1696 – 1714 A.D)

(30) Siva Singha (1714 – 1744 A.D)

(31) Paramatta Singha (1744 -1751 A.D)

(32) Rajeswar Singha (1751 – 1769 A.D)

(33) Lakshmi Singha ( 1769 – 1780 A.D)

(34) Gaurinath Singha ( 1780 – 1794 A.D)

(35) Kamaleswar Singha ( 1795 – 1810 A.D)

(36) Chandra Kanta Singha ( 1810 – 1818 A.D)

(37) Purandar Singha ( 1818 – 1819A.D), ( 1833-1838 A.D).

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A Synopsis of Assam History

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Books of S. Story by M. Menonimus:

  1. The Fugitive Father and Other Stories
  2. The Prostitute and Other Stories
  3. Neha’s Confession

Related Search: A Synopsis of Assam History

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.

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