|Chapter- 1: General|
|Chapter- 2: History|
|Chapter- 3: People|
|Chapter- 4: Agriculture & Irrigation|
|Chapter- 5: Industries|
|Chapter - 6: Banking, Trade & Commerce|
History of Ancient Assam :
Ancient Assam was known as Pragjyotisha in early times and as Kamarupa in later times. The name Pragjyotisha stood for both the kingdom and capital city. The earliest mention of the city of Pragjyotisha is found in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. According to the Ramayana,this city was founded by Amurtaraja son of Kusa and grandfather of the famous stage Viswamitra. There are different options regarding the origin of the name''Pragjyotisha''. According to the Kalika Purana,''here Brahma first created the stars and hence the city is called Pragjyoitishpur,a city equal to the city of Indra.''13Gait says that the name,Pragjyotishpur ''is interesting in connection with the reputation in which,the country has always been held as a land of magic and incantation,and with the view that it was in Assam that the Tantrik from of Hinduisim orginated.''14The name Pragjyotisha,however,is most probably derived from the term Prag-jyotish,meaning the eastern light. Hence it appears to mean ''the city or land of eastern light.''15 The kingdom came to be known as Kamrupa during the Purantic times,based on the legend that Kamadeva, the god of love, the Indian Cupid,who was destroyed by the fiery glance of Siva returned to life in this country,16According to B.K. Kakati, the name ''Kamrupa'' is derived from an Austric formation like Kamru or Kamrut, the name of a lesser divinity in Santali, which justifies the association of the land with magic and necromancy.17 All this can be explained in the light of the cult of magic and sorcery prevalent in the land. The first historic reference to the kingdom of Kamarupa is made in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription of Samudragupta, assigned to the middle of the fourth century A.D. Geographical Extent : The geographical extent of the kingdom of Pragjyotish-Kamarupa varied from time 13. K.I.. Barua : Early History of Kamrupa.1996,p.7. 14. E.A. Gait : Op.cit..p.15. 15. D.C. Sircar : ''Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa'',The Comprehensive Historyof Assam,(ed.), H.K. Barpujari,p.60. 16. K.L.Barua : Op.cit., p.7 17. Ibid : Op.cit.,p.1 to time. But one thing is certain that its northern and south-western limits extended much beyond the present state of Assam. The references in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata that the country stretched as far as the sea and that it was a partly hilly country. The Ramayana locates the city of Pragjyotisha on a gold-crested mountain called Varaha,which was 64 yojans in extent and''which stood or abutted on the fathomless varunalaya (sea).''In the Mahabharata,Bhagadutta,the king of Pragjyotisha is called Sailyalaya, (dwelling among the mountains)and refers to his troops as consisting of the Kiratas, Chinas and dwellers of the sea-coast. The Varaha mountain referred to the Ramayana was possibly the Assam range,while the sea mentioned there was the very low-lying and water logged country immediately to the south of these hills which in old days was perhaps connected with the Bay of Bengal by the estuary of the Brahmaputra .This was no doubt '' the eastern sea known to the ancients''. Kiratas were the Mongoloid people of this region and the Chinas probably meant the Tibetans and the Bhutanese. The dwellers of the sea coast were evidently the people living in the marshy of Sylhet, Mymensingh and Tripura.18 On the other hand, it is stated in the Ramayana the Amurtaraja, the founder of Pragjyotisha performed his austerities on the bank of the Kausika,which indicates that its western limit extended as far as the river Kosi. On the basis of these references, Pargiter concluded that at the time of the great Mahabharata war,the kingdom of Pragjyotisha included the greater part of modern Assam,and together with Jalpaiguri,Koch Bihar, Rangpur, Bogra, Mymensing,Dacca, Tippera, part of Pabna and probably a part of eastern Nepal. It appears from the Buddhist records and the Greek accounts of the 14th century B.C.,that the southern boundary of Pragjyotisha was the Lohita Sagara, the western boundary was the river Kousika,and the northern boundary was the Bhutan hills and part of Nepal. From the accounts of Yuan Chang,it has been surmised that the kingdom of Kamarupa of his description included a portion of Bihar,a portion of Northern and Eastern Bengal,and nearly the whole of Assam Valley. Some portion of Bengal were under Kamrupa from the time of Bhaskara Varman who ruled in the first half of the 6thcentury A.D.to the time of Harshadeva.19(c.725-750A.D.) According to the most of the Puranas,the Kingdom of Kamarupa extended upto the river Karatoya in the west. The eastern limit of the kingdom,however,cannot be definitely ascertained. According to the Kalika Purana,when Naraka was ruling in Pragjyotisha,his friend Bana was ruling in Sonitpur, identified with the modern town of Tezpur. It is generally believed that Bana's Kingdom included the modern districts,of Darrang, Sonitpur and Lakhimpur. About the same time,there existed in the extreme eastern part,another independent Kingdom called Vidarbha. It is also doubtful if the 18. K.L. Barua :pp.1-2. 19. P.L. Paul : Early History of Bengal. pp.20-32. Kapili valley was initially a part of the Kingdom of Pragjyotishpur-Kamarupa, because Davaka identified with the Kapili valley is mentioned as an independent kingdom in the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samuragupta. It was Kalyanavarman (c.420-440A.D),a predecessor of Bhaskaravarmana,who incorporated Davaka with the kingdom of Kamrupa in the first part of fifth century A.D.20 From this it can be concluded that eastern Assam valley was outside the perimeter of Pragjyotisha but subsequently the kingdom extended towards the east even beyond the Dikhou river. Foundation of the city of Harupeswara by the Salastambha kings, the Tezpur grant and the Parvatiya plates of Vanamala, and the Nowgong grant of Balavarman during the 9th -10th century A.D. also point to the extension to the Kingdom to its eastern limits.21 In the Jogini Tantra,which is probably a later work, Kamarupa was said to have extended from the Karatoya river on the west to the Dikshu (Dikhou)on the east,and from the mountain of Kanjagiri on the north to the confluence of the Brahmaputra and the Laksha on the south. The kingdom thus included not only the whole of the Brahmaputra valley but also parts of northern and eastern Bengal, parts of Bhutan,the Khasi and the Garo hills and the northern part of the district of Sylhet. In any case,it is clear that Pragjyotisha or ancient Kamrupa was a much larger kingdom that most of the other kingdoms mentioned in the Mahabharata and most of the sixteen Mahajanapadas existing during the time of Gautama Buddha.22 The Tantras and the Pauranas divided Kamarupa into four parts of divisions,but the names and boundaries of this divisions are conflicting. The generally accepted names and the boundaries of the divisions are found in the Hara-Gauri-Sambada. This work divided Kamarupa into four Pithas or divisions marked by river boundaries as follows: (1).Ratnapitha from the Karatoya to the Sonkosh. (2).Kampitha from the Sonkoch to the Kapili. (3).Suvarnapitha from the Puspika to the bhairabi. (4).Saumarpitha from the Bhairabi to the Dikrong. Capital Cities : According to the traditions,all the king of ancient Assam starting from Mahiranga Danava,had their capital in and around Guwahati, which was known as Pragjyotishpur meaning of the capital of the Pragjyotisha kingdom. The Mairang hill, named after Mahiranga Danava,which is situated at a distance of about 12 km.south of Guwahation the Shillong-Guwahati Road,indicates his historicity. In the like way Naraka's historicity is indicated by the existing village of Narakasurgaon,which includes the Narakasur hill, 20. P.C. Choudhury : The History of Civilization of the People of Assam to the Twelfth Century A. D..pp.138-40 21. Ibid. p.44 22. K.L.Barua : Op.cit..p.7 at a distance of about 5 km. to the south west of modern city of Guwahati. According to K.L. Barua, the modern site of Dispur, situated about 3 km. to the east of Narakasurgaon, is believed to be the abbreviation of Pragjyotishpur.23 In later period, during the rule of the Salastambha dynasty, king Hajara Varman (c.815-835 A.D.) is said to have shifted his capital to Haruppeswara, identifies with the modern town of Tezpur. Subsequently during the rule of the Pala dynasty the capital was again shifted to Pragjyotishpur and named as Sri Durjaya . About the end of the eleventh century, the capital of Dharmapala (c.1095-1120 A.D.) was at Kamarupnagar, which is identified with North Guwahati. According to P.C. Choudhury, Kamarupanagar was ''but an extension of the old capital''24 of Pragjyotishpur. Kamarupanagar remained the capital until the later part of the thirteenth century A.D., after which it was shifted to Kamatapur. It is very probable that the king of ancient Assam, who ruled over territories extending from northern hills to the southern sea, had more than one camp capitals, which were also capital of some other dynasties ruling at those sites at different times. One such site is Sonitpur (modern Tezpur), where once the traditional king Bana or Banasur ruled till he was vanquished by Sri Krishna after the secret marriage of Aniruddha, the grand-son of Sri Krishna with Banas daughter Usha. Another such site is at Kundila Nagar (modern Sadiya)in the easternmost corner of the Brahmaputra valley, where the legendary king Bismaka, the Father of Rukmini who was the consort of Sri Krishna ruled. Mention may also be made of Bitargarh fort of Jalpaiguri and Kamatapur of Koch Bihar. But there is no doubt that throughout the ancient period, when the kingdom of Pragjyotisha or Kamarupa included, besides the Brahmaputra valley, part of east Bengal, its capital was situated at Pragjyotishpur, which is known as Guwahati in the modern times, as there is no other place which all exactly fit in with the description of the ancient inscriptions,wherein the capital is stated to be ''situated on the bank of the Lauhitya'' being surrounded by hills on all sides and crowded with dense forests.25
The Traditional Kings : The earliest known king of ancient Assam was Mahiranga Danava. He had his capital at Mairanka, identified with a hill called Mairang Parvat near Guwahati. He was succeeded in turn,by Hataksur, Sambarasur and Ratnasur .The epithels ''Danava'' and ''Asura'' show that they were of non-Aryans origin. After them came Ghatakasura who is called the ruler of the Kiratas. Ghatakasura was overthrown by Narakasura, who is the hero of various stories narrated in the Purana and the Tantras. Narakasura founded a new dynasty known as Bhouma or Varaha dynasty. The legends goes that Naraka was born of Prithivi (the earth)by Bishnu, in his Varaha (boar) in carnation and was brought up the Janaka, the king of Videha or North Bihar. It is for this region that Naraka is 23. Op.cit. p.19. 24. Op.cit.p.245 25.K.L.Barua: Op. Cit..p.88 called Bhauma (born of the earth) and on account of his supposed divine origin, all dynasties ruling in Pragjyotishpur-Kamarupa claimed their descent from Naraka and called themselves Bhauma. Naraka away the Kiratas to the country near the sea coast and settled the Aryans in this country. This was perhaps the earliest settlement of the Aryans in Assam.26 Naraka built a fort in a few place surrounded on all sides by hills and it is said that this stronghold was inaccessible even to the gods. Naraka was worshipper of goddess Kamakhya and favoured by Vishnu. In his early career, Naraka was pious and prosperous, but later, he came under the influence of Banasura, the king of Sonitpur, and grew so irreligious and presumptuous that finally he proposed to marry mother goddess Kamakhya. The goddess assented to the proposal on condition of construction by Naraka during the course of one night,a temple,a tank and a road from the foothills to the temple at the top. All these were nearly completed,when the goddess made a cock crowd before the usual hour to indicate dawn. Thus Naraka's proposal came to a naught. The arrogant Naraka even refused admission to the famous sage Vasistha to worship in the temple of Kamakhya. When the news of his atrocities reached Sri Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu, the latter came to Pragjyotisha with his army, defeated and killed Naraka in a battle and placed Naraka's son Bhagadatta on the throne of Pragjyotisha. Bhagadutta was a powerful king. It is said that he married his daughter Bhanumati to Durjyodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, and for this relation participated in the Kurukshetra was an ally of the Kauravas. Bhagadutta is a well-known figure in the Mahabharata, which calls him the mighty king of the Mlechchas. He is celebrated in this epic as a powerful warrior king ''not inferior to Chakra in battle'' and described as ''the best wielder of the elephant squad'' among the Kauravas allies. He is dignified with the title ''Siva's friend'' and always talked of with respect and friendliness by Sri Krishna.27 After he was killed in the Mahabharata war,he was succeeded by his son Vajradatta. The geneology of the rulers after Vajradutta is uncertain. The Nidhanpur copper place inscription of Bhaskaravarman who ruled over Kamarupa in the early seventh century A.D., states that a period of three thousand years elapsed between the death of Vajradutta and the accession of Pushyavarman, the ancestor of Bhaskaravarman, who was the twelveth in the line. The Bhagavata and the Vishnu Purana narrate the story of another traditional ruler, Bhismak, who ruled in Vidarbha popularity identified with the Sadiya region. His capital was at Kundil. He had a beautiful and accomplished daughter named Rukmini.Lord Krishna having heard of her came to Vidarbha and married her by defeating the other kings at Kundil Nagar. The Kalika Purana, Bhagavata Purana and the Vishnu Purana contain account of 26. K.L. Barua : Op.cit. p.,19 27. Ibid : Op. Cit.,p.21a king named Bana or Banasura, whose daughter Usha was believed to have been married to Aniruddha, the grandson of Sri Krishna. From his title it appears that he was of Asura or Danava clan, hence a non-Aryan. It appears from a number of sources that Bana was a contemporary of Naraka. According to P.C. Choudhury, the historicity of Bana is established by the remains of Agniparvat, Mahabhairab temple, Bhairavi temple and other remains in Tezpur associated with his name.28 From the extant of architectural remains in different places in the undivided Darrang and the Lakhimpur districts,it is believed by some that the kingdom of Bana included the whole of these areas.
Ruling Dynasties of Ancient Assam :
The Varmana Dynasty : The real political history of ancient Assam begins with the foundation of the Varmana line of kings. The inscriptions of Bhaskaravarman, the greatest king of this dynasty as well as of ancient Assam, Banabhatta's Harshacharita and the accounts of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang furnish considerable materials relating to the history of the Varmanas. It is learnt from epigraphical sources that Pushyavarman, born in the lineage of Naraka-Bhagaduta was the founder of the Varmana of Bhauma line of kings.29 When and how Pushyavarman came to power is not known. He probably taking advantage of the political instability of the time,made himself king and to justify his claim,traced his descent from Naraka-Bhagadutta. According to B.M.Barua.'' Pushyavarman was the first Indo-Aryan ruler set up by Samudragupta over the two territories of Kamarupa and Davaka unified into a single kingdom.''30But this view is not tenable because Pushyavarman assumed the important title of Maharajadhiraja which indicates his independent status. Pushyavarman was probably a contemporary of Samudragupta. In the Allahabad pillar inscription of this Gupta emperor, the name of Kamrupa occurs as a frontier kingdom Samalata, Davaka, Nepal and Kartipur,whose kings owed allegiance to Samudragupta on their own accord. The unnamed king of Kamarupa of this inscription is usually identified with Pushyavarman. If we count the date of Pushyavarman on the basis of the Badaganga epigraph of Bhutivarman, (dated 234 Gupta era which corresponds to 553-54 A.D.) who was the eighth king of the dynasty and allow its king an average reigning period of 25 years, Pushyavarman's reign would fall between c.355-80 A.D..he would thus be a contemporary of Samudragupta (c.320-80 A.D.).It was perhaps in honour of his overlord that he named his son as Samudravarman and his daughter-in-law as Dattadevi in imitation of the names of the Gupta emperor Samudragupta and his queen Dattadevi. 28. Op.cit,p.115 29. P.C. Choudhury : Op.cit. p. 128 30. Quoted in P.C. Choudhury,Op. Cit p.132 Rajatarangini, a book of fifth century A.D., by Kalhan, mentions a Kamarupa princess named Amritaprabha, who was given in marriage to Meghavahana, a Kashmir prince in an open Sayambara. This Amritaprabha is believed to be the daughter of Balavarman, the grandson of Pushyavarman. Rajatarangini relates that Amritaprabha erected in Kashmir,a lofty Vihara for the benefit of the foreign bhikshus and that this Vihara was known as Amritabhaban. It is farther stated that Amritaprabha took with her a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Stunpa, who was a preceptor of her father. This Stunpa erected a Stupa in Kashmir known as Lo-Stunpa.31 Ou-Kung and M.A. Stein also support the historicity of this event. During the reign of Kalyanavarman, the son of Balavarman,the Davaka or the Kapili valley (comprising possibly the present district of Nagoan, Karbi Anglong and North Cachar area) was absorbed into the empire of Kamarupa. To signalise this victory, he sent a diplomatic mission to China in 428 A.D. Mahendravarman, grandson of Kalyanavarman expanded his empire to south-east Bengal upto the sea by shaking off the last vestiges of the Gupta influence in Kamarupa.32 He was the first king of Assam to perform Aswamedha and he did it on two occasions. Mahendravarman's grandson Bhutiavarman was a powerful king. He conquered Pundravardhana (North Bengal) sometime between 545-50 A.D. and donated lands to more than 200 Brahmanas in the Chandrapuri visaya located within the Pundravardhana bhukti. He might have also extended his sway in the south and the west and brought the outlying regions of Samatata, Sylhet, Tripura and other regions under his control. 33He has also performed one Aswamedha sacrifice. The glory of Kamarupa suffered a temporary set back during the reign of Bhaskaravarman's father Susthitavarman,who suffered a defeat at the hands of the Later Gupta monarch Mahasenagupta and as a result of this defeat lost the possession of Pundravardhana. Bhaskaravarman (c.600-650 A.D.), ascending the throne at a time, when the reputation of his family was at a low ebb, not only restored it but made Kamarupa, a power to be reckoned with whose alliance was welcomed by a monarch of Harsha's (606-648 A.D.)fame, the last great monarch of ancient Northern India. By this alliance, Bhaskara not only recovered Pundravardhana but also brought Gauda with its capital Karnasuvarna under his control. In fact,it was from his victorious camp at Karnasuvarna that Bhaskara issued his Nidhanpur grant by which he renewed the grants of land made earlier by Bhutivarman in Pundravardhana. It was during the reign of Bhaskaravarman that the great Chinese pilgrim Houen Tsang visited Kamarupa in 643 A.D. and stayed in his capital for nearly two months. The pilgrim speaks highly about the noble qualities of Bhaskara and his prowess. In the religious assemblies held at Prayag and Kanauj by Harsha, Bhaskara was shown special honour in the presence of all the kings assembled there. After the death of Harsha in 648 A.D., Bhaskara became the supreme lord of Eastern India extending his sway as far as Nalanda. He had also brought under his control Sylhet and Tripura including south-east Bengal. This is testified by Hiuen Tsang who refers to Bhaskara as ''King of eastern India''and stated that the rules of Kamarupa had the sea-route to China under their protection.34 Inscriptions bear testimony to the many-sided qualities and achievements of Bhaskara. Because of his depth of knowledge,he is called in the ''second Brihaspati''.He made Kamarupa a noted centre of learning attracting students from outside. As pointed out by P.C. Choudhury, with the expansion of the political sway of the Varmana line of kings large portion of Eastern India came under the cultural ideas of Kamarupa. 35 This influence even spread to the islands in the pacific and some of the architectural remains in Combodia, Annam and other places are possibly to be attributed to the influence of the rulers of Kamarupa.
The Salastambha Dynasty : Bhaskaravarman remained a celibate throughout his life. It is for this reason that he is called Kumara Raja in the Harshacharia and in the account of Hiuen Tsang. Naturally, therefore, at his death an anarchical situation arose, taking advantage of which a non-Aryan chief named Salastambha usurped the throne. Who was the immediate successor of is not known for certainly. According to K.L. Barua, Bhaskara was succeeded by one of his near relations,whom he identifies with Avantivarman of Visakhadatta's Sanskrit Drama Mudrarakshasa. He holds the view that Salastambha,the leader of governor of the Mlechchas usurped the throne by deposing Avantivarman,who did not reign for more than five years.37 That Salastambha was a usurper is indicated in the text of the Bargaon grant of Ratnapala which runs as follows :''After thus,for several generations,kings of Naraka's dynasty had ruled the whole country,a great chief of the Mlechchas, owing to a turn of adverse fate, took possession of the kingdom. This was Salastambha. In succession to him,their were chiefs altogether twice ten in number...''. According to the Hara-Gauri-Sambada, after the end of the period of the family of Naraka-Bhagadutta, came a prince from the west,named Madhaba, who established himself in Kamarupa a new line of kings having twentyone kings. As the number of kings given in this source exactly tallies with that given in the inscriptions as belonging to Salastambha, P.C. Choudhury rightly identifies Salastambha with Madhava of the Hara-Gauri-Sambada and holds that Salastambha and Avantivarman were the same person, who was referred to as Devavarman, ''King of Eastern India'' by the Chinese 34. cf. P.C. Choudhury,Op.cit.p.178 35. Op.cit p.186 36. N.N. Vasu : Social History of Kamarupa,Vol. III. pp.13f. 37. . Op.cit.,p.69
pilgrim It-Sing.38 The Salastambha kings called their descent from the ancient Bhaumas of Bhauma-Narakas like the Varman kings,whom they supplanted. Salastambha's reign can tentatively be placed between 655 to 675 A.D. Though there were twentyone kings in his family,names of only fifteen have so far been found. During the rule of this dynasty,the capital city was located at Haruppeswara, identified with the modern town of Tezpur. The sixth king of the dynasty, Sri Harsha or Harshadeva (c.725-50 A.D) was the most famous, being credited with the overlordship of Gauda, Odra, Kalinga, Kosala and other lands. It is recorded in the Pasupati epigraph of the Nepal king, Jayadeva II, that Sri Harshadeva who was the lord of these lands gave his daughter Rajyamatiin marriage to this king. It appears that after conquering Kalinga and Kosala, Harshadeva led an expedition to the south and was defeated by the Cahlukya king of Karnataka, Kirtivarman II. Soon after, he was overthrown and killed by Yasovarman of Kanauj.39Thus though for a short period, Kamarupa, during the rule of Harshadeva reached the highest point of its military glory ''when its suzerain power extended from Sadiya in the east to Ajodhya in the west, and from the Himalayas in the north as far as the Bay of Bengal and Ganjam in the south''.40 It is presumed by Gait that the family of Salastambha came to an end with the death of Harshadeva.41 But according to the Hayunthal epigraph, Harshadeva was succeeded by his son Balavarman II (c.750-765A.D.),who was also a powerful monarch. Pralambha the great-grandson of Harshadeva was contemporary of Gopala, the first king of the Pala Dynasty of Gauda. Pralambha's son Harjaravarman was perhaps the first of this line of kings to perform his coronation ceremony according to Vedic rites. He assumed the High-sounding title Maharajadhiraja Parameswara Paramabhattaraka. He was left us two inscriptions, the Hayunthal copper plates found at Nagaon and the Tezpur rock epigraph. The second one is dated Gupta era 510=829-30 A.D. Harajaras reign is tentatively placed between c.815-35 A.D. The Tezpur inscription was sasana or royal charter regulating the plying of boats in the Brahmaputra within certain boundaries specified therein. This sasana indicates that Harjara had a big navy at his command. Hajaravarman built a lofty Siva temple and rows of stately buildings in the capital city at Haruppeswara. Extensive ruins of temples and buildings in and around the modern town of Tezpur along with the existence of a big tank called Hajarapukhuri bear 38. P.C. Choudhury,Op.cit.,pp.187 ff. Choudhury also opines that Salastambha was probably established,as a ruler of the Nalanda region by Bhaskara and immediately after the latter's death without leaving an heir,he came to Pragjyotisha and declared himself as king 39. For detail,see P.C. Choudhury. Op.. cit.. pp. 199-207 40. K.L. Barua,Op.cit.,p.71 41. Op. Cit..p. 33 testimony of Harjara's patronage of art and architecture and his attention to public works. Hajaravarman's son Vanamalavarman (c.835-65A.D.)was perhaps the last powerful king of Salastambha dynasty .He recovered Kamarupa's lost possession of Pundravardhana and to signalise this victory donated lands to a Brahmana near about the area where Bhutivarman of the Varman dynasty made land-grants in the middle of the 6thcentury A.D. This is recorded in the Tezpur grant issued in his 19th regal year. He made several other land-grants. He rebuilt the Siva temple erected by his father and made grants of lands,elephants and temple girls to it. 42From his Nagaon grant it is learnt that his capital city was inhabited by virtuous men, merchants and learned scholars and people of all classes lived there happily. Vanamala, a devout worshipper of Siva abdicated the throne in favour of his son Jayamala (c.865-85A.D.) and himself fasted unto death.43 Vanamala's grandson Balavarman III (c.885-910A.D.)also made several land grants in different parts of his kingdom. In his grants he too assumed the high-sounding epithet Maharajadhiraja Parameswara Paramabhattaraka. Nothing is known about the successors of Balavarman III. There is a gap in the historical account of the period between the reign of Balavarman III and Tyagasingha, the last king of the family. They possibly ruled during the period c.910-970 A.D., after which Brahmapala started the rule of Pala line of kings.
The Pala Dynasty : Tyagasingha possibly died childless, but the danger of rebellion centering round his heirless death was tactfully avoided by the officers by choosing Brahmapala to the throne. 44This is evident from the Bargaon grant of Ratnapala which states:''Seeing that the twenty-first of them (the line of Salastambha ), the illustrious Tyagasingha by name had departed to heaven without leaving any of his heir to succeed him, his officials, thinking it well that a Bhauma (of Naraka's race) should be appointed as their lord chose Brahmapala from along his kindred to be their king on account of his fitness to undertake the government of the country,''According to the Hara-Gauri-Sambada, the family of Madhava, who is identified with Salastambha, was followed by that of Jitari, who ruled for eight generations. The epigraphs of the Palas also give the names of eight kings beginning with Brahmapala and Jitari were the same person. Brahmapala possibly hailed from the western part of the kingdom of Kamarupa for which he is said to have come from the Dravida country in the Hara-Gauri Sambada. The title 'Pala' is an abbreviation of the Sanskriti term Palaka, which means protector, i.e., a ruler or administrator. It seems that this title was a popular one among the rulers 42. Nagaon Grant,vv.16,19,24 f; Pravatiya plates vv.15,19,24f. 43. Nagaon grant,vv,16,17. 44. S.L. Baruah : A Comprehensive History of Assam,p.121. of north eastern India of the time and in imitation of the contemporary Pala kings of Bengal, Brahmapala also assumed that title. Brahmapala's reign may be placed between 990-1010 A.D. Towards the close of rule of the Salastambhas, Pundravardhana passed on to the hands of Bengal's ruler. The western boundary of the Kamrupa kingdom at the time of Brahmapala's accession to the throne was, therefore, again regressed to the river Karatoya. Brahmaputra abdicated the throne in favour of his son Ratnapala. Ratnapala (c.1010-40A.D) was a powerful king. He made several land-grants. He shifted the capital city of his kingdom of Pragjyotishpur, strongly fortified it and named it as Durjaya or Sri Durjaya (impregnable).He defeated a king of Gouda named Rajyapala,which is evident from an inscription belonging to one of his successors, Gopala.45 Ratnapala appears to have encouraged trade and commerce as well as learning and education. Ratnapala's son Indrapala (c.1040-65A.D.) defeated Kalyana Chandra, son of Sri Chandra of Bengal and to mark this victory made land-grants in Pundravardhana to a Brahmana hailing from Sravasthi. Indrapala married Rajyadevi, a Rashtrakuta princess. He was succeeded by his son Gopala (c.1065-85), who was a man of merit and intelligence. His Grachtal inscription contains important information about his predecessors. During the reign of the next king Harshapala (c.1085-95), Jatavarman, king of East Bengal snatched away a part of Pundravardhana, then under the sovereign rule of Kamarupa. However, this was soon recovered by Dharmapala (c.1095-1120), son and successor of Harshapala. Three inscription belonging to Dharmapala's reign are found, which speak about his prowess and manifold qualities. He was a great patron of religion and learning and himself a poet. The first eight verses of the Pushpabhadra grant were composed by him. Towards the end of his reign,Dharmapala was conducting his administration from his capital at Kamarupanagar,which can be considered only as an extension of the old city of Pragjyotishpur to North Guwahati. Jaypala, the son of Dharmapala, who is identified by P.C. Choudhury with Ramchandra mentioned in Ram Charita of Sandhyakaranandi,46 ruled sometime between 1120-30A.D. During his reign, Kamarupa was attacked by Mayana, the general of Ramapala, the Pala king of Bengal,and as a result of the war,the Kamarupadhipati lost his possession in North Bengal. 47The Bengal king placed Tingyadeva as his vassal king in the part. Later when Tingyadeva rebelled, Ramapala's son Kumarapala, who then ruled Gauda, sent Vaidyadeva to suppress him. Vaidyadeva not only suppressed Tingyadeva,but also conquered Kamarupa and declared his independence in 1138 A.D..He assumed the title Maharajadhiraja Parameswara Paramabhattaraka.
Later Kings of Kamarupa :45. Guwahati Inscription V.16 46. P.C. Choudhury : Op. Cit,pp. 246-47. 47. Ibid : p. 250; K.L. Barua,Op.cit.,p. 94. Though there is no definite account of Kamrupa and its king for the few decades following Vaidyadeva, from the Tezpur grant of Valabhadeva dated 1107 Saka, which corresponds to 1185 A.D., it is learnt that his grandfather Rayarideva had an encounter with king Vijaysena of Bengal to P.C. Choudhury, Rayarideva was probably a feudatory of Vadyadeva in the Darrang area.48 After Gopala III,owing to the weakness of Pala kings of Gauda, the Sena king of Bengal,Vijayasena, conquered the whole of Gauda and thus became the immediate neighbour of Kamarupa. In the Deopara inscription of Vijaysena (1125-57 A.D.), reference is made to an event, wherein Vijayasena had an encounter with the Kamarupadhipati, who can be identified with Vaidyadeva. In the opinion of P.C. Choudhury, Rayarideva helped Vaidyadeva, who was then occupying the throne of Kamarupa to resist Vijayasena. In the war, Vaidyadeva was killed, but in the hands of Rayarideva, Vijayasena experienced reverse, as indicated in the Tezpur grant of Vallabhadeva, after which, Rayarideva established himself as an independent king of Kamarupa.49 Rayarideva was succeeded by Udayakarna and thereafter Vallabhadeva became the king of Kamarupa in the 9th decade of the 12th century, as his Tezpur grant was issued in 1185 A.D..Lakshmanasena (c.1175-1205 A.D.) the son of Vallabhasena, who ascended the throne at very late years, invaded Kamarupa during the time of Vallabhadeva and defeated him, but his successor Viswasundardeva immediately recovered his kingdom and established his independent status. Viswasundardeva was also popularly known as Prithu of Barthu. He was a very powerful king. He not only defeated and destroyed the entire army of Muhammad-bin-Bakhtiyar in 1205-06 A.D. but also overthrew Sultan Ghiyasuddin-Iwas Khilji in 1227 A.D., and finally faced defeated in the hands of Nasiruddin, the son of Iltutmish in 1228 A.D. Viswasundardeva was followed by Sandhya,who was established by Nasiruddin as a tributary king and,thereafter at the death of Nasiruddin, Sandhya threw off his allegiance to the Turkish ruler of Bengal. At this juncture,the Bhuyan chiefs of Kamarupa joined with Sandhya,who brought the whole region upto Karatoya and also a part of the area beyond,under his control and assumed the title Gaudeswar. He was followed by his son Sindhu(c.1260-85A.D) and there after his grandson, Rupanarayan (c.1285-1300A.D).50 From a narrative in the Gurucharia, written by Ramacharan Thakur,it is found that Sandya was a very powerful king, who thwarted the invasion of Kamrupa by Malik Yuzbeg alias Sultan Mughisuddin 51in 1257 A.D..Thereafter, he shifted his capital to Kamalpur in Koch Bihar and assumed the title Kamateswara and used it as a synonym for Kameswara meaning''the lord of Kamarupa.''Thenceforth, the kingdom 48. Op. Cit. p.255 49. Ibid,pp. 254-55. 50. Garucharita by Racharan Thakur,cf. K.L.Barua,op., p.162 51. cf. N.N. Acharyya : The History of Medieval Assam, pp. 144f. came to be known as Kamata or Kamrup-Kamata. Sandhya is said to have given his daughter in marriage to Ratnadhvaja,the powerful Chutia king of Sadiya.52 The last king of this line was Singhadhvaja (1300-05A.D.).who lost his kingdom to his minister, Pratapdhvaja(1305-25A.D). Pratapdhvaja has been referred to as Manik Chandra in the traditions prevalent in Koch Bihar. His daughters, Rajani and Bhajani were given in marriage to the Ahom king Sukhangpha (1293-1332A.D).53 At the death of Pratapdhvaja, the throne of the Kamata kingdom was seized by his nephew Dharampala alias Dharmanarayan. This usurpation was challenged by the Bhuyans but Dharmanarayan subjugated them all. Dharmanarayan shifted his headquarter's to Dimla in the district of Rangpore. He possibly conquered certain portions of Gauda for which he took the title Gaudeswara. Meanwhile, Durlabhnarayan, the son of Pratapdhvaja and hence the legal claimant to the throne with the help of some Bhuyans, challenged the authority of Dharmanarayan,and occupied the eastern part of the Kamata kingdom. He established his headquarters at Garia near the modern town of Koch Bihar. This was followed by a long and protracted warfare. At last a peace was concluded,possibly in 1330A.D., by which the kingdom was divided between them, Durlabhnarayan taking the northern and eastern part along with the city of Kamatapur and Dharmanarayan retaining the rest,which included Rangpore and Mymensingh,54After the conclusion of the treaty, Gaudeswar Dharmanarayan sent,at the request of Kamateswar Durlabhnarayan,fourteen families of Brahmanas and Kayasthas to the latter's kingdom. 55Thus Dharmanarayan was ruling over the undivided kingdom of Kamata possibly from 1325-30 A.D. After the partition of the kingdom,he continued to rule over its western part for some years.Dharmanarayan was succeeded by his son Tamradhvaja,who established himself at Ghoraghat in the Rangpore district. Durlabhnarayan was a great patron of learning,. His court was adorned by the famous Assamese poets Harihar Bipra,Ram Saraswati and Hem Saraswati. Durlabhnarayan was succeeded by his son Indranarayan(1350-65 A.D.),who assumed the title''Pancha Gaudeswara''.This indicates that he wrested the western part of the Kamata kingdom,which fell into the hands of Dharmanarayan. The history of the Kamata kingdom after Indranarayan in uncertain. Possibly towards the end of Indranarayan's reign, some unruly elements raised their heads in the kingdom and Indranarayan himself may have been killed by an adventurous upstart,who is usually identified with Sasanka alias Arimatta. Arimatta was possibly a related nephew of Indranarayan and as because he became king by killing his paternal uncle,he has been condemned in popular traditions of Assam as a patricide. Arimatta established his capital near Betna, covering the fort constructed by Vaidyadeva in the early part of the 12th 52.Ibid : pp.145,152. 53. Harakanta Barua Sadar Amin,Asam Buranji, (ed.)S.K. Bhuyan,p.15. 54. N.N. Acharyya : Op.cit., p.157-58. 55. K.L. Barua : Op. Cit., p.163. entury. 56Phengua, probably a relative of Indranarayan challenged him but he was killed by Arimatta. Arimatta ruled probably during the period 1365-85 A.D..He was succeeded by Gajanka, Sutaranka and Mriganka successively. Their rule can be placed between 1385-1440A.D.The Ahom king Sudangpha (1397-1407A.D.)invaded the Kamata kingdom towards the close of his reign, when Gajanka was ruling over it and the latter sued for peace by offering his daughter to the Ahom king.57
The Khan or Khen Dynasty :During the rule of the successors of Arimatta, the Bhuyans rose their hands in different parts of the kingdom .when Mriganka, the last king of Arimatta's line died childless, the throne was occupied by one Niladhvaj Khan (c.1440-60A.D.),who assumed the title Kamateswar and rebuilt the city of Kamatapur. The dynasty founded by Niladhvaj came to be known as Khan or Khen dynasty. According to the Kamrupar Buranji, Niladhvaj and his successors were the rulers over the Singimari region, upto the bank of the Brahmaputra opposite Hajo.58 Niladhvaj was succeeded by his son Chakrodhvaj (c.1460-80A.D.), who in his turn, was followed by his son Nilambar (c.1480-98A.D.). Taking advantage of the anarchical situation in Bengal under the Abysinians or Habshis, Nilambar occupied the north-eastern part of Bengal and consolidated his conquest by building a road from his capital to the frontier fortress of Ghoraghat on the Karatoya. He was overthrown by the Bengal Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah (1493-1517A.D.) in 1498A.D..With this event, the rule of the Khan or Khen kings of Kamata came to the end. The Bhuyans then became powerful and were ruling in different parts of the kingdom till the rise of the Koches in about 1515 A.D..
Confliciting Accounts relating to Arimatta :The accounts relating to the kings after Indranarayan, specially Arimatta, are very conflicting. However,it can be said that whatever his identity had been, Arimata was a powerful warrior, who made his influence felt in different parts of the Brahmaputra valley. There are many legends centering round Arimatta in Assam. There is a tradition even amongst the Daflas (Nishis)that once he took refuge at Hita Rokp, present Itanagar. 59According to one account given in the Kamrupar Buranji, Arimatta was descendant of king Dharmapala,who came from Gauda. Dharmapala was succeeded by Ratnapala, Somapala and Pratap Singha, one after another. Arimata was the son of Pratap Singha, who had his capital at Kanayka (which came to be known as Pratapapura)near Viswanath in Sonitpur district. Arimatta's mother Chandraprabha being offered to 56. E.A. Gait : Op. Cit., p.18. 57. Ahom Buranji, (Trans & ed.). G.C. Barua, pp.50-51 58. (ed.)S.K. Bhuyan, p.4. 59. D.N. Das : '' Ruins of Mayapur'',Journal of the Assam Research Society,Vol. III. No.2,pp.43-49 the river god Brahmaputra by Pratap Singha when she was pregnant, he was brought up by a Brahmin, who rescued his mother. Arimatta had an adventurous career and in course of his military exploits, he killed his own father, not knowing his identity. According to this account, Arimatta was defeated by Phengua, after which, he drowned himself to the river.60 The genealogy of the Dimarua Rajas,on the other hand, states that Somapala of Pratapapura was the father of Arimatta. 61The Rajas of Rani and Dimarua claimed their descent from Arimatta.62 It is said that Pratap Singha was also known as Ramchandra and Bhalukpung. According to another account given in the Kamrupar Buranji was a descendant of Jitari,who came from the Dravida country and established himself at Kamarupa. Arimatta killed the Kamateswara Durlabhendra, who was probably a descendant of Indranarayan and occupied the throne of Kamata. Arimatta was followed by Sukaranga,Sukaranga and Mriganka respectively. These four kings ruled from 1160 to 1400 Saka,i.e.,1238-1478 A.D.63 In the Saharai mauja in Nagaon, there are remains of an old fort with high embankments known as Jongalgarh.This is believed ti have been the capital of Jongal Balahu,another son of Arimatta, who was defeated by the Kacharis and drowned himself in the Kalong river.64 To conclude, no authentic and comprehensive account of Assam following the Palas, is found available till now. However,it is certain that since about the close of the 12th century, the empire of Kamarupa shrank to the small kingdom of Kamata, which also, after the death of Indranarayan got disintegrated into several principalities ruled by a class of petty land-lords called Bhuyans. In the eastern and central Brahmaputra valley,a number of Mongoloid tribes like the Chutiyas, Marans, Borahis and the Kacharis founded their independent kingdoms,who were finally subjugated by the Ahoms.
The Muslim Invasions :The first Muslim army to enter Kamarupa was led by Mahammad-bin-Bakhtiyar in 1205-06A.D..The even is recorded in the Kanai Barasi Stone Inscription at North Guwahati in a few words in Sanskrit which means that ''on 60. pp. 2-3. 61. N.N. Acharyya,op, cit., p.180. 62. E.A. Gait,Op, cit, p.19 63. P.4. 64. E.A. Gait : op. Cit., p.19 the thirteenth of Chaitra, in the Saka era 1127, the Turks coming into Kamarupa were destroyed.''The destination of the invaders was perhaps beyond Kamarupa. But the army advanced through this land against the advice of the king and while it retreated, the Kamarupa king Prithu (Bartu) alias Viswasundardeva inflicted severe defeated upon the invaders.65 The second invasion in 1226 A.D. was led by Sultan Ghiasuddin Iwaz, who is said to have advanced as far as Sadiya. 66But in the end,he was defeated by Prithu and driven back to Gauda. Ghiasuddin was ultimately overthrown by Nasiruddin, son of Iltutmish in 1228 A.D.,and it was Nasiruddin,who overthrew Prithu in that year. Nasiruddin retired from Kamarupa on promise of an annual tribute which,however,was stopped after some time by Sandhya,the son of Prithu. The third invasion was led by Ikhtiyaruddin Yuzbeg Tughril Khan in 1256-57 A.D..For a time Tughril was successful and he erected a mosque in commemoration of his victories. But when the rains set in and disease overtook the invaders,the Sultan and his soldiers were defeated and killed by Sandhya's men. Only few could return to Bengal to tell of the catastrophe of the army. According to the Alamgirnamah, Mahammad-bin-Tughlug despatched a huge army of 1000,000 to conquer. Assam in 1332-33 A.D..But when the imperial army entered the frontier of Kamata, they were all relegated to oblivion. It is further mentioned in the same source that to avenge this defeated Mahammad-bin-Tughluq sent another expedition to invade Kamata, but''when it arrived in Bengal,it was panic-striken and shrank from the enterprise.''67 The next invasion was led by Sikandar Shah in 1362 A.D.,during the reign of Indranarayan. The army possibly advanced as far has Gachtal in Nagaon district,but having heard of the invasion of Bengal by his overlord Firoz Shah Tughluq, he hurried back to his domain. After this,for a period of more than one hundred years, barring certain marauding campaigns, Assam was free from any serious Muslim invasion till the end of the fifteenth century. According to a Persian Manuscript said to have been written in 1633 A.D.,one Shah Ismail Ghaji was sent in an expedition by the Bengal Sultan Rukunuddin Barbak against the king of Kamata, who was probably Chakradhvaj, father of Nilambar. Ismail by performing feats of supernatural power succeeded in obtaining the submission of the Kamata king. But the Hindu Governor of 65. E.A. Gait : op. Cit., 36-37; J.A. Vas, eastern Bengal and Assam District Gazetteer, Rangpore, p. 24; K.L.. Barua,op. Cit., pp. 136-45 66. E.A. Gait : op. Cit., p. 37. 67. Alamgirnamah, p.731: N.N. Archaryya, op. Cit., p.161. Ghoraghat represented to the Sultan that the alleged submission of the Kamateswara was a fraud and Ismail was only forming an alliance with the Kamateswara to set up an independent kingdom for himself. The Sultan believing the information to be true sent an army against Ismail,who repulsed the Sultan's forces several times but at last submitted. Ismail was finally beheaded. From the story it appears that Ismail concluded a true with the Kamateswara,to whom he had to cede some territory probably in Golaghat. It has already been stated that Chakradhvaj's son Nilambar built a road from Kamatapur to Ghoraghat and erected a fort at Goraghat.68 This took place possibly during the period 1470-74A.D.69 The next Muslim expedition to Kamata took place in 1498 A.D,wherein Alauddin Hussain Shah of Gauda defeated the Kamata Raja Nilambar through treachery and left for his territory leaving his son Danial with a garrison at Hajo. After Danial's death, Musunder Ghazi ruled in Kamrup and Sultan Ghiyasuddin Aulia founded a Muslim Colony in Kamrup and built a large Mosque on a hill at Hajo called Poa Mecca. Reputed as a darwesh in Jahangir's time, he is venerated as a saint in Assam. His tomb in the Mosque is sacred to both Muslims and Hindus.70 In 1501 A.D.,the Bhuyan chiefs of Kamrup joined together,attacked the Muslim garrison at Hajo and destroyed it,making Kamrup again free from Muslim yoke. It is learnt from the buranjis, that a certain Bar Ujir invaded Assam in 1527 A.D.,during the reign of Suhungmung Dihingiya Raja (1497-1539A.D.). The invaders advanced as far as Temani in the Kalang valley,where a serious battle took place. The Ahom army led by Kancheng Barpatra Gohain defeated the invaders.71 This is the first Muslim invasion to the Ahom kingdom. In 1532 A.D.,another Muslim general named Turbak marched upto Kaliabar and defeated the Ahom troops stationed there. But subsequently, he was defeated and killed in a bloody battle on the bank of the Bharali river in the very same year. Twenty-one years later, Kala Pahar, a Hindu apostate is said to have made marauding expedition into Assam, and in his fanatical zeal for the propagation of his new religion, made attempts to demolish the temples at Kamakhya and Hajo.72 68.K.L. Barua : op. Cit., pp. 157-58,According to Barua,this story with a myth. 69. Ibid : pp. 155-57 70. J.N. Sarkar : Freedom Struggles in Medieval Assam,p. 34. 71. Deodhai Asam Buranji. p.21; S.L. Baruah, op.cit., pp. 23 lf. 72. Riyaz- us- Salatin, pp. 151; N.N. Archarya,op. Cit.. p. 196.
Medieval Period :
The history of medieval Kamrup after the rule of the Pala dynasty is disconnected. No inscription or coin,nor any contemporary comprehensive historical account of his period has yet been discovered. But the history of Medieval Kamrupa has come to light on the basis of certain legitimate historical study/investigation. It seems that during this period the Kacharis became powerful and advanced towards the west up to the boundary of the present district of Kamrup. Owing to the expansion of Kachari power, the Kamarupa kings were, it seems,compelled to remove their capital from Guwahati further west to Kamatapur as already mentioned earlier. There after,the kingdom of Kamata came into existence. Kachari dynasty:The late Pandit Hem Chandra Goswami stated that Maha Manikya was a king of the Barahi Kacharis and that he ruled about the middle of the fourteenth century at Dimapur. It is evident that Kachari or Bodo sovereignty was exercised in Assam in different places. As Sir Edward Gait says,''the Kacharis are believed to be very closely allied to the Koches, and also so far,at least as language is concerned, to the Chutiyas, Lalungs and Morans of the Brahmaputra valley,and to the Garos and Tipperas of the Southern Hills. Having regard to their wide distribution,and to the extent of country over which Bodo languages of a very uniform type are still current, it seems probable that at one time,the major part of Assam and that some at least,of the Mlechcha kings mentioned in the old copper-plate inscriptions belong to the Kachari or some closely allied tribes.73 Captain Fisher, the first Superintendent of Cachar, who took great pins in ascertaining the early history of the Kacharis, was of opinion that in the remote past, this rude tribe gradually acquired and empire over Assam, Sylhet, Mymensing and the Valleys to the east of the Brahmaputra,their original seat being at Kamarupa, and that their rule ultimately embraced everything from Kamrup down to the sea. But there is no authentic epigraphic or historical account discovered on the mater uptil now. The founder of the Kachari kingdom is said to be one Manik. Tradition states that there was a powerful Kachari kingdom at Sadiya founded by one Manik and his son-in-law Mukuta ruled after him. Kacharis belong to the broadly constituted Bodo group of Tribeto-Burman races. 73. Sir E. Gait : A history of Assam, Reprint 1967,p 300Diversity of option exists regarding their pre-Assam habitats. About their first home in Assam it is believed that they lived originally in a land called Kumkuli (Kamrup)by which flowed a river in a great Valley. From there they were driven out and got to place called Kundilo (Kundil or Sadiya).The Kachari Kingdom of Sadiya as per chronicle, bounded by Sadiya on the east, the River Dikhou on the west, the south bank of the river Dihing on the north and Kenduguri on the south,was probably the first attempt of the Kacharis to build up an independent State after their expulsion from Kamrup. But the history of origin of Chutiya and Kachari is still controversial,though the old legends traced their origin as the Chutiya rulers traced their descent from Raja Bhismak, father of Rukmini; at least the southern Branch,from Bhima and Herambha Rakshasi. The legend says that the first king of Herambha branch of Kachari was Susampha. According to another legend the earliest Kachari king was one Birahas, who abdicated in favour of Bicharpatipha, prior to the establishment of the Kachari capital at Dimapur; the venue of Government had shifted between Sonapur, Banpur, and Lakshindrapur. The kingdom of Cachar, of which Tamradhwai Narayana was the ruler during the reign Rudra Singha, and Govinda Chandra at the time of British occupation, is only one of the numerous states brought to existence by the political genius of the Kachari people. It seems that the rulers of Barahi Kachari, at one time ruled over the Kapili Valley also .It was during the reign of Maha-Manikya-a Barahi king who ruled in their earlier part of the fourteenth century that Sri Madhab Kandali composed the Assamese version of the Ramayan in verses. The Kacharis,who have been described as ''the original autochthones of Assam had built up political and administrative units,vestiges of which have lingered till this day. The first note-worthy conflict between the Ahom and Kachari occurred in the reign of Suhungmung Dihingia Raja (1497-1539A.D.). In the battle the Kacharis were defeated. The legend says that among the spoils of war was the Assamese Cleopetra Garama Kunwari,who extended her hand from king of Gauda to Kachari Raja and finally to Ahom king Dihingia Raja. Her son Madan Konwar was also taken to the Ahom capital. After the death of Dersong-pha, the Kacharis lived from sometime without an overlord. And as desired by them,the Ahom king appointed Madan Konwar as their Raja at Cachar, with the name Nirbhayanarayan and the Kachari Rajya became an annual tributary state to the Ahom king. During the reign of Swargadeo Rajeswar Singha the refractory Kachari Raja Sandhikari and the fugitive Manipuri Raja were produced before the Ahom Monarch by Kirtichandra Barbarua. It was through the intervention of the Ahom Victors that the Kacharis obtained a ruler of their own together with the necessary paraphernalia of sovereignty. The Ahom kings regarded the Kachari Raja as their vassal, and always resented any move on the part of the Kachari Rajas which tended to repudiate their time-honoured obligations to the Ahom king. The Ancient Tripura kingdom in the Kapili valley : Like the Ahom kings of Assam the rulers of the kingdom known as Tripura also maintained regular historical account of their dynasty. Legends say that, Madhava Kandali alias Kaviraj Kandali composed the Assamese Ramayana by order of Shri Mahamanikya, the Barahi Raja. Whether this Barahi Raja was a king of the Barahi Kacharis as supposed by Late Pandit Hem Chandra Goswami or some other person who ruled Tripura is a controversial matter. The Tripura kings trace their descent from Drukyo, the son of Yajati. It is said that Pratardana, who was twentyfifth in descent from Drukyo, conquered the Kiratas and founded a kingdom the capital of which was on the bank of the river Kapili. The Sanskrit Rajamala describes that the ancient kingdom of Tripura, called Trivega comprised the Kapili Valley, the North-Cachar Hills and also the modern district of Cachar to the west of Manipur. Vincent Smith writes that a king of the Ka-pi-li kingdom named ''Yue-Ai'' sent an embassy to China in the year 428 A.D. And he identifies Ka-pi-li with the Kapili of Assam. It seems, therefore,very likely that he was the king of the ancient Tripura dynasty and that this kingdom in Kapili Valley lasted till, at least, the fifth century A.D. It further appears that the Kapili Valley is still knows as Davaka. Hence, this tract has been identified with the kingdom mentioned as Davaka in Samudra Gupta's inscription of the fourth century A.D. It seems, therefore, that through the Tripura kings may have themselves called this kingdom Trivega, it was well known to outsiders as 'Kapili' or 'Davaka' and both these names still persist; one attached to the river and the other applied to the valley of this river. Tripura, the son of Daitya; and Trilochan the son of Tripura, were both powerful kings. Dakshin was the second son of Trilochan. The eldest son Drikpati having married the daughter of the sonless king of Herembha (Hedamba) succeeded to the throne of his father-in-law. When Trilochan died, the younger brother of Dakshin, together with the help of nobles raised Dakshin to the Tripura throne. Thereupon Drikpati, the king of Hedamba, claimed both the kingdoms by right of succession and fought a great battle where Dakshin and his brothers surrendered to the king of Hedamba. The ancient Trivega, Kapili or the Davaka kingdom became absorbed in the Hedamba kingdom in about the fifth century A.D. The copper plate inscription of Harjaravarman has been found at Hayungthal within the Kapili Valley indicating that in the ninth century A.D. the area of Kapili Valley was absorbed within the Kamrupa kingdom. Ratnapha, who was twenty second in descent from Adi Dharmapha, first assumed the surname Manikya. Mahamanikya was the great grandson of Ratnamanikya and can be placed in the middle of the fourteenth century. On the other hand, Pandit Hem Chandra Goswami has placed Madhava Kandali and his patron,the Barahi Raja Maha Manikya, also in the middle of the fourteenth century. As the royal families of Tripura and Cachar claimed relation with each other and also because ethonologically they belong to the same group,it is very likely that during the fourteenth century Barahi Kingdom extended over Kapili Valley, Cachar, North Cachar and also Tripura and that Mahamanikya ruled over this vast kingdom, in the middle of that century. His Highness the Maharaja Manikya Bahadur of Tripura is therefore, the lineal representative of one of the oldest ruling houses in the whole of India. Bhuyan Chiefs : It was the thirteenth century when a line of Chutiya kings ruled the country east of the Subansiri and the Disang, and the Kachari kingdom was flourishing in central Assam on the south bank of the Brahmaputra, and prohably extended at least half way across the Nagaon district. Towards the west of the Kacharis on the south bank of the Brahmaputra and of the Chutias on the north, a number of petty chiefs called Bhuyans held sway over a vast territory. The boundary between the tract ruled by these chiefs and the kingdom of Kamarupa altered from time to time. A powerful prince might bring many of them under his control, but they regained there independence under weak prince. Gait mentioned that these chiefs were remembered in Assamese legends as the Bara-Bhuyans. As correctly stated by Gait, each chief was independent of the others within his own domain, but they seem to have been in the habit of joining their forces whenever they were threatened by a common enemy. ''74 But why the Bara (twelve) number is always mentioned both in Bengal and Assam is still controversial. 74. E.A. Gait : A History of Assam, p.38 Gait explained the term ''Bhuyan'' as nothing to do with caste. It meant the ''lord of the Land''. Sri Sankardeva himself used the word ''Bhowmik''as a synonym of the term 'Bhuyan'. It was the practice in Eastern India for kings to appoint twelve advisers of Governors. Naranarayan had twelve ministers of state, twelve Dolois were placed in charge of the hilly portion on the Jaintia Raja and there were twelve state councillors in Nepal. The number thus became connected in the minds of the people with all dignitaries ranking next to Raja and so came to be used in a purely conventional sense. There were various stories about the Bara-Bhuyan, which often refer to entirely different groups of chiefs and they are to a great extent mere legends. According to H.N. Dutta Barua the petty Chieftains were known as 'Bhowmik' during the time of Pala kings. Their domain was called 'Bhuma'. Perhaps, the word Bhuyan thus originated from the term ''Bhuma''.This view is supported by the fact that Chandibar who came from Kanauj became a Bhowmik under king Durlavanarayan of Gaud. Subsequently. he came to be known as Siromoni Bhuayn. The Guru Charita and the Sankar Charita version of the origin Bara-Bhuyan of Nagaon is that, after the war between Durlavnarayan and Dharmanarayan, Kamateswara and Gaudeswara respectively, a treaty was executed between the two kings and Dharmanarayan sent seven families of Brahmins and seven families of Kayasthas to Durlav Narayan, who settled them on the frontier as wardens of the marches. The ablest of these seven Kayastha families was Chandibar who subsequently became their leader. Their head quarters were at Paimaguri. Once the Bhutiyas raided their territory and carried off many people including the son of Chandibar. Chandibor and other Bhuyas pushed the raiders and compelled them to release the captives. Chandibar subsequently settled at Bardowa in Nagaon where his great grandson Sankardeva was born.75 According to Sarbananda Rajkumar a branch of the Bara-Bhuyans set up numerous petty kingdoms on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, extending from the Subansiri in the east, down to the Barnadi in the west. 76Another branch of Bara-Bhuyan ruled over certain areas which now form part of Nagaon district south of the Brahmaputra. 75. Ibid, pp. 40-41. 76. S. Rajkumar : Chutiya, Bhyuan aru Matak Rajya, pp. 45-52. Nakul Chandra Bhuyan supports the tradition which links Bara-Bhuyans with Samudra and Samanta connected with Dharmapala and Arimatta. Probably, there were two branches of Bara Bhuyans one of which is connected with Chandibar and his group; and other with Samudra whose sons were Santanu and Samanta Prior to the fifteenth century, these Bara- Bhuyans maintained their independence against the Kachari and Chutiya kings. But with the entrance of the Ahoms into the power-race, the glory of the Bhuyans started declining. From the middle of the fifteenth century the Ahom kingdom expanded towards the west at the expense of the Bara-Bhuyans, Kachari and Chutias. In 1535 A.D.the Ahom king, the Dihingia Raja defeated the Bara-Bhuyans and ransacked their territory and made them feudatory chiefs. In the field of religion and culture the period had a unique position. The period witnessed an efflorescence of the Assamese mind, symbolised by Sri Sankardeva a member of Bara- Bhuyan's family by whose message of love and forgiveness the whole of eastern India was carried off its feet. During the time, when Assam was divided among the Bhuyans, Ahoms, Koches, Kacharis, Jayantias,Chutias and Nagas, Shri Sankardev, the great saint poet of Assam,stepped up the epoch making Neo-Vaishnavite movement in Assam. The great Shri Sankardeva was born at Bordowa in Nagaon district in 1449 A.D. Taking advantage of Koch invasions of the Ahom territory about the middle of the sixteenth century, the Bhuyans discontinued to pay tribute to the Ahoms. It was Pratab Singha (1603-1641 A.D.) who finally subdued the Bhuyans whose domain extended between the Bharali and the Subansiri. In 1623 A.D.the Bara-Bhuyans again came to declare their independence and one of the Bhuyan chiefs Uday declared independence during the reign of Pratap Singha. A great number of followers arrested and executed and the followers getting frustrated submitted themselves to the power. Thenceforth the Bhuyans between the Subansiri and the Bharali, were bereft of all their powers.77 Koch king :The Bhuyan chiefs, who were undoubtedly the feudal barons of the later Kamrupa rather Kamatapur combined against the common foe, attacked Danial's Garrison at Hajo and destroyed it. Thereafter, for about a decade or more, there was not a common king for Kamatapur in ancient Kamarupa empire, and the petty Bhuyans again became independent and ruled the country. 77. Sir E. Gait : A history of Assam,1967, p.121 In 1515 A.D. Bisu, The son of Haria Mandal, through his courage took advantage of small Bhuyan principalities and strifes amongst them forced his way to the front,and subsequently became king under the name Viswa Singha. Bisu, the founder of Koch kingdom of Kamrup had a humble origin and defeated the Bhuyans of Ouguri and Luki but was repulsed by the Bhuyan of Phulguri. But later on, Bisu took advantage of the Bhuyan's soldiers being engaged in a festival and caught the Bhuyan unprepared and killed them. Thereafter,he subdued the Bhuyan chiefs of Bijni and other places as also defeated a confederacy of Bhuyan chiefs headed by the Bhuyan of Karnapur. Then he took Gauhati by defeating the Bhuyan of Pandu and later on turned his attention to the Bhuyan's of Northern Kamrupa. Thus,the entire country from Karatoya to Barnadi was brought under his sway by defeating Narayan Gomatha or Head-Bhuyan,Gandhabar Bhuyan of Baushi and their confederacies in Bajali and Kshetri areas.78 According to DarrangRaj Vansavali,written by Suryakhari,the Bar Bhuyans and Saru Bhuyans subdued by Bisu were Brahmans. The Bhuyans of Ouguri was also a Brahmin and Chuti Bhuyan was a Doivogya. 79It is found from Guru Charita that, Narayan Gomatha and other Bhuyans of North Kamrup,who were subdued by the first Koch king were Kayasthas.80 The account of Koch kings was brought to light by the Vansabali of the Darrang Rajas, which ends abruptly with the death of Parikshit. According to M. Neog, Biswa Singha, the first Koch king conquered Darrang together with other principalities viz., Dimarupa, Beltola, Rani, Luki, Boko, Chaygaon, Barnagar, Karaibari, Athiabari etc. 81Gait, however, holds that the river Barnadi formed the eastern boundaries of Biswa Singha's territory. S.K. Bhuyan also confirms this view and holds that the Karatoya in the west to the Barnadi in the east was the Koch territory under Biswa Singha.82 Viswa Singha subdued the petty princes who surrounded him,founded a magnificent city in Koch Nihar and set his state in order. Viswa Singha died after a region of 25 years and was succeeded in 1540 A.D. by his Malla Deva, who assumed the name of Nara Narayan. The reign of this prince reached the zenith of the Koch power and his armies,which 78. K.L. Barua : Early History of Kamarupa, pp.190 79. Ibid, pp.190. 80. H.N. Dutta Baruah : Prachin kamrupar Kayastha Samajar Itibrittya. 81. M. Neog : sankardeva and His Times, p.60 82. S.K. Bhuyan : Anglo – Assamese Relations, Gauhati,1949 p.260 were led by his brother Sukledwaja met with almost unvarying success. In this capacity, he displayed such skill and promptness of action that he was nick-named ''Chilarai'' or the ''Kite-king'', during his expeditions against the people of Assam. Nara Narayan's conquering tour against the Ahoms was successful under Chilarai, his commander-in-Chief and he ascended to the north bank of the Brahmaputra as far as Dikrai river. Then followed two other engagements at Kaliabar and Sala in which,also the Ahoms were defeated. But in the last engagement on the bank of the Pichala river, Suklengmung, the Ahom king ousted the Koch army inflicting a disastrous defeat. In course of these operations the Koches constructed an embankment road from their capital at Koch Bihar to Narayanpur in the south west of present Lakhimpur district,a distance of some three hundred and fifty miles(560km.).The worked was carried out under the supervision of Gohain Kamal,the kings brother,and is known to this day as ''Gohain Kamal Road''.83 Nara Narayan entered the Ahom capital Gargaon, (the modern Nazira) but the outcome of the war was an absolute defeat for the Koches many of them were slain and their arms were captured. The decisive defeat of the Koches at the hands of Ahoms had not discouraged them at all and the two brothers proceeded with conquest and compelled the rulers of Manipur, Jayantia, Tipparah, Sylhet, Khyarim and Dimarua to accept the Koch suzerainty. But the tide of fortune turned when at attack was made on the kingdom of Gaud. It was Kala Pahar,who fought successfully and repulsed the first attack on Gaud by Nara Narayan in 1565., when the ever victorious Koch prince Chilarai was captive in the hands of the Sultan of Gaud. Naranarayan would not, however,accept this defeat as final and a few years later joined with the Emperor Akbor in second attack upon the Badshah of Gaud, and Gaud was divided between the Emperor of Delhi and the Koch king. Shortly before this expedition Nara Narayan had restored the famous temple at Kamakhya,which had been injured by the Muhammadan invader Kalapahar in 1565 A.D. Decline of Koch kingdom, Raghu Raj, 1581-1603 A.D. :As for a long time Naranarayan had no male offspring, Chilarai's son Raghu Rai was regarded as his heir. But in his late age, Naranarayan begot a son called Lakshmi Narayan. Raghu Rai, losing hope of succeeding to the throne withdrew from the capital to Barnagar in the Barpeta Sub-division of the Kamarupa district. Naranarayan 83. N.N. Archaryya : The History of Medieval Assam, Gauhati, p. 195. endeavoured to compel him to return,but his soldiers were defeated and the king weekly resolved to divide his kingdom.84 Raghu Rai thus, came into possession of the country now included the the Mangaldai Sub-division and the district of Kamrup and Goalpara. He rebuilt the Manikut of Haygrib temple at Hajo, which had been destroyed by Kalapahar. On Naranarayan's death Lakshmi Narayan ascended the throne.85 Raghu Rai was succeeded by his son Parikshit in 1603 A.D. The prince mounted cannon at Pandunath,to the west of the Kamakhya hill, and built a town at North Guwahati,whose fortification can still be traced for many kilometres even at the present day. A struggle for independence was continued by Parikshit involving him in incessant hostilities with Lakshmi Narayan. Lakshmi Narayan made his submission to Mughal and Parikshit to Ahom. Ultimately in 1614 A.D. Parikshit surrendered to the Mughal emperor after a long and desperate war and his dominion upto the Barnadi was annexed to the Delhi empire with headquarters at Hajo. Parikshit's son,Chandra Narayan alias Bijit Narayan was confirmed by the Mughals as the Zamindar of the territory between the Sonkosh and the Manah with establishment at Bijni. In 1615 A.D., Parikshit's brother Bali Narayan fled away and sought shelter under the Ahom king Pratap Singha. He was cordially received by the latter. In 1616 A.D. the Ahom king Pratap Singha inflicted a crushing defeat on the invading Muslims on the bank of the Bharali in Darrang district and appointed Bali Narayan as the tributary Raja of Darrang and renamed him Dharma Narayan. His brother Gaj Narayan was set up as a tributary chief of Ahoms at Beltola. Dharma Narayan helped the Ahoms to fight the Mughals and at first succeeded in wresting out a part of Goalpara and Kamrup for the Mughals but subsequently had suffered a retreat and defeat. In 1639, a treaty between the Mughal Commander Allah Tar Khan and the Ahom General Momai Tamuli Barbarua was signed to fixed the boundary between the two powers at the Barnadi on Darrang-Kamrup boundary on the north bank and Asurar Ali near Gauhati on the south bank of the Brahmaputra. 86 84. According to Buchanam Hamilton,the kingdom was founded by Hajo, father of Hira and grand father of Viswa Singha, and divided by Biswa Singha who allotted the portion on the east of the Sankosh to Sukladwaj or Silarai, and that on the west of the river to Nara Narayan. On general grounds,however,this account seems to be less probable than given in the body of the text. 85. Sir. E. Gait : A History of Assam, pp. 57-64. 86. S. K. Bhuyan : Anglo Assamese relations, 1949, pp 262-63.