The Medieval Period

 

Introduction

The medieval history of Assam may be said to have actually begun from the advent of Ahoms, early in the thirteenth century and their conquest in Assam. The materials for studying this period lie scattered not only in the various records of the rulers and the people but in those of the subsequent Muslim invaders of the land as well as in the accounts of its foreign visitors. Therefore, the sources of the medieval history of Assam can be classified in the following heads:

Sourses of History (13th Century AD to 18th Century AD)

  • Ahom and Assamese Buranjis

  • Contemporary Chronicles

  • Memories and Farmans in Persian

  • Letters in Assamese

  • Archaeological evidences

  • Geographic and Numismatic sources

  • Accounts of Foreign Travelers

  • The reports and records the East-India Company.

The Ahom Period and Assamese Buranjis

The ‘Ahom Buranji' is a digest of events of the reigns of the Ahom rulers from Khunlung and Khunlai to Rudra Singha. It is an almost complete and comprehensive Ahom Buranji written in the Tai-Ahom script. The ‘Purani Assam Buranji' or the ‘Buranji' from the earliest times i.e. Sukapha (1228) to Gadadhar Singha was written in Assamese prose. Although this Buranji has great literary merit, both the Buranjis are of equal importance.  The ‘Sat Sari Assam Buranji' is a collection of seven old Assamese Buranjis. Besides the Buranjis, there are regional accounts; dynastic chronicles and family histories; chronicles of religious institutions and founders of monasteries. Among regional records we have the Kacahari, Jaintia and Tripura Buranjis.  Geographical accounts and dynastic chronicles were maintained by royal dynasties.

Contemporary Persian Chronicles, Memories and Farmans

Mohammedan rulers, the Sultans of Delhi or Bengal and the Mughal emperor or his governors – all endeavored to extend their eastern frontiers at the expense of war with the kingdoms and people of Kamrup and Assam. These invasive expeditions led to the compilation of two cotemporary sources of historical information: (1) Tabaquat-i-Nasiri: Tarikh-i-Firose Shah, by Zia ud din Barani; and (2) Tarikh-i-Feista: Gulshan-i-Ibrahimi, by Muhammad Oasim written and compiled during the Turko-Afghan period.
The Mughal period is illumined by a large number of such written, documentary sources. The Akbarnamah of Sheikh Abdul Fazl, Muntakhab ut Tawarikkh by Abdul Quadir of Badaun, Baharistan-i-Ghaibi by Alau'ddi Ispahana are the names of a few such valuable sources.

Letters in Assamese and Persian

These are very important sources of history. Sometimes the Buranjis like those in Assam, Kamrup, Jaintia and Cachar contain diplomatic letters. These letters highlight the inter-state relations of the respective period.

Archeological, Numismatic, Epigraphic Sourses

A close study of these sources is of great help not only for the reconstruction of political history and fixing the names and dates of rulers and their activities but also to throw light on the socio-religious and cultural history of that period.

Archeological

The Koch and Ahom rulers had to their credit numerous public works: tanks, embankments, roads, forts and temples. The Muslim conquerors also built a few mosques and roads. The most important Koch monuments are in the form of temples.  The King of Koch-Hajo had the Vishnu (Haygrib-Madhava) temple built atop the Mani Hillock at Hajo. Ahom rulers like Rudra Singha built the brick city at Rangpur; Pramatta Singha built masonary gateways at Garghgaon and an amphitheatre at Rangpur. The temples tell us about their patronage of Hinduism. The conquering Sultans of Bengal constructed a few mosques during their invasion of Kamrup. The most reputed is ‘Poa Mecca', built near Hajo to perpetuate the memory of a Muslim divine, Sultan Ghiyasuddin Aulia, probably in 16th century.

Numinismatic

Coins help in the reconstruction of history in various ways. They help in deciding the status and chronology of rulers by providing the names, titles and fixed dates. The legends inscribed on the coins indicate the language and script and the religion patronized by the rulers. The Koch coins were known as Narayani, from ending names of the rulers. Ahom coins were called ‘Takka'. Jayadhwaj Singha (1648-63) was the first king to introduce coins. Gold coins were issued by Chakradhwaj Singha and Udayaditya Singha.  Sir Edward Gait, the eminent historian, refers to Jaintia coins with various Saka dates. Coins of the Sultans of Bengal (from thirteen to sixteenth centuries) who invaded Kamrup have been discovered in different parts of these areas. The provenance of Muhammad bin Tughlaq's coin tends to support the solitary and 300-year late literary evidence of Alamgimamah about his undated Kamrup expedition. The next invasion of Kamrup was by the Ilyas Shahi Bengal Sultan; here too, coins constitute the sole evidence.

Epigraphic

Epigraphic Sources like inscriptions dealing with matters of Koch Bihar, Kamrupa, and Assam and highlighting the relations of Assam with the Sultans of Delhi have been found in various parts of the country. The scripts used were mainly in Sanskrit and Assamese, and the Mughal scripts were written in Persian.
There are only two Koch epigraphs during the 16th century; the first is dated 1487 Saka on the Kamakhya temple, and second one is dated 1505 Saka, referring to the rebuilding of the Manikut or the Hayagrib temple on Mani hillock at Hajo.The earliest inscription of the Ahom period is the Gachtal Rock Inscription of 1362. It was engraved in Sanskrit upon a rock at Gachtal. On a snake-pillar inscription, the description of the reign of Suhungmung is clearly inscribed. The Samdhara Rampart rock inscription, 1616, gives details about the victory of the Ahom king, Pratap Singha. There are two known Kachari Inscriptions. One was on a rock-cut temple at the Kachari capital, and the other records the construction of a palace at Khaspur. The inscriptions found on the canons are extremely interesting and valuable. Some belong to Koch rulers, some to Ahom kings and some belong to the Mughals. They were inscribed in Sanskrit or in Persian. The oldest canon so far discovered in Assam belonged to the Koches and date back to the end of the sixteen century. Inscriptions on religious buildings like Dargahs and mosques throw valuable light on the nature of the Muslims advances into this area. Other than these inscriptions, the copper-plate grants constitute a very interesting and informative historical source. These provide dates which are helpful in settling problems of the chronology of kings.

Accounts of Foreign Travellers

The indigenous sources on medieval period of Assam are occasionally supplemented by accounts of contemporary foreign travelers and adventurers dated at about the end of the sixteenth century. The English traveler, Ralph Fitch, visited Koch Bihar from Bengal and he described the country, referring to the bamboo, the floods and poisoning water sources. In the first-half of the seventeenth century, Father Stephen Canella and Father John Cabral, two contemporary Portuguese Jesuit travelers, visited Dacca, Koch Bihar and Kamrup up to Pandu in 1626. Their letters provide valuable information on the little known history of Koch-Mughal relations.
In the second half of the seventeenth century, foreign travelers like Jean Baptize Tavernier (a French jeweler) and Francoise Beemer (a Physician) wrote highly valuable accounts specifically of the battles of that period.

Reports and Records of the East India Company

Long before the occupation of Assam by British, the East-India company had begun its intervention in the area. The military officers would send valuable reports on Assam to the authorities at the Fort William. Such reports and records chronologically range from the middle of the eighteenth century and highlight the administrative, socio-economic and cultural conditions of Assam. In 1792, Captain Thomas Welsh was deputed to Assam to help Raja Gourinath. He furnished a lot of information on the social, economic, and commercial aspects of Assam. His record provides information about the traditions, the buildings and roads of that time. David Scott, Agent to the Governor General, North-East frontier, forwarded an English version of an Assamese chronicle from 1603 to 1822 A.D. which provides us with the information on the processes of decline and degeneration of the Ahom monarchy.  Sir Edward Gait was the next writer on the subject. Although his preliminary work was not perfect, his later works are highly creditable and authentic. He is undoubtedly "the father of historical research in Assam". In 1906, Gait published his History of Assam, which was first comprehensive and systematic history on scientific lines from earliest times, based on a comparative utilization of the Buranjis, the Persian chronicles, and other historiography materials.

The Turko-Afgan Invasions (13th Century)

After fall of the Palas in the mid-twentieth century, the valley of Brahmaputra was divided into numerous but independent principalities. The Chutiyas had put up a kingdom of their own to the east of the Subansiri and the Disang, while the Kacharies held the tracts towards the West – on the south of the Brahmaputra. The Bhuyans occupied the bank of Brahmaputra on the west. To the extreme west lay ancient Kamrupa.

Invasion of Bakhtiyar Khalji, C. 1206

The first Mohammedan  invasion of Kamrup by Ikhtiyar ud din Muhammad bin Bakhtyar Khalji was a part of his ill-fated Tibet expedition and proved to be equally disastrous. At first the invaders advanced quickly, but soon after they were killed and imprisoned. Bakhtiyar won the war but he was unnerved by the strong reinforcement. This expedition of Bakhtiyar marks the beginning of the settlements of the Muslims in Assam.

The invasion of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Iwas-i-Hussain Khalji and Nasiruddin of Bengal (1226- 28 AD)

There is an element of uncertainty about the next invasion of Kamrupa. One account reports that Sultan Ghiyasuddin, a contemporary of Iltutmish (the Sultan of Delhi), invaded Kamrupa in 1226-27 AD. He was overthrown by Nasiruddin, who ruled Bengal. The latter sought to annex the neighboring kingdoms and advanced to Kamrup through Jalpaiguri.

Campaign of Sultan Malik Ikhtyaruddin Yuzbank Tugril Khan.(1257 AD)

The period from the death of Nasiruddin (1229 AD) to the rise of Malik Ikhtyar (c.1251-52) was full of civil strife and internal disorder, with seven governors ruling over the province. These successive failures of the Bengal invaders were mainly due to their inadequate knowledge of the geographical and physical features of the land along with the tactics of the defenders.    

Invasions of Shamsuddin Firuz Shah and Ghiyasuddin-Bahadur Shah

There is no direct evidence either in Persian or in the chronicles about these invasions of Kamrupa. The exact time is also not known. However, religious literature provides positive support. The invasion of Mughisuddin had shaken the Kamrupa Kingdom. It was recognized as a new state ‘Kamata' by the name with Kamatapur as a capital - this was done by the Kamrupa king Sanddhya as a safeguard against the mounting danger from the east to west. From this time onwards, the Kamata ruler was called ‘Kamateshwar'. The next king, Sindhurai was the most powerful king who was awarded the ‘Raja Rajeswar' title.Beyond the Barnadi in the extreme east, the Ahoms were busy consolidating their position since 1228 AD. The Chutias, the Kacharies and the Bhuyans were at loggerheads. In the period of Pratapdhaj, Ghiasuddin Ajamshah attacked in Assam in 1321-1322 AD, but they were defeated by the Kacharis. Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah's invasion had no permanent results. He was killed by an army of Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq of Delhi .After the reign of Pratapdhaj, Kamatapur was divided into two parts, which left an important mark on history. During the period of Durlav Narayan in 1331, Mahammad-Bin-Tughlak attacked Assam, but could not succeed.

The expedition of Sultans Ilyas Shah (1342-57 AD) and Sikandar Shah (1357-62 AD)

 Ilyas Shah was the ruler of Bengal. He and his son, Sikandar were ambitious and energetic, and wanted to expand their kingdom in all directions. But their expeditions in Kamrup-Kamata were not fruitful and they were defeated by the Kacharis and the Bhuyans.

Kamrup and Ghiyasuddin A'Zam Shah (c.1393-1410)

Ghiyasuddin, the parricidal successor of Sikandar, took advantage of the wars of Ahom ruler, Sudangpha with the Raja of Kamata, and invaded the latter. The internal situation was also favorable as Kamrup had been passing through dark days. The Kamata ruler, Indra Narayan, had been ousted by Arimatta, whose successors were weak.  During the last part of 14th century, Arimatta was the ruler of Gaur (the northern region of former Kamatapur) with his capital at Vaidyagar.Inscriptions are valuable, contemporary and first-rate source-materials for any particular period or event covered. These supply authentic information regarding chronological, political, military or socio-economic aspects of the period.

The Khen Rulers of Kamrup and Bengal

In the 15th century ‘Kamrup' comprised not only the areas now included in Koch Bihar, Darrang, and Kamrup Districts but also of Northern Mymensing, north and west of Brahmaputra. The weak successors of Arimatta were ruling in Kamrup till the middle of the 5th century. By this time, the Khen dynasty had come into power here; it had three important kings, and the third king Nilambar grew very powerful and ruled over a vast domination from the Barnadi in the east and Karatoya in the west. Contemporary Bengal was also had undergoing many political changes at this point of time. At the end of the Ilyas Shah dynasty, there was the rise of the short lived Hindu dynasty of King Ganesh (1415-1443 AD).  But the son of Ilyas Shah, Ruknuddin Barbak Shah wrested back into power in 1443 AD. Ruknuddin was alarmed by the expansive activities of Kamrup. He was defeated by the Kamrupa kings many a time. The Bengal army then scored a victory and captured the Kamrup king whose forces withdrew across the Karatoya, surrendering their recent encroachments. Thus, the initial victory of Kamrup proved to be transitory.

Nilambar was the most powerful Khen ruler. He consolidated his hold on the west by constructing a military road from Kamatapur to the frontier fortress of Ghoraghat on the Karatoya. As soon as Nilambar became weak from external feuds, the Bengal Sultan attacked and annexed the entire kingdom up to Hajo. This alarmed the Ahoms. Kamrup soon came to be used as a colony for the Afghans. Sultan Ghiyasuddin Aulia was appointed as the viceroy. Ghiyasuddin is believed to have founded a Muslim colony in Kamrup. He started building a large mosque on a hilltop at Hajo, but died before its completion and was buried near it. The site is now known as Poa-Mecca. To this day, Aulia is worshipped as a saint in Assam and is believed to be the first Muslim to spread Islam here; his tomb is frequented by Muslims and Hindus alike.

The Tai-Ahom Power in Assam

The Ahom and Their origin (1215A.D to 1826 A.D)

The Ahoms were the offshoot of the great Tai race that constitutes the most wide spread population in South-East Asia. Scattered in different areas they are known as ‘Shan' in Myanmar, ‘Thai' in Thailand, ‘Lao' in  Laos and ‘Dai' and ‘Zhung' in China.

The advent of the Tais into the Brahmaputra valley is believed to have occurred in the eight century A.D. It is claimed that the political dominance of Khun-Lung, who is believed   to have descended from heaven, extended as far as the Buri-Dihing in Upper Assam.  However, the advance of the Tais under Sukapha to Brahmaputra Valley is a historical fact. Sukapha left the state of Mong Mao in 1215A.D. with a group of Tai followers with him. It appears that there had been an old route from south-western Yunan to Assam. 
In the early 13th century Sukapha, together with a band of followers settled in the Patkai mountains. In 1228 he crossed the boundaries of Assam through the Naga Kingdom, and formed his capital at Charaideo in 1253. It  is from then that the name of Kamrupa changed to Assam, as the base for 600 years of Ahom rule was set up by Sukafa. His territory was bounded by the Buri-Dihing, the Brahmaputra, the Dikhow and the Naga hills. This remains the centre of the kingdom throughout the Ahom rule.  Sukafa died in1268 AD. The political history from the death of Sukapha to the succession of Suhungmung is not of considerable importance. The period is otherwise highly significant. Sukapha's son Suteupha (1268-1281) succeeded and extended the boundaries of the Ahom kingdom. In his period, Hinduism became important and influential. He built the temple ‘Nagsankar' on the banks of river Brahmaputra. In 1397, Sudangpha (1397-1407) was crowned as king. His accession marks the first stage in the growth of Brahmanical influence amongst the Ahoms.  He changed his capital to Charuguya. The period of king Suhungmung is very important; it is the period of the most extensive expansion of the Ahom kingdom. From his time, the Ahom kings were acknowledged as ‘Swargadeo'. An astute leader, he was fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his neighbors: the Chutiyas, the Kacharies, and the Bhuyans.

Expansion of Ahom Kingdom

Occupation of Chutiya kingdom

In 1520, the Chutiyas invaded the Ahom territory twice; in the second invasion the Chutiyas killed the Ahom commander. Then Suhuungmung himself advanced towards the Chutiya country. The Chutiya king lost the war and wanted peace; however, his conditions were rejected by the Ahom king. At last the Chutiya king died along with his son and the Chutiya territory was placed under ‘Phra-Sen-Mong' who was designated as ‘Sadiyakhowa' Gohain.

Occupation of Kachari kingdom

The Kacharis, who belonged to the great Bodo race, were one of the earliest aboriginal tribes of the Brahmaputra valley. After the subjugation of the Borahis and the Morans, Sutenpha (1268-81) demanded the surrender of the Kacharis or else the payment of tribute. The Kachari king refused the demand and asserted that his people had lived there for three generations, and that no outsiders could stake claim to these lands. In 1490, the Ahoms were defeated by the Kacharis and made peace with the offerings of a girl and other presents. After this, Suhungmung proceeded to the west of the Dikhow. An expedition was sent against the Kacharies once more. At last the Ahoms were able to lay claim on Marangi. Both sides now agreed to offer sacrifices to the deity at Dergaon. The Kacharis withdrew to the west of the Dhansiri. The skirmishes continued with the Kacharis entering into Ahom territory. A serious engagement took place near Marangi in which Kacharies were utterly defeated, losing at least 1700 men. In 1531, Suhungmung dispatched a force to occupy Marangi where he constructed a fort; this was followed by a severe battle in which the Ahom general died. Now Suhungmung himself took part in the battle where the Kachari king lost the war. The Kachari throne was given to Detchung. Again in 1536 they raised the banner of revolt. After the death of Detchung, Dimapur fell into the hands of Ahoms and was placed under an officer designated ‘Marangikhowa Gohain'. The Kacharis retreated and established a new capital at Maibong, in the North Cachar Hills.

Westward expansion

The westward movement of the Ahoms was affected in two stages: (i) from Subansiri to the Bharali and (ii) from Dhansiri to the Kapilli valley. The westward expansion which had begun after the conquest of the Chutiya kingdom (1523) continued with the expedition against the Bhuyan Chieftains. At first the Chieftains tried to revolt but realizing the power of Ahoms they surrendered. As a precautionary measure, several chiefs and their subordinates were resettled in different parts of Upper Assam. It was thus that the Ahoms successfully suppressed the Bhuyan revolt.In 1532, Turbak Khan attacked Assam. The Muslim invasions (1532-33) of the Ahom kingdom were disastrous, and the two generals, Turbak Khan and Hussein Shah died. The Ahoms won the battle and the Sultan offered peace by giving his two daughters to the Ahom king. The Kamrup-Kamata region was thus freed from Muslim domination. The Ahom king also received dowry from Bengal king: the power and influence of the Ahom monarchy reached its climax under the leadership of Suhungmung. He was an intelligent and wise king; during his 42 year rule he introduced various measures to better the conditions in his kingdom; he was the first to introduce the census and the clan system.

A Note on some Non-Ahom Kingdoms

Jaintia Kingdom

The Jaintias were a matriarchal race who had established their kingdom in and around the Jaintia hills. Dhanamanik and Jashamanik were the most powerful kings of this line. They forged matrimonial relations with the Ahoms and fought alongside them during the invasion of the Mughals. One of their rulers, Jashomatta Rai was the contemporary of the Ahom king ‘Nariya' Raja (1644-1648). He claimed the possession of Dimoria, Gobha and Nellie.

Chutiya Kingdom

During the early part of the 13th century, when the Ahoms established their rule over Assam with their capital at Sivasagar, the Subansiri area and the area by the banks of the Disang  river were under the control of the Chutiyas. According to popular Chutiya legend, Chutiya king Birpal established his rule at Sadia in 1189 AD. He was succeeded by a line of ten kings of whom the eighth king Dhirnarayan or Dharmadhwajpal, in his old age, handed over his kingdom to his son-in-law Nitai or Nityapal. Later, Nityapal's incompetent rule provided a wonderful chance to the Ahom king Suhungmung (also referred to as the Dihingia Raja) in 1523, who annexed it to the Ahom kingdom. They were believed to be the first Hindu tribe who believed in ‘Ma Kali'

The Barobhuyans

The Bhuyans were petty chiefs who maintained their principalities towards the east of Kamrup-Kamata area. The title 'Baro' is an honorific given to twelve chieftains who, even though they were not kings, established small kingdoms on the basis of their strength. Economically, they were soundly established; with advanced knowledge of trade and farming. The father of Assamese literature, Mahapurush Sankardev was born in this Bhuyan family.  They took up arms against the Ahoms also, but the Ahom king Suhungmung and Koch King Biswa Singha crushed the rebellion of the Baro Bhuyans. 

Koch Kingdom

Bishwa Singha (1515-1540) laid the foundation of the Koch dominion over the Kamata kingdom in the early part of the 16th century and established his capital in Coch-Bihar. He was a Hindu king and was a very intelligent king.  He was succeeded by his son Malladeva who took on the name ‘Naranarayana'. His brother Sukladhvaj became his commander-in-chief. He was also called 'Chilarai' or the 'Kite King' because of his ability to attack the enemy like a ‘Chila' (hawk or Kite). Naranarayan's rule was the most glorious epoch of Koch kingdom. It was during his reign that the Ahoms suffered defeat in 1562. Chilarai also annexed the Kachari kingdom, Manipur, Tripura, Jayantia and Srihatta and extended its boundaries. Then again there was a battle with the Nawab of Gour. During this time Chilarai was attacked by small-pox and died on the banks of the Ganga.

Naranarayan died in 1584 AD after a reign of nearly fifty years (1540 AD-1584 AD). During his rule, the power of the Koch kings reached its zenith. Naranarayan's rule is remarkable, for it was during his reign that Assamese literature and culture inaugurated by Srimanta Sankardeva flourished. After the death of Naranarayan, the Koch kingdom was not able to retain its glory. Subsequently, the Afghans and the Mughals took advantage of this and in 1615 AD, the Koch kingdom was annexed to the Mughal Empire.

Kchari Kingdom 

The early part of the 13th century saw the rise of the Kachari kingdom, which belonged to one of the ancient races of Assam. The powerful kings of the Kachari Kingdom were Jashanarayan, Pratapnarayan, Jamradwaj and Govindchandra. The Kacharis claim descent from Ghatotkacha, the son of Bhima. Towards the end of the 15th century the Kacharis had to surrender their capital Hidimbapur (now Dimapur) and the areas adjoining it to the Ahoms.The third and the final invasion by the Ahoms of the Kachari kingdom took place in 1803 AD.Bijaynarayan was the last ruler after whom the kingdom passed into the hands of the British along with the Ahom kingdom.

Srimanta Sankardeva ( 1449 A.D -1568 A.D):

Vaishnava Reformation in Assam       

The appearance of Sankardeva is highly important in the history of Assam. He was a genious. He was a prophet, a seer, a preacher, a philosopher, a linguist, a literateur, an artist and also lyrists. He was a performer and a reformer. All these divine qualities made him a saint.He gave a whole new dimension to Assamese life and culture.The spiritual regeneration of Assam occurred fittingly alongside the most brilliant period in the chronicles of the Ahoms, which began with Suhungmung.

In the 15th and 16th century, many types of Hinduism were present in Assam. The most popular forms of religion among these various cults and faiths were Tantricism. Assam was the famous centre of Tantricism in ancient times. In a way the medieval period was overpowered by Saktism, Saivasm and Tantrism.The spiritual world was confused. Tantricism advocated the worship of the mother Goddess ‘Sakti'as the source of the supreme and divine energy. It   was Sankardev, who initiated neo-Vaishnava movement and  started the Vakti movement in Assam and stabilized the spiritual world of Assam. In his Bhakti movement he included the people of lower caste and all other ethnic groups of Assam like Khasi, Miris,etc . He introduced Namghar or Kirtan Ghar as prayer hall which was a damocratic institution of social changes and developments. Lord Krishna or Vishnu was the only supreme power and the absolute surrender to one God was the motto.  In 1449, Sri-Sri Sankardev was born in Aliphukhuri near Nowgong. His father's name was Kusumbar Bhuyan, who was a renowned Bhuyan Shiromani and mother's name was Satyasandha. As his parents died at an early age, he was brought up by his paternal grandmother, Khersuti Ai. Sankardev was endowed with natural gifts and as he grew up, he becomes an erudite scholar. At the age of 13 he was admitted into a school of a Brahmin named Mahendra Kandali. He completed his education at 17 and married at the age of 21. Sankardev always had a religious bent of mind. After the death of his wife, he felt inclined to renounce the world and devote himself to religious exercises. He set out on a pilgrimage of all the sacred places of Hindus in northern India. He met the famous saint, Kabir of northern India. After his return from pilgrimage Sankardev married Kalindi. During the rest of his life, Sankardev devoted himself to organize his religious order and spread the purified Vaishnavism of which he was the supreme preacher. His famous disciple was Madhabdev, who was earlier a Sakta and who remained a bachelor all his life. The joint efforts of Sankardev and Madhabdev led to the rapid spread of Vaishnavism in the Ahom kingdom. They spent 14 years at Belguri in Majuli.

 The Brahmans became aware of this growing popularity and presented malicious reports against Sankardev to the Ahom king. Sankardev then left for Barpeta in the Koch kingdom with his followers. The king Naranarayan himself adopted Vaishnavism after his meeting with Sankardev. Sankardev hesitated to initiate a great king into his religion because it was meant for the common people. But he asked the king to build a temple to God Modanmohan. This temple still exists in Koch Bihar. He died in Koch Bihar at the age of 118 years.  He was not only a great religious reformer and preacher, but also a social worker and scholar in Assamese literature. He was great writer and wrote dramas like Rukmini-haran. The religious songs (kirtana) composed by Sankardev are acknowledged, his masterpieces. He introduced the institution of the "Namghars" meant for congregational prayers. This was a great legacy, for in contemporary times, one finds Namghars in every locality in Assam. Madhavdev wrote the Nam-Ghosa and Bhakti-Ratnabali. After the demise of Sankardev, his followers divided into two groups, viz, the ‘Mahapurusias' and the ‘Bamunia Gossains'. They set up sattras, or monasteries in different parts of Assam.  This period is usually understood to be the golden period of Assamese literature. Other than Sankardev and Madhabdev, there was Bhattadev who wrote Kathgita and the Katha-Bhagavat, Purusottam Vidyabagish who wrote Proyog-Ratnamala and Pitambar Siddhatabagish who wrote Kamarupia Smriti. It can thus be concluded that the great scholar, reformer and saint, Sri-Sri Sankardev through the Vaishnava reformation inaugurated and laid the foundations of Assamese literature. 

Sankardeva introduced the ‘Eka Saran Naba Vaishnava Dharma' in Assam and for its propagation, wrote and translated a huge number of songs and couplets, dramas, epic poetry, theoretical essays, ‘nat', ‘bhaona' and the like.   The ‘Bhaona' represented the applied aspects of plays written on the Ankia Nat model. It is a form of theatre brought into being by Sankardeva. Originally it was a derivative of the ‘Jatra', the ‘nata' and the ‘anka'. The tradition of writing such scripts has continued from Sankardeva. The presentation of such drama in orthodox style is called ‘Ankia Bhaona' and otherwise it is referred to as ‘Bhaona'. The language used for these pieces was Brajavali, and the theme was invariably related to Krishna. A ‘Sutradhar' (narrator) would be present on the stage to explain the subject and to prompt to the principal actors.  Sankardevs Bhakti cult was full flowering in the 16th century by Madhavdev. After the death of Madhavdev it was divided into four groups each of them had own thoughts and practices. The Political instability is another cause of suffering Bhakti movement.                                                 

Suklenmmung or Gargaya Raja (1539 AD-52 AD)

After Suhungmung, Suklenmung became the king and shifted the capital to Gargaon. During the first three years of his reign, he was engaged in suppressing the rebellions of the Bhuyans and the Chutiyas and was mostly successful in his endevour.

Although he was defeated by the Koch King Nara Narayan, Suklenmung managed to regain his power later. In the middle of sixteenth century, the Koch King, Nara Narayan (1540-84) became the most powerful ruler of this part of India. As was natural, the two contiguous expansive powers came into conflict and several skirmishes took place between them. Sometimes the one and at other times the other took the initiative. After subduing a few Bhuyans of northern bank of Brahmaputra, Suklenmung attacked the Koch in 1546. But in 1547, Koch proceeded further east to Chaginimukh. In the next stage of the war, however, the Ahoms constructed a fort and defeated the Koch. They crossed the Dikrai River twice, but the Koch, who were armed with bows and arrows, killed many of the Ahom leaders. The Ahom retired to Karaga and then to Kaliabar on the South bank of the Brahmaputra. Again they were driven back by the Koch to Sala, where, in a bloody encounter, the Ahom were defeated; losing as many as twenty high-ranking officers. Nonetheless, the Ahoms attacked the Koch with elephants – and this time round, they won the battle. The next Koch move, the erection of a fort at Narayanpur above the Majuli Island was met by the Ahom counter move of entrenchments on the banks of the Pichala. The Ahoms managed to cut off the supplies to the Koch. In this encounter, the Koch lost at least 5000 of their men. This was disastrous for the Koches, while for Ahoms, the victory was a decisive one. Suklenmung had recovered all the territories lost to the Koches in his western frontier north of the Brahmaputra by the beginning of 1549. These battles are usually referred to as the ‘Pichalapariya Ran'.In 1552 A.D., Suklenmung died.  During his period the Gargaon tank was excavated; the Gargoan town and a number of roads, like the Naga-Ali were constructed, and the embankments at Kahikuchi and Changimukh were also built. After him, his son Sukhampha assumed the throne and ruled for almost 50 years.

Sukhampha (1552 A.D – 1603 A.D)

Sukhampha was also known as ‘Khora Raja'. In 1555 A.D. he sent an expedition against the Aitonia, the Papuk and the Khamteng Nagas who were defeated. During the reign of Sukhampha, the Ahom relationship with Nara Raja of Mungkung worsened. Sukhampha launched a war against the Nara Raja, taking him captive. The Ahom king was also not in good terms with the Koch ruler. He suppressed the rebellion of the Chutiyas with a strong hand. In 1573 A.D, the areas of the Aitonia Nagas were invaded and much booty was taken home by the Ahoms. In 1575, Nara Raja again attacked Namrup, and reportedly won the first battle. But in the second encounter he was defeated by the Ahoms; thereafter, Nara Raja was unheard of for many years. Sukhampha had improved his relations with the Koches after the death of Chila Rai. By now, the Koch kingdom was divided into two smaller states.  Sukhampha died in 1603. He was very fond of sports, and frequently organised ‘khedas' –  elephant-catching operations. The Vaishnava religion spread far and wide in Assam during his reign. Sankardeva and Harideva founded Sattras all over the country and contributed vigourously to the evolution of a liberal Assamese society. 

This period was one of the most critical phases of Ahom history. The Kamrup-Mughal war had triple origins: first, the dynamic or the internecine quarrels of the two Koch rulers; second, Lakshmi Narayan successfully tempted the Bengal Viceroy Islam Khan to invade Kamrup and then hand it over to him; and third, and most decisive factor was Islam Khan's imperialistic designs to annex the rich and prosperous kingdom of Kamrup in lower Brahmaputra valley, abounding in elephants and aromatic plants. He invaded Kamrup and Raja Raghunath was imprisoned. In 1612, Raghunath retaliated with vast and well-equipped force. They occupied Hatisalah in Karamari in south-western and western frontiers of Kamrup respectively. In their next move – to Dhubri, the Mughals chalked out a cautious plan. Islam Khan prepared minute instructions for the commanders. The army and the fleet were moved together, and the Mughal laid siege on Dhubri.  He was adamant on the annexation of Kamrup, and succeeded in capturing its king.

Swargedeo Pratap Singha (1603 A.D – 1641 A.D)

After Susengpha, Swargadeo Pratap Singha became the king and passed most of his reign waging war against the Mughals. The first important event of the reign of Swargadeo Pratap Singha was a war with the Kacharis. The Jaintia Raja, with the help of the Ahoms fought against the Kacharis and defeated them. They took hold of the capital Maibong. The Kachari peace offers were rejected by the Ahoms. After a time, the Kachari King suddenly attacked the Ahoms were defeated them. The Kachari King Jasnarayan declared his independence. Although Pratap Singha was greatly enraged by this, he could foresee the impending war with the great Mughals; therefore, he wisely made peace with the Kacharis. Thus fortifying himself diplomatically, he prepared to face the Mughal invaders (1615-1639 A.D.)

Raja Pratap Singha was the contemporary of the Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan. During his reign Jahangir annexed Parikshit's dominions. The advancement of the Mughals to the frontiers of the Ahom kingdom had already alerted the Ahom king. In 1615 A.D Sheikh Kasim attacked Kamrupa and the war lasted till 1639 A.D., after which the Mughals occupied a great part of the land under Pratap Singha. Later on, the Ahom king took advantage of the fog and attacked at night, bringing himself victory over the Mughals. After this victory, Pratap Singha occupied the entire territory between the Barnadi and the Bharali. He then made Balinarayan, the brother of Parikshit, the tributary Raja of Darrang with the title ‘Dharmanarayan'.  They proceeded to Hajo to drive away the Muslims from Kamrupa. But in this battle the Ahoms suffered a serious defeat. Around this time, Pratap Singha created the post of the ‘Barphukan' and ‘Bar Barua'. Langi Panisiya and Momai Tamuli were the first Bar Phukan and Bar Barua respectively. The former was the only Ahom general who distinguished himself in the war of Hajo, and was rewarded with the title. Again, in 1619 A.D, the Ahoms attacked and won over the Ranihat fort. Shortly after this, the Muslims attacked a fort of Dharmanarayan and captured it. By this time Shah Jahan had ascended the Mughal throne. Shah Jahan continued the Mughal policy of expansion in Assam.  In 1635 A.D., the Mughals again attacked the Ahoms, but the Ahoms won.  By then Pratap Singha was determined to carry the war to the Mughal territory. The Ahom victory led to their control of Hajo. A new force under Zainuddin was sent by the Mughals, and they defeated the Ahoms at Jogighopa, Barpetia, and Kalapani and advanced towards Pandu. Within the next three months in 1637 A.D, the Mughals consolidated their rule in Kamrup. In 1638 A.D, the Mughal army tried to attack again, but this time round, the Ahoms won and reoccupied Kajali. In 1639A.D, a treaty was signed by the two parties at Kaliabar.

In 1641 A.D Pratap Singha died. He was a far-sighted, energetic and powerful king. He developed the backward tracts and constructed roads, embankments and tanks. He also repressed the several risings against him with a ruthless hand. During his period a census was conducted. He introduced the clan system and appointed an officer over them. He also made some changes to better organize the paik system. The ‘Hazarika', the ‘Saikia' and the ‘Bora' were appointed over a thousand, a hundred and twenty paiks respectively. Many bridges were constructed; among them, the Darika bridge is famous. Numerous markets were established and trade flourished greatly during his reign. Pratap Singha introduced the system of paying ‘posa' to the Miris, Daflas, Akas, and the Bhutias. It is said that a khel of naked monks who wandered in different countries and collected information about the social customs and habits of various nations, reported them to the king. A class of Brahmins known as the ‘Al-Bamun' was created at that time. The Assamese language was adopted and the influence of the Brahmins increased considerably. However, Somdeo, the God of the Ahoms, was still worshipped. Raja Pratap Singha seems to have been a very efficient king. He built the ‘dopegarh' road on the boundary-lines between the Ahom and the Naga areas. He created new villages on the Kachari border. He assumed the title ‘Gajapati' after having caught 1000 elephants. Pratap Singha ruled till 1641.Surampha or Bhaga Raja became the next king. His main achievement was the construction of the Salaguri road. He was deposed by his chief nobles after three years

Sutyinpha or Nariya Raja ascended the throne in 1644. He was completely under the evil influence his queens. He set several expeditions against the Daflas, the Miris and the Nagas, and was successful on those missions. He was deposed by his eldest son, Sutamla in 1648 A.D. Sutamla (1648-63 A.D) took the Hindu name of Jayadhvaj Singha. His reign marks the Mughal invasion of Assam under Mirjumlah. The king had to flee from his capital (for which he came to be known as ‘Bhagania Raja'). He had friendly relations with the Daflas and the Kacharis, and had re-established good relations with the Jaintia Raja after eight long years of struggle. He successfully suppressed several conspiracies against his throne early in his reign. After more than twenty years, he entered into a bitter war with the Mughals. At that time there was great confusion in the affairs of the Mughal Empire. Sutamla occupied Guwahati, Pandu and Saraighat without resistance, because the Mughal Thanedar from Guwahati had fled.  By this time, Aurangzeb had become the Mughal Emperor and he appointed Mirjumlah as the governor of West Bengal. He embarked upon his expedition to Assam on 1662. He first occupied Guwahati, and gradually they regained everything without much protest from the Ahoms. But with the onset of the rains, the Ahoms attacked the Mughals, and they had to withdraw to Gargoan and Mathurapur. Under these circumstances, Mirjumlah was compelled to make peace with Jayadhvaj Singha in 1663. Rashid Khan was appointed as the Faujdar of Guwahati. In 1663 A.D Jayadhvaj Singha died. He was a devout Hindu and the disciple of Niranjan Bapu of Auniati Sattra. The Seoni Ali, a road from Ali Kekuri to Namdang and the tank at Bhatiapara were constructed in his time.  

The Account of Shihabuddin Talash

Mirjumla was accompanied by a chronicler, Shihabuddin Talash throughout the expedition to Assam. His account Fathiyah-i-Ibriyah gives an interesting account of Assam at that time. He describes the country as wild and inaccessible.  It is described as ‘frightful' and full of forests. The north bank and the south bank of the Brahmaputra were known as ‘Uttarkol' and ‘Dakshinkol' respectively. The climate was healthy but not suitable for strangers.  Assam's natural beauty, its numerous rivers and streams are all adequately described. The soil was fertile. Pepper, spikenard, lemons and oranges were plentiful; the pineapples are large and sweet. Paddy was the main crop; there were elephants available in abundance; gold was found in the rivers. No foreign invaders had dared to attack this country in the past. Many Muslims were taken as prisoners and settled down as inhabitants of this country. The people from the other parts of the country had little knowledge about the customs and habits of these people; and looked upon the area as a land of magic and witchcraft. He praised highly the bravery of the Ahom soldiers, but wondered at their fear of horses. Betel leaf and unripe arcea-nuts were consumed in large quantities. The people were very skilful in the art of weaving silk. They had some expertise in the manufacturing of gunpowder and other weapons of war. The Ahoms king had great power and authority.  The town of Gargaon had four gates built of stone and mortar. There are circular bushes of bamboo around the town. Eatables are not sold, but stored in every house for the year. The king's palace was fortified by a bamboo palisade and ditches. The audience hall was called the ‘Solong'. He further writes that the king's palace had unequalled strength, ornamentation and pictures. The other houses are strong and spacious. People also lived in houses built on ‘machan'-like structures.

Supungmung or Chakradhvaj Singha (1663 A.D – 1670 A.D)

After Jayadhvaj Singha, Supungmung became the Ahom monarch.  He belonged to a different line of the royal family than Jayadhvaj. He refused to pay indemnity to the Mughals. When Rashid Khan asked for this, the Ahom king offered the excuse that there was no money in the treasury; and that the elephants could not be sent until they were properly trained. In 1665 A.D, he sent an expedition against the Banchangia Nagas and they submitted to him. In the same year, the Miris were raided and their villages destroyed. It was in this period that a severe drought took place in Assam. In spite of the famine, Chakradhvaj Singha prepared for a war with the Mughals. Rashid Khan was replaced by Firuj Khan. In 1667A.D. Firuj Khan demanded the outstanding portion of the indemnity. The Ahom king refused to pay; instead he sent a force under the famed Ahom general, Lachit Bar Phukan. In the first campaign, Lachit took the Mughal outposts at Kajali and Bansbari; constructed forts at Kajali and Latasil; thereafter he advanced towards Guwahati and Pandu. After two months Lachit's force was able to capture Guwahati. A new force for the Mughals arrived, but they lost yet again, and were driven from Agiathuti, and completely routed near the Manas River. The Ahom king was jubilant with the news, and chose Guwahati as the head quarters of Lachit Bar Phukan.

After this defeat, the Mughal Emperor sent a vast army under Raja Ram Singh which reached Hajo in 1669. On hearing the news Lachit Bar Phukan engaged his men to erect palisades enclosing the fort of Saraighat. The responsibility was given to his maternal uncle. Legend has it that at the time of erection of the fort at Saraighat, he beheaded this maternal uncle with his own sword for the neglect of duties. His patriotic enthusiasm inspired his people and the fortitification of Saraighat were soon complete.  In the meantime he started negotiations with Ram Singh to gain time. When ready, he challenged the Mughals to war. Raja Ram Singh failed at Saraighat, but in the next two campaigns he defeated the Ahoms. However, the Ahoms were victorious in the naval battle and forced the Mughals to retire to Hajo. Ram Singh also lost the battle at Sualkuchi. Thus the Ahoms had successfully pushed back Mughals to Agiathuti. But soon, Ram Singh again attacked Ahoms; this time inflicting them with heavy loss of life and property, which forced the Ahoms to accept the peace treaty with the Mughals.  Soon after, in 1670 A.D., Chakradhvaj Singha died.

Suyatpha or Udayaditya Singha (1670 A.D – 1673 A.D and 1679 A.D – 1681 A.D)

After Chakradhvaj Singha, his brother Manju Gohain became the king. He took Ahom and Hindu names of Suyatpha and Udayaditya respectively. Meanwhile, the war between the Ahoms and the Mughals continued. This time the Ahoms won on land but lost the naval battle. The ailing Lachit Bar Phukan arrived with reinforcements – his arrival inspired the Ahoms and led to a great victory over the Mughals. This victory sealed the fate of the Mughal expeditions. In 1671 A.D Ram Singh retreated to Haran and then to Rangamati. Hadira became the boundary between the Ahoms and the Mughals. It was the heroism and the sense of duty of Lachit Bar Phukan that gained for the Ahoms the supreme victory at Battle of Saraighat. Shortly after, however, Lachit Bar Phukan died.

Raja Udayaditya installed Chandranarayan as a tributary Raja of Darrang, and Gandharbanarayan as the Raja of Beltola. For some years there was peace between the Ahoms and the Mughals. The king sent an expedition against Daflas which was a failure. On the other hand, he succeeded against the Chutiyas and made the Miris pay tribute to the Ahoms. Meanwhile, the Ahom nobles were dissatisfied with the king, and he was deposed -  the throne being given to his brother Ramdhvaj Singha. Udayaditya was then taken to Charaideo and poisoned. His reign is remarkable for the recovery of Kamrup from the Mughals and the construction of strong fortifications at Guwahati. The period from 1671-1681 was that of complete uncertainty; the Ahom kingdom was beset with conspiracies and intrigues. The Bar Barua poisoned Ramdhvaj Singha and crowned Suhung as the new king, but the new monarch was killed after a mere 21 days. Gobar, a prince from Tungkhugia clan was made the king after him, but his kingship last for one month only. Next to throne came a prince from the Dihingia clan, named Sujinpha. He ruled for three months. After his death, the noble Atan Burha Gohain raised a prince of the Parbatia clan to the throne. The new monarch assumed the name Sudinpha and was under the absolute domination of Atan Burha Gohain whose daughter he married. However, Laluk Bar Phukan (an Ahom noble) had other designs. He sought help of the Mughal Governor of Bengal; and as a result, Guwahati was delivered to the Bar Phukan. He then raised his own army, killed the king Sudinpha and established Sulikfa (aged 14) as the new king. Thus the Bar Phukan made himself the master of the entire kingdom through political machinations. With the deposition and death of Lora Raja, period of political instability in the Ahom kingdom disappeared and an era of the most brilliant epoch in the history of the Ahoms began.

Sulikfa or Lora Raja (1679-1981 A.D):-

Sulikfa's Hindu name was Ratnadhvaj Singha. The Bar Phukan now occupied the position of the Burha Gohain, and even sought himself the privileges due to the king. He clothed himself in garments which the king alone was allowed to wear, and gave his five year old daughter in marriage to the king to ensure his domination. Under his instructions, Lora Raja conspired to kill all the other royal descendents. Only the son of Gobar – named Gadapani was able to solve his life.  After some time the Laluk Sola Bar Phukan died. Gadapani was a powerful prince; he took shelter in Naga Hills. His wife Jaymoti was arrested and was subjected to various kinds of torture to reveal the whereabouts of her husband. Meanwhile, Gadapani was declared king in 1681 A.D with the support of all the nobles and officials. Lara Raja was deposed and banished to Namrup.

The Tungkhungia Dynesty(1681A.D – 1714 A.D):

Gadadhar Singha (1681-1696 A.D.)

Gadapani or Gadadhar Singha was the founder of the famous Tungkhungia dynasty. He took the Hindu name Gadadhar Singha and the Ahom name of Supatpha, and made his capital at Barkola. In 1682 A.D., the Ahoms defeated the Mughals at Itakhuli near Guwahati. He curbed all the conspirators against him. In 1685 A.D., the Miris were defeated and ‘Posa' was renewed to the Miris who also agreed to tribute to the Ahom king. Expeditions against the Nagas were sent; the Ahoms won easily and the tribal chiefs were beheaded. Gadapani severely punished the Gossains who had refused to shelter him during his days in exile. Likewise, he handsomely rewarded the Gossain of Jakhalabandha who had helped him. He did not believe in Vaishnavism and their religion of nonviolence, vegetarian diet and abstention from drinks. Gadapani died in 1696 A.D., having raised the declining power and dignity of Ahom kingship. He had great political foresight; he was also a courageous and brave leader. He was a patron of Sakta Hinduism and built the temple of Umananda. During his rule the Dhodar Ali, the Aka Ali and other important roads were made, two stone bridges were built, and several tanks excavated. He was the first to start the system of land surveying. He was a king of very powerful physique and immense stature.

Rudra Singha or Sukhengpha (1696-1714 A.D):-

The Ahom Gadadhar Singha's eldest son took the Hindu name Rudra Singha and the Ahom name Sukhrugpha, when he was crowned. He began to reverse the policy of his father in regard to the Vaishnavas. The discontented Gossians had set up their headquarters at Majuli. Later, the Auniati Gossain was appointed as the king's spiritual preceptor who led to the restoration of the religious amity. In 1701 A.D., the Nagas raised a revolt against the king; they were firmly made to submit. The two great events during the reign of Rudra Singha were the wars against the Kacharis and the Jaintias.

The Kachari King Tamradhaj Singha took advantage of the long war of Ahoms against the Mughals and declared himself an independent ruler. Rudra Singha sent a huge army against the Kachari Raja. The Kacharis tried to fight but lost. They even attacked the Ahom army by surprise and used cannons but victory evaded them. The Ahoms took hold of the capital Maibong, and King Tamradhvaj escaped to Khaspur. At Maibong, the Ahom troop suffered from bad climate, and matters became worse when the Bar Barua fell ill. The Ahom king however, persisted on annexing Khaspur. The Bar Barua died during the journey. At last because of the various difficulties, the king gave up the project of capturing Khaspur. A victory pillar was erected to commemorate the success of the troops after burning down the houses. In the meantime, the Kachari King sought help from Ram Singh, the Raja of the Jaintias. When the Ahoms withdrew, the king withdrew his plea. But the Jaintia king conspired to enslave Tamradhvaj, and annex the Kachari kingdom. Therefore, he captured the Kachari King. Somehow the Kachari King managed to send a letter to the Ahom king begging for mercy and deliverance from the hands of his captor. Rudra Singha at once demanded the release of the Kachari King. When Ram Singh refused to comply, in 1701 A.D., the Bar Barua took the Jaintia outpost of Mulagul and sent a message to him asking him to surrender the Kachari King. Reluctantly, Ram Singh released the Kachari King along with his family and other officials. However, the Bar Barua continued to advance towards Jaintiapur. In 1708 A.D., the Kachari and the Jaintia kingdoms were annexed to the Ahom kingdom. But the Jaintias again tried to revolt against the Ahoms but were subdued by the Burha Gohain. On the conclusion of the expedition, Rudra Singha received Tamradhvaj and Ram Singha at a grand durbar at Bishanath. The Kachari King made his formal submission and promised to pay tribute, and was allowed to return to his country.  Ram Singh, however, died and his captive son acknowledged Ahom supremacy by giving his two sisters to the Ahom king. Later, he again reneged on paying tributes, and once again, an encounter took place. The king was taken captive and detained by the Ahoms for fourteen years. A few years later, Rudra Singha began to make preparations for a fresh war against the Mughals. He made huge preparations and was assisted by the neighboring chiefs. But before the expedition was launched, he died in 1714.

Rudra Singha is widely regarded as the greatest king of all the Ahom Dynasty. The most memorable event of his reign was the subjugation of all the hill tribes. He was also a great administrator. He introduced new Khels: the Kataki, the Bairagi, the Khound and the Dalai. He completed the survey of Sibsagar. This was a king of very unusual intelligence and the power of initiative. He constructed the brick city in Rangpur and masonary bridges over the Namdang and the Dimau River. The great tank Jaysagar and the temple at the same place were constructed by him in memory of his mother Jayamati. He also constructed the tank and temple at Rangnath, including the Kharikatiya, the Durbariyam and the Meteka roads. During his reign, Assam established a widespread cultural contact with the rest of India. Peace and order were established and people began to live with confidence and security. He formulated a definite policy of his administration and aimed at elevating his kingdom to the rank of a first-rate power of India. He adopted foreign customs, imported many artisans from Bengal and established several schools for the Brahmins. According to Dr S.K. Chatterjee he was the "Sivaji of Eastern India". He also set up extensive trade with Tibet. He was a follower of Sakta Hinduism; he was, however, tolerant towards the rival Vaishnava sect. His reign was perhaps the most remarkable period in the history of Assam.

Siva Singha (1714-44 A.D):-

 Siva Singha succeeded Rudra Singha, but unfortunately, did not possess his father's courage.  He accepted Sikhism and devoted most of his time to tantra and astrology. He became a disciple of Krishnaram Bhattacharjee and gave him the management of Kamakhya temple.  In 1717 A.D, an expedition was dispatched against the Daflas. After this, there was unbroken peace during Siva Singha's reign. He had all the lands in Kamrup surveyed, classified and duly recorded in state papers. He was superstitious and believed a prediction that his rule would shortly come to an end: to counter this, he made his queen Phuleswari the ‘Bar Raja'. She was an orthodox Sakta and she forced the Moratoria Vaishnava Gossains to apply blood ‘talks' on their foreheads after the puma of Ma Kamakhya. This deeply wounded the religious sentiments of the Vaishnavas. The Memories never forgave this spiritual insult and broke into an open rebellion in the later part of 18th century. After Pulsar died in 1731 A.D, the king married her sister Doped, and designated her ‘Bar Raja'. She too, died in 1741 and the new wife of the king, Andrei became the next ‘Bar Raja'. The king died in 1744. He caused many Puranas and Sanskrit scriptures to be translated into Assamese. Sakta Hinduism became the predominant religion during his time.

Pramatta Singha (1744-1751 A.D.)

Siva Singha was succeeded by his brother Pramatta Singha. New surveys and census of the kingdom took place under him. New buildings and masonry gateways were also constructed at Garbing and the Rancher was built at Rangpur. The Redresser and Skewer temple were erected at Guwahati.

Rajeswar Singha (1751-1769 A.D.)

Throughout the reign of Rajeswar Singha, there is little or no record of disturbance, and no wars.  His Ahom name was Surampha. He made his capital at Rangpur. There was an expedition against the Daflas, where Daflas were defeated. An expedition against Makers was sent in 1765 A.D. This was the first and last expedition against the Makers. In the same year the Kachari king tried to rebel but met with failure. Rajesh war Singha was an able king but he left the government in the hands of his Bar Barua, Kirtichandra Gendhela.  A devout Sakta Hindu, the king constructed many temples. He also built the ‘Talatol Ghar' at Rangpur and the ‘Kareng Ghar' at Garghoan. Rajeswar Singha died in 1759 A.D., having ruled in Assam during a critical period of Indian history. The Mughals had by this time, disintegrated; the British East India Company had conquered Bengal in the battle of Plessey (1757 A.D.), and its borders were very close to the Ahom kingdom.

Decline of Ahom Kingdom (1769 A.D – 1818 A.D):

Lakshmi Singha (1769-1780 A.D)

There were different opinions among the nobles as to proper successor of Rudra Singha. Finally, Lakshmi Singha was selected for kingship at the insistence of Kirtichandra Bar Barua. He took on the Ahom name Sunyeopha. He was not considered as the legitimate son of Rudra Singha because he looked very different from his father. Therefore, the Parbatia Gossain refused to initiate him. A new Sakta priest was then brought in from North Bengal. To secure his throne Lakshmi Singha banished the two sons of Rajeswar Singha, the Raja of Tipam and the Raja of Namrup. The Moamaria Gossain, by the time, had become politically stronger and tried to raise a revolt against the king. But the king foiled the revolt. The Moamaria Gossain was assaulted by the Bar Barua, and the chief of the Moran tribe, who happened to be the disciple of Moamaria Gossain, was also beaten up. These two incidents provoked the Moamaria Gossain to rebel against the Ahoms. He collected his disciples, and appointed his son to lead them. He was received with great enthusiasm by the Morans and the Kacharis. His son Bangan assumed the title of ‘Raja of Namrup'. The Ahom king's elder brother, and many other ostracized princes also joined ranks with them. In this way, the flames of Moamaria rebellion broke out in 1769 A.D. The rebels advanced to Tipam on the bank of Dibru River. The rebels and the king's army lay entrenched in their respective fortified positions for several months. In due time a Moran named Ragha led the rebel force from the North bank of Brahmaputra and defeated the royal army at consecutive battles. Lakshmi Singha fled to Guwahati; Ragha captured Rangpur, and the king was confined in the temple of Jayasagar. Thus the Moamarias won a resounding victory. Ramakanta, the son of Moran chief Nahar assumed kingship. Ragha retained the post of Bar Barua. He took into his harem the wives of the deposed king and widows of Rajeswar Singha, including the Manipuri princes. Coins were minted in the name of Ramakanta, but the power lay in the hands of Ragha. All the Gossains of upper Assam were compelled to acknowledge the supremacy of the Moamaria high priest. For several months there was no opposition to Moamaria rule. But the officials and nobles were against this usurpation, and were biding their time. In April, on the night before the Bihu festival, Ragha's house was surrounded; he was dragged out and put to death. Thus the Moamarias in the capital were surprised and dispersed. Lakshmi Singha became the king once more. The Moamarias were now ruthlessly put down; many of them were killed. They tried to regroup, but were defeated and forced to flee into the hills. Kalita Phukan and Nara of Khemjung tried to ferment trouble, but were suppressed. In 1780, Lakshmi Singha died.

The Moamarias did not have any idea about the British troops. They were completely defeated by the British. Numerous Moamarias were killed and the rest of the rebels dispersed in all directions. Gaurinath Singha was then restored his throne, and the Moamaria rebellion came to an end.  According to Captains Welsh's account, Guwahati was an expansive and populous town at that time. It was situated on both sides of the banks of the Brahmaputra and extended to the neighboring hills. Along the river bank there was a rampart on which mounted 113 guns, including 3 of European manufacture. Another fortification of the town was a large enclosure, surrounded by a brick wall. Rangpur was a largely populated town, spanning about 20 miles. The surrounding country had been very densely cultivated. The nobles held large estates of land, which were tilled by their slaves, but the products were never brought to the market. It was almost impossible to buy grain: it was easier to buy salt or opium. The price of commodities was very cheap. Buffaloes were sold for five rupees.

After the death of Gaurinath Singha, Purnanada Burha Gohain raised Kinaram, a descendent of Gadadhar Singha to the throne. His Hindu name was Kamaleswar Singha and the Ahom name, Suklingpha. The government was run by the Burha Gohain, who was wise and devoted all his efforts to restore the country. He was the only officer who upheld the cause of the Ahoms during the Moamaria rebellion. He maintained a regular army; the fund was collected by the contribution of the spiritual heads of the ‘Sattras.' Soon after the new king's accession, Haradatta and Birdatta declared their independence in Kamrup with the help of Kacharis, the Panjabis, and the Hindustani refugees. They occupied nearly the entire north Kamrup. It was dominated by the Bar Phukan. In the same year, the Daflas and the Moamarias together raised a revolt on the north bank of the Brahmaputra. It was easily dispersed by the Burha Gohain. In the eastern part of the land, the Singphos and the Khamties raised a rebellion, and were defeated by the Burha Gohain. The Khamti prisoners were settled in Desoi and Titabar. A new Sadiya Khowa Gohain was appointed to control them. During the Moamaria rebellion, many Moamaria and other cultivators took refuge in the Kachari and Jaintia kingdoms. The Burha Gohain made a constant effort to turn them back. In 1803 A.D., the Moamarias with the help of Kacharis attacked Nowgaon, but were defeated by the Burha Gohain. Again in 1805 A.D a fresh Moamaria rising took place to the east of the Dibru River. They were again defeated but now, ominously, invited the Burmese to invade Assam. The Burha Gohain tried to make peace with them. By this time he had won over the Morans by giving the title of ‘Bar Senapati' to their chief. In the next two years, two separate expeditions were sent against the Nagas and Tiruliaduar. Both were made to face defeat. During the Moamaria rebellion, the Bhutias took many of the Assamese as prisoners and reduced them to slavery. The relationship between the kingdoms became strained. In 1805 A.D., the Bar Phukan sought to restore cordial relations between the two kingdoms. After some time, the boundary dispute between the two countries was resolved. Thus the Burha Gohain restored the peace in the country. He brought back the fugitive cultivators and resettled them, regenerated the Ahom government and helped it regain, its former vigor.  He reconstructed the town of Rangpur; and improved the new town named Jorhat. The ‘Lanka-Kanda' of the Ramayana was translated into Assamese during this period. In 1810 A.D., Kamaleswar Singha died of small pox.

Chandrakanta Singha (1810-1818 A.D):-

Kamaleswar Singha was succeeded by his brother, Chandrakanta Singha. His Ahom name was Sudinpha. He was very young at that time. By the time he grew up, he became impatient of the influence of the Burha Gohain. He struck up a friendship with a person named Satram, who began to plot against the Burha Gohain. The plot was detected and he was banished to Namrup. The king was married to Padmabati, to whom the nobles refused to offer the customary salute, because she was daughter of an ordinary Vaishnava. In the meantime the Bar Phukan died. Badanchandra was appointed the new Bar Phukan. This juncture of Assam's history was a most disastrous one. Having had enough of the Bar Phukan's machinations, the Burha Gohain decided on Badanchandra's removal. Men were sent to arrest him; he fled to Calcutta, into British territory. There he made friends with a Burmese agent, went to the capital and misrepresented to the king that the Burha Gohain had usurped the king's authority, for which the lives of all people were in danger. He sought the help of the Burmese king, who agreed. In 1817 A.D, an army of eight thousand strong was dispatched from Burma. At Ghiladhari, the Ahom army gave battle, but the Burmese won. Around this time, the Burha Gohain died (allegedly through suicide by swallowing a diamond). His son became the new Burha Gohain. In the next battle too, the Ahoms had to face defeat. The Burmese now occupied Guwahati. The Bar Phukan became extremely powerful and the king was retained only as the nominal head. The Burmese were paid a large indemnity by Badanchandra and they returned to their own country. In 1818 A.D., Badanchandra was killed. The Burha Gohain, with the help of Brajanath advanced towards Jorhat.  Brajanath's son Purandar became the new king, and Chandrakanta was seized. From this point onwards began the fall of the Ahom kingdom.

Purandar Singha (1818-18A.D):-

With Purandar Singha began another era of puppet kings and this ended only with the fall of the Ahom kingdom in the wake of the Burmese and British invasions. After the murder of Badanchandra, a deputation of the malcontents went to Burma again and sought their help. In 1819 A.D, a fresh force under a general named Ala Mingi was sent from Burma to Assam. The Ahoms were defeated at Nazira, and the king fled to Guwahati. The Burmese restored Chandrakanta Singha at Jorhat. They then advanced towards Guwahati; meanwhile, the Burha Gohain and Purandar Singha had fled to British territory. The King's plea for help was ignored by the British because of their then policies. Chandrakanta had now become the nominal king and the province was actually ruled by the Burmese. By this time, Chandrakanta Singha became worried about himself and fled to Guwahati, and then to British territory. The Burmese by this time held Assam in a strong grip. In 1821, a fresh force of the Burmese arrived; Jogeswar became the new puppet king.  During the next four years, both Purandar and Chandrakanta made repeated attempts to send back the Burmese, but in 1821 A.D. they occupied the whole of Assam. The Burmese commander, Mingimaha Bandula became the de-facto ruler the country. Chandrakanta managed to raise some Hindusthani and Sikh troops in the British territory; marched to and captured Guwahati and proceeded to meet the Burmese army at Mahagarh. He fought with great courage although he ultimately lost and had to flee to Goalpara. The repeated attacks by Purandar Singha and Chandrakanta from the British territory incensed the Burmese. They threatened to invade the British territory.  They even crossed the Goalpara frontier and burnt several villages. At the same time, the oppressions of the Burmese on the people under their control became more and more unbearable. They were subjected to unspeakable suffering under Burmese rule. Nothing was safe in their hands: villages and temples were burnt; the chastity of women was violated; people were killed every day. These acts of cruelty practiced by the Burmese are indescribably shocking. The region lay in utter ruin. The memories of this reign of terror are still remembered in Assam as "Manar Din". Numerous Assamese left the kingdom and settled at Goalpara and Rangpur. Chandrakanta was induced by the Burmese to come back, but as soon as he arrived he was arrested and imprisoned. By this time, Mingimaha Bundela had returned to Burma with his forces. The new Burmese Governor in Assam effected a marked improvement in the treatment of the inhabitants. 

Anglo-Burmese War and British Annexation of Assam (1824 A.D – 1826 A.D.)

The Burmese occupation of Assam lasted for a long period; they began to commit various acts of aggression on Goalpara, Sylhet and Chittagong. The British Governor-General protested but was ignored by them. The same pattern of events occurred at Cachar and Manipur also. The Kachari Raja had to seek refuge in Sylhet, and the Manipur Raja Chaurajit followed the same route. He tendered his rights to the British Government. Meanwhile, the Burmese who had taken Manipur and were in possession of the Brahmaputra Valley now threatened to annex Cachar. It was at this point that the British intervened. The first military operation was undertaken by the British in the Surma valley. The Burmese were defeated. In 1824 A.D. a formal declaration of war was made by the British against the Burmese. Thus began the Anglo-Burmese war which was to end in the expulsion of the Burmese from Assam. The British army advanced from Goalpara to Guwahati. The Burmese army retired to Mara Mukh in Upper Assam. Guwahati was occupied by the British. In the mean time, David Scott, the agent to the Governor-General marched from Sylhet through the Jaintia Hills to Guwahati. The Burmese then occupied Raha, Nowgaon and Kaliabor, and again began their reign of terror upon the people. Thousands fled from their homes. The atrocities of the Burmese are still fresh in the memory of the inhabitants who speak with much horror of the "Manar Upadrab". In 1824 A.D. the British army began advancing towards Upper Assam. They occupied Raha and Kaliabor. In 1825 they captured Mara Mukh, and then they took Jorhat and Rangpur. The Burmese now sued for peace. The British insisted on their total expulsion from Assam to which they agreed. The Burmese now undertook some minor operations against the Singphos. They were defeated and this heralded their final exit from Assam. At the same time, the British army in Burma itself had been crowned with success. The king of Ava was compelled to accept the terms of peace which were offered to him. By the treaty of Yandaboo, which was concluded on the 24th February, 1826 A.D, the Burmese agreed to abstain from all interference in the affairs of the areas which constituted Assam, and to recognize Gambhir Singha as the Raja of Manipur. This created a political vacuum in Assam. No Ahom nobility or member of Royal family was in a position to assert the authority.  The Burmese rule in Assam came to an end with the treaty of Yandaboo – the treaty also laid the foundation for British rule in Assam.