Ahom-Mughal Conflicts : The History of Assam

Assam history : The Period of Ahom-Mughal Conflicts

Hello, aspirants are you preparing for APSC Prelims and Mains exam? If yes, then you must be aware of the most important Assam history the Period of Ahom-Mughal Conflicts for the upcoming APSC Prelims or Mains exam preparation. Therefore every aspirants need to know the detail information of Ahom-Mughal Conflicts for APSC exams.

Ahom-Mughal Conflicts : The History of Assam

The Ahom-Mughal Conflicts

In this regard "World_Polity" decides to provide you the most important Assam history the Period of Ahom-Mughal Conflicts for APSC Prelims & Mains exam. Infact the Assam History will be a key topic in the history section for the upcoming exams.

Ahom - Mughal Conflicts : The History of Assam

The history of the Ahoms during the seventeenth century was mainly the history of the Ahom-Mughal conflict which arose due to the imperial ambition of the Mughal emperors to extend their dominions to east beyond Bengal and if possible to seek routes to China and Tibet; at the same time to collect articles such as gold dust, long pepper, elephant teeth, musk, and lac, which were valued greatly by the royalty and nobility in the Mughal courts.

The annexation of the Koch kingdom into the Mughal dominions made the Ahom kingdom coterminous. The long reign of Susengpha (1603-41), better known as Pratap Singha, was important in the history of Assam in several respects.

The Mughal claim on the Koch territory to the east of Barnadi and the trading adventures of certain Mughal merchants caused conflict and tension along the border leading to the first serious battle with the Mughal army and navy at Bharali near Tezpur in which the enemy side was completely routed. This was in AD 1616.

A vivid description of the plight of the Mughal soldiers is given in the Baharistan-i-Ghayli by Mirza Nathan, a Mughal general. About 1700 men of the enemy side were killed, double this number were wounded and 9,000 men were taken as prisoners. This was followed by a series of campaigns against the Mughals.

In 1618, there was another serious battle at Hajo in which the Ahoms lost nearly 4000 boats, and an equal number of men were killed. The war, however, did not stop but continued with occasional outburst and the pendulum of victory moved from one side to another in Kamrup.

Ultimately, peace was restored by a treaty concluded by Momai Tamuli Barbarua and Allah Yar Khan in 1639 where Barnadi in the North and the Asurar Ali in the south were fixed as the boundary between the Ahom and Mughal territories. It did not, however, last for a very long time.

During the early years of Pratap Singha's reign, the Kachari king, who was always considered thapita-sanchita status by the Ahom kings, was bold enough to show his defiance by declining to comply a request for passage of a Jaintia princess through his country.

An Ahom army led by Sunder Gohain was badly defeated and the general himself was killed by the Kacharis led by Prince Bhimbal in 1606 AD. Soon, however, relation with the Kachari king was restored. Pratap Singha also cultivated good relations with the Jaintia king. Pratap Singha introduced certain reforms in the administration and reorganized the paik.

Two very important posts that of the Barbarua and the Barphukan were created; the former was placed as the head of the secretariat and judiciary immediately under the king; the later was given the charge of lower Assam, west of Kaliabor and also head of diplomatic relations with the west. Several other new posts of lesser importance were also created.

A census of population was undertaken, and the paik system was extended to newly acquired territories. All free adult population were registered as paik for state services. A squad for four paiks constituted the lowest unit. Twenty such units were commanded by a Bora, one hundred by a Saikia and one thousand by a Hazarika. Departments were usually headed by Phukan, Baruah, Rajkhowa, according to their importance.

Among other notable works of Pratap Singha included construction of several important roads, bridges, excavation of tanks and ramparts. He also built several towns. The king was liberal and catholic in his religious policy. The short reigns of his two immediate successors Surampha (1641-44) and Suchingpha (1644-48) were not of much importance.

The reign of Sutamla, better known by his Sanskrit title Jayadhwaj Singha (1648-63) was marked by a major invasion of Assam by the Mughal army headed by Mir Jumla, the newly appointed Nawab of Bengal. It was apparently a retaliatory action taken against the occupation of Sarkar Kamrup by the Ahom army by taking advantage of the confusion that ensued following the removal of Shah Jahan from the throne by his sons.

The large army of infantry and cavalry supported by a strong navy mostly manned by Europeans, chiefly the Portuguese and the Dutch, proceeded towards the capital of Assam by overrunning the defences put up at Hatichala-Baritala, Pancharatan-Jogighopa and Pandu- ighat.

After the occupation of the fort at Samdhara following a stiff battle and a keenly contested naval victory near Kaliabor on the Brahmaputra, the Mughal army advanced towards the Ahom capital, Garhgaon, Jayadhwaj Singha with his family and close associates evacuated the capital and retreated to Namrup hills close to Patkai.

The Mughal army occupied Garhgaon, and established outposts at several places in Upper Assam; Mir Jumla himself made his headquarters at Mathurapur.

However, when the rainy season started, these outposts got cut off by flood and became isolated while the Mughal navy with big war boat which remained at Lukhnow could not help them.

The Ahom army then started to harass the Mughals by adopting guerilla method of warfare. Due to disruption of communication, the Mughal army faced great hardship; the physical as well as moral condition began to deteriorate.

The health of Mir Jumla deteriorated as he had been suffering from consumption. Under these circumstances, a peace proposal initiated by the Ahom side was ultimately agreed upon.

The treaty of Ghiladharighat at Tipam on the Buri Dihing was drawn up on 9 January 1663 between Jayadhwaj and Mir Jumla. He agreed to pay a huge war indemnity, the cessation of all territory west of Bharali on the north bank of the state of Dimarua’, Beltola west of the Kallong on the south bank of the Brahmaputra.

Jaydhwaj Singha's daughter accompanied by the daughter of Tipam Raja was sent to Delhi and the sons of the ministers were sent as hostage with the Mughal till full payment was made. Mir Jumla and his army left Assam.

Soon after his return to Bakotha, as Garhgaon was despoiled by the Mughals, Jayadhwaj Singha passed away in 1663. He was the first Ahom king to embrace Hinduism by receiving initiation from a Vashnava priest. He made large revenue free land grants with paiks to several Hindu satras (monasteries).

One of the notable achievements of Jayadhwaj Singha’s reign was the planned settlement of villages in certain tracts of the country.

However, Mir Jumla's invasion caused devastation of the economic and social condition of the kingdom. Mir Jumla was accompanied by a news reporter (waqia navis) named Mirza Mahammad Wali, poetically known as Shihabuddin Talish, who left a very valuable account of Assam, its climate, population, customs, products, and of its capital Garhgaon. A few excerpts may be of interest. ‘Although most of the inhabitants of the neighbouring hills pay no tax to the Rajah of Assam, yet they accept his sovereignty and obey some of his commands.'

From Lakhaugarh to Garhgaon, also, there are roads, houses and farms in the same style and a lofty and wide embanked road has been constructed up to Garhgaon for traffic.' The people of the country are free from certain fatal and loathsome diseases such as leprosy, white leprosy, elephantiasis, cutaneous eruptions, goitre and hydrocele, which prevail in Bengal.' 'It is not the custom here to take any land tax from the cultivators; but in every house one man out of the three has to render service to the Raja.'

In all the past ages no (foreign) king could lay the hand of conquest on the skirt of this country, and no foreigner could treat it with the foot of invasion.' And all the people of his country, not placing their necks in the yoke of any faith, eat whatever they get from the hand of any man, regardless of his caste and undertake any kind of labour. 'Their language differs entirely from that of all the people of Eastern India.'

They cast excellent match-locks and bachadar artillery, and show a great skill in this craft. They make first rate gunpowder. The common people bury their dead with some of the property of the deceased, placing the head towards the east and the feat towards the west.'Talish also left a vivid and valuable description of Garhgaon, and the royal palace.

Chakradhwaj Singha (1663-70), a person of indomitable courage and firm determination, refused to put on the gown (siropa) sent by the Mughal court to him as a tributary king. 'Death is preferable to a state of subordination to Bangal' he uttered.

Preparations for war were soon complete, and Kamrup was again recovered by a strong Ahom navy and infantry under the command of Lachit Barphukan in 1667. The Mughal army was badly mauled. Following this, several fortifications were raised on both banks surrounding Gauhati to protect it against any further attack. Having received the news of Mughal reverse, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dispatched a Rajput general Raja Ram Singh, son of Raja Jay Singh of Amber, with a large force with order to chastise the wicked tribe' (the Ahoms).

Ram Singh advanced towards Gauhati by occupying several posts which the Ahoms evacuated for strategic reasons to concentrate on Gauhati. Ram Singh built his camp at Hajo.

The Ahom army under Lachit Barphukan and other generals including Atan Buragohain, foiled every attempt of Ram Singh to occupy Gauhati by war and diplomacy and the war dragged on for several years with loss on both sides.

In the meantime, Udayaditya ascended the throne in 1669. The Battle of Saraighat fought in 1671 was the last determined attempt of Ram Singh which met ignominious defeat at the hands of the Ahom. The defeated army was pushed back beyond the Manaha river. It may be mentioned that in the war against the Mughals, many of the neighbouring hill people sent their contingents and successfully fought against the invaders.

From the death of Ramdhwaj Singha, the successor of Udayaditya Singha, in 1675 to the accession of Gadadhar Singha in 1681, there ensured a period of weak and unstable government during which several weak and young kings were placed on the Ahom throne and quickly removed by ministers and high officials for their own selfish gains than for the welfare of the kingdom.

By taking advantage of the situation, Laluk Barphukan, the Viceroy of Lower Assam at Gauhati treacherously handed Gauhati over to the Mughals. The first major achievement of Gadadhar Singha (1681-96), who was crowned the king at Kaliabor by the nobles and officers, was the expulsion of the Mughals from Gauhati and Kamrup by defeating them at the Battle of Itakhuli. They were pursued to Manaha, which henceforth became the Ahom-Mughal boundary till 1826.

The king then suppressed all conspiracies to weaken the power of the Monarch, and reduced the tribes who created troubles in the border. He also controlled the growing power of the Hindu religious heads, but he was no bigot in his religious policy. Possessing a towering personality, Gadadhar Singha restored the authority of the king and brought peace and order to the country.

Rudra Singh's reign (1696-1714) marks a new turning point in the history of Assam. Inherited from his father a strong monarchy and a peaceful kingdom, Rudra Singha now found time and resources to build a new capital at Rangpur near the present town of Sibsagar on the Dikhow by importing artisans and masons, and know-how from Bengal.

When the Rajas of Cachar, who was treated by the Ahoms as thapita-sanchita, and Jaintia, showed signs of insubordination, they were captured and brought before Rudra Singha and were compelled to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Ahoms.

The king had planned to invade Bengal with the support of the rulers and the chiefs of the neighbouring states like Tripura, Koch Bihar, Burdwan and Nadia. When all preparations were complete and the vast army assembled at Gauhati for the march, Rudra Singha suddenly fell ill and died.

The king is known for his liberal policy; he allowed to grow trade with Bengal, and also imported several cultural items like dress, festival, songs, etc., from that country. This resulted in a slow cultural synthesis.

Must Read : Decline and Fall of the Ahom Kingdom

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