News: The Prime Minister (in an election campaign) has called 17th-century Ahom General Lachit Borphukan a symbol of India’s “atmanirbhar” military might.
Who was Lachit Borphukan?
- The year was 1671 and the decisive Battle of Saraighat was fought on the raging waters of the Brahmaputra.
- On one side was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s army headed by Ram Singh of Amer (Jaipur) and on the other was the Ahom General Lachit Borphukan.
- He was a commander in the Ahom kingdom, located in present-day Assam.
- Ram Singh failed to make any advance against the Assamese army during the first phase of the war.
- Lachit Borphukan emerged victorious in the war and the Mughals were forced to retreat from Guwahati.
- On 24 November each year, Lachit Divas is celebrated statewide in Assam to commemorate the heroism of Lachit Borphukan.
- On this day, Borphukan has defeated the Mughal army on the banks of the Brahmaputra in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671. The best passing out cadet of National Defence Academy has conferred the Lachit gold medal every year since 1999 commemorating his valour.
- Chaolung Sukapha was a 13thcentury ruler who founded the Ahom kingdom that ruled Assam for six centuries. The Ahoms ruled the land till the province was annexed to British India in 1826 with the signing of the Treaty of Yandaboo.
- Ahoms created a new state by suppressing the older political system of the bhuiyans (landlords).
- The Ahom state depended upon forced labour. Those forced to work for the state were called paiks.
- Ahom society was divided into clans or khels. A khel often controlled several villages.
- Ahoms worshipped their own tribal gods, yet they accepted the Hindu religion and the Assamese language.
- However, the Ahom kings did not completely give up their traditional beliefs after adopting Hinduism.
- Intermarriage with local also increased assimilation processes of Ahoms in Assamese culture.
- Poets and scholars were given land grants and theatre was encouraged. Important works of Sanskrit were translated into the local language. Historical works, known as buranjis, were also written, first in the Ahom language and then in Assamese.
- The Ahom king was the supreme commander of the state as well as the Military. The Ahom king himself led the state forces in the time of wars. The Paiks were the main army of the state.
- There were two types of Paiks i.e., serving and nonserving. The non-serving Paiks constituted a standing militia which could be mobilized at a short notice by the kheldar (an expert military organizer).
- The full contingent of the Ahom Army consisted of infantry, navy, artillery, elephantry, cavalry and spies. The main war weapons consisted of bows and arrows, swords, Javelins, discus, guns, match-locks and cannons. The Ahoms sent spies to the enemy’s camp to study the strength and the war strategies of the enemies before leading an expedition.
- The Ahom soldiers were experts in guerilla fighting. Sometimes they allowed the enemies to enter the country, then cut off their communications and attack them in front and rear
- Few important forts: Chamdhara, Saraighat, Simlagarh, Kaliabar, Kajali and Pandu.
- They also learnt the technique of constructing boat bridges in the Brahmaputra.
- Above all, the mutual understanding among the civil and military wings, unity among the nobles always worked as strong weapons of the Ahoms.