A brave Bodo women Thengphakhri Book: ‘The Bronze Sword Of Thengphakhri Tehsildar’. By Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

Book: ‘The Bronze Sword Of Thengphakhri Tehsildar’. By Mamoni Raisom

Goswami.thengphakhri03

The brave Bodo women Thengphakhri remembered as well as the Jnanpith Award winner Mamoni Raisom Goswami . Rich tributes were paid to the Goswami on her third death anniversary across Assam. The Bodos remembered the writer of the Book: ‘The Bronze Sword Of Thengphakhri Tehsildar’.

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The author had soft corner for the Bodos and worked for the uplift of Bodo literature. In fact, one of her last works Goswami was a novel called ‘Thengfakhri’ based on the life of a fiery woman revenue collector of the Bodo community in Assam during the British Colonial period.  In The Bronze Sword of Thengphakhri Tehsildar, her last work of fiction, Assamese litterateur Indira Goswami draws her protagonist from a popular Bodo legend. Thengphakhri was a tehsildar (tax collector) in Bijni kingdom in lower Assam that was then ruled by the British.thengphakhri03

It was the late 19th century and Thengphakhri was the first woman to fill the post.With her ‘long, shiny hair conditioned by elephant-apple juice’, Thengphakhri rode her horse from village to village collecting taxes at a time when, elsewhere in the sub-continent, women seldom stepped out of their homes, child marriages were common and, in a kingdom nearby, five queens burned on their husband’s pyre.Relying on oral sources, Goswami’s book reconstructs Thengphakhri’s extraordinary life.

theng03In the process, she touches on the social and political history of the Bodos, an indigenous Assamese tribe, whose lives have seldom been chronicled. This bypassing of the Bodos in Assam’s history is one of the main reasons for the Bodo movement in the late 1980s.Goswami faced trouble while researching this book because of the lack of historical sources on Bodo life and history. In fact, critics contested the veracity of the details of Thengphakhri’s life when the book was first published in the Assamese language in 2009.But then this is a novel that relies heavily on oral folklore in the absence of conventional documentation.Thengphakhri, a quiet but feisty widow, is a woman of few words who takes on misogyny in an unassuming way. Goswami chronicles her journey from village girl to tehsildar and later as a rebel against the colonial rulers through her thoughts and actions. In translator Aruni Kashyap’s words, the book ‘is interested not in the dramatic consequences of her choice, but in this complex, slow transformation’.Thengphakhri did not possess extraordinary strength, but her prowess in sword-fighting and horse-riding propelled her to a position very few women could then dream of. Her pedigree helped. Her grandfather was an employee of the British and taught her how to hold the sword as a child. Thengphakhri impressed the British in Bijni when she shot a man-eater mid-air as he pounced on an unsuspecting villager on the banks of the Brahmaputra. They first appointed her izardar, and promoted her to tehsildar, within a year. Thengphakri was initially in favour of the British because they shielded the people from incursions by the Bhutanese army.theng02

However, she soon faced an inner conflict when she found the colonial taxes were milking poor farmers of their last pennies in a drought-hit year. The novel ends with Thengphakhri picking up her famed bronze sword to join the underground nationalist movement. The book is not as moving as Goswami’s other novels — The Shadow of Kamakhya, Pages stained with Blood or The Moth-Eaten Howdah of the Tusker. It has none of the rawness, sudden metaphors hiding within mundane activities and complex conflicts typical of a Goswami novel. It is almost as if, in her last offering, Goswami chose to exit quietly.

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Hirimba belonged to Bodo tribes of Assam

Will the Hidimba real queen of Mahbaharta?

1. Hidimba: The unacknowledged heroine of Mahbaharta 

Hidimba makes her entry in Mahabharata in the ‘Adiparva’, the first book of the Mahabharata. She belongs to the tribe who were termed as ‘Rakashas’. The tribe was probably cannibal and was despised by the Aryans. She is accompanied by her brother Hidimb who wants to kill the Pandavas and eat their flesh. She was sent by her brother to kill the Pandavas and their mother Kunti who were moving from place to place in the forest after escaping the attempt of Duryodhana to kill them.

  1. She ‘simply’ fell in love!

Hidimba came to the place where four of the Pandavas -Yudhisthir, Arjuna, Nakula , Sahadeva – and their mother Kunti were sleeping and they were being watched over by mighty Bhima. Instead of killing them and enjoying their flesh as Rakashas are supposed to, she is infatuated by the strong and handsome Bhima. Here she is being portrayed as someone being disloyal to her own brother. She assumes an appearance of a beautiful young girl, as Rakashas are supposed to know the art of assuming different forms.

  1. Seduction of Bhima

She cautions Bhima of impending danger from her brother and proposes him, “I would have no one else for my husband than you! My heart as well as my body has been pierced by Kama. As I am longing for you to make me yours” ( Adi Parva ,Section CLIV). She also gives an assurance that she will protect him from the flesh eating Rakasha and tries to seduce him by offering other allurements.

  1. Seduction of Bhima

Bhima, though dutiful towards his brothers and mother seems to have been charmed by the approach of the young women in the lonely forest as is natural for a young man. He seems to have noticed her feminine beauty as is obvious in his address to her. He addresses her as being amiable, of delicate shape, of beautiful eyes and of slender waist. He also boasts about his physical power, as young man generally tries to impress a young girl that he fancy.

  1. Killing of Hidimb

When the Rakashasa Hidimb saw that his sister is soliciting man, he became indigent and accuses her of sacrificing the good name and honour of all the Rakshasas. He rushes to kill Hidimba but is stopped by Bhima who now assumes the role of the protector of the damsel in distress. What follows is a dialogue between Bhima and Hidimb, at the end of which a dual is fought and finally the Rakasha was killed by Bhima. There is no intervention from Hidimba to stop the fight.

  1. Bhima wanted to kill Hidimba too

After this, Hidimba follows the Pandavas and their mother Kunti. Bhima here now shows anger and is ready to kill Hidimba. This was in contrast to the tenderness that he had shown for her few hours back. Either he was very excited or out of control after his fight with the demon or it was a show off to prove his loyalty to his mother and brothers. However he was stopped by Yudhishithir in his attempt.

  1. Assertion of carnal desires by Hidimba

Here the portrayal of Hidimba, is in contrast to the Aryan damsels, who are supposed to be shy and not to assert their sexuality. Hidimba expressed her desire to marry Bhima to Kunti too. She also gives assurance of the safety and security of not only Bhima but also help the whole family in distress. She entertain Kunti by all her means and says, “O, be gracious to me and make Bhima accept me” ( Adi Parva Section CLVII). And Kunti agreed…

  1. Shocking: The real reason behind Kunti’s acceptance

It is Kunti’s firm guidance and far-sighted statesmanship that is depicted in the Mahabharata where she approves of Hidimba’s infatuation for Bhima. This approval is based on her being conscious of the need for allies in their forlorn condition. Kunti, therefore, orders Bhima: “You know Hidimba loves you… Have a son by her I wish it. He will work for our welfare. My son. I do not want a no from you, I want your promise now, in front of both of us.” (157.47-49)

  1. The real reason behind Kunti’s acceptance

It is absolutely clear from the above lines that Kunti as a far-sighted statesperson, uses Hidimba as a tool to provide them with a powerful son to be used in war against Kauravas. The epic shows how right and prophetic Kunti had proved to be. Ghatotkacha, the fruit of this union, proves to be very useful for them during the exile, and later as Arjuna’s savior from Karna’s infallible weapon at the cost of his own life. Moreover, Kunti was aware of her precarious position. She was fugitive along with her children escaping from the assassination bid and was badly in need of shelter and comfort.

  1. The birth of Ghatotkacha

A son was born to Hidimba and Bhima whose head was bald like a Ghata (water-pot) and he was named Ghatotkacha (the pot-headed). Away from the restrictive gaze of the society and living in seclusion, the Pandavas and Kunti had no inhibition in mixing freely with Hidimba and her son. Though they were helped by Hidimba, they probably realized that if they stay there for a longer period, they are doomed to the life of seclusion and will be deprived of our rightful share in the kingdom.

  1. The Pandavas leaves Hidamba forever

Though they had no permanent place to stay and no reliable shelter they decided to leave Hidimba and went ahead. Probably Kunti and other Pandavas were feeling apprehensive that if Bhima grows too fond of Hidimba, he may choose to stay permanently there. There was also a possibility of a loss of face if a Raksashi girl became the first daughter-in -law of the Pandu family or even in the whole younger generation of the Kuru princes, as Duryodhana was yet to be married at that time. Kunti pulled Bhima out of the domestic bliss.

  1. When Pandavas married Draupadi

Then the Pandavas married Draupadi. Surely no one cared to inform Hidimbika. They returned to Hastinapura with their newly married wife. Soon they were given half of the kingdom, and Yudhisthira became the king of Indraprastha. He decided to perform the Rajsuya Yagya. Here begins the story of a disgraceful quarrel. The great sage Vyasa pronounced the mantras to light the homa fire, but the fire didn’t appear, which surprised Durvasa and other sages. Narada said that this happened because Yuhisthira was childless. (This excerpt is from Sarla Mahabharata)

  1. Remember Ghatotkacha?

Then they thought of Ghatotkacha. Vyasa maintained that since the Pandavas were the five manifestations of the same essence – an argument that was used on several occasions in Saaralaa Mahabharata, Ghatotkacha was Yudhisthira’s son too. Krishna asked Bhima to invoke his son. As Ghatotkacha prepared to leave for Indraprastha, Hidimba told him that he should first pay obeisance to his father, then to Krishna, then to Vyasa, and then to Yudhisthira, and that he must not bow to any one else.

  1. Do not bow to Draupadi!

Ghatotkacha told her that out of jealousy and hatred, she was asking him to do something clearly wrong. Draupadi, at the Yagya, would have a special status as Yudhisthira’s wife. Hundreds of kings would be paying their respects to her. She would feel insulted if Ghatotkacha did not pay obeisance to her, and her anger would destroy him. His mother told her that he had been ritualistically anointed king of that forest, and as such was like a god to the humans.

  1. The unsaid animosity

Hidimba convinced Ghatotkacha that Draupadi was nothing but an immoral woman, and paying respects to such a degraded person would only affect one’s longevity. But she noticed that Ghatotkacha was afraid; so she decided to accompany him. Ghatotkacha did as his mother had told him. Draupadi felt humiliated and got very angry. She shouted at him that she was an exceptional person – the queen of Yudhisthira. And at his wicked mother’s behest he had insulted her in the august assembly of elders, sages and kings!

  1. Dupadi cursed Ghatotkacha

Then she uttered a horrible curse that his life would be short, and that he would be killed without a fight – a terrible eventuality for a kshatriya (“member of the warrior class”) – when a devastating divine weapon would pierce his chest. Poor Ghatotkacha, still a boy, withdrew in fright. Hidimbika was waiting at the door, since it was improper for a woman to be in an assembly of males, almost all of whom were strangers to her. But she couldn’t control herself when she heard Draupadi’s curse.

  1. When Hidamba met Draupadi

Hidamba rushed to Draupadi, and called her a sinful woman. How could a virtuous woman have five husbands, she asks. She shouted that her son was a king, and as such was not obliged to bow to her. She said she was aware that her curse would certainly materialize, but her son would still die a hero’s death. Then she asked her how being his stepmother, nevertheless a mother, she could utter such a terrible curse on her son who was still a boy.

  1. Hidamba curses Draupadi’s sons

Hidamba said she couldn’t even curse Draupadi because she was a barren woman. But one day she would have children, and she cursed that all her five children would be decapitated at the age of seven. Thus these two women killed much of the future of the Pandava lineage. What the enemy did later was a mere formality. As the two women quarreled, Krishna asked Vyasa to consult his text and tell him how the curses were going to materialize.

  1. This is how the curse strike

In the night of the second day of Drona’s commandership, Karna invoked a divine weapon that could not be countered. Seeing this, Krishna asked Ghatotkacha to hide behind Arjuna’s chariot and as Karna hurled the weapon at Arjuna, Hanumana (manifested on the top of Arjuna’s chariot) pushed the chariot into the nether world. The weapon hit Ghatotkacha on his chest and killed him.

  1. How would Hidimba’s curse materialize?

After the fall of Duryodhana, Krishna went to Dwaraka with the victorious Pandavas, leaving behind Draupadi’s children and Dristadyumna in the battlefield to rest, thinking that with the enemy routed, the place was entirely safe for them. That night Aswasthama went to the Pandava tents and kills the sleeping Sikhandi, Dristadyumna, and Draupadi’s children, thinking that they were the Pandavas.

  1. Why was Hidimba forgotten?

After the departure from the forest Hidimba is forgotten forever. Though Ghatotkacha is remembered and used by the Pandavas whenever they need him. He was remembered during the ‘Digvijay’ when Nakula goes to southern part of India for conquest. (Gita press edition, Digvijay Parva Ch.31). He was sent as a messenger to Bhibhishana, the king of Lanka. He was also remembered during the time of exile of the Pandavas. He stays with them during the absence of Arjuna.

  1. Why the Pandavas did not go to Hidimba during their exile?

One thing about which the Mahabharata is silent is that why the Pandavas did not go to Hidimba during their period of exile after losing the game of dice? Was Hidimba a very violent that she could not tolerate Draupadi and the Pandavas decided not to take the risk or could it be fiery Draupadi who was not willing to accommodate with one more wife? It was Hidimba who was the first daughter-in-law in the generation of Yudishthir, and Kunti was probably afraid that she may claim her position of chief queen.

  1. However, Ghatotkacha served the Pandavas

Taking help from Ghatotkacha was a compromise of lesser degree and as Ghatotkacha was called to the Pandavas and he served them with all the humility of a son, it boosted the racial ego of the Pandavas without compromising much on their dignity as they can take a stand that it was Ghatotkacaha who came to them and not other way round.

  1. Why did no one mourn for Ghatotkacha?

After the death of Ghatotkacha there is no mention of his mother lamenting over his death. She never enters back in the story. Even after the war is over we see lamentation of the widows of the slain warrior, we hear neither of the wives or mother of Ghatotkacha. In contrast the death of Abhimanyu was lamented by all. Grief of Subhhadra was described and Arjuna takes an oath of avenging the death of Abhimanyu. No such treatment for Ghatotkacha. Discrimination in death!

  1. Why did no one mourn for Ghatotkacha?

Hidimba fell in love with Bhima and like a frank and innocent Hill woman had the honesty to acknowledge her love in the plainest possible language. Bhima, the faithful son, could not muster courage to accept it and finally the girl requests Kunti to help her. She has a firm conviction that being a woman Kunti would be able to understand her plight. When Kunti, along with her five sons, decides to leave the forest, she does not, even for a second, think about Hidimba.

  1. Was Hidimba a greater queen than Draupadi?

What happens to Hidimba? She is left in the forest all by herself. With no male relative to look after her and carrying Bhima’s child in her womb, the proud Hidimba does not cry and plead. She accepts her fate. Depicted to be a pure and unadulterated person without having any ambitious dreams except a pure love for Bhima, this forest girl is just the opposite of Draupadi who knows how to have her own way.

  1. Was Hidimba a greater queen than Draupadi?

Her dignity is worth praising as without a drop of tear or piteous entreaties, she accepts her fate. No repentance, not even any emotional blackmail on account of the son that she carried in her womb with no male relations to take care of, she like an independent woman presents a true picture of dignified womanhood.

  1. Could Kunti not be a little sympathetic?

But could Kunti not be a little sympathetic? Was it because Hidimba came from a different culture? The only thing that she could give them was her only son, Ghatotkacha, to be sacrificed in the Mahabharata war. Ironically Ghatotkacha, the eldest of all Pandava progeny is used as a prey in the war and his proud and brave mother sends him to the war without ever complaining of the injustice having been meted down upon her.

  1. Why the discrimination?

Would the Kuru clan made Ghatotkacha a king had he survived the war? Was he not the eldest among all Pandava sons? Why Ghatotkacha and his mother were discriminated against? What does Dharma say in these matters? Dharma as usual is the most ambiguous word and is used as per the suitability of the powers that be. Compelled by the circumstances, Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas asked Bhima to marry Hidimba, but she was never given respect and place due to the daughter-in- law of the house. She was abandoned after a son was born to her. Her son was also not honored like a prince but was only used as a cannon fodder to fight and die.

  1. The Hidimba Devi temple

Hidimba Devi temple stands in the midst of a sacred cedar forest near the town of Dunghri at the verdant foot of the Himalaya mountains. The sanctuary is built over an enormous rock that juts out of the ground, worshipped as a manifestation of Durga, the “Hill Mother” or goddess of the earth. The temple was constructed in 1553 by Maharaja Bahadur Singh. The interior of the temple is occupied by the large rock and contains no useable space except for the ground floor. .speakingtree in

Kachari Kingdom Explained

Kachari Kingdom Explainedkacharyking

The Kachari Kingdom (called Dimasa Kingdom in medieval times) was a powerful kingdom in medieval Assam. The rulers belonged to the Dimasa people, part of the greater Kachari ethnic group. The Kachari Kingdom along with others kingdoms (KamataSutiya), are examples of state formations among the Kachari ethnic groups that developed in medieval Assam in the wake of the ancient Kamarupa Kingdom. Remnants of the Kachari Kingdom existed till the advent of the British and gave its name to two present districts in Assam: Cachar and North Cachar Hills (which changed its name to Dima Hasao district in April 2010.The origin of the Kachari Kingdom is clear. Some historians speculate that they were the remnants of the Mlechchha dynasty of Kamarupa Kingdom. According to tradition, the Kacharis Dimasas had to leave the Kamarupa Kingdom in the ancient period due to political turmoil. As they crossed the Brahmaputra river some of their compatriots were swept away down river and came to be called Dimasa Dima-basa, sons of the great river Dima, the Dhansiri river). It is conjectured that the initial state formation began in the Sadiya region (coterminous with the later Sutiya Kingdom) because the Dimasas and the Sutiyas have a common tradition of the worship of Kechai Khaiti, the goddess in Sadiya.

At Dimapur

By the 13th century the Kachari Kingdom extended along the southern banks of Brahmaputra river, from Dikhow river to Kallang river and included the valley of Dhansiri and present-day Dima Hasao district. According to the Buranjis, the Kachari settlements to the east of Dhansiri withdrew before the Ahom advance. The Sutiya Kingdomexisted further east and the Kamata Kingdom to its west.

Hostilities with Ahoms

The Ahoms settled into the tract between the Sutiya and the Kachari Kingdoms that was inhabited by the Borahi and Matak peoples. The first clash with the Ahom Kingdom took place in 1490, in which the Ahoms were defeated. The Ahoms sued for peace, and an Ahom princess was offered to the Kachari king and the Kachari took control of the land beyond the Dhansiri. But the Ahoms were getting powerful and pushed the Kacharis back west. In 1526 the Kacharis defeated the Ahoms in a battle, but in the same year they were defeated in a second battle. In 1531 the Ahoms advanced up to Dimapur, the capital of the Kachari Kingdom or Hirmba Kingdom, removed Khunkhara, the Kachari king, and installed Detsung in his place. But in 1536 the Ahoms attacked the Kachari capital once again and sacked the city. The Kacharis abandoned Dimapur and retreated south to set up their new capital in Maibang. Maibang is Dima Kachari origin dialect. Mai means Paddy and bang means Plenty or aboundance. Then Maibang- a plenty of paddy.

At Maibang

At Maibang, the Kacharis kings came under Brahmin influence. The son of Dersongphaa took a Hindu name, Nirbhay Narayan, and established his Brahmin guru as theDharmadhi that became an important institution of the state. The king’s genealogy was drawn from Bhima of the Pandavas, and his son Ghatotkacha born to Hidimba.The kingdom then came to be known as Heramba, and the rulers Herambeswar.

The king was assisted in his state duties by a council of ministers (Patra and Bhandari), led by a chief called Barbhandari. These and other state offices were manned by people of the Dimasa group, who were not necessarily Hinduized. There were about 40 clans called Sengphong of the Dimasa people, each of which sent a representative to the royal assembly called Mel, a powerful institution that could elect a king. The representatives sat in the Mel mandap (Council hall) according to the status of theSengphong and provided a counterfoil to royal powers.

Over time the Sengphongs developed a hierarchical structure with five royal Sengphongs though most of the kings belonged to the Hacengha clan. Some of the clans provided specialized services to the state ministers, ambassadors, store keepers, court writers, and other bureaucrats and ultimately developed into professional groups, e.g. Songyasa (king’s cooks), Nyablasa (fishermen).

By the 17th century the Kachari rule extended into the plains of Cachar. The plains people did not participate in the courts of the Kachari king directly. They were organized according to khels, and the king provided justice and collected revenue via an official called the Uzir. Though the plains people did not participate in the Kachari royal court, the Dharmadhi guru and other Brahmins in the court cast a considerable influence, especially with the beginning of the 18th century.

Neighboring states

Chilarai attacked the Kachari Kingdom in 1562 during the reign of Durlabh Narayan and made it into a tributary of the Koch Kingdom. The size of the annual tribute – seventy thousand gold mohars and sixty elephants – testifies to the resourcefulness of the Kachari state. A small colony of Koch soldiers, who came to be known asDehans, enjoyed special privileges in the Kachari Kingdom. A conflict with the Jaintia Kingdom over the region of Dimarua led to a battle and the defeat of the Jaintia king (Dhan Manik).

After the death of Dhan Manik, Satrudaman the Kachari king, installed Jasa Manik on the throne who is said to have manipulated events to bring the Kacharis into conflict with the Ahoms once again in 1618. Satrudaman, the most powerful Kachari king, ruled over Dimarua in Nagaon district, North Cachar, Dhansiri valley, plains of Cachar and parts of eastern Sylhet. After his conquest of Sylhet, he struck coins in his name.

At Khaspur

The region of Khaspur was originally a part of the Tripura Kingdom, which was taken over by Chilarai in the 16th century. The region was ruled by a tributary ruler, Kamalnarayana, the brother of Chilarai. After the decline of Koch power, Khaspur became independent. In the middle of the 18th century, the last of the Koch rulers died without an heir and the control of the kingdom went to the ruler of the Kachari Kingdom. After the merger, the capital of the Kachari Kingdom moved to Khaspur, near present-day Silchar.

British occupation

After Gobinda Chandra the British annexed the Kachari Kingdom under the doctrine of lapse. At the time of British annexation, the kingdom consisted of parts of Nagaon and Karbi Anglong; North Cachar, Cachar and the Jiri frontier of Manipur.

Rulers

Dimapur

  • Virochana (835 – 885)
  • Vorahi (885 – 925)
  • Prasanto alias Prasadao (Chakradwaj alias Khamaoto)[1] (925 – 1010)
  • Uditya (1010 – 1040)
  • Prabhakar (1040 – 1070)
  • Korpoordhwaj (1070 – 1100)
  • Giridhar (1100 – 1125)
  • Beeradhwaj (1125 – 1155)
  • Surajit (1155 – 1180)
  • Ohak (1180 – 1210)
  • Makardhwaj Narayan (Rana Pratap alias Raogena)[2] (1210 – 1286)
  • Bhopal (1286 – 1316)
  • Purandar (1316 – 1336)
  • Bicharpatipha alias Prakash (1336 – 1386)
  • Vikramadityapha alias Vikaranto (1386 – 1411)
  • Mahamanipha alias Prabal (1411 – 1436)
  • Manipha (1436 – 1461)
  • Ladapha (1461 – 1486)
  • Khunkhora alias Khorapha (1486 – 1511)
  • Det tsang alias Dersongpha (1511 – 1536)

Maibang

  • Nirbhay Narayan (1540-c1550)
  • Durlabh Narayan or Harmesvar (c1550-1576)
  • Megha Narayana (1576–1583)
  • Satrrudaman (Pratap Narayan, Jasa Narayan) (1583–1613)
  • Nar Narayan (1613-)
  • Bhimdarpa Narayan (Bhimbal Konwar) (-1637)
  • Indraballabh Narayan (1637-)
  • Birdarpa Narayan (-1681)
  • Garurdhwaj Narayan
  • Makardhwaj
  • Udayaditya
  • Tamradhwaj Narayan (1699–1708)
  • Queen Chandraprabha
  • Suradarpa Narayan (-1730)
  • Dharmadhwaj Narayan (Harischandra Narayan)
  • Kirichandra Narayan (1735–1745)
  • Gopichandra Narayan (1745–1757)

Khaspur

  • Harischandra II (1757–1772)
  • Krishnachandra Narayan (1772–1813)
  • Gobindchandra Narayan (1813–1830 till of 14 August)
  • Tularam Hasnu (Till 1854 of 20 July)

References

            • (based on).

Notes and References

  1. King Chakradwaj was a founder of Dimapur though he first established the capital at Kachomari on the bank of Daiyang river in Golaghat district, Assam.
  2. Raja Makardwaj Narayan Thaosen’s period was noted for Veer Dehmalu Kemprai’s victory over Burma in 1250 AD. Many pools and architectural features were made in

KOCH BEHAR RAJAS BELONGED TO MECH OR BODO TRIBE ACCORDING TO HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

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KOCH BEHAR RAJAS BELONGED TO MECH OR BODO TRIBE ACCORDING TO HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
PRESS RELEASE

Haria or Haoria or Haridas was a Mech or Bodo
The World Bodo Historical Society reiterates its stand that Haria or Haoria or Haridas was a Mech or Bodo. Because Haoria’s ethnic identification has been clearly mentioned in the Darrang Raj Vamsavali of Surjya Khari Daivajna in the following words:
“Panbar, Bhedela, aor Guabar|
Phedpheda, Barihana Mech shresthatar||
Kathia, Baihagu Megha Judhabar nam|
Garkata Jagai Dokhora anupam ||51
Ehi baro jan Mech param prabal|
Sabar upore shrestha Haria mandal||52a

Worshipping of Bathou is also clearly noted in the following verses:
“Pratham nishat dekha dila Sadasiv|
Bole aponar niti erilihi kiyo||
Kacharis mate ebho kariyo nachan|
Tor joy hoibo koilo swarup bachan||325
Ehi buli mahadev ontordhan bhoila|
Chetan labhiya raja sambhar chapaila||
Sankosh nadir tirat thana gari|
Patila nachan jata ania Kachari||326
Hangsa paro mad bhat mahis shukar|
Kukura chagal upahar nirantar||
Patila nachan tatha madal bajai|
Sabaro majat tulilanta deodhai||327

Knowingly or unknowingly or purposefully some scholars furnish fact wrongly and mislead readers and drive them to believe the wrong as true. One such example may be observed in an article written by J.P. Rajkhowa appeared on 24 March 2013 in the Sentinel. Shri Rajkhowa writes “It is well established historically that, the Koches known as Kuvacha in the Puranas and Tantras or Koch-Rajbangshis (combining both the names, representing the Koches of Upper Assam and Lower Assam respectively, as agreed by historian like Edward Gait, H.K. Barpujri, Padma Nath Gohain Barua and others)” and then quotes the following from a book entitled The Comprehensive History of Assam, Volume II, edited by HK Barpujari in connection with the origin of Koch-Rajbanshi:
“they seem to have a considerable admixture of blood in their veins: Mongoloid closely allied to the Meches, the Tharus, the Garos, and Dravidians. Frequent inter-marriages between the Koches and Meches led to the formation of twelve powerful Mech families. Assuming political power and with it economic resources in the Khuntaghat area (Goalpara district) in those days of political instability, the dominant tribes of the Koches aspired to social uplift as well.”
If he had read the entire paragraph then he could have noticed that the writer of Chapter-4 of the said book, Dr. J.N. Sarkar further writes “Adopting Hinduism, they sought skilfully to reinforce their claim to a higher social status by the legend, referred to in the Darrang Raj Vamsavali, that they were originally Kshatriya princes who had saved themselves as refugees from Parashuram’s anti-Kshatriya genocidal campaign discarding their sacred threads and marrying Koch ladies.” Interestingly, according to Darrang Raj Vamsavali, those Kshatriya princes did not marry Koch ladies as stated by Dr. Sarkar, but Mech ladies. This is how even highly qualified people make such false report. We have many instances of such type of mistakes made by scholars to suit their own wills.
That Cooch Behar kings originated from the Mech or Bodo tribe has been authenticated by many scholars or writers. We reproduce some such authentication.

The oldest document that speaks about the ethnic identity of the Royal family of Cooch Behar is a chronicle written by a Persian Chronicler named Ibn Muhammad Wali or Shihabuddin Talish. He wrote Fathiya-i-Ibraiya which is also called Tarikh Fath i Asham, or History of the Conquest of Assam. The book was written between 9th August 1662 and 13th May 1663 A.D. This work informs us that the inhabitants of Koch Bihar “since ancient times, are the Mech and Koch tribe. The Rajah belongs to the Mech. He coins gold muhurs and Narain rupees.”[1] When the above book was written the reigning king of Koch Behar was Maharaja Pran Narayan. In other words, Muhammad Talish was quite aware of the fact that Maharaja Pran Narayan was a Mech and that is why he had conclusively stated that the “Rajah belongs to the Mech.”
Under the behest of Samudra Narayan of Darrang Raj Family, Surjya Khari Daibajna wrote about 1791 a book called ‘Darrang Rajvamsavali’ in metrical Assamese in which it has been acknowledged that Biswa Singha’s father named Haoria or Herya or Haridas Mandal hailed from the highest Mech family.[2]

Ghulam Hussain Salim wrote ‘Riyauz-us-Salatin’ in 1787-88 A.D. which was translated into English from the original Persian by Maulavi Abdus Salam. According to Riyaz “Its inhabitants belong to two tribes, namely, Makh (Mech) and Kuj (Koch), its Rajah is of the first tribe.”[3]
In about 1833, under the instruction of Maharaja Harendra Narayan, his personal assistant Joynath Ghosh better known as Joyntha Munshi wrote a book entitled ‘Rajopakhyan’. In Deva Khanda of the said book it is written that the eight-year old Hiradevi and her elder sister Jira were married to Hariya alias Haridas Mech, an inhabitant of Chikina hill.[4] Munshi Joynath Ghose writes that his work was made over to Maharjah Harendra Narayan for his reading and after reading the whole of the same granted as a reward five villages (panchagram) rent-free.[5] The highly learned Maharajah Harendra Narayan did not object to the tracing of the origin of his family to Mech race. In other words, the Maharajah had accepted that his ancestors belonged to Mech tribe. The Maharajah could have asked his Munshi to omit that portion and substitute it with a different story. But he had not done this and accepted what is true.
In 1849, Major Francis Jenkins, the Governor General’s Agent, North East Frontier in his Report to the Government of India reported that ‘Bissoo Sing’ and ‘Sissoo Sing’ were of the Mech or Koch tribe (both Mech and Koch appear of the same tribe).
On the occasion of the Coronation Ceremony of Maharajah Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Bhagabati Charan Bandyopadhyaya wrote a book entitled ‘Koch Bihar Rajyer Songkhipto Bibaran’ with due permission from the Maharajah. In this book the father of Viswa Singh has been named as Hariya Mech.[6] Maharajah Nripendra Narayan, who received English education in India and in England, had also accepted Haria Mech as the progenitor of the Koch Behar Royal family. In 1903, a monumental work entitled ‘The Cooch Behar State and its Land Revenue Settlement’ was published under the order of Maharajah Nripendra Narayan. In this book on page 225 it has been written that both Hira and Jira were “married to a Mech of the name of Hariya, otherwise known as Haridas, who lived in Mount Chikna.”[7] Maharajah Nripendra Narayan highly praised this book and it is obvious that he had gone through the book with great interest. Interestingly the Maharajah had also accepted that his forefathers belonged to Mech tribe or else he would have resented the insertion of the above statement.

A History of Cooch Behar in Bengali was written by Amanatulla Ahmed and published in 1936. In this book also the ancestor of Cooch Behar royal family has been traced to Haria Mech.
Maharajah Biswa Singha’s contemporary landlords or Bhuyans knew him as Mech. Narayan Bhuyan, the head of the Bhuyans emphatically declared before the assemblage of the Bhuyas that “they would never submit to the Mech Chief even if it cost them their territories, wealth and life.”[8]
Ram Chandra Ghosh had delivered a lecture on the origin of the Kingdom of Cooch Behar before Kuch Bihar Hitaishini Sabha and his lecture was printed at the expense of the Raj in 1865. In his lecture Ram Chandra Ghosh stated that a certain Mech named Haria who lived in Chikna Hill had two wives, called Jira and Hira, by his wife Jira he had two sons Chandan and Madan and by his wife Hira he had two sons named Sisu Singh and Bisu Singh.[9]
Dr. Buchanan says that the progenitor of Koch Bihar family was “a certain Herya who is said to have been of the impure tribe called Mech.”[10] B.H. Hodgson says that Hajo the founder of the Koch kingdom gave his daughter and heiress to a Bodo or Mecch chief in marriage.[11] According to M. Martin also the progenitor of Koch Royal family was Haria Mech.[12]
On the other hand, the Koch-Rajbanshi Jatiyo Mancha claims that Mechpara Zamindar Chaudhury family of Lakhipur Estate originated from Koch and known as Rajbanshi is totally baseless. Contemporary record substantiates that Mechpara Zamindar belonged to Mech tribe. (Vide General Proceedings, Political Department, June 1869, Volume 130. Interested persons may also lay hand on T.S. No. 51 of 1922 Original Suit No. 23 of 1920 of Goalpara Subordinate Judges Court, and T. S. No.3 of 1922, Narendra Narayan Chowdhury of Lakhimpur Versus Nagendra Narayan Chowdhury & others.
Will AKRASU consider the above documentary evidences anti-Koch-Rajbanshi and malign their community? If so, then, I would therefore humbly suggest AKRASU to ask the Government of Assam to ban Darrang Raj Vamsavali based on which book questions were set for examination purpose, and at the same time they should demand that the book should be removed from the earth by setting fire to all the copies of the book. Because the said book distortedly represent the history of the Koch-Rajbanshi because there is no mention of the name Rajbanshi. In addition, they should also ask the Government of India to ban all documentary evidences that malign their history. If they cannot do this then they have got no moral right to blame the Bodos or the BTC administration.

HIRA CHARAN NARJINARI
PRESIDENT
WORLD BODO HISTORICAL SOCIETY

________________________________________

[1] H. Blochman ‘Koch Bihar Koch Hajo Assam’ in JASB 1872 Vol. XLI(I), p.66
[2] Surjya Khari Daibajna, Darrang Raj Vamsabali, Ed. H.C. Goswami, 1917. Vs. 52.
[3] Riyaz-us-Salatin, transl. by Abdus Salam, 1902, p.11
[4] Joynath Ghosh, Rajopakhyan, Ed. Biswanath Das, 1985, p. 7
[5] Munshi Joynath Ghose, Rajopakyan, edited by Biswanath Das, 1985, p.120.
[6] B.C. Bandopadhyaya, Koch Bihar Rajyer Songkhipto Bibaran, 1291 B.S. p.11
[7] H.N. Chaudhuri, The Cooch Behar State and its Land Revenue Settlement, 1903, p.225.
[8] Kayastha Patrika, New Series, Vol. XII, pp.5-6, quoted by N.N. Vasu in his Social History of Kamrup, 1922, Vol.II.
[9] W.W. Hunter, Statistical Account of Bengal, Vol. X, 1876, p.405
[10] Dr. Buchanan, ‘History of Cooch Behar’ in JASB 1838, Vol. VII, p. 11.
[11] B.H. Hodgson, Miscellaneous Essays Relating to Indian Subjects, Vol. I.
[12] Montgomery Martin, The History, Antiquity, Topography, and Statistics of Eastern India, 1838, Vol. III,p.414.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
KOCH BEHAR RAJAS BELONGED TO MECH OR BODO TRIBE ACCORDING TO HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

Hira Charan Narjinari, President
World Bodo Historical Society
Apropos of a news item titled ‘Koch-Rajbongshi Itihas Bikrita Kari So-Janagosthiyo karile Hagramai’ appeared on 18 March 2013 in the Asomiya Pratidin, I, as a President of the World Bodo Historical Society, would like to draw the kind attention of All Koch-Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRASU) and Koch-Rajbongshi Sahitya Sabha (KRSS) to the following facts with regard to their allegation against the BTC Chief Hagrama Mahilary that he has distorted the Koch-Rajbongshi History and is trying to pass their history as Bodo history.

The contention pertains to questions Nos. 16 & 17 that have been set for the examination for the post of Section Assistant in the Irrigation Department conducted by the Central Selection Board, BTC. Both questions are not distortion of facts. Haridas was a sanskritised name of Haoria or Herya Mech. He was a Mech and hailed from the highest Mech or Bodo family.[1]Maharaja Nara Narayan was told in his dream by Siva that unless he worshipped his original god the way his forefathers the Kachari or Mech or Bodo worshipped he will not be successful in the war. So in obedience to the advice he received from Siva in his dream Maharaja Nara Narayan and his brother Chilaray worshipped Bathou on the bank of the river Sankosh before he marched against the Assam king.[2]

The oldest document that speaks about the ethnic identity of the Royal family of Cooch Behar is a chronicle written by a Persian Chronicler named Ibn Muhammad Wali or Shihabuddin Talish. He wrote Fathiya-i-Ibraiya which is also called Tarikh Fath i Asham, or History of the Conquest of Assam. The book was written between 9th August 1662 and 13th May 1663 A.D. This work informs us that the inhabitants of Koch Bihar “since ancient times, are the Mech and Koch tribe. The Rajah belongs to the Mech. He coins gold muhurs and Narain rupees.”[3]When the above book was written the reigning king of Koch Behar was Maharaja Pran Narayan. In other words, Muhammad Talish was quite aware of the fact that Maharaja Pran Narayan was a Mech and that is why he had conclusively stated that the “Rajah belongs to the Mech.”

Under the behest of Samudra Narayan of Darrang Raj Family, Surjya Khari Daibajna wrote about 1791 a book called ‘Darrang Rajvamsavali’ in metrical Assamese in which it has been acknowledged that Biswa Singha’s father named Haoria or Herya or Haridas Mandal hailed from the highest Mech family.[4]

Ghulam Hussain Salim wrote ‘Riyauz-us-Salatin’ in 1787-88 A.D. which was translated into English from the original Persian by Maulavi Abdus Salam. According to Riyaz “Its inhabitants belong to two tribes, namely, Makh (Mech) and Kuj (Koch), its Rajah is of the first tribe.”[5]

In about 1833, under the instruction of Maharaja Harendra Narayan, his personal assistant Joynath Ghosh better known as Joyntha Munshi wrote a book entitled ‘Rajopakhyan’. In Deva Khanda of the said book it is written that the eight-year old Hiradevi and her elder sister Jira were married to Hariya alias Haridas Mech, an inhabitant of Chikina hill.[6] Munshi Joynath Ghose writes that his work was made over to Maharjah Harendra Narayan for his reading and after reading the whole of the same granted as a reward five villages (panchagram) rent-free.[7] The highly learned Maharajah Harendra Narayan did not object to the tracing of the origin of his family to Mech race. In other words, the Maharajah had accepted that his ancestors belonged to Mech tribe. The Maharajah could have asked his Munshi to omit that portion and substitute it with a different story. But he had not done this and accepted what is true.

In 1849, Major Francis Jenkins, the Governor General’s Agent, North East Frontier in his Report to the Government of India reported that ‘Bissoo Sing’ and ‘Sissoo Sing’ were of the Mech or Koch tribe (both Mech and Koch appear of the same tribe).

On the occasion of the Coronation Ceremony of Maharajah Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Bhagabati Charan Bandyopadhyaya wrote a book entitled ‘Koch Bihar Rajyer Songkhipto Bibaran’ with due permission from the Maharajah. In this book the father of Viswa Singh has been named as Hariya Mech.[8] Maharajah Nripendra Narayan, who received English education in India and in England, had also accepted Haria Mech as the progenitor of the Koch Behar Royal family. In 1903, a monumental work entitled ‘The Cooch Behar State and its Land Revenue Settlement’ was published under the order of Maharajah Nripendra Narayan. In this book on page 225 it has been written that both Hira and Jira were “married to a Mech of the name of Hariya, otherwise known as Haridas, who lived in Mount Chikna.”[9] Maharajah Nripendra Narayan highly praised this book and it is obvious that he had gone through the book with great interest. Interestingly the Maharajah had also accepted that his forefathers belonged to Mech tribe or else he would have resented the insertion of the above statement.

A History of Cooch Behar in Bengali was written by Amanatulla Ahmed and published in 1936. In this book also the ancestor of Cooch Behar royal family has been traced to Haria Mech.

Maharajah Biswa Singha’s contemporary landlords or Bhuyans knew him as Mech. Narayan Bhuyan, the head of the Bhuyans emphatically declared before the assemblage of the Bhuyas that “they would never submit to the Mech Chief even if it cost them their territories, wealth and life.”[10]

Ram Chandra Ghosh had delivered a lecture on the origin of the Kingdom of Cooch Behar before Kuch Bihar Hitaishini Sabha and his lecture was printed at the expense of the Raj in 1865. In his lecture Ram Chandra Ghosh stated that a certain Mech named Haria who lived in Chikna Hill had two wives, called Jira and Hira, by his wife Jira he had two sons Chandan and Madan and by his wife Hira he had two sons named Sisu Singh and Bisu Singh.[11]

Dr. Buchanan says that the progenitor of Koch Bihar family was “a certain Herya who is said to have been of the impure tribe called Mech.”[12] B.H. Hodgson says that Hajo the founder of the Koch kingdom gave his daughter and heiress to a Bodo or Mecch chief in marriage.[13]According to M. Martin also the progenitor of Koch Royal family was Haria Mech.[14]

Historical documents cited above conclusively prove that Hagrama Mahilary or BTAD administration has not conspired to distort the History of Cooch Behar (according to AKRASU & KRSS Koch-Rajbongshi History). I would request Koch-Rajbongshi scholars, student leaders and political leaders to make serious research works on the history of the origin of the ancestor of Cooch Behar Royal Family instead of sticking to unfounded notion that Cooch Behar Royal Family belonged to Koch or Rajbansi or Koch-Rajbansi. Historical documents as well as Cooch Behar official history books neither acknowledge Koch or Rajbansi origin nor Koch-Rajbansi origin of the Cooch Behar Royal Family but they trace to Mech or Bodo or Kachari origin.

________________________________________
[1] Surjya Khari Daivajna, Darrang Raj Vamsavali, edited by Henchandra goswami, 1917, Sloka 52
[2] Surjya Khari Daivajna, Darrang Raj Vamsavali, edited by Hemchandra Goswami, 1917, Slokas 324 to 328.
[3] H. Blochman ‘Koch Bihar Koch Hajo Assam’ in JASB 1872 Vol. XLI(I), p.66
[4] Surjya Khari Daibajna, Darrang Raj Vamsabali, Ed. H.C. Goswami, 1917. Vs. 52.
[5] Riyaz-us-Salatin, transl. by Abdus Salam, 1902, p.11
[6] Joynath Ghosh, Rajopakhyan, Ed. Biswanath Das, 1985, p. 7
[7] Munshi Joynath Ghose, Rajopakyan, edited by Biswanath Das, 1985, p.120.
[8] B.C. Bandopadhyaya, Koch Bihar Rajyer Songkhipto Bibaran, 1291 B.S. p.11
[9] H.n. Chaudhuri, The Cooch Behar State and its Land Revenue Settlement, 1903, p.225.
[10] Kayastha Patrika, New Series, Vol. XII, pp.5-6, quoted by N.N. Vasu in his Social History of Kamrup, 1922, Vol.II.
[11] W.W. Hunter, Statistical Account of Bengal, Vol. X, 1876, p.405
[12] Dr. Buchanan, ‘History of Cooch Behar’ in JASB 1838, Vol. VII, p. 11.
[13] B.H. Hodgson, Miscellaneous Essays Relating to Indian Subjects, Vol. I.
[14] Montgomery Martin, The History, Antiquity, Topography, and Statistics of Eastern India, 1838, Vol. III, p.414.

Bodos Script Movement

Bodos Script Movement

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The date September 28, 1974, is a remarkable day for Bodos for on this day as many as 15 people sacrificed their lives for the Roman Script Movement from across the State. Amlaram Boro and Sibaram Boro of Barpeta, Haitharam Basumatary and Bisthuram Basumatary of Kokrajhar, Khansai Boro, Kanteswar Boro Budhbar Boro, Dina Boro and Manshi Goyari of Bijni, Ajendranath Basumatary and Nidhiram Narjary of Athgaon, Angelish Baglary of Orang, Sombar Mochahary of Darrang, Gobinda Narayan Basumatary of Garufela and Phoniram Daimari of Rowta Chariali under the present BTDA area made the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of Assam Police and miscreants for the Roman script. Since then, in the later years, under the patronage of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Bodos have been observing the day as ‘Dikhar Shaan’ which means ‘Martyrs’ Day.’ It may be mentioned here that Bodos constitute the second largest community in the North-east region of India with centuries-old social, political and cultural heritage. The Bodo language is the mother tongue in the Bodo-dominated areas. It is an offshoot of the Sino-Tibetan language family and the first and only scheduled Sino language of the Indian Constitution. Records state that the Bodo-speaking community is well spread throughout Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, West Bengal, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Bihar and some adjoining parts of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The Bodo language has been recognised as the official language of the BTAD area and associate official language of the Assam Government since 1984. The Bodo Kachari kings used the ‘Deodhai’ scripts to write this language. Cultural icon Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha wrote that “the Deodhai script, which is comparable to old Brahmin script specimens, is still available in the stone pillar wreckages and main gate to the royal palace of the Kachari kings in Dimapur.” However, in the later years, the Bodos used the Roman, Assamese and Devanagiri scripts to write their language. The Roman script was used by the Christian missionaries to write the Bodo language in their religious books towards the last part of the 19th century. When Bodo-medium school education was started in 1963, the Assam Government imposed the Assamese language on the Bodos. However, the Bodos raised their demand for the use of the Roman script. The Bodo Sahitya Sabha, in its 15th annual conference held at Khelmati, Sonitpur with a three-day programme from March 15 in 1974, resolved to launch a movement, demanding the use of the Roman script which later became the Roman Script Movement. The movement turned into a vigorous one in September, 1974 in which as many as 15 people were killed in police firing at various places across the State. But in the later period, due to the alleged apathy of the Government and the Education department, proper measures for the development of the Roman script were not taken up sincerely. Many Bodo-medium schools have been lying idle while many others are yet to be provincialised. Expressing resentment over the issue, the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, said, “For the development of the Bodo language, we have placed demands like special reservation in selection of Bodo-medium school teachers through TET, supply of sufficient books to students, provincialisation of Bodo-medium schools, etc., before the Government, but the Government has totally failed to address our grievances. If our demands are not fulfilled, the supreme sacrifices of the 15 martyrs will not be recognised in a proper sense. So we appeal to the Government to deal with the issue sincerely.”