Book : Brahmaputra
Pgs : 232 , Price : Rs 250
Why have I chosen to write a book on Lachit Barphukan ? A person largely unknown outside his native Assam ?
I had chanced upon an Amar Chitra Katha (comic book series on various personalities) on Lachit Barphukan around fifteen years ago. The Assamese warrior valiantly fought against the Mughal empire. What really spiked my interest were the similarities between the Assamese and Maratha warriors of those days – Lachit Barphukan being a contemporary of the great Shivaji Maharaj. The undying patriotism , willingness to set right historical wrongs and the bravery needed to stand up to a huge empire. The ability of Lachit Barphukan to rally his men to the common cause of freedom and the exquisite use of men , resources and terrain to achieve this aim are further similarities . Thus , Lachit Barphukan of Assam is an immensely inspirational figure. Unfortunately , he is totally unknown outside the North East , although his exploits had made Aurangzeb take notice. Hence , I decided to write a book on this great persona .
Research for the book was not easy. There is lot more material readily available on the Marathas and Mughals than on the Ahoms (rulers of Assam from 1206 to 1826). I undertook a trip to Guwahati for this purpose. I Visited the places where mighty battles were fought between the Ahoms and the Mughals. Took in the scenery and imagined how would it have been back in the 17th century. The crowded bookstores of Pan Bazaar proved extremely useful , leading me to books I would never have found otherwise.I am extremely greatful to all who helped me in this.
The average Assamese talks with great pride about Lachit Barphukan.Even the receptionist at the Assam Bhavan in Navi Mumbai broke into a broad smile on the mention of Lachit’s name. They have the same adulation for him , that Maharashtrians have for Shivaji.
A note on comparing Shivaji and Lachit Barphukan here. While there are many similarities in their personalities , there are also some fundamental differences . Primarily , Shivaji was a king and Barphukan was a senapati or commander. Their backgrounds were very different.Hence I would desist from literal comparisons. Having said that , both were immensely inspirational and both fought for their people and the Indic way of life. Many names familiar to Marathi readers crop up in Assam’s history – Aurangzeb , Shaiste Khan , Mir Jumla , Diler Khan , Ram Singh etc . This book also touches upon these little known connections .
In this book, I have used the word Assamese to denote the general people and troops on the army. The word Ahom has been used to denote the ruling dynasty and their courtiers, commanders which were dominated by this race.
Lets begin the journey then in 1663 A.D at Gargaon in Eastern Assam with the Assamese under the Mughals. Their land destroyed , their temples broken and their king being made to bow to a humiliating treaty …..