Google Hangouts session on Indian History with Vision India Foundation , IIT D , IIT R students

Some days ago, I was invited for a Google Hangout session by a group of IIT Delhi and IIT Roorkee students, some of them associated with a group named Vision India foundation. It was indeed a privilege and honour for me to interact with them. A big thank you to Shubham Kumar for organizing the whole thing.  A wide variety of topics were discussed, right from what inspired me to write Brahmaputra to why is the general outlook towards Indian history the way it is etc. It was a sort of question answer session. Unfortunately we could not do a video recording, but Ishan Batta very helpfully noted down the questions that were asked during the interaction, so now I can present it in this format. Hope you enjoy reading it.  More like a transcript.
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Well so there we are , technology being put to good use here – me sitting in Australia and some of them are  in India, rest of them in the United States. We had to decide not just an appropriate time but appropriate time zone too. Pleasantries get exchanged. A brief intro round follows, participants in the interaction are students, working professionals, students pursuing a PhD etc. After which we try recording the whole thing, but doesn’t work out. Anyways, it is to be a discussion where I answer questions. There are nine – ten of us.  It’s something I am really looking forward too

Q : How did you go about researching for Brahmaputra – The Story of Lachit Barphukan ? 

A : Researching was not very easy, if I have to compare with research for my earlier book, Sahyadris to Hindukush. Reference books are not easy to come by when it comes to Assamese history. But my trip to Guwahati was really helpful, they have this area there called Pan Bazaar which has lots of old well established bookshops. So that’s where I found the best reference books. Also, there is Dept of Historical and Antiquarian Studies near the Guwahati High Court, where I found this awesome book called Tarikh e Ashaam – greatly helped me painting an accurate picture of the times. This was the reading and reference part. I also went to various places in and around Guwahati associated with Lachit Barphukan. So that really helped me in creating an atmosphere in the book that could immerse a person in seventeenth century Assam. And last but not the least, I spoke to Assamese people, both when in Assam and from home. That gave me a good overview of the Tai Ahom customs, culture and most importantly what the name Lachit Barphukan means for the average Assamese person.

Q: We have a narrative for Freedom Struggle . Is there a similar narrative about the counter to Islamic invasions ?

A : Yes, as far back as 736 AD, a grand alliance of Indian kings defeated an Arab invasion which threatened everything from Kashmir to Gujarat. Alliance which included Bappa Rawal , Nagabhatta , Chalukyas of Badami etc. I have written about it in some detail in this DNA Article  . Then we have Raja Suheldev and Battle of Baraich, the efforts of Hemchandra and further in the south we had Vijayanagar Empire , Chhatrapati Shivaji and Maratha empire. Talking of the east we have the Eastern Ganga and Gajapati dynasties of Odisha and ofcourse the Ahoms of Assam. But unfortunately all this is rather ignored.

Q: Why do you think that is the case ?

A : Well , I would say because we have had one particular ideology dominating the discourse for the past sixty – seventy years. The formal study course with regards to history is still centered around Delhi Sultanates etc . I have given talks in schools and colleges, and students are totally ignorant of other facets of  India’s history, even those which affected the whole subcontinent. But fortunately with help of social media , books etc an alternate narrative is slowly forming and becoming popular.

Q: And having a favourable government at centre will definitely help in this.

A : Well let us hope so. So far not much has been done. Anyways, I would concentrate on how can I contribute to building this alternate narrative.

Q: List of books you would suggest for someone wanting to know more about medieval India ? 

A : I have written on Maratha history and Assamese history, so I will limit myself to that.
I found GS Sardesai’s books extremely informative and useful when writing my first book. Also books such as Seir Mutaqherin, and those by Kincaid and Parasnis. On Assamese history , Prof H K Barpujari’s books are quite detailed and extensive. Tarikh e Ashaam, like I mentioned earlier, is also a good contemporary source. S K Bhuyan another name which comes to mind. British authors have also written extensively, on every region in the country and their books are readily accessible today. But, one must be wary of the pro – British slant as also some errors in their work.

Q: Mughal – Assam struggle had nothing to do with Hindu – Muslim. Will that be correct way to put it ? 
A : Actually Ram Singh was leading Mughal armies of essentially Aurangzeb. In the years preceding and following this struggle, he had issued many edicts which were solely aimed at Hindus – such as Jaziya. So Lachit Barphukan, in achieving what he did, definitely protected the Indic way of life and Assamese culture from the depradations of the Mughal empire. He laid the foundations on which kings like Rudra Singha and Rajeshwar Singha could build. So I would say it was a struggle between Assam and Mughals to protect and preserve the age old Indic culture of the North East.

Q : When you started writing , was there an interest in historical fiction which inspired you ?

A : My interest in history, Maratha history, was sparked in large part due to my trekking hobby. I started off wanting to write a story that was entirely fiction, but then as I read more and more on the topic, I realised that a dramatisation of actual events, without playing around with historical facts will appeal more. And thats how I went about writing my first book – Sahyadris to Hindukush.

Q : How do you keep all those facts and references you read together ; and manage to weave it into a book ? 

A : Well, I would say my second book – Brahmaputra – I managed to plan it way I wanted to. Essentially you should be clear about the time period you want the book to fit in, so automatically anything beyond that is not required to be read in detail. Some people follow a set time everyday to write – might work for them, does not work for me . I prefer writing for six – eight hours on one day and then nothing at all for next few days. Helps to note relevant reference books when working on certain chapter. If I felt some part of the story needed more exploring to do reference wise, I would make a note there that more referencing needs to be done and move on. Even my chapters are not written in one order from start  to finish, it all depended on how best my ideas were formed.

Q : Writing as a part time career ? 

A : Well , can’t really say, since I would call mine a “hobby” . But definitely if it is being looked at as a full or part earning source than the question of how much are you capable of earning via your writing and books comes in. It is not easy, since writing a book is just the first step towards earning anything out of it.

Q : Coming back to history, Aneesh do you think Aurangzeb’s motives were religious or purely political ? 

A: I would call it religio – political. Aurangzeb was a pious and devout person. His religious worldview definitely impacted his politics. At a time when people were in general much more religious, it would be hard to separate the two. He passed many religious edicts, which had nothing to do with politics. And he heavily depended on the clergy for his political hold on the far flung empire, passing many laws compliant with the Sharia, but shorn of administrative or political logic.

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Many thanks Aneesh, it was a great session interacting with you. Hope we can look forward to more sessions like these and also meeting in person if possible.

Been my pleasure. Thank you.

Aneesh Gokhale’s two books can be purchased at Amazon India

Why have I chosen to write “Brahmaputra”

Do check out this great animation on Lachit Barphukan of which I was happy to be a part in providing the info . Many thanks to Akshay Joshi for the same.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fOayADK5NY

Book : Brahmaputra

Pgs : 232  , Price : Rs 250

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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 …..

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Brahmaputra – Sample pages

BRAHMAPUTRA – The Story of Lachit Barphukan, Assamese contemporary of Chhatrapati Shivaji 

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Chapter 1

Jayadhwaj Singha

Jayadhwaj Singha, king of the Ahoms, was wearing the ochre coloured robes of a simple soldier. His sword, a weapon with a long hilt and a straight blade called a heng dang which denoted his royal stature was missing, and his arms had been covered with cuts and bruises. Tears trickled down his face, mingling with the constant drizzle. He was glad that no one could see his tear stained face, but there was no escaping the lump in his throat which felt heavy and gnawed at his very soul. He turned his gaze to his left, to a little mound jutting out of the third. It was a burial vault of one of his ancestors. The burial vault was an echo of his ancient Tai Ahom tribal religion of Fralung – much of which had been given up by the Ahoms. But the age old Fralung practise of burying the dead along with the deceased person’s possessions and treasures had stood the test of time and a fast changing civilisation.  Jayadhwaj Singha’s heart ached as he saw the Mughal soldiers attack the burial vault with pick axes, hammers, shovels and swords. Fury raged in his eyes. But there was little he could do about it.

Far above him, the dark dank clouds converged into an ugly black mass, adding to the gloominess already enveloping the Ahom king. He looked away as the Mughal soldiers began looting the sacred burial vaults of his forefathers. His gaze turned to the east, where two huge black stallions towered above the landscape, reaching into the grey skies. Grotesque in shape and gigantic in size with eyes that seemed empty and lifeless. Astride one was a colossal figure with a white beard and high cheekbones. He was wearing the rich robes of a Mughal noble and a richly adorned pagdi, watching the Mughal soldiers go about defiling the burial vault. On the stallion beside him, was a wicked looking man sitting in the saddle. He too wore the exquisite robes of a Mughal noble. Fair of skin and with cold and cruel eyes, his samsher hung from his cummerbund, still stained with blood. His Afghan turban rested easily on his head, with an end dangling carelessly over his shoulder. Jayadhwaj Singha recognised the two as Mir Jumla and Diler Khan – Mughal sardars who had tormented the Ahoms. Suddenly he heard a little girl crying. He turned around, only to see his own daughter of six years, standing there, clutching her rag doll. What was she doing there? In the midst of the Mughal soldiers and those two Mughal sardars he wondered? He felt someone was looking at him, and turned around to find Mir Jumla glaring at him, with cold, unfeeling eyes.
“The Ahom king must no longer even look at his own daughter. She belongs to the Mughal harem now” the figure on the ugly black stallion bellowed. The cruel conditions of the treaty he had signed at Gilijharighat came back flooding to Jayadhwaj Singha ….

“Aaah…” said  Jayadhwaj Singha and awoke with a start. He could feel his heart pounding. Sweat trickled down his forehead. Outside, the cold, dark night stretched into the distance. The unnerving silence pervading everything being broken only by the rhythmic chirping of crickets. Jayadhwaj Singha’s breathing was heavy. All the horrors of the past few months had been brought alive in one cruel nightmare. Tears welled up in his eyes as he remembered his daughter, a mere child of six years, now in the Mughal harem. He mutterd to himself, asking for her forgiveness. The frightening images of the Mughal soldiers danced before his eyes. And what good was he? He had heard whispers that the people were calling him “bhagodiya raja” for having abandoned his capital of Gargaon and sought shelter in the hills of Namrup to the east. But how was he to explain that the arduous journey to the small village of Bakata was also for his people alone – to regroup his armies and inspire them to  fight the Mughals once again. The Ahom king coughed loudly and felt a liquid thud into his hands. The commotion woke up his wife, who rushed towards her husband. Jayadhwaj Singha coughed again and blood splattered onto his simple white clothes. His wife frantically called for the vaidyas and deodhais. Attendants rushed about in panic. Jayadhwaj Singha knew his end was near. He felt drained and spent, both physically and emotionally. With a voice barely audible and symptomatic of the great pain he was in, he whispered to his wife “Send for my cousin, Supungmung” He said the words in great pain.

“Quickly, rush to his camp across the stream and bring him here. Tell him to reach here as soon as possible” his wife shouted, her voice having more than a hint of panic.

“He will rule after me … Supungmung… tell him so….” Jayadhwaj Singha’s breathing was heavy as he spoke. His queen was crying, her tears streaming down her face and staining them. She held Jayadhwaj Singha’s hand, hoping for a miracle. The vaidyas and deodhais frantically brought herbs and potions for the king, but with every passing minute, Jayadhwaj Singha’s condition only worsened. He coughed once again, staining the white clothes of the deodhai a deep red. Then suddenly the hand went limp, and Jayadhwaj Singha’s heart stopped beating forever….

© Aneesh Gokhale

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Review of Brahmaputra in DNA Newspaper.

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(You can visit the original link given  below)

Review in DNA newspaper

Book – Brahmaputra : The Story of Lachit Barphukan, Assamese contemporary of Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Publisher : Shree Vyankatesh Prakashan

Edition : First. (Sept 2015)

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The almost-unknown story of Lachit Borphukan, the Ahom warrior who stood up to the mighty Mughals, flows as smoothly as the Brahmaputra itself, with the author interspersing historical fact with a vivid Amar Chitra Katha-like narrative, says Amlan Jyoti Hazarika —

The name may not ring a bell for most outside Assam, but the story of Lachit Borphukan, a great warrior and a contemporary of Chhatrapati Shivaji, is the stuff of legend and folklore. As Aneesh Gokhale’s narrative suggests, the two men had similar traits and destinies, especially their love for their land and people and the unflinching determination to defend both in the face of danger. While Shivaji’s sphere of action was middle India, especially the Maratha-ruled kingdoms around Pune, Lachit fought valiantly to get the adversaries out of his motherland, Assam. Their foe – the marauding Mughals.

Brahmaputra flows as smoothly as the river itself. What keeps one glued to the tale is Gokhale’s unusual manner of storytelling interspersed with historical facts and Amar Chitra Katha-like depiction.

The story is set during the rule of Emperor Aurangzeb, who had brought nearly all of India under his dominion but faced two challenges – in the west and in the north-east. Most of us know about Shivaji and the Marathas, but few know of Lachit and the Ahoms, who ruled over modern Assam and surrounding areas for over 600 years before it was annexed by the British in 1826.

Gokhale must be applauded for his effort to bring to ‘mainland’ India the little-known story of a man who stood up successfully to a mighty power.

The stories of Shivaji, a king, and Lachit, commander of the Assamese army, run parallel to each other, bound, as the author puts it, by their “undying patriotism, will to set right historical wrongs and the bravery needed to stand up to a huge empire”.

In 1661, Aurangzeb deputed commanders Mir Jumla and Diler Khan to Bengal and Assam and Shaiste Khan to the Deccan. While the huge Mughal army under Mir Jumla conquered parts of Assam till Guwahati, Shaiste Khan wrested Pune’s Lal Mahal.

The Mughals decimated everything in their way. Swargadeo Chakradhwaj Singha, the Ahom monarch, was worried. Sitting in his court in capital Gargaon, about 400km from Guwahati, he contemplated the future of his beloved land. Then his gaze fell on Lachit – the leader of his bodyguards. A tough, well-built man with his heng dang (like a Samurai sword) dangling from his cummerbund.

Lachit was made the Borphukan (commander) of the army. Guwahati was eventually won back from the Mughals. But Lachit knew that was just the beginning. Aurangzeb would certainly send a larger force to regain his lost ground. And so he did, with the famed Ram Singh as commander.

The author goes on to regale readers with details of the epic battle. The Assamese army started fortifying Guwahati on the banks of the Brahmaputra. A messenger conveyed the news that Ram Singh had almost reached Guwahati. It was getting dark, and part of an important fort had still not been completed. The man overseeing the work was Lachit’s own maternal uncle. A furious Lachit thundered, “My uncle is not greater than my motherland”, and ordered him to be beheaded.

Over the next few days, Lachit fell ill. When he learnt of Lachit’s illness, Ram Singh moved his fleet forward in the ocean-like river. Lachit wrapped a shawl over his body, unsheathed his heng dang, and boarded his boat. The Mughals faced a resounding defeat in the naval battle of Saraighat in 1671. That was the end of the Mughals in Assam.

The waters of the Brahmaputra flowed as smoothly as ever.

 © Amlan Jyoti Hazarika

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Foreword to Brahmaputra by Padmashree Achyut Gokhale (IAS , Nagaland cadre)

BRAHMAPUTRA - The Story of Lachit Barphukan, Assamese contemporary of Chhatrapati Shivaji

 

Mr. Achyut Madhav Gokhale is a Padmashree awardee . He served in Nagaland cadre of IAS for 23 years as also for 12 in the  Central Secretariat. He was Member Secretary of a GoI Committee set up to study the Bodo agitation, which gave him deep insights into Assamese culture and history. He has written this book’s foreword. Read about him here

Book – “  Brahmaputra ” – The Story of Lachit Barphukan 

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FOREWORD

There was so much of ignorance, born out of indifference perhaps, about the states to the east of Bengal , that some 10 or 20 years ago, people did not know which way the mighty Brahmaputra flowed, whether Shillong was north or south of the river etc . Today of course things are better,though indifference lingers. Many many tourist buses from all over the country visit Assam and the surrounding hill states, and peoples general awareness has improved. It is in the context of the not yet past awful ignorance,  that a young writer, Aneesh Gokhale, has dared to probe the history of Assam.

A most welcome sign.

It was awe inspiring to read “BRAHMAPUTRA”,  a novel by Aneesh Gokhale on the life and times of a true hero of the country,  Lachit Barphukan, popularly known as The Shivaji of Assam. Now I am ready to call Shivaji the Lachit of Maharashtra !

There is so much I never knew about Assam and its history, except what I read and heard about during my one year as the Member Secretary of a committee of the Government of India formed in 1991 for studying the Bodo agitation and making recommendations on what could be done . That time, I did read quite a few books and documents, but most of these related to the British rule in Assam, from 1826. Lachit Barphukan’s times were more than 150 years before the end of the Ahom rule in 1826.

I was  in the Indian Administrative Service, in the Nagaland cadre, spent altogether 23 years under the Government of Nagaland. Apart from being familiar with typically Ahom names, such as Phukan, Chetia, Gohain, Doloi, Baruah etc, there was no knowledge of Assam, except about the mighty river which we call Brahmaputra, and people of the region variously call Dilao or Luhit or Siang. Also much hearsay about the princess of Bodos, Hidimba, her son Ghatotkach, Who is said to have participated  in the family feud of North India called the Mahabharat, in which Prince Ghatotkach, son of Bhim and Princess Hidimba, died a hero’s death. I am deliberately using a description which some learned Bodos gave me.

So, when Aneesh asked me to pen down a foreword, and handed over his first drafts, I became curious again about the history of Assam. As I read through,Ii found every event that he describes in the book, completely new to me. For example that the gigantic armies of the Mughal emperors and others before that had repeatedly attempted to subjugate the Ahom kingdom but they were finally routed by a person called Lachit, the Borphukan (Commander in Chief), and what was new to me was that the final battle took place entirely on the waters of the great river in the vicinity of todays Guwahati. It was a naval battle, on the ocean like river, fought at places which Lachit chose as most suitable for his boat-fleet and most unsuitable for the ship-fleet of the Mughals.

Aneesh is my nephew and i am very proud that some one representing the second generation of post independence India, has tenaciously pursued his quest to find out about the times when Shivaji was bringing the Goliath of the  mughal armies to the knees, and in some other part of India’s someone with the same guts and pride, Barphukan Lachit, was trouncing the Goliath.

Aneesh made tremendous efforts in the making of the book – of visiting Assam, and looking at the sites where fighting between the Ahom Armies and Mughals took place, talking to people there who,traditionally speak very little. This focussed mind is rare these days of globalisation and investment of time and money in merely selling popcorn.

I and my wife, Savita, are grateful to God to give us an opportunity to see someone in  our next generation, nephew Aneesh, who has the mind and the guts to tread paths which are untread these days.

We wish the book all the best and wish Aneesh continues his quest without let up.

Achyut Madhav Gokhale, IAS (Retired)

Mumbai

August 2015.

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Lachit Barphukan – A few interesting anecdotes .

The far flung region of North East India is seldom mentioned in our history books ! One such unsung hero is Lachit Barphukan, the Assamese commander who defeated the huge Mughal armies of Aurangzeb, commandeered by none other than Ram Singh, the Raja of Amer. The Battle of Saraighat is an extremely famous naval battle, fought on the river Brahmaputra, which finally crushed all Mughal hopes. Lachit Barphukan was the hero of that battle, as he rallied his forces against the Mughals even while he himself was very ill and weak. Lachit Barphukan’s undying patriotism and sense of duty is what endeared him to his king, his Prime Ministers and all his soldiers. Today, Lachit’s is a household name across Assam. The mere mention of Lachit Barphukan brings a smile to the lips of the Assamese. Even the receptionist at the nearby Assam Bhavan looked genuinely happy when I spoke to him about Lachit Barphukan. Moreover, when I had visited Guwahati for researching for my book on the great man, I could see genuine admiration for Lachit Barphukan amongst a variety of people, be it rickshawallahs , museum caretakers, school teachers etc. I was instantly reminded of the admiration and adulation Chhatrapati Shivaji evokes in Maharashtra.Many a times, it is the small anecdotes or important remarks made by a person that grant him respect and immortality. Lachit Barphukan is one such person. Here I will describe two incidents from his life which have become folklore now in Assam. Following this are a few statements attributed to Lachit Barphukan, which bring out his qualities as a statesman and commander

1. Momai Kota Garh – ( Garh where uncle was slaughtered)

Perhaps the most well known of anecdotes during the war with the Mughals. Lachit Barphukan had recaptured all the Assamese areas lost to Mir Jumla and Diler Khan by Aug 1667. The city of Guwahati had once again passed into Assamese hands. Lachit Barphukan knew that Aurangzeb would once again send a large force to retake Guwahati – which he did in the form of Ram Singh and his 80,000+ soldiers. Lachit Barphukan’s plan was simple – he intended to fortify and guard the city of Guwahati so as to prevent the Mughals from sailing further east to Gargaon, the capital. All possible resources were thrown into the war effort. By the time Ram Singh reached Dhaka from Agra and began sailing towards Guwahati, the embankments and fortifications were complete – save for one very crucial patch. The person in charge was Lachit’s own maternal uncle. Lachit Barphukan realized that time was short and exhorted his uncle to keep working through the night so that the embankment would be complete. It was afterall , just a question of a few more hours of work. But Lachit’s uncle completely ignored his orders !The next morning, Lachit Barphukan beheaded his own maternal uncle for dereliction of duty and being callous towards defending the Brahmaputra Valley. For Lachit Barphukan, his attitude amounted to treason – punishable by death.* The exact location of the embankment is unknown, but the story itself is very popular as Assamese folklore.


2. The envoys and Ram Singh

A little story which happened during the Mughal invasion of Assam around 1668 : Around that year , Ram Singh had led a huge Mughal army into the Brahmaputra and a few skirmishes with Assamese outposts on the river had followed . Still , it was early days , and both Lachit Barphukan , the Assamese commander and Ram Singh wanted to try out negotiating a settlement instead of plunging headlong into war . So , as part of the talks , Ramcharan and Nim , two Assamese envoys , once reached Ram Singh’s camp bearing Lachit Barphukan’s message . Over there , Ram Singh had a couple of beautiful wooden birds on display , the likes of which neither Ramcharan nor Nim had ever seen ! . Knowing it would be very difficult to obtain these birds elsewhere , Ramcharan requested and begged the Mughals to gift him one . Ram Singh agreed and gifted him two instead ! . On hearing about this , Lachit Barphukan was furious . He immediately summoned Ramcharan and had him bound in iron fetters . Lachit had clearly marked out duties for everyone on the battlefield . He himself was steadfast in his duty of keeping Assam free and expected the same from everyone else . His messenger’s duty was to deliver a message and do nothing more . Accepting the gifts amounted to going against orders and in a way accepting a bribe . Lachit Barphukan had seen how infighting , turncoats and bribes had given Assam to Mir Jumla just five years earlier .He would not let it repeat again .

Quotes attributed to Lachit Barphukan –

“ As for Ram Singh’s request to give him fight for an hour, I would like to say we are prepared to fight as long as there remains a drop of blood in our veins”  

–  Lachit to Ram Singh as told to Firoz Khan

“ Tell your men I am going to die on this spot and I will never think of abandoning my charge. I have bought a slice of earth on Chila Hill which will provide sufficient accommodation for my remains. If I survive, I shall go after all the people have left this place” –

Lachit Barphukan at battle of Saraighat.

“ His majesty has given me supreme command of my army. He has put all faith in me so that I may fight the enemy. Should I now desert the fight and revert to the embraces of my wives and children”

– Lachit Barphukan at Battle of Saraighat on being advised to take rest.

Ref : Lachit Barphukan and His Times – S.K. Bhuyan _________________________________________________________________
© Aneesh GokhaleYou can read more about and purchase my book on Lachit Barphukan here