Author : Jyotirupa Gogoi
Chao-Lung Sukapha, the founder of the Ahom dynasty can be regarded as the Father of the Assamese. Although he never mentioned himself as an Ahom, the name was thrust on him and his followers by the natives of the country and even the name Asom got universally known only after the coming of Sukapha to kamrupa. It was Sukapha who sowed the seeds of Assamese nationalism and culture. Thus, he shines and shines alone in the firmament of Assam history like a bright star.
Sukapha was the third son of Phu-Chang-Khang alias Chao Changnyeu,a scion of Mong-Ri mong-Ram line of kings of Khun-Long’s family.Phu-Chang-Khang who married the daughter of Chao Tai-Pung of Chen-Se,was made Chao-Pha of Mong-Mit-Klingdao(Mong-Mit-Keng-Lao)in A.D. 1202 or 1204.Sukapha,who was twenty three years installed as the king of the father’s states Mong-Mit-Keng-Lao in A.D.1209.He ruled over the kingdom with great ability for eighteen years. But after that he was disappointed as he had to surrender its independence to the Mong Mao Chief.Perhaps, it was the major cause of his desire to leave his homeland. But the immediate cause of his departure from his kingdom was a conflict in AD 1227 between Su-Khan-Pha and the ruler of the country called Jun-Lung (or Yun Lung or Yun Lon) over the boundaries of their respective kingdoms in which he was asked to join. But Sukapha did not respond to his call. He knew well that Su Khan Pha was too powerful for him. Thus, he decided to quit his country and went to Magaung where prince Noi-San-Pha was ruling.
When Sukapha came away from his original kingdom Mong Mao Lung, now situated in Dehong Dai-Singpho Autonomous prefecture within Unnan in china, he brought with him a large force composed of cavalry and infantry armed with canons, guns and gun powder so as to be able to fight his enemies and also there were other followers and servants. He was honourably welcomed by Noi-San-Pha and allowed for his stay in the capital with his army. Having learnt from Sukapha all about the political developments in Mao Lung and reason why he quit his kingdom, Noi-San-Pha desired that he should possess a new kingdom in the south western part of Nara country, apparently the Upper Chindwin region which was inhabited by tribes.Probably, at this time Sukapha received an invitation from General Sam-Long-pha and decided to proceed to Assam(then known as Saumar).
On his way to Mong-Dun-Sun-Kham,Sukapha had to give battles with antagonists very often and he won victory. Those who submitted to him were allowed to settle in their original abode by paying tributes. At last, in Lakni Mongkou,he found out a suitable place Che-tam-doi(Charaideo)and established there his permanent capital inA.D.1252.He ruled the kingdom for eighteen years and called his kingdom Mong-Dun-Sun-Kham(the land full of garden gold)which extended up to Patkai region. The total period of his rule in Saumar Peeth was thirty six years and he died at the age of seventy seven years or in A.D.1268.Surrounding the capital city of Charaideo,different towns and villages grew up with splendid avenue of Nahor trees,artificial irrigation channels,tanks and groves of fine old mango and jack fruit trees which are unmistakable sign of a former flourishing population.
The administration system introduced by Sukapha in newly founded state was based on a limited monarchy in which kingship was based on the male line. He had two ministers to assist him in the administration.They were Burhagohain and Borgohain.
Sukapha carried on friendly relationship with Nagas,Morans,Borahis,etc.and in order to keep it intact he himself married four brides from the Borahi and Moran family.Sukapha was a bold, courageous and far-sighted ruler who could easily unit his newly conquered territory without resorting to arms. He professed his own religion ‘Ancestor Worship’ but never imposed his language or religion upon his subjects. Pundits were instructed to write “Who is dead, whom we meet on the way and the conversation made with him”.Thus, Buranji was written. At the relevant time there was no written history in India.
Sukapha followed the code of Lengdon, who was his great ancestor, to administer his country."Cherish and protect your subjects as your own children. Employ secret emissaries to ascertain their condition. Bring capital criminals to condign punishment. Reverence the virtuous. Nourish kine and Brahmanas.Prefer four cared advice to six cared councel;(viz;don’t act upon counsel taken jointly with two other advisers, but rely upon the united deliberations of a single counselor with yourself).Avoid the evil consequences of delaying the execution of a measure the expediency of which is determined on by acting promptly upon your decisions at all times. Let not the demands of equity be superceded by the dictates of injustice. The law of land, the institution of acts and the right and usages of the families are to be upheld. All cabals are to be suppressed. The purse proud worlding is to be humiliated. Old, obedient and faithful servants are to be rewared. Should you conjecturally infer that any person imagines evil to you though in thought let them be removed…Let not might prevail over right; but let the strong who oppresses be diligently searched out: thus shall your country be benefited be increased security. Closet the experienced sages of your court and learn from them the lessons of morality, justice and good government…”
Further, Chao-Lung Sukapha discussed various matters with the officers like Burhagohain and Borgohain. But the final decision was made by him. The laws that were followed during the reign of Sukapha were not customary laws alone as observed by Edward Gait. Some customary laws were universal and natural. He was educated and trained in all branches of laws and customs of then time.
Sukapha was the progenitor of wet rice civilization in Assam with dykes and drainage system in the fertile valley of Non-ti-lou.Prior to sukapha’s advent the people of this land practiced the slash and burn (jhum) and dry cultivation. Barren lands were also used.Thus, it resulted unlimited production in the agricultural sector. Besides, he introduced ploughing by single buffalo in Assam.
The art of weaving is said to be introduced by the Ahoms led by Sukapha in Assam.They gave special attention for the growth and development of sericulture i.e., pat, muga, eri as household industry. The women played significant role in this field. They were so expert in the art of weaving that they could able to prepare a special kind of cloth known as ‘Kabas’ within a single night starting from spinning of yarn to weaving of cloth.This kind of rare dexterity of womenflok in handloom weaving in the period ofAhomsappears to have been reflected in the present day Assamese society also.This is borne out by the observation of Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Assam in 1923 when he said that women were capable of weaving fairy tales on their handloom fabrics.
The system of writing history is an important contribution of Sukapha to the assamese literature. It is mentioned above that Sukapha ordered pundits to put all the important events of the course of time in black and white.It was the traditional method of Tai-Ahom of recording events. It was based upon minute and scientific observation. Its character was to record even the disagreeable truths. The sentence making system, phrases and idioms etc.,used in the Buranjis were valuable contributions to the Assamese literature.
From what has been stated, it is apparent that Sukapha was a man of strong self determination and self confidence. He loved freedom and peace.He was a great warrior and a dare devil too.The rare and uncommon historical personage paved the way for national unity and solidarity for greater Assam and Assamese society.Sukapha inaugurated the process of assimilation among the diversified ethnic groups residing in greater Assam.He offered a glorious heritage of unity,toleration and co-existance which we are to imbibe amidst mutual distrust, ethnic pride and prejudices, violent communal clashes, disunity and final destruction. At last,Sukapha created a new epoch in the history of North-east India for all time to come.