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Golden book at Balijan pagoda drawing attention
Suryya kumar chetia
 JORHAT, Oct 2 – The old pagoda at Balijan near Titabor in Jorhat district has preserved a ‘golden book’ with dazzling bright leaves and containing some distinct scripts not intelligible to the people of the region. The voluminous book with gilded leaves has been an object of attraction at the Buddhist temple which is arousing curiosity in the minds of the people regarding contents.

Bhante Amritananda Mahathera, president of the Sadou Asam Buddha Mahasabha and the Adhakhya of the Buddha Vihar at Balijan told this correspondent that the golden book was donated to the pagoda by the Burmese general Mingi Maha Bandula as a token of fraternity towards the Tai Khamyang community residing there during the early part of the 19th century.

Bandula, who was sent by the ruler Bagyidaw in Burma (now Myanmar), defeated the forces of the Ahom king, Chandrakanta Singha in April, 1822 and occupied the last capital of the Ahom kingdom, Jorhat.

During those days, Bandula visited the pagoda and donated the book along with a statue of Lord Buddha, a ‘mantema’ (container) and a ‘sibor’ (a cloth used by Buddhist monks). All these objects have been preserved at the pagoda since then with utmost care.

He further said that the Government is going to build a tourist lodge, museum, library and conference hall near the pagoda in consideration of the increasing number of tourists visiting the place every year.

Chaimet Shyam, the secretary of the Buddha Bihar Sangrakhyan Samiti related to this correspondent the history of the villages of the Khamyang community. Earlier, as many as 120 families of the community resided at Dholi near Titabar. Robert Bruce, the British adventurer found the place fertile and suitable for tea plantation and tried to drive away the people from the place.

When the people resented the proposal at first, he announced imposition of revenue on the land belonging to the Khamyang people there. Fearing heavy taxation by the British rulers, the common people fled to various places like Chalapathar and Sarupathar for good. Some of them went to Era Gaon and settled there.

But a great plague broke out in the village and claimed a number of lives. People deserted the Era Gaon after the plague and settled at Balijan, Nashyam Gaon and Betbari. Mingi Maha Bandula donated those objects to the vihar when the people were living at Dholi.

He further informed that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi laid the foundation stone of a project worth Rs 90 lakh to preserve the heritage and encourage tourism to the place.

“Experts of Tai scripts have tried to decipher the meaning of the golden book time and again. But they have been able to interpret only two or three words”, said Amritananda Mahathera. “Nobody can tell what material the leaves of the book are made of. It is not the bark of the sanchi tree as is the case with other Tai manuscripts of Assam”.

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