In the golden annals of the pristine hallowed history of Assam, which at times, was a trifle eventful too, no other clan, other than the mighty Ahoms, could proudly stake claim to have single-handedly dominated the entire fabric of medieval Assam with their obdurate courage, superlative dexterity, both as finesse-smitten artisans (in constructing fresh water tanks, ponds, i.e. pukhuris, beautiful temples, imposing forts, amphitheatres, et al) as well as proficient, successful administrators; that too, for an enduringly-amazing period of almost 600 long years; (1228 AD-1826 AD), which amounts to nearly double the period the majestic Mughals ruled over India — April 30, 1526 AD to November 7, 1862 AD — starting from Babur’s reign as the first Mughal Emperor from Delhi till the eventual death of exiled last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II at Yangon (Rangoon).

The Ahoms, a tribe of Shans in northern Burma (now Myanmar), migrated into the plains of Assam in 1228 AD, and established their kingdom, comprising in course of time, the whole of the Assam valley, with a heroic prince Chaolung Su-Ka-Pha at the helm of affairs. Su-Ka-Pha, in essence, belonged to the Shan state of Maulung (Tai-Mao) in upper Burma, a principality that occupied the area around what is today known as Xishuangbanna or, in Tai (language), Sip Song Pan Na (implying twelve thousand rice fields).

In fact, the Ahoms were the representatives of the great Tai race of the Mongolians, who now inhabit vast regions of southeast Asia. They gave Assam its modern name and in course of time, identified themselves with the mainstream Assamese society. Initially occupying a small territory, mainly confined to a portion of eastern Assam, it gradually extended westwards; and with the end of the Mughal wars in 1682, it extended up to the river Manaha, opposite Goalpara. This limit remained unaltered till the eventual culmination of the Ahom rule in 1826.

The six-century-old Ahom rule has always thrown up a plethora of questions; prominent among them being as to how it was literally possible for the Ahoms (whose numerical strength was much inferior as compared to those myriad and variegated conquered races) to continue in power for six long centuries. Two basic factors stand out prominently to explain the enduring efficiency of the Ahoms. First, the Ahoms passionately loved both their state (Assam) and its subjects with emotional fervour. They described Assam as a sonar saphura, (casket of gold), and would never allow any outsider to have a footing on their land and any misdeeds to tarnish its fair name. Second, the Ahoms had an innate knack to take full advantage of the surroundings and circumstances in which they were placed, and adjust their administrative policy in accordance with the available resources and opportunities of that particular set-up.

This apart, one of the greatest contributions made by the Ahoms to Assamese culture was the custom of compiling chronicles, which were first written in the Ahom language, and subsequently in both Assamese and Ahom. All political transactions were recorded in the chronicles or buranjis, and were mostly compiled under officials, auspices to serve as precedents. These Ahom literary remains can unquestionably claim to be rich treatises and chronicles. Lexicons from Assamese to Ahom and vice-versa were also compiled; the Ramayana was also rendered (translated) in the Ahom language. Indeed, the Ahoms left a deep and indelible imprint on the entire fabric of Assamese society during the six centuries of their rule.

In consonance of the immense contribution of the Ahoms, a need for an enriching website was felt, not only to keep everyone abreast of this colourful community’s hallowed history, culture and language; provide information about educational institutions, research centres and even career options, but also at the same time, let the world know about its origin and present status with a sole objective to keep alive its rich language, script and culture. A brainchild of four young-turks, Bijoy Bakal, Jaba Borgohain, Titu Kumar Hazarika and Buljit Buragohain, the website billed as www.taiahominternational.org, was formally launched on July 26, 2009, at the Guwahati Press Club. With all essential and informative inputs, the website will surely act as an information storehouse of this chivalrous community.

References: Studies in the History of Assam: Dr Suryya Kumar Bhuyan; Politics of Regionalism in Northeast India: Dr Girin Phukon; Rulers of India – Babur: Prof Stanley Lane-Poole.

Saikh Md Sabah Al-Ahmed