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400th Birth Anniversary of Lachit Borphukan

Context:

A three-day celebration of the 400th birth anniversary of the legendary Assamese general and folk hero Lachit Borphukan began in New Delhi.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. History of the Ahom kingdom
  2. Legend of Lachit Borphukan

History of the Ahom kingdom

  • The Ahom kings ruled large parts of what is now known as Assam for nearly 600 years, from the early 13th century to the early 19th century.
  • This was a prosperous, multi-ethnic kingdom which spread across the upper and lower reaches of the Brahmaputra valley, surviving on rice cultivation in its fertile lands.
  • The Ahoms engaged in a series of conflicts with the Mughals from 1615-1682, starting from the reign of Jahangir till the reign of Aurangzeb.
  • One of the major early military conflicts was in January 1662, where the Mughals won a partial victory, conquering parts of Assam and briefly occupying Garhgaon, the Ahom capital.
  • The counter-offensive to reclaim lost Ahom territories started under Ahom King Swargadeo Chakradhwaja Singha.
  • After the Ahoms enjoyed some initial victories, Aurangzeb dispatched Raja Ram Singh I of Jaipur in 1669 to recapture the lost territory — eventually resulting in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671.

Legend of Lachit Borphukan

  • Lachit was a brilliant military commander who knew the terrain of the Brahmaputra valley and the surrounding hills like the back of his hand.
  • He was chosen as one of the five Borphukans of the Ahom kingdom by king Charadhwaj Singha, and given administrative, judicial, and military responsibilities.
  • Unlike the Mughals who preferred battles in the open with their massive armies, Borphukan preferred guerrilla tactics which provided an edge to his smaller, but fast moving and capable forces.
  • Much like Shivaji’s encounters with the Mughals in Marathwada, Lachit inflicted damage on the large Mughal camps and static positions.
  • His raids would kill unsuspecting Mughal soldiers and frustrate the mighty armies that were too ponderous to respond swiftly.
  • When the monsoon set in, Mughal plans were complicated further.
  • However, as the Mughals were able to successfully camp around the foothills of Alaboi, the Ahom king ordered Borphukan to carry out a frontal assault which led to the deaths of nearly 10,000 Ahom warriors and ended in a weary Mughal victory in 1669.
  • As the Mughals attempted to progress through the valley, they realised that travelling by the river would be faster. Lachit, who was a great naval warrior and strategist, created an intricate web of improvised and surprise pincer attacks.
  • Lachit Borphukan died a year after the Battle of Saraighat from a long festering illness.
  • In fact he was very ill during the Battle of Saraighat, as he heroically led his troops to victory.

Source: Indian Express


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