Recently, birth anniversary of 17th century general of Assam’s erstwhile Ahom Kingdom LachitBorphukan was celebrated. Also, National Award-winning filmmaker JahnuBarua recently announced that he will direct a Hindi film on the legendary Ahom General LachitBorphukan.
Who was LachitBorphukan?
• Originally named as Lachit Deca, LachitBorphukan, the fierce and indefatigable Ahom Commander, was born during the early 17th century at Betioni in the Golaghat district of modern Assam.
• His father, MomaiTamuliBorbarua was the ‘Governor’ of the kingdom and also ‘Commander-in-Chief’ of Ahom army under King Pratap Singha during his reign starting from 1603 to 1639.
• Lachit received military training from an early age and joined the Ahom King Jayadhvaj Singha (1648-1663) as a scarf-bearer. The post ‘scarf-bearer’ or ‘SoladharaBarua’ is considered as a part of the incumbent king’s personal staff.
• In the subsequent time, owing to his military training, Lachit was appointed as ‘GhoraBarua’ or ‘Superintendent of Royal Horses’. Later he was promoted to the post of Commander of the Simulgarh Fort situated at the south bank of Brahmaputra.
• When Chakradhwaj Singha became the king of Ahom dynasty during 1663 to 1669, he appointed Lachit as the Superintendent of the Royal Guards.
• Finally, Lachit was appointed as ‘Borphukan’ by King Chakradhwaj Singha. Then onwards, Lachit Deka was known as LachitBorphukan.
• The position of Borphukan, which is one of the top five councillors in the Ahom kingdom, was instituted by King Prataap Singha (1603-1641). Borphukan is a position embedded with both executive and judicial powers with its headquarters at Kaliabor in Assam. Lachit shifted the headquarters to Itakhuli in Guwahati.
Battle of Saraighat
In August 1667, Chakradhvaj Singha appointed LachitBorphukan as the Commander-in-Chief of Ahom kingdom. Immediately, Lachit started operation against the invading Mughal army to reclaim Guwahati.
By November 1667, Lachit, with his military prowess, evicted the last vestiges of Mughal presence from the frontier of Assam. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir was enraged after the humiliating defeat and in January 1668 sent a strong contingent of Mughal army under Raja Ram Singh Kachwaha of Amber to defeat LachitBorphukan and his army.
Raja Ram Singh Kachwaha was supported by a massive 71,000 Mughal troops. On the other hand, LachitBorphukan was fighting the battle with a few thousand soldiers.
The battle of Saraighat, which was occurred in 1671, was the culmination of many small fights in between the two rival armies. The Mughal troops started fighting under Raja Ram Singh since February 1669.
Lachit led the fight from the front and inflicted crushing defeat to the Mughals at every front. Lachit outmanoeuvred the army of Raja Ram Singh at every war, which led to the stalemate of the battle.
Aurangzeb asked his general to initiate diplomacy and sign a friendly treaty for the time being. But Lachit’s trusted lieutenant AtanBurhagohain, who later became the Commander-in-Chief opposed such a deal stating that the treaty would be an example of typical Mughal treachery.
The final battle of Saraighat started in 1671. On the day of Saraighat battle, Lachit was terribly unwell. However, despite being ill, he displayed tremendous valour, extraordinary bravery and exemplary leadership. Such an action by an ailing yet forceful Lachit motivated his troops. They fought the battle with fierce zeal and intense courage. The Mughal army suffered comprehensive defeat in the hands of Lachit’s army.
In April 1672, a year after the decisive battle of Saraighat, Lachit died at his Kaliabor headquarters.
Owing to his unparallel heroism, Lachit has been a hero and an inspiration for generations of Assamese. People of all hues in Assam invoke Lachit’s name to fight back and win from the verge of defeat. LachitBorphukan is an example of bravery, courage and statesmanship.