Burmese invasions of Assam


Burmese invasions of Assam

The Burmese invasion of Assam denotes the period between 1817 and 1826 when the Ahom Kingdom in Assam was under the control of the Burmese rulers. This period, called the manor din by the Assamese and Chahi-Taret Khuntakpa (seven years of devastation) in Manipuri, is remembered with horror. It was the climactic period of the 600-year old Ahom kingdom. The period ended with the defeat of the Burmese in the First Anglo-Burmese War and the subsequent annexation of the kingdom to British territory.

Contents

First Burmese invasion

In January 1817, after an extensive preparation, a general of Bhamo entered Assam with the guidance of Badan Chandra Borphukan, a fugitive governor of Guwahati. The first battle took place on March 27, 1817 at Ghiladhari. The Assam forces were led by Daman Gogoi, Hao Bora and Jama Khan. The battle continued for a week when Purnananda Burhagohain died due to natural causes. This, according to chronicles, led to the division in the ranks of the Ahom nobility, and due to lack of reinforcements the Assam army surrendered. Ruchinath, the son of Purnananda, became the Burhagohain but left for Guwahati when the Burmese army advanced toward the Ahom capital at Jorhat. The king, Chandrakanta Singha, stayed behind, received Badan Chandra Borphukan and made him the Mantri Phukan. This led Ruchinath to suspect that Chandrakanta Singha was in alliance with Badan Chandra Borphukan.

The Burmese army was paid 100,000 rupees and the commanders were given suitable presents. Hemo Aideo, a daughter of an Ahom prince was sent to the king of Burma with 50 elephants and dowry. The Burmese army left Assam in April 1817. According to the Weissali Hukong, the retreating army committed many atrocities.

Soon after, Badan Chandra was assassinated. Ruchinath marched against Chandrakanta Singha and made Purandar Singha the king.

Second Burmese invasion

Bodawpaya, on hearing this news, sent an army of 20,000 under the command of Kiamingi (Alumingi Borgohain) and guided by Patalang Senapati (Momai Barua). This army was met by an army led by Jaganath Dhekial Phukan on February 15, 1819 at Phulpanisiga, near Janji. The Burmese army was defeated and retreated a short distance. The Assam army returned to the Ahom capital Jorhat leading to much confusion. The Burmese army was able to occupy the capital two days later.

Chandrakanta was reinstated as the king and Patalang became the Borbarua.

Third Burmese invasion

In 1819, Bagyidaw became the king and decided to annex Assam to Burma. He sent Mingimaha Tilwa to Assam in February 1821. Patalang Borbarua was killed and Chandrakanta Singha fled to Guwahati. Mingimaha killed a number of Ahom officials and installed Punyadhar (Jogeshwar Singha), a brother of Hemo Aideo, as the king.

There followed a period of triangular conflicts between the forces of Mingimaha Tilwa, Purandhar Singha and Chandrakanta Singha. At the end of this period, Chandrakanta was able to reach Mahgarh near Jorhat in March 1822. Bagyidaw sent in reinforcements under Mingi Maha Bandula who finally defeated the forces of Chandrakanta in April 1822. Chandrakanta fell back to Guwahati, and finally to Assam chaki, where he encountered Mingi Maha Thilawa in June 1822. He was defeated and had to further retreat into the British territory. After this victory, the Burmese invasion of Assam was complete.

This period is remembered in Assam as very difficult, with the soldiers committing atrocities on the common people leading to thousands leaving Assam for Bengal. Much of the neighboring state of Manipur was also laid waste by the marauding armies.

By 1825, the Meiteis had repulsed the Burmese and drove them past the Chindwin river.[1] The occupation led to frequent contacts between the Burmese and the British and finally to the First Burmese war and the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. This treaty marked the end of Burmese rule and the beginning of British rule in Assam.

Alleged atrocities

In Buranji-vivek-ratna, Maniram Dewan, an eyewitness writes:

...in attacking the house of a rich man, would tie him with ropes and then set fire to his body. Some they flayed alive, others they burnt in oil and others again they drove in crowds to village Naamghars or prayer-houses, which they then set on fire... It was dangerous for a beautiful woman to meet a Burmese even on the public road. Brahmans were made to carry loads of beef, pork and wine. The Gosains were robbed off all their possessions. Fathers of damsels whom the Burmese took to wives rose speedily to affluence and power.

The sort of fighting and bloody killings that took place between 1812-19 when the Burmese kings of Mandalay tried to conquer and subdue the Shan Ahom kingdom in Assam, India, where the Burmese General Maha Bandula's troops committed indescribable cruelties and barbarities as to decimate something like 2/3 of the population and certainly 1/3 of the men and boys - disemboweling them, eating their flesh and burning them alive in cages[2] to intimidate and suppress the Shan Ahom of Assam,India.

This event so weakened and disorganized the Shan Ahom that by 1839 the kingdom was completely annexed by the British. Before that from about 1220 - 1812 AD they maintained themselves under one Dynasty, (that of Mong Mao 568-1604 AD when its descendants ruled Hsenwi or Theinni in Burmese). Indeed the Shan Ahom resisted conquest by the Mughals who had conquered much of India before the British incursion.[3] [1] Burmese translation of above interview [2]

Notes

  1. ^ CHAHI-TARET KHUNTAKPA, 1819-1825 AD (seven years of Manipur anarchy, 3212-3218 MF) IIT Guwahati
  2. ^ (Gait 1906:228) Gait quotes from J Butler, Travels and Adventures in the Province of Assam (1855)
  3. ^ “DIALOGUE WITH A SHAN LEADER, H.R.H HSO KHAN PHA” . Tiger Yawnghwe or His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha; he is the eldest son of Sao Shwe Thaik, the former Saopha[Prince] of Yawnghwe[Nyaung-Shwe] and the first President of Burma after Burma's Independence from British colonial rule. Interview with Dr Tayza, Chief Editor of Burma Digest.

References


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