Lachit Borphukan was a prominent military commander and a hero in the history of Assam, a state in northeastern India. He played a crucial role in the Ahom-Mughal War, particularly during the Battle of Saraighat in 1671. Read here to learn more about his life.
Union Home Minister recently released the book ‘Assam’s Braveheart Lachit Barphukan’ in Guwahati, Assam.
The book is being translated into other scheduled languages by India’s 24 Sahitya Akademi Award-winning writers.
Lachit Borphukan’s leadership and strategic insight are celebrated as he successfully defended the Ahom Kingdom against the Mughal forces.
Early Life of Lachit Borphukan
Lachit Borphukan was born in the Ahom dynasty, which ruled the Ahom Kingdom in Assam during the medieval period.
Borphukan was originally named Lachit Deca. He was born to Momai Tamuli (who was the commander-in-chief of the Ahorn army), who later rose to become the first Governor of Upper Assam and Commander-in-Chief of the Ahom army (Borbarua).
Borphukan, similar to a ‘Senapati’ or ‘Field Marshal’, was a title bestowed by the Kings of Ahom in their courts.
Lachit Borphukan rose to become the head of the Ahom army under King Chakradhwaj.
Lachit Borphukan rose to prominence as a military commander during the reign of King Chakradhwaj Singha.
- He was appointed as the Borphukan, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ahom army, a position of great responsibility.
Lachit Borphukan inspired the Assamese soldiers in the Battle of Saraighat fought in 1671, and delivered a crushing and humiliating defeat on the Mughals.
Battle of Saraighat (1671)
The Battle of Saraighat fought in 1671, was a decisive conflict between the Ahom Kingdom and the Mughal Empire.
- Mughal forces, led by the imperial general Ram Singh I, sought to expand into Assam. Lachit Borphukan, with his strategic brilliance, organized the defense of the Ahom Kingdom.
- The Ahom navy, under Lachit Borphukan’s command, played a crucial role in defeating the Mughal forces on the Brahmaputra River.
- Lachit Borphukan’s leadership and the effectiveness of the Ahom navy are often cited as key factors in the Ahom victory at Saraighat.
The Ahom army launched a massive attack on the invaders and when the Mughal admiral Munnawar Khan was killed by a gunshot, the Mughal naval force became leaderless and they could not maintain the attack and ultimately had to retreat.
- The heroic fight of Lachit Borphukan and his army remains one of the most inspiring military feats of resistance in the history of our country.
- The Mughals were at the height of their power but failed to conquer Assam and the Northeast and consolidate their rule.
- 17 attempts were made by the Mughals to conquer Assam but they failed every time.
The Mughals never attempted to capture Assam after the 1671 war.
Legacy of Lachit Borphukan
Lachit Borphukan is celebrated as a hero and a symbol of resistance in Assamese history.
His leadership and valor in the Battle of Saraighat are remembered during the annual Lachit Divas, a celebration in Assam to honor his contributions.
Statues, memorials, and awards have been dedicated to Lachit Borphukan as a tribute to his role in defending Assam against external invasions.
On 24 November each year, Lachit Divas is celebrated statewide in Assam to commemorate the heroism of Lachit Borphukan and the victory of the Assamese army at the Battle of Saraighat.
The best cadet from the National Defence Academy is awarded the Lachit Borphukan gold medal. It was first instituted in 1999 to inspire defence personnel to emulate Borphukan’s heroism and sacrifices.
- One of the famous quotes attributed to Lachit Borphukan is a message to his soldiers: “When my countrymen are suffering from an unjust rule, and I am breathing, no enemy shall breathe.”
- When on the battlefield of Saraighat, Lachit Borphukan asserted: “Dexotkoi Momai Dangor Nohoi” (My uncle is not greater than my motherland) to punish his uncle for compromising the defence.
- The Lachit Borphukan Military Award is given by the Indian Army in recognition of outstanding service by its personnel.
- A warship of the Indian Navy has been named INS Lachit in his honor.
The Ahom Kingdom was a medieval kingdom that ruled over the Brahmaputra Valley in present-day Assam, a northeastern state of India. The Ahom dynasty, of Tai-Ahom ethnic origin, established and maintained this kingdom for nearly six centuries. The kingdom played a crucial role in shaping the region’s cultural, political, and historical landscape.
- The Ahom people, originally of Tai origin, migrated from Yunnan in present-day China to the region that is now Assam during the 13th century.
- Sukaphaa, the founder of the Ahom Kingdom, established his rule in the early 13th century. The Ahoms gradually assimilated with the local communities.
- The rulers of the Ahom Kingdom were titled Swargadeo. The kingdom was ruled by a hereditary monarchy.
- The kingdom was divided into administrative units called “Borgohain” and “Borpatrogohain,” with officials responsible for governance at various levels.
The Ahom people had their distinct culture, which was influenced by their Tai heritage. The Ahom culture integrated with that of the local communities over time.
- The Ahom script, known as the Ahom Buranji script, was used for writing chronicles and historical records.
- The Ahom Kingdom had a formidable military force. The Ahom soldiers were known for their skills in archery, cavalry, and the use of firearms.
- The Ahom Kingdom successfully resisted Mughal invasions during the 17th century, notably during the leadership of Lachit Borphukan in the Battle of Saraighat.
Decline and Annexation:
Burmese Invasions: The Ahom Kingdom faced invasions by the Burmese in the early 19th century. These invasions led to internal conflicts and weakened the kingdom.
British Annexation: The British East India Company became involved in the conflicts, and the Ahom Kingdom eventually came under British control. The Treaty of Yandabo in 1826 marked the formal annexation of Assam by the British.
Lachit Borphukan’s legacy is not only significant for Assam but also serves as a source of inspiration for those who value courage, leadership, and the defense of one’s homeland. His contributions are remembered and revered as part of the rich historical and cultural tapestry of Assam.
Related article: Regional Kingdoms of Medieval India
-Article by Swathi Satish