Suhungmung

Suhungmung

Suhungmung (reign 1497-1539) (Swarganarayan, Dihingia Raja), was one of the most important Ahom kings, who ruled at the cusp of Assam's medieval history. His reign broke from the early Ahom rule and established a multi-ethnic polity in his kingdom. Under him the Ahom Kingdom expanded greatly for the first time since Sukaphaa, at the cost of the Chutiya and the Kachari kingdoms. He also successfully defended his kingdom against the first Muslim invasions under Turbak Khan. During his time, the Khen dynasty collapsed and the Koch dynasty ascended in the Kamata kingdom. His general, Tonkham, pursued the Muslims up to the Karatoyariver, the western boundary of the erstwhile Kamarupa Kingdom, the farthest west an Ahom king had ventured in its entire six hundred years of rule.

He was the first Ahom king to adopt a Hindu name, Swarganarayana, indicating a move towards an inclusive polity. He is also called the Dihingia Raja, because he made Bakata on the Dihing River his capital.

Expansion

Under Suhungmung the Ahom Kingdom acquired a vision of an extended polity and consolidated rule. He began by suppressing the revolt of the Aitonia Nagas in 1504 and making them accept Ahom overlordship. He surveyed the country and annexed the Habung region. But his biggest successes were against the Chutiya Kingdom.

Against Chutiya Kingdom

The conflict began in 1513 under the Chutiya king Dhir Narayana when Suhungmung annexed Mungkhrang and Namdang. The Chutiya counter attack came in 1520 when the newly established fort at Mungkhrang was taken. But the Ahoms fought back, retook the fort and extended the Ahom Kingdom to the mouth of the Tiphao River, where a new fort was constructed. This fort was soon attacked by the Chutiyas, but in the expedition lead by Suhungmung itself, they were routed. By this time Suhungmung clearly wanted to annex the Chutiya Kingdom, and was not interested in a treaty. The Chutiyas fortified Sadia but they were soon defeated. The Chutiyas were pursued further and their king and prince were killed in battle. Suhungmung took possession of the Chutiya royal heirlooms and established the office of the Sadiakhowa Gohain to look after the newly acquired region. Though this was not the end of the conflict it brought to an end the first major expansion of the Ahom Kingdom.

Against Kachari Kingdom

In 1526, Suhungmung marched against the Kachari Kingdom. In 1531 Khunkhara, the Kachari king, sent forces under his brother Detcha to drive the Ahoms away from Marangi but the Kachari army was defeated and their commander killed. The Kacharis were pursued up to the capital Dimapur and Khunkhara had to flee. Suhungmung established a Kachari prince, Detsung, as the Kachari king. But Detsung rose in revolt in a few years, and the Ahoms pursued him till Jangmarang where he was killed. The Kachari Kingdom abandoned Dimapur permanently and established their new capital at Maibong. Unlike the Chutiya Kingdom, Suhungming did not take direct possession of the Kachari Kingdom.

Muslim invasions

The first Muslim invasion of the Ahom Kingdom occurred in 1527, but it was defeated and pushed back to the Burai River. A few years later, there was another attempt when a commander advanced up the Brahmaputra in fifty vessels. This too was defeated. In yet another expedition, the Barpatra Gohain slain the commander, Bit Malik, and captured cannons and guns. The most successful among these initial raids on the Ahom Kingdom was the one led by Turbak.

Turbak, a Gaur commander, advanced against the Ahom Kingdom in April 1532 with a large force. He first faced Suklen, Suhungmung's son, at Singri. In this battle Suklen was defeated and wounded and the Ahoms retreated to Sala. The Ahoms again faced reverses at Sala and some other expeditions thereafter, but won the first significant victory in March 1533 when a naval force was defeated with heavy losses to Turbak's forces. This led to a period of stalemate with the two armies encamped on opposite banks of the Dikrai River.

The Ahoms finally attacked the invaders and defeated them in a number of battles. In the final battle fought near the Bharali River, Turbak was killed and his army pursued till the Karatoya river in present-day North Bengal. The captured soldiers subsequently became the first significant Muslim population of the Ahom Kingdom. They were called Garia since they were from Gaur, and the appellation was later extended to all Muslims. This population finally became well known as expert brass craftsmen.

The Buranjis mention the first use of firearms by the Ahoms in these battles.

Death of Suhungmung

Suhungmung was assassinated by a servant, Ratiman, who stabbed him as he slept in his palace. It is suspected that Suhungmung's son Suklenmung, who became the next king, was responsible for the death.

New offices

Suhungmung established new Ahom positions.

  • Borpatrogohain is the third of the great Gohains (the others being Burha Gohain and Bor Gohain, instituted by Sukaphaa). The first Barpatra Gohain was an Ahom prince brought up by a Naga chief.
  • Sadiakhowa Gohain looked after the Sadia region taken from the Chutiyas in 1523.
  • Marangikhowa Gohain looked after the lower Dhansiri river valley taken from the Kacharis.

See also

References

  • Gait, Sir Edward., 1905, A History of Assam, Calcutta. ISBN:81-7331-076-9

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