The history of Assam is the history of a confluence of people from the east, west and the north; the confluence of the Tibeto-Burman (Sino-Tibetan), Hindu and Austroasiatic cultures. Although invaded over the centuries, it was never a vassal or a colony to an external power until the third Burmese invasion in 1821, and, subsequently, the British ingress into Assam in 1824 during the First Anglo-Burmese War. The Assamese history has been derived from multiple sources. The Ahom kingdom of medieval Assam maintained chronicles, called Buranjis, written in the Ahom and the Assamese languages. History of ancient Assam comes from a corpus of Kamarupa inscriptions on rock, copper plates, clay; royal grants, etc. that the Kamarupa kings issued during their reign. Protohistory has been reconstructed from folklore: Mahabharata, and two medieval texts compiled in the Assam region—the Kalika Purana and the Yogini Tantra.
The history of Assam can be divided into four eras. The ancient era began in the 4th century with the mention of Kamarupa in Samudragupta’s inscriptions on the Allahabad pillar and the establishment of the Kamarupa kingdom. The medieval era began with the attacks from the Bengal Sultanate, the first of which took place in 1206 by invader Bakhtiyar Khilji as mentioned in the Kanai-boroxiboa rock inscription, after the breakup of the ancient kingdom and the sprouting of medieval kingdoms and chieftain-ships in its place. The colonial era began with the establishment of British control after the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826, and the post-colonial era began in 1947 after the Independence of India.
- Paleolithic cultures
The earliest inhabitants of the region are assigned to the Middle Pleistocene period (781,000 to 126,000 years ago) in the Rongram valley of Garo Hills. The Paleolithic sites, which used handaxe-cleaver tools, have affinities to the Abbevillio-Acheulean culture. Other Paleolithic sites include those in the Daphabum area of Lohit district in Arunachal Pradesh which used stone tools from metamorphic rocks. The cave-based Paleolithic sites at Khangkhui in Ukhrul, Manipur, are placed in the Late Pleistocene period. There exists evidence of a microlithic culture in the Rongram Valley of Garo Hills that lie between the neolithic layers and virgin soil. The microliths here were made of dolerite, unlike those from the rest of India. Shreds of crude hand-made pottery indicate that the microlithic people were hunters and food-gatherers.
2. Neolithic cultures
Early Neolithic cultures based on the hand-axe in the Garo hills have developed in line with the Hoabinhian culture, and it is conjectured that this region was the contact point for the Indian and the Southeast Asian cultures.
The Late neolithic cultures have affinities with the spread of the Mon Khmer speaking people from Malaysia and the Ayeyarwady valley and late neolithic developments in South China. Since these cultures have been dated to 4500–4000 BCE, the Assam sites are dated to approximately that period.
These neolithic sites, though widely spread, are concentrated in the hills and high grounds, due possibly to the floods. These cultures performed shifting cultivation called jhum, which is still practiced by some communities in the region. Some typical sites are Daojali Hading in Dima Hasao, Sarutaru in Kamrup district and Selbagiri in the Garo Hills.
There exists no archaeological evidence of Copper-Bronze or Iron age culture in the region. This might seem as an impossibility given that corresponding cultures have been discovered in Bengal as well as Southeast Asia. It can only be conjectured that metal age sites in the region exist but have not yet been discovered.
Though the metal age seems to be missing in Assam, the Iron Age Megalithic culture of South India finds an echo in the rich megalithic culture in the region, which begins to appear earlier than the late second millennium BCE, and which continues till today among the Khasi and the Naga people. The affinity is with Southeast Asia. T
Protohistoric Assam is reconstructed from history and literature from early times (Mahabharata, Kalika Purana, Yogini Tantra, diff. chronicles etc.). The earliest political entity seems to have been led by a Danava dynasty with Mahiranga mentioned as the first king. This dynasty was removed by Narakasura. Naraka appears to be a generic name for many kings belonging to the Naraka dynasty. According to History, the last of the Naraka kings was killed by Krishna and his son Bhagadatta took the throne. Bhagadatta is said to have participated in the Mahabharata war with an army of “chinas, kiratas and dwellers of the eastern sea”, thereby indicating that his kingdom, Pragjyotisha, included part of Bangladesh. The last in the Naraka dynasty was a ruler named Suparua.
Ancient Assam (350–1206)
The historical account of Assam begins with the establishment of Pushyavarman’s Varman dynasty in the 4th century in the Kamarupa kingdom, which marks the beginning of Ancient Assam. The kingdom reached its traditional extent, from the Karatoya in the west to Sadiya in the east. This and the two succeeding dynasties drew their lineage from the mythical Narakasura. The kingdom reached its zenith under Bhaskaravarman in the 7th century. Xuanzang visited his court and left behind a significant account. Bhaskaravarman died without leaving behind an issue and the control of the country passed to Salasthamba, who established the Mlechchha dynasty. After the fall of the Mlechchha dynasty in the late 9th century, a new ruler, Brahmapala was elected, who established the Pala dynasty. The last Pala king was removed by the Gaur king, Ramapala, in 1110.
But the two subsequent kings, Timgyadeva and Vaidyadeva, though established by the Gaur kings, ruled mostly as independents and issued grants under the old Kamarupa seals. The fall of subsequent kings and the rise of individual kingdoms in the 12th century in place of the Kamarupa kingdom marked the end of the Kamarupa kingdom and the period of Ancient Assam.
Medieval Assam (1206–1826)
In the middle of the 13th century, Sandhya, a king of Kamarupanagara, moved his capital to Kamatapur, and thus established the Kamata kingdom on account of attacks by the Turks of Bengal. The last of the Kamata kings, the Khens, were removed by Alauddin Hussain Shah in 1498.
But Hussein Shah and subsequent rulers could not consolidate their rule in the Kamata kingdom, mainly due to the revolt by the Bhuyan chieftains, a relic of the Kamarupa administration, and other local groups.
Soon after in the beginning of the 16th century, Vishwa Singha of the Koch tribe established the Koch dynasty in the Kamata kingdom. The Koch dynasty reached its peak under his sons, Nara Narayan and Chilarai.
In the eastern part of the erstwhile Kamarupa kingdom, the Kachari (south bank of river Brahmaputra, central Assam) and the Chutiya (north bank of river Brahmaputra, eastern Assam) kingdoms arose, with some Bhuyan chiefs controlling the region just west of the Chutiya kingdom. The founder of the Chutiya kingdom, Birpal formed his first capital in Swarnagiri (near present Subansiri river) in 1187 and later his son Ratnadhwajpal shifted the capital to Ratnapur (present Majuli), absorbing the ancient Pala dynasty in 1225 and finally to Sadiya in 1248.
In the tract between the Kachari and the Chutiya kingdoms, a Shan group, led by Sukaphaa, established the Ahom kingdom. The 16th century is crucial in the history of medieval period because of the consolidation of the Ahoms (who partially annexed the Chutiya kingdom and pushed the Kachari kingdom away from central Assam) in the east, the Koch in the west and the growth of Ekasarana Dharma of Srimanta Sankardev.
After the death of Nara Narayan of the Koch dynasty in the late 16th century, the Kamata kingdom broke into Koch Bihar in the west and Koch Hajo in the east. The rivalry between the two kingdoms resulted in the former allying with the Mughals and the latter with the Ahoms. Most of the 17th century saw the Ahom-Mughal conflicts, in which the Ahoms held the expansive Mughals at bay epitomized in the Battle of Saraighat of 1671, and which finally ended in 1682 with the defeat of the Mughals at Itakhuli in Guwahati.
The Ahom kingdom reached its westernmost boundary till Manas River which it retains until 1826. Though the Ahom kingdom saw itself as the inheritor of the glory of the erstwhile Kamarupa kingdom and aspired to extend itself to the Karatoya river, it could never do so; though an Ahom general, Ton Kham under Swargadeo Suhungmung, reached the river once when he pursued a retreating invading army in the 16th century.
After the Ahom kingdom reached its zenith, problems within the kingdom arose in the 18th century, when it lost power briefly to rebels of the Moamoria rebellion. Though the Ahoms recaptured power, it was beset with problems, leading to the Burmese invasion of Assam in the early 19th century. With the defeat of the Burmese in the First Anglo-Burmese war and the subsequent Treaty of Yandaboo, control of Assam passed into the hands of the British, which marks the end of the Medieval period.
Colonial Assam (1826–1947)
In 1824, the First Anglo-Burmese War broke out. The British attacked the Burmese garrison in Assam and by 1825, the Burmese were expelled from Assam. According to the Treaty of Yandabo, the Burmese Monarch Bagyidaw renounce all claims on Assam. The British thus became the masters of Brahmaputra Valley and they began to consolidate their rule in Assam. In 1830, the Kachari king Govinda Chandra was assassinated. Seizing this opportunity, the British annexed Kachari kingdom in 1832. In 1833, the Ahom prince Purandar Singha was made a tributary ruler in Upper Assam. But owing to mismanagement and failure to pay regular revenue, the British authorities annexed his kingdom in 1838. In 1835, the kingdom of Jaintia was also annexed. In 1842, the region of Matak and Sadiya was also annexed by British authorities, and in 1854, the North Cachar Hill district, under Tularam Senapati’s administration, was also annexed into British Empire, thereby completing their conquest and consolidation of their rule in Assam.
(Source: Wikipedia )
Post-colonial Assam (1947–present)
After independence from the British rule, Assam became a Hub of Illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh. The illegal immigrants created havoc and tried to destroy Assamese culture. Assam culture has always remained a blend of Hindu and Buddhist culture. The Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB) was brought to remove illegal immigrants from India. Assam should embrace C.A.B in order to stand the test of times. We must learn from our History and illegal immigrants and invaders have always tried to destroy us. CAB is a correct step towards helping this beautiful country bring shelter to our own Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian brothers who have been suffering immensely in neighbouring countries.