Joymoti Konwari

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This article is about the wife of Ahom prince Gadapani. For other uses, see Joymoti.
Joymoti Konwari
Born Mechagarh Madurigaon, Sibsagar, Assam
Died Jerenga Pathar, Sibasagar
Other names Soti Joymoti
Spouse(s) Gadapani
Children Lai
Lechai
Parents Laithepna Borgohai and Chadradaru

Joymoti, or Joymoti Konwari (Assamese: সতী জয়মতী), was the wife of Ahom Prince Gadapani. She was accorded the honorific Soti or Sati on account of her heroic endurance of torture until the end, dying at the hands of royalists under Sulikphaa Loraa Roja without disclosing her exiled husband Prince Gadapani's whereabouts, thereby enabling her husband to rise in revolt and assume kingship. (The crucial point being the title was given to a woman who put up a valiant fight; widows committing Sati was not common in Assam, as it was in Bengal.) Joymoti and Gadapani's son Rudra Singha had the Joysagar Tank dug at the spot where she was tortured. The first Assamese film Joymoti, directed in 1935 by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, was based on her life.[1]

Biography[edit]

Joymoti was the wife of the Ahom prince Gadapani. During the Purge of the Princes from 1679 to 1681 under King Sulikphaa (Loraa Roja), instigated by Laluksola Borphukan, Gadapani took flight. Over the next few years, he sought shelter at Sattras (Vaishnav monasteries) and the adjoining hills outside the Ahom kingdom.[2] Failing to trace Prince Gadapani, Sulikphaa's soldiers brought his wife Joymoti to Jerenga Pathar where, despite brutal and inhuman torture, the princess refused to reveal the whereabouts of her husband. After continuous physical torture over 14 days, Joymoti breathed her last on 13 Choit of 1601 Saka, or 27 March, AD 1680.[3]

Joymoti's self-sacrifice would bear fruit in time: Laluk was murdered in November 1680 by a disgruntled body of household retainers. The ministers, now roused to a sense of patriotism, sent out search parties for Gadapani who, gathering his strength, returned from his exile in the Garo Hills to oust Sulikphaa from the throne. Joymoti had known that her husband alone was capable of ending Sulikphaa-Laluk's reign of terror. For her love and her supreme sacrifice for husband and country, folk accounts refer to her as a Soti.

Background to torture[edit]

Six princes sat on the throne between the death of Chakradhwaj Singha in 1670 and the accession of Gadapani (Gadadhar Singha) in 1681. Udayaditya Singha was murdered through the machinations of Debera Borbarua, who then inaugurated a veritable reign of terror, killing rival princes or mutilating their limbs, doing away with his rivals and opponents, and dismissing or appointing officers at will. The veterans of the Battle of Saraighat marched up to the capital, captured and killed Debera, and placed on the throne a prince of their own selection. The Prime Minister Atan Burhagohain, Rajmantri Dangaria, by virtue of his foresight and disinterestedness, brought the situation under control, and was acclaimed in all responsible quarters as the only saviour of his country. Twice the crown was offered to him, and twice he refused it.

The growing power of the Premier was, however, not tolerated by Laluksola Borphukan, the governor of Guwahati, who eventually set upon the throne a stripling aged fourteen, Sulikphaa or Loraa Roja ("Boy-King" in Assamese), while he himself essentially ruled under the newly created office of "Borphukan". Fearing a challenge to his power, Laluksola Borphukan began a purge of all princes who were eligible for the Ahom throne.

Gadapani becomes king[edit]

Gadapani was formally installed a sovereign in August 1681. Taking on the Tai name Supaatphaa and Hindu name Gadadhar Singha (1681–1696), he brought peace and prosperity back to the country. The first act of his reign was the dispatch of an army against Mansur Khan at Guwahati. After a decisive victory at the famous Itakhulir Rann (Battle of Itakhuli), the Ahoms recaptured Guwahati from the Mughals in August 1682. The river Manaha (present-day Manas) became once more the western boundary of Assam and remained so until the occupation of the country by the British in the year 1826.

Memorials & monuments[edit]

Joysagar Tank[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Joysagar tank.

Joymoti and Gadadhar Singha's eldest son Lai succeeded his father. He took on the Hindu name Rudra Singha (Sukhrungphaa, 1696–1714). In honour of the memory of his mother Joymoti, Rudra Singha built the Joysagar Tank in 1697 at Sibsagar. It is believed to be the biggest man-made lake in India,[4] comprising an area covering 318 acres (1.29 km2) of land, including its four banks,[5] out of which 155 acres (0.63 km2) is filled with fresh water. A 2 km-long earthen water pipeline once ran from the tank to the Rangpur Palace (Kareng Ghar), supplying water to the royal palace.

Fakuwa Dol[edit]

Rudra Singha also built the Fakuwa Dol in 1703–04, a pyramid-shaped temple constructed before the Rangnath (Shiva) Temple on the banks of the Joysagar Tank. It is said that Rudra Singha, once again to perpetuate the memory of his mother Soti Joymoti, constructed the temple and placed a golden idol of her within it. It was actually a maidan (grave) of Joymoti. The circumference of the Dol was about 90 ft (27 m), and its height from base to top was 30 ft (9.1 m). There were eight brick pillars around the temple. The temple and the pillars are among some of the Ahom ruins that remain in Assam to this day.

Soti Joymoti Divas[edit]

Soti Joymoti Divas, commemoration day of Soti Joymoti, is held annually in Assam on 27 March.[1]

Soti Joymoti Award[edit]

The State Government of Assam has instituted an annual award in the name of Joymoti, presented to women in recognition of excellence in their chosen fields of work.[6]

Film and theatre[edit]

Screenshot from Joymoti (actress Aideu Handique as Joymoti)

Joymoti (1935 film) was the first Assamese language film, directed and produced by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala. In 2006, Manju Borah released another film by the same name. The 19th-century Assamese writer Lakshminath Bezbaruah's drama Joymoti Kuwori captured her life.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Jaymati". Assaminfo.com. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "History of Assam: The Medieval Period". Govt. of Assam. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  3. ^ TI Trade (27 March 2008). "The Assam Tribune Online". Assamtribune.com. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Joydol Joysagar Tank". OnlineSivasagar.com. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Sukhaangpha (1923) to Rudra Singha (1714)". The Assam Chronicle. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Assam Govt. to Introduce Award after Ahom Princess Joymoti". Northeast today. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 

External links[edit]