Lachit Barphukan's Statue at Jorhat, Assam, India.
|Born||24 November 1622|
Garhgaon, Assam, India
|Died||25 April 1672|
Jorhat, Assam, India
|Allegiance||Tai Ahom kingdom|
|Rank||Commander-in-Chief and Borphukan of the Ahom army|
|Battles/wars||Lead the Ahom army to decisive victory in 1671 Battle of Saraighat against the Mughals.|
Lachit Borphukan was a commander and Borphukan in the Ahom kingdom, located in present-day Assam, India, known for his leadership in the 1671 Battle of Saraighat that thwarted a drawn-out attempt by Mughal forces under the command of Ramsingh I to take back Ahom kingdom. He died about a year later due to illness.
Lachit Borphukan was the son of Momai Tamuli Borbarua, the first Borbarua (or "Governor") of upper-Assam and Commander-in-Chief of the Ahom army) under Prataap Singha. He was born in Betioni to a family of Ahom people community. Lachit Borphukan was educated in the Humanities, Ban phi Phuraloung Philosophy, Indigenous Scriptures and military skills. He was given the responsibility of serving as the Soladhara Barua (scarf-bearer) of the Ahom Swargadeo, a position equivalent to a Private Secretaryship, which was regarded as the first step for a career as an ambitious diplomat or politician. Other offices held by Lachit before his appointment as Borphukan included Superintendent of the Stable of Royal Horses (Ghora Barua), Commander of the strategic Simulgarh Fort and Superintendent of the Royal Household Guards (Dolakaxaria Barua) for King Chakradhwaj Singha.
King Chakradhwaj Singha selected Lachit Borphukan to lead the forces of the Kingdom of Ahom to liberate Guwahati from Mughal-occupation.The King presented Lachit with a gold-hafted sword (Hengdang) and the customary paraphernalia of distinction. Lachit raised the army and preparations were completed by summer of 1667. Lachit recovered Guwahati from the Mughals and successfully defended it against the Mughal forces during the Battle of Saraighat.
Lachit Borphukan died about a year after the victory at Saraighat due to natural causes. His remains lie in rest at the Lachit Maidaam constructed in 1672 by Swargadeo Udayaditya Singha at Hoolungapara 16 km from Jorhat.
There is no portrait of Lachit Barphukan, but an old chronicle does provide a physical description:
His face is broad, and resembles the moon in its full phase. No one is capable of staring at his face.
Battle of Saraighat
After being defeated by Lachit and his forces, the Mughals army sailed up the Brahmaputra river from Dhaka towards Assam advancing to Guwahati. The Mughal Army under Ram Singh I consisted of 30,000 infantry, 15,000 archers, 18,000 Turkish cavalry, 5,000 gunners and over 1000 cannons besides a large flotilla of boats.
Ram Singh, the Mughal commander in chief failed to make any advance against the Assamese army during the first phase of the war. An arrow carrying a letter by Ram Singh telling that Lachit have been paid rupees one lakh and he should evacuate Guwahati was fired into the Ahom camp, which eventually reached the Ahom king, Chakradhwaj Singha. Although the king started to doubt Lachit's sincerity and patriotism, his prime minister Atan Buragohain convinced the King this was just a trick against Lachit.
During the last stage of the Battle of Saraighat, when the Mughals attacked by the river in Saraighat, the Assamese soldiers began to lose their will to fight. Some elements retreated. Though Lachit was seriously ill he boarded a boat and with seven boats advanced against the Mughal fleet. He said: "If you (the soldiers) want to flee, flee. The king has given me a task here and I will do it well. Let the Mughals take me away. You report to the king that his general fought well following his orders". His soldiers rallied and a desperate battle ensured on the river Brahmaputra.
Lachit Barphukan was victorious. The Mughals were forced to retreat from Guwahati. The Mughal Commander-in-Chief, acknowledging his defeat by the Ahom soldiers and their Commander-in-chief Lachit Barphukan, wrote:
Glory to the king! Glory to the counselors! Glory to the commanders! Glory to the country! One single individual leads all the forces! Even I, Ram Singh, being personally on the spot, have not been able to find any loophole and an opportunity!
Memorial & monuments
On 24 November each year Lachit Divas (Lachit Day) is celebrated statewide in Assam to commemorate the heroism of Lachit Borphukan and the victory of the Assamese army at the Battle of Saraighat.
Lachit Divas is celebrated to promote the ideals of Lachit Borphukan – the legendary general of Assam’s history. Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief minister of Assam took part in the Lachit Divas celebration at the statue of Lachit Borphukan at Brahmaputra riverfront on 24 November 2017. Sonowal stated the first countrywide celebration of ‘Lachit Divas’ would take place in New Delhi followed by state capitals such as Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata in a phased manner.
Lachit Borphukan Gold Medal (Best Cadet of NDA)
The best passing out cadet of National Defence Academy is conferred the Lachit Borphukan gold medal every year from 1999, after the then Indian Army chief General V P Malik made the formal announcement about its institution in New Delhi on 24 April 1999 at an all-India level national seminar & lecture programme organised at the initiative of a Guwahati-based organisation founded by Assam's leading heritage scholar and former top Indian bureaucrat Principal Bhabananda Deka and columnist, storywriter, novelist Arnab Jan Deka. Assam Foundation-India under the leadership of its founder-member and director Principal Bhabananda Deka and executive director Arnab Jan Deka were primarily instrumental in presenting the 17th century Assamese Army General Lachit Borphukan at the pan-Indian level for the very first time by organizing the said seminar & lecture program in New Delhi on 24 April 1999. At the invitation of Arnab Jan Deka, the incumbent Vice President of India Dr Krishna Kant, Indian Army chief General V P Malik, India Government's Home Secretary B P Singh attended the Assam Foundation programme and delivered research based lectures acknowledging Lachit's military prowess as army general. ‘The Assam Tribune’ on its issue dated 25 April 1999 under a caption "Heroic feats of Lachit recalled" reported from New Delhi that "A lecture on the life and times of Lachit Barphukan organized by Assam Foundation involving leading political figures, historians, bureaucrats and Army officers today sought to place the great Ahom general at the centre-stage by bringing out his feats and deeds of brevity outside of Assam. The Chief of the Army Staff, V P Malik, who was present at the lecture today perhaps to remove the shortcoming of historians, agreeing in principle, had instituted a Lachit Barphukan prize at the National Defence Academy. The move, it was felt, will promote awareness about Lachit among the officers of the Defence services and inspire them to emulate his great example. Earlier, the function was inaugurated by Vice President, K Kant who said that leadership of Barphukan as a Ahom general was a great whatershed in the political history of Assam. Addressing the function, the Union Home Secretary B P Singh said that whenever great politician, military leaders and patriots meet, great events happen of which the country saw glimpses in Lachit's life." Almost all leading Indian newspapers like Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Telegraph extensively covered this event in their national editions published from New Delhi on 25 April 1999. Press Trust of India (PTI) report published on Hindustan Times and others also reported that Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and governor S K Sinha "thanked the Army Chief General V P Malik, for agreeing in principle to institute a ‘Lachit Barphukan Prize’ at the National Defence Academy saying this would inspire defence personnel to emulate Barphukan's heroism and sacrifices." The main organizer of the historic event Arnab Jan Deka recalled the proceedings of the event leading to institution of Lachit Barphukan Award and Statue at the India government's top army school through a write-up published in 1 September 2016 issue of the top Assamese literary journal ‘Prantik’, wherein the news published in leading dailies like Hindustan Times, The Hindu and The Assam Tribune regarding the event had been extensively quoted.
The announcement of institution of the award by Indian Army chief General Malik on 25 April 1999 at the Delhi programme in presence of India's vice-president and other dignitaries was the pivot to perpetuate the memory of Lachit Borphukan at the national level for the very first time. Battalion Cadet Adjutant Aaditya Udupa, 126th NDA Course,was awarded the medal for the Spring Term 2014 on 28 May 2014.
Mahabir Lachit Award
An award is presented to notable personalities of Assam by Tai Ahom Yuva Parishad. Some of recipients are: Lt. Gen (retd.) S.K. Sinha (2012), Bhugeswar Baruah (2013), Capt. Jintu Gogoi - posthumously (2014), Jadav Payang (2015), Dr. Pushpadhar Gogoi and Dr. Hiran Gohain (2016). The award includes cash amount of ₹50,000.00, a citation and a traditional sword.
Lachit Borphukan's Maidam
Lachit Borphukan's Maidam was constructed in memory of Lachit Borphukan at Jorhat, Assam. It is 8 km far from the famous Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary. Here last remains of Borphukan were laid under this tomb (Maidam) constructed by Swargadeo Udayaditya Singha in 1672.
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